Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Live Like That

Winter in Montana is beautiful.  Each day here all you have to do is step outside to be reminded that we serve an AWESOME God!

Overlooking Bozeman from the "M" trail

A week ago, Kirkwood hosted Family Promise, a homeless ministry here in Bozeman that helps families come up with individualized plans to help them take the steps towards lasting independence.  We had a family staying at the church for the week and we were able to share evening meals with them, and some people served as overnight hosts as well.

This week we have a mission team here from Dalton, GA and Clarksville, TN helping with Marriage Emphasis Week. They have been a HUGE blessing and breath of fresh air as they have made meals for the conference each evening, worked with the children, and have also been helping with some painting around the church during the day. Pastor James and Misty have been doing the teaching out of the study "Love and Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and it has been a great week for the married couples to refocus and also for those of us who are single to gain much wisdom on what a biblical marriage should look like.  I also had the privilege this week of taking the team for a winter trip up Hyalite Canyon.  Absolutely incredible!  Check out the pictures...

We found the hats at Walmart and just couldn't resist
Hyalite Canyon

Hyalite Canyon

Grotto Falls trail


The team :)

Enjoying God's creation

On the way to Grotto Falls

Waterfall... uh in the summer :)

Icicles near Grotto Falls

Hyalite Canyon

The lake at Hyalite :)

Another praise is that our Sunday Evening Prayer Group has grown to the point that next Sunday (the 3rd) we will split into two groups.  It has been amazing to reflect and see the prayers God has answered through that time of meeting and praying together.

We have also been doing a great Bible Study on Proverbs. It tells us in His Word that, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7)."  As I seek God's wisdom, it is humbling each day to realize I know less than I think I did. My prayer lately has been for the Lord to give me a humble, teachable and repentant spirit, because I have seen that the minute we become "wise" in our own eyes, we are finished.  I have also been reminded why it is so important to choose friends wisely and spend time with those who point me to Him, encourage genuinely, pray faithfully, who are willing to share what they have learned from their experiences, who mentor and instruct, who rebuke me in love, share His wisdom, seek His word, who hold me accountable and don't enable me, who are consistent, who forgive and who are on fire for Him.

Through those who God has so graciously put in my life, I have been reminded of late that we all have influence. How are we using the influence God has given each of us? We all have a platform and whether or not we feel the responsibility we have a direct impact for better or for worse on those He has placed around us. Only when we are seeking Him daily and relying on His power can we truly go forth in His name.  Pat Williams, senior vice president of the Orlando Magic wrote a book called The Difference You Make.  In it he poses this question: "If your life were a silent movie, if the only way people could learn about your character, your beliefs, and your values was through the actions of your everyday life, what would they learn? (p. 95)"  Very convicting.  Being aware of the influence we have on others is one of the first steps to making a difference.  In other words, you might be the only Bible some people read... What are they seeing?

It makes me think of some of the lyrics to the song "LIVE LIKE THAT" by Sidewalk Prophets

"Am I proof
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don't know my name
Is there evidence that I've been changed
When they see me, do they see You

I want to live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You

If love is who I am
Then this is where I'll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back

I want to live like that
I want to live like that"

Please pray for:
- Leadership at Kirkwood (Pastor James, our youth pastor Andrew and myself) and unity among the body of Christ.  Praise for those I have the privilege of serving alongside.
- A worship leader for Kirkwood.
- Opportunities for discipleship.
- March 7-8th Pastor James, Andrew and their families along with myself will travel to Great Falls, MT for the M-Pact Ministry Conference.  Pray for a time of learning and also renewal.
- Personal: Another upcoming brief trip down to Utah to take care of more stuff at the place that was my dad's.  And upcoming mission trip to Honduras in April - that God would prepare the hearts of those the team will be ministering to and that the team will be diligent in preparation.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Life On The Road

Sixteen flights since the week of Thanksgiving that in addition to time in Bozeman included layovers in Salt Lake City, Detroit, Paris, Frankfurt, Atlanta and Minneapolis along with stops in San Diego (CA), Park City (UT), Slovenia, Italy, Orlando (FL) and Nashville (TN) ... so grateful for all I have been able to see and experience during that time but I am also thankful to now have a couple months at home before hitting the road again. 

Rec Lab 50
The most recent trip included attending the 50th anniversary of Rec Lab in Orlando and it is absolutely one of my favorite weeks of the year and always one of the most humbling. To sit with those who have been in ministry for so many years and to learn from their experiences is such a blessing. There is no way I could be doing what I am now apart from those who I have met there. The week served as a reminder that there are times we take life way too seriously and sometimes we as adults need to be reminded what it's like to play like kids, while also being reminded how even simple recreation games can be in used as a platform to share the Gospel. In addition to that, the most memorable moment of the week for me came in one of the recreation seminars when the leader said, “Learning always happens on the edge of uncomfortable.” He was referring to how many lessons we miss because of how quick we are to give up when things become hard and cause us to move beyond our comfort zone. I immediately thought of the spiritual implications of that statement. God wants to grow us through every circumstance and looking at my life, I know the times I have often learned the most have been through trials or circumstances far beyond my comfort zone that I chose to persevere in until God brought me through to the other side. In the Bible God tells us to “consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds because the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete and not lacking anything (James 1:3-4).” May we resolve to always stick it out in uncomfortable circumstances and trying seasons until we learn the lesson God has for us, for there is blessings that come on the other side of every trial as we are made to be more like Him. 

Sweet mentors and friends God has put in my life.

Sweet mentors and friends God has put in my life.

Sweet mentors and friends God has put in my life.

After the conference in Orlando I was able to swing through Nashville for a few days, worship with the Judson church family for a Sunday and attend a couple missions meetings, stop in for a visit with all the kids at Foundations Christian Academy and throughout my time there see so many people the Lord has so graciously put in my life. 

Sweet time at the Poenitske's
The Allen kiddos
16th Birthday Celebration for Rachel
Nashville Snow Day!

Exciting things are happening back here in Bozeman as well – we are getting ready to split our Sunday evening prayer group at Kirkwood because it has grown to the point that is necessary, getting ready to host the Family Promise homeless ministry for a week at the church, preparing for summer mission teams and other events, seeing a couple people accept Christ and also step forth in obedience to be baptized as a public profession of their faith, and the opportunity to start discipling new believers while encouraging others along the way. I am constantly reminded that none of these things just happen overnight. It is so sweet when the Lord allows us to take a step back and gain perspective of all He is able to accomplish over time when we are obedient in the little things He asks us to do each day. As it has been said, "Do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, to the best of your ability...every time." 

Quality time with baby Levi!

One other bit of exciting news is the opportunity I will have to return to Honduras for the 4th year in a row in April to serve alongside Sam and Peggy Feazel of Ignite Missions. Over the past three years down there, I have seen villages transformed by the Gospel message, hundreds come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and churches planted. This year we will continue the work in two of the villages the 2012 team visited and the team will be doing women’s ministry and Vacation Bible School.

Please pray for:
-Pastor James and the Kirkwood church family. For God to guide him in leading and for everyone to be on board and fired up about what God is doing.
-Upcoming Family Promise week at Kirkwood.
-Ability to disciple new believers here in Bozeman and train them up in how to walk with the Lord consistently.
-Mission trip to Honduras in April - for God to provide the funds and everything else that is needed to go on the trip.
-Personal – for the time to rest and recharge and dive into His Word even deeper in the coming weeks.