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Monday, January 9, 2017

Better late than never

Hello dear friends! Happy 2017! I can't believe 2016 is already over. I'm pretty sure the older I get the faster time flies by.

The Signature of Jesus
I pray your 2017 has started off well! Our staff got back from our annual staff retreat this week and I am going to share with you some excerpts from the book we read. The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning was such a refreshing, challenging, and eye opening book to what God is wanting to work on in me. It was such a joy to read this book together as a staff and then discuss the take aways we all got from it. I pray that sharing some of these nuggets of truth with help spur you on in your understanding of who Jesus is and how we are to relate to Him and live like Him.

One of our staff members named Sirak shared some thoughts with us during our times of worship on our staff retreat. Sirak shared a portion of the book that I think speaks to the theme of the book and a theme we see in Christian American culture. It is a long excerpt but bare with me...it's worth the read!

"Naturally the countercultural lifestyle-simplicity of life, purity of heart, and obedience to the gospel-will take us to the same place that it took Jesus: the Cross. All roads lead to Calvary, for we preach Jesus Christ crucified-a stumbling block to the Jews, an absurdity to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Christ the power and the wisdom of God.
Simplicity, purity, and obedience to the Word will leave us weak and powerless in the world's eyes because we no longer can call upon our possessions and privileged positions as security. We will be subject to derision and outrage because authentic discipleship is a life of sublime madness. Injury and insult are promised to those who labor for the sake of righteousness. Paul's word to the Galatians is utter folly to our American culture: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Galatians 6:14 KJV).  A Christian living in the world but not of the world is a sign of contradiction to the compromises that many within the church have settled for. The disciple of Jesus will be made to look and feel like a fool. Yet fools for Christ formed the early church. And as that tiny band of believers grew, the world witnessed the power in such foolishness...Easter morning vindicated the way of Jesus and validated the authority of his lordship. The master told us never to underestimate the power of our culture. Our world, full of incredible foolishness, will insist that we are the fools. Yet Easter convinces us of God's wisdom and his power to transform our world. Our faith in the risen Jesus is the power that overcomes ourselves, our culture, and our world. In the words of Paul in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will." 
(p. 81-83, Manning)
Purchase Signature of Jesus HERE

These words were very encouraging to hear as we are about to go back on campus this month. It does seem foolish to the world for me to spend time every week in a salary raised job, reading the bible with a bunch of 18 year olds. But we are fools for Christ's sake! And all of it to the glory of God and for his kingdom. I believe that what we do as fools for Christ is what He uses to draw people to himself. Why should we become fools? Because of the love and grace God has for us and because of the faith we have in him, regardless of our circumstances. Because of what we believe about Him and the promises he offers to those who follow Him. Why should I not spend my life serving and praising the God who saved my life? Any answer to that stems from a place of selfishness, which is what this book showed me I still have in my life. It means I know that I need a Savior and I am wanting others to know about His grace for us. We minister out of our weaknesses and imperfections.

Winter Camp 2017
Focus winter camp is THIS WEEKEND! We are so excited to have students from all of the campuses come to Sky Ranch for a weekend of deepening our relationship with God and with one another. God has used this camp for many years to move students towards a committed relationship to Him, where they begin to ask the tough questions like, "What should my major be? Am I pursuing what I want or what God wants? How can I serve him in all areas of my life?" etc. Please pray for the students to move to a place of commitment and faithfulness in God. It is also an encouragement to tell them how many people are praying for them. A lot of times they don't even realize how many of you care about them, without even knowing them! I am so thankful for all of you and how God's community expands all over the United States and all over the world. It's because of those prayers that lives are changed.

Lastly, I am getting married at the end of this month! A lot of new and awesome changes have been happening and will continue to happen. As my friend, will you pray for me and Grant as we make these new transitions? We appreciate you all!