Archive for Brian Asker

Am I a Human Doing?

Originally Written: May 2017

I’ve been working out every day. I remodeled the kitchen, dining room, living room and entry of our house. I have read 19 books and read through the whole New Testament. I could keep listing all that I have done, but I will spare you the details.  It is amazing how busy one can be on sabbatical!

I recently spent three days alone on a retreat without my cell phone. I wanted to reflect on what God is teaching me.  Two ideas emerged. First, I realized how easily I get sucked into doing things. When people ask, I’m tempted to tell them all I have accomplished. Fortunately, sabbatical hasn’t been all busyness; I have been able to slow down. For example, I have been at the bus stop nearly every day when the kids get home from school.   My children don’t care what I have accomplished. They just want to see me. Similarly, my heavenly father also wants to see me. He cares about what I do, but he wants it to be an overflow from my time spent with him.

Secondly, I realized that I love my job and I am excited to get back to work.  I had a lot of fun remodeling my house, but I realized that it does not provide the same reward as my job. In fact, it reminds of my calling to InterVarsity. 15 years ago I was graduating from college. I loved computers, but I would rather help someone encounter God’s amazing love for them.  That is what brings me great joy.

Preparing for Death

Shortly before my last grandparent passed away, my siblings and I all traveled to see him.

It feels like death and suffering has surrounded me.  Last spring, I watched my friends lose their 4-month-old. This spring it has intensified. A former student at UMD died on January 22, 2017 after a 15 month battle with colon cancer. My wife’s great aunt passed away on January 23, 2017. My last living grandparent passed away January 27, 2017. He was 95 years old.  A pastor of the church that I attended in Duluth died unexpectedly at age 52 in a house fire. Another friend is facing terminal cancer. He has 6 kids. Through it all, I have been studying theology.

What does God have to say about death and suffering? Quite a lot. Jesus wept when Lazarus died. Thus, we can too. He talked about his own death and how he would suffer. Thus, he has experienced it himself. And in John 16:33 he said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In his book, The Art of Dying: Living Fully into the Life to Come, Rob Moll writes “Good deaths, even the best of them, are terrible because they separate.” He also says that for the Christian “this life is only the prelude to an eternal life with Christ.”

In between studying and writing papers, I have been reflecting on my work.  While reading part of Moll’s book, I thought about how my job prepares students for death.  I help students meet Jesus. I help them learn to follow God in their daily lives. Because a life well lived for God is the best preparation for death.

Thanks for helping me prepare students for death.

New Job!

On July 1, 2017 I will become the Assistant Director for Leadership Training. This is a new national position and I will be responsible for equipping Area Directors around the country. This past fall, I had the chance to tell my colleagues why I thought the Area Director position was the most important role in InterVarsity. If you want, you can read my notes. Now, I am privileged to be responsible for training this crucial role for all of InterVarsity.

In many ways, it feels like this is something I have already been doing in my region. For example, when my family moved to Duluth, Jacob Fisher also moved to Duluth to attend UMD. We started a freshmen small group that grew and multiplied into several more groups. For the past four years, Jacob has been equipping and empowering students. This year, Jacob will replace me as the new Area Director for the NORTH area. I also developed Luke Olson who became the Area Director for Milwaukee last year.

As an Area Director, I empowered and equipped campus staff to reach the 100,000 students in the NORTH area. As a trainer for Area Directors, I hope to empower and equip people to reach the 21 million college students in the United States.

The Gospel According to Twitter: Everyone is right – Part 2

contradiction

                      Above: Two tweets with #AdviceToLiveBy

Twitter assumes that the most relevant information is the most recent information.  Twitter amplifies this by publishing a list of current trending topics based on an analysis of the latest tweets.  A word or phrase can trend when a significant number of people start tweeting about that word or phrase.  For example, during the Urbana 2012 conference, “#u12” became the number one trend in the St Louis area for most of the conference in fact there were nearly 40,000 tweets on the hashtag or about seven tweets per minute around the clock for the duration of the event. Read more

Using Twitter for Ministry: History – Part 3

Twitter’s prehistoric document, circa 2000.

Historically, twitter was born out of a brainstorming session by a group of employees at the podcasting company Odeo.  Jack Dorsey, a computer programmer, was fascinated by blogs, Instant Messaging (IM) and dispatcher systems.  Blogs allow you to host an online journal. IM gives the user the ability to chat live with friends, but it was limited because you were tethered to a computer.  Dispatcher systems required updates from ambulances, police officers, taxicabs and other city services, but according to Dorsey, it was missing one key piece, Read more

Using Twitter for Ministry: #Hashtags – Part 2

Hashtags are an important part of Twitter and are confusing for a lot of people.  Let’s start with the basics.  Hashtags originated as a way to group tweets.  Chris Messina borrowed the idea of hashtags from the old Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels.  According to the Twitter Fan Wiki, “Hashtags were popularized during the San Diego forest fires in 2007 when Nate Ritter used the hashtag ‘#sandiegofire’ to identify his updates related to the disaster.”

Hashtags have evolved as a way of adding punch lines to a tweet.  For example, “I just dropped a McRib in my lap. I’m wearing white. #fail”.  Or another tweet by the writer Susan Orlean, “My 7 yo has taken to calling me ‘Lady,’ as in, ‘What’s for dinner, lady?’ #wheredidigowrong.” These tweets add irony and sarcasm.  Others have used hashtags to create large slumber party like conversations with hashtags like “#IWannaKnowWhy.” Read more

Using Twitter for Ministry: Basics – Part 1

Twitter is a social networking and micro blogging site where users share thoughts of up to 140 characters, known as a tweets. There are 200 million active users who tweet an average 400 million tweets per day. The site launched on March 21, 2006 . It is the fastest growing social media site today. Twitter is a snapshot at any moment in time of the collective diverse thoughts of our global society.

Lets go over some of the basics of twitter. Read more

The Gospel According to Twitter – Part 1

                      Boston Marathon – April 15, 2:49pm

On April 15, 2013 at 2:49pm EDT two bombs exploded within 13 seconds and 210 yards of each other near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  The bombs killed 3 people and injured another 264.  Within seconds, Twitter was lighting up people’s cell phones and computer screens with first hand accounts of the event including images and videos of the scene.  It was a full 10 minutes before any other news source was able to report anything. Read more

Dreaming – The gospel according to Monsters University

Dreaming & Significance

Think back to when you were a kid. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I remember when I was in pre-school and the teacher asked us that question.  Horses amazed me and I thought it would be awesome if I could ride a horse when I grew up.  As I got a little bit older, I wanted to be a baseball player!  In Monsters University, Mike Wazowski wanted to be a Scarer.  I think these desires give us a clue about something deep within each one of us.  We all long for a life of significance. 

In the movie, Mike headed off to college to be in the scare program at Monsters University. When he gets there, he finds out about the scare games, a chance to prove you’re the best scarer in the whole school! Mike studies hard, but on the final exam, the dean kicks him out of the program because he’s not good enough.  Which raises another deeper issue.  What do we do when our plans fail?

Read more

How do we know?


Let me ask you how did you get here?

Think about it for a moment.

Let me tell you how I got here Read more