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Have you met the interns yet? They're pretty amazing. The following post is from Nick Holmstedt a recent graduate of Hamline University. He has a knack for making friends easily and even though he doesn't really like coffee, we try not to hold that against him.

One week while tabling on campus, we asked a question related to Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages:  “In what way do you primarily display love?”

In addition to the conversations we had that day, the thought has been on my mind for a variety of reasons.  As I sat to write this blog, the question returned in a new form:  how do the love languages relate to prayer? 

Prayer is central to our lives as followers of Jesus.  If we don’t communicate with God, how can we expect to grow towards Him?  So I should be invested constantly in prayer.  Jesus was, Paul was.  Yet even with clear models and an understanding of prayer’s power, I seem to dilly dally around my thoughts rather than decisively communicative with my Father. 

Sometimes the thing that helps me establish my disciplines the most is to step back and focus on the vision, to see where the river’s heading.  This is where we loop back to the love languages.  Prayer is a wonderful application of the love we share of God through Christ.  It is multi-purpose and addressed to our sovereign God who adores us.  It is a beautiful gift.  This is one of the five love languages- gift-giving.  Clearly, God has bestowed upon us more gifts than I could possibly recite here (check out the Bible for a hearty glimpse into that).  But, I believe prayer is a gift- the ability to chat with our Savior and Father Himself?  Name something else you’d want for your birthday.  And more, we can gift back to God by simply using that which He’s given us!  Prayer is a gift both received and given.

Prayer can involve many things, but it often occurs as words.  The second love language is words of affirmation.  I believe there’s a reason we pray using words (though certainly you could prayer through other devices than your tongue).  The outpouring of our heart and mind in these words- and to receive the Word Himself- is another intimate connection with God.

Acts of Service.  If we’ve set our hearts to serve others, shouldn’t we be praying for them?  Prayer is an irremovable element of our service, because we rightly request that the God who sees all and has the power to truly transform works exactly that which He loves to do. 

God is here among us, and the closest we can get to Him is in our quiet place, in our heart of hearts, our soul and it is from there that we pray our deepest prayers.  There is something special about actual, tangible physical contact, the next love language.  I believe prayer offers a way for us to feel that unique connection without clammy hand to clammy hand contact.  It’s truly special because it’s a relationship to God that we cannot have with another (because, if you’re praying to someone else, that’d be called idolatry).

Finally, quality time.  I believe it’s worth recognizing that this language of love is more than just quantity time.  Quantity is related to quality, but correlation is not causality.  Take your time to fall in love with God through prayer- listen and speak with all the truth and vulnerability and ooshy-gooshyness you can muster. 

With my vision of prayer rooted in these values, I can get excited again to dive deep towards God.  But even with vision, I have to remember patience and perseverance.  Take time to pray, because its value is in the immeasurable quality of our relationship with God!

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AuthorBlane Young
CategoriesInterns
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Have you met the interns yet? They're pretty amazing. The following post is from Becca Pugh, our happy-go-lucky intern from Pittsburgh.

I wish I knew that Eaglebucks were in fact “real” money, not fake like I often told myself. 

I wish I knew that McDonald’s would only be on campus for so long, and that every day should have been a milkshake day (*cries inside*).

I’m just kidding about those previous things, kind of. What I really wish I knew is how much my habits impacted not only my present but also my future. I came into college with less than stellar habits in most arenas of my daily life. My sleeping, eating, exercising, studying and even spiritual habits were sporadic and ruled by every force around me except my own will, especially in my first semester. It was a struggle to try and regulate my schedule and discipline myself in these areas when I was already in the mix of my class and work schedules.

It was also difficult as I was trying to make friends. I’m not much of an initiator, so I try to take every chance to spend time with people when they initiate. That meant I was basically on call for doing whatever whenever, because I wanted to make friends and I wanted to get to know people as much as possible (and a big part of me wanted everyone to like me).

What I didn’t realize as I let my environment around me control me, is that it was slowly affecting different areas of my life. My habits, or lack thereof, were causing my grades to suffer, my mood to swing, my body to get bigger (no lie) and my relationship with God to be minimized to sporadic spiritual experiences. That’s not to say that there wasn’t value in my relationship with God, or that those experiences weren’t valid. I experienced some breakthroughs and growth during that time, but I wasn’t setting myself up for a healthy and vibrant relationship with Him that was consistent.    

In my second semester, I gained some wisdom from my small group leader and felt a deep longing for change. That was a time when I worked on those habits, with equal amounts of determination and a willingness to make mistakes and receive grace. In that second semester, I made some big decisions of obedience that opened doors for God to move in my own life and the lives of my friends. While I’m certainly not the perfect example for healthy habits, the cool thing is that I’ve grown a lot since that time, and the prayer is that I keep growing and learning as the years go on, grateful to God for the progress I’ve made.  

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AuthorBlane Young
CategoriesInterns
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Have you met the interns yet? They're pretty amazing. The following post is from Becca Pugh, our happy-go-lucky intern from Pittsburgh.

For me, being missional has come to mean loving each person I encounter as if that person is a beloved child of God, whether or not they believe in Him. It means treating every moment as an opportunity to share the love and grace that God freely gives me each day with someone who desperately needs it (and there isn’t one person who doesn’t desperately need it). I’m definitely not always good at being missional, but this has been my perspective. The moments when I live out that idea are when I am most aware of God’s presence in my life and the potential for His presence in the lives of those I am reaching out to.

Being missional also means proclaiming where you are, and proclaiming to people around the world who may not have the chance to hear about the story of Jesus unless someone goes and tells them.

In high school, I only understood being missional in the context of short-term mission trips with my youth group. There is a lot of value in the short-term trips I went on, because they opened me up to the possibilities of life in God’s kingdom. It was only on these trips that I really saw how the word of God could come to life through my service and my interactions with people. The team and I weren’t just on a service trip, but we were being the hands and feet of Jesus. I felt so alive as I lived out God’s purposes on those trips. The only problem was that I wasn’t living out the word of God in my daily life back home. I didn’t understand how the experiences I had on that trip could translate to my daily life, in which I interacted with the same people every day- family, friends at school, classmates, and my track and field team.

My pattern of life at home was so different from the way I lived on those mission trips, so it was challenging for me to figure out how to not only share my experiences with the people I care about, but also live my life in such a way that I was loving and serving people with the same kind of passion.

Sometimes I think it’s difficult to translate what we view as “missions” to our everyday lives because the ways we are missional on a mission trip look different from how we might be missional in our typical everyday lives. Pastor Mark Batterson of National Community Church says that we should always do what we can with what we have where we are. So in being missional, we should do just that- wherever I am, how am I using what God has given me to reach out and invite others into community and the love of Christ? Am I doing all that I can and asking God to use it for His will and His glory?

Being missional is continually sharing your story, who Jesus is to you and what He has done in your life with those you are in relationship with and even complete strangers when God presents the opportunity. In order for God to use me, I have to be willing and I even have to be seeking those opportunities. 

When you hear the term "missional", what do you think about?  How have you learned to share your story with others? We'd love to hear about it in the Comments below. 

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AuthorBlane Young
CategoriesInterns
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Have you met the interns yet? They're pretty amazing. The following post is from Kristin Caldwell. She's a graduate of Central Washington University and is becoming an expert at navigating public transportation in the city.

Over the past couple of months, a song that has continuously encouraged me is Oceans by Hillsong United. The lyrics of this song talk about how God calls us to walk with Him into the unknown, and that if we call upon His name and keep our eyes fixed on Him, He will lead us to do things we would never be able to do ourselves. My favorite line of the song is "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders/Let me walk upon the waters/Wherever you would call me." These simple phrases hold such power.

My first experience of hearing God calling me to do something was Him asking me to confess a sin to my mentor at the time that I had never shared with anyone before. It was probably the scariest thing I'd ever done up til that point, but it brought so much freedom and healing into my life as a result. I think hearing from God very much includes obeying Him in what He calls us to do. There is action required. My experience has been that the more that I obey, the easier it becomes to identify His voice because I learn what His voice sounds like. And the things He has called me to obey Him in have gradually become bigger and bigger.

A few years later, I was journaling in my room alone with God, when all of a sudden I randomly had the thought that I should share what I had written down during the Chi Alpha group meeting that night. Every week during the worship time at Chi Alpha, the worship leader invites students up to share if there's anything that God has put on their heart. I had never done it, and quite honestly, hoped I never would. Public speaking in any form has always terrified me. And yet when I got this impression from God to share, I knew that's what I had to do. I tried to make excuses, but I also knew that I would regret not obeying the nudging.

And so that night I went up to the front and took hold of the microphone. I read the scripture, shaky voice and all, and somehow managed to share everything I felt I needed to share without notes. I don't know whether or not my words made a difference in someone's life that night, but my biggest satisfaction was in knowing that I had been obedient to what God had called me to do at that time.

Since then, there has only been one other time that God has nudged me to share something at a weekly Chi Alpha meeting. But He has stretched me in trusting Him in more other ways than I can count. When I graduated from college, I struggled to find a job before I found a nanny job with long hours and low pay. When the kids were getting ready to go back to school, I struggled again to find consistent work. It was then that God provided me with a job at exactly the right time, and in the type of place that I had been hoping for. A few months later, I went to World Missions Summit, an event I had been looking forward to for nearly four years, ever since I had any idea what it even was. It was there that God called me to do the internship. Naturally, I assumed that I would be going back to Central Washington University. When I found out that, no, that's not where I would be headed, I was devastated. And yet that's what God used to bring me to DC. I'm still not sure how God convinced me to move across the country, but all I know is that He is the one who made it happen. I still have no idea how all that support came in as I struggled to raise such a high budget my first time going into ministry. Somehow He did. And now that I'm here, I'm amazed at how fast I have been able to adjust. There are definitely still things that frustrate me and confuse me about this campus and this type of ministry, but that's okay. God is showing me how much He loves these students and how desperately He desires for them to love Him too. And somehow, I trust that He is using me in the lives of others, even when I might not see it. All that I can really do is keep trusting Him, praying that He will give me a trust in Him that is without borders.

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AuthorBlane Young
CategoriesInterns
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Have you met the interns yet? They're pretty amazing. The following post is from Nick Holmstedt a recent graduate of Hamline University. He has a knack for making friends easily and even though he doesn't really like coffee, we try not to hold that against him.

Not everyone understands my job.  Not everyone even understands that this work is a job; “When you get a real job,” they say.  You can put yourself in their shoes, of course.  A recent college graduate, going back to a college campus with friends in a place they’ve spent years (or a semester, but who’s counting?).  Certainly you could assume there would be comfort, it would be the 'easy' choice, that it’s just an opportunity to stick around with friends for another year.

Reality sets in to define something totally distinct from a student’s experience.  We have the beauty of a job whose bounds are that of missional, Kingdom living.  Truly, though, our mission is no different than that of any Christian, regardless of vocation: to bring the light of Jesus into the world.  In ministry, we are wonderfully blessed to pursue God and share His glory outside of office prisons (because that’s what cubicles really are, right?).

The difference is not our job versus professional jobs, for we share purpose.  Instead the change is in the context of our work, our relative freedom to share boldly and often.  I’ll tell you, though, the unique challenges of this open box are vast.  Each day brings about a new perspective as we explore the depths of God’s people. 

When it’s all boiled down, my job is principally about relationship.  This certainly strikes another struggle with the term ‘job.’  Traditional American culture sees relationship as only a benefit of friendship, but that’s far from what a biblical community embraces.  The conflict in perception is that a job is something you do, but in the case of ministry our job is something we love (you could even say our job IS love, but that’s a little cheesy).  We open up our experiences and our vulnerabilities to others and strive to grow together towards Christ.  We deal in the eternal, the spiritual: abstract and intangible but absolutely integral. 

Of course, the spiritual is related to the physical.  We could sit and stare at the sky awaiting Jesus’ return, but at the cost of much capacity for good here.  So we do work to facilitate the setting for Christ.  Into our campus we want to welcome him, into the hearts of students and faculty and staff and everyone.  To do this requires preparation.  The hours we spend managing databases, updating websites, practicing for musical worship, studying Scripture, planning meetings, purchasing materials… it goes to serve that purpose of discipleship, evangelism, of fellowship and praise.

This job is worth it.  Because it’s more than a job, more than a career.  It’s a mission, a vision, an opportunity, a gift.  If you can know only one thing about what we do, know this:  we love God, God loves us, we work to make known that His love is available to all, and we work hard to do it. Because it's worth it. 

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AuthorBlane Young
CategoriesInterns
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