Sunday, January 28, 2007

Passion '07 Reflection

The Arena

So I went to this conference over New Years called Passion '07. It was in Atlanta.....24,000 college students......worshipping and praising God for 4 days straight....enough said. I haven't really written much about it, and I don't intend too, but there were so many amazing things that God did over those four days that I'd like to write down a couple of moments when He really 'got to me'.....

One of my favorite worship artists is Chris Tomlin. I'm not such a big fan of his image, but his music is very inspiring and uplifting. In the months leading up to this conference, I had been going through a spiritual dead zone. To make a long story short.....I overloaded myself. I was doing ministry, teaching, studying and working all at once...and it was too much. So the thought of going to a huge conference with some amazing worship leaders was almost getting me excited.
I was comforted by a story during this time of a man that was asked by God to carry one rock up a hill, which upon his way picks up other people's rocks in order to help them and minister to them. Half way up the hill he is too tired and gives up and blames God for giving Him a load that he couldn't carry. God gently reminds him that all He asked him to do was carry that one rock.

I was carrying an overseas backpack full of rocks to Passion. I couldn't wait for that 'moment' in the conference where God would show up, and my load would be lightened. I had struggled 4 months of just being totally emotionless and void of passion. For ministry, for my relationship with God, and for life in general I had simply lost interest. You been there before? If you have, you know how much it sucks.

This was a bilboard that everyone had signed the year previous.

On the second night, Tomlin was leading worship. Our group had managed to get seats two rows from the front of the stage. The stadium was packed. We'd just heard a "killer" sermon from Beth-Moore on humility, and the crowd it seemed was in a state of total repentant worship. Everyone was on their feet, hands lifted high, and it was as if you could see God's spirit moving through the masses.

I was sitting down. My arm's crossed. Totally emotionless.....

I love that line in the Goo Goo Dolls song that says "And you can't fight the tears that aint coming". That was me......I was fighting for a tear....any sign of feeling.....but I got nothing.

This was supposed to be my moment. My favorite worship artist.....great speaker.....20.000 people to help me along.....but nothing. Had God just forgot about me? It sure had felt like it the last couple of months. It was almost like I'd lost the Holy Spirit.

You been there before? If you have, you know how much it SUCKS!

So after walking away from that night event and off to our community group, I was feeling my usual "God I'm angry with you, but I'm not, because my heart doesn't respond to my head any more, and I've lost every blood pumping vessel in my body!" self.

Then He REALLY got to me.

My head finally found a route to my heart. It had finally deciphered the labyrinth and reconnected the blood vessels. I had reasoned that if I was EVER going my moment with God and I was to set up the perfect conditions for it to happen, I probably would have put my self in front of Chris Tomlin with a whole bunch of people to worship why didn't it work?

Because I needed to see that my relationship with God has nothing to do with how I feel about Him.

God is so much bigger than a huge worship service.

He would keep me emotionless if it only meant my heart would turn further toward Him.....even if it is numb.

After 4 months of being emotionless......He wanted to show me He still loved me.......

.....even while I was emotionless.

My response? Total emotionlessness.......but knowing that was OK.

This week at the Ranch has been pretty exciting. We got to meet Joey Seeber, the Mayor of Tyler, TX on Wednesday and spend half a day with him. We were guests of honor at Tyler's City Council meeting and got to grill Joey for about 2 hours. It was just an awesome oppurtunity to talk to a guy that had made it and has a love for the Lord. We got to learn so much just from him telling his stories and just gained a lot of life experience from him telling his mistakes. (great English there)

I also got to meet with the college group i travelled with to the Passion conference, this weekend. It was amazing to share that experience with them, but even cooler to get to hang out with them and talk with them on a regular basis. On our way back, we all got convicted to start memorizing chapters of the bible on a regular basis. This weekend we just got done with Colossians 3, and now we're moving to James 1. It's been amazing to dedicate ourselves to memorize a whole chapter and just incredible to see how much God uses that in our lives.

This was the group that I travelled with to Passion

This week I will be travelling to Oklahoma City to go to the Gear Up Conference. They are the company under which we went to West Virginia with and did the iLead conference. It should be interesting to see what it's all about since we know nothing of what we'll be doing this week. But I'm excited...... happy to have some emotion back!

Friday, January 19, 2007

The first week......wait, have two weeks past?

Let the message that comes from Christ, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
- Colossians 3:16

Wow! What a start. I'm starting out this blog not wanting to write out everything that has happenned because it would take me a good couple of nights to write it all out, so I'll try and keep it short (HA!!!). I guess I could just say God is good and it would pretty much cover it, but I'll keep writing.

Let me start by saying, the more I get involved in this job, the more I wonder if I was the right person. I say that not just because I secretly doubt my own abilities (while putting on the "I know what I'm doing" face), but also because I am just gob smacked at the amount of oppurtunities that have been thrown our way.

The iLead conference. This was all the students and leaders.
Last weekend the Outdoor Education crew and the Legacy Fellowship (The Fellows, as we are now fondly known as), went to West Virginia on a trip to lead an iLead conference. It was set up by the West Virginian Education board for us to come in and help prepare identified 8th grade leaders to prepare for college. There's a really cool picture of us on the website at

This was my team...the Maroon team.
"Maroon Maroon Maroon. OI, OI, OI!!!!"

This trip was a huge challenge for me personally and spiritually. I was going on a trip to a new state with a bunch of people I had only met a week ago, and I have to admit the idea of getting thrown into a team leader position straight off the bat was daunting. I was definately stripped of a lot of pride on this trip, learned what it meant to be humble, and how acting like a big fool is sometimes the quickest way to get to know someone!

Zack was our flag bearer....and the best iLead Idol singer there.....regardless of the judges' decision!

Spiritually, it was a trip that stretched me. We were basically invited to hang out with a lot of kids that don't know God, or that have probably never pondered the concept of who God is, and were told that we were not to mention His name to them at all. We were only there to help lead them to college, even though our hearts wanted to lead them to Christ. I went through the whole thought process of disagreeing with the program; thinking that it musn't be Christ centered. I ended up judging a whole bunch of people based on the fact our purpose was to only teach about college, while claiming to be Christians that are supposed to 'make disciples of all nations'.

Nathan and Zack.....or the other way around ;)

Well.....just reminded me again of how imperfect I am. I was so overwhelmed by the heart of everyone I worked with. They are all so silently committed and focused on sharing their faith without making a big deal of it. It was so humbling to me: that wanted to declare loudly my love for Christ to these kids and make a name for myself, while watching the other team leaders still themselves and diligently pour out God's love onto these students.
It was also fun to stay up till 3am with them, playing "Potty on your Neighbour", and dealing out silly consequences like singing to two lonely guys in the hotel bar, with an audience of heckling co-workers. I got to know the outdoor education team so much better on this trip, as well as grow in spiritual maturity.

Lane Davis, Brooke Barbie, Mike Maguire and me. Our lasts names have all changed to "Fellows"

Now I want to talk about some incredible people. The three other people I will be working with for the entire year, as part of the Legacy Fellowship program are none other than Mike Maguire, Lane Davis and Brooke Barbie. You may not have heard of them, but you will one day. They'll probably be discipling your kids or being your boss or something like that. They are three of the most God-fearing, creative, compassionate and dedicated people I have met, and I get to work with them for a whole year!! I'm rooming with Mike and Lane, with Brooke across the hall. We've only been working together for a week and we miss the times that we are apart. I am excited when I think about them and the possibilities of us doing incredible things this year.

Jill and Clinton Pfalser.....A.K.A. Mama and Pappa Fellows

Our AMAZING leaders, Clinton and Jill Pfalser have been friends of mine for a while, but I am just so flabergasted at their willingness to invest so much in us. They are taking so much time out of their lives to feed us with oppurtunities, resources and the occaisional steaks on a Wednesday night. I have been so blessed to have them in my life, but am just so excited to see them lead us forward in this program.

The whole group with Dave Schlener and family

We are also being lead by a guy named Dave Schlener, who is a leadership guru from West Point and an international pilot with American Airlines. I cannot express how just his presence in the room brings excitement with a sense of peace. This guy is so knowledgable, yet so compassionate. So focused and determined that we are the four most important people in his life (other than his family). He is so biblical in his approach to everything it's impressive and enlightening at the same time. He has set up trips for us to take leadership seminars at West Point, as well as spend face time with American Airline system directors, university presidents, pastors, school superintendants, mayors even U.S. Congressmen in Washington D.C.!!! Not only will we meet them, but they will run us through their job for a day: let us sit in board meetings, help influence major decisions they make on a daily basis. What an incredible oppurtunities, and what a fantastic mentor to be led by. Oh did I mention we are going to Kenya for a month in August? Short side note.....
Brooke and Mike
I could go on and on about the rest of the stuff that I'm doing, but I could probably put anyone to sleep with more descriptions. So just for a break in the madness, here's some good Texas slang for those who don't know.
Make sure you read them with a strong East Texas, hick, country accent. I just learned these today. Courtesy of my roomie, Lane Davis:

"It's hotter than two mice making love in a wool sock on a hot day, Y'all"

Well, it's kinda been cold this week, so here's some good ones:

"It's colder than a witch's titty in a brass bra doing pushups in the snow!"
"It's colder than a plumber's butt wearing iron underwear!"

The guy on the right is responsible for the quotes....did I mention he wears turquoise boots?
Sorry if they sound mildly vulgar, but when Lane says them with that cowboy accent, you can hardly tell what he's saying anyway!

God is so good. We read through Genesis 1 this morning with the OE teachers, and just discussed the marvels of the Bibles first chapter. Mike brought up the point that God created humans last in the order of things, which he said, is not only humbling but also puts a lot of responsibility on our shoulders. It reveals so much of God's heart that He puts the last first, the runt of the litter as the leader, and believes that anyone can achieve anything.

I have struggled this week between balancing humility with confident leadership. I have struggled with boldly displaying my personality while remaining still enough to meet others where they are at. I have struggled with the fact that I am not good enough for this job, but that God thinks I am.

Who am I to be formed by a Creator that allows me to experience doubt and guilt and shame and humility and unworthiness, yet be loved in a way that tells me to feel loved and not oppressed. Who am I to dwell on my own faults while a Savior allows me to move mountains with my own hands.

I can't express the wonderment and awe that I feel right now at the amazing, intracate details of God's plan. That He had a well ordered, focused and diligent plan in the creation of the heavens and the earth, but that also has the same dedication in his plan for my life.

I love where I am right far from perfect.....yet so close to finding out who I am....knowing that I will always be searching for him (me).......and Him.

~Bless this week Lord....I love you with all my good and bad times.....please be with my family, I have no idea where they are or what's going on with them. Allow me the privelidge of talking with them this week. I miss them terribly. Bless our Fellowship and my friends around the world. Thank you for Your Son and what He's done for all of them. I love you Lord.~

Monday, January 08, 2007

ReNewed Life!

So put on your new nature and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him
- Colossians 3:10

So what an incredible start to the year it has been. I am so excited to be blogging again I am literally shaking! If you have missed me, I apologize, but I plan to be more consistent this year (one of the resolutions!).

This incredible year started with the Passion Conference; a four day Christian conference for 18-25 year olds. It was held in Atlanta and more the 24,000 students attended, rasing over $2.5 million for God's kingdom worldwide. I could literally write a book on how great the conference was, and all the stories. But my conference is best summed up in the verse above. After going through a spiritually dry spell for so long, God has been so faithful in renewing my passion for serving Him. Giving four days to seek out God was what I needed to start the year, and He has provided that so mercifully.
I was able to attend the conference with an amazing group of people. I went with the college group from Brookhaven Church in Dallas, and made some friends I will probably keep for life. With them, I was able to witness a life changing transformation in the lives of this group and mine, as God just decided to grab us by the hand, walk beside us and gently say "I'm here". Our reaction has been that over an over-excited toddler, just happy to be walking with their daddy.

I would talk more about the conference and this amazing group of people, but I want to get on to other things, like my NEW JOB!

I am officially excited to be working at Sky Ranch !!!!!(Granted, it has only been one day!) It has taken me a long time to mourn leaving Kansas and all the great people there and I am just so thankful that God has been faithful. A friend of mine said that it has taken this long to get excited because I knew what I was leaving, not knowing what I was gaining; very true. But today, I believe God has confirmed for me that I am in the right place, and for a lot of reasons.

My day started off with a meeting with Chris Witt, the executive of Sky Ranch in Van, TX. For those who don't know a lot about Sky Ranch, I learned today that it is in the top 5% of camp in the US and has grown immensly in the last 5 years. It sits on a huge piece of property (I would say 2000 acres, but I could be underestimating) which facilitates a "summer camp, outdoor education and adventure school, blobs, zip lines, horses, paintball, jet skis, super slides and much much more!" Chris told me that my position as part of the Fellowship Legacy team serves to benefit the camp and God's kingdom.
He described that my position would be like a bench player for leadership positions at the camp. I know the idea of a "bench player" doesn't sound so great, but for me I think it's just what I need. This job will allow me to be in a position where I can learn from so many, while being thrown into the mix of things at the same time. I will be involved with the Outdoor Education and Adventure program for most of my time here, serving as a teacher. But it goes far beyond that. Here is the job desciption:
The primary responsibility of the Legacy Fellowship Program is to spend (1) full-year living, learning and experiencing leadership, excellence, character, and service in a Christian Summer Camp setting through the training and supervision of the Sky Ranch full-time staff. The secondary responsibility of the Legacy Fellowship is to equip individuals for effectively applying Biblical Leadership principles to significant ministry opportunities. All Fellows will reside during that time in the Gove Leadership Lodge and will have the opportunity to work hands-on in teaching, program development, youth ministry and service, while being taken through an extensive Leadership training course lead by Sky Ranch staff. The Legacy Fellowship will experience times of direct concentration in one area or multiple areas as leadership training and Sky Ranch programs dictate. Each experience involves assisting Sky Ranch Camp with investing in the lives of youth ages five to twenty-three with the Sky Ranch Life Map. This program will incorporate at times responsibilities within marketing, sales, counselor recruiting and other areas as needed.

On the 12th the Outdoor teachers are running a camp in West Virginia at the Hyatt Hilton, for the weekend (it's in Morgantown or something like that). The weekend is called iLead, playing off the iPod phenomena, and aims to teach 8th graders how to prepare for college. While there, I will be teaching a class on how to prepare financially for college. I know some of you might be falling off your chair thinking I will be teaching elite 8th graders how to save for college. But its ok....I was given a script! But what's even funnier was the first line of my script! This is what it says:
"The United States of America is the greatest country in the world"

I laughed my head off when I read it, infront of the people I was working with. I'm so glad they appreciated the humor, with me being Australian and all. The script goes on to talk about how great America's public school and university system, and how it is so readily available and affordable to just about any American. This is true........but it was just an ironic introduction for a foriegn teacher!

Oh....I told you the camp was called iLead, because of the whole iPod thing. Well, it turns out that we will be using iPods to help run the camp, and since we would all be teachers at the conference, Sky Ranch thought it would be necessary for us to all own one.

So try to imagine the suprise on my face when I walk in to the OE (Outdoor Ed.) department for the first time, on my first day, after meeting everyone for the first time, and getting a little gift bag shoved in my hand, only to open it up and find a 30GB iPod Video in there!!!!!! I slept in half an hour, neglected my prayer time and still walk into a blessing like that......God is GOOD! Not only that, but it came with a case that has a speaker attached. Plus the gift bag has a bunch of candy in it which i was really excited about. Every OE teacher got one, and yes.....we get to keep them!

So here is me with my iPod, incase you didn't believe me....also the most materialistic picture I've ever taken.

Candid assumptions I pondered after receiving gift:

  • I bet every day will be like this!
  • I bet I'll be scrubbing toilets next week!
But enough about that.....that wasn't even the beginning to amazing day I had. Directly after the iPod party, I went and met a whole lot more people, practiced for a skit for the WV thing, and took care of some paperwork and other housekeeping stuff.

One of the things I did today was buy some insurace for my new car! And yes, that was a gift too! Pat and Mary Beth Kelley's son Darren blessed me with a 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis, this weekend while I was in Dallas. It's an old ship, but she's a good one. Here's a picture:

Suggested names for the car: The Blue Mothership, The Skyboat, The Blue Voyager....any suggestions?

I saw 2 beavers for the first time on the camp site today.....I wonder if this was one of them.

So God has just blessed me abundantly as I start this new job and new journey at Sky Ranch. I will be involved with so many new faces, places and oppurtunities. I can see how almost everything that has happenned in the last 4 months has been to equip me for this next year (thank you Connie!!!). And that God is faithfull, mercifull and always present. Whether you are excited or drained, have the spiritual low or high, get the tingling feeling in the arm or are numb to all feeling, He is there, in more ways than one.....just wait on Him and be obedient. He will show.

I am praying for you Kent.

I hope you can all keep in contact with me this way and catch up on how I am doing. I plan to be on here at least once a week, if not more. Please leave your comments and your emails....I am going to make a conscious effort to keep in touch. I miss most of you, excited to work with some of you and can't wait to see the rest of you again.