We're leaving in about two hours to head to Minneapolis for our annual christmas conference - the Twin Cities Xperience. There's always great anticipation as the staff gather the first night prior to the students arrival the next afternoon. 1500+ students have registered this year and they will soon flood the lobbies and elevators of the downtown Hilton hotel. Please join us in praying for safe travel and that the Spirit would be filling the hotel and actively working in all the events of the four day conference.
If you would like to 'join' us from home, the conference will be streamed live here: TCX: Awaken
I'm sure we'll have more stories to tell after the conference wraps up. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
I'd heard rumors of something called 'the Romans challenge'. I don't know anyone who's actually done it...but, exactly a month ago, November 14, I found myself diving in. You might be wondering what it is (unless you've heard the same rumors of it I had) Basically, its a challenge to read the entire book of Romans everyday for a month. I checked my Bible...Romans is only about 11 pages...not bad, right? I'll admit that Romans has always intimidated me a bit - its length, the depth and complexity of its theology... So I dove in. I have to say that I didn't quite read the whole book everyday...but I came close and what a blessing it has been! Everyday, it seemed, something new would jump out to me and the Spirit would help me understand a specific truth on a bit deeper level than ever before. As the days went by, certain sections I'd never really understood began to bother me, so I started checking commentaries and listening to sermons on those specific topics. Its been a great journey. I'd recommend it to anyone who can carve out an hour (or less if you read faster than me!) each day.
Here's one of the truths the Spirit revealed to me that I've been turning over in my mind and heart for the past 3 weeks. I'm still loving it. Romans 4:13-25. Its rich. I'll post parts of it here:
"For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith......In hope [Abraham] believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told....He did not weaken in his faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised."
Wow. What an example Abraham was! Regardless of his age and his wife's condition, he believed God's promise...he trusted that God could work a miracle to fulfill what He had promised. "No distrust made him waver". This has been such a great challenge for me in my moments of wanting to question God and his ways of doing things - as if I know better! Abraham was fully convinced because we have a God who is faithful and true to His promises - to His people.
"And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
No matter what our situation, we can trust without wavering that God is working all things out for our good because He loves us. Praying that you and I can lean into the goodness of our faithful Lord this holiday season.
After two Christmases of having a 2 foot tree in our one bedroom apartment, we finally had room for a 'normal' sized tree in our new home in Mankato! Here's a pic :)
Also, you may have heard about the great Minnesota blizzard
this weekend...5th largest in recorded history, they're saying. Not sure, but I think we got around 14 inches. If you don't live in Minnesota and are missing snow, here are some pics of us digging out...and yes, that is Matt behind the pile of snow...
That's how my friend, Karen, who's currently serving with Campus Crusade in Toulouse, France, paraphrased a quote from Roy Hession's book, That We Would See Jesus. His actual quote goes like this:
"My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace, nor even blessing, but Himself, my God."
I was sharing with her about how our ministry partner development process has been longer than we'd hoped and how it just doesn't make sense why we're still in this phase of work when we feel God has called us to work on campus. What a GREAT reminder of Isaiah 55:8-9:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
I sure think I know the best way sometimes, but I have NO idea what God sees in the scope of eternity. We must trust and keep walking faithfully with Him. One last quote that I've been pondering lately (and that ties into what I've already shared) then some pics of our new apartment.
This is from Dela Adadevoh, one of our national directors within Campus Crusade. He's writing on our future direction and I felt the Lord use it in my own heart.
"the vision of movements everywhere [CCC's vision to build spiritual movements everywhere until everyone knows someone who truly follows Christ] will not happen if we remain in control seeking the endorsement of God...we need to invite God to lead & trust God to work supernaturally...we need to submit to God...this calls for a spirit of humility on our part."
As much as our hearts long to be on campus, actively working with students, we're learning more about depending on God and trusting His leading....not just seeking His endorsement on what we've already decided to do. Grateful for the process.... thanks for being alongside us in prayer.
Now, as promised, a few pictures of our new apartment. Its the upstairs half of a duplex. We were told it was built in the 1920s by Mankato's first female attorney to live in. Fun to have a little history.
Our days in Sioux Falls are quickly coming to an end. We finally found a place we like in Mankato and are planning to move August 7-8. Thank you for your prayers in this area as it took us awhile to find our new home, but we're excited about the potential it has for our next phase of life working in the Mankato, MN region. We'll post some pics once we get moved in a bit :)
That said, which I realize might be a bit confusing...we are moving to our future ministry location, but we're not at a level of support yet to actually start working on campus. As we continue to trust God to finish our team of partners, we felt like Mankato was a more strategic place for us to live - it's closer to both of our hometowns, which are locations that we feel more able to move forward in finishing our team of ministry partners. Please pray for our transition and that the Lord would complete our team quickly so we can actually start ministering on campus.
I also wanted to give an update on our progress as we've been trusting God to have us at 100% by August 4. This was a faith goal we set back in May and will trust God for until August 4 has come and gone. I'll be honest, its been a hard summer. We haven't seen our percentage go up as quickly as we'd hoped. But we have learned more about trusting God. About the reality that He has unshakable purposes that He is working out in our lives and none of the setbacks we've experienced are a surprise to Him. God loves it when we ask Him for specific things and I believe He's blessed us by building deeply into our hearts. Maybe August 4 will pass and we'll be exactly where we're at today...or maybe God would glorify Himself through providing immensely in the next 5 days. For myself, I'll join Ezekiel in his sentiment from Ezekiel 37:3 "O LORD God, you know." In that we find eternal comfort.
well...we're about to head out on the road again. Please pray for us as we spend tomorrow apartment hunting in Mankato. Please pray too as we spend about a week and a half networking with people in Minnesota. We're still trusting God for our August 4 faith goal, though the mountain that needs to be moved seems to grow higher as the days tick by. Praise God that He can work miracles and that He is working all things out for the good of those who love Him. Thanks for praying with us.
well...our 1/2 marathon, that is. We just spent the past week meeting with people in Cedar Falls and were encouraged by the Lord's provision in many small ways. We enjoyed some good time with family and running the Sturgis Falls (Cedar Falls' local festival) races turned out to be a family activity.
Matt and I, along with my brother, Jeff, and cousin, Lora, all ran the 1/2 marathon. My cousins Nick and Jennifer ran the 5K. My dad served as the race director (which he's done for the past 9 years), my mom organized the kids fun run with the help of my aunt, Deb, and my uncle and grandpa helped run a water stop along the race course. Overall, we had fun running alongside 1000+ runners on what turned out to be a beautiful Sunday morning.
As great as it felt to cross the finish line, I'd have to say the weeks of training are really what I learned the most from. This wasn't my first half marathon...but it was my first with Matt and my first in about 5 years. I loved the discipline of building up our weekly mileage and loved the avenues that running together gave Matt and I to encourage each other. I was also struck at the beginning of the race by the image of 1000 heads bobbing along together and then, even as people spread out throughout the race, by the fact that we were never running alone. People called out encouragements as they passed each other - people who had never met, but were united through the experience of running together on that muggy morning. My mind went to Hebrews 12:1-2
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith..."
What a great image of perseverance in the faith! I've thought back on those moments in the last 3 mile stretch various times in the past two days as we continue to trust God for our support by Aug. 4. We're not alone...we have amazing people supporting us through prayer that we might continue to run this race with endurance. Thank you! Please continue to pray...we are so grateful for you.
We just had the privilege of spending the weekend in the Black Hills with some friends from church...it was so refreshing to see the uniqueness of God's creation and enjoy spending time with some great people.... I really enjoy connecting with God through nature and through people so I'm feeling especially blessed that I got to enjoy both together. The pics above are both from Spearfish Canyon near Spearfish, SD. Roughlock Falls is in the pic with Matt and I.
I also wanted to give a quick update on where we're at with our goal of finishing by August 4. The Lord has been teaching me a lot about believing without seeing with my physical eyes. I've been reading the Exodus story in Exodus and was struck by how often the Israelites immediately stopped believing because they couldn't tangibly see God's provision even though the day before He parted the Red Sea...just imagine...like, really stop and think about the enormity of that...they walked through a tunnel in the sea and starting doubting the next day. I'm not so different...
Matt and I have 'celebration' times every Friday morning to recount the blessings the Lord has given us throughout the week and this past week I was amazed as we looked back and remembered all the unique connections He'd allowed us to make in just a weeks time. In the moment of trial, however, I so quickly forget these things...just like the Israelites. Thanks for continuing to pray with us...the Lord is providing...tangibly even. And He's teaching me about walking by faith and not by sight.
"on and on and on we go; I don't understand this winding road...nothing worth anything ever goes down easy..."
I (Kristin) listened to those words from a Mat Kearney song yesterday as I spent a 1/2 day with the Lord (we get two of these per month as part of our job!) Of course the immediate application that came to my mind was related to our current phase of ministry - developing our team of ministry partners. We've been in this phase for the past 10 months, since Matt completed his new staff training with Campus Crusade. As I reflected on the 10 months, I certainly can't say they were easy....but I can say that they've been worth it. My understanding of God's love and faithfulness has deepened in ways I don't believe it would have apart from this specific season of ministry. I've learned more about the painful, but oh so necessary, discipline of letting God and truly trusting God and believing that He is working out all things for the good for those who love Him as Romans 8:28 says. Not that I've arrived in any of these areas...but I've definitely grown.
Here's another area of growth for me...setting faith goals and praying towards them. I shy away from these goals too often out of fear that God's plans might be different than my hopes and that after weeks or months of praying, I'm left wondering what went wrong. In the spirit of trusting God and releasing control to our Sovereign Lord, we felt He was leading us to put our hopes on the line and trust Him for something big. We are currently at 70% of our total financial goal in order to report to campus. We're praying that God would provide the remaining 30% by August 4...would you join us?
So that's our faith goal. August 4 may come and go without us hitting 100% and I will still fully believe that God used the months of diligent prayer to grow our trust in Him. Or August 4 may find us at 100% and ready to start the fall semester in the Mankato, MN area....God knows...may His name be greatly glorified!
Thank you for praying with us...I will post updates on where we're at as we trust God with this faith goal. Blessings.
Matt and I both just got back from seeing our families in Minnesota and Iowa over Easter. We both enjoyed being at home and spending quality time with family and friends. I LOVED having the chance to enjoy some of the trails around Cedar Falls....so incredible to watch trees budding and the first little flowers coming up. I always feel refreshed in the Lord after spending some good time out in nature and just enjoying His creation.
Today we're going to hit the road again and head to Minneapolis and then to Alexandria on Wednesday. We're also going to stop in Mankato en route to pick up an apartment book...Lord willing, we're planning to move there sometime this summer. Please be praying that the Lord would be preparing the perfect place for us to live and that He would provide richly to finish our team of ministry partners by July...we're currently at 67% and hopeful. We'll be in Minnesota for a week and while we're there, we'll be meeting with prospective ministry partners and would love your prayers for those meetings to go well and that we could even connect with people on the fly that we haven't set appointments up with.
Thanks so much for your partnership and prayers...we're grateful for you!
I had the privilege of learning the true story of St. Patrick a few years back when I took the class: Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (a class i HIGHLY recommend). St Patrick was pretty much amazing...he ended up as a slave/shepherd who heard from God and boldly moved to challenge the pagan religions of the Irish people in the 400s. St. Patrick set up the first monasteries and planted thousands of churches. These monasteries provided Bibles translated into the vernacular so common people could read the word of God. Below is a brief write up of Ireland's spiritual history....St. Patrick's legacy. May his abandon for Christ be on your heart on St Patrick's day tomorrow.
With the arrival of Christianity through the ministry of St Patrick in AD 432, Ireland experienced what we would term in our day as a revival. The word of God spread like wildfire, and many were converted through the national ministry of St Patrick. Ireland entered in to a monastic era- where monasteries were established nationwide and became hubs of studying the word of God, and evangelism was a major trademark as Irish missionaries established religious houses all over our island- and further too.
The Irish contribution to Europe and beyond was hugely significant. Men of passion sought adventure and left on journeys to England, France, travelling through to Italy and further, bringing good news with them. Men like St Colmcille who began a monastic settlement on the island of Iona, that soon became a thriving community with scholars coming from far and near to train as ministers. St Columbanus left Ireland to go to France, and set up many settlements across the continent, and his disciples went on to Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Poland.
These monastic settlements that were established by these Irish men were the equivalent to universities of our time. During the Dark Ages the word “Scotus” meaning Irishman and the word “Scholar” became synonymous. The great Irish settlements of Clonmacnoise, and Glendalough became renowned across Europe and were to Europe then what Oxford and other university cities are to our culture.
So now we face an uncertain economic future, a nation steeped in a religion that has failed them, and a church bruised and broken. In light of all that calls itself impossible, we believe in the God that parted the Red Sea, that broke down the walls of Jericho, that slays the giants, and that raises from the dead. We know He has a plan for our nation, a restoration of hope, of peace, and of broken lives being made whole. We trust Him to be the hope of our nation- not any one prophet, or denomination, or book or 5-step guideline. We look to him alone as the author and finisher of our faith, knowing he is faithful to complete that which began thousands of years ago.
Pray Europe is a 40 day call to prayer over Lent. Everyday a new country is lifted up in prayer in hopes of igniting a revival in the spiritually hardened countries of Europe. To learn more and to receive information about a different country daily visit their main website: www.prayeurope.com
I've loved knowing how to enter into the spiritual needs of these countries and long to see Christ exalted once again in Europe.
i (kristin) was reading in isaiah this morning and came upon a verse which became my prayer for the people of Haiti.
Isaiah 41:17 "when the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them."
may they know that they have a Savior and Provider who is their very present help in time of need...a Savior who is not unable to empathize with the suffering they are experiencing. please join us in praying that the Lord may be their hope and peace.
as we've prayed, we've also felt led to give...here are a few sites for gospel-centered ministries that allow direct giving online:
I know this is a bit late, but we wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We just finished with our annual student conference in Minneapolis called TCX (Twin Cities Xperience) We had a record number of students attend this year - 1600 - from our region (iowa, minnesota, north & south dakota, and wisconsin). The speakers included John Piper, a well known pastor based in Minneapolis, Crawford Loritts, a nationally known speaker and pastor from Atlanta, and Millie Welsh, a regional director with Campus Crusade in the Southeast region of the U.S. They spoke on a variety of topics including prayer, lordship, recognizing idols in our lives, and seeking a holy, God-given ambition for our lives. You can watch any of the sessions from TCX by clicking here. Choose TCX:Radiate to hear talks from this year. I'm sure you'll be blessed and challenged by the speakers as well as gaining some insight into what our TCX conference looks like.
We are currently on the road again...braving the negative temps of Minnesota as we meet with potential ministry partners. Please pray with us that we might complete our team by May so we can help offer leadership for one of Campus Crusade's summer projects.
Thanks so much for your prayers and faithful partnership with us. Know that we're grateful for you and praising God for your generosity as we enter a new decade. May your 2010 be a blessed year!