Saturday, December 31, 2011

TCX update #2....outreach day

Hilton spa!
Maggie had a special 'Hilton spa' last night before bed.  Not sure if you can tell from the pic, but the bathroom sink made the PERFECT bathtub for her!

To challenge students (and staff!) out of our comfort zones, we have a day of outreach every year at TCX.  This has several different facets.  Some students do internet outreach and respond live to questions posted on our evangelistic websites.  Students with spanish language abilities can opt to share in hispanic neighborhoods while others engage with people in English. We do all of this through partnerships with local churches and with Here's Life Inner City, the inner city ministry of Cru.  Students also hand out 'boxes of love' filled with food, a New Testament, and info about the partnering church in their neighborhood.

Yesterday, through these different avenues, students were able to share the gospel 635 times and saw 91 people make a decision to give their lives to Christ!!!  Last night we had a sharing time and Maggie and I listened from the back as student after student shared how God had used them to engage people from all ages and walks of life with the Good News of Christ.  What an incredible thing to welcome 91 new souls into the Kingdom! Praise God for His work in the hearts of many!

This morning, our speaker, Tom Henderson, challenged students to examine themselves and think about what is keeping them from walking more closely with Jesus.  He specifically emphasized a need to look at your past and what 'secret sins' you may be harboring that create distant between yourself and God. A few students and staff shared up front about how they've struggled and found freedom by confessing sin to trusted friends.  Then a time was provided for students to confess to each other or to staff if there were secret sins they've been struggling with. I had the privilege of talking and praying with one girl and love knowing that she's going into the new year with a new found freedom that walking in the light can bring.... as Paul wrote in Galatians 5, "it is for freedom that Christ has set us free...." 

Please be praying for these students to continue to walk in the light in these areas. Pray that the enemy wouldn't pull them back into the darkness in these areas.  Thanks so much for joining us in prayer - your prayers MATTER and we've gotten to see the fruit!

Tonight we head out to dinner with the Mankato students who are here.  Later, we'll  have our final session of TCX and then bring in the New Year with worship and a dance party.  Blessings to you as we ring in 2012!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

TCX and some fun news...

Just wanted to give a quick update from TCX.  The conference is at the Hilton in downtown Minneapolis and right now Maggie and I (Kristin) are hanging out at a Caribou in the Minneapolis skyway system to catch up on email.  We got to see the beginning of the first session last night before it was Maggie's bedtime ;)  She LOVED the lights and worship music.  We had a great view standing at the back of the ballroom full of over 1500 college students from around the Upper Midwest.  I've loved reflecting on the ways this conference has impacted my life...I did a little math and realized this is my 10th TCX...sooo much has happened here. My decision to go into full time ministry. Preparing to leave for Brasil. Introducing Brasilian students to Upper Midwesterners. Meeting Matt (4 years ago!).  Lets just say the Lord has used this conference in ways I never would have imagined since I first decided to come as a sophomore at the U of Iowa.  Please be praying with us for the 1500 students to make memories of their own and feel the Lord challenging them in specific ways during their four days here.

We also got to meet up with our teammates, Jake and Hilary Mlsna, and talk a bit about what our lives will look like now that we're reporting to work FULL TIME on campus in Mankato!  We start officially meeting with our team January 5 to plan for the semester and iron out our roles.  It would be an understatement to say we're EXCITED! :) Thanks so much for your prayers and faithful partnership that allows us to be part of this important ministry.  We're so blessed and humbled to be in a position to share the Good News of Christ with college students as our job!

Also, if you'd like to experience the conference along with us, check out http://www.gotcx.com/ to see the full schedule and to join us as the conference streams live online.  Tom Henderson will be sharing his second message tonight.


I'll try to get a few more updates out during our time here....until then, enjoy the last few days of 2011!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Awesome story...

Just saw this story come up on our staff web page and wanted to share it. I always get excited to hear what God is doing at my alma mater, but this story is incredible! Check it out:

Amber is a freshman [at the University of Iowa] from Troy Mills, Iowa. During the first week of school I briefly introduced myself to her and invited her to Bible Study. A few days later, I stopped by her room to say hi and get to know her. When she opened the door, she immediately exclaimed, "You! You were in my dream last night! Or at least you were mentioned... I had a dream that Jesus came to me and said, 'Amber, Anne has something very important to tell you this year. Listen.'" One week later, Amber gave her life to Christ!!!

Since then, Amber and I have been meeting for coffee every Tuesday afternoon to look at what it means to be a follower of Christ and how to study the Bible. We've been going through the book of John together and she has been absolutely amazed week by week. "I had no idea this was what the Bible actually said! I've gone to church my whole life and grew up hearing Bible stories but never actually read the Bible for myself. This is like discovering hidden gems!!"


Monday, November 14, 2011

Some thoughts on the Penn State tragedy

A good friend of mine works with Cru in the Pittsburgh metro area and she passed this talk along today from the Cru team leader at Penn State.  He shared this at their weekly meeting this past week.  I appreciated the challenge of his message and enjoyed hearing a Christ-centered approach to the situation.  I'll post an abridged version of the talk here.  If you'd like to read or listen to it in its entirety, please visit Penn State Cru's website.
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Love Notices Wet Hair
An abridged version of the talk, "A Deficiency of Love"
Tim Henderson
Campus Director, Penn State Cru

The campus community at Penn State University has been reeling since the horrific allegations of Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse were revealed in the Grand Jury Presentment on November 4, 2011. Interim President Rodney Erickson acknowledged this as "one of the saddest weeks in the history of Penn State."
Episodes like this can create a fog. But they can also bring clarity. In pursuit of that clarity consider that Jesus said the most fundamental responsibility we have is to love God and love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In light of this he was asked, "Who is my neighbor?" which is another way to ask, "Whom am I obligated to love?"
At Penn State, we have been asking questions about obligation all week. Who is obligated to report what to whom? Who is legallyobligated to report sexual abuse of a child, and to whom must they report it? Who is morally obligated to report sexual abuse of a child, and to whom must they report it? Is there a difference between moral obligation and legal obligation?
Were they obligated?
Jesus responded to the heart of that question in his famous story about the Good Samaritan. Surprisingly though, He didn't actually answer that question, He answered a more important one. More on that below.
First though, consider two of the victims described in the Grand Jury Presentment: victims two and six. According to the report a graduate assistant saw a 10-year-old boy (victim two) pressed against a shower wall being raped. He then left, called his boss and reported what he had seen, just as he was legally obligated to do.
In contrast to this, when victim six returned home from a visit with Sandusky, his mom noticed he had wet hair. On the basis of that small detail alone she was concerned and learned that they had showered together. Immediately this mom called the police, cooperated in a wiretap, confronted Sandusky to his face, interrogated him about the details of showering with her son, grilled him about the effect he had on her son, and rebuked him, telling him never to shower with another boy again.
What's the difference between these cases?
Love is the issue.
The difference is the mom loved her son. She loved her little boy and was moved to outrage by the simple fact of his wet hair. She moved aggressively. She wasn't fulfilling a legal obligation, and she wasn't fulfilling a moral obligation. Obligation wasn't the issue.
Love is the issue. The shame engulfing Penn State is about a deficiency of love. Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving our neighbors as much as and in the same manner that we love ourselves, is the chief responsibility of our life. "Who is my neighbor?" is the wrong question. According to Jesus, the right question is "Am I a neighbor?" It's not "Who must I love?" It's "Am I one who loves?"
Again, the chief responsibility of our lives is to love God and others as we love ourselves. But we don't. If we're honest, it's not even close. We don't love anyone with the vigor and thoroughness that we love ourselves. Jesus Christ is the only one to walk the earth who fulfilled that command. He is the ultimate Good Samaritan, and he is the one who loves radically. He said, "Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends." And then He did just that. He loved radically; gave himself away---not just figuratively but literally. He laid down his life as a sacrifice on the cross to protect us from the punishment our sins deserve. He loves you as much as He loves himself.
To the extent that fact penetrates your heart, it will transform you and make you love better. It will give you not just the affection of love, but the courage of love. A love that moves to protect. That moves into danger. A love that doesn't measure obligation, but that suffers so that the beloved won't. The kind of love that would notice wet hair and respond immediately.
In order to love like that we need to first mourn over this evil. There has been an urgency to get past or even deflect this shame. Don't do that. Let the shame into your heart. Grieve. Mourn. We are Penn State. If we will accept the glory of that we must also accept the shame and this is a shameful moment.
Let shame produce softness and repentance in your heart. Perhaps God will give you the grace to see in other's failure to love, your own failure to love. As you mourn that and confess it to Him, you can experience His love, become one who notices the wet hair all around you, and moves to love others.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

what the Lord has done, part 2

Shortly after writing the previous post, we received our monthly 'Connection' newsletter that updates us as staff on the goings on of the organization.  A few summer project statistics were listed that we were encouraged by. We wrote in one of our monthly updates last spring about summer projects - opportunities for students to spend 6-10 weeks being trained, discipled, and actively sharing and living out their faith.  These occur in multiple locations in the U.S. as well as many countries around the world.

This summer alone, 3,297 U.S. college students participated in summer projects. These students had the opportunity to share the gospel 40,817 times!  From those conversations, 2,722 people indicated decisions to trust Jesus as their Savior. Those are just one-on-one conversations.

When group evangelism, such as outreach events, and media evangelism, through use of our evangelistic websites (check out everystudent.com) are included, 119,710 people had the opportunity to hear the gospel during summer projects. Of those, 8,178 trusted Christ as their Savior.

Praise God for bringing these new believers into His Kingdom!

Monday, November 7, 2011

what the Lord has done

Just wanted to share a few encouraging tidbits of information from campuses around the U.S. this fall.  The Lord has done SO much in drawing students to Himself!


-58 college women trusted Christ at an outreach event with Christian author & speaker Marion Jordan at Ole Miss in September.

-at the University of Alabama, Cru staff were trusting God for 115 students to attend their fall retreats...they saw more than double that as 270 attended!

-over the course of just 18 days, staff at the University of Iowa saw 22 students give their lives to Christ!

-at an outreach for 9/11 at North Dakota State University, 67 students indicated decisions to place their faith in Christ.

Of course, I (Kristin), especially love seeing the update from the U of Iowa after attending there and working with Cru there for a year :)  On a local note (local being Mankato), here are a few encouraging statistics from the ministry.

In September: 
  • At Minnesota State, we have seen 3 students put their faith in Christ. The weekly meeting has doubled in size from last year. The community being developed is really exciting. Students are staying afterward and talking for 45 minutes. They are showing up early to talk as well and our socials are really well attending. We have seen a lot of new students coming – some freshman and other are juniors and seniors who have just heard about Cru for the first time.
  • Southwest Minnesota State University is seeing a lot of students who are not Christians but are seeking out what they believe coming to their meetings. Their core group of leaders is owning evangelism and leading Bible studies.
  • Gustavus is launched and we have a handful of really excited students. We are still working on getting an adviser but the start has been good.
  • South Central College has three studies going at its two campuses. We are praying for these studies to become a place where Christians and non-Christians are coming to learn more about Jesus.
Please continue to pray with us for these movements & praise God for what He's done!!! We're grateful for your partnership!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Psalm 37 and some other thoughts

Psalm 37 is one that the Lord has drawn me to many times recently. I (Kristin) have found there's something unique about reading the Psalms in the middle of the night (while feeding Maggie).  Its like they seem deeper, more passionate and tangible. I love some of the promises Psalm 37 offers believers....in uncertain times, with protests, economic problems, conflicts, and disease, they are such a refreshment to the soul to cling to.  Here are the verses in particular that have brought peace to my heart.

v.4 'Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.'

v.5 'Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.'

v.7 'Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him...'

v.8 'Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.'

v.11 'But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.'


I hope these might bring peace to your heart as you meditate on them as they have to mine!

Changing subjects a bit...here are a few new pics of little Maggie...she'll be 6 weeks old tomorrow!

She discovered the pacifier 2 weeks ago...its a wonderful thing!

Showing off a dimple.

First wedding! All dressed up & looking good.

trip to the apple orchard! Maggie decided to sleep it out in the sling :)
Poor Maggie came down with a cold yesterday but still flashed me her first real smile this morning. Hoping for some good pics of that soon!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Our first days with Maggie

I would like to announce that little Magdalena (Maggie) Jo was born on September 16th!  Kristin and I (Matt) are so excited to have her with us.  Now that Maggie has been with us for a full 10 days I decided I would like to share 10 things that I think that I know about parenthood and about our baby girl.

Things I think I know...

1) Things just got much more complex.  Before Maggie entered our world we had the freedom of spontaneity.  Kristin and I could get up and go at the drop of a hat.  Friday date nights could include driving out to a park, going for bike rides, seeing a movie, or planning a nice dinner to make together.  The cities and our hometowns didn't seem so far away.  Now I am learning the value of preparation as it comes to enjoying time with Kristin. 

I am surprised by just how much we need to plan ahead to make a simple trip in to town.  Watching a TV show also isn't always so simple.  We try to work watching one of our favorite TV shows around her feeding schedule.  Thank goodness for Netflix!  Basically things are a little crazier now.   It is easy to get caught up in caring for and loving Maggie.  She is such a blessing.  While loving our little one, I am also rediscovering the value of intentionally trying to connect and have quality times with Kristin.

2)  We still have a life.  I believe that deep down inside of me, there was some part that felt life would somehow stop with our newborn.  This is not the case.  Sure life will not be the same, but I wouldn't want it to be anyways.  As far as continuing to do "normal" things goes, we recently took Maggie on her first outing to Target.  We also walked around the mall and took a stroll in the park.  She did a great job with all of these trips.  There are still fears about how to handle her first tantrum in public and I am not sure how ready we are to have a dinner outing.  Right now we are taking baby steps and enjoying all the achievements.

3)  Maggie has the cutest expressions!  Isn't it amazing how every little thing a baby does can draw oohs and ahhs from everyone.  So you can only imagine how many smiles OUR baby girl brings to faces.  Okay, I admit I may be a little biased, but I just find most everything she does to be so adorable.  I love looking at her eyes when she has them wide open and is curiously looking about.  She loves to have her hands up near her face and often looks like she is doing the wave.  She has one face she gives when she is dissatisfied, that we have endearingly named "scrunchy face".  When she gets really worked up and starts crying she tends to snort a lot.  I feel so bad for her, but it is also so cute.  There are so many other cute things, it would nearly be impossible to get it all in words.

4)  Forget about Twitter, Facebook, and Woof... Maggie is the greatest social connecting tool.  People are drawn to babies and we become the beneficiaries.  We have had the opportunities to meet some new people at church and in the community because of our little one.  We recently got to know one of our not too distant neighbors as she noticed us taking a walk.  We chatted some about being parents and learned that she and her husband have lived on this street for over 40 years.  They have seen many of their good friends move over the years as many of the houses now have become rentals.  She told us how much she missed seeing families with children around here.  Would we have had this conversation with her if not for Maggie?    I am not sure, but I am sure looking forward to the new connections we will get to have in the months to come.

5)  Maggie turns every moment into a photo shoot.  Have I mentioned how adorable I think she is!  It is just so amazing to look at her and to realize that she is our baby girl.  One thing is for sure, we have been taking many photos to capture the moment.  I have picked up the camera more often this week than almost all this past year combined.  I actually just learned how to take pictures with my phone.

This Saturday we went to the park to try and do a little photo shoot.  Lets take an intermission to see the pics.




(If only I could edit out that tag behind her)

6)  A little girl can sure dirty a lot of clothes.  I have been doing laundry almost every night for the past week.  She has an uncanny ability to dirty newly changed clothes.  She is very talented.


7)  I am growing a better understanding of Christ's love for me.  I look down at this precious little girl in my arms and I can't believe just how much she already means to me.  We have been anticipating her arrival for about 9 or so months.  I have been able to hold and care for her for 10 days now.  I feel like I would do about anything to care for and protect her.  I just want to meet her needs and help her to know she is safe and loved.

We are referred to as sons and daughters of Christ.  This picture takes on a whole new meaning to me now.  To think that He loves me not because of anything I can do, but simply because I am His son.  He had anticipated my arrival since the dawn of time and made me perfect in his sight.  It is profound to think about these things and I feel that Maggie will challenge me to see Christ's love in an even deeper way.

8)  I think that I can live off this amount of sleep. 

9)  Kristin is a wonderful mother.  I see the way that she cares for Maggie and loves her with such patience.  Even in the wee hours of the morning when sleep deprived, she tenderly talks to and cares for our little one.  Maggie is one lucky girl.

10)  I don't really want her to grow up.  I mean, I know it is a great deal of work to take care of her (refer to #8).  I just hear everyone telling me how fast the time goes by and I want to capture every moment.  These past 10 days have felt long, tiring, and great.  I know days seem long now but I also know the time will come when I will look back and miss being able to hold her in my arms.

Well these are some things that I think I know.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

1 week!

I (Kristin) can't believe our due date is a week from today!  In some ways it feels like the past 39 weeks have flown by...in other ways it feels like we've been expecting for a long time.  Its been neat to see the ways the Lord has used these 10 months to prepare us (as much as we can really be prepared!) to welcome our daughter into the world. We've learned more about prayer as we've lifted her, her health, her future, and her growth up to Him daily. We've learned more about working together and setting aside some of our own needs for hers. Our office became a nursery. Some of our stuff was boxed up and moved downstairs so there'd be room for baby clothes in the closet. We went to classes and lots of doctor appointments.  Yet its all been a joy.  I know there are more changes to come, more ways that we'll have to learn to be selfless and how to communicate well with each other, but I'm grateful for this process.  We've gotten a taste of God's love for us as our Father in a new way...a new understanding of a parent's willingness to do anything for their child...and of the depth of love a parent feels....and we haven't even seen our baby yet!  We're excited for what lies ahead of us in the next week or two as we welcome our daughter into our lives and for the continued insights the Lord will give us as we care for her.

Please pray with us for a safe labor and delivery process.  We'll be sure to post pictures as soon as we can!  And if you have any newborn parenting tips...or thoughts on labor & delivery to pass along, we'd love to learn from those who've gone before!

Oh, and here are a few pictures of the baby room....we're kind of excited for her to be in it!




Thursday, August 18, 2011

August update and a few other nuggets

I always love hearing our president, Steve Douglass' updates of what God's doing around the world.  He's sort of 'in the loop' in ways that most of us aren't because of the other ministry leaders he gets to interact with on a regular basis.  Its just so encouraging and such good perspective to hear of the Lord's immense workings.  You can hear his whole talk with video from our staff conference, but I'll just share a few stories that struck me.

  • from Southeast Asia: a group of students were challenged to form 'missional teams' to reach more campuses.  Christine, from the Philippines, started a team.  They trusted God and visited seven campuses near their own to start Cru movements.  Soon the 7 campuses became 40.  Just a few years later, there were new ministries on over 100 campuses. These movements are all student-led and are now sending to surrounding countries where over 500 students have launched 200 movements. 
  • from Ethiopia: the country is less than 1% Christian.  The in-country ministry hoped to hold a training conference for students.  They bathed the event in prayer and 2600 students were sent to the conference. During their time, two of the students were arrested for sharing their faith in the streets. While in prison, they took the opportunity to follow the apostle Paul's example and shared the gospel with over 1100 inmates, seeing dozens place their faith in Christ. They were eventually released by the government to stop the spread of the gospel in the prison.
  • from Bolivia: An idea called 'dinners for friends' was developed to share with top leaders in Santa Cruz. Since the strategy's inception, over 5,000 of these meetings have been held and 100s of leaders in Bolivia have come to know Christ.
  • finally, an update from the world over: Six years ago, a group of ministry leaders were evaluating the task of completing the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). As they researched people groups and shared resources from their respective ministries, they found that there were 639 unengaged people groups (meaning absolutely no awareness of Christ or Christian presence).  In the past six years, as these organizations have worked together, 4000 missionaries have been sent to minister to these groups and 80% of them have now been 'engaged' with the message of Christ.  What a great work God is doing!
As I mentioned above, to hear all of the updates, you can check out Dr. Douglass' talk on Significance.  I know I missed a few details as I could hardly write fast enough to get everything down!  May you be encouraged by the work of our Sovereign God in the world!
 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Just for you!

Pres. Steve Douglass encouraging staff
in our mission and vision.
Some of the videos from our U.S. Staff Conference in July were recently posted for public viewing.  Check out Francis Chan's messages (that Matt refers to in our monthly update) and hear from our Vice President Steve Sellers on the name change. You can also view our 60th anniversary celebration, hear from Vonette Bright, our president, Steve Douglass; as well as hearing messages from our other main speakers, Renee Rochester and David Platt. The Lord ministered to us greatly through these speakers and we pray He will do the same for you!

Here's the link: http://www.ccci.org/csu/index.htm

Sunday, July 24, 2011

60 years!

We're still in Fort Collins, CO participating in our U.S. national staff conference.  2011 marks Campus Crusade's 60th anniversary and last night we had the privilege of taking a look back at how it all got started. One of the first people to come to Christ through Campus Crusade was a special guest at our main session. She shared about how Vonette Bright (co-founder of CCC) had met with her after an outreach event at her sorority at UCLA and shared the gospel with her.  She remembered precisely the day in December 1952 that she had come to know Christ.  She went on to spend 20+ years working with her husband as a medical missionary in Brazil with the Presbyterian church.  I had tears in my eyes as I thought of the legacy Vonette had begun in Nancy's life...and that each of us can begin in a life when we trust the Spirit to speak the good news of the gospel through us.

They also introduced the new staff who joined with Campus Crusade this summer and last summer.  It was incredible to see them streaming onto the stage and down the aisles of Moby Arena at Colorado State.  Such a joy to welcome the 'new' generation of staff into the ministry and to think on all that God has in store for them as they trust Him.

Finally, I just wanted to share a bit more about the name change.  Check out this link to see short video clips sharing the heart behind our name change from our president, Steve Douglass; Vonette Bright, co-founder of CCC; Steve Sellers, VP of the ministry in North America & Oceania; and Mark Gauthier, executive director of the U.S. campus ministry.

Matt and I are excited about the doors that will be opened due to changing our name to Cru.  Every campus we've worked on in the U.S. has been using Cru as a name for years due to the connotations associated with the word 'crusade'. We're also hopeful that the name Cru will open doors to spiritual conversations as we get to define its meaning through how we live our lives and share about Christ and our ministry.  Know that nothing about our mission or doctrinal statement has changed.  As a campus ministry we are as committed as ever to reaching students with the good news of Christ and seeking to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission that Christ set before us in Matthew 28.

We're grateful for your partnership as we take this important step forward!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

An update from our National Staff conference...

Just wanted you to be some of the first to know that Campus Crusade for Christ has officially begun the process of changing our name to Cru.  Here's the media press release with more details.... You can also check out this website about the name change

Please join us in prayer as our organization takes this important step forward!

Friday, July 15, 2011

4th of July fun

We got to spend the 4th of July celebrating with the Odland family in Alexandria, MN.  On the 5th we also got to celebrate Matt's grandparent's 60th anniversary.  We had a family photo shoot in honor of the occasion.

Matt's grandparents are seated in front, surrounded by three generations that can be traced back to them.  It was neat to celebrate their 60 year commitment to each other and to appreciate the model they've set for our own marriage....just 57 1/2 years to go!
                                                         
The photographer also took a few shots of Matt and I alone so we could remember what 7 1/2 months pregnant looked like ;)   Check out www.lisahurlenphotography.blogspot.com for more pictures.

Today we start childbirth classes in preparation for our little baby's arrival in 2 months and Sunday we head to Colorado for two weeks for Campus Crusade's national staff conference.  We'll keep you updated as the conference progresses!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

God never hurries

Our pastor shared an excerpt from A.W. Tozer's book, The Knowledge of the Holy, in church a few weeks back.  The quote stuck with me and today I looked it up to ponder a bit more deeply as Matt and I headed out to Panera to spend a half day with the Lord. I'll put the entire excerpt below for your reading pleasure...along with some emphasis added on the parts that especially stood out to me.


from Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer:

Because God's nature is infinite, everything that flows out of it is infinite also. We poor human creatures are constantly being frustrated by limitations imposed upon us from without and within. The days of the years of our lives are few, and swifter than a weaver's shuttle. Life is a short and fevered rehearsal for a concert we cannot stay to give. Just when we appear to have attained some proficiency, we are forced to lay our instruments down. There is simply not time enough to think, to become, to perform what the constitution of our natures indicates we are capable of.
How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.
Eternal years lie in His heart. For Him time does not pass, it remains; and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years. God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves. For those out of Christ, time is a devouring beast; before the sons of the new creation time crouches and purrs and licks their hands. The foe of the old human race becomes the friend of the new, and the stars in their courses fight for the man God delights to honor. This we may learn from the divine infinitude.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

June/July update

postcard update!  enjoy. ;)

June 30, 2011

Greetings! We hope you’re enjoying your summer! From July 17-28, we’ll be staying in the dorms of Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, CO, while attending Campus Crusade’s national staff conference. We’re excited for the opportunity to reconnect with friends and gain vision as we hear from our leadership and other prominent pastors. This year brings added celebration as Campus Crusade recognizes its 60th anniversary as a ministry. Please pray for safe travel & refreshment for us and the other 6,000 staff who will be in attendance.

We’ll have more stories to share with you about the conference in August.  Until then, enjoy the sun!

Blessings!  Matt & Kristin :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Abe & Isaac and spiritual mountains

I'm (Kristin) in a Bible study that's using a Kay Arthur study on the Pentateuch and we're currently in Genesis. I just read the story of how God called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on the mountain (Gen. 22) and felt like the Lord caused a few new things to stick out to me. The first sentence of that story is "God tested Abraham and said to him...." (Gen 22:1)  God was looking to see if Abe loved Him more than he loved his son. Then, when Abe and Isaac leave the servants and head up the mountain, really at any point God could interject and say 'ok, ok, I believe you love me'  But God doesn't do that.  God lets Abraham get to the point where he's holding the knife over his only son that he waited 100 years to have.  At that moment, and not a split second before, God shows His faithfulness to hold to His promise and He provides a ram for the sacrifice instead.  


As I pondered this passage, my mind started thinking through parallels episodes in my own life and thinking about what God might want to teach me through those faith-trying moments. I wrote a few questions in my journal that came to mind: How far will I go to show the Lord I trust in Him more than people, money, reputation, etc...?  Where am I on the mountain? Did I sit down somewhere out of fear instead of continuing along to do what God has asked of me? Am I trying to cut a corner somewhere or find my own 'ram' to sacrifice instead of trusting God to provide?


These are questions the Lord has continued to bring to my mind over the past week and its been a great challenge. We're currently in Alexandria, MN meeting with people to share about our ministry work as we build our team of ministry partners.  In the midst of that, we're in a position of needing to trust the Lord wholly to provide for us in something that isn't within our control.  What a great role model Abraham is!  As I finished the study on the passage I mentioned above, I cross-referenced Romans 4:21, which mentions Abe's steadfast faith in no uncertain terms:  "No distrust made him (Abe) 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."


mmm...what a way to live. Fully convinced of the Lord's promises and faithfulness. An ever deeper trust in His perfect ways is my prayer for my walk with the Lord.  Leave a comment or drop us an email if you have a spiritual mountain you're hiking right now that we can pray for.  May you grow strong(er) in your faith as you trust Him.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A little preparation

The weather is still struggling to make up its mind as it switches back and forth between rainy and sunny days.  One day good and the next day bad.  Well yesterday was another rainy day and Kristin and I decided that we would make the most of our indoor time and assemble our new baby crib that had arrived.

We've been doing a little work lately in turning our home office into a baby room.  Kristin's parents recently paid a visit.  While here they brought up a rocking chair and helped cut a carpet remnant to fit the room.  The room was starting to take on some of the characteristics of our baby girl's future room.  It just seemed to be missing one key component... the crib!

So yesterday we enjoyed spending that hour getting on our knees and assembling the crib.  When finished we put on the new pink bed sheet and folded the new pink animal print quilt over one of the crib's railings.  Oh how pink will be an ever more prominent part of my life!

It has been fun to make these little preparations.  They help to remind me of the exciting days to come and suppose the challenges as well.  They help to make everything feel more real and have given Kristin and I some opportunities to share in our anticipation.  Three months now doesn't seem that far off!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Glimpse of Heaven

Matt and I have been reading Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven, together recently.  The Lord has really used it to encourage both of us to look more deeply at the Scriptures and to be encouraged about all that can be found about our eternal home.  I love that the author refuses to write things about heaven that can't be found in Scripture and that he gives a very thorough treatment to the many facets of what lies ahead of us.

A few days ago in our reading, Alcorn included a quote from Martin Luther that seemed especially significant given the spring season:

 "Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime"

Flowers at 7 Mile Creek park during a recent hike
I LOVE that. Yesterday, I went out for a run before church and was struck anew by the significance of that quote.  My favorite trail near our house (Red Jacket for those of you familiar with Mankato), seemed to have come alive.  We were out of town for about a week and while there was plenty of new growth a week ago, it almost felt like the scenery had exploded into spring.  What grace that God gives us this wonderful hint of heaven every year.  As winter slowly fades away - usually lingering a little longer that most of us would like - spring slowly takes its place, gaining momentum as each week passes, until the world seems to have transformed.  Color, warm air, and new life takes the place of the black/brown/white winter palate and gives us new hope.

May you have ample opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of spring and may you hope ever more deeply for the eternal home Christ is preparing for us.  A place more marvelous than the most beautiful spring our eyes have witnessed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It's a girl!

We had our big 21 wk ultrasound last week and found out that we're having a girl!  We're excited to know the gender of our little baby and to start preparing her room and thinking of names.  Here's a pic - pretty sure she's sucking her thumb :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Helping Japan

As the clean up and rebuilding continues in Japan, Campus Crusade wants to be available to be the hands and feet of Christ to this earthquake/tsunami-ravaged country.  Here's some information on how you could actually go and bring the hope of Christ to the people of Japan - a people who are in desperate spiritual and physical need. I'm passing on an email from Tommy Dyo, who coordinates Campus Crusade's EPIC ministry to Asian American students:


Dear Friends,
The EPIC movement has led the USCM in a key partnership with CRASH (Christian Relief, Assistance, Support and Hope) Japan and Japan CCC to send at least three waves of rebuilding teams beginning June 27th. The work to be done has not yet been specifically outlined, but daily work likely will include debris removal, cooking, cleaning and children’s ministry.

The cost for a person to participate will be approximately $4500. As of right now, the first three project dates will be as follows:

-          Project A: June 27-July 19 (deadline to apply: May 10)
-          Project B: July 13-August 4 (deadline to apply: May 18)
-          Project C: August 1-August 23 (deadline to apply: June 1)

Due to the nature of the work, as well as the conditions on the ground where we will be working, participants will need to be in good overall physical, psychological and emotional health.

Though not required for every applicant, we have special needs that will be considered when processing applications. For example, in order for our teams to be able to work effectively, we need Japanese speakers to serve as translators. Special skill sets related to rebuilding would also be helpful (e.g. you might have students who have worked in construction who you could encourage to go).

Please note that we are continuing to monitor the radiation situation and will not intentionally put anyone in danger. Also, we have invited a number of Japanese churches and organizations to participate in sending with the USCM as well, as they will likely be able to help more significantly with providing translators and other resources that are needed. Therefore, the teams will not be made up entirely of students and campus ministry staff.

As the time is short, please encourage interested students, faculty, volunteers to apply quickly! To apply, direct them to http://gosummerproject.com and have them look for Japan Rebuild: Project A, B and C.

Thank you for participating as we help to rebuild Japan on the foundation of Jesus!

Tommy Dyo
Executive Director – Epic Movement


You can also check out Japan Rebuild for more information.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Abundantly More

I (Kristin) have been studying Ephesians lately and I find myself getting hung up on this passage each time I read through:


(Ephesians 3:14-21)
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


Its such a familiar passage that I can easily glaze over it and think, 'that was nice' when I finish reading the Amen.  When I pause to really process what Paul is conveying in this passage, however, it literally blows my mind.  I just can't grasp the fact that our Lord's Spirit is giving us strength in our inner beings so that we might understand the reaches of God's love for us more deeply.  What a God we serve!


To know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.  Isn't that a paradox? We've been given a great treasure our human minds just can't comprehend.  I love that towards the end of verse 19, where it says, 'that you may be filled with all the fullness of God', the Greek here actually indicates not just that we may be filled, but that we will be KEPT FULL...over time, God continually fills us with Himself.


Then stack verse 20 in there and try to grasp that God can do ABUNDANTLY more than we can ask or think.  That's more than we can ask or think even with His Spirit giving us knowledge in our inner being.  I'm so grateful that we serve such a great and incomprehensible God who loves us deeply and personally.


Praise God for His GREAT love and Jesus' sacrifice that paved the way for us to enter into this incredible love relationship with the Sovereign Creator of the universe.  May you have a blessed Easter!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Joys that come with spring!

Put away those winter coats because spring has arrived!  I (Matt) would not consider myself a winter person so I have been eagerly awaiting spring and all new opportunities to enjoy being outside.  Here are a few ways we have been enjoying the first warmer days of the new year...

We were able to get out our bikes out from storage and go for our first ride yesterday.  Our tires were flat and it took a little hunting to find a gas station with air that wasn't out of service.  After filling our tires we biked onto the Red Jacket Trail.  It really is a wonderful trail.  Kristin, with her great knowledge of various kinds of vegetation, pointed out all of the purple and white crocuses that are starting to bloom along it.  While biking, we try to guesstimate when the trees will grow their leaves.  I'm thinking between 2-3 weeks.

Unfortunately the flooding damaged one of the most beautiful parts of the trail, an old railroad bridge that has been converted to a trail bridge overlooking the Le Sueur River.  A whole section of the bridge has been removed.  We both hope that they will repair the bridge. 



Kristin and I have also been enjoying our walks on this same trail.  The trail is connected right next to the YMCA and is near to where we live.  We have recently been doing prayer walks together on the trail.  It is very peaceful and a great way to connect with each other and God.  Sometimes when it is hard to focus on prayer, I find a walk to be the perfect remedy.

We hung up a bird house in a tree in our back yard.  This is my first residence with a back yard.  We also look forward to grilling in the yard sometime soon.  Oh grilling how I've missed you!

Lastly, we have had our first opportunity of the year to continue our ritual of walking to a nearby Dairy Queen.  Funny thing, I believe it was after we ordered, the manager said that they and all of the other Dairy Queens in Mankato have run out of vanilla ice cream.  This was a week ago and it was still a little chilly.  I guess when you are anxious for spring a little Dairy Queen ice cream can help convince, if only a moment, that spring has actually arrived.

Well those are just a few of our experiences outdoors.  I hope you also get opportunities to enjoy the wonderful weather! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

A little more from Big Break

We mentioned Big Break, Campus Crusade's spring break conference in Panama City Beach, FL in our prayer letter (see below) but I just happened across a few more details about this year's conference that I was encouraged by.  Big Break is unique in that its a national conference. Clearly all colleges in the country do not align their spring breaks, thus Big Break happens four times (four different weeks) throughout the end of February through March.

Here are some statistics I just found about two of the weeks.  Praise God with me for what He did during that time!

week of March 6-11 (this is when the Minnesota State students were in attendance)

  • 3260 spiritual conversations initiated
  • 1036 people heard the gospel
  • 115 people made decisions to trust Christ
  • 164 people heard learned about living a Spirit-filled life
week of March 13-18

  • 5900 spiritual conversations initiated
  • 2332 people heard the gospel
  • 209 people made decisions to trust Christ as their Savior

Praise God for how He worked at one of the top spring break destinations this year.  Pray that these new believers would be built up in their faith as they return home - that they would connect with ministries at their respective campuses and churches in the towns where they live.

March update

Just click on the image to read.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

40 days of worship & seeking the Lord together

Campus Crusade leadership is initiated a call to staff, students, and ministry partners to join together in 40 days of prayer and worshipping the Lord together.  Here are some thoughts from Steve Sellers, the U.S. National Director, on this 40 days:

I'd like to worship the Lord with you. I'd like us as a movement to worship Him together.

Over the last several months I've been impressed by several things. First, I hear and see all that God is doing throughout our ministries. We're experiencing increased fruit in evangelism as you step out in faith to share the gospel. We're seeing an increase in the number of people who want to join our staff and we're mobilizing partners in new and compelling ways. There's much to be thankful for.

I'm also impressed by the challenges that lie ahead and the reality that God must produce the results at every point in this missionary endeavor we share.

As I talk with the Lord about both our successes and our challenges, I'm compelled to worship Him. He is glorious and any words I use to describe Him are inadequate. We are both much-loved and needy -- and each of those makes us want to draw near to Him.

So, as we approach the Lenten season, I'd like to call us together to a time of focused worship and seeking the Lord's face beginning March 17. It's an incredible promise that God is simply waiting for His people to draw near to Him so we can experience Him drawing near to us. I look forward to doing it together.

We would love to have you join us as we pray and worship God in the coming 40 days (March 17-April 25).  Matt and I have both decided to set aside an hour each day just for prayer and worship.  We're excited to see how the Lord will grow us in this time.

The timing is especially significant to us as we'd decided to trust the Lord to complete our team of ministry partners by April 25.  This is a God-sized goal. One we can't imagine completing on our own effort.  Whatever the coming 40 days might hold for you, we'd be grateful if you'd remember us specifically in prayer during this time.  

Please let us know how we can lift your needs up to the Lord as well. What a privilege to bring our needs before the living God together!

Here's a link to CCC's guide for the 40 days.  You can also follow the devotional on facebook

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

a little blessing

As I (Kristin) in our office working today, I can see the snow coming down outside (thankfully only 2-3 inches!) but as I watch the sky, I can't help but notice the buds on the tree branches, just waiting to burst out their little leaves as soon as the weather warms.  What a great promise of new life on the tale end of a long winter!

Just wanted to share...when you're feeling spring fever, look up. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Praying Life

I (Kristin) was recently challenged by a friend to join her in setting aside an hour a day for prayer for 40 days.  I took the challenge, excited to grow in my consistency and depth in prayer.  As I entered into that hour each day, it quickly became apparent that I have a lot of hang ups in my prayer life.  Wondering if things would just happen whether or not I prayed.  Wondering how my small prayers could really turn around the dark spiritual climate of some middle-eastern country.  Wondering if I was being selfish...or too petty...or not experiencing enough connection or emotion regarding the Lord.  Maybe you've experienced some of these things too?

As the days went by, I often found myself starting out asking the Lord to show me how to pray, how to focus on Him alone and not the other tasks of the day.  After a few weeks, I stumbled upon a book review of a book called A Praying Life, by Paul Miller.  The subtitle was "Connecting with God in a Distracting World". Seemed about right.  Now, I'm not going to say that this book has removed all my doubts and fully resolved all my hang ups, but it has addressed all of the issues I listed above and has given me refreshing perspective on connecting with God in our modernized world.

Here's a teaser from the first section, "Praying Like a Child":

'The difficulty of coming just as we are is that we are messy. And prayer makes it worse. When we slow down to pray, we are immediately confronted with how unspiritual we are, with how difficult it is to concentrate on God. We don't know how bad we are until we try to be good. Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer.' (pg. 28)

I haven't quite finished the book yet, but I know the last section is called 'Praying in the Real World'. I'm excited to see what other insights Miller has to offer as I continue on the journey of trusting and knowing the Lord more through prayer.  If you want a challenging and refreshing read on prayer, I'd highly recommend this book.

On a personal level, Matt and I have decided to trust the Lord through prayer to complete our team of ministry partners by April 25. This would enable us to attend our region's annual staff conference as well as receive a summer assignment and start on campus in the fall.  We're trusting God with this date and would be grateful if you would join us in prayer, as well.  Blessings to you!