Reaching the whole campus

A few years the Bemidji State InterVarsity chapter was at the lowest point of involvement in about 20 years. We had a small leadership team and my wife and I were newly married. We decided that we would both lead two small groups and at the end of that year we had about forty students involved in the four small groups. Last year we had about 120 students with eight small groups and 37 conversions. God has been moving. Read more

AIDs: our response

I was half way through college before I realized that not everybody had the same opportunities that I did.

I was working at a summer camp where the leader had us play a simulation.  The simulation was simple. Take a step forward if the statement applied to you.  Stay put if it doesn’t.

I remember the first statement. “Take a step forward if your family had multiple book shelves.”  I took a step forward.

Take a step forward if your family had a cabin.  My immediate family didn’t have a cabin, but my grandparents did and we went there almost every weekend during the summer.  Take a step forward if your father went to college.  My father went to North Dakota State University.  Take a step forward if you mother went to college.  My mom went to Moorehead State University.  Take a step forward if your family had a computer.  My family had a LOT of computers.

By the end of the experiment Read more

Thriving in college

A lot is made about Christians managing to survive college and for good reason, depending on which statistics you read, 60%-80% of Christian students in High School leave their faith in college.  That’s a lot!  What happens?  What are the problems that Christian students face when they head onto the college campus?  There are a lot of problems that I see Christian students face when they get to college.  I’m going to focus on two of the more common problems that I see.  Then I want to talk about how to thrive in college so you’re not just surviving.
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Who provides it?

Money TreeI recently thanked a donor for his increasing financial support.  His response told me he counted it a privilege to support us.  He went on to say that as long as he and his wife had a job that they would support us.  By they way he responded, I asked if he was expecting that to happen soon.  He told me about three scenarios for how the company may decide to make cuts if the current economic trend continues.  In two of the scenarios he would likely keep his job but in the third he could potentially lose his job.  Then he said, “It’s the Lord that provides the ability for me to work, and the Lord who provides what we need.”

As InterVarsity staff we are required to raise 100% of our salary, benefits and other ministry expenses.  This raises several questions that you must wrestle with early on.  One of the reoccurring questions I was asked early on in fund raising was, “why don’t you get a real job?” Read more

What is that smell?

I am not a real big fan of coffee.  In fact I don’t drink it and neither does my wife.  Coffee has a smell that is unmistakable.   It fills a room.  When you leave a coffee shop everyone you meet for the rest of the day will know where you have been.  Different coffee shops have different smells.  My wife can even tell me which coffee shop I have been working at depending on the smell on my cloths.  Folders had a whole series of commercials that finished with a little jingle.  Why do I go to coffee shops?  Primarily the wifi.  Secondarily the tea.  I love tea, but tea doesn’t have the same smell.  It doesn’t stick with you the rest of the day. Read more

Evangelism and Culture

God is at work drawing people to himself.  I am excited!  Students are leaving their lives of sin and choosing to follow Jesus.  Over the past two and a half years at Bemidji State we have seen 57 students make decisions to follow Jesus and I expect that we will see more.  Nationally, InterVarsity is seeing one of the largest harvests in history.  We are living in exciting times.  What’s happening?  I believe God is using a generational issue to raise up followers to fulfill his mission.  The mission is to care about the world.  Students care about injustice.  The good news is that God does too!  What’s going on?

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Hearing and Seeing

When I was 5 years old, I was legally blind in my left eye. I remember one time when I walked up to side of our kitchen table. The table stretched out to my right. My mom was sitting at the head of the table eating breakfast.
When you are 5, you can barely see over the table. As I stood at the edge of the table with my mom sitting to my left, I announced, “Mom! I can’t see out of my left eye!”

My dad, who was standing in the hallway, came over to the table. Together they asked me to close my right eye and to count the number of fingers I saw.

“One, two three,” I counted.

Every time, no matter how many fingers they put up, I could count them.

Jesus talked a lot about hearing and seeing in the parable of the soils in Matthew 13.

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How can I know?

What should I major in?  Who should I marry?  What  job should I take?  Where should I live?  What should I do?  The list of questions we ask God are endless.  Inquiring minds want to know.  At every stage in life we ask a new set of questions.  I am asking, should I go to seminary?  Where should I go to seminary?

How do we know which path to take?  How do we know whether it will honor God?  How can we be sure it is the will of God?

The short answer is: we can’t!  The long answer is that we can use the Bible, community, prayer, and history to help us figure it out.  What do I mean by that? Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

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Knowing God’s Will

wedding

“Brian, God wants us to get married.”  I can still hear the words echoing in my mind.  I was shocked.  Sure we were friends, but we weren’t even dating!  I don’t even remember how I responded but I do remember struggling with those words for quite a while.  I remember asking, is it true? Has God spoken to her but not me?  Am I going to miss something?  Is this God’s will for me?  Today, she is no longer following God and I have no doubt it was not God’s will for us to marry.  I have grown in my understanding of what God’s will is and how to discern it.  I am married to a wonderful wife who is following Jesus.

What is God’s will? Read more

A Vision to see God move

I am excited about what God could do during the course of this coming semester.  There is anticipation in the air.  Students are getting passionate about prayer.  I met with a series of students today.  Two separate students, with two separate visions.  Both involve prayer.  In Christianity it seems we talk more about prayer than we actually pray but in this case they both are serious.

The vision began at a leaders meeting last fall.  The question, “What if,” was asked.  What if we prayed every day?  What if God showed up this year?  What if we got serious about helping our friends with their problems.  What if we started caring for others needs ahead of our own? What if we hosted a Friday night party every week as an alternative night?  What if it was the happening place to be?  Two different students.  Two different visions.  Both involve prayer.   Read more