Hey friends, check out this quick update from the Dells Summer Training Program!
We're in the thick of the semester and exciting things are happening. This evening, we'll be hosting the Nav Men at our house for our weekly Discipleship Group (small group Bible study). Katie provides the treats and snacks, and the guys love it! This semester we're examining the book of 1 Peter, using a study I put together. You can check it out below if you'd like to see what we're doing or join us in the studying the book yourself. I'd be happy to send you a copy!
Last week, we discussed study #1, an overview of the book. Part of this involved giving the book our own title. One student, who has just become a Christian in recent months titled it: "Suffering: God's gift to us." Wow! Profound insight from a new believer! Paul taught this in Philippians 1:27-30 (ESV)...
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
This young man is learning first-hand in his life that following Jesus will entail suffering. But back in 1 Peter, he's anticipating a message of hope in the midst of suffering as well. And that gives him the courage to move forward!
Please pray for our men (and women!): that they'll dive wholeheartedly into this study (despite the many distractions they face). We're anxious to see the Lord transform them as they study and apply His word!
Thanks for praying!
While planning and praying today in Laurentide Hall, I noticed something: campus is quiet! Eerily quiet! Like the calm before a storm.
Must mean there's a storm coming!
Indeed there is!
Two weeks from yesterday is freshmen move in here at UWW! In the days leading up, campus will start to buzz with more and more activity....RAs, athletes (like one our students on the football team!), student orgs, etc. Our student leaders return late next week for vision-casting and training leading into our Fall Kickoff, one of the most important times of our ministry year.
In the meantime during this calm, I'm praying. Asking...begging the Lord to move mightily in the coming weeks. There are freshmen coming to campus whose whole life trajectories will be altered (for better or for worse!) simply based on the people they meet in the first couple weeks of campus life.
Who will we bump into while we're walking and praying on campus? Who will we carry boxes for on move in day? Who will fill out one of our spiritual interest surveys? I'm asking the Lord that the students He brings us into contact with will be like the good soil Jesus talked about in Matthew 13:8, 23.
I rejoice at your word
Oh that the Lord would bring us students like this...now or in time!
Please join in praying for us and the Whitewater students. Use the above passages and watch your mail for a new prayer card from us. (if you're not on our list, you can join it here.)
Thanks for sharing our heart for God's Kingdom!
Last Thursday we celebrated the end of this semester's PURE group. PURE is an opportunity for men (there's a group for women as well!) to find encouragement and help to forsake sexual sin that has dominated them for years. God's done a wondrous work in their lives, as they've forsaken internet pornography, masturbation, and sexual activity outside of God's good design. Our world teaches that unbounded sexuality is the key to happiness. These young men found freedom and joy in their hearts as they've embraced God's design.
As a part of our closing ceremony, we had men share "two-word testimonies." Who they were before PURE and what they are now. Here's what I heard from these men...
With these words come stories of struggle, hopelessness, and shame....followed up with light, truth, and healing. They wrote their old identities on pieces of wood and burned them, symbolizing their death to sin through Christ's death on the cross.
These men are putting into practice Paul's words from Romans 6:12-14...
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
We ended our time by allowing them to take some genuine, somber anger out on the devices that have enslaved them for so long. It was truly a solemn exercise...a joy to see them exercise their power as men, no longer as slaves but as masters. We then held each other up (literally!) and prayed for one another.
Please pray that God would continue to deliver university students from bondage to sexual sin. Pray that these six men would continue in purity, and would help others to find freedom as well.
Thanks for praying with us!
Hey friends! Hope you are staying warm.
Speaking of warm, sometimes people ask what our work looks like in the summer when most of the students are gone from campus.
Sometimes we have a specific summer assignment like staffing a training program or overseas trip. Other times, like 2013, the summer holds a variety of responsibilities including lots of planning and preparation for the upcoming school year, shepherding students from afar (phone, etc), regional or national responsibilities, support raising, and PRAYER.
Prayer is never something we want to neglect, even during the busiest times. But the summer can provide a unique opportunity (and warmer weather!) to spend extra time asking the Lord to move in mighty ways on our campus. I enjoy preparing the campus for students' return by walking around campus and asking the Lord to work.
Recently I saw the beginning of an answer to one of my summer prayers that brought me back to those sweaty days of anticipation and faith, reminding the Lord what He called us here for and asking for His help.
One of my summer pleadings with the Lord: that the dining halls and university center would be teeming discipleship relationships: staff and older students meeting younger students to pass on things they've learned and help them grow in Christ.
This was my view from the 2nd floor of the University Center on a recent Thursday. The white, green, and red circles highlight Navigator students and staff passing on the things they've learned to the next (spiritual) generation. I didn't set this up. We all happened to be meeting at the same time.
The Lord is clearly moving as you and our staff team and students pray. Would you please continue to pray?
After a recent conference, I've added a prayer to my list: that we'd be a WINNING campus. No, not that we'd win competitions, but that we'd be raising up laborers from among students that we'd WON to Christ. We'll help all the already-Christians God brings us, but we're trusting Him for a vibrant mix of these and those who we've recently shared the gospel with.
Would you join us in praying that our ministry would WIN souls? At least three have received Christ this year. We're hoping for more!
Thanks for standing with us!
*sigh* My heart is sad at the moment.
Some of you have seen my conversation journal that I use as an evangelistic tool on campus. I ask people "if they could write a note to God and He would read it, what would you write?"
It's been a great well to have spiritual conversations with people, to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone, and open doors to new relationships.
Today we bumped into Sam. Here's what he wrote.
Phew. Deep stuff.
I could see pain in his eyes as we talked briefly with him. He's had six open-heart surgeries, and is currently on a waiting list for a heart transplant. He doesn't go to church, but believes in God. I offered to pray for him, and did. Would you pray for him today, that God would grant him a new heart, and that if he doesn't have one now, a new spiritual heart?
Yours on campus,
Found this while working in the University Center on campus. I think they're promoting this as good news. But look at some of the percentages!
Seems like UWW students are thirsty, but haven't found the right place to drink. John 4:13-15.
Pray that they would!
Here we go!
If you've ever been on a roller coaster before, especially one of those that goes crazy fast (for me, Wild Thing at Valleyfair in Minneapolis), at some point in the ride there comes apart where you slowly climb this HUGE hill, up and up to the peak where you pause for two eternal seconds, then *BOOM* you get over the peak and plunge down the other side at a million MPH.
The anticipation before the plunge is exciting and maddening.
This might describe how we're feeling right now. We're slowly settling in in a new house and community. We're trying to find a church. We've had some family vacation.
In the past months, I've done quite a bit of initial planning and networking in preparation for a new season of ministry this fall. But the time to make final decisions has always been "later...in July and August."
Suddenly, it is July! And getting quite close to August!
Here we go!
We find ourselves now having to make decisions about a ministry and campus we're largely unfamiliar with, and a small group of students we don't know very well yet. It's both maddening and exciting. Each day I find myself at each of these two poles.
Whew. I have to stop and breathe and remember that our God is in charge. Not me. That's a comforting thought most of the time. And it's perspective that is essential for me to have.
Thanks for standing with us, friends! We're excited to see the mighty works of the Lord this fall!
Last week saw us in Whitewater, Wisconsin visiting our soon-to-be new campus. It was a bit surreal for me to be back in the place where my Nav staff journey started. Driving into town, I reflected on driving into town in 2006, car packed with all my belongings, ready to begin an adventure of trusting God as I served on the campus.
Now, I was driving into town, this time with a minivan, a wife, and two kids! And our assignment was in some ways very different (directing the campus ministry), and in other ways very much the same (an adventure of trusting God)!
Our first meeting with students was at their weekly large-group meeting, NavNight. They actually met in the same room we had NavNight in when I was there six years ago!
I spoke to the students from Isaiah 61, sharing about the redemption that Jesus brings to us and wants to bring to the lost around us. As I was speaking, I realized that where I was standing was the exact spot (literally same spot on the carpet) where I had given my first NavNight message six years ago.
It's amazing to look back and see how far I've come, as a speaker and bible-teacher, and in every other way.
Thank you for how you've stood with us throughout all these years, praying and investing in our work. It's incredible what the Lord has done in and through us as a result of your faithfulness. We look forward to what this next chapter will bring.
On a side note: we're close to purchasing a house in town, pending only financing. Would you please pray that the financing would come through? We'd love to tell you the story of how God led us to this house. It's pretty amazing, and we're very excited about it.
As you reflect on the death of our Savior this weekend, may you be drawn closer to Him, and may your heart be filled with gratitude and awe for His great love for you.
But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! --Romans 5:8
Thanks for praying. Journey 2012, our recent regional fall conference was a great success! The speaker was excellent, the fellowship life-giving, and our students changed! The Lord used the conference to remind me of the signficance of the work He's doing in their hearts, something that I had lost a bit in the day-to-day grind.
One story: During a campus sharing time, Ryan (a senior) shared, "Two years ago, you wouldn't have caught me dead at something like this!" Ryan described his spiritual journey from the darkness of his past selfish pursuits to life in Christ. The messages at the conference had continued to challenge him to trust God with more of his life.
During this sharing time, Ryan received a text message who he had interned with at GE this past summer. This friend shared in his message that he was at a different conference that weekend, and that he had come to believe in Jesus for salvation that very night! The coolest part: this friend shared that it was due to Ryan (and fellow Nav Greg)'s conversations and urgings during their internship that this spiritual journey had begun. This friend thanked Ryan and Greg for their part in leading this friend to Christ.
Ryan stepped outside, weeping in gratitude. This was the first time he had participated directly in someone coming to faith in Christ. Later Ryan told me, referring to ministering to people with the gospel: "This is the good stuff! This is what life is all about."
Wow. In addition, Ryan has just begun meeting with non-Christian friends from his business fraternity on Wednesday nights to examine the teachings of Jesus in the gospel of Mark. He's happy to report that his friends are hungry for spiritual truth!
Thank you for your prayers. There is great momentum in the lives of many of our students as a result of their time at the conference. If you'd like to listen to the conference messages, you can do so here!
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