Friday, March 24, 2006

I am cleaning out my e-mail today, and came across this photo from Adam Coppens. This is a picture from the Young Adult Weekend at Spencer Lake back in October 2004. I had such a good time with you guys up there. Say, how about we go back up there this September? (hint, hint)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I am really disturbed about the case of Abdul Rahman, who is facing torture and execution in Afghanistan because he decided to follow Jesus. You can read the story here. We should never forget that many pay a steep price around the globe for being a Christian, and we should pray for the persecuted church.

Democracy alone will not be enough to make Islamic nations peaceful. They need to submit to the 'Prince of Peace'. Until then, let's not allow the lie that 'Islam is Peace' to go unchecked. Any thoughts?
Spring is finally here! Joanie Wrede sent me this picture from her parent's home in Nebraska, where on Monday they received up to 28 inches of snow! Wish you were here?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

God is closer than you think! Let me encourage you to come out this week to Crossroads Sunday School, as Mike Kramer shares how to close the gap between you and God. Along those lines, Mike Ganiere wrote an excellent piece on his blog Thursday about where to find God: at the corner of surrender and promise. You can read his article here.

Friday, March 17, 2006

I came across this article today in Relevant Magazine, and thought it was insightful. I particularly liked her advice that the 'right one' is someone who compliments us, not completes us. The article is below.

It's funny how you don't realize the actual truth of things until you experience them yourself. You can observe, you can ponder, you can formulate thoughts from afar, but you don't know truth in its entirety until it is actually you that walk in it.That being said, I've gotten a lot of questions since my fiancé popped the question. They've ranged from, “When's the wedding?” to “Holy crap, what's up with everyone getting married at the same time?” This last one is my personal favorite, because it lends itself to the answer, “Well, we had an executive board meeting and decided to monopolize everyone's summer as best we could; we don't actually love our future mates, we just thought we'd take over your weekends.”But the question that hit me the hardest, the one that broke through my wisecracking exterior was, “So what's engaged life like?”

Now, admittedly, at first I cracked some line about how it was like skipping to the head of line at Disney World and how my professors gave me all A's, I didn't have to do laundry anymore, and I woke up with perfect hair everyday.After I walked away, I took a second and reevaluated my answer. What did I think engaged life was going to be like? Furthermore, what did I think married life was going to be like? And where did those ideas come from?I spent the rest of my day weighing my childish expectations with my present reality. My entire childhood was spent being inundated with Southern ideas of marriage that began practically as soon as I hit kindergarten. Some female relative would tease me, tousle my hair and ask, “So, Jenny, do you have a little boyfriend?” This question, by the way, still gets asked and is not any less embarrassing when you're 21 than when you're 6.So, okay, the necessity of a male presence in my life has basically been at the forefront of my life. But as what? As a complimentary piece or the whole of my identity?I had no clue until I got engaged how messed up my views on it were.

I'm not saying this to promote getting engaged so that you can figure this out for yourself, I'm just pointing out how slow I am to catch on to things and how much I still have to learn about myself.For most of my life, I railed against the idea of the opposite sex as a solution, boys as the better part of life, men as means to happiness. The truth—if I want to admit it to myself—is that I had somehow expected them to still be able to fix me in a covert way that wouldn’t reveal my self-confidence issues. In realizing this, I also realized I'd put pressure on the importance of engagement. I'd somehow figured it would solve things, make life better, make me whole. To admit that to myself was hard enough; to realize that neither an engagement nor a fiancé is the answer is an even more liberating realization. I'd somehow figured an engagement would solve something—what exactly it was going to solve, I'm not sure. This preconceived idea could probably be traced to my assumptions of engaged life from afar—you know, the slight jealous twinge that rears its ugly head when someone gets engaged and you subconsciously figure he or she just acquired a perfect life. My life is not, in fact, easier; my weeks are still insane, I still run around like a chicken with my head cut off, I'm still grumpy first thing in the morning, and I still drink coconut lattes. The stripped down, mostly hidden truth is that my life is more difficult now. I’m balancing learning how to love my fiancé better every day with wedding planning, a full course load, graduation, moving, a job and, well, life. The earlier assumption I made that got me to this point was not based on up-close observation and experience, but on envious speculation and childish thoughts. By realizing this, I’ve had to unearth the root of this lie I managed to tell myself all these years: I keep seeking affirmation and answers in creatures just as broken as myself. When I expect completion, I cannot get it; we were never made to complete each other to the core. When I expect a complimentary piece, however, I do get it; we were designed to compliment each other in a way that reflects the full and complete picture of God. To do this, however, means seeking God for the completion and our loved ones for the tangible companionship.

This steady balancing act of completion and companionship proves to be an every day challenge; however, every day that I wake up and look to God for answers is a day that I adjust that part of me that sought completion in someone else. It’s a day that I find relief in knowing that my fiancé doesn’t have all the answers and neither do I. It’s a day that actually means living life the way it was meant to be lived: Loving people for who they are, not who we need them to be for us.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I had a blast with you guys last night at Italy Nite! And we enjoyed great food, thanks to the hard work of several individuals, particularly Sandy Gudelsky (lasagna and salad) and Sherry Brooks (dessert). If you enjoyed the food, would you be so kind to leave a comment of thanks, and I will pass this along to our chefs!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

In Crossroads Sunday school this week, Matt Brown shared some practical ways to share our faith. A great idea he presented was a '5 Friends' card. On this small piece of paper, we can write down the names of 5 friends that we'll commit to pray for each day, trusting that God will use us to bring them to Christ. I can't think of many things we can do that our closer to the heart of God than this. If you weren't able to get a card, they'll be available tomorrow night in Crossroads. Perhaps you can invite one of these 5 individuals to 'Italy Nite', where they'll see that church can be relevant, and a whole lot of fun!

Has anyone started to pray through their card yet? Let us know how it's going!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Start getting the word out, as Crossroads takes an Italian turn this Wednesday! Enjoy an authentic Italian dinner made by real Italians in the church! We'll be making Italian sodas, playing Bocce Ball, and most importantly, worshipping God! We'll also continue our heroes study, exploring how David overcame all the limitations others placed on him. This will be a great night, so don't even think about not being there, and bring a friend!
Congratulations Jeremiah and Amy on your wedding today! The prayers and love of Crossroads are with you, and we look forward to seeing God use you as a couple in the future!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

There is an article in Christianity Today that I found quite moving. The author describes how he went to see the movie 'Brokeback Mountain' against the voice of God. While in the theater, he was drug into the passions and guilt of his past, yet he says that God dealt with him there on the issue of forgiveness, and not being a slave to the past. A similar refrain to what we heard Sunday night.

This article is interesting to me for 2 reasons. 1) It stresses how careful we need to be in guarding our heart, and making wise entertainment choices. That includes seeing movies that uplift what scripture calls sin. 2) I believe many in the gay lifestyle are like the author, truly unhappy, and we as a church have a great opportunity to introduce them to Christ. How can we be more effective at this?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Great Week Ahead...

Don't miss this incredible Crossroads on March 8 as Matt Brown challenges us to have a more passionate relationship with Christ! Coming from Minneapolis, you'll enjoy Matt's humor and ability to share practical steps to grow in your walk with God. Be there and bring a friend!

Also, this Sunday, March 5th, we're starting a new topic in Crossroads Sunday School. Using the book 'God is Closer than you Think', we'll discuss common questions like:

-Why do I sometimes feel God's presence stronger in my daily life than other times?

-When it is so easy to 'see' God all around me (in trees, in birds, in nature), why is it so hard to feel his presence, especially when I need him the most?

-Why is it that at times when I seek God I feel no response? Am I asking wrong? How can I know?

Join us at 9:30 in room C-112 as we discuss ways to practice the presence of God in our daily lives!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The story keeps going...

This was the scene yesterday at my parents house, with a TV crew and producer from channel 10 pointing a camera at me. What for? They are going to be doing a story about how I'm a 'human gps'. This all started from an article in the Journal back in November. What's funny is that my parents have no idea this is going on at their home: they're in Arizona.