CASBY 2016

Over the years our annual CASBY (care about someone besides yourself) trips have become some of the most memorable things we do in Chi Alpha. They are great opportunities for us to help serve, learn, and grow in a variety of ways. They often help expand our capacity for understanding what it means to follow Jesus. This spring break we are heading to Summit County, Colorado to serve with Elements Church!

It’s going to be a great time working with pastors Leila and Eric Ojala this trip! To get a better idea of what this experience might be like, check out how they describe their church planting efforts.

This isn’t your typical movie theater and hipster worship leader kind of plant.  This is a raw, real life, if God doesn’t move then we can’t fake our way out, church plant. Bottom line: people hate Christians here. We can’t redefine church; we have to redefine Christianity.  Our goal is to plant a church that plants churches. To make disciples that make disciples. To change the world.  What are you waiting for?

Sounds pretty similar to what we hope to see happening here at Kent State right?!

Eric also recently shared with me that while there we will be focusing our time in these 4 areas:

Learning: We know how to reach people who won’t come to our service. We want to teach you how to live out the Great Commission in real life…for the rest of your life.

Serving: From the dorm-like resort employee housing to local businesses whose owners hate Christians, we will show Christ to the people of Summit County with action and deeds. You will have the opportunity touch the nations as thousands of young adults from all over the world come to work on the ski resorts.  Many of these international students have never heard the Gospel.

Praying: This is one of the darkest places you will ever visit. We need prayer to break through the walls of opposition and see Christ’s light shine through.

Playing: Did I mention awe-inspiring mountains and 4 internationally-known ski resorts? There is a lot to do here for fun, and it is most likely the most beautiful place you will ever be.

So will you pray about being a part of this trip? We are looking to finalize our roster by the end of next week (Black Friday). To join the team simply  turn in the application, and a $25 deposit (make checks to Chi Alpha). The total cost for everything is $850. We will help train you on how to raise funds to go on this trip.

Don’t let finances be the thing that determines wether you go or not. Ask Jesus what you should do. If he tells you to go, he will provide a way!


Building Kingdom Culture – Diversity

At the end of this month we are excited to welcome Belkis Lehmann, National XA’s Diversity Specialist, for a weekend of XA Training. Belkis has served with Chi Alpha for many years and her experience and leadership will help expand our vision for reconciling all students to Christ at Kent State.  As we continue to become more missional together, it’s important that we reflect biblical norms in our growing community. Belkis will help us better understand (and intentionally plan) an important part of God’s Kingdom, diversity. This essential part of kingdom culture is seen in the birth of the church in Acts 2:5-11, and is an evidence of a healthy gospel-centered ministry.

[5] Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. [6] And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. [7] And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? [8] And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? [9] Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, [10] Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, [11] both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

Talk about diverse! As God poured out his spirit in new ways on the early Church he was clearly saying that this was not just something for one specific people group. Instead the new covenant with God, through Jesus, is open to all people from every nation and ethnicity.

It’s my desire that Kent Chi Alpha would continue this beautiful picture of Jesus gathering together a diverse group of people to represent him. It is through Jesus that we are able celebrate our uniqueness and not be divided by our differences. As the good news of Jesus Christ saving each of us from sin and death permeates our lives more and more it’s a joy to stand shoulder to shoulder with brothers and sisters “from every nation under heaven”. This will not be always be easy, but I would rather do what Jesus want’s me to do than to take the easy way.

So please come. Come gain a new perspective. Be challenged to grow. Let’s listen to what Jesus want’s us to do with him here on this campus. After all, we are (a diverse?) family, on mission together, with Jesus.

Belkis will be with us at XA Live on Thursday night (we want to take up a financial offering for her then). She will be with us Saturday morning from 9a – noon on October 31st (meet in the hub). There is no charge for this XA Training event.


xaDNA Groups

Discipleship. It’s what Jesus was talking about at the end of Matthew 28. When someone repents, believes, and is baptized they are growing as disciples. They are engaged in discipleship. The Disciples, the 12 with Jesus, were being discipled by Jesus. They learned how to do life from him by doing life with him. He was teaching them what it meant to be a follower.

Early on in my life the way that I was discipled was by the Church. I attended a service, I read a book, and just sort of figured it out on my own. The growth was slow, and I unknowingly developed a lot of misunderstandings about God. Something changed when I went to college though. I started to be discipled by people, by my peers. This was not intentional, it just sort of happened. As I was doing life alongside other Christ followers I started to learn some of their good habits firsthand. I was growing, I was open about my struggles, I was actually reading scripture (willingly), I was being discipled.

xaDNA groups are all about discipleship. Peer discipleship. If you are a follower of Jesus and are committed to letting the Holy Spirit lead and change you…then you need to be in one of these groups! Each member of these 3-4 person groups is committed to growing together in Jesus and with each other. We are going to be launching these next week at XA (come on Thursday night to hear all of the details). If you are wanting to grow in Jesus, and you want discipleship to be more than going through curriculum or attending a small group then you need to try xaDNA groups.



Talking about my hopes and dreams for Kent Chi Alpha last night was pretty exciting for me. I know that God has something special in store for us, and this campus, as we practice being a healthy family on mission together with Jesus! It’s going to be such a cool journey to see how Jesus makes life happen many times over here at Kent State.

To help us with the being “on mission together” part of this journey I want us to be reading together this semester. Specifically I want us to read Saturate, by Jeff Vanderstelt. It’s on Amazon for $15 (but I can get it discounted for you…let me know). We are going to begin reading this book together starting on September, 21st. I will be posting a reading schedule on our calendar soon.

There will be a huge benefit for us as we think through what it actually looks like for us to be on mission together on this campus. I hope that everyone in Chi Alpha will be a part of this as we grow into disciples who can effectively share the gospel with those God has put in our lives.


We’re Not Perfect (but we know someone who is)

I used to live my life in pursuit of spiritual perfection. It was by the diligent duty of “Christian stuff” that I knew I would ensure God’s acceptance of me. Subconsciously I made a checklist of stuff that I needed to do (prayer, bible reading, fasting, going to church, not swearing, not lusting, not doing drugs or murdering anyone, and on and on). I believed that by my perfect actions I would deserve salvation and blessings from God.

Have you done that? The making of an unspoken list of stuff you should and shouldn’t do so that you will feel like a good person? Maybe you believe that in some way your worth in God’s eyes goes up, or down, depending on what you do or don’t do on that list?

The effect of living this way was crushing to me. I had created the front of being a “good guy”, people thought that I had it all together with Jesus. But behind the scenes I was failing at  almost everything on my list. I felt the need to maintain my facade of uprightness and so obviously I couldn’t talk to anyone about my struggles, so I faced the depression and shame alone. I was constantly weighed down with guilt, living my life as a true hypocrite. Far from perfect.

You too? When you slow down long enough to consider how your list is working out for you…what do you come up with? Is there stuff that you are not doing that you should be? How are you doing with the stuff you don’t want to do?

The struggle is real. Wanting to be perfect but not having the ability to make it happen. Paul, from the bible, knew this struggle very well (Romans 7:7-25). It’s somewhat comforting knowing that one of the greatest followers of Jesus lived with this tension as well. But more than being encouraged by his confession of imperfection are the words of hope that God speaks to us through him.

Romans 4:5 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,”

2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

So after almost a decade of failing at my list…I ditched it. The Holy Spirit had directed me to truths like these, through the bible, that were deeper and more real than anything else I had ever read. I stopped “working” the list and started letting Jesus make me right in Gods eyes. What a sweet thing freedom is after you have shouldered a heavy thing for many many years! Guilt was gone. I started being real with people and letting them help me confront the sin in my life. The unrealistic standard of perfection was seen for what it is, unattainable by my actions. No longer was I obsessed with what I can/can’t do, now I’m all about what Jesus has already done! Now when I pray or read my bible or go to church…I’m not trying to earn anything, or impress anyone. Now the burden of doing the list is gone and I’m free to do the things Jesus leads me to do.

You can have that freedom from your list too, through Jesus. We are all far from perfect. But Jesus lived a perfect life, and he gives that one to us. The only requirement is that we give him ours…for whatever it’s worth.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 preset

Fall Prep

My wife and I are super excited for this fall semester! There are lots of reasons. Most call us weird for this…but we love it when the town gets overrun with 30,000+ students. As campus pastors we love students and want them all to experience life with Jesus in lots of fresh and authentic ways. We are also excited because our son, Silas James, is about to be born! Silas is already a cool dude and we can’t wait to meet him!

Lots of students, another baby. These are great things that make our hearts happy. We realize that to make this fall the best that it can possibly be…we need to prepare. We need to prepare for all the new and returning students. So we pray for God to be at work in their (your) life and ours. Another thing we do is make plans. Plans to help people experience the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He changes us from the inside out! With Silas we are busy getting his room ready. Lots of painting, putting stuff together, painting, and a little bit of painting. Besides painting we are buying lots of diapers (hoarding them like preppers).

What about you? How are you getting ready for this fall? Let me suggest some great things that you can do right now as the end of August will be here soon.

Pray – #PRAYtheESPLANADE is a new focus of ours this year. Just talk to Jesus whenever you walk the Esplanade to participate. You can prepare for this by getting used to talking to Jesus right now throughout your day about all kinds of stuff.

Read – I shouldn’t have to convince you of the benefits of reading, so I won’t. Small is Big, and Slow is Fast is a book I hope all of us will read this coming semester (because you actually want to). All you Type A’s can get a head start before classes start up.

Devote – Spend time figuring out what Jesus wants you to do…then do that stuff. Dig deep though, don’t just settle with the surface stuff. Let the Holy Spirit put his finger on the stuff you don’t want to change, the stuff that’s not easy. Then commit to changing no matter the cost or how painful it may be. Surgery is not fun, but it helps us be healthy.

There is so much more to life than these three things! So don’t limit your fall prep in these ways, but by all means make sure you do something to get ready for a great school year. Love you all, lets hang out soon!


Gods Calling, Are You Listening?

This morning I was reading through the first couple of chapters of Revelation. It’s here that Jesus is giving a very specific message to seven different churches. He both commends and condemns them in different ways. This is some really interesting stuff to read!

While reading I was reminded about something that God does, something that he is always doing. God is always speaking. He speaks not just in general terms (like “do good stuff today”), but he speaks into the really specific situations in our lives. When I say he “speaks” I don’t mean in an audible way (though we see him do that a handful of times in the Bible, Moses, Jesus, Paul). Rather he mostly speaks to us through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Our foundation for this is the Bible (written words he already spoke to his people – 2 Peter 1:21). As we read, the Holy Spirit illuminates truth to us about our life and the myriad of situations we find ourselves in. As we think through and pray to Jesus about those situations we begin to get a strong sense of what God is saying to us. The Holy Spirit is leading us as we “listen” to what God is calling us to do.

Something that I love is that God is calling all of us to do something specific. This is true for the short term goals of each day, and for the long term life-goals that we pursue. It really comes down to our action of listening and then doing. It takes time to listen to what God is calling us to do. We will have make listening to him a priority, we will need to give him space to speak into our lives. God is calling each of us to do something, will we take the time to listen and act?