Thursday, March 31, 2011

Desiring God Book study guys

So, as promised, here are the guys who are involved in the study of "Desiring God" that I've been leading this semester. Honestly, it has been just an amazingly blessed time so far, verychallenging and has caused a ton of great conversation and discussion over the Word of God. Piper is a gifted author, and he has helped me immensely in seeing some really important things in God's Word. He is doing the same thing for these guys so far, and it has been super cool to be able to serve them in this way.

Pray that the rest of the book, something like 4-5 chapters left, would be blessed, and that the guys would remain faithful to reading each week, producing very fruitful meeti
ngs with each other.

Preaching at Intervarsity Tonight

I'm preaching on Ephesians 6:13-14 tonight, serving the campus ministry group "Intervarsity", which most people are aware of. I had the opportunity to serve them last semester by speaking on Isaiah 61 (I think), and now I'm very excited to preach on Ephesians 6, which will mainly be "we are at war" and that we need to fight and fight rightly in order to win and not die! (hence Rom 8:13, for instance)

So please pray for me, that God would anoint my mouth to preach clearly and concisely, and most importantly that He would make my words more than my words, but would come with power and change hearts and minds, convicting of sin and bringing joy through Jesus Christ.

Also, I thought I'd throw up some pictures of my office, just for kicks. The top is the long shot of the office, the desk in the far end is mine, while Brandon (the newly added staff from this summer) sits in the near one...although, we spend maybe 15% of our time in the office, it is still incredibly useful).

The next picture is our DVD rack, which we loan out DVD's and watch them quite often with students for teaching purposes.

Finally, and obviously, is my bookshelf. The top left corner is full of some of the resources we buy to give out to students, while the rest are various books of mine, many of which I have not read, but the fuller the bookshelf is, the smarter I look...and I need all the help I can get (joking...sorta).

Thursday and Friday, here I come!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Night Leadership...done and done.

So, this weekend's leadership retreat was a super great time, relaxing & exhausting all at the same time.
Most importantly, we had a very productive time, and all the guys had a truly good time hanging out with each other. Although these students represent only a small amount of the friendships that exist within Equip, it was great to see the time of fellowship be good and fruitful. There are several more students involved in Equip that have a great amount of influence and leadership, including involvement and leadership in worship music, as well as several others who are just highly involved and make a huge impact. We are excited to add a few more next year, as there are some promising up-and-coming leaders.

But all these guys are truly on fire for the gospel, so pray that God would give us the ability to lead them well, serving them and building them up to make them as effective and fruitful in the 'work of ministry' as they possibly can be.

On a personal note, I am very excited to see the plans God has realized in my life as Equip grows.

Just btw, the retreat was at the "Blue Cloud Abbey", which is a Roman Catholic monastery up N.E. of Watertown. I have been going there for probably almost six years now, and it has proved to be an amazing place for private study, devotion, relaxing and reading. The atmosphere was just perfect for what we had intended this retreat to be.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

First Night of Leadership Meeting

So, the Blue Cloud Abbey is a big hit, as I knew it would be. I love this place, and the students are certainly enjoying it as well. Just wanting to post a couple of pictures from our time tonight, and ask you to keep us in your prayers for tomorrow, that God would maximize our time together. Tonight was amazing, full of prayer, reflection about this year, and lots of excitement. The rest of the guys are busy playing "Monopoly Deal", and the rest playing a game of "Mafia".
So, God has been pleased to give us a great time of love and fellowship, everyone more than getting along and loving each other!

Leadership Meeting, yo-holla!

So....April is going to be a pretty crazy time:
  • This weekend: Leadership meeting till early Sunday morning
  • Next weekend (1st-2nd): Men's conference in Brookings we are participating in.
  • Next-next weekend (8th-9th): Youth Retreat we are bringing some college students up near Redfield to minister to some youth, for a little 1.5 day type thing of learning, play and gospel teaching.
  • Next-next-next weekend: Rock Climbing & Camping (RCC) retreat, in which is awesomeness, but lots of planning.
  • Next-next-next-next weekend: Easter, yeah! Nothing this weakened, expect dyeing on my couch from the past four weekends, and also celebrating the risen Lord!
  • Next-next-next-next-next weekend (29th): Summer Training Project prep weekend, which means a trip to Minneapolis for the majority of the weekend, which will undoubtedly be just a great time.
Needless to say, weekends during the Spring semester tend to get filled up with stuff. Praise God that I love what I do, and that he has given me people in my life to enable me to do it!

Most importantly right now, please pray for this weekend. It is our leadership retreat in which we are inducting (hopefully all of them) our new prospective student leaders. We have never had it in March before, and I think it might become our annual time. Pray that God would light passion and devotion in the leaders' lives to want to serve their peers and others next year.

And here is a picture from our RCC event last April, which we had something like 36 people show up to on the Saturday:
And I can't help myself, here are some super-sassy pictures of our o-so-stylish 'Booth Board':
This is one place that has had considerably more fruit come from it than I ever would have thought! We have met so many people at the booth, including a few of our current leaders, and some of those who we are considering this weekend (Emma, Hanna, Ryan, Tyler, Leah,, seriously, more than half of them!) Pray that God would continue to be pleased to send us amazing and solid students through this presence, as well as many more conversations with unbelievers.

Einstein Bros. Bagel

One place I have started to meet with students and hold Bible studies and whatnot is in the new (this year) eating area in the Student Union area, with an Einstein Bagels food joint in it. Virtually every single time I'm in here, it is incredibly busy.

Today, I'm meeting with Josh for discipleship and then meeting with four guys for a book study of "Desiring God", by John Piper.
This book has done a bunch to rock my world, incredibly challenging and insanely rewarding for my faith.
As would have been seen below, if I had remembered to take the picture, is Josh, Caleb, Evan and Brown, the guys in the book study.
They have all expressed that they have really enjoyed it, and at many times they have been very challenged by the truths taught in it. (btw, if you have never read Desiring God, I super highly recommend it.)

Today is chapter 5, "Scripture", which is of course just amazing.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Random Study Time

So this is Cottonwood, the coffee shop in Brookings which is essentially my second office. When I want to study but also enjoy an occasional break to interact with people, I usually go here.
It has proved to be a great place to meet new people, talk with students that I normally might not, and simply enjoy as well. Today, I am studying next to Carl, a Junior at SDSU and a guy I've known and met up with for the past couple of years. He is a great guy, and is seen here posing for my picture, in which I told him to look smart...jk, I didn't say that to him.

Today, I am finishing up my two papers for class, studying for my final exam in "Prophets" class that is tomorrow, and hopefully getting all sorts of little loose ends wrapped up.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Collision Spring 2011

What might I be doing on a Friday night of March 18th? Watching a movie, perhaps?
Well, sometimes, but last night I spent a bit over 8-hours of discussion about the nature of belief, God and explaining and arguing his necessary reality to 30-40 college students.
This took place at our second "Collision" event, in which we partner with the atheist/agnostic student group on SDSU campus.

We came together last night to discuss the question, "What do you believe, and why do you believe it?" We first split into 7 small groups, where everyone shared their responses to this question. This was incredibly fruitful, for the intent was not to argue and convince one-another, per se, but simply to share one's personal beliefs and reasons for them.

We make very clear at the outset that this is not meant to be a debate in which we rip each other's heads off, but share why we believe what we believe about the nature of reality, God, faith, etc.

Many friendships began, many opportunities to truly understand each other, and lots of great conversations.

However, what makes this so unique, and, I think, what makes this such an amazing opportunity, is that we make very clear the point of this is not simply to have interesting conversation, but to want to arrive at truth. For my part, I told the students that "If Christ is not the truth, then I shouldn't want to believe in him, and dont' want to be a Christian...if indeed he isn't true". I mean this with all my heart, because the nature of faith is bound up with whether or not Christ is actually the "way, the truth and the life", and the apostle Paul leaves us little room for any other responses (1 Cor 15).

So, from about 7:00pm - 3:00am (this morning), I was interacting on these issues, explaining what the Bible says and sharing the gospel with people at Perkins till these wee hours in the morning, and it was indeed a very blessed time, not to mention very fun as well!

I am very thankful to be able to serve the students in this way, providing such a unique opportunity for the refining and challenging of their faith, as well as challenging and explaining the gospel and the teachings of Christ to unbelievers. Please pray that the future events are equally as blessed, but most importantly the relationships made will grow and produce many opportunities!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Humility, where art thou?

Being that this blog is intended on being a routine account of my personal life of ministry, I can't help but share a scriptural exhortation that has been insanely helpful for me.

Humility. As I pray for the Lord's anointing for tonight's message on apologetics, there is always a part of me that sinfully is self-worshiping and seeks glory for myself. For me, speaking and preaching can become this, but the Lord brought 1 and 2 Peter back to my mind.

2 Peter 1:3 says "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertains to life and godliness..."
God has granted to us, he has granted to us all things that have to with with life and godliness. This is amazing. I have nothing of my own, for it has been granted to me. If I have godliness in my life, it is because the Lord granted it. If I have life, it is because the Lord has granted it.

1 Peter 4:10 says, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace..."

Whatever gift I might have, it is because I have been given it. And what is more, it is still not even mine, I am still simply a steward of the gift. The gift belong to God, I am merely called to us what is His, to be a guardian of it, to be a custodian of it, to be a steward of what is in every respect the Lord's. Amazing. When I start to truly think and believe this, pride and self-glorification is absolute insanity, and completely irrational!

Apologetics tonight

Tonight, I am giving a short message on "Apologetics" at a Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) lare group meeting here at SDSU's campus. I've been prepping for several days now, and I'm very excited about it, since apologetics has been a fairly significant part of my life and the formation and growth of Equip for the past 6 or more years now.
Unfortunately, 'apologetics' is an extremely misunderstood and badly applied thing. There are very few people who both understand what apologetics really are, and also use them in a way that is helpful for relationships and the sharing and explanation of the gospel. That is part of my goal for tonight, to stick the right understand and application of them in the Cru student's minds.

If you happen to come upon this entry before tonight, please pray for a clear mind, a convicted heart for the glory of God, and a responsible use of my 20-30 minutes (although they are used to 15 minutes, I will simply not be done in that amount of time :).

Also, pray that I could serve the students in such a way, that they would be more excited to be truth seeking, honest and humble believers, especially in their interactions with unbelievers as they seek to share the truth of Christ over the next several weeks.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pray for my Summer plans

Although I will be shooting out a newsletter with all the latest in the very near future, I thought I could ask for prayer and inform everyone that there are some big developments for my summer plans. Partnership with prayer and financial partners is a huge part of my life, for by it I live and am enabled to do ministry and the work that God has allowed us to be apart of here in Brookings. This is why it is a big deal for me to take a month of this summer and spend it in South Carolina on what is called "Summer Training Project". It is a longer story, but we are sorta partnering-up with a ministry called "Campus Outreach", which is giving us the ability to send students on a 2-month project full of Bible study, leadership training, evangelism and training, worship, constant community and, hopefully, an extremely vamped up time of growth in their faith.

I will be going for the first month as Equip staff, as do all the staff of CO (Campus Outreach), which is a big deal, given that I spend the summers committed to fundraising.
However, ultimately, I am very convinced that it will be absolutely worth it, from the experience to sit under college ministry guys who have far more experience, both in fundraising and in ministry in general.
So, please pray for this trip, as there are lots of preparations to complete.
Also pray for the students coming. Pray that God would grant us 12 (!) students to come with me, and is already almost the case.

I am very excited for this development this year, and am waiting to see, but think that this summer training project just might become an important staple for the life and growth for our students here at Equip SDSU.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Honestly, one of my favorite places on earth

Here is a typical chunk of my day:
I try to spend a good chunk of time in study and personal education, so that I can be better equipped myself to equip students better...much of this time comes from work at Seminary, which overlaps of course. Tonight...Mike's coffee shop, finishing up my exegetical paper on Jeremiah 29:1-14.

But, not even a week ago I was on the top of Storm Mountain... I've never been up the mountain in the winter, so this was an awesome blessing!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fellowship time the last night of Spring Break

Last night in the lodge, a very relaxing and blessed time of community and fellowship.

Spring Break Trip to Black Hills

We just got back from our recent spring break trip to the Black Hills. We spent 5 days at "Storm Mountain Center", a church camp which I spent many years at, both as a camper and many more as a counselor.
It was a fantastic time, a really awesome mix of students, 9 of them total. We spent time in a study called "Battling Unbelief", hiking, prayer, making our own meals each day, going to Mt. Rushmore, going to "Jewel Cave", and spending lots of time talking and getting to know each other.
I was really happy with the turnout, it was a great time of relaxation, and even more importantly, a really great bonding time for the students.

Brandon and Erin were both able to make it, bringing their newest son Jonathan with them, which was awesome.

Thanks for your prayers for this trip, it was a really great time and it was like 1/4 of the cost it was last year!

I will post a couple of follow up videos to give you a taste of the time we had in the following few days.

As you can see in this video, we hiked up Storm Mountain a couple of times, this was at about 6:30am, in which we were able to see the sunrise!