Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Sure Foundation for Encouragement

The other day I mentioned some of the things that we have found encouraging about our ministry this year. And we truly are thankful for the ways that God is moving on campus and in peoples hearts, and we have much to be grateful for in every area of our lives. But our thanks is to God and we give our praise to God because he alone is the sure foundation for our encouragement, comfort and hope.

Since this past summer I have been drawn to Philippians Chapter 2. Paul writes a whole slew of amazing things in that chapter, but I love the way he starts out; “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love…” He goes on to exhort us to be imitators of Jesus who perfectly exemplified humility. But Paul begins essentially by inferring and acknowledging that being united with Christ should be encouraging and there should be a true sense of comfort from God’s love. This is foundational, and it is in light of these realities, and because of this truth we are able to contemplate, and imitate Jesus’ example.

So often I allow my encouragement to be based on my circumstances. We all know that that’s a pretty shaky thing to build anything on because circumstances always change and are virtually never predictable! But I find myself seeking comfort in all kinds of places and things, when I should be resting in God’s love.

Again, there are many things on campus and at home that are going well, but there is plenty of struggle and trial as well. Life is difficult, and the reality is there is never a time when everything is going good.

So what do you do when things are going bad, or when there is hardship and disappointment? What do you do when you are feeling down or discouraged? My default is to “count my blessings” and “focus on the positive”. I think those are generally virtuous options, but sometimes the math doesn’t add up and the negatives are actually outweighing the positives! (Circumstantially speaking that is.) Merely having a positive attitude and trying to focus on things that are going well doesn’t always cut it. And, that isn’t a Christ-centered approach.

No matter what is going on in life –even if we are bound with chains sitting in a jail cell for no good reason as Paul was when he wrote this- we can be encouraged. We can be comforted because present circumstances are not eternal, but God is.

So, here is a very simple example from our life. We were bummed to be here in Ithaca separated from our families for Christmas. It is disappointing not to be able to spend the Holidays with our relatives, for our kids not to be able to be with their grandparents for Christmas. It is unfortunate that we could not afford to fly to New Mexico or Colorado to celebrate with those we love. It was kind of lonely actually, to be chillin in our house for days. So, to combat my discouragement, I can do a few things. I can be positive, (and as an optimist I generally am.) I can acknowledge that we have a wonderful little family right here, and that it was great to have our friend Larry spend Christmas day with us. And I do consider it a blessing that we are all healthy and none of us is in chains in some dungeon! Those things are encouraging, and are evidences of grace that we are grateful for.

But what truly ministers to me is this reminder from God’s word that I am united with Christ and his love comforts. I wish I could have been with extended family in the southwest for Christmas, but it was just not feasible. But I AM with Jesus, and He is with us. It would be great to be munching green chile enchiladas and enjoying some warmer weather; but even better than that, I can know and experience the personal love of our great God.

There is encouragement because I’m united with Christ.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Titus in the Dirt

My hope is that over the Christmas break I can take some time to edit some home videos. This is just a short clip of Titus playing in the dirt this past summer in Santa Fe, NM. He was in the back yard at my parents house with the dogs 'Jigs' and 'Banjo'.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ministry Encouragement

Of course it's true that “numbers aren’t everything” but as we labor to put the gospel within arms reach of thousands of students, it’s good to take account every now and then to see how things are going. So as this semester and year come to an end; how many people are involved in our ministry? The difficulty lies in both knowing who exactly we should count, and then figuring out how to count them. The fast paced and organic locomotion of this ‘movement’ compel us to operate mostly on estimates. But there are some solid numbers that we find encouraging as we praise God at the end of this semester.

We had over 105 people at our Christmas party! (We lost count at 105) Our end of semester party numbers serve as a pretty good ball park figures of how many people are involved with us. Our weekly large group meeting attendance fluctuates anywhere from 70 to 150, so the parties usually give us a nice number of how many people are most connected to Cru at Cornell. Many people came and brought friends.

This semester we had 9 Community Groups. We have been emphasizing the importance of small groups as our primary vehicles for both evangelism and discipleship. Every community group had at least 2 leaders and a couple of them had even larger leadership teams. This year we started our first grad student small group lead by one of our great friends Barrett Keene. Our small groups have an average of 8 people in them, and a vision to reach out to those living around them.

One of our most rockin’ small groups has over 20 girls! Abbi is a junior who went on the Yellowstone summer project this past summer. She is a hotel management major and she co-leads this group with one of her sorority sisters named Nicole. Their leadership and enthusiasm are blessing many of the women and most of our freshman girls are hooked up with them.

Back in September we had over 50 students go with us to our fall retreat. That retreat always serves to help students bond together and get a bigger vision of God.
We’ve got 5 Cornellians coming with us to the Boston Winter conference and two of our students will actually be playing in the BWC praise band!

Two of our staff will be going to Haiti over Winter Break. Edgar and Nic will be traveling with a team to help serve the people alongside the Campus Crusade ministry there.

Last year we took 11 students down to Florida for our Spring Break mission trip. This coming spring we are planning to drive a bus down there and we already have 26 students pre-registered for Big Break as well as 10 students gearing up to serve in Guatemala.

This semester, a group of Cru students re-launched “weekly EV”. This is a scheduled time when students gather together, pray and then go eat dinner intentionally striving to engage others in conversations about Jesus. A few weeks ago, they had 20 evangelistic conversations at dinner time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tree Cutting (video)

The weather is cold, the snow is over-abundant and the road salt destroys your cars.........but on the positive side; upstate NY is a pretty cool place cut your own Christmas tree!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tree Cutting (photos)

This past Saturday was a picture perfect day to go out and cut down a Christmas tree. I personally would be happy to buy a fake tree with the lights already on, but i have to admit, going out to this local farm was great. The snow was fresh, the trees were nice, and inside the house they had cocoa, chili and hot dogs!

Just for the record, Stephanie really wanted to get the tree last week! I was the guy who couldn't get it all together til now. A few days ago, she was lamenting that we were surely the last people to get a tree! I said, "No way! Call your sister Shauna. I bet they don't have their tree up yet." But, just my luck she did! Why!?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Following Jesus

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus beckoning people, inviting people and exhorting people to follow him. While Jesus was on earth, people were given the chance to actually follow him by walking beside him as he travelled and by physically migrating with him to those houses, mountain tops and beaches where he was spending time teaching and performing miracles. They could see him and hear his voice clearly. They could walk down the road with him, eat with him, or go fishing with him! To follow Jesus meant you would hang out with him, learn his teachings and do life with him. There were times during Jesus’ earthly ministry when he was virtually a celebrity and tons of people were flocking to where he was. There were other instances when he was regarded much more negatively and only those closest to him were by his side; though even they struggled to ‘follow him’ during those darkest hours.

Those men and women who followed Jesus were called his “disciples”, a word that literally means “follower, student, pupil and associate.” The call of Christ is to trust him and to imitate him by living like him and doing those things that he commands.

The word Christian actually means “little Christ” and was first used as an insult to describe believers in the early days of the Church who were following Jesus with their lives. They understood the call and were motivated by gratitude and worship in light of who Jesus is and what he had done for them. They understood what Jesus’ disciple John meant when he said “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

Today, Jesus is not physically present on earth, but he reins in the hearts and lives of his disciples spiritually by the power of his Holy Spirit. Though absent in the flesh, Christ continues to call men and women to follow him.

Following Jesus means putting our trust or our faith in him. The truth is, everybody has faith in something or someone, and everyone is following somebody. Jesus’ call to follow him, is an exhortation to abandon our allegiances to inferior philosophies, lifestyles, and gods and to surrender all to him. He is king of the universe, and his call is a call to freedom, life and joy!

Jesus calls his followers to walk the road he walked, so this path of freedom and joy also involves suffering. Many times we can forget this aspect of discipleship, but it is critical that we understand it if we are to rightly follow Jesus.

Just before Jesus left the earth, he reminded his disciples that he would never leave them and that in fact he would always be with them. He has left us with his Word –the Bible so we can know him. He has given us prayer so that we can communicate with him, and he has given us each other so that we might follow him together –unified and filled with his spirit, we are His body.

(this post also available at

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Got a Deer!

I missed him with the first shot, but hit him with the second!

Monday morning was absolutely beautiful! I walked out my back door at about 6:20am and loaded my gun. We're only 2.5 miles from campus, but our back yard opens up into 67 acres of forest land. When we were first checking this place out last spring, I was hoping that hunting would be an option here. When we moved in in August, my boys and I explored the place and I was able to get permission to hunt on it. It's very convenient!

A few weeks ago I started scouting the place out by walking around with a borrowed bow. I'm not an amazing shot with the bow yet, but I carried it around as I stalked around just in case I got close to anything. I was consistently seeing about 3 doe whenever I walked around, and I was able to get a good feel for where they were hanging out.

Two weekends ago, regular season opened and a few days later, Adam and I set up a two man ladder stand in an area that I deemed to be pretty good both for seeing deer and shooting safely. We went out a few times over the weekend, but we never saw anything close.

But on Monday, I was out in the stand by myself just after sunrise. I heard something that sounded like a wierd crow off in the distance, and it turned out to be a doe bleating. I heard her walking up behind me, and I just sat up in the tree as still as I could. I didn't even bother turning around because I didn't want it to see me move, and I couldn't shoot behind me because of the houses in that direction. It was critical that the deer pass me and get in front of my stand.

I waited as the deer came up closer and closer, walking and stopping to nibble on buds and paw at the ground looking for food. I heard another deer skip up to it, so now I knew there were two deer behind me. Were they does? A buck? I had no idea. When they got over to my right side, i was able to get a good look at them and i could see they were both does. The were literally 20 feet from me, just below my stand.

The one doe continued to bleat, and then I heard some rustling about 50 yards in front of me in the trees. Coming thru some heavy brush I saw another deer. This one was scraping his head on some saplings, so I assumed it must be a buck! The brush was thick and it was a ways off, so I couldn't tell for sure. The doe next to me bleated loud and strong, and then the buck started coming my way. I couldn't make out any antlers, so I assumed it was a doe! It was bigger than the other does, so I figured I'd take that one.

At about 20 yards, I put my cross hairs on it and pulled the trigger. Kapaow!! All three deer started running around in circles totally confused! But unfortunately the one I shot at looked like he was running perfectly fine! He took off to about 50 yards away, and as he ducked behind a tree I chambered another round. I was pretty convinced I must have missed it, so I figured I better take another shot. As it moved into site, I shot again, and it jumped up, ran out in front of me, came towards me, ran onto the trail, laid down, put it's head down and died.

I had totally missed the first shot! Which was kind of crazy because I didn't miss the second one, and that was a much farther shot. I hadn't had any time to sight my gun in this season, so maybe I shot over the top of it......or maybe I just had a slight case of the fever!

I waited about 15 minutes and then climbed down the stand and went over to it. The shot was real good, except it hit the front shoulder a bit. As i looked at it, i noticed a small nub of an antler on the head. I looked closer and realized that it had a single spike on the side laying in the dirt. The other antler was broken off! I'd shot it thinking it was a doe, but it turned out to be a buck! Not a good looking buck, but it'll cook up just the same.

I field dressed it -which took me awhile since I hadn't done it in a few years! Then i drug it home and hung it in the yard.

I cut out the inside 'tenderloin' and had steak and eggs for breakfast.

Jack had been dreaming of a European mount, but once he saw the pathetic "rack" on this little fella, he realized we wouldn't be hanging that one on the wall!

Adam came over and helped me hoist it up in the garage. It was so warm at that point (45 degrees) that we started butchering it right away.

The boys thought every bit of it was totally fascinating! We were all excited and really grateful!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ladies Paintball Trip

Commando crawling. Bullets flying. Voices screaming. Knuckles bleeding (just a couple). Nails breaking. That’s right, the women of Cru had a paintball shoot out on Saturday. We had about 10 women (including me; Stephanie) most of whom had never played paintball before, show up for an outdoor adventure. The weather was gorgeous and everybody had a lot of fun!

This fall some good friends from church let our ministry set up a paintball course on their property and we have had 3 different groups of students out to play paintball. Our friends Ned and Karen LaCelle graciously provided hot dogs and lemonade for the women as an after battle picnic lunch.

We played several rounds of paintball and then drew parallels from the “battlefield” to life on campus. We followed up the games with two really great discussions about the nature of communication and relationships. We talked about how men and women bond differently and discussed some of the barriers that keep us from having close friendships with other women. Through our discussion, a freshman named Kaitlyn shared about how our paintball experience helped her understand why she doesn’t feel close to her athletic teammates. Though she spends lots of time doing things with them (ie., practice) they don’t share the deeper level heart things that enable people, especially women, to bond.

We also talked about how life at Cornell can be isolating, and students can spend much of their time there just “hunkering down behind a barrier” rather than taking the risks involved to move towards other people. More than one woman shared that her “default mode” for life on campus is living life alone and often in isolation because that is easier. We talked about the Biblical truth from Ecclesiastes 4 that two are better than one, and how God’s design for us is that we live life together , in community, on a “team” with others; which can be more difficult but much more rewarding. A senior named Charlene pointed out the fact that celebrating alone, really isn’t much of a celebration – you need others to share it with. As I think about my own life, and all the facets of it, I would have to agree we are better together.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Distribution Problems

One of our students led a really good devotional tonight at our leadership meeting. Heidi is a senior and serves as a community group leader in our ministry here at Cornell.
In class the other day she got to watch a documentary and learn about some of the disparities in India. India is one of the world’s major food producers growing foods like rice, wheat, corn, and beans as well as raising poultry, beef and dairy. India is second to China in terms of agricultural production, but they account for less than 1.5 per cent of international food trade.This means that most of the food cultivated in India stays in India. And yet India is home to one quarter of the world’s starving population and one third of the children in India are malnourished.

It just doesn’t make sense! There is plenty of food, but there is a major distribution problem. Learning about this was very engaging and emotional, but upon further reflection, Heidi began to be convicted about the “distribution problems” in her own life relating to evangelism. All around us there are people “starving” for the “bread of life” and we have plenty of it! We are called to share this spiritual nourishment with the whole world, but we are reluctant to. We’ll gorge ourselves attending Bible studies, listening to sermons, going to church services, prayer groups, meetings, concerts, and having devotional times; we know what the Bible says but we fail to deliver the Good news to those we see every day.

Heidi walked us thru two passages together:

Romans 10:11-15

11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Matthew 9:35-38

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Next she asked a couple of questions to the group. I’ll write down her questions, and then some of the answers that students gave as we kicked it around a bit.

1. Why is it often so hard to talk to others about Jesus even when we know how important it is?

· We mostly think of our selves, we are self-centered and self conscious. We fear the reactions of others.

· We can feel inadequate.

· We can feel unworthy or like a hypocrite.

· More concerned about our own image, and our pride.

· We don’t see the urgency of it all.

· We don’t really believe the Gospel is good news.

2. What are some things you have done or experienced that have helped you to move beyond these things?

· Yield to the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives

· Witness in community.

· Understand and experience God’s love so you can adequately reflect it.

· Evaluate whether you really love God

· Believe God that there are people around who want to hear the good news.

· Pray that God would open your eyes to the harvest.

Heidi ended our devo time by asking everyone to think of practical ways they they could be more missional in their daily lives. It was a blessing for us to reflect on God’s call, the need in the world, and to repent of our personal “distribution problems.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lumberjack Family

We are fans of creativity, though it is an art that is being lost in our busy world. I know it would be easier to just buy costumes, but you don’t get that sense of satisfaction of making it yourself. This year we dressed up as a family of Lumber Jacks. A couple of flannel shirts, some fake beards, and a few homemade axes crafted by dad on the scroll saw. It all turned out pretty cute. Our oldest son had been looking forward to dressing up as Optimus Prime since we found the costume at a garage sale for a buck this summer. So most of us were Lumberjacks and we had a great time, making a family memory and putting our creativity to good use.

At Preschool, Joe donned a boxer outfit.

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Titus turns 3!

Titus turned 3 on Oct. 22nd. Our little boy is getting so big. We had a motorcycle theme for him and made a big motorcycle cake to share with our friends at church. Jack painted the flames on the gas tank with edible markers and he did a great job. We got to take in a special snack to his preschool class too and we make motorcycles out of pretzels, Oreo wheels and an apple slice for the gas tank.
Titus is a great kid. We have to go the store a lot in our family and Titus is still sweet enough to raise his hand, jump up and down and yell “I do! I do!” when asked who wants to go with mom or dad to the store. His brothers have out grown that fun. He loves to play with Jack and Joe and joins in the wrestling match or make believe game or “race” when all three boys run laps through our living room and kitchen in endless circles. He is blessing in so many ways, we love him very much and thank God for our little Rex.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The House Meeting

Almost a month ago we were gathered with over 50 of our students at our fall retreat. After the session on Saturday night I was hanging around and students were sort of milling about as we waited for the talent show to begin. One of my guys pulled me aside and asked if I had a few minutes to talk.

This guy is one of our main student leaders and a co-laborer who I really enjoy spending time with. He is a junior now, and was one of the first freshman that I began spending time with two years ago when we kicked off our first fall semester at Cornell. I'm not going to name him in this story, because the work I'm going to talk about is still very much ongoing, and I also want to respect his humility.

We sat down in the dining area, and he told me how he had been struck with this idea while praying that he should organize a 'house meeting' and present the good news of Jesus to his housemates. He lives with 10 other people and most of them are not followers of Christ. He was praying, and he felt a burden for these guys and girls and he felt impressed upon by the Lord to simply invite everyone to a meeting and then tell them about what he believes.
Now first off, I love this idea! I think it's just one example of the kind of thing that is pretty easy to do in college that is actually quite difficult to do after college. Case in point, I don't live with 10 other people right now who happen to be in a stage of life where they are making big life decisions! But I also acknowledge that it's a bit edgy.....which is also why I like it! It actually takes FAITH!
But wanting to proceed with wisdom (not caution....wisdom!) we decided to pray about it for a few days.
The next weekend, my friend went out to the Desiring God conference and listened to that talk by Francis Chan that I mentioned in my last post. His impulse was confirmed by the Holy Spirit and he came back to Ithaca with resolve to call a meeting and communicate the Gospel!
Now, it was a bit weird really, but it was all good! Though he lives in a house in collegetown with 10 other people, they don't usually have 'house meetings'. But he sent out the invite and everyone came. The meeting started out with one guy asking everyone to "please lock the door" when they leave the house. Another girl settled some logistical issues regarding payment of the electrical bill, and then my friend began to tell them exactly why he had called the meeting. He talked for about 10 minutes about his love for Christ, and God's love for us demonstrated in Christ's life, death and resurrection.

After he was finished, the room was filled with silence. One guy couldn't stand it, and broke the awkwardness with sarcasm by standing up and clapping while affirming my friends eloquence. Another girl followed up by thanking him for sharing and, and acknowledging that such a move took courage and conviction. Then they sat around quietly for a few more moments until they began to talk about random things eventually brainstorming ideas for how to host their first house party.

I love what this guy did! He loves the people that he lives with, and he is not content to simply hang out with them every day wondering whether or not they know about Jesus or not.
He stepped out with passion and bravery and lived out his calling as "ambassador for Christ" and proclaimed the name of Jesus. In doing so, he opened doors, and also marked himself as a follower of God. He is an example to me and many of our students.

For now, he continues to hang out and look for ways to serve and bless his housemates in practical ways. And hopefully he'll have opportunities to follow up on his sacred stunt!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Opportunities not to miss...

The other day we listened to Francis Chan’s talk from the Desiring God “Think” conference. WOW. Adam Simpson and I were talking about how we should probably listen to that talk like every three months just to keep focused on Christ and the mission he has called us to! I recommend it so heartily! Please watch it.

At one point, Francis talks about when he was in high school. He had come to know and love Jesus and was burdened for those around him to know Christ as well. He was a junior and the High School yearbook came out. He was thumbing thru the pages and as he was looking at all the seniors he began to realize that there were tons of people who he was probably never going to see again after graduation. So despite the awkwardness, he picked up the phone and started calling all of the seniors to have a conversation about God and how important it is to be in a relationship with him.

That story inspires me as I marvel at his intensity and passion. It also makes me a little bit sad because proclaiming the greatness of Jesus was not my priority back in high school. And that’s a bummer because High school is a place, I believe, where if you were really sold out for Jesus you could probably communicate and demonstrate the Gospel to your whole school! I mean that’s just the kind of close knit, “everybody knows everybody” kind of environment that High School is! It’s sad that so often Christ is not exalted amongst his professed followers because it’s not “cool.” Talk about missed opportunity.

But college is a similar, and I believe, a somewhat greater opportunity because of the stage of life that college students are in. I am in campus ministry because I know that this is a time in life when most people are making important life changing decisions about what they are going to believe, and who they are going to live for. And though perhaps not as closely connected as high school, the university is a very social place where tons of people are gathered to learn and share life. It is my hope that students would not miss out on the opportunities here to proclaim the Glory of God to the many, many people they are studying with-people who they may never see again after graduation.

We’ve got some awesome student leaders here at Cornell, and in the next post (or the one after) I want to tell you a story of one of our friends who is really going for it here on campus.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Miners in Chile

Below is a link to a story about the t-shirts that the Chilean Miners were wearing when they were rescued the other night. They were provided by Campus Crusade for Christ!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Music for kids

Every few days my kids and I try and have a "jam out" session. We turn the speakers up loud, strum our air guitars and jump off the furniture. It's a great time, and now that we don't have anybody living underneath us we can jam with peace of mind. We listen to rock, some Christian rap (eg: Flame Feat. John Reiley) and a lot of country, because we like country music.

It get's a little sketchy though when your three year old sings words like "rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey..." Consequently we've changed that line to "rain makes corn, corn makes biscuits", and no one has asked how exactly it is that those biscuits make anyone "frisky"!

So as our little band of rockers matures in age and comprehension we've got to be more selective about what we listen to. Kickstart my Heart is still a family favorite, but we pretty much have to turn it off half way thru. Kids are impressionable as we know, and so we want to be discerning about what we have them listening to.

Recently we've downloaded some stuff that I really want to recommend. The first is a short CD that you can download for free. It's produced by The Village Church out in Dallas. The Village is an awesome church lead by Matt Chandler. This kids CD conveys solid Gospel theology to the tune of cool music.

The second is a group called "The Rizers." They are out of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and their goal is simply to "instill in kids a love for Jesus Christ and his Word through Scripture memory, praise and worship." These guys are a riot, and even as a parent, you'll probably dig the music. All of their lyrics are taken directly from Bible verses. You can check them out at Their music isn't free however you can download it from itunes etc.

Here is a vimeo clip of the rizers doing John 3:16. Now that we have a longer drive to preschool my boys and I listen to these guys a lot.

The Rizers "John 3:16" from the album Meet The Rizers from The Rizers on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Retreat was fantastic!

This past weekend, we got together with students from all over Upstate New York for our annual Fall Getaway. I don't know how many students were there in total, but we had over 50 from Cornell with us as well as one from Ithaca College and one from Tomkins County Community College. The time there was very well spent, and I'm gonna give 5 reasons I thought it so good!

#1 FELLOWSHIP! It was so great to be able to hang out together and spend some extended time worshipping God, playing sports, eating, and sharing life. Life on Campus is so busy, and so intense, it is necessary to get off campus every now and then and just chill! We had an awesome group most of whom had never been on fall retreat with us!
#2 OUR SPEAKER! Pastor Mark Gedicks is from Windam Baptist church up in Maine. He delivered 4 powerful Gospel-centered messages to challenge, exhort and inspire us to live the "good life" that God has called us to. Mark did a great job casting vision for the kind of missional lives students should be living on campus. Additionally he was able to share his heart for this whole Northeast region -currently the most un-churched region in America!
#3 THE WEATHER! Out here in upstate New York, you can't always count on sun to go with your fun! But this weekend out on Seneca Lake the weather was awesome! On Friday night I was walking across the lawn at 2:00am in a t-shirt with no jacket on! And it's amazing how much community is fostered when you can sit outside and talk for hours with people and not have to worry about getting drenched or freezing to death!
#4 TEAM BUILDING! This year we hit the ground running with some really strong small groups. We have 8 of them going right now including one that is specifically for grad students. On Saturday afternoon we had everyone divide up into their community groups to do some team building activities related to trust, bonding and community. We used programs developed by LIFELINES which is our outdoor ministry here at Cornell. It was a big win, and certainly enabled our groups to get to know each other better.
#5 THE MUSIC! Our own Cornell Praise Band lead by Larry Lin and Sam Ramsey served as worship leaders for first half of the retreat, and the Syracuse Praise Band lead for the second half. Both bands were really good, and stewarded their talents for the blessing of others and the Glory of God!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lifelines Summer Project Video

Staff Friend Matt Williams put together a short video about this past summer in Crested Butte.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Joe Turns 4

Our little “Cornhusker” Joe turned 4 this week.

To some extent, he gets the short end of the stick having his birthday in September. Unlike Jack, his birthday is in the fall when we are at home. ( Jack hasn’t had two birthdays in the same place yet –we’re always somewhere different on our summer assignments. ) But back in July we had a pre-birthday Birthday party for Joe out in New Mexico. He really loves White sands, so we hung out there with our family and we brought a large cookie –cake and sang happy Birthday to Joe.He was so happy.

And then yesterday morning, we got up, ate cinnamon rolls and opened some presents. Joe got a little Batman batcave thing that he’s had his eye on for quite awhile. He and his brothers spent the day playing with it and coloring in some new coloring books.

We spent some time remembering the day Joe was born. We remembered dropping Jack off at Adam and Tracy’s house in the early morning and rushing to the hospital there in Kearney, Nebraska. Steph was laboring very quickly, and we almost didn’t make it into a room before Joe was born! We thought he might be delivered in the hallway!

When Jack was born, we knew we were expecting a boy, but for Joe, we opted for a surprise. So it wasn’t until he came out that we knew the sex. We were so happy for Jack to have a little brother.

Joe was an easy baby. He slept like a champion and was very content. And now he’s starting his second year of preschool!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Everyone Has a Gospel Story

Pastor and Author Tim Chester once said “Everyone has a Gospel Story.”

Here’s what he meant. Everyone has a set of beliefs that shapes their lives, impacts their behavior, affects all of their relationships -and those beliefs are ultimately set within the context of a basic narrative. Now this is not explicit, -you can’t walk up to people and say to them “Hey, tell me your gospel story” because they won’t even know what you are talking about. But in the same way that The Christian Gospel story informs the most important areas of our lives, competing narratives, false gospel stories provide a framework that lends structure and meaning and direction to peoples lives.

Biblical theology outlines the Christian Gospel Story in this order: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation.

The creation account helps us to understand who we are. God is loving, powerful and personal. God is creator, and we are his creatures. We are made in his image that we might Glorify and enjoy him forever.

The fall answers the question “What’s wrong with the world?” or “What’s wrong with me? Mankind is sinful, our hearts are rebellious towards God. We are wicked. We, are ruled by evil desires, and trying to be our own God

Redemption helps us understand “What the solution is”. What will it take to put my life right? What will make the world a better place? Jesus Christ is the savior of the World. He came to earth to die on the cross to free us from sin, and to reconcile us with God.

Consummation points us to our ultimate source of Hope. This World is God’s, and we have messed everything up with sin. But God is redeeming the world, and someday we will be with him and he will make all things new. God is our hope.

Likewise, false Gospel stories can be outlined in this same way. For example, here’s the ‘gospel story’ preached by your typical Men’s magazine.

Creation: You were made to have lots of sex with who ever you want to have sex with! Fall: the problem is…..your pectoral muscles aren’t ‘ripped’ enough, and you look a little pale. Redemption: You need to do all the right work outs and get a tan. Consummation: If you can muster the self discipline, eat right, and tone up your body, you can be the sex-stud you were created to be!

(Women’s magazines preach a similar message.)

Here’s a ‘gospel story’ that is believed by many college students.

Creation: You were made to be rich, successful, and esteemed. Fall: the problem is… aren’t quite educated enough, your resume is a little weak, and you don’t know the right people. Redemption: You need to apply yourself to getting a high quality education, a super well-rounded resume and meeting people in high places. Consummation: If you can get into the right school, get the right degree, obtain a high paying prestigious job you will be the happy, rich, successful person you were made to be.

False Gospel stories abound all around us.

What do you believe? What is your Gospel Story?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

57 Hours of Prayer

This past weekend there was a 57 Hour Prayer vigil on campus. The event was organized by a few students from at least a couple of different fellowship groups on campus, and the purpose was to " to ask God to grant us individual and campus revival, with a unity reliant on Jesus Christ, and to develop within us a mindset and attitude of prayer throughout the year." There were prayer stations, each representing a different need and students could walk thru the different stations and pray for specific things. Students were there around the clock praying alone and praying in groups.

At one of the stations there were some small peices of paper and students were encouraged to write down any sins as a means of confession. Then they could put the papers into a bowl that was burned after the vigil was over.

I got to go to the event on Monday morning. There were a number of students there and we interceded together for the campus and for each other.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What is the Real Story?

British Author and Missiologist Leslie Newbigin once wrote “The way we understand human life depends on what conception we have of the humans story. What is the real story of which my life story is a part? That is the question which determines what we believe to be success and what failure.” (The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, pg 15)

The story we believe will radically impact our lives. Our beliefs about the over-arching narrative that our lives are part of will inform our identity and it will shape our ‘worldview’. This will certainly affect the way we live and what we think our life’s purpose and meaning are.

Newbigin continues; “In our contemporary culture….two quite different stories are told. One is the story of evolution, of the development of species through the survival of the strong, and the story of the rise of civilization, our type of civilization, and it’s success in giving humankind mastery of nature. The other story is the one embodied in the Bible, the story of creation and fall, of God’s election of a people to be the bearers of his purpose for humankind, and of the coming of the one in whom that purpose is to be fulfilled. These are two different and incompatible stories.”

In one story we are cellular, biological machines, our very existence is basically random and accidental, and in the other one we are image bearers of the living God of the Universe created to live in relationship with him. In one of them, we are where we are here at the top of the food chain because of how we, or at least our ancestors have clawed, evolved and survived. In the other we’ve been purposefully put where we are by an infinitely powerful being! Two totally different stories! And different implications.

If we are simply animals, it would make sense for us to go thru life striving to survive by “clawing” and “biting” those around us and attempting to evolve into the most dominant creature that we can But if we are image bearers of God, we should serve, and care for those around us and steward the gifts and abilities for the blessing and benefit of others.

What is the real story of which your life story is a part?

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