Surprises, Lessons & Blessings

Not too long ago, Impact’s president, Bill Westfall, asked me to write up a little reflection on the last year.  What were some of the things that I learned after I looked back over my time in 2011-2012?  I thought I would share some of those reflections with you.

·      There are a lot more students out there that care about Jesus than I anticipated.
·      God is doing something with the world and the world of campus ministry; yet, God is also doing something unique on each and every campus.  Two campuses in the exact same region, less then 7 miles apart – completely different.
·      Partnerships with the local church are WAY more valuable than I anticipated.
·      The more personal and intimate you can be with student interaction, the more depth and meaning there will be in your ministry; inversely, the more organizational and “flashy” you are, the more shallow and disrespected your ministry will be.
·      Fundraising is not the greatest part of my job – but it’s also not nearly as bad as I thought it would be; God uses it as a blessing in so many ways.
·      Impact Campus Ministries has the greatest vision statement.
o   “To pursue, model, and teach intimacy with God within Christian community on the university campus.”
·      Impact Campus Ministries is at our best when we pursue that vision statement.
·      I still have a lot in learn in the realm of teamwork and relational investment.
·      God has done some incredible things in my life over the last decade – praise Him.
·      When I function as God designed me to function, I am fulfilled, others around me are blessed, and God bears fruit in ministry.
·      I can be easily distracted AWAY FROM my reckless pursuit of intimacy with God with the BUSYNESS of pursuing God through my ministry.
·      Students bring me great joy – not just college students, but those students that allow me to invest in their lives.  They are my fuel.



If you received our latest newsletter, than this blog post will be a tad redundant, but it just felt like I needed to post a summary of our first year on campus on our blog.  I will be posting the second half of our newsletter next week.

It’s over.  Our first school year on the University of Idaho and Washington State went by like a blur and we’re still trying to catch our breath.  While we do so, we wanted to capture the experience in a nutshell and look ahead to the fall…

As you’ve read in our earlier publications and blog posts, God has truly blessed the ministry of Impact here on the Palouse.  From the partnership with the local church to the steady involvement of college students, things have gone really, really well.

Probably the toughest thing about this last year has been our family’s’ living situation.  After we could not sell our house, we were forced to live apart for this school year.  Becky and the kids lived in Montana with her family while Marty lived with a WSU student in Pullman.  At the time, we just didn’t feel like God was leading us to put the home up for rent.   Well, the house still hasn’t sold, but our time living apart is over.  We will be together throughout the summer in Twin Falls and we have signed a lease on a duplex for next school year.  We pray for our home to sell or rent in the next couple months in order to keep us out the danger of foreclosure.  We rejoice in a God that gave us everything we needed to do what we needed to do to follow His call and remain close as a family.

We have approved two interns who are spending their summer fundraising for their full-time salaries next year with Impact.  Megan Palmer and Nathan Lanting are two WSU graduates that love the Lord deeply and we are excited to work with them.  God also opened doors to sign a lease on another unit in the same complex as our family’s duplex.  We already have four students who will be living in the new “BEMA House” and pursuing intentional discipleship.  All of these open doors will require some additional funding – but we’re excited to watch God provide for what He’s doing in our ministry!


My Top 12

I read a blog post this morning from my friend, mentor, and organization president, Bill Westfall.  Three days ago he posted this:
As a part of my doctoral studies, I recently read 12 Books that Changed the World, by Melvyn Bragg. He argues that the wisdom of others, through writings, is a powerful formative tool in our lives. He then proceeds to detail, from his perspective, the 12 most influential (formative) writings that have served to shape the modern world.

As I considered Bragg's ideas, I gave thought to my own list of 12 books. Actually, since some of Bragg's 12 were not actual books, I figure my list can be a bit broader as well. So...here it goes...
You can read Bill's Top 12 here.  

I was inspired to think about my own list and figured I would write about it here.  So, with no further delay, I bring you -- Marty's 12 "Books" that Changed My Life.

1.  The Text.  Otherwise known as the Bible.  I know that it sounds cliche, but I have found that particularly over the last decade, I have experienced more personal inspiration, transformation, and insight from this one source alone.

2.  The teachings of Ray VanderLaan.  I owe my #1 stated above to the teachings I have experienced while being covered in the dust of this incredible historian.  His insistence that so much of our worldview comes from a deep awareness of the Text convicted me to become immersed the consumption of the Word.

3.  Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell.  God brought this book into my life at just the perfect time in the midst of a personal crisis of faith.  I can vividly remember reading the book over and over again as I thought, "This is what I've been trying to articulate the entire time!"

4.  Jesus for President, by Shane Claiborne.  Shane's prophetic approach to articulating the tension between "Empire" and the Kingdom of God helped me gain the courage to say and "believe out loud" some of the hunches I had about changing the world.

5.  Bill Westfall.  I will forever be indebted to the guy that say through my smoke screen and challenged me to walk passionately with my God.  I will always bless God for Bill's insistence on spiritual practices and his incarnation of peace and goodness.  I am a better follower of my Rabbi because of him.

6.  Stephen Edwards.  Head of the Intermountain Church Planting Association, Steve mentored me in ways that I will never forget.  His perseverance in love -- loving God, loving other people, loving your enemies, loving your friends -- allowed me to see God when He showed up as love.  I realized that God only shows up as love.  Steve is also on a very short list of people who have always believed in me; no matter what happened or what anybody ever said, he thought I could be everything that God created me to be.  That kind of faith in people will always be life-changing.

7.  The Source, by James A. Michener.  This book opened up an incredible world that let me see the bible in human history.  The images that I use to preach, teach, and understand the Text are largely in part from this writing.

8.  The teachings of Rob Bell.  After reading Velvet Elvis, I listened to over 7 years of Rob's sermons without missing one.  His teaching shaped my own.  I am able to articulate my worldview, because of his willingness to risk and say things differently, to preach differently, to ask big questions.

9.  A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller.  I long to tell a good story.  This book really flew into my face and sucker-punched me into introspection, asking big questions about whether I was choosing to live a great story -- an adventure for God.  My take away: "Go for it.  You're not going to get another chance."

10.  The music of Andrew Peterson.  It's hard to articulate in words what one experiences in music.  I have always appreciated the emotional response evoked in music and it's ability to capture doubts and questions and longings and inspirations.  Peterson's music has seemed to weave a thread through the story that God has been telling in my life.

11.  The teachings of Rabbi David Fohrman.  Fohrman's ability to deal with the text and ask incredibly provocative questions that bring me to an awareness of God's story has been an incredible asset to my study and teaching.

12.  My parents.  I'm discovering that this book continues to get better and better the more I pick it up and read it.  The life they lived taught me things that penetrated to the very core of my existence.  They instilled values in me that have gone with me every step of the way.  I am the person that I am today because of the parents that God gave to me as I matured.

I bless God for all of the voices that have influenced my life!

To quote Bill, what would your list be?