For about a year, at my place of employment, I was often tasked with making fact-based arguments about how a critical decision should go one way or another. This process would usually begin with a regular, automated statistical report–showing troubling numbers–appearing in an executive’s inbox; and either the facts (on the surface) indicated that the operation was in trouble, or in danger of falling behind. Then, I would receive a phone call or email from my superior asking my opinion about what the report meant for the business, and instructing me to dive deeper into the stats to see what steps could be made to improve the operation, or what could be done to limit the pain.
What I found out over time is that live, high-level statistics are excellent indicators of reality, but they are not always true reality. I differentiate the live, high-level statistics from the post-live, low-level statistics that always indicate true reality. I am definitely not a statistician; but I do know that numbers are numbers in the end.
The 2012 Presidential Election: how do you relate the live statistics with the post-live statistics? Comparing this with what I have previously stated: the polls that come out on an almost daily rate are the live, high-level key performance indicators (KPI), and the Election Day vote tallies are the post-live, low-level stats. Everyone would agree that the latter is the true indicator of reality; but also, I do not think many would argue that the KPI is not a good indicator of reality. The presidential election polls are a good indicator of reality. They are based on highly researched algorithms of probability, among other realms of statistics I dare not delve into. I can look at presidential polls (whether national or state-level), and make very educated guesses based on those polls.
If the just polls were the actual election statistics, President Obama would likely be reelected–though this could be argued. Yes, the methods and formulas could be questioned; yet overall, both campaigns and the general public base their strategy on them. This is similar to the business decision-making at my place of employment. A report is received, and decisions are constantly made based on the facts of that report. However, the report is not always the true indicator of what is actually happening. And that is where a little thing called intuition comes into play.
Intuition is using those statistical KPI’s, while also taking into account past experience and current perception; and with that, making an educated opinion of what the final outcome will be. If I would have based my opinions–and therefore decisions–on only the statistical KPI’s, the outcome would often have been undesired. That is why I would always try to look below the surface, possibly look further into the statistics; but also recollect my past experiences and formulate a perceptional opinion. The ironic thing is that perception is not at all a science. Some would argue that a wise opinion can not be based on perception; which is true to a certain extent. But I would argue that perception can be factored into an argument. There are some things that machines and numbers cannot indicate to a human. Human intuition can be dangerous, but when utilized with facts, it can be extremely powerful.
That is why I would like to make some Presidential election predictions: based on the KPI’s (polls), my past experiences, and current perception–similar to how I would have made a prediction a year ago regarding business operational performance.
Can I be wrong? For sure.
Will my predictions be correct? The overall probability odds are against me.
Am I expecting to be wrong on the final outcome? Not at all.
What are the odds of me being correct on every state? I would guess 1:10.
Am I a fortune teller? That depends. I charge $500.00 an hour: results are not guaranteed.
Was that last question a joke? Yes.
So, a couple of times within the next few days before the election, I will publish my highly-prone-to-error predictions on what the state-by-state results will be, along with the final outcome. Stay tuned!
Years of training and mentoring from parents. Countless hours of preaching and counseling under a pastor. The end of high school is drawing nearer. For fundamental Baptists, one of the greatest decisions in life approaches. It is one of those decisions that makes other decisions for you–once it is chosen, there is little turning back. This is a choice that ends up being one of the first steps a young person makes in finding God’s perfect will in their life–a decision to be taken with the utmost care and godly counsel.
Unfortunately though, the decision of which Bible college to attend is often taken all too carelessly. There are many decisions that lead up to choosing which Bible college. First, a young person must determine through prayer and study whether the Lord’s will is for them to be in the ministry. If God does not want them in the ministry, most pastors would still advise them to attend Bible college for at least one year to build a strong foundation in their life, then go on to study for their particular field. If God does desire for them to be in full-time service (as we say), then a plurality of choices is open for them.
Today, it seems that fundamental Baptist Bible colleges are in abundance. Yet, does that mean that all of them are acceptable and possibly God’s will? This is the main question I wish to answer.
Obviously, all Bible colleges have their strengths and weaknesses, as do churches. A strong temptation is to rank specific points of a college on some kind of scale of what is important and what is not. This is what should be avoided, however. Every specific point should be weighed on its own merit, before it is ever weighed against any other point. For example (I’m painting with a big brush here!), if a college has a weak stand on the Bible and a strong stand on music, it should not be reasoned away by saying, “I would rather have weak bibliology than weak music.” Why is this? Read this from Pastor Kent Brandenburg: it is a far better explanation than what I could say. With this point assumed, then, here are a few major specifics (assuming they at least claim to be Fundamental, which would assume creationism, pre-tribulationism, etc. ) that I would examine as a whole to determine exactly where God would have a young person attend Bible college.
Is the college under the authority of God’s institution of the local church, and therefore its pastor; or is it a para-church organization?
Unfortunately, this is one of those points that honest people rank as less essential, and therefore throw aside. A ministry of a local church is not only blessed by God because He ordained that church, but for several practical reasons as well. With a local church college, one voice is being heard, with no room for confusion. There is accountability to be a part of that church–working and worshipping as one church family. Christ does not say that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against a para-church college; but He does say that they will not prevail against His church. Where would be a better place to train for the ministry than a Bible college that is under the authority of an Independent, New Testament Baptist church?
Is the college focused on reaching the world for Christ from a biblical point of view, or more inclined to follow the teachings of Augustine (Calvinism) or Pelagius (Arminianism)?
I cannot understand why someone who grows up in a good church would want to sit under someone who believes Christ’s blood is limited, or that God’s sovereignty is limited. To put it simply: take the Bible for what it says. On the other hand, the church and college should not be inclined to just see how many they can “get saved.” Instead, what should be practiced and preached is the Matthew 28 way of faith in Christ alone, and repentance toward God, followed by believers’ baptism and discipleship.
Is the college communicating the gospel with fervor and depth, or bloated with un-biblical contemporary styles and methods?
Here is another thing that many look over. Yet this has and will continue to be the death trap to numbers of unaware families that decide they are going to rank in their own minds essentials and nonessentials. For more information on this, read my post titled: Not of the Father. (Yes, I am referencing myself here, but this is my explanation of the issue, with plenty of other sources from more knowledgeable men.)
Does the college preach and practice dress standards, or simply gloss over them as a nonessential?
Are the standards consistent across the board? Some college handbooks say that modesty is different from one room to the next. Reading the Bible, the issue of modesty is always consistent wherever one is at. I am not talking about, “Ties must be worn to class, but do not have to be worn when sleeping;” or “Culottes cannot be worn in church, but can be worn when participating in athletics.” Those are not modesty issues, but rather an issue of being sharp and in order. What I am talking about are those that say you must abide by the dress code while on campus, but when you are off, you are off the hook–and other similar situations.
Is the college excellent and sharp in what it does, or sloppy and careless?
Yes! This is a Bible principle! Some think that Fundamental Baptists should be sloppily dressed, unorganized, and unprepared. The Bible says otherwise (Philippians 1:10, I Corinthians 14:40). You should seek a college where the pastor and faculty are organized and scheduled, therefore being an example to learn from. Personally, I am thankful to currently be in a church where I have learned this principle even more. On the same note, the academics should be very challenging. Graduates should be fully equipped to study, counsel, discern, and teach from the Bible with authority.
What is lacking from this list are the real nonessentials of cafeteria food, location, size, and job opportunities. I am not saying that these should be totally looked over, but I sincerely believe that if one can trust God and pray for His will, He will provide everything that is needed, and possibly much more. As a personal testimony to God, I trusted Him as He led me to my alma mater–without ever tasting the food (which ended up being out-of-this-world), knowing little about its campus and surroundings (which are top-rate and beautiful), and relatively small in enrollment (which provided a personal feeling, while being still large enough to provide a well-balanced education).
Here is a simple question to ask regarding Bible college: “Would I be a member of the church that the college is under?” That should hopefully narrow the choice down quite a bit. This is the choice that, once it is made, makes other choices for you. At college, one will often find God’s will in their life when it comes to a mate, ministry philosophy, and place of ministry. Much prayer between young people, their parents , and pastor should be made in finding God’s perfect will in this area. And do not forget, God will never go against His word. If any doctrine or standard is wrong, then God is not leading there. God is always consistent with His Word. Seek God through His Word, and He will lead in His perfect way.
Psalms 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Where shall I begin? Most of the events I’m going to describe happenend less than a year ago, so they are fresh on my mind.
To start things off, I have to speak about last summer. After I got back from a missions trip to Canada, my family moved to Kalamazoo, about an hour and a half from Lansing. The m0ve was different for me; yet I knew I wouldn’t be at home much longer either. Plus, that put us an hour and a half (it cut the driving time in half) from college and of course: Andrea. In the last days of June, Andrea arrived back from Mexico for good. She had been gone for almost a year, yet we still did not completely know eachother as much as we wanted. Thankfully, I had the same two days off in a row every week at work, and the driver distance was now half of what it was. That all translated into me being in Chesterton two weekdays a week for most of the summer. Our relationship truly grew into love that summer. Andrea’s mother, Mrs. Leslie, was becoming weaker, but she was still able to enjoy the blessings of God very much. I really got to know Mr. and Mrs. Leslie very well last summer–the rest of the family too. I am truly greatful to God for giving me that time to spend with Andrea and her family before school even started.
So Little Time
In early August, I received a call from Andrea who was at a Fall Push bus meeting at my bus captain’s home. There she told me that I was going t0 be leading a bus for the month of September. “Wow! Me?,” I thought. It was quite overwhelming to hear all of that, and know that I would be responsible for a bus full of children from a depressed inner-city. At the same time, I was very excited. What an incredible learning experience that was going to greet me when I moved back for the school year!
And that it did. I was able to head up Bus #95 for five weeks: Fair Day, Skate Day, Candy Drop Day, Zoo Day, and Patriotic Sunday. I have a ton of stories from each week, but I’ll highlight a few here. Fair Day went extremly smooth for us (they had changed the name from Circus Day after 30 years of it being that). Skate Day is a story and a half! It downpoured for three days straight, and Sunday was the worst of it. But, praise God, all of the busses had a great week despite the flooding that made nation-wide news. Anniversary Sunday was a lot of fun for everyone, and no real obstacles came about. I think I had 12 parents ride my bus that day too. Then their was Zoo Day–our biggest day, and with no lost children at city zoo for the third largest city in America! I am grateful to God for giving me a ministry oppurtunity last September where I was able to see new familes accept Christ and become regular attenders.
Coming swiftly at the heels of the Fall Push is the actual season of fall (ironically, the Fall Push is mostly during summer). In late October–one year ago–the engagement event was starting to be in play for Andrea and I. We went to an apple orchard together with her family, while enjoying all of the sights, smells, and treats of the season. Then on November 1, I took a day off of school to visit my parents…as well as buy a ring! Then on November 14, we were engaged. Some of you may wonder what the “whole story” of our engagement was, but that’s not what this post is about. This is supposed to be about college! But after we were engaged, life began to move extremely quick.
In late November, Christmas lights came and went. Andrea and I went with my junior year roommates and their respective others to the Weber Grill in downtown Chicago. It was there that I discovered HUGE pretzel rolls with cheddar cheese spread. Glory! Anyways… Something else that determined where Andrea and I are at now happened that same night. I had an interview with Assistant Pastor Chris Starr of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Brogue, PA about working at the church as an intern. I had heard great things about Mt. Zion from plenty of people at Fairhaven, so I felt confident that this could be God’s will for us. Pastor Chris is now one of the biggest mentors in my life (whether he believes it or not!). God would pave the path plainly over the next few months.
Early in the first semester, I had the opportunity to preach alongside of one of classmates at Fairhaven Baptist Church’s New Years service. I was so nervous, even if I didn’t look it! God led me through that whole process! It was such a blessing for me to preach about having a thirst for God in front of the church which I had grown to love and admire. It was one of the highlights of college–not just because I was able to preach, but because God had changed my life through men behind that same pulpit I was preaching from. I remember listening to men like Bob Kelly as a sophomore in high school from that same pulpit. It was then that I knew that God wanted me at Fairhaven. And then I was somehow preaching to the same church. What a humbling experience!
Wedding planning seemed to dominate the second semester of school. I was finally beginning to realize that college was not going to last forever. There is a life outside of Fairhaven Baptist College. Reality really began to hit when I met with Dr. Voegtlin about what I was going to be doing after graduation. He told me that Pastor Starr was probably going to be asking me to come to his church, and that I should prayerfully consider. His words to me were, “I don’t know of a better place for a church planter to train and minister.” Just a week or so after that meeting Pastor Randy Starr called me–another huge mentor in my life now. I accepted the offer after truly finding God’s will in the whole matter with much prayer and seeking God. My new bride and I were going to Pennsylvania in early June! Then there was even more preparation…
Classes during my senior year were eventful to say the least. Two of my “interesting” ones were Articulatory Phonetics and Second Language Acquisition Methodology. Both are linguistics courses for future missionaries that help develop tools for language learning. We all had a great time in those classes, and learned a lot from them. My favorite though was Systematic Theology. I just loved digging into the Bible and seeing all about God and his plans for us. Especially the doctrine of salvation–we learned about all of the terms: justification, sanctification, redemption, adoption, atonement, regeneration, etc. It all can sound so complex and “deep” to the average Christian. And it is true that salvation is very deep. The greatest truth I learned from that teacher is that salvation is so simple that a small child can understand and be born again: not even knowing what one of those terms I just mentioned means; but also so deep that we can enjoy our “so great a salvation” even more the more we discover the richness of God’s love.
In the process of discussing our wedding and honeymoon plans, Andrea and I decided that she could go back and visit her friends and ministry in Mexico once more before we were married. The airfare was fairly cheap at the time, so it seemed worth it to both of us. However, Andrea’s mom was becoming extremely weakened through her battle with cancer. We all knew that it was terminal, which made us give this little trip for Andrea a second thought. After gaining some wisdom about the situation, we decided that Andrea should still take the trip. Looking back now, we realize that God was in that whole process, even though it may be hard to explain to someone not directly involved. So Andrea left the Tuesday of Volleyball Marathon, and was going to be back the following Thursday. That Friday because there was no school, I took a trip home to visit my family. It was early that Friday afternoon in March that I heard that Mrs. Leslie had passed away. I knew that my main responsibility was to get Andrea back home as soon as possible. She was able to be back the following day, praise the Lord. The funeral was uplifting, to say the least. It was joyful: how a funeral should be. It was the kind of joy where some sadness was shown, but overall God received all of the glory in the life of a sold old Christian servant: twenty years as the “dorm mom,” with countless “daughters” serving God with their husbands all over the world. The college girls sang “So Little Time” and “Let the Lord Have His Way” as two specials for the service: perfectly fitting for Mrs. Ellen Leslie–now my mother-in-law in heaven!
As my final year was coming to a close, God continued to work. Preaching Conference came at the end of April as normal, and spoke to my heart about something. David Cloud preached a message about the “Emerging Church” and the effects that it already has had on fundamental Baptist churches. After the sermon, Dr. Voegtlin challenged all of the graduates of Fairhaven Baptist College to stand. I believe it was sad to him that some graduates fall into the temptations of changing things and making churches more like the world, and less like Christ. What a message! I think I am going to write an article to summarize all of this sometime in the future, and what it meant to me…
Graduation was speeding up on us! Cap and gown fittings, graduation testimonies, finals, and rehearsals were all common words during those last few weeks. Then one week after that, I was going to be married. And two weeks after that I was moving 500 miles away to “Countryville”, PA–fully involved in the ministry in which I was trained for. Exactly six days before graduation, myself and another college student were soulwinning on our bus route in Gary. We knocked on one door when a lady who looked extremely familiar to me answered the door. I couldn’t place her, though. She said that her children used to ride the bus to Fairhaven every Sunday. But both of her sons were killed in a car accident about 2 1/2 years before. Then it all clicked to me…and her! This was Joseph’s mother; the boy I had led to Christ during the Fall Push of my sophomore year! That’s why they had suddenly stopped coming to church! She told be that he and his brother were riding in the bed of a pickup when they were rear-ended on the corner of 23rd and Garfield. They both died instantly. She couldn’t stand to be in the house where they had lived with her only two children, so she moved to where we knocked on her door that afternoon. I knew that he was saved, though. He was in heaven! Because of me? Of course not. God had miraculously led our paths together so that Joseph could be redeemed! Praise the Lord! I told his mom that, and she started to cry tears of joy. She said, “He told me that he was a Christian all the time, and knew that he was going to go to heaven some day.” This was all of the Lord’s working! “…Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
My class graduated on May 14, 2009 at 7:00pm. Pastor Wilbur Unger preached the commencement–the same pastor who I had helped for two weeks the previous summer. He preached a message on standing and working. Everything seemed to be perfect that night…except college was completed for me. It seemed a little sad to me, believe it or not. There was going to be no more living in the dorm, Christmas Lights, cafeteria dining, snack shop, college basketball, passes, chapel…now its on to real life, I guessed. It’s hard to believe that all of this was just five months ago–to the day, actually. It seems so long ago. I can’t even express in words how much I love Fairhaven Baptist Church and College. I owe so much to God for leading me there. Andrea and I both have huge responsibilities also, to stand and to be instant. We have been given far to much to just throw out and say, “Well, yes, we graduated from there, but let’s not talk about that right now.” Instead, we owe a huge debt, spiritually speaking. In any ministry we are involved in from now until the day we die, God’s Word must be the cornerstone. We are not to be pleasing men, the world, or ourselves; but the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be zealous and hardworking in everything that we do, defending the faith in every step. That’s what I got from Fairhaven Baptist College, and that’s what Andrea and I will continue to stand on.
By early August of 2007, Andrea was teaching in Mexico, and I knew perhaps the most difficult year in college was going to be my junior year. A small part of me had a difficult time returning to college without Andrea there. Our little relationship had grown in the few months we had been together. We communicated a few times a week via a Vonage telephone line, and after her being in Mexico just a month, I felt like I had a little connection to that place because of her.
One of the important things to all returning dormitory students at Fairhaven is who your roommates are going to be for the year. I mean, you are going to be living with that person for eight months or so! I remember calling friends just before college to see who they were with, and then I remember hearing who mine were…
Count It All Joy
Dustin Speckhals, Julian Balatbat, and Nathan Rader—those were the names on the dorm assignment list for Room #2: Ed Weimer Men’s Dormitory. Julian was someone on the basketball team with me who I knew at the time just a little, and Nate was a missionary kid from Vallegrande, Bolivia in South America who came to study for a year after finishing his church’s Bible Institute on the field. What friends they turned out to be, and continue to be to this day! I could not have had better friends and roommates.
Like always, the fall semester began with the Stewardship Banquet and Fall Push. College orientation was in the brand new dining hall for the first time that year, but something was a bit unusual. Mrs. Leslie, Andrea’s mother and the long time Dean of Women at Fairhaven, was feeling sick and was not able to attend the orientation. From what I remember, she continued to not feel well for the next week, and went to the hospital on September 11 to find out what was wrong. That night, Andrea called me with a saddened and heavy heart: her mom had cancer that tended to be terminal. For the next year and a half, she battled that cancer. I know that the Leslie family’s life was changed from then on; for the better and to the Glory of God. For her battle with cancer, Mrs. Leslie gave numerous testimonies of how God had worked revival in her heart. I also knew that Andrea was in Mexico, and would have a little harder time with it compared to the rest of her family. God would certainly work in the coming months through answered prayer and biblical miracles.
I don’t remember too much else from that September, except for a smooth Zoo Day (which is always a blessing and a half!) and a severe drop in our bus’s attendance after the campaign. God would change that, though. By late October, it seemed as if our bus had hit the doldrums. No new families were being contacted, and spirit of the kids was dropping at the same time. It was about that time I remember hearing a sermon on simple faith that God can do anything. We had hit the low point in early November when a family that helped on our bus was scheduled to bring jello cups for a treat. They told us on Saturday that they had made 50 cups. We laughed to ourselves and said, “We’ll never have that many…maybe 30 riders at the most!” I believe God was building our trust in Him. That Sunday, “out of no where” 53 came to church! From then on, our bus never looked back, praise God! People were being saved and baptized, as well as the blessing of good attendance. I loved seeing God do that, and I truly enjoyed my Junior year in southwest Gary on Bus #101!
The Candy Sale at Fairhaven Baptist Academy is something to behold. Twice a year, preschoolers all the way up to twelfth graders try to sell chocolate to win a few rewards here and there and help keep school tuition low (amongst the lowest in the nation in private Christian schools, I believe). Those in college may help a family in the academy if they wish—hey, and you get a day off of school too! I was able to help one staff member’s family all four years of college; so that would be eight times total, I think. It is a joy to go out with a six or seven year old for a day and help them meet there goal. This may sound crazy, but I even learned some things from it too!
In mid-November, we had a mission agency representative (that most of us knew) in to preach a couple of chapel services. I have always loved his preaching, and I would say he is one of my favorite preachers also. After one message, he asked for a couple of college men to accompany him to a church to help him present the work of his board. It happened to be a free day for me, so I asked if I could go with him. It also happened to be one of the most profitable times for me in college. Ironically, the same mission agency that he was representing was also the one that hired Andrea to be the teacher for their language school in Mexico. It was a four-hour one way trip to that church in northern Michigan; but the time flew by. The representative, another college student, and I talked about missions basically the whole time. We spoke of David Livingstone, Adoniram Judson, and many others. He inspired me to read more missionary biographies, one of which is a favorite of mine now: Daktar: Diplomat to Bangledesh. It all happened on my birthday too—what a gift!
My third year of the Christmas Lights activity came in early December, like usual. Five friends and I ventured to Gino’s East of Chicago for a ‘delicioso’ version of the famous Chicago deep dish pizza. I had no idea that at that same corner of Gino’s East—18 months from then I would be making wonderful memories with my wife on our honeymoon taking pictures and eating (of course!). We had a great time together with just five guys. We got to see some $800 dollar a night hotel rooms, drink a way-overpriced coffee at Starbucks, and watch the snow fly of course! Some of the students that year were a bit disappointed, though, because the activity was cut short by an hour so we could have dessert and some entertainment back at school. That was fun, but I think we all liked the time in Chicago better…so we switched back to normal the next year.
Christmas Break of my junior year was full of memories. Andrea had four and a half weeks off from school, so she was able to fly back from Mexico and spend Christmas at home. She came and spent a few days with my family also in Michigan, where we went sledding, ate at the world-famous Zendher’s of Frankenmuth, MI, and got to know each other a lot more. On the day after Christmas, I went with Andrea’s family to take Mrs. Leslie to the hospital for her fourth chemotherapy treatment. Before that, we spent time walking around downtown Chicago and enjoying the Christmas season. What a wonderful time that was to spend with the family!
The second semester began two weeks before Andrea was to fly back to Mexico…so for that time, I was not a ‘single’ college student! During the rest of the semester, we were apart! Andrea flew back in the middle of January, and I knew I would miss her even more than before (yes, I know, I tried not to be too ‘mushy’!). However, I still had the two greatest roommates I could ask for. We all got along GREAT. I don’t remember a time we got into a real argument. I was a room captain, but never had to use my room captain position over them. They followed college guidelines, worked hard, had a great attitude, and were truly seeking after God. We enjoyed going out places together too…whether it was George’s Gyro Spot, a Wal-Mart trip, a hike in the dunes, playing racquetball, or just hanging out in the room (which had to be stopped sometimes; we would get going and never get anything done!). Then we had our “fourth roommate” that year—Tyler Brock from Rapid City, SD. He didn’t sleep in our room, but was basically there during any other free time!
Another goofy thing we did that year was celebrate Cinco de Mayo. None of us are Mexicans, but we all had some connection to Mexico, we thought (Dustin’s girlfriend was in Mexico, Julian looks Mexican [he’s really Filipino], and Nate talks like he’s Mexican [he spoke Spanish fluently as a missionary in Bolivia]). So we celebrated Cinco de Mayo by wearing the colors of the Mexican flag on our respective ties during classes that day: a red, a white, and a green one.
I mentioned in a previous post that I was able to be on Fairhaven’s intercollegiate basketball team all four years in college. I definitely was not the best player on the team, or even close to it. I guess my motto was “Leave it all on the court.” Put your all into practice, put even more into the game, and work hard. Our team was never “great,” and we knew we never would be overflowing with talent—we were preacher boys, not all-stars! We always tried to put up a good fight on the court. We never wanted to leave feeling we had not given our all. Our coach often emphasized the idea of “riding the bubble,” which I learned is not just a basketball principle. You need to make the opponent think you are crazy; by that he meant dive for every loose ball, be super-aggressive, and show strength—but never to the point where you lose your head, make stupid fouls, or get a technical foul. Ride the bubble of “insanity” as much as you can, but never pop that bubble. My junior year of playing was the most exciting. We had a good number of close games, a good record, and the “Revenge of the Snowman” game (a story for yet another post!). Sometimes I didn’t like how my coaches pushed me, but now I realize why. I believe that their pushing me not only made me a better player, but a better person also.
Wow, the ’07-’08 year was packed! For Spring Break in 2008, I was able to go to Mexico and visit Andrea. I loved the time I spent there, and appreciated everyone’s hospitality to me. Everything was eye-opening and extremely interesting to me. I loved learning about their culture and even the language some. God used that trip in my life to give me more of burden for foreign missions also, on top of getting to see Andrea.
I returned in early April after eight days south of the border. When I returned, I realized how fast the semester had gone. We were already in the last several weeks of school, and the Preaching Conference was in just two weeks. Hebrew History was probably the class with the most work. We were required to outline over the course of two semesters the entire books of the Bible from Genesis to Esther. For most of us, we had over 100 pages a piece, with some much more. The Kings Project (I Samuel to II Chronicles) ended up being the most dreaded piece of the whole puzzle. By the end of the year, however, we all gained a lot of knowledge from Hebrew History.
Overall, my grades were doing fine, but I know now that my spiritual life was lacking then. Thank God, Preaching Conference came right when I needed it most. God greatly worked on my heart for the few months following in areas mainly focusing around always putting Him first: in devotion, in service, and in prayer. God worked through His Word and revived me during a critical time: I was beginning to realize how soon I would be done with school and how serious I had to be about serving Him after college. It would never come “naturally” because of what I had learned so far in college. It had to come by putting the Lord first in EVERYTHING. During our end-of-the-year college activity at Turkey Run State Park, God also worked on my heart. During a testimony time in the evening, and then the bus trip home talking with other students, I was convicted about just how serious I had to be in order to be effective for our Savior. I was on a spiritual high coming out of college, and it was not about to stop either.
A few other male students and I were invited to go with an evangelist from Fairhaven to basically knock on doors for twelve days straight. I was able to take the days off of work and head up to London, Ontario, Canada. God put a serious burden in my heart during that time as well. Half-way through our trip, I began to LOVE knocking on doors and witnessing to people with a new passion. It was a true joy to see a few people saved during that church’s revival meetings, and know that God was all in it. With all that, I stayed with a family that was about as hospitable as can be. The whole church was a blessing to my heart during that short time.
God had prepared my heart and life during the last few months to fully surrender to His will. I believe with all of my heart that I would not be where I am today if it was not for the revival God worked in my heart that spring and summer. There I was, heading into my last year of college. Some of the biggest decisions of my life were ahead of me in the coming year: marriage, a place to serve, and finishing strong. It was to be a fruitful and exciting senior year to come.