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Journal, Life, Parenting

Twelve Things You Don’t Do As a Parent of a One Month Old

August 26, 2016

 

 

Micah’s just over a month old, which means Kelly and I have been practicing this parenting thing for somewhere around 35 days. We’ve learned a lot. Last night as I sloowwwly laid Micah down, praying that the last four hours of trying to getting him to sleep would be over and he would stay asleep, I marvelled at just how many things two people can not get done when you have a baby on your hands. I laughed as I mentally scrolled through our undone to dos. So I made a list. For those who have had kids, you’ll get it. For those who haven’t yet, take note. Get stuff done now. You won’t later

Things you don’t do as a parent of a one month old:

  1. Shower more than once a week
  2. Clean all the dishes
  3. Get out of the house in less than 20 minutes
  4. Sleep for longer than two hours
  5. Have an in-depth conversation
  6. Watch more than half a movie
  7. Have sex
  8. Freak out about being peed on
  9. Write that book you’ve been working on
  10. Get to work early
  11. Fix the laptop that’s been broken for the last month
  12. Cook a full meal

 

Good news though – getting stuff done isn’t what life’s about. Jesus has done more than enough to satisfy any to-do list that we could ever place in front of ourselves, and God’s relational nature declares clearly that there is far more value in pouring love out for another human being while your kitchen counters disappear under dishes and your body odor builds to a crescendo than there is in keeping things spotless.

When you have kids, regardless of their age, they’re going to inconvenience you and force you to change your plans. You’ll probably get less than half of what you wanted to get done done. But what you will get in return is the beauty of shaping a soul that will bring much greater glory to the Lord than any amount of productivity ever could.

That said, I really need a shower.

 

photo credit: Grace Noelle Photo

Journal, Life, Parenting

Parenting and Shrinking Joys

August 18, 2016

 

 

 

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
– Philippians 4:12-13

 

Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame. If you draw a giraffe, you must draw him with a long neck. If, in your bold creative way, you hold yourself free to draw a giraffe with a short neck, you will really find that you are not free to draw a giraffe.
– Chesterton, Orthodoxy

 

It’s been nearly a month since our son Micah was born. Crazy how fast the past few weeks have gone.Leading up to his birth I’d had this expectation of some explosive revelation moment when we first met our boy. I’d heard so frequently that having a kid gives you a deeper understanding of God’s love for us, and apparently I’d figured that realization would come all in a rush there and then when we held him for the first time.

Maybe for some people it does. For me it didn’t. And, in all honesty, the last few weeks really haven’t been particularly enjoyable. Oh, there have been beautiful moments, but the vast majority of our time is spent feeling somewhat inadequate and frustrated as we try to to figure out feeding schedules, how to get a little human to fall asleep, how to do everything one-handed while holding a baby, how to operate on 4 or so hours of sleep a night, etc.

The first weeks of parenting aren’t particularly rewarding on a human level. Oh sure, we’ve got a really cute little human to hold whenever we want to, but all the work that comes with it is just hard. There’s a reason why more and more people are opting to have children later or not at all. It costs a lot, financially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

I still haven’t had a huge moment of revelation or anything, yet as I sat next to Micah several nights ago watching him sleep, praying over his life to come and that Kelly and I would survive to see it, I realized how much my view of the world had changed and just how good that is.

Things have shrunk. Our joys and pleasures have become much smaller than they were. That may sound like a negative thing, but I don’t think it is.

The world’s expectation

The world tells us that our pleasures should always be increasing in size, scope, and intensity. This year you went on a vacation to Florida for a week. Next year you should take a two week vacation to Hawaii. The relationship you were just in was good, so you shouldn’t settle for anything less than amazing in the next one. We’re trained to be disappointed if our future experiences don’t outdo our past ones.

A prime example of this is seen in the continual increase of large, explosive scenes in the movies that we watch. Contrast the slow, intricate emotional impact of Twelve Angry Men, a film from 1957 that takes place almost completely in one room, with the city-destroying explosions and two-second cuts of the recent Avengers films. We expect the next spectacle to outdo the previous, or we feel disappointed.

The problem with this is that it burns our senses out, increasingly numbing us to the daily pleasures of life. If you’re used to the explosions and constant action, the pace of films from 20 years ago seems lethargic and boring. We build up a resistance to experiences just like we do to drugs or alcohol.

There’s a reason why billionaires still search for satisfaction despite the fact they can buy anything they want.

What these first weeks of parenthood have taught me is that the small joys bring lasting pleasure. The grand, world shaking ones fade away in an instant.

God of the shrinking joys

In stark contrast to the world, God seems to delight in drawing us into smaller and smaller joys so that the grander things seem ever greater. Witness Elijah’s experience of God speaking through the small, still voice rather than the whirlwind. The quiet encounter made the nation-shaping miracles seem all the more powerful.

Whereas previously a great night for Kelly and I was going out to eat, watching a movie, and staying up late it’s now several minutes of quiet with Micah asleep before we go to bed. A weekend trip has been replaced with the smaller joy of two hours out to eat when grandma comes to watch the baby.

Pleasures have shrunk, but not lessened. The things that were becoming for us commonplace are now precious. We are being taught to take joy in small things and as a result the big things become even bigger and more wonderful. As G.K. Chesterton says, it is limitations that make art art, and therefore beautiful.

Don’t buy this world’s demand that you always need more than you currently have. Instead zoom the frame in, shrink your joys into the concentrated power of simple pleasures and learn to delight in the nuances and small gifts that God showers upon us each day. Attempting to constantly increase the grandeur of your pleasures will drain you and leave you empty. Embracing the God of shrinking joys will lead, ultimately, to eternal pleasure and joy.

As I sat there next to Micah’s tiny sleeping form and soaked in the joy of a peaceful moment, two weeks of a thousand frustrating moments melted away. I am, indeed, learning to be content in all circumstances, and in that there is great reward.

 

 

 

Journal, Life

27 things I’m thankful for

November 25, 2015

I turned 27 last Friday and tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so it seemed very appropriate to continue a tradition that I started a couple years ago of writing out down some of the things I’ve been particularly thankful for in the past year or so. This list is in no particular order, but each one of the things on it is something that I genuinely, frequently praise God for.

  1. Kelly. I love having a wife who I can work hard and have a ton of fun with. After three years of marriage I’m even more confident that she’s beautiful and awesome.
  2. Community. My extroverted self loves the fact that I’m surrounded by a rich community of people who support, love, and serve each other.
  3. Airplanes. This past January Kelly and I, along with another couple, got to jet across the world to spend a month in Sri Lanka and India. Without airplanes that trip wouldn’t have been possible.
  4. Health. On that trip I got sick with Dengue fever. It could have been real bad, but God answered people’s prayers and has healed me and kept me in full health.
  5. Technology that allows for instant communication. It’s so crucial for our ministry in Verge and my day to day work, not to mention keeping up with friends scattered across the country.
  6. A flexible job. I’m so blessed by my manager and my position at arvato and the fact that they work with my ministry schedule and allow me to be one of the very few part time employees.
  7. Our supporters. Working part time wouldn’t make ends meet for Kelly and I. I’m awed by the generosity of those who support us in prayer and finance and enable us to do ministry.
  8. Family that supports us, financially and otherwise. Both Kelly and I are blessed with families that love Jesus and encourage us often.
  9. Salem Evangelical Free Church. Pastors and staff who have a true heart for the kingdom of God have helped sustain me through difficult moments in ministry. Thanks to each of you for your wisdom.
  10. A great team. Lance, Blake, Andy, Jenn, and Vanessa – I’m thankful for each of you and the role you play in Verge. Thanks for letting me be a part of the team.
  11. New Music. There’s not much better than discovering a new song that catches your heart. Particularly ones that lay out a new revelation of God’s character.
  12. Threshingfloor’s leaders. Nate, Erik, Paul, Liz, Luke – without you guys this wouldn’t happen.
  13. Food from other cultures. American food is kind of boring.
  14. Books. If you know me at all you know this one is a given.
  15. Brandon Sanderson. Speaking of books, this guy is one of the best fantasy writers out there.
  16. Writing. Along with loving books, I love being able to write. Someday I’ll finish a novel and maybe catch up to Brandon Sanderson.
  17. The patience of God. I mean really, He’s patiently walked with me through 27 years of foolishness. So grateful.
  18. Humble people. It’s incredibly refreshing to minister to and serve people who are humble enough to learn. I want to be more like them.
  19. That this life is not the end. There’s a whole eternity in front of us! All the suffering, pain, and trouble that’s here won’t carry over.
  20. Getting started. After 27 years of life, I’m just getting started. God’s got a ton more for me to see, learn, and do. I love knowing that there’s greater things yet to come.
  21. Jesus who loves people. I’m thankful for a savior who actually has affection for the people of this world.
  22. People who love Jesus. They’re the best. There’s something about Jesus people that is so rich and peaceful and welcoming.
  23. Soccer. Because it’s the best sport ever.
  24. God being in charge. Not ISIS, not the UN, not Obama. God’s the one who’s in charge and directing the course of history. That means I don’t have to worry.
  25. Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. This thrift store is dangerously close to our apartment, but it’s supplied us with some excellent home furniture and plenty of great books.
  26. Getting to lead. What an honor! I’m hugely thankful for the opportunity to get to lead people further into Christ.
  27. You. You read this list of 27 things that some random guy is thankful for. You’re awesome. Thanks for reading!
Journal, Leadership

Five Years of Labor

August 26, 2015

This past Sunday we celebrated five years of Threshingfloor and our ministry to young adults and college students here in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Five years ago I moved from Brainerd to the FM area, not knowing what to expect beyond the fact that I was going to be studying creative writing and working to see people discipled to and in Jesus. So much has changed since then. I’ve learned a massive amount and changed as a person. We’ve seen people encounter Jesus for the first time, seen people with years as Christians explode into new season of growth, and made a whole lot of awesome friends.

The first few years of ministry here was all passion and almost no knowledge. Dorm room Bible studies, midnight conversations, all-night prayer sessions, leading Salem’s young adult Bible study all filled my life with the rush of doing what Jesus had placed me in Fargo to do. I juggled school, jobs, and ministry, going 1000 MPH all the time and loving it.

In those early years we gathered a team of people that had a passion for something that was truly soaked with the Gospel and reached the unreached in the name of Jesus. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we did we did it with zeal. We spent most of our time bouncing from idea to idea, trying to figure out where we were going.

Around my second year in Fargo I got married, graduated, and moved into working full time. It was a new learning experience and was, in all honesty, harder than the previous. Having a part time job and full time school along with ministry was somehow easier than working 40 hours a week and doing ministry. As I was forced to pull back from such a central role in Threshingfloor, we discovered the beauty of something that is lead by a team rather than an individual. People from within our communities stepped up and took on ministry, allowing us to launch a second community. It’s the power of Jesus that can grow what we can’t grow. His presence is the only necessary ingredient in the process of multiplication of disciples.

For this past year as I’ve moved from working full time and doing ministry to functioning as a full-time missionary to young adults in the Midwest, there’s been increased spiritual warfare. As I was preparing to write this post I looked back over my previous year-of-labor posts that I wrote and posted the first few years here in Fargo. Reading those paragraphs from years ago, I can’t help but see my passion for what we were doing. That passion still resonates in my soul, but it’s different. My passion is still there but it has been tempered and has changed keys.

Three years ago I wrote that Kelly and I had maybe two more years in the FM area and that we wanted to see the city significantly changed when we left. It’s been three years, and (by my estimation), there hasn’t been that significant change – no huge movement or gathering of thousands. But there are lives that have been deeply impacted by our work. I love to hear and share the stories of those that we’ve gotten to shepherd closer to Jesus.

At Threshingfloor’s five year celebration on Sunday we gathered the six people who were a part of the original core that grew into Threshingfloor. We spent 20 minutes doing a panel discussion to share some memories and thoughts looking back over the years. During our panel discussion, Kelly gave advice for people to commit and be faithful to the ministry that God has called them to.

Her words resonate with me. More than zeal or flights of passion, faithfulness resounds in my soul. It’s not possible to set your sights too high when God is in the picture, but it is far better to be steadfast and faithful and have deep, current shifting impact in a few lives than flit from one thing to the next and be a drop of water on the surface of an ocean. I believe that we’ve been faithful – not perfect, but definitely faithful – to the work of Christ within Threshingfloor. That is something that God has and will bless.

Five years of labor have passed. Who knows how many more for us here. Regardless, we want to be faithful and steadfast.

Where does God have you today? If you’re young and new, ride your passions and let them empower you for those 1000 hours poured out, but set your sights on long-term faithfulness. The kingdom of God is an oak tree, not a flower in the field. It will grow and fill the block with shade, but such things take time. Remain steadfast. Don’t step out of the race moments before breakthrough is achieved.

Journal, Life, Ministry Update, Spiritual Growth

In Season, Out of Season

June 22, 2015

For the past few weeks life has felt like more of a burden than normal. No singular reason that I can point to, just a fog of heaviness. Things that normally get me excited are simply less so, days seem longer, and I feel drained of the passion that I usually have for the ministry I do on a day to day basis. (Worth noting that the days are literally getting longer thanks to summer, but that’s beside the point.)

Today in particular is a melancholy day – cloudy and cool. The steady breeze blowing through the window through the office where I’m writing mixes with the (unintentionally) somber music that I turned on to be background to my writing. My page long to-do list feels daunting and I know that I won’t be able to accomplish most of it in the time I have. Almost every night this week is booked with meetings and events, all good but all demanding significant amounts of energy. The labor of fundraising so I can move into full time ministry is long and arduous. The work of God often feels slow and plodding when I want it to be brilliant with speed.

My guess is that quite a few of you are sitting where I am this Monday morning, somewhere other than you’d like to be and unsure of whether or not you’ll ever get there. It’s times like these where our faith is laid bare. Do we operate on the flights of emotion or are we settled, steadfast, and anchored in Christ in season and out of season?

I’m writing this – even though I don’t really feel like it – to give some advice to myself. To follow the pattern of the writer of Psalm 42. To preach what is true when it doesn’t feel true.

In those out of season moments and mornings and months when you just want to step out of the ring and sit at home reading fiction or watching movies or whatever it is that you do to fulfill the longing, don’t believe the promises of earthly satisfaction. Why so downcast, o my soul? Put your hope in God.

Step out of the ring, but not for fleshly pleasures. Those things will fill you like cotton candy and ice cream. They’ll taste great but leave you sick afterwards and inevitably fail to give you the power you need to get back to the fight. Step out and meet with the Lord. Come to him in prayer to draw from the wells of his grace. Meet him in the meditation on the Word to find satisfaction for the hungers of your soul. Remind yourself of all that God has done for you. Put your hope in God.

In season and out of season, good days and bad, through joys and burdens and successes and failures, we need to learn how to draw near to God. Don’t give up my friends. Your Father is with you, even to the end of the age. The victory has been won, regardless of how we’re feeling at the moment. The gates have been opened and the King of Glory has entered in and dwells within you. Give him praise. The burdens will melt away in his presence.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Journal, Ministry Update, Threshingfloor, Verge

Ministry Update – 06/02/2015

June 2, 2015

It’s been an eventful couple weeks for Kelly and I. Two weeks ago I came home from work to Kelly lying on the bed in some serious pain. After talking for a few minutes we decided to take her to the emergency room. A good thing we did too, since it turned out that she had appendicitis. It made for a late night, but Kelly had surgery that night to remove her appendix before it burst.

We were blessed with a surgeon who knew exactly what he was doing. The operation took barely 30 minutes, and Kelly was back home by 10AM the next day. Sadly, the recovery time meant that we wouldn’t be able to go to the wedding we had been planning on going to in Montana on Memorial Day weekend. But God, in his amazing way, had something better.

As a result of our staying in Fargo we were able to spend Sunday evening with several of our apartment neighbors who we’ve been praying for since moving in. They’re a rough crowd and exactly the kind of people that Jesus love to associated with. We got to spend an evening with them, pray for one of the guys’ back and leg pain, and heard some of their stories. It’s so refreshing to be with people who don’t know Jesus and see just how much he can transform someone’s life.

For the past four months or so God’s been increasing the tension in my spirit about the fact that though Threshingfloor has created some amazing communities and seen people who are believers grow deeper in their faith and a couple people seeking Jesus join us on a regular basis, we haven’t seen significant movement of people encountering Christ and faith for the first time. I’ve been spending significant amounts of time in prayer on this topic. I want to see our communities come to the place where they are packed full of people who aren’t Christians but are getting drawn to Christ by his love displayed through us.

It’s because of that desire and those prayers that I’m excited for the changes coming to Threshingfloor this summer. Our communities are shifting their strategies in order to go deeper and further in disciple making. Our community will be breaking from our normal gatherings and spending the summer hosting a grill out every Wednesday night as a place for people to connect with community and encounter the kingdom of God. The other Threshingfloor community will be spending the summer learning and equipping each other, using the Story of God to go deeper in the Gospel in preparation for making disciples among international students once school starts back up in the fall.

One of our Threshingfloor Communities

One of our Threshingfloor Communities

Things are on the move for Verge as well. This coming weekend we’ll be gathering all the Verge staff from across the country in the Brainerd area for a weekend to pray, play, plan, and learn together. It’s going to be a critical weekend for us, all the more since our team so rarely gets to be together in one place for an extended period.

On top of that we’re preparing to launch a new Leader Community – an awesome space for ministry leaders to connect and equip each other – in the Twin Cities, discussing partnerships with churches in Glyndon and Park Rapids and several other communities in the Midwest, and preparing for the Leader Advance retreat this fall.

There’s a lot happening, and within it all I’m pressing towards completing the process of fundraising for my position with Verge/Threshingfloor. At $950/month of support, we’re practically 1/4 of the way to fully supported, and halfway to the point where I will be able to move into full time ministry. Continue laboring with us in prayer that God would provide full support by the end of July!

You can also join us in praying:

  • The God would lead me (Ben) to a couple new guys to disciple deeply
  • Opportunities to demonstrate God’s love and grace to our apartment neighbors
  • That our community’s summer grill outs would draw 20 new people to Christ
  • That Threshingfloor would multiply to three communities this fall
  • Opportunities for Verge to serve disciple-makers in Iowa and the western Dakotas
  • Connections for Verge to help increase disciple-making at Community College and noncollege cities and towns in the Midwest.
  • Wisdom and skill for leading a ministry team that’s spread across multiple states

Kelly and I can’t express our gratitude enough to each of you who are helping make it possible for us to move forward in making disciples among young adults in the Midwest. We literally wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing without your spiritual and financial support. Such a huge blessing to have friends and family who are willing to invest in us! We want to stay deeply connected to each one of you. If you want to chat, hear more stories about what God is doing, visit us here in Fargo, or have us come and visit you, let us know! In case you don’t have it, my contact information is;

ben@verge28.org
@thefallout

Journal, Ministry Update, Threshingfloor, Verge

Ministry Update – 5/04/15

May 4, 2015

A lot has happened in the last week within Verge and Threshingfloor, so I wanted to give you all a brief update. Here’s what’s been going on.

Verge

Last week was a huge step towards accomplishing Verge’s Phase 2 vision. We’ve officially established a presence in the Twin Cities with a new networking partner and a new ministry partner. We’ll release specific details soon, but that means that we’re now working towards launching a Leader Community – one of our key vehicles for networking, educating, and equipping ministry leaders – in the Twin Cities area by end of summer.

One of the things that has me most excited about some of these new connections and conversations that are currently taking place with churches and ministry leaders around the region is the amazing variety of denominational, theological, and even racial backgrounds that we’re getting to talk with. They each have a huge passion for young adults. Regardless of differences, they’re all asking the same questions, expressing the same desires, and all eagerly desiring to see young adults discipled to and in Jesus in powerful ways.

Threshingfloor

After the exciting news of two new ministries partnering with Verge, I got to spend a great weekend with several of the Threshingfloor community leaders in a cabin in the woods, praying and seeking what God has for our communities for the rest of 2015.

IMG_4508

Part of the TF leader crew

We had some great conversation, got to relax together, and laid out specific action plans for our communities to accomplish in the next six months or so. A sampling of the things that our different communities will be doing includes;

  • 2 days of fasting and prayer each month
  • Increase the practice of hospitality by inviting international students into homes
  • Change the schedule of community gatherings so that the people in the community have time to go out and do ministry
  • Identify new apprentice leaders

To name just a few.

I love that we’re not stuck in the way we’ve been doing things, and that our leaders are more than ready to make any changes that will make us more effective at developing a network of disciples and discipling communities. That flexibility is critical in reaching the ever-shifting reality of culture.

 

 

All in all it’s been an encouraging week or so. As I sit here on this Monday morning and look out over the fast-approaching summer and dream about what God will do, I believe it’s going to be amazing.

We’re praying that God would continue to increase the movement that he’s beginning. I truly believe the last five years of Verge ministry is just the start, and I feel the same way about the last 4 1/2 years of Threshingfloor. There’s massive things that are coming in the next 6 months. I want to be ready for it. Join me in praying toward all that God has for us, both in Fargo and in the larger Midwest Region!

Journal, Ministry Update, Threshingfloor, Verge

Ministry Update – 4/14/2015

April 14, 2015

Let’s call this a level-set of what’s currently going on in Kelly and I’s lives and ministries. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I’m going to start incorporating ministry updates into my regular mix of musings and devotional material here on the blog. Since there’s quite a bit currently taking place it made sense to me to start with a post that runs down the list and will hopefully give each of you some insight into what we’re devoting our days and nights to.

Threshingfloor Communities

This coming August will be the five year anniversary of Threshingfloor Communities. Crazy. We’ve gone from five college students meeting in a freezing basement to two communities totally about 40 people. I lead one community here at our apartment working to jump-start our network of disciples and discipling communities, and Nate and Paul (both awesome dudes) lead the other community that’s reaching international students at NDSU.

Our leadership team is sitting right around 10 people, counting community leaders and apprentice leaders. We’ll all be taking a weekend at the end of April to get away to hang out, pray, and brainstorm as a team. We’ve set out a few goals to pray and work towards this spring and summer – 10+ people coming to Christ for the first time directly through the ministry of people within TF and connecting with a discipling community, two additional communities, and 75% of the people presently in our communities getting deeper connected by taking part in DNA groups.

We’re on track to reach the two additional communities by the end of summer and we’ve seen some awesome stuff happen as people have gone deeper in their faith through DNA groups. Honestly though, I feel like we’re struggling in getting traction on seeing people come to Christ. Maybe it’s that we’re too inward focused, or maybe it’s that the structures and systems we’ve defaulted to due to mostly being people raised in churches aren’t attractive to non-believers. Whatever the case is, we’re going to shift whatever we need to in order to see people encounter the glorious grace of our savior!

Verge Ministries

Verge ministries does awesome work, and, to my knowledge, a ministry that no one else in America is doing. Headed up by Andy Abramson since their inception 5 year ago (several months before Threshingfloor began it’s infancy stages) they’ve worked to serve and equip churches, communities, and campuses in discipling young adults and college students. Verge comes alongside existing ministries to help them build, deepen, and multiply; helps new ministries launch and sustain; sets up networks so that people leading ministries can connect and work together; and works to educate people on the needs and opportunities among young adults for the Gospel.

Andy approached me about 8 months ago and asked if I would come on staff as their Midwest Regional Director to oversee the 10+ ministries they’re currently working with in the region. After a few months of prayer, discussion, and seeking the opinion of many people both Kelly and I respect, it became clear that going on staff with Verge was the next step God was calling us to take.

My job will be to help coach current ministry partners and sites, develop a deeper network of relationships, and basically do whatever I can to help see the young adults and college students across ND, SD, MN, and IA encounter Jesus in ever-deeper ways. I’ll be travelling throughout the region to meet with ministry leaders, hosting Leader Communities (there’s one coming up this weekend in the Brainerd area), and working with the Verge national team to do the annual Leader Advance conference.

There’s a huge need for the church to press into discipling young adults. The majority I encounter are, at best, indifferent towards their faith. Many think of Christianity as hateful and judgmental (though most of them are interested in Jesus in some way).

My day-to-day work with Verge at the moment consists of meeting our existing ministry leaders, working to raise the $4000/mo of funding that will enable me to provide for Kelly and I while doing full-time ministry (you can donate at the Verge website), and working to identify where Verge can serve and help lift up more ministries to young adults. We’re particularly targeting non-college and community-college cities and towns, as well as the western Dakotas and Iowa.

Personally

On a personal level and beyond “official” ministry stuff, I’m working part time at arvato as an Execution Readiness Project Manager (that means I train new employees and plan for new product/system launches and policy changes) three days a week. Kelly is working full time at Old Lutheran doing graphic design. We’re living in a three bedroom apartment in southern Fargo. Andrew, one of the guys I’ve been discipling for a few years now, is living with us.

Life is full and time races by, but we love what we do. It’s so awesome to get to see people grow in their depth of love for Jesus, break free from sins, anxieties, depression, and other bondages that have held them for years; to see lonely people become part of the Jesus family; and to have a marriage that is truly a partnership in doing Christ’s work.

It gets to be a lot on some days though, and we greatly appreciate the prayers of those of you who are praying for us. We would be honored if you would consider joining our official intercessory prayer team and want to receive email and text updates on urgent prayer issues. Please only sign up if you’re actually going to commit to serious prayer.

A couple specific things that we’d appreciate prayer for at this moment are:

  • The Threshingfloor goals mentioned earlier – 10+ people coming to Christ, 2 new communities by the end of summer.
  • $2,000 of funding raised by the end of April, $4000 by the end of June.
  • Energy, joy, and satisfaction in life for Kelly and I
  • A couple people that Kelly and I can connect with on a deep relational level who will encourage and inspire us in life, marriage, and ministry
  • The Verge Leader Community taking place this coming Saturday. Pray for unity, an environment of love and honesty, and huge encouragement for every leader who attends

Thank You

Thanks for reading this lengthy update! Things are moving forward and I’m so glad to have you along for the journey.

Grace and Peace,

Ben

Journal, Ministry Update, Threshingfloor, Verge

Ministry Update – 4/13/15

April 13, 2015

As of a little over a month ago I officially came on board as the Midwest Regional Director with Verge Ministries, working to help a bunch of awesome ministries reach the tens of thousands of young adults and college students that are scattered across ND, SD, MN, and IA. Both Kelly and I are hugely excited about this new season in our lives and how God is going to use it to grow both us and Verge, a ministry that we’ve been closely connected with for several years now through Threshingfloor and our friendship with Andy and Jenn Abramson.

We’re stepping out as missionaries to our own generation, and I truly believe God has some huge stuff awaiting in the future. Because of our move to operating as missionaries and my step into “vocational” ministry I’ll be transitioning this blog, which has historically been mostly poetry, devotional, and theological content to be more of a ministry journal so that those who are a part of Kelly and I’s support team can track along with us, Verge, and Threshingfloor. For those of you who have been following the blog for awhile, don’t worry too much – I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to resist continuing with the devotional and theological goods.

I’ll be posting at least twice a week, so check back regularly if you want to follow along on our ministry journey of following Jesus wherever he leads. In a day or two I’ll be posting a longer update on the specifics of what’s going on in our lives now and where we’re headed in the next couple months. There’s some big plans for Threshingfloor, some exciting meetings for Verge, and all sorts of craziness that I can’t wait to share!

Journal, Prose, Spiritual Growth

The Excellent Difficulty of Writing

March 16, 2015

There was a time when I devoted at least an hour a day to writing and loved it. I was in school, strolling from class to class where we discussed great literature, poured over poetry, and critiqued each other’s essays. I worked a part time job (or two), led Threshingfloor, and was planning a wedding. I don’t think that I had more free time then than I do now, yet somewhere along the way I lost track of the joyful discipline of writing on a daily basis, and for the last three months have been struggling in starts and stops to get back to that place.

Even a month of vacation didn’t do it. I had all the good intentions in the world (specifically Sri Lanka and India) of writing and posting to this blog at least every two days during the month that Kelly and I were travelling, but in the end I averaged less than one post a week.

When I was younger writing was something that flowed out of me without thinking, and most of it was pretty much worthless. You can read my older posts and judge for yourself. Now that I’m older and life is made up of more solid commitments writing leans more towards a discipline than a spontaneous overflow, but it’s in that discipline that the reward is found. When we train ourselves, push ourselves beyond what comes naturally and into something greater, we grow.

My generation doesn’t do well with discipline. More often than not we simply go with the flow of the culture around us or the whims of the moment. I’ll get to it when I feel like it. We’ll see if it works out. Maybe.

I want to be someone who isn’t tossed around by my desires or by the fleeting fads of the culture. I want to invest my time in things that will improve me and the people around me; to work at becoming who my King created me to be. There’s an excellent difficulty in writing regularly that is good for the human soul. The same goes for the difficulty of reading, praying, fasting, exercising, eating well, going to bed and getting up on time, and a thousand other disciplines. Every time we push ourselves we improve ourselves.

All that to say, I’m committing to coming back to writing. I’ll be writing something daily and posting at least twice a week, training myself to leverage the skills that God has given me. Where has God gifted you that you’re currently neglecting? Join me in getting back in the habit of training and growing yourself in the grace of God. It will be well worth it.