Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Inside Look at Bozeman, Montana

Ok, so I saw this shirt in the store and I couldn't resist 1) taking a picture and 2) buying one, because it is the question most asked when I told them where God was calling me to serve. 

Here is a brief look into Bozeman, Montana: Contrary to popular belief of friends back in Tennessee and elsewhere around the country, there are stoplights, a Walmart, Target, Costco, internet and paved roads where people drive cars (not horses) here in Bozeman.  It is the fourth largest city in Montana, with a population of about 40,000, and is located in the south-western part of the state.  You can get to Yellowstone National Park in under an hour and a half and a ski resort in under 20 minutes (Bridger Bowl Ski Area).  ALSO, there is an airport in town, so any of you who want to hop on a quick flight, I can be there to pick you up within twenty minutes.  Mostly jets fly in here too instead of "prop jobs" so you should have no problems! :)

Ok, to the ministry side of Bozeman: Approximately 90-94 percent of those in Bozeman are lost (do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ).  Yes, those statistics really do exist in the United States!  Kirkwood Baptist Church, where I have the privilege of serving, is located less than three miles from Montana State University and is right across from the only high school in the city.  There are neighborhoods and apartment complexes surrounding the church that have many children, and we are looking to target some of those areas this summer!

The past week we have been hard at work here, praying, organizing, planning, preparing and praying some more about what God would have us do this summer.  In addition to getting ready for Vacation Bible School and outreach events in the park, we are going to start a kickball club for the first part of the summer that serves the local neighborhoods.  It will meet on a weekly basis and will include devotions each week for the kids.  Also, with the London Summer Olympics coming up at the end of July, we are going to do a camp with the theme, "Olympic Week: Run the Race" which will focus on Hebrews 12:1-2 that tells us to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us fixing our eyes on Jesus."  Please pray for Pastor James and Misty Wyatt, the church members, along with Andrew and Jennifer Lane who are on their way out from Kentucky to serve at Kirkwood, that God would unite us all around what He is leading us to do!

One of the statements made multiple times to me before I came to Montana was the difficulty of sharing the Gospel here.  This week I spent time studying a passage that reminded me the importance of planting my feet in God's Word over the opinion of man.  In John 4 Jesus' disciples return with something for him to eat and find him talking to a Samaritan woman.  As they urge him to come along, in John 4:35 Jesus says to his disciples, "Listen to what I am telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest."  I thought of how often in our lives we get distracted by something, such as our immediate physical hunger, when our job is to keep our eyes on Him, knowing that engaging in matters of eternal significance bring far greater joy and satisfaction.  God tells us to "seek first His kingdom" (Matt 6:33) and promises us in His Word that the fields are ready for harvest.  The question is, what are we going to do with the time and talents He has entrusted us with? 

The time is now!  Looking forward to seeing God move in this city!

Friday, May 25, 2012

"Bozeman or Bust"

Road trip - Are we there yet?!

What a road trip! Eight states (Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and finally into Montana) in three days!  Along the way we were able to stop at some pretty cool rest stops, the Badlands and a quick drive past Mount Rushmore.  It was unbelievable to see God's creation and truly just marvel in how awesome He is.  Other than getting a little sick along the way, it was a very smooth and relaxing ride to just be still for a while.  I am grateful for my two sweet friends who made the trip out with me!

We made it into Bozeman, Montana Tuesday evening.  I got to meet with the Pastor and his wife and their three (soon to be four) precious kids.  We continued our discussions of ministry opportunities for the summer and I have spent the past couple days getting acquainted with the town, only making a couple U-turns along the way! Wednesday night I got to see many of the people from the church I had met back in November.  It is amazing to see how fast relationships centered on the Lord are picked up.  I am excited to serve alongside them and see God at work.  I was also able to take a day trip this week to Yellowstone, which is about an hour from Bozeman, and saw a moose, a bear, bison, elk, deer, a fox, hot springs and geysers.  There was still snow on the mountaintops AND it snowed during the day, which was my favorite part! 

The Badlands - Amazing God made all this!
Mt Rushmore
Yellowstone National Park
On the drive out of Yellowstone

As life has quickly gotten busy, I have been reminded about the importance of starting and ending the day in His Word and praising Him.  It is so important to start each day allowing Him to fill us up so we are able to overflow with His love and grace as we go through each day.  This verse He has burned on my heart this past week:

"Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thes 5:16-18

This is so important because our attitude is contagious, prayers keep our focus on Him, and giving thanks is a humble reminder that He is the giver of everything!

Please pray for:
- The ability to get to know people in the community and build relationships with those who can help share the Gospel.
- For the Lord to give us clear direction on which of the many ministry opportunities to focus on.
- Patience as I find my way around a new place!

Thank you so much to all of you who I have heard from on the way out to Bozeman - your support means so much and I thank God for each of you!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What is most familiar in your life?

I am leaving for Bozeman in the morning and am so excited!  God has provided such a sweet time the past few weeks with dear friends who have been a huge blessing in my life here in Nashville - they have supported me, prayed for me, challenged me, and pointed me to the Lord, for which I am eternally grateful.  I have finally finished the last of the tasks here that needed to be accomplished and am hitting the road early in the AM - it's a 27 and a half hour drive and I am grateful to have two dear friends going with me.  Please pray for safe travels and that the Lord would continue to prepare my heart for the work He will have me do when I get there, and for the precious people I will have the privilege of serving and working alongside in Montana!

Also, with things coming to a close for this season here in Nashville, the question was recently posed to me, "What is most familiar in your life?"  There are so many things we can put our hope and trust in - Jesus, family, friends, work, where we live, money, house, etc - all good things, but only one is the ultimate - and that is our Savior.  Getting ready to leave Nashville, a place I have lived for the past six years to head to Bozeman has really allowed me step back and gain perspective and to seek the Lord in prayer that He would be what truly gives me the most comfort and the only foundation I ever plant my feet on.  Although there are times it can be scary stepping out of our comfort zone, it is a chance for God to show us that He is enough and that He works in our life in ways far beyond what we can imagine... Is Jesus what is most familiar in your life?

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

I am so thankful for friends who encourage me to keep a proper perspective and to know that God's love can truly bridge any distance!
Sweet friends who always point me to Him!
Blessed time with the Board at the Academy I have worked the past 2 years and their precious kids.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Commissioning Service and Reception

On Sunday, April 29th I was commissioned in both services at Judson Baptist Church in preparation for leaving for Montana.  I was able to speak briefly about saying "Yes" to God before you know what the question is.  Even though God doesn't give us all the details we can take confidence in knowing He is sovereign and that He holds our future.  So grateful for the comfort in knowing He is the same "yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)."  We also had a sweet time of prayer.  Later that night I got to spend time with some of the church members and a couple other friends who stopped by for a reception.  God has truly blessed my life beyond words and put so many people in my life that have come alongside me and pointed me to Him...

It's now less than two weeks until leaving for Montana... God is good!