Friday, December 18, 2009

Keeping the Gospel Front and Center (Part 5)

5. Study the Gospel
The last part of helping us keep the Gospel at the forefront of our hearts and minds daily, is to grow in our knowledge of the Gospel. If we are to grow in our understanding of the Gospel, we MUST grow in our knowledge of the Gospel. The great thing is that we don't have to go to seminary to do that! I would personally recommend that you be careful and strategic about the resources you use, especially early on, but you don't have to take classes (which aren't bad by the way) to grow in your theology. So where do you begin? Good question!

I would first recommend that you dive into great books of the Bible like Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, or Hebrews, and as you mull over some of the rich passages about the Gospel in these books have a trusty commentary with you. I recommend "The Bible Speaks Today" series (only buy for the books you are studying) or taking advantage of Now as you read and study, some pretty freaky words like justification, substitutionary atonement, propitiation, predestination, election, and others are going to jump out at you. Don't be SCARED...Superman (or Wayne Grudem) will help you. Go get his systematic theology book (which is HUGE) but you aren't reading the whole thing. This book is the clearest I have ever read in regards to explaining what some of these theological words actually mean. Another great resource is John Frame's "Salvation Belongs to the Lord".

By the way, if you haven't noticed already, to grow in your knowledge and understanding of the Gospel takes discipline and the work ethic to read and think. At times, you will do better than at other times, but just stick with it. I also recommend reading outside sources to assist you as you desire to grow in your understanding of the Gospel.

Here are my TOP 10 resources (in no particular order): Click here for a bookstore!

  1. The Gospel for Real Life, Jerry Bridges (easy)
  2. How People Change, Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp (intermediate)
  3. Christians Beliefs, Wayne and Elliot Grudem (easy) *abridged version of the above mentioned Systematic Theology
  4. Prodigical God, Tim Keller (easy)
  5. The Cross of Christ, John Stott (technical)
  6. Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray (technical)
  7. The Disciplines of Grace, Jerry Bridges (easy)
  8. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, John Piper (easy)
  9. The Great Work of the Gospel, John Ensor (intermediate)
  10. Death By Love, Mark Driscoll (easy) *read only if you are ready for brutal honesty and being pointed to the Savior at the same time.
Praying with you and for you as WE seek to understand more of the Gospel!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Please click the picture below to watch an incredible 4-minute video by Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church near Dallas, TX. Matt recently had surgery for a brain tumor, and is now recovering at home with his wife and family.

Matt has definitely challenged and encouraged my heart in many ways and I hope that his life and ministry does the same for you. Please take a brief moment to pray for him, his family, and The Village Church after you watch this!

If you are a pastor or in ministry of any sort I would really encourage you to listen to the sermon "Ministry Over the Long Haul", which Matt refers to in this video.
Keeping the Gospel Front and Center (Part 4)

4. Review How the Gospel Has Changed You
Most of us, if we are honest, try very hard to forget the past. Mistakes we have made, sins we have committed, people we have hurt, and people that have hurt us, are not things we love to revisit in our hearts and minds. The Apostle Paul, however, in I Timothy 1:13 is not shy about telling his young disciple about his past. "...though I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy...". Why would Paul be interested in recalling who he was nearly 30 years prior? Because reflecting on who he once was, in light of the Gospel, magnified the grace of God and kept him dependent on that grace.

It is vital that we never forget our past. If you have a personal relationship with Christ, you have a story of redemption, and it does not have to be a dramatic story to show off the glory of God. All salvation stories are miracles of His grace. God intervened in the midst of your rebellion. God changed your heart. God saved you!

Take some time to reflect on your story of redemption today, and let aspects of the Gospel and the grace, love, and mercy of God encourage you!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Top 10 Most Challenging Tweets/Statements From the Last Month
Below are the 10 most challenging tweets/statements that I have heard from people within the last month and I hope they humble you and get you excited about the glory of God in the grace, love, and mercy of the Gospel. (not in order of importance or value)

  1. "If you only love the people that you can control, that is NOT love, but control." -Bryan Chappell (via Elliot Grudem)
  2. "If we come to Christ God drew us, which none of us deserves. If we don't, God did not draw us, which all of us deserve." -John Piper
  3. "You are only as free in the Gospel as you make people feel." -Elliot Grudem
  4. "Pursue your spouse as a lover, not as a provider of your needs." -Scott Thomas
  5. “Do you worship God, love people, and use things? Or do you worship yourself, love things, and use people?" -Francis Chan
  6. "You can't love people until you are no longer in slavery to their approval." - Jeff Vanderstelt
  7. "When you delegate tasks you create followers. when you delegate leadership you create leaders." -someone teaching at ReTrain (via Tim Smith)
  8. "The church can get another pastor, but your wife only has one husband." -Mark Driscoll
  9. "Every verse in the Bible is meant to have a good effect. Don't throw any away because at first it doesn't. The problem is us." -John Piper
  10. "If you deal with people at the heart level without being full of grace and love, it will be destructive." -Dr. Sam Williams

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Job Update: Cars To Go
After a long and sometimes disappointing road of job hunting, I have decided to try my hand at being a wholesale car salesman with my dad. Kelley and I started talking about this a couple of weeks ago, and as we prayed and weighted the pros and cons, it seemed just as good as any other opportunity.

The benefits would be:
  • Gaining sales experience
  • Flexibility (could do this and work a part-time job and/or go to seminary)
  • The chance to work with my dad
  • The opportunity to add "marketing" ideas to help increase our ability to serve people
So if you are looking for a car and don't want the hassle of looking for it yourself...we do ALL the work for YOU. Just let me know the make, model, mileage, year, color(s), and budget and I will go find the car you want.

To find out more about CARS TO GO follow us:


*If you want to earn cash, refer someone to us. If they buy a car at CARS TO GO, then we will give YOU $100 cash. It's that easy!
Keeping the Gospel Front and Center (Parts 2 and 3)
So I have been a little slack blogging lately, please forgive me. I actually took some time off to focus full-time on finding a job, and to discover what God wants for Kelley and I for this season. I do, however, want to finish up this series because it has been so beneficial to me the last couple of months. If you follow me regularly, I will have new posts up on Mondays and Fridays. stop laughing!

2. Pray the Gospel
I am convinced for us to have right perspective when we come before God in prayer, the Gospel should be at the center. I mean it is the Gospel that allows us to even approach God in prayer in the first place. How do I do that? One way is I implement the verses that I am memorizing about the Gospel into my prayer times. Another way is I begin my prayer times by thanking God for the realities of the Gospel. And then lastly, I claim the promises of the Gospel as I ask God to help me fight sin, serve and glorify Him, and for the power of the Gospel to reign in people's hearts (especially the people I am building relationships with, praying for, and hoping to share the Gospel with).

3. Sing the Gospel
I stink at singing (ask my wife and friends). I am literally tone deaf, but I love to sing about the Gospel. Music does something to my soul! As I read the Psalms, I am pretty convinced a Christian's heart should be full of song, songs about their glorious King. Do I just sing any worship song? This may offend some people but I don't. In fact, I am pretty strategic about the songs that I sing. There are so MANY worship songs today that focus on what we need, or what we want God to do, rather than what Jesus has already DONE! I have found my heart needs to be focused on songs that are Gospel-centered and theologically rich. Here are some songs that I sing routinely, and I would even recommend you finding the lyrics to these songs to have in front of you as you sing, so that you can mediate on the words.

In the Shadow of the Glorious Cross (Sojourn)
It is Well with My Soul (Michael Bleecker)
Before the Throne of God Above (Michael Bleecker)
On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand (Indelible Grace)
In Christ Alone (Page CXVI)
Nothing But the Blood (Page CXVI)
It is Finished-Part II (Red Mountain Church)
Thy Mercy (Caedmon's Call)

Go get by yourself and sing away!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Keeping the Cross Front and Center (Part 1)
A little over a month ago, when Kelley and I began to make some major transitions in our life together, we quickly realized that a great deal of uncertainty surrounded our next steps. We both felt like where God wanted us long term was much clearer than what our next season would look like. It was a very weird place to be in, but during this time God has really deepened our knowledge of the Gospel, and increased our ability (only by His grace) to apply it to daily life.

Theologically and practically I feel like the last month of our lives individually and together have been very rich. Definitely not free from struggle, in fact it has been full of struggle, but God has restored and deepened our joy in the midst of the struggle. During this time, we have been going through the Psalms of Accents as a church, I have been studying the Book of Ephesians still (probably pound-for-pound the best book in the Bible... just sayin'), and also I picked up a book by C.J. Mahaney called, The Cross Centered Life. If you have never read it, you should and here are a couple reasons why:
  1. It is about keeping the Gospel the "main" thing in your life. In I Corinthians 15:1-3, Paul tells the Corthinthian church that one thing is of the utmost importance, and it is the Gospel. We all need to be reminded of the Gospel constantly!
  2. It is small and short, only 85 pages, and it will dominate your world.
  3. It leaves you wanting more Jesus!
Sounds like a best seller doesn't it men?! In this book Mahaney gives you some great practical ways to "preach the gospel" to yourself daily, and what I wanted to do is give you a modified version of how I have been using these practicalities in my daily walk. I will do this in 5 parts. Hope you enjoy them!

1. Memorize the Gospel
Now, I know that some of you just went, "Really... I stink at memorizing". That's okay because about half the people in the world do, so you have some good company. Don't give up! Work at it because God is not keeping a scorecard. I promise you will not regret giving a good effort here.

Why should I memorize? Psalm 119:11 says, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." What a great reminder that as we tuck away the Word of God in our hearts, there is a greater propensity for us to stay focused on the glory of God and honoring Him rather than trying to rob Him of His glory, which is at the root of sin. Having verses/passages accessible throughout the day is priceless. If you are like me, I float in and out of proper perspective constantly throughout the day and need to be roped back in. There are many other verses that speak to memorization that I would encourage you to cross-reference if that didn't suffice, but for time sake I won't go into all of those.

Which verses/passages should I memorize? Good question. If you already have some favorite verses/passages that center on the Gospel, I would start there. If you don't, not to worry I will give you some below. Now, I recommend more than just simply memorizing verses/passages. For me, I have found it more effective for my heart to meditate on (mull over, think on) and pray through verses/passages that I write down on note cards throughout the memorizing process. You can do this in your quiet time in the morning, on your commute to work, during your lunch break, and/or when you pray with your family at night. Kelley and I have even been reading a verse before we bless the meal at dinner time. It is just a simply way to keep these verses front and center in our day. Memorizing is definitely a discipline and you will have to have a plan if you want to take more successful steps in this area. Come up with a plan that works best for you and ask the Holy Spirit to assist you during this process. You will be surprised at the progress you will make!

Here are some of the verses I recommend (start small and work up to larger passages):
2 Corinthians 5:21
2 Corinthians 8:9
Hebrews 10:14
I Corinthians 15:3-4
Galatians 2:20-21
Titus 3:4-7
Romans 5:6-11
Romans 5:12-19
Romans 8:28-32
Isaiah 53:4-6
Ephesians 2:1-10
Ephesians 2:13-16

Praying for your joy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Next Steps...

As some of you may already know, Kelley Ann (I love to call her that) and I have been in a transitional season of our lives. Back in August, we felt like God was moving us away from being in full-time ministry for a period of time, and calling at least me to the business sector. I say at least me because Kelley Ann is now the Administration and Finance Director for the church (Christ the King Presbyterian Church) that we have been attending for over 3 years now. CTK and its leadership have been a huge blessing for us during this time. They have not only loved us well, but have helped me greatly in the job finding process. We recently have become members there, and are trying to serve the church in anyway possible.

Over the last month or so, we have had up and down days both spiritually and emotionally, but God has been so faithful to us. As family and friends (including past and present supporters), have come beside us in this time, our understanding and daily application of the gospel has increased, our marriage and friendship has taken leaps and bounds, and our desire to dream about what God may have for us together in the future has been filled with joy and longing, not doubt and worry. Thank you so much for loving us and praying for us! Here are ways you can continue to do that if you would like:

  1. That Kelley Ann and I would continue to preach the gospel to one another and REALLY believe the gospel on a moment by moment basis. We long to experience more joy in the midst of our circumstances.
  2. That I would be able to find a job soon, and with the "right" company. Finances have been tight as we try to raise money to pay off our support deficit and live off of one salary. I have had several encouraging interviews, and I am asking God for clarity moving forward.
  3. That we would continue to build relationships and share the gospel with the people that live in our neighborhood. We live right between a low income area and a historic (high dollar) area, so the harvest is plentiful!
  4. That God would give us clarity on His Will moving forward. My long term desire is to get more formal training and church plant at some level.
Psalm 126
"When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.

4 Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him."

I don't ever regret having to endure tough times because I get to go through them with my God, my incredible wife, and my family and friends. Your faith will be tested and strengthened ONLY in tough times, not easy ones.

Please leave comments...we would love to know how you are doing!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

This is an awesome picture of why we must continue give our lives to reaching the the nations with the Gospel!

I have gleaned much from Mark Driscoll over the years and thought some of you might find this helpful...

Leadership Is Lonely (Part 1)

Mark Driscoll Preaching Pastor at Mars Hill Church

Leadership Is Lonely series: Click | View Series

Leadership is lonely. Anyone who disagrees is likely not a leader.

By definition, a leader is out ahead of his or her team, seeing, experiencing, and learning things before everyone else. On one hand, this causes great excitement and enthusiasm because the opportunity to learn and pioneer is incredibly invigorating. On the other hand, however, the distance between a leader and his or her team is incredibly lonely, even to the point of becoming debilitating.

The more successful a leader becomes, the more extreme the joys and sorrows of leadership become. In extreme cases, the results are akin to being bipolar, with intense mood swings when stress and pressure turn the cracks in our character into fault lines.

For those who are leaders, the question is, what should we do when we find ourselves out ahead of our team? Recently, God has convicted me of sin in my own life and leadership. Specifically, he has graciously revealed to me ways in which I have patterns of sinful response to the feeling of loneliness that accompanies leadership. I am sharing this in hopes of helping other leaders and the people they lead.

For leaders and those who love them and can help them see their own sin, especially their spouse, the following self-assessment statements may prove helpful in diagnosing sinful responses to the loneliness of leadership:

  1. I feel that God has abandoned me to an impossible task and have begun to question his goodness.
  2. I become annoyed by my team because they do not understand me or the difficulties I face as their leader.
  3. I wish someone would just tell me what to do, give me permission to not do so much, and sort out the complexity of my life.
  4. I am annoyed by others because I believe they are stupid, lazy, slowing me down, and simply unwilling and/or unable to keep up with me and all the work I have to do.
  5. I question if anyone really loves me and secretly think that almost everyone is simply using me.

Does this sound familiar? Many leaders, in an effort to appear more spiritual than they are, think these things in their mind and feel them in their heart even if they don’t say them with their mouth. Is there hope? Yes, and we’ll explore that in the next blog post.

To be continued.

Leadership Is Lonely (Part 2)

What should leaders do when they find themselves out ahead of their team, in over their head, and lonely, tired, frustrated, and bewildered?

I am coming out of a season covered by this exact cloud and, as a result of time in Scripture, prayer, and coaching from an older Christian business leader whom God has used on more than one occasion to speak wisdom into my life, I am finding the following steps to be invaluable to lonely leaders.

1. Accept that leadership is lonely.

There will never be a time when there is not distance between you and those you lead. We find that many of God’s leaders, including Jesus himself, spent much time in lonely places and living lonely lives. Even leaders surrounded by crowds need to accept that leadership is lonely because those crowds usually include fans and foes but few friends. Because leaders build community, oftentimes they find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to having true peers and true community.

2. Use silence and solitude to write down what you need.

Rather than being frustrated because no one understands you, knows your needs, looks out for you, or helps you, use your energy to write down exactly what you need. You are truly the only person who really knows what you need. Personally, I carry a Moleskine with me at all times and make note of things I need in order to be healthier and more productive. This can include anything from a good place to Sabbath, a decent vacation, and the right technology, to staff help, exercise, dietary changes, and so on. Too often leaders do not practice sufficient times of silence and solitude when such times can be invaluable to working on their life rather than staying at the office and continue working in it until they become angry, unhealthy, depressed, and burned out.

3. Pray for God to go before you act.

Most leaders are doers and pushers. This means our first instinct when an opportunity or an obstacle arises is to do more and push our team to do more. Instead, the first thing we should do is pray. The past few days I have decided to write down the list of things I need to do, people I need to meet with, and situations I need to involve myself in. Rather than picking up the phone, sending an email, or taking action, I have decided to wait twenty-four hours on any non-emergency issue and sincerely and specifically pray for God to go before me to move other people to meet the need or for God to take care of it himself. I have been able to check more than half of the items off my to do list by doing nothing but praying, as God has faithfully revealed himself to care more about my ministry than I do.

4. Emotionally wait for your team to catch up.

Don’t default to other-centered contempt and assume everyone else is stupid, lazy, unspiritual, unloving, selfish, and incompetent (though admittedly some may be). Don’t default to self-centered contempt and assume that you have failed as a leader because you are lonely and wallow in the bottomless pit of introspection and self-condemnation. Instead, prayerfully and patiently wait for your team to catch up. Give them time to see what you see, feel what you feel, and know what you know.

5. Teach your team.

Don’t verbally process your feelings out loud with your team, lash out in anger, or cry out in despair. Instead, use your times of silence and solitude to jot down your thoughts and needs as an act of journaling to God, get your heart lined up with God in prayer, and then lovingly pastor your team by teaching them to see what you see, feel what you feel, and know what you know so that together you can do what you need to do by being who you need to be.

6. As a last resort, use a sanctified shove.

Sometimes, when the previous five steps have been followed, there simply needs to be a sanctified shove to get people focused on their task and faithful to it.

I can assure you from much personal experience that doing this process in reverse does not work in any way or for anyone.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Want to be a part of seeing the church advance in our world? Go to Advance09! Register at Advance09 is a conference about furthering the local church and equipping pastors, leaders and the laity to help further the church. Hurry tickets are selling fast and the dates of the conference are the 4th-6th of June!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Support Update
Due to the economy and current job lay offs, Kelley Ann and I have had some supporters that could no longer give to us and Campus Outreach at NC State. To these supporters, thank you for how you have lovingly and sacrificially supported us in the past. We are praying for you and hope that you trust God in such difficult times - He is your loving Father who knows best and promises to provide. Our greatest hope is that even when it is hard, you can know and trust God more. We know that when God does bless you with the means to give again you will...thank you.

With all this said, Kelley and I do have a financial need moving forward, and we are asking God (along with our entire regional staff team) to meet the needs that we have as a region in the summer months, especially in the month of May. Here is what Kelley and I are praying for:

  • $600/monthly: for 3 people to commit to give $100/monthly and 6 people to $50 monthly
  • $2000 one-time need for The City Project (read below)
We would greatly appreciate your prayers toward that end, and also if you have any contacts who you think would be interested in impacting the lives of students on the college campus feel free to pass those along to me at Lastly, if you would like to give, please contact the COR office at Philippians 4:19!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Campus Outreach NC State- Year in Review from Keith Frye on Vimeo.

Year 2 is complete at NC State for Campus Outreach, and God has been moving greatly. Hear from staff and students about how God has been dramatically transforming their hearts and lives through the power of the Gospel.

Friday, April 03, 2009

During the summer, the majority of CO staff coordinate and manage “projects” that are structured around the development of students. Most of you have heard us talk about our Summer Orlando Project, where students work at Disney World or SeaWorld during the day and receive spiritual training at night. Or perhaps you recall that last summer Keith and I were part of a Cross Cultural Project to Thailand, where key students ministered outside of their typical culture by joining the full-time CO Thailand staff’s ministry to the campus of Khon Kaen University.
This summer, Keith and I are thrilled to have a unique opportunity to lead a project designed, not for students, but for the development of ten CO Raleigh staff -- us included! Several aspects of ministry will be emphasized in our development plans over the course of June and July:
  • Seminary training at RTS and at the Summit Church in Durham
  • Mercy ministry to Raleigh and Durham
  • Ministry to single and military mothers
  • Church planting
  • Missionary work in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Stewardship training
Along with this development plan, our team will be spending the month of May raising support. Please join in praying for this process as the financial needs of our region have heightened over the past several months. Along with most of you, Keith and I, personally have seen the effects of the economic situation.
God has sustained us financially every step of the way, often through your commitment to us and to the Lord. We see it as a joy to trust God with our checkbooks and thank you for helping minister to us, as you partner with our ministry to college students in Raleigh. You have blessed us by being an active part of Christ’s body in our lives. He is trustworthy to provide -- we pray that you find your confidence in Him now and thank you for how you love us!
Our Life in Raleigh

The two year mark is vastly approaching for Kelley and I in Raleigh. For us, that also means celebrating two years of marriage and ministry together! Man, time flies, doesn’t it?
As I glance back at our time here, it can best be described as two sinners trying to scrap and claw to believe the Gospel and live out its implications in the midst of tons of uncertainty and weaknesses/failure. The older I get, the more I realize that I will not lead and love people well with my own strength. I feel like I am at a time where my performance is always under par, but God is teaching me a whole new understanding of grace. More so, He is teaching me how to live my life in response to what Christ has already done for me (Romans 12:1) rather than what I hope He will do for me or what I, myself, hope to accomplish. I am overwhelmed that God gave me a wife that is stubborn and passionate enough about God’s glory to continue to love and encourage me towards grace and not performance. Please continue to pray for me as I learn more about what it looks like to lead and love Kelley and other people like Jesus and with Jesus.
For Kelley, the past two years have been a work in progress. She has been doing various things from discipling girls to working administratively in the CO office. She has gifts and experiences that are unlike many of our staff because she did not “grow up” in CO and she worked corporately for a couple years after college. This a great benefit to our region; however, it has forced her to be very patient in discovering her specific benefit and fit here. We are trusting God to help Kelley determine the unique calling that He has for her as we work to advance His kingdom.
We are both learning that life is all about seeing the depths of God’s character and trusting Him more and more. We pray you enjoy being called into the same journey.

Thank you for supporting us with your prayers and financial giving. We pray for you often that God would bless you and increase your faith.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Latest on Summer Orlando Project 2009

Mason Goes Home from J. Stephens on Vimeo.

CO Raleigh Student Video #1 from J. Stephens on Vimeo.

Molly is a sophmore at University of North Carolina. Her life was radically transformed by the Gospel when she made the decision to attend the Campus Outreach, Summer Orlando Project last summer.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

If you don't know John Piper, you should! Listen to him and soak up Jesus Christ! I hope to one day know Jesus and rest in Jesus like this man does.
Be careful about what you listen to and what you teach...
"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." 1 Timothy 4:16

The reason that I wanted to include this post is because I believe many Christians today (especially the younger generation) are being sold and taught a slightly different gospel than is found in the Scriptures, and I believe the implications of that are and will continue to be devastating if we are not "watching" carefully what we are taking in and giving away. A movement that I believe is the major contributor to producing and selling this different gospel (which is not the true gospel) is the "Emergent Church". Now, I would recommend that you do your research about the "Emergent Church" before you draw the same conclusions that I have and many of the reformed community draw today. Below is a link to a 3-part critique that Greg Gilbert, the director of theological research at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, does on Rob Bell, who is a front runner of the "Emergent Church" and produces NOOMA videos that are the new craze in youth groups across America.

Read more about Greg Gilbert's Critique

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Campus Outreach SOP from J. Stephens on Vimeo.
God's Movement
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. 5 Thus says God, the Lord,who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it,who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. 9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:1-9

Above is one of four Servant Songs found in Isaiah that prophesy about Jesus, and what He would fulfill in His life, death, and resurrection. So in light of this passage, I wanted to give you an update on what we, as a staff team, having been trusting God for this semester, and how He has been graciously and faithfully (despite our weaknesses and failures) answered those prayers in Christ. Now, I want you to know that numbers are NOT as important to us as is believing and living out the Gospel, but we will not and should not be scared to ask God for BIG things.

Look at what God has done:
Trust God List for the Year
  1. All staff at 100% by the end of May (moving there thanks to your faithful giving and prayers)
  2. Fall Retreat – 50 students (58 students went to Myrtle Beach!)
  3. New Year's Conference – 40 students (39 students traveled to Atlanta)
  4. Converts – 17 students (over 10 students have come to Christ this year, totaling 25 in the last year and a half!)
  5. Evangelistic Bible Studies – 8 (6 Bible studies have been going with students who are exploring the claims of Christ)
  6. Weekly Meetings – 75 student average (we have been averaging this and more!)
  7. Winter Retreat – 60 students (63 students went to Asheville!)
  8. Summer Orlando Project – 35 students (please keep praying for this!)
  9. Student leaders (The PACK)- to catch a vision for communing with God deeply, discipleship, evangelism, and the Church (I have 100's of stories...they are getting it by the grace of God!)
Love always wins

Recently, I have been reading a book by Paul Miller called "Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus", and I want to make a bold statement about it: "Every Christian should have this book in there top 5 books to read! I am convinced that if the Gospel is to go deeper into our hearts and overflow into the culture around us, we MUST understand how loved we are in Christ and how to extend that love to others." Go grab a copy and learn to stop being efficient. Love is NOT efficient. In fact, it is risky and messy, but that is how the Kingdom is going to be advanced. Praise be to you God because you have designed the Kingdom to be advanced by you being the hero and not us!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Support Update

Dear Supporters, thanks to your prayers and your generous and faithful giving, Kelley and I were able to finish 2008 in the BLACK! We are so thankful that you have continued to sacrificially honor God with your money during this tough economic time. Just like Paul tells the Church at Phillipi in chapter 4 of his letter to them, that he is thankful for their partnership in the Gospel, we say "thanks" for not only helping meet our personal needs, but also freeing us up to evangelize on the campus at NC State. I am sure that if they could, there would be about 50-60 students that would love to thank you for being apart of changing their lives forever. God is using you to create a movement that I believe will continue to ripple out for many years to come. Things to pray for:
  1. Our support over the next year. With the economy struggling, we are feeling the effects greatly, like I am sure many of you are. We have about a $400-600 monthly need (depending upon how the government handles the present crisis), and we only received $1,600 in January. So please pray for us! We need you!
  2. Our marriage. Ministry can be hard (although very rewarding) on a marriage as you give and give to others. Please pray for Kelley and I as we seek to love and submit to one another in a Christlike manner. We desire for people to fall in love with Christ as they see our marriage.
  3. Our student leaders. Pray that they would be Jesus-centered, Spirit filled, and Spirit led.
  4. Students. There are many students that we have been building relationships with and taking spiritual steps towards over the last two years. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will convict their hearts and open their eyes to the Glory of Christ (We have seen 27 students come to Christ in less than 2 years and we are praying that many more would come to know Him personally before the year is out).
Love you!
The Red Zone

"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." 2 Timothy 4:1-5

"The Red Zone" is our weekly meeting, where we seek to bring people that we have built relationships with, in order to do what Paul charges his son in the faith Timothy to do...preach the Word! The Red Zone is a place that we want seekers, doubters, and believers to come and be challenged by the Word of God. So far this semester, we have been exploring questions that many of us tend to have as culture and Christianity collide. We have ONLY had 3 of these weekly meetings since we got here over a year and a half ago. Last meeting blew us away as around 80 students showed up and heard the Gospel (we are going to have to get a new room already) . Please pray for us as we preach the Word clearly, relevantly, and honestly. Also, pray that as we seek to care for and love students after these meetings, that their hearts will be convicted and that they will submit their hearts and lives to Christ.
Developing Men

Mason Bednarczyk and Mike Hall- Please meet two guys that God is developing into men of His Word, lovers of His Glory, and leaders for His Kingdom. Mason is from Wilmington, NC and Mike is from Apex, NC. Just to give you a little bit of background on these guys; we (our team) met them late last Spring. Mason was a believer when we met him (although he didn't know much about practically walking with God) and Mike "thought" he was a Christian, but had a very "works" based mentality. After a lot of relationship building as a team, I began to met with these men several times a week to open up God's Word and see how it could be applied to our hearts and lives. Over the Christmas break, at NYC 2008 (read below) Mike surrendered His life to Christ. Myself and our team were ecstatic because we had been praying for Mike for a long time.

Now, these men and I are continuing to dive into the Gospel and how it applies to our daily lives. I am completely blown away by their desire to know God more, love people, and be a part of a local church. I can see the fruits of the Spirit all in their lives, and they are making some pretty remarkable decisions to love God wholeheartedly and be missionaries on the campus at State. Please be praying for them as they continue to seek the face of Christ, be emptied of themselves, love the students around them, and grab a vision for what God might do through them in light of His heart for the world.

Supporters (both prayerfully and financially) you are changing lives by freeing us up to do evangelism and saturating our days in your prayers! God is moving!

New Year's Conference 2008

Dec. 28- Jan. 1, we took around 40 NC State students to our annual conference in Atlanta. It was a great time in the movement that God is graciously building at State. We were challenged by the realities of the Gospel and how Christ died on the cross to satisfy the justice of the Father. It was amazing to have God pierce Kelley and I hearts, along with our students. God really used this time to not only call seekers and doubters to Himself (we had 2 students submit their lives to Christ), but He also enlarged our student leader's hearts for His Glory, and seeing His reign and rule advanced in Jerusalem (NC State), in all Judea (Raleigh) and Samaria (the Carolinas), and to the the ends of the earth. Rejoice, God is building an incredible movement here!