Friday, October 31, 2014

Christian Challenge October Update 2014!

Hello team!  Yes, we are still alive.  It’s been a busy time for us.  Sorry we haven’t gotten a newsletter out since early September, I think.  It feels like it’s been forever and there is so much to catch up on.  So this might be a little longer than normal.

First off, my computer is finally working again, hence, being able to finally write a newsletter.  I ended up upgrading my operating system which then caused more problems but those were eventually worked out.  I now have a working computer!  The only problem was that then, we didn’t have working internet.

That leads into the next thing.  We've moved!  Our old landlords finally sold our place and the new landlords were going to significantly increase rent.  So with that, we decided it was time to move on.  We found a place for under what our new landlords were wanting to charge and cheaper than anything else we could find.

It’s a great place but it’s smaller and a bit farther away from campus.  It’s definitely more rustic and we’ll be roughing it a bit more.  Its water well doesn’t always produce and has a distinct smell at times.  Hopefully, that’s something that can be remedied.  There’s pest problems which can be taken care of eventually, too.  Oh, and the snow.  We’ll get much more of that (maybe even over 200 inches this year if El Nino actually develops) come winter with sketchier roads.  We definitely feel like God provided this place for us but it’s not going to be easy.

With the move, it’s been really stressful.  Having to pull it off during our busiest time of the year has been trying.  I’ll spare you guys of most of the details.  But I guess I should tell you why we didn’t have internet.  We’ll, after moving in and switching over all of our new mail to the new address, we found out our new address doesn’t actually exist according to the postal service.  After talking with them, we finally got that straightened out but not before a lot of our mail went into limbo…including our internet router which was being sent to an address that didn’t exist.

Our cell phone service at the house is also in limbo as we had to order a signal booster but it couldn’t be delivered to an address that didn’t exist.  So that on top of everything else has made things fairly difficult.  Thankfully, the Lord is working things out step by step so we won’t have to learn how to use smoke signals and carrier pigeons.  Still, be praying that things would go smoothly with the housing transition.

Ministry-wise, things are great.  Our numbers for our Tuesday night discussions on campus have slimmed down a bit but our small group family dinners in town continue to be consistent and if you combined them, bigger than they were last year.

With FCA, we have cut that back to meeting once a month.  Rachel and I have the student-athletes over for dinner and Bible study.  With their crazy schedules, this seems to be much more successful with a good mix of old and new students coming.  They are more committed to making it this year now that it’s only once a month.

Exchange, our ministry to international students has gone really well too.  The group this year has been very open to what we’re doing.  They’ve come on our retreats, camping trips, and other adventures where we’ve not only been able to help them with their conversational English, but we’ve also had great discussions with them about Jesus.  They end up having a lot of good questions that we get to work through with them.  They are a very adventurous group this year and not afraid to step out of their comfort zones in life and spiritually too.

Speaking of adventure, we’ve had probably one of our busiest starts of the semester with events ever.  We’ve pretty much had an event every weekend since the start of the semester.  I think my favorite so far has been the camping trip we did.  We camped and had some rain move in overnight.  The storms dropped about 4-5 inches of rain on us.  Most had a couple of inches of water in their tents by morning.  Thankfully, we had a roaring campfire and hot chocolate to warm us up.

With the storm, our hiking plans ended up getting snowed out in the high elevations so we ended up making snowmen and having a snowball fight instead.  The best part was watching two of our freshmen lead devotionals for the group.  It was awesome seeing them passionate about their faith, willing to step up and share about Christ with their peers.  It’s something we’ve really been praying for.

With discipleship, we’re seeing a lot of growth in the students we’re meeting one-on-one with.  It’s been very cool to see.  It’s encouraging for us to be able to be a part of what God’s doing in their lives.

It's been such an awesome semester with the ministry so far.  We love that at Fort Lewis, we can reach Jerusalem (Durango), Judea (Colorado), Samaria (the rest of America from Alaska to Florida) and the ends of the earth (Japan) all in one place...and we're thankful that you guys can be part of that too!

Prayer Requests:

-That the Holy Spirit would be working on the hearts of our students.

-We praise God that He has answered our prayers and brought us some solid student leaders.

-That our housing transition would go smoothly.

-That God would help us not neglect our marriage.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Meditating on John 1:1 and John 1:14...and more!

Just after I finished my run yesterday, I was meditating on some scripture while going through my cool-down regiment.  The cool-down is always my favorite part of my workout.  Most of the time, it gives me some peaceful moments to process the podcast sermons I've just listened to on my Ipod while I run.

Yesterday though, my mind drifted.  I began thinking about John 1:1 and John 1:14 for some reason.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  John 1:1

Here, we see that God and the Word are synonymous.

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."  John 1:14

Here, when we look at the context of the verse, we see that the Word and Jesus are synonymous. 

So as I was thinking about these verses, four things came to mind:

1.  If you don't respect God's Word, you don't respect Jesus.

2.  If you don't give God's Word authority in your life, then you don't give Jesus authority in your life.

3.  You can't know Jesus if you don't know the Word.

4.  You can't follow Jesus if you don't follow the Word.

When I look at America, I see a nation heading downhill very quickly.  I see a nation that has left Christ for the most part.  The nation has left biblical principles for selfish desires.  We have redefined right and wrong as if we know better than the God who has been here for all of eternity.  Do we actually think we are going to change His mind?  Maybe we're saying He made a mistake.  When we call ourselves Christians and then redefine the laws of right and wrong He put in place, it certainly sounds like we are telling Him He was wrong on this matter or that matter.

Is it rebellion or just plain ignorance?  Probably a lot of both and neither are okay...especially when we have the Word right at our fingertips.

This nation doesn't know biblical principles anymore because God's Word isn't present in most people's daily lives.  A lot of churches barely preach it and most Christians don't read the Bible even once a week outside of church.  That makes for a lot of people who claim they are following Jesus but don't even know what He taught.  How does that even work?  How do you follow a teacher if you never go to class or read the assigned reading?  The answer don't.  You fail the class.  The simple application here is that you shouldn't call yourself a follower of Christ if you don't even try and learn what He taught.  In being a follower, application of teachings is important as well and it's hard to apply things that you refuse to learn.

It all reminds me of Matthew 7:21-23...

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Those are some scary verses when I look around at what I see in this nation.  I don't want anyone to fall into that...but how many that call themselves Christians in this nation will?  They call themselves followers but there is no evidence of it.  My heart breaks for that.

In Revelation 3:1-6, it talks about the church in Sardis:

1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

To me, that sounds a lot like the American Church and America as a nation.  These verses should be a wake up call.  We have God's Word so easily obtainable.  Ignorance is no excuse in this nation.  It's time to wake up and dedicate ourselves to learning what the Word actually says and applying it.  Not only is there a great danger to this nation if we don't but more importantly, there is greater danger on the personal level with eternal consequences.  Nations will come and go but what we do personally with God affects our whole eternity.  There is nothing that will ever be more important.

Lastly, if you are going to follow Christ (and I pray that you will), truly follow Him.  Seek Him and actually be a follower.  Sure, you may make mistakes along the way.  I know I'm certainly not perfect and have made plenty.  Just don't be deceived into thinking simply calling yourself a Christian is really being a Christ follower.  There is so much more you miss out on when being deceived like that.  God has such a better plan for your life when you truly follow Him.