Saturday, December 20, 2014

We Won't Be Shaken

“Whatever will come our way, through fire or pouring rain, we won’t be shaken. No we won’t be shaken. Whatever tomorrow brings, together we’ll rise and sing that we won’t be shaken… We will trust in You, we will not be moved.” –Building 429 (“We Won’t Be Shaken”)

In my last post I talked about how Heritage Christian, the school where I serve as athletic director, was preparing to host the Montana Christian Athletic Association State Soccer and Volleyball Tournament, October 23-25.  The theme verse for the tournament was Psalm 115:1, “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness.”  God most certainly got the glory for the weekend through a series of events that still leave me in awe of how faithful He is a midst circumstances that may come as unexpected to us, but are fully within His good, sovereign will.

I awoke the second morning of the tournament, October 24, at 5:28am to a phone call from our head administrator telling me the school gym was on fire and I needed to get over there as soon as possible.  Due to quick work from the firemen and help from the sprinkler system that was installed after the 2012 fire that had left us out of the building for a full year, the fire was extinguished relatively quickly, with much less damage than last time.  However, it brought up a potential logistical nightmare because matches were slated to go all day.  Thankfully, through God’s provision and the graciousness of two other schools opening their gyms to us, the day went on without hindrance, and even included the opportunity to host Christian Character Awards and sing worship songs in a public school gym – He is so faithful.  By that evening, the police had also brought the suspect into custody, with him having admitted to starting both fires.  It has been an opportunity for our school to offer grace, mercy and forgiveness, as we truly want nothing more than the young man to know there is God who loves Him.  As is stated in the Word, “…forgive one another, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).”  Reports are that the young man surrendered His life to Christ in prison not too long after being brought in. 

Our gym floor and stage were destroyed in the fire and had to be replaced, leaving us scrambling for gym space for practices and games for the last month and a half, but what a small thing in light of eternity.  We serve a God who is sovereign over our circumstances and it has been truly amazing to see Him work through everything. 

Worshipping our Lord and Savior during Christian Character
Aftermath of the Oct 2014 fire in the school gym
Newly installed gym floor at HCS

Women’s Conference
The second weekend in November I had the absolute privilege and blessing of traveling to Billings with three dear sisters in Christ to a women’s conference at a church there.  One, Julie, was the lead speaker and the rest of us, who she refers to as the “Barnabas sisters” (encouragers) were going alongside of her to minister to the women in attendance.  Our prayer was that we would display authentic, transparent relationships as sisters in Christ.  We settle for surface level, fake, worldly relationships so often, even in Christian circles, and it has been convicting to see that God calls us to much more than that in His Word.  He tells us to bear one another’s burdens, rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, confess sin to and pray for one another, lay down our lives and serve one another in love.  It was beautiful to see some of the women start to grasp this concept by the end of our time together.  The theme for the weekend was on keeping our hearts. In Proverbs 4:23 it says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”  When pressed, what is in our heart will be revealed in our attitudes and actions.  It is so important to eradicate any sin in our lives, guard our heart and have a right view of God in light of Scripture so that we can minister effectively to others and so that we do not ruin our witness.

With Renee, Julie and Lori

Many of you have also known and prayed for Julie over the past 15 months.  In September 2013, I was with her in the library when she fell ill and ended up in the ER.  Days later she found out she had stage 4 cancer.  Her journey eventually took her down to MD Anderson where she had an intensive surgery last March.  Unless anything unforeseen comes up before April, that is when she will return to MD Anderson for another scan.  I have joked at times that the builders of the school didn't know what they were doing putting the athletic office right across from the library (us sporty people can get a little rambunctious and loud :), but all joking aside it truly has been one of the greatest blessings having the opportunity to serve at the school with her right across the hall. She has become such a dear sister in Christ and is an amazing example that has challenged me to grow deeper in my own walk with the Lord. She truly makes the most of every day and each opportunity, while holding fast to Him and wanting to steward her suffering in a way that points others to Jesus.  Please pray for her, her husband Ray and their three kids as they continue to walk this journey out - that they would be given the supernatural ability to continue to walk in the joy of the Lord and for wisdom and discernment at each turn.  Here is a link to when she spoke nine months ago at the church she attends here in Bozeman if you want to know more of her story - ...  Definitely worth setting aside the time to listen.

With Julie at one of the school soccer games this fall.
One of the songs that has become a staple through this time has been "Jesus, Firm Foundation" - here are some of the lyrics...

The soul that is trusting in Jesus as Lord
Will press on enduring the darkest of storms
And though even hell should endeavor to shake
He'll never, no never, no never forsake
He'll never, no never, no never forsake

How firm our foundation
How sure our salvation
And we will not be shaken 
Jesus, Firm Foundation

Age to age He stands
Faithful to the end
All may fade away
But He will remain
He will remain!...

Where is your foundation?  Are your feet upon the Solid Rock as you walk through the trials in your life?  Trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior does not mean trials will not come, it just means those who have trusted in Christ are able to walk through them differently, with a peace, joy and comfort that is not of this world.  Have you trusted Him as your personal Savior?  If not, may today be the day of salvation ... 

At church, things continue to move forward with the partnership/joining together of the two churches and I am so excited to see where God leads in the days ahead.  To have such unity on our leadership team in this season and such a focus on equipping saints for the Kingdom has been such a blessing.  Please pray we continue on in the direction God has for us, and especially for the youth, as we have some meetings coming up that could provide ways to use outdoor recreation as a platform to share Christ with the youth in this city.

One of our pastors, Bill, lost his wife, Sandy, to cancer two weeks ago.  She was one of the most joyful people in the Lord I have ever met and she lifted His name high and always kept her smile to the very end.  Please pray for Bill, our worship leader Tim (one of their sons) and the rest of the family as they walk through this season, and while although they are grieving, they hold unswervingly to the hope we have in Christ.  Please pray for the body of Christ that surrounds them to also be able to support in every way the Lord leads.

Nashville Trip:
I really can't even put into words how grateful I was for the chance to go to Tennessee in early December - such an absolutely sweet, blessed time with so many brothers and sisters in Christ - so refreshing getting to catch up, share in all that God has been doing, pray together, get lots of hugs and pick up right where we left off (other than the fact all the kids are growing up way too fast! :)  Although the whole having to say "see you later" never gets any easier, I also had a pull on my heart the whole time to get back out to where God has called me to serve in this season here in Bozeman.  More than the desire for worldy comfort may my heart continue to believe that Jesus is better.  I am totally in awe of the doors He has opened and the people He brought into my life here in Bozeman over the past two and a half years.  Can't wait to see what He has in store in the time ahead...

Christmas Chapel at Foundations Christian Academy, where
I worked for two years in Nashville.  So good to see everyone
and thankful to know all the kids are continuing to be raised
to walk with the Lord.

Nashville kiddos!

Nashville kiddos!

Nashville kiddos!

Nashville kiddos! ... Go Commodores! :)

Thank you so much to each of you who have prayed, encouraged, supported and loved in a way that has shown Jesus in tangible ways in my life.  Just know… “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God… (Philippians 1:3).”

Wishing each of you a Merry Christmas! God bless.

Bozeman sunrise

Winter wonderland

Bozeman morning in December

Not a bad view... :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Life on the mission field

"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." 
-Philippians 2:13     

      This past week I was blessed with the opportunity to speak in All School Chapel at Heritage Christian School (PreK-12th grade) here in Bozeman on playing sports to the glory of God.  Through serving as the athletic director and also doing recreation ministry in the community, I have the opportunity to see regularly how God reveals what is in our hearts through competition.  I was convicted in preparation to speak when hearing the following from CJ Mahaney, who wrote a book entitled, "Don't Waste Your Sports."  He said, "May we prepare with the final day in view and not just the next game in view.  At the final day when we stand before the Lord, it will not be a celebration of athletic achievement but about having our lives examined in light of the Gospel.  Have we lived a life worthy of the Gospel?"  It was a great opportunity to talk with the kids about pursuing excellence and seeking to maximize the talents the Lord has given us, while doing so in a way that points others to Him instead of storing up treasures on earth that will not last.  Sports are big everywhere around the world and a wonderful platform God has given us to use in sharing His love with others.  
      Life has been full at the school this fall as we are getting ready to host the MCAA State Soccer and Volleyball tournament in a couple weeks, basketball is starting, we are hoping to lay sod on the soccer field at the school next week, along with the responsibility of teaching journalism/yearbook and computers.  A midst the craziness and challenges along the way, it has been great to see the Lord at work and to have the chance to interact with all the families and fellow staff, along with the kids in the classroom as well as on the playing field throughout the year.  You can please pray God will multiply the productivity in the hours He so graciously gives each day over the next couple weeks and that His name will be lifted high as we prepare to host the tournament that will include teams from all over the state.  May the weather stay nice and the snow not start falling until after October 25th :)

Chapel at Heritage

Chapel at Heritage. One of the words for sin in the Bible in Greek is "hamartia".
Definition is to "miss the mark".  Used visual to discuss with the kids
that we often miss the mark God has for us when we put other
things above our relationship with Him.  May we seek Him first
in all things!

      In addition to all going on at the school, it has been a SUPER exciting and blessed time at Kirkwood church.  After months of transition time, God has really shown up in some big ways!  Here is a report on what happened throughout the summer and into the fall in regards to VBS/camps and the culmination of what God brought together through the pastor search process...

     In regards to the pastor search process at Kirkwood, at the same time the committee was praying over different resumes that were sent in, another opportunity that was presented along the way was having another smaller congregation here in town come together and join with us.  God had put it on the hearts of their leadership separately over the past year and a half to approach Kirkwood and we met with their leadership for the first time in February.  After months of prayer and God moving the hearts of other members of the leadership team into alignment separately as well over time, we met with them again at the beginning of June and through the Lord’s leading began meeting together on Sundays soon thereafter.
    After a couple of months of meeting together, the members of the congregations voted as to whether they felt God was leading us to continue on in this direction.  The vote was unanimous, something the leadership had been specifically praying for, giving further confirmation of God's hand on this opportunity. The unification of two bodies into one has brought an excellent worship leader and a couple mature Christian men to serve as shepherds who are on fire for making disciples here in Bozeman.  We have also seen God start to bring additional families who will be instrumental in sharing the Gospel with this community. When I first came to Montana, God put two specific things on my heart - to use recreation as a platform to share Christ and that partnerships would be involved.  It has been unbelievable to see the Lord at work.  Through each door He has opened and closed along the way, He has proven so faithful.  It has definitely been a humbling and challenging road out here in many ways over the past couple years, but He has truly provided in ways that are immeasurably more than I could have asked or imagined.
      The leadership team is currently meeting regularly, laying everything before the Lord and seeking Him about how He would have us use the resources He has given us to make disciples here in Bozeman and beyond.  We are all excited anticipating what the Lord will do through this and rejoicing in knowing that His plans are always far greater than our own.  Please pray for us as we continue to seek the Lord's leading in the weeks and months ahead!  Also, a huge shout out and thanks to all those at Judson Baptist in Nashville (along with so many others along the way) who have prayed, supported and come to serve here over the past few years.

      We saw God's fingerprints in other ways through the summer as well.  We hosted a sports camp followed by Vacation Bible School week in June.  We had over 40 children in sports camp and over 60 registered for VBS.  We saw children come to faith in Christ both weeks and many of the families who attended did not have a church home so it was a great opportunity to build relationships with them.  One of the families decided to make Kirkwood their church home, and also enroll one of their children at Heritage!  
     Probably my favorite part of the summer was the chance I had to lead a study on the book of James with ten teen girls here in Bozeman.  It was so sweet to see God working in their hearts and lives as they were challenged in the Word to live out their faith in practical ways.  At the end of the summer, we got all of the families together and enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship and praying for each of the girls (and their siblings) as they prepared to head into another school year.

     Additionally, I worked out at Bridger Creek golf course for a second straight summer.  Although I was unable to defend my state tournament title this year because my back did not feel well enough, I was still thankful for the opportunity God provided in working at the course and the chance it gives to meet many different people in the community.
     One thing I pray for constantly a midst everything going on is that I would not let ministry activity distract me from the pursuit of Christ.  I have seen that it is all too easy to get caught up in programs and activities and busyness while leaving Him out of the picture.  A dear friend here in Montana showed me a video recently that was a promo for a conference called 'Advance' that talked about how as Christians our response to the question "how are you doing?" should be different from the world; it should more than just "I'm busy". It goes on to say, "You may be busy but are you advancing?"  Are we advancing in Christ-likeness and allowing Him to make us less like the world and more like Himself through what we experience daily?  May we be faithful to seek Him first and "press on toward the goal of the upward call of Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14)."  Here is a link to the video (the guy in the video is also our basketball coach at Heritage):

Here are some other pictures from the last few months:

VBS Week back in June: With Tim, Kim and Jann
Always one of my favorite weeks of the year having people
from my home church in Nashville in town to help.
A big shout out to Judson Baptist - miss all of you!

VBS Worship Rally

VBS PreK-K Bible Study

VBS Evidence Vault

VBS Bible Study

VBS Crafts

VBS Missions

VBS Rally Time!

VBS Group Picture!
Sports Camp Week


My uncle came through town the 1st of October and we
took a morning to drive up to Big Sky. Little bit of snow at the peak!

Swan Lake

Got to go up to Swan Lake for a few days in August
with a couple families who are a huge blessing in my life here!
Only had a few days off through the summer and it was sweet
to get away and be refreshed and renewed alongside brothers
and sisters in Christ.

Reminder of God's promise...

Madre came to visit in August - went to Yellowstone

At Yellowstone National Park

Got to go to San Diego in June for a few days to see
my "little bro" Alex graduate high school.

To all of you not here in Montana - know you are missed and loved! Always love hearing from you. Please keep me updated on how you are doing and how I can be praying for you! :)

God bless!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Two Years ...

I can't believe I will have lived here in Bozeman for two years within the next few weeks! Wow!  

As I have been challenged in many ways over the past couple years, I have definitely grown closer to the Lord through this time.  During a conference we simulcasted at Kirkwood, one of the speakers talked about being able to say "More than _____, Jesus is better."  More than choosing where I live near those I love, more than a comfortable job, more than any material possessions, more than worldly success, more than the approval of others, more than (fill in the blank with what you value most), He is better.  Are you able to say that in your life and surrender daily to Him?  Nothing of this world is meant to fully satisfy us.  The blessings of God always lie on the other side of the obedience line.  We can't fully experience Him unless we have a relationship with Him and surrender to His will for our life.  In Matthew 6:33 it says, "Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness ..."  When we do that, He truly provides everything we need.  The past couple years have definitely been full of many challenges, but through them, an opportunity to see and experience God in a way I wouldn't have otherwise.  He is faithful.  Please know how thankful that I am for all of your prayers and support!

The beauty of Big Sky country in April is breathtaking, especially in a big snow year ... 

View of Lone Peak on the drive up to Big Sky (April 19)

View from top of Lone Peak, 11,166 feet

View from top of Lone Peak, 11,166 feet

Top of Lone Peak

View from top of Lone Peak, 11,166 feet

View from top of Lone Peak, 11,166 feet

View from top of Lone Peak, 11,166 feet
Standing up there made me think of the lyrics to Keith and Kristyn Getty's "Creation sings the Father's song"

(Verse 1)
He calls the sun to wake the dawn
And run the course of day
Till evening falls in crimson rays
His fingerprints in flakes of snow
His breath upon this spinning globe
He charts the eagle's flight
Commands the newborn baby's cry

Let all creation stand and sing
Fill the earth with songs of worship
Tell the wonders of creation's King ...

We had an Easter egg hunt with a lot of kids in the community the weekend before Easter at Kirwood Baptist here in Bozeman.  Last month we hosted a simulcast of the Verge Conference that is put on in Texas each year and also got a small group together on Good Friday to watch Secret Church (by David Platt) where the topic was "The Cross and Everyday Life."  It was about making Jesus apart of everything we do on a daily basis.  We are now busy gearing up for summer missions teams that will be coming from Dalton, GA and Nashville, TN.  They will be assisting sports camp, Vacation Bible School and community outreach. We are also continuing to work on our partnership with Love Inc. that we are praying provides a way to reach students in the high school across the street from the church.  Youth Pastor Andrew Lane has also been serving as interim pastor since January.  Please pray alongside of us and the leadership team as we are seeking the direction God has for the church moving forward.

School will wrap up for the year at Heritage Christian next month - it's been a busy spring of getting games and schedules ready for the fall and attending the state-wide athletic director meeting in Helena.  Additionally, I am so excited because the board at Heritage has recently approved the building of a soccer field and track out back of the school before next fall and we are also being given the chance to host the 2014 Fall MCAA State Volleyball and Soccer tournament in October.  Many in the HCS community have prayed for years and years about the soccer field and it is amazing to see how God is providing in His perfect timing.  Please pray for all the details to fall into place in the time ahead as well as for the financial provision necessary to make this endeavor possible.  I am praying that this will lead to more sports ministry opportunities here in Bozeman in the time ahead.  It is sweet to be a part of a community that desires to share Christ and encourages and challenges one another daily.

The golf course also recently opened here and I am blessed to be able to work there on the side again as well throughout this summer.  I love the chance it gives me to meet so many people in the community.

From April 25-29 my childhood best friend Grace, who now lives in Washington DC, came to Bozeman for a visit with a great friend of hers, Griha.  What an action packed few days! The visit included trips to the capitol in Helena, Buffalo Jump State Park just outside Three Forks, a day trip to Yellowstone where we ran into a couple other sweet friends, a great Sunday morning at church followed by an afternoon of riding horses and hiking on a ranch just outside of Bozeman, a trip to the snow covered golf course and the chance for them to meet so many of the people the Lord has put in my life here.  We had SO MUCH FUN!  It was a week where God's fingerprints were just everywhere and I was reminded of His faithfulness in so many tangible ways.  The Lord has put some of the sweetest people in my life here in Bozeman and I was thankful for the opportunity to introduce Grace and Griha to them.

MT Capitol Building in Helena

MT Capitol Building in Helena with Griha and Grace

MT Capitol Building in Helena with Grace

Buffalo Jump State Park, Three Forks MT

Buffalo Jump State Park, Three Forks, MT

Big Sky, MT

Yellowstone National Park with Griha, Grace and Sandy

Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Fun on the ranch with Shelley & Grace!

Fun on the ranch!

Fun on the ranch!

Hiking on the ranch

Hiking on the ranch with Lynae, Griha, Shelley and Grace

Hiking to old wooden cabin on the ranch

Overlooking Bozeman

Overlooking Bozeman
Well, the golf course was open... And then it snowed April 28

Please pray for:
- For summer mission teams that are coming to Kirkwood to help with a sports camp and VBS and for the leadership team in following God's leading in the pastor search process.
- For the soccer field and track to be completed at Heritage before the fall and for preparations we are making to host the MCAA fall state tournament in October ... most importantly that these opportunities would enable us to be a light for Christ to the surrounding community.
- Partnerships in the community that open doors for more sports ministry opportunities here moving forward.
- That God would continue to prepare the hearts of those here in Bozeman to hear and respond to the Gospel.
- For my personal walk with the Lord - that I would be intentional in seeking Him daily and being filled and renewed so that I may go out and pour into others.

Know that I always love hearing from all of you!