Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Smart People

One thing I love about working at CMU is that every day is unpredictable.

Today we were standing at the hot chocolate table, when J.W. calmly stated, "Look. There's Dennis Quaid."

Sure enough--there he was--walking his white lab puppy on the lawn in front of the CFA building.

Turns out they are filming the movie "Smart People" this week on campus. Apparently Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church are also on site.

We walked over and watched them shoot one scene of the movie. They will be at CMU until next Tuesday or Wednesday, filming scenes at several locations on campus.

Just as we were packing up to leave in the late afternoon, Dennis walked right past us on his way to dinner. The funny thing is.....on our campus nobody really cares about celebrities, so people seldom react.

In fact, I heard today that they've had some difficulty getting students to be extras. Apparently one responded by saying, "I'm not sure. How much of a time commitment would that be? I don't want it to cut into my studying."

And so goes another weird and wonderful day at CMU. I love it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Birth Announcements!

This weekend brought big news around here! Two of our former CrossSeekers, Ed and Becky Fillipih, delivered their first child. Katie was born bright and early on Friday morning.

But later that day, there was another new birth. Danyelle was sitting in her dorm room, reading her Bible, when suddenly God opened her eyes to the full reality of who He was. Right there, alone with God, Danyelle believed and was born into new life in Christ.

We have been praying for her for so many months. There is lots of rejoicing going on within our group right now!!! This is joy on top of joy after Andy's decision just a few weeks ago.

It is so fun to get to witness God transforming the lives of college students. We've also noticed a pattern emerging in how God has worked. Without exception, we have seen each of these elements in the lives of our students who have accepted Christ.

1. Persistent, tearful, gut-wrenching intercession--When the Holy Spirit places a name of a friend or family member on the heart of one of our Christian students, our whole group begins to pray earnestly for that person. We believe James 5:16, which says our prayers are "powerful and effective."

2. Genuine, sacrificial relationships--intellectual arguments do not convince students of the truth of God's Word. It is transparent, authentic Christian living, and friendship extended in love that they find attractive.

3. Getting into God's Word--every single time it has been the Word of God and the revelation of the Holy Spirit that ultimately brings students to belief. His Word is "powerful and effective, and sharper than any two-edged sword." In fact, most of the students have ended up being alone with God, reading His Word, when they finally made the decision to believe in Christ. But that was preceded by months of reading the Bible, participating in small group, and meeting one-on-one with Christians.

4. Total life change and rapid discipleship--when students have spent months in God's Word before believing in Him, they have fallen in love with His Word by the time they come to faith. It has been amazing to watch the pace at which these students grow, and to see the radical change that occurs in their life and countenance. They are typically already entrenched in a small group, and surrounded by other believers who are encouraging/supporting them in their new walk. They read their Bibles--both Old and New Testaments. And they are, without exception, incredible evangelists. At the point where they finally come to belief, they are so convinced that they are willing to share their testimony boldly. They are also quickly grown into strong leaders, and are so grateful for the prayers lifted up on their behalf, that they tend to be powerful intercessors as well.

We don't get to see huge numbers of people coming to faith in Christ here, and the work is often lonely, exhausting and just plain tough. But the depth of what God is doing here is so precious. We get to be around radical young Christians, and it is way cool.

It's funny--on campus we've been dubbed the "Jesus freaks" or the "radical Christian hot chocolate people". But it's amazing how many of the same people who label us also want to hang out with us, or seek out our students to "talk to" when they are in trouble. The beauty of Christ is foreign but attractive to them.

Pray for our group. There are so many names still on our "lost friends" list. We need committed, faithful intercessors to fight with us on their behalf. Sometimes we get weary, and wonder "when, God???" But we cannot leave the battle. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."--Ephesians 6:12

Thursday, November 02, 2006

There is Power in the Name

I love stories like this one. God is so clearly with us through all that He asks us to endure.

This is such a powerful reminder, too, of the importance of intercessory prayer. When I was reading it, I immediately thought of Paul's words in 2 Corinthians.

2Co 1:9-11

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

As I was with Moses.......

God often takes us back to promises He has given in the past, to remind us of His faithfulness.

He did that just a few weeks after we returned to Oklahoma from Pennsylvania. I was wrestling with God again over the call to CMU. I gave Him every excuse in the book as to why I could not go:

"Lord, I can't go to a smart school. You know I'm a dingbat. I can't carry on conversations with techies!!!"

"You know I will never be able to drive in a big city like that!!"

"My parents just retired in the States! I need to be near them!"

But God spoke again, loudly and clearly, through a scripture from our Daily Bread promise box. I pulled the card out that morning, and the words almost jumped off the page at me.

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." --Joshua 3:7c

God was clearly reminding me of His faithfulness, through the exact same verse that had impacted me on our vision trip.

Just a few days ago He did it again. We have been receiving boxes and boxes of "Christmas in August" stuff from churches all over the United States. My favorite part of those packages are the handmade cards from all the little kids.

It had been a particularly tough week (in the midst of a difficult season) when the mail carrier arrived at the door one morning with a package from a little church down South. I was emotionally drained and spiritually exhausted that day, and had cried out to God for some encouragement. What happened next blew me away.

As I cut open the box, there was a little purple card laying on the very top. It had star and flower cutouts pasted on it, as well as a "Daily Bread" card. Guess what verse was on the card?

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee." --Joshua 3:7c

I opened the card. Inside, someone had scribbled in black marker: "We are thinking of you and praying for you. Don't forget--God is always with you."

That was the only card--amidst the 1,000+ we have received--which had a daily bread card pasted to it. I truly believe that card was from God to me, because I needed to hear Him that very day.

That card is now taped to my refrigerator. It's a reminder that I serve a very present and personal God who provides for my deepest needs.

Psalm 36:5-9

"Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light."