Monday, December 30, 2013

Christian Challenge Christmas Update 2013!


Hope everyone had a great Christmas! Ours was nice and relaxing. It was a good change of pace from how crazy this past semester has been.

The semester started off with us not being allowed to move freshmen in but God still brought us one of the best starts of the semester we have ever seen. It started off big and we were excited for the students God brought our direction to disciple and encourage.

We look forward to what God is going to do this next semester. Our first FCA will be January 13th. Christian Challenge will follow on the 14th. Then the 17th, my good friend, Jimmy Arcisz, will be bringing out his ministry to team up with us and perform a Philippines disaster relief benefit concert at the chapel on campus. This will go to rebuilding after the typhoon.

It’s going to be an exciting first month of the semester! Thanks for making it possible with your support! Merry Christmas, Mike and Rachel


PRAYER NEEDS:

• For Rachel, Randi, and myself as we will be leading the ministry for the first month while Josh and Jennifer take some time to heal after a very stressful past year with his heart surgery and the death of Jennifer’s brother.
• For our support: We are slowly getting closer to the goal but still have a ways to go.
• For our students: that God would continue growing them and that the Holy Spirit would be working on their hearts.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

• Help cook on a Tuesday night anytime Jan-April for 25 or so students. Let us know if this interests you.
• We have weekend events planned this semester: Come join us and help out. We can send you a list of future events.
• Become a host family for our international students. This is like adopt-a-college-student programs many churches run.
• Support...there’s still time to give an end of the year or beginning of the year gift. Your support makes the ministry we do possible. http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other- giving-options.html

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christian Challenge November 2013 Update!

Hey team! Hope everyone is doing well and had a great Thanksgiving! November has been a busy month for us and really flown by. It’s hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner.

Our team has been battling sickness this past month. Josh has been sick with the flu, then with strep two weeks later which hospitalized him. In between his sickness, I ate some, meaning maybe five or six, Heath Bar gluten-free cookies and had a severe allergic reaction to the finely-ground almonds in them which nearly hospitalized me. I could barely eat any food for about a week which was certainly no fun.

After that, we did a quick weekend up to Fort Collins, CO for a wedding I was in for a friend who had been in the former college group I helped lead. It was great to see a lot of old friends from that group at the wedding and see how the Lord was working in their lives.

After getting back from that quick trip, Meagan, who went on the Philippines trip, provided us with one of the highlights of the month. She was able to give her testimony of the mission trip at FCA. That night, we had one of our biggest crowds of the year and almost every student-athlete there took info on the mission trips we have going out this summer. It was awesome to see Meagan’s passion for missions after the trip and how it was now rubbing off on other students.

Another highlight of the month was our guys retreat. Our focus was looking at what it meant to be a real man of God. Though the snowy weather certainly changed our plans a bit, it was an amazing retreat where I really think light bulbs went on for some of the guys. It was very cool to see.

At Christian Challenge, we were able to do a night focused on Operation Christmas Child. We took students to the store where we filled up nearly 40 shoeboxes for underprivileged children. It was great to see our students so excited about helping others.

Toward the end of the month, I was asked to write an article for the international publication, The Climbing Way, a magazine produced by Climbing for Christ. As someone who loves to write, it was very exciting for me. The article is on why college is a great time for people to get involved in missions. I’ll make sure I post it to our website soon.

This month, though it’s been a bit tough building consistency with the students we disciple due to being sick and the holiday, we’ve seen good growth with the students we’ve been able to meet with. It’s exciting to see God work in our students’ lives!

Prayer Requests:
• For our team’s health. It’s that time of the year again where our students get sick and generously pass it on to us.
• For the FLC students, that the Holy Spirit would be working on their hearts.
• That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our marriage.
• For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially, to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis. If the Lord is leading you to give, please go to: http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO! -Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Christian Challenge October 2013 Update!

Hey team!  Hope everyone is doing well.  I wanted to welcome all of our new friends who have signed up for our email list in the past month.  We’re excited to have you be a part of what God is going at Fort Lewis!

Rachel and I have had a busy past month since our last letter.  Early on, we had a great camp and climb with our students up on Silver Mountain.  I went up with some of our guys the day before to scout it out.  We actually got snowed on.  It was some good bonding time with the guys.


The next day, our full team headed up to what would be our base camp on the side of the mountain.  After dinner and some good time around the camp fire, everyone headed off to bed.  The next morning, we awoke and had a church service around the camp fire on the side of the mountain.  I
spoke on how God provides and that we can rely on Him.  I tied it in with the climb that was before us.  It gave the students something to really chew on and pray about as they hiked.  In the end, everyone summitted and made it back down safely.  God is good!


After that excursion, Rachel and I headed to KC for a short support raising trip.  Thankfully, Josh, Jennifer, and Randi were able to cover for us along with our pastor, Jeff, while we were gone.

While in KC, we stayed with a friend from high school who is now a youth pastor.  I was able to give messages to his youth group and college group.  It was fun to work with students that come from a different culture than that of Durango.


During the trip, we met many folks who now want to come out and minister with us.  We’d love for God to call more people to the mission field of Durango and Fort Lewis College!  There’s a lot of ministry to be done!

Being that our main focus was support raising, we were able to meet with many pastors and got to share at a church in Overbrook, KS.  It was all very encouraging!  We are thankful for all of the doors God opened for us while in Kansas City!

Upon our return to Durango, we jumped right back into ministry.  Rachel had an exciting ladies retreat with our students where they talked about the lies women often believe and God’s promises to combat those lies.  Sounds like it was a pretty awesome retreat for our young women!


 We’re excited to see how God is going to work the rest of the semester!

 
Prayer Requests:

• For Josh and Jennifer...Jennifer’s brother just passed away and the family is all back in Oklahoma right now.  Pray for strength and peace in this tough time for their family.

• For the FLC students, that the Holy Spirit would be working on their hearts.

• That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our
marriage.

• For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially, to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis.  If the Lord is leading you to give, please go to: http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO! -Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

Monday, September 30, 2013

Christian Challenge September 2013 Update!

Hey team! We’ve got a lot of exciting news to share with you all! This semester has started out as one of our best yet. The harvest is great and God is moving at Fort Lewis!

We kicked off the semester wanting to help out with freshmen move-in. Just before it, we were informed that the campus would not be allowing any ministries to move people in.

This would not deter what God was doing on campus though. We were able to hold a barbeque on campus later on where we served 378 plates of food to students. That was up from around 300 last year.


For our yearly night hike with students, we had 14 sign up to go and 44 showed up. All but about 6 made it to the summit. It was awesome to see the growth of the event adding about 15 more students to the adventure this year. It was a great way to connect with new students!


We also had a big first retreat of the semester. We were able to have two of our students we’ve been working with step up and give talks. It’s awesome to see their growth over the time we’ve known them.

With the great numbers we’ve seen at all of our events, those numbers have continued into Monday night’s FCA, Tuesday night’s Christian Challenge, and our English Conversational Classes with our international students. Though it’s not all about numbers, it awesome to pour into the students God is blessing us with and hard not to get excited!


Rachel and I are continuing to meet with the students we were discipling last year while meeting with new students also this year.

For FCA, our student-athletes have been great about inviting other athletes. We’ve been going through a series on running and how that relates to our spiritual walks with Christ.

In Christian Challenge, we also have a lot of new students and have covered topics like Christianity 101, personal testimonies, and Christianity and War. We are excited that a lot of our international students have joined us for it. They seem very interested in learning more about Christianity as do our other students.


It’s really been awesome to see what God has already done this semester and we’re looking forward to see what He has in store! Keep praying for FLC!

Prayer Requests:

--For Josh and Jennifer...Jennifer’s brother is still alive but could go at any time. Jennifer is back in Durango but the family could have to leave at any moment if her brother passes.

--For the FLC students, that the Holy Spirit would be working on their hearts.

--That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our marriage.

--For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially, to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis. If the Lord is leading you to give, please go to: http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO! -Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Christian Challenge August 2013 Update!

Hey Team! Hope you’re doing well! Summer for us has quickly winded down. We have been hard at work preparing for the new semester during this past month.

We had our first official event of the semester with students the 28th. It was a meeting with our student leaders. It was a training on how to lead Bible studies. We already have students wanting to start Bible studies with their friends. It’s pretty awesome to see their excitement to study the Word.

Our next big thing is freshmen move-in on the 29th. Our plan was to be up on campus to help students move into their dorms. We did this last year and it was extremely successful. There were a lot of hoops the campus wanted us to jump through to make it happen but it was well worth it.

Unfortunately, due to parent complaints about other groups last year, we were just informed no one will be allowed to help students move their belongings in. We are extremely disappointed with this decision but know God will open other doors for us to reach the students. Though we are not allowed to help out with move-in, we will still be on campus that day.

On the 30th, we have a club fair where students and their families can stop by our table and get information about what we do. That night, we will team up with the International Club and have our International Dinner. Last year, almost all of the international students came. The dinner is always a great way to make contact with them. Thanks to our awesome students from last year, many of the incoming students have already contacted us after talking with our former students.

We are also having our campus barbeque again that coming Sunday. Last year, we had 300 students show up. This year, we fully expect God to bring us even more. We are so blessed to be able to do something like this on campus after so many groups have been told no for years.

Classes then start the 1st. Discipleship, FCA, Christian Challenge, and our conversational English classes will get rolling that week as well. Beyond that, we have tons of events over the next month as well. Pray that they are fruitful. We’re stoked to see what God is going to do this semester! Keep us and our students at FLC in your prayers!


Prayer Requests:

For Josh and Jennifer...Jennifer’s brother has been given less than a week to live. They will be in Oklahoma with the family for possibly these first two weeks. Rachel and I will be running things with the help of Randi, our new staff member, while the Story family is away. This will be during the two busiest weeks of the year. Pray also for us against burn out.

For the FLC students, that the Holy Spirit would be working on their hearts.
That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our marriage.

For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially, to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis. If the Lord is leading you to give, please go to: http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO! -Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Living Our Adventure


I stood on a mountain top with a brotherhood of men. We had worked together night and day for the past month. We had bonded closely over that time working in the woods of Colorado.

Our time was soon coming to an end though. Our boss wanted to make sure we had something to remember our time together. He wanted something that would tie us together for years to come after we parted ways.

He brought us the idea of taking 3 mm climbing rope, wrapping it around our wrist once and melting the ends together. Once melted together and the bond of the climbing rope sealed, we were not allowed to cut it off until our wedding night. It was a symbol of becoming a family together after the long month. When it would finally be cut off, it symbolized us joining a new family. To me looking back, the climbing rope symbolized the adventure that would lead up to meeting the woman I would eventually spend the rest of my life with...and the birth of a new adventure that she would bring into my life.

I grew up a flatlander amongst the sweet barbeque flavors of Kansas City. Though a flatlander, my heart yearned to be in the mountains. I pursued my adventure as well as I could growing up in the Midwest. Mountain biking, rock climbing, and ski racing from Wisconsin to Colorado. Still, I was chained to the Midwest. I felt caged and out of place. When I turned 18, I escaped as soon as I could. Looking back, I had finally escaped for good. My journey took me to Northern Colorado for awhile before finally settling in the San Juans of Southwest Colorado.

There, a new adventure would begin. I found myself not the adventurer I thought I was in my mind. In reality, I was still a naive flatlander. For the first time, I really tasted fear. I made mistakes...a lot of them. Many of which probably should have killed me. But I learned from each mistake and did my best not to repeat them. Skiing, whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, jumping off 40 foot waterfalls into 34 degree flood waters...just living the dream.

As I grew older and wiser, the fears still persisted as did the reasons to face them. Life was an adventure and I refused to be someone who only loved the idea of an adventure. It was part of me, running through my veins. Life was meant to be a great adventure and I refused to just take up space in God's country. I would not waste the creation I was blessed with living in.

She was born in Austria and a child of Chernobyl. She graced the playgrounds of a crumbling Yugoslavia. Serbia, Croatia, tanks, and land-mines. A life lived of adventure but she knew no different.

And then came America. It was a country who had influenced much of her life already in foreign policy decisions. Now, it would try and raise her as she now stood on American soil.

When she turned 18, she wanted adventures she could chart her own course for. She took control of her adventures. Skydiving, mountain climbing, taking time off from college and taking random dream jobs just for fun. She was breaking out. She was coming into her own. She was finding out who she really was. If life was going to be an adventure, it was going to be her adventure.

And that's when our passion for adventure finally crossed paths.  We both met while planning out a new adventure. It was an adventure we'd need a team for, the sport of adventure racing. Her team had just dropped her because she was a girl and they no longer wanted a girl on their team. I was just looking to find someone interested in teaming up. After meeting for the first time, it turned out that we made a pretty good team together. Soon, we'd become more than just an adventure racing team.

Starting out, we never knew our passion for adventure would take us as far as it would. One day, we found ourselves in a high mountain city overseas. It was early morning outside of our hostel. The fog was hugging the mountainsides surrounding the city. The city lights were still aglow from the night before as the sunlight began to sneak in and slowly wake the valley below. Above us stood an 18,000 foot glacier-covered peak. There are few places more beautiful in the world than that spot was at that moment.

Sadly, we were leaving. Our friends were all packed up and ready to go but I wanted one last moment with my love in such splendid beauty. I walked up to the vehicle and asked her to follow me. She came with a concerned look on her face as she thought I was probably sick and not feeling well. Though tired from the early morning, I felt okay. I had something else on my mind, a new adventure.

This was not the adventure we had seen earlier on our trip or even on previous trips. There were no road blocks put up to track us down. There weren't 16 machine guns pointed in our faces. No situations where you didn't know who you could trust. The sketchy climbing and hiking was behind us. We were past the dangers and in a safe zone. This wasn't life and death. This was life...till death do us part, a different kind of adventure.

There, I dropped to one knee and pulled out the 3 mm climbing rope that I once wore around my wrist. Due to wear and tear, it had finally fallen off after we first started dating those many years ago. When it fell off, I had a feeling that I should save it. I saw it as a sign. All those years, I held onto it for just the right time. Before our journey overseas, I crafted it into a ring. Though faded, it looked almost good as new...and it sure looked nice on her ring finger. The rest is somewhat like a blurry dream.

Three months later, we stood outside in another mountain range. This time, we were back in the States. We were back in the San Juans, our backyard. Just us...and a hundred guests.

As a nice wedding gift from the Southwest monsoons, we were married outside in lightning and thunder. Afterwards, we jumped waterfalls with our wedding party instead of having the typical dancing. We battled hypothermia as we kissed for the photographer at the last waterfall. The wedding day was full of adventure. It was a picture of our lives. We had lived adventure, apart and together, since the days of our youth. But for us at that moment, there was another great adventure just beginning.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

C4C Summer Trips 2013

So, normally I update our blog after each trip but this summer has been a bit busy so I thought I'd save it all for one post after we had completed all of the trips.  This summer, we had Kala Matzdorf interning with us.  We met Kala through one of our FCA students.  She was looking for an internship with an outdoors/adventure ministry over the summer for her college major.  Our FCA student, Mary referred her to us and the rest is history.  Kala's internship included going on the Philippines mission trip, attending all hikes, planning and giving devotionals for each trip, and writing trip reports.  I thought I'd post her trip reports here with a few pictures from the trips.

Ice Lakes:


On Saturday morning Michael, Rachel and I, Kala, met up and headed towards Silverton, Colorado. We picked up another college student, Mary, along the way and traveled for about an hour before reaching the trailhead for Ice Lakes. Before starting up the mountain, Michael offered up a prayer for all glory to be given to God as well as for our safety and fellowship.

Crossing a river which flowed over into a waterfall, we encountered the first obstacle of the day. A few splashes later and we were on our way up the gradual traverses. After about two hours of walking through forests, across rocks, and into a meadow we stopped for a quick snack break.


Having refueled and re-energized, we began our final ascent. An exhausting 30 minutes later, we finally approached the crystal blue lake. We explored the area and smaller surrounding lakes before taking a seat by the main lake where we ate lunch and enjoyed a bit of conversation.



We each had the opportunity to share with each other what God has been teaching us in our lives. As I sat on a mountain top, pondering the fact that I was by the most beautiful lake in the world because of a college internship, I was overwhelmed by all the different ways that the Lord is at work in this world and the opportunities that He has provided me with.


The descent to the car flew by and we were on our way back to Durango after just an hour and half. We stopped by Cascade, a place on the river where locals jump off of a series of rocks, but because of the high water level at this time of the season we were unable to jump. A group of college age students had gotten themselves stuck at a point in the river that they could not climb out of and Michael had to give them a hand to wade back up river to a place where they could get out safely. After our little rescue mission, we continued on to Durango where we said our goodbyes and parted ways. We are all looking forward to Prayer Peaks day on Saturday, June 29th, where we will have the opportunity to climb a mountain in Durango and worship together as well as pray for the city.

Hogsback Prayer Peaks Day:


Saturday, June 29 marked the 16th Annual Prayer Peaks Day, a day in which believers from all over the country joined in praying for the Christian church in America and around the world. Michael, Rachel, and I were joined by Fort Lewis College students Mary and Will for our climb up Hogsback Mountain. As only a short two mile hike, the climb was far from easy. Half a mile of the ascent was steep enough to force us to stop and catch our breath nearly every hundred feet. After finally slipping our way to the top on the loose dust, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of Durango, only slightly disrupted by the smoke from the nearby wildfires.


I had the privilege to give a short devotional on God’s provision through his taking away. God gave the Midian army into the hands of only 300 Israelite warriors so that the glory would be given to Him rather than to the Israelite army. Sometimes we are required to live with less securities so that we give the glory to God rather than to our undeserving selves. Next, we took time to pray for the college, the lost, and the churches in Durango. As well as praying for the people of Durango, we prayed for those who are fighting the large wildfires near South Fork and for rain to help in controlling the fires. Not much later in the day, the skies let loose and it poured. It only rained for a short period, but it was certainly an answer to prayer. We were also able to sing a few worship songs, but unfortunately there was a little misplacement with the sheet music, so we had to go with what our guitarist, Michael, knew by heart.



After skidding our way down the steep slope, we treated ourselves to a bit more fellowship over Dairy Queen. I think that the whole team would agree that there is no better way to end a hike than with a little ice cream.

Grizzly Peak Camp and Climb:


Mike, Rachel, and I, Kala, met up with a new friend and fellow hiker Lizzy late in the afternoon on Friday the 26th of July. We passed the two hour, four-wheel drive ride with great conversation. After finally reaching the trailhead for Grizzly Peak, we said a quick prayer and began our overnight adventure. We only had a mile to hike on the first day to reach our camping site, but just before arriving there the skies let loose and we were pelted with hail.


We took shelter under a large rock for a few minutes allowing the hail to stop before setting up camp. Mike scouted out a safe place in a grove of trees, where we each set up our tent and enjoyed our late and much anticipated dinner.


Before bed, I gave a short devotion about the Church being a place for sinners, yet it not always feeling like that. A couple of conversations with friends who did not feel accepted in church had got me thinking of how many Christians could work on being more accepting of those who may sin differently than themselves. After some helpful conversations, we went our separate ways for some much needed sleep.


We woke up early on Saturday morning to eat a quick breakfast and begin our final ascent. The remaining two and a half miles to the summit were uphill and lacked a clear trail. Once we made our way through the boulder field, our last obstacle was a rock chute.


The quarter mile scramble up the loose rocks took nearly an hour, but the view at the summit was definitely worth the struggles. We spent a few minutes soaking in the beauty, but because of the incoming rain clouds we decided to save lunch for once we made it down safely.


Unfortunately, we did not make it out before the rain and then hail returned. We quickly retrieved our equipment that we had stashed to lighten our packs for the summit, then made our way briskly back to the cars. The hail may have stung a little, but we all reached the cars safely, ready to enjoy sitting down for the next couple of hours. When we returned to Mike and Rachel’s house, where we had met the day before, Mike prayed for us, ending another great adventure with Climbing For Christ.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 2013 Christian Challenge Update!

Hey Team! Hope you’re doing well! With summer moving along, we have transitioned to support raising trips and the small summer hiking trips we do for our students through Climbing for Christ, the same organization we did the Philippines mission trip with.

This summer, God did some pretty cool things. Our first hike of the season was four days after getting back from the Philippines. It was up to a beautiful area north of Durango called Ice Lakes.

After the hike, our group decided to stop by Cascade, a series of waterfalls people jump off of in the summer time. It was on the way so we figured we might as well.

Upon entering the narrow canyon the waterfalls are in, we found the water to be a bit too high for the beginners in our group. I decided for safety reasons, our group wouldn’t jump that day.

As I looked down canyon though, I noticed a group of eight stranded on the first jump. The water was too high to get back to safety. Long story, short, I was able to rescue them from the situation. It was awesome that God put us there at just that moment to save those eight people. God wasn’t done yet. That was just the start of what God was doing.


Fast-forward to July 4th. Our plan is to take students to jump the falls before the great Silverton fireworks display that night. Who do we run into? One of the young women from our earlier rescue with another group of people...stranded on the first jump. This time, the water was at a safer level so I offered to guide them down it with our group. When all was said and done, we all made it out safely after a great time in the cold, mountain creek.


Through that, we were able to invite this young woman on our next hiking trip, the Grizzly Peak Camp and Climb. The trip, filled with hiking, fellowship, and devotionals, really gave Rachel a chance to connect, to pour into this young woman and encourage her. With the weather and other risk factors, our team was also able to pray a lot and see God answer those prayers. In the end, the whole team summited and returned safely. I think faith was definitely grown on the trip. I love seeing God work like that!

Prayer Requests:

-For Nick, one of the guys I’m discipling. Though it’s not for sure, the doctors think he has scarlet fever. He is still very sick. Pray for miraculous healing over him and that God would give him strength.

-For the FLC students, that the Holy Spirit would already be working on their hearts even before they start arriving in mid to late August.

-That God would continue growing us closer to Him and help us not neglect our first ministry; our marriage.

-For open hearts, for many to join us prayerfully and financially to bring the Gospel to Fort Lewis. If the Lord is leading you to give, please go to: http://thewallscall.blogspot.com/p/other-giving-options.html

Thank you for joining with us to reach Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO! -Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Donald Miller Hatred

One thing that has been bothering me lately is all the criticisms of Donald Miller I come across online.  For those who don't know, Donald Miller is an author who wrote non-theologically deep books on Christianity and how it relates to his life, books like "Blue like Jazz" and "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years."  It's not that they are criticizing him that bothers me.  It's the way that people do it that can get under my skin.

There really seems to be a hatred among many Christians against Donald Miller.  It is not just a "I disagree on this issue because of what this scripture says."  Many times, there is a hatred that burns through their writings.  I'm all for being firm with people when they claim to be Christians but are out of line with what scripture teaches but there is a way to do it and a way not to.  If you are going to correct your kids, do you do it out of hatred?  Do you do it in a hateful way?  Nope, hopefully, you do it in a loving way.  Isn't that how God deals with us?  I'm sure thankful God has dealt with my shortcomings in a loving way.

Unfortunately, that's not the way Donald Miller or those who like to read DM have been treated.  No, they have been attacked and bullied by brothers and sisters in Christ, by preachers and pastors.  It's embarrassing and disappointing.  It's like I'm watching a bunch of middle schoolers gossip and bully...or maybe even like watching pharisees.  Instead of lovingly coming with scripture, they use the scripture to bash Miller and those who like to read him over the head.  Yeah, that always makes people listen.  He is at times treated as if he is not even human.  We need to remember that whenever we correct someone, that they are human.  They are not some tin can that you can just kick down the road.

Often times, they also attack him without actually quoting him.  They tend to use quotes from other people about him to do the attacking.  A lot of he said/she said has been used to attack Miller.  Rarely do you even find someone use actual quotes by Donald.  "Well, I talked to this person and they said this about Miller and his book.  They said that about his book."  But what do you say after reading it?  Oh, you didn't read the whole thing?  Well, maybe you should read the whole thing before judging the whole thing.  Judging a book by only a few pages is not much better than judging a book by its cover.

I often times hear arguments from people condemning Miller for things he never said or wrote.  But somewhere, they heard someone else say they heard it from someone.  They take it and run with it.  Let the attacks begin.  That kind of stuff doesn't fly very well in a court of law.  Why do we allow it elsewhere?  If I'm on trial, I wouldn't be very happy to be convicted on the testimony of a 4th-hand "witness" who heard about it 4 generations down the line but didn't actually witness it.


This is not just about Donald Miller.  This kind of thing happens a lot in Christianity.  Just google your favorite Christian big name author or favorite big time nationally known church and you will come up with sites calling them antichrists and heretics.  We beat our brothers and sisters in Christ down and push them away instead of trying to encourage and build people up.  When you beat someone down, you don't just beat that one person down...but you beat down those who associate with them.  On the other end of the spectrum, when you build someone up, you build up those who associate with them.  Instead of beating people down, you could be encouraging them and building them up even during times of needed correction.

If I'm a boxer, getting beat down doesn't make we want to stay in the ring.  That changes though if I've got a coach in my corner suggesting corrections or ways I could improve.  My resolve also changes if I've got fans cheering me on in the stands.  I don't need the people who should be in my corner to beat on me as well.  When that happens, many just walk out of the ring and never come back, spiritually speaking.

I get that it's a bit different with DM being an author that can lead people astray.  But every author has the power to lead his or her readers astray.  That's why we should always pray for discernment and test what we read and hear with the Word.  Whether it's Miller or Tozer, it should light a fire under our butt to get into the Word and find out if it's true.  We can't take the authors word for it.  We can't take the reviewers word for what the book says.  If you want to know what the book says, actually read the whole thing.  If you want to know how that stacks up against scripture, dig into the Bible.  Actually read it.  Then, whatever you find, learn to convey it, not out of hatred, but out of love.  The world is watching how we treat our brothers and sisters.  Let's not scare them away.  We are to represent and reflect Christ to this world, not embarrass Him with prideful infighting and hatred.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Christian Challenge June/July Philippines Update 2013!


Hello Team!  We hope you guys are having a great summer so far.

Rachel and I have certainly had a pretty amazing summer.  We actually just got back from the Philippines not too long ago.  We’re still adjusting to life back in the States.

With that, we’re working on getting caught up on post-trip things.  It may be summer but things are definitely not slowing down.  Enough of what we’ve been doing since we’ve been back, though.  I’m guessing you’d rather hear about the trip.

Well, the trip was amazing!  It was an absolute success!  It certainly was not without surprises, though.

The biggest surprise to me was the climbing.  I really thought it was going to be less difficult.  We were lower in elevation than what we normally climb so it should be easier, right?  Yeah, not so much.

I have never sweated so much and for so long as I did on the climb.  You just never dried out.  It was actually cooler if you didn’t stop because at least you had some wind on you.  If you stopped, there was no wind and you just became hotter.  It was extremely difficult and trying.  Living in Colorado, there’s just no way to prepare for that heat and humidity.



Ministry wise, things went much better than we could ever imagine.  God is good!


Rachel, Kala, Meagan, and Cody worked with the children’s ministry.  One of the most touching moments came as our team was leaving one of the villages.  The kids lined up for school and began singing “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know,” a song our children’s ministry had taught them the day before.  They then continued into a song thanking the mission team.  It was certainly a very special moment I’ll never forget.


Rachel had the opportunity to also work with the medical ministry.  She would meet with each patient to pray with them after they had met with the doctor.  It wasn’t what Rachel originally saw herself doing but God had a better plan.  In all, initial reports were that the team saw around 81 patients.


I was blessed to be able to work with the Bible ministry.  We started off meeting with local pastors surveying them as to how many Bibles were in their churches, and how many Bibles in the local language they needed.  Most churches had a Bible or two in the church...and for the most part, they weren’t in the local language.  Our team was able to bring 71 new Bibles in the local language to the area.  This will revolutionize the way Christianity functions in the area for generations to come.


I had many highlights along the trip.  From leading a devotional and some worship, to preaching in one of the churches with a translator, to divine appointments...there are too many highlights to list.


But one does stand out.  One of the days we were distributing Bibles, we had many villagers come to us asking for a Bible.  Some were from nearby but some actually were from very far away.    Two of those were mothers with children in their arms.  When asked why they wanted a Bible, they replied that they wanted to know God, they wanted their faith to grow.  Praise God for that!

After having traveled the same tough paths in the same hard conditions as these women, it was clear how important the Word of God was to them.  They didn’t take it for granted.  They overcame great obstacles for God’s Word.  To me, it reaffirmed why we were there.  We were there to bring God’s Word to people like these women so desperate to know Him on a much deeper level!



Prayer Requests:

-Praise for an extremely successful mission trip!

-That the Holy Spirit would continue working on the hearts of the local villagers.

-That God would raise up young pastors through discipleship as there is no one to step in for the “retired” pastors we met with still preaching and running their churches 10-15 years after their retirement.  The younger generations need to step up.

-That God would provide more Bibles for the region as there is still a great need.

Thank you so much for making this trip possible with your prayer support and financial support!  Cheers and God Bless, Mike & Rachel

P.S.  One last very important prayer request:

 -Pray for "N", an FLC student I have been discipling.  He was a student who had contemplated going on the Philippines mission trip but in the end, God closed that door.  Anyway, he became ill losing 15 pounds while we were away on the trip.  His doctors told him that had he not been so young, he probably would have died.  They still don't know what it is.  Pray for healing.  Pray that God would give the doctors discernment on what is causing the illness and wisdom so that they can treat whatever the illness might be.  Also pray that God would continue growing and encouraging "N" in his faith during this time of rest and recovery.  Thanks!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Christian Challenge/Mission Philippines-May 2013 Update!

Hello Team!  We hope this update finds you well!

Rachel and I are just putting the finishing touches on our Philippines mission trip coming up June 2nd-17th.  We wanted to give you a quick update on the trip and some bio’s on our students who are joining us.  We are absolutely stoked to be able to take these students overseas to serve alongside their Filipino brothers and sisters in Christ in order to reach villages in the high mountains of Luzon.

Our plan is to head into the mountains north of Manila.  We will travel by foot to villages that can only  be reached by hiking to them.  With us, we will carry Bibles in the local language, discipleship materials, medical supplies, and school supplies.  Once in the villages, we will be able to share the Gospel with the villagers, distribute the materials we backpacked in, and put on theatrical performances in order to share stories and truths from the Bible.  We will have dispatches hopefully updated daily online where you can follow the trip at: http://www.climbingforchrist.org/Articles/tabid/545/ID/756/categoryId/89/DISPATCHES-Philippines-June-2013.aspx

Thank you so much for your support!  Keep on praying! -Mike & Rachel

Team Bio's:

--Meagan Prins is originally from Broomfield, Colorado.  She comes from a basketball family.  (Her sister was just drafted by the WNBA.)  Meagan now plays basketball for FLC and is one of our FCA student-athletes.

She originally didn’t think she  would be able to go on the trip due to basketball but God opened the door for her to go when her coach gave the okay.  She is extremely excited to experience her first mission trip.

For more info on Meagan, feel free to check out the following link: http://climbingforchrist.org/Articles/tabid/545/ID/727/Meagan-Prins.aspx

--Cody Wells went to high school in Cortez, Colorado.  Though he has spent some time overseas, he has never had the chance to spend it in the context of a mission trip.

We got to know Cody hanging out on campus with him and through some of our international ministry events.  He is a possible late addition to the trip.

His money is in, and we have his plane tickets purchased but we’ve barely heard from him since despite our best efforts.  We pray that he can get the many vital things done for the mission so that he can still go on the trip. *Update-We finally heard from Cody and Lord willing, he will be there.

--Kala Matzdorf went went to high school in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  She now attends college at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

We met Kala through one of our FCA student-athletes who had gone to high school with her.  Kala was looking for an internship for the summer with a Christian organization.  With that, we are excited to have her be able to intern with Climbing for Christ this summer.

For more info on Kala, check out the following link: http://climbingforchrist.org/Articles/tabid/545/ID/719/Kala-Matzdorf.aspx

Prayer Requests:

-That God would open doors for the Gospel to be received and understood.
-That the Holy Spirit would be working on the hearts of the local villagers.
-That God would keep our team safe and healthy.
-That God would give us strength and keep us in good spirits despite a possible lack of sleep.

Some Thoughts on the Old Testament

Over the past couple of years, I've been making my way through the Old Testament again.  It is a part of the Bible that most people never read.  There is a dangerous movement within the church which tells us that we don't need the Old Testament anymore.  "Jesus came and gave us the New Testament so we don't have to pay attention to the Old now."

Maybe it's because it scares people, pastors included.  There is a lot of stuff in there they don't know how to deal with.  Hey, I don't understand it all either.  I may never fully comprehend it all in this life but that's okay.

Despite all the excuses people come up with, Christians going down the path of dismissing the Old Testament can often be the first seed in a forest of basing truth off of your feelings and not off of what God actually said.  When there is an absence of an answer, people tend to come up with their own answer.  It's another very dangerous movement that is plaguing Christianity today.  The problem is that, well, there is an answer already.  People just don't like it so they come up with their own.  Maybe they're scared of what the answer is going to be and what it will mean to their life so they do their best to ignore it.  It's not a far stretch to see that these scenarios, this moral relativism can certainly happen when we only accept half of the Bible.

I don't know how you throw out the Old Testament when the New Testament is built upon it.  It's like removing the foundation of a house.  That's certainly not a house I want to live under.  It's only a matter of time before it comes crashing down...or blown away.  It's a shame really because you miss so much when you don't crack the Old Testament.  There is so much to be learned from it.  For me, it really helped build my faith.  Sure, there were a lot of questions and a lot of stuff to work through but my faith is stronger for it.

In the end, you shouldn't just dismiss it.  You shouldn't ignore it.  It's time to deal with it because when you ignore it, you're ignoring the Word of God and that's not a good place to be as a Christian...not in you're personal relationship with Christ and not in your church.  Without a good foundation, it's really easy to be shaken or knocked down.  At the same time, a foundation doesn't do much good if the house on top of it is non-existent, or poorly constructed and poorly kept.  We can't neglect either.  We need to pay attention to both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  The New Testament is great but together with the Old Testament, it is so much more.  Both are so extremely important to our faith and our walk with Christ.  We mustn't ignore such importance.  We truly can't keep ignoring such importance.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Christian Challenge and FCA 2012-2013 Video!

Feeding Ourselves

I've been touching on the Word of God a lot lately.  Welp, I'm not done just yet.  I've got a bit more for everyone.  In actuality, I'm pretty much saying the same thing in every post.  I'm just finding new ways to say it each time.  This post won't be any different in that respect.  It's on, you guessed it, getting into the Word.  Just a few last thoughts on it...at least that's my plan.  God might throw a curveball, though.  So no guarantees on my end that these will actually be my last thoughts on the subject for awhile.

As Christians, all too often, we will only get spiritually fed if someone spoon-feeds us.  We need a preacher talking to us to take anything in.  We expect that to be all we need.

We haven't learned to do anything else except sit in a high-chair with a bib on while our pastor makes airplane sounds with his mouth as he "flies" the spoon of scripture into our mouths.  That's all cute and actually pretty hilarious when I picture my pastor from the pulpit doing those motions in front of the congregation.

The only problem is that most of us aren't six-month old babies in our faith.  We would claim to be much older, much more mature.  When you put it that way, it's not cute anymore.  It's just kind of sad and embarrassing when I get the mental picture of a perfectly capable adult sitting in a high-chair with a bib on getting spoon-fed.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying it's bad to go to church and listen to your pastor preach.  That's actually fantastic.  What I'm getting at is that so many never get fed any other way.  We rely on others to feed us because we don't feed ourselves.

Sure, having your significant other give you a bite of their food while on a date can be cute, even romantic to some...but if your significant other is always feeding you by putting the food in your mouth for you, it's just really weird.  Hopefully, the majority of the food you put in your mouth comes from you putting it in there, not someone else doing it once every blue moon.

All too often in Christianity, we have failed to learn how to feed ourselves.  That's a pretty serious problem because most of us can only have someone spiritually feed us once a week.  Yeah, that 30 minutes to an hour, where the pastor is actually preaching.  And we expect that to sustain us throughout the week.  If you did that with actual food, you sure wouldn't last very long.

We can't just mooch off of what our pastor preaches on Sundays and live only off of only that.  Sadly, a lot of Christians don't even get fed on Sundays.  Only getting fed once a week or none at all will leave a very malnourished and ineffective Christian.  We cannot expect to be alive spiritually if we don't ever feed ourselves.  As Christians, we need to learn to feed ourselves throughout our days and weeks by actually reading the Bible.

There are two kinds of Christians though concerning this topic...at least two that I will touch on.  Those who just don't care enough to read the Bible and Christians who come up with excuses as to why they don't read the Bible.  It can really show where someone's priorities are.

If you're starving to death, you don't go to a fancy restaurant, have them bring you food, then refuse to eat it because you don't know how to use a fork.  No, you just start eating because you're about to die of starvation.  It doesn't matter how sloppy you are or if you use your fingers, you're at least eating and putting food in your belly.  You're keeping yourself alive.  That's your priority.  You don't make excuses as to why you can't eat.

Hopefully, we will stop this fasting from scripture.  We are starving but rarely realize it.  We have food at our fingertips but don't eat it.  We have tons of excuses but in the end, they just don't hold water in a country where good, spiritual food is so easily accessible.  It's not like we're living with some undiscovered tribe in the middle of nowhere.  We are so blessed to have access to the Word...but what are we doing with that huge blessing?  Aren't we wasting it by not digging in?

I'm going to take this spiritual food concept a step further.  If all we do is spiritually eat but don't exercise our faith and what we learn, we become unhealthy and ineffective as well.

Rachel's cousin used to have to eat something like 8,000 calories a day.  That's nuts if you ask me.  Try eating that with no exercise.  That's not going to work out well for a person.  So why did he do it?  He was a competitive cyclist.  Eating that many calories allowed him to put more work in on his bike.  He was able to train better which allowed him to compete better.  Without all that food he ate, he would have been weak and ineffective in chasing the goals he set before himself.

God sets goals for us too.  Do we even know them?  How can we reach those goals if we don't know them?  How can we achieve them if we don't feed ourselves the nutrition our faith needs?  The solution is to get in the Word more...or maybe even for the first time.  Only then will we be able to truly feed our faith, grow, and move towards those God-given goals.




Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Update P.S.

In our updates, we often end up remembering stories just after sending it out or just don't have enough room to get them in the newsletter.  Sadly, we can only stretch our newsletter templates so far.

One of the things that didn't make it in the official newsletter, though, was how much emotion we saw in our Japanese students as we said our goodbyes with them heading back to Japan.  Both guys and gals teared up as they said goodbye.  They thanked us many times as they tried to fight back the tears from running down their face.

It was tough to see students you can't help but love go but we know seeds have been planted and the Holy Spirit is continuing to impact their hearts.

One of the students said that his favorite memory of being in the States was spending Christmas with Rachel, my mom, and me.  It was a special time that included going to a Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church.  He really enjoyed that and the time with our family as did we.

Another student said that his view on Christianity and Christians had been radically transformed in a very positive way through coming consistently to Christian Challenge, the conversational English classes, and hanging out with us.  The feedback we get from our students really touches our hearts and is encouraging.

We know, though, that we couldn't do this alone.  You guys have had a huge part in helping seeds be planted in these students' lives, and I ask that you would continue praying that those seeds would one day produce great fruit!  Thank you so much!

Cheers and God Bless,
Mike and Rachel

Christian Challenge April Update 2013!


Hello Family & Friends,

It’s been an amazing semester that has now come to an end.  Finals week is over.  Graduation has passed.  We have been blessed to see firsthand what the great things God is doing at FLC and in the lives of our students.

FCA has been amazing with a really solid, core group committed to growing together in Christ.  We have also made connections with John L. Smith, the new football coach.  He is behind FCA 100% wanting us to start up new Bible studies for the team and to travel with them.  It’s a huge door opened by God!

Christian Challenge and our international ministry have also been amazing building relationships and helping our students walk with Christ.

Even though the semester is over, we aren’t done yet.  We will continue meeting with students over the summer.  We are also still taking three students to the Philippines on a mission trip in June.  We’ll have more info on the trip and students going in next month’s letter.  Rachel and I will fill in the rest of our summer support raising wherever God opens doors for us.  Thank you all for making these past two semesters possible with your prayer and financial support!  Keep praying for FLC!

Here are some pictures highlights from the semester!






 




GRADUATION SPOTLIGHT:


Dan Read:  Dan is from the Kansas City area.  He studied World History at FLC.  His next step in life is attending the Duke School of Divinity in the coming months and years to obtain his Masters of Divinity.  Pray for him as he seeks the will of God for his life and his future ministry.


Randi Lash:  Randi is from Kirtland, NM.  She graduated from FLC with a degree in Psychology.  Lord willing, she plans to come on staff with us to do ministry at FLC starting in the fall for the next two years.  Pray for her as she steps out in faith to further the Gospel at FLC.

OTHER PRAYER NEEDS:

-For our mission trip to the Philippines, that our hearts would be prepared for the trip and that funding would come in.

-That we find some rest and recovery time this summer between support raising, the mission trip, and continuing to meet with students.

-For our students, that they continue to grow in Christ and make good choices over the summer.

-That God would help us raise the funds to continue ministering at FLC.

Love you guys, Mike and Rachel