A Guide to Life at BSSM: 2013 Edition – Part 4

Welcome to Part 4 of ‘A Guide to Life at BSSM: 2013 Edition’.  Let’s recap:

Part 1: Housing, Jobs, Finances, Food

Part 2: Getting Around Town, Things To Do, Keywords & Phrases, Making A Revival Group Map

Part 3: My Bethel Is Not Your Bethel, Class Life, Out-of-Class Life, Why You’re Here

Part 4: Bethel: Relationship Powerhouse, Relationship with God, Revival Groups, Small Groups, Spiritual Parents, Being Social, Dating

This is obviously a multi-faceted and far-reaching topic, so what am I trying to say in this part of the guide?

I want you to walk away with a better understanding of how relationship is seen in a general sense at Bethel, give some examples, and then give general advice pertaining to specific types of relationships.

Bethel: Relationship Powerhouse

Bethel is a church founded on relationship and honour, and so is BSSM.  Let’s compare this to a university, which is governed by rules.  At BSSM, if you are late on a financial payment, they meet with you and work out a plan.  At a university, they simply kick you out.  At BSSM, you are known to the staff by your face and name.  At a university, you are known by your student ID.

In general, BSSM is more like a family than an institution, with Kris & Kathy, Bill & Beni, Danni & Sheri, your RGPs, and many others acting as parents, while the students are like children.

It is important to learn that everyone is different, yet we are all people.  In the same way, everyone is given grace differently, but are asked to follow the same rules.  Here’s an example:

Ruth is a student who didn’t read the guide and now lives way out of town without a car.  Because of this, she is often late to class.  Sven, however, did read the guide, and got himself a bike to make sure he can get to class on time.

Good on you, Sven.
Good on you, Sven.

While Ruth and Sven both have to get to class on time, Ruth will be given some more grace about being late, given her situation.

Now, don’t misread this and think your situation can exempt you from the rules.  Ruth will be in for a confrontation if she doesn’t work on her problem.  But BSSM is more interested in seeing you succeed and grow past your problems, than discarding you for having them.

So what kind of relationships will you run into here?

Relationship with God

This is the first one, and the last.  More than anything you are here to cultivate a relationship with God, and he’s there (well everywhere) to do the same with you.  To any of the social butterfly types that are reading, remember to put God first.  Part 3 has some great points on making time for God, but generally your mornings are free, so use them for God!

Ok, now human relationships.

Revival Groups

The revival group was an idea from Paul Manwaring, to help keep the family feel of the school’s students as the school grew.  Treat yours like a second family.  Every week you have the privilege of meeting and growing with these brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents.  I think of interns as big brothers and sisters.

Staying close with your revival group is a key way to staying in the body, to finding support, and to finding fellowship.  You make friends with people you spend time with, and when you spend time with a lot of people, you don’t miss the ones that are not around.  So go to your revival group and connect with your family because, sadly, you probably won’t be missed if you don’t.

Life Building Tip: Use RG time to get to know someone you haven’t met before; and non-RG time to strengthen relationships you have already started.

Small Groups

The tight, inner circle:  small groups are your accountability group, your confidants, and your stalwart friends.  Whether you are a group of guys, or a group of girls, make sure to meet at least once a week.

Life Building Tip: Our group always could have used more time.  Meet at other times to activate yourselves, or discuss/share life that may be beyond the topic of the week’s discussion.

Spiritual Parents

Being a spiritual parent means different things to different people.  I was not a spiritual parent myself, so I asked two couples for help with this section.  Thanks to my own parents, Jon and Kathleen Lenton (class of ’12), and Momma and Papa G (class of earlier) for their help.  In both cases, most of the conversation was from the mom, and I’ve paraphrased and distilled to help with the flow.

Q:  Were you asked directly or did it just happen organically; and would you have had a preference?

J&K:  Both, but more asked straight up.  Being students ourselves, we preferred being asked directly.  It was a DTR (define the relationship) moment right away, and gave us more access and input to the student; because we’d been invited. Either way being a spiritual parent is an honour and a joy.

G&G:  Just let it happen naturally! God knows which students He will highlight to ask you.  That has happened a lot; in conversation someone will just ask, “will you be my mom?”  God is so good!  He brings those connections together in His timing.

Q:  What does/did being a spiritual parent mean to you?

J&K:  It was different for each student, it depended on what their need was.

Ask them what their expectations might be.  For some it’s praying together and occasional encouragement.  For others it was regular coffee dates and mentoring.  Some students want more connection than others, and asking shows what they are hoping to gain. You can make a decision if that’s something you can offer.

We discovered at the end of the year that one young man, had been blessed and comforted just knowing that we were there in the same seats every day. He offered an emotional thanks for helping make him feel safe. (I had never met him!)  For another student, sitting together in class was huge for her. Just being a physical presence, a comforting back rub and feeling part of a family was what she needed.

It makes you realize how easy it is to give love and give life. As a natural parent, it is really an extension of your established identity.

G&G:  It is not as time consuming as some might think.  You can have them over for dinner or go for a walk.  Have them join you for something that you are going to do anyway.  Invite them to sit with you at church; save a seat or two and see who the Lord brings to sit with you and then have lunch together after church.

Most of the students we have relationship with (from 20’s to 80’s) just like knowing that you are there.  Knowing that they can call or visit, borrow a book, ask a question, or run an idea/thought by us.  Usually these are fairly quick and always interesting.

Q:  How many children did you have?

J&K:  Twelve (12) close ones, and twenty (20) that just needed occasional encouragement.  More for Jon who was more available and present at many off school events (I homeschooled our daughter.)  He connected to varying degrees with several dozen young people; he loved it!

G&G:  We have now been a part of two RGs that we can say call us Momma & Papa.  It’s possible over 250 students of all ages call us their California/Bethel parents.

Q:  How do you keep in contact with your spiritual children after BSSM?  How often?

J&K:  Very often on Facebook, but also with Christmas cards and Skype.  Reaching out to your parent is your best bet.

G&G:  Staying connected is challenging, but the ones who really need a connection will be intentional about asking for time together.  No matter the reason those times are really special.

Staying in touch by text, email, or Facebook is great for the ones who are back in their homelands.  The ones who are still in Redding we may see in a church service or in the community.  You can see the change in their countenance! They may take a moment to share a testimony and we will celebrate with them.

Advice for Parents?

Stay open to the possibility:  It’s a very enriching experience, an opportunity to grow and give, to love on people in a time when there’s so much change.  It was a surprise to discover that it was much easier than I would have thought.  Just being real and ‘soft’, your heart turned towards them, is really all that is required.

Manage yourself first:  Whether it is your time, your money, or your spirit; you have to manage yourself before others.  Know how much time you have to give, especially if you are a student.  It’s supposed to be a fun thing that adds to your experience, not a drain.

You should find someone you yourself can connect with, even if you are an older student. At the very least, a peer group of similar life experience (married, children, job, retired, …)

Have good boundaries:  Know how far you are willing to go for a son or daughter.  If you cannot keep that level of commitment, don’t accept the responsibility; again, ask how much responsibility is being asked of you before saying yes.

Advice for Kids?

Be intentional:  Tell me!  I’ll pencil you in!  You matter!  We will have coffee, a smoothie or a walk’n’talk!

Seek God on who to approach:  Don’t just look to the nearest parent-figure.  The relationship should be life giving for all concerned.  If you ask someone and they turn out to be broken or have a lot going on, you are not committed to this connection, be released.  If something arises that should be brought to the RGP’s attention, then as a parent make sure it is.  As Danny Silk would put it, “are you going to tell the RGP, or would you like me to?”

Final Thoughts

J&K:  In hindsight, some of those relationships [with our children] are the ones that hold the most meaningful memories from our time at BSSM.  It is an honor to be invited into someone’s life and break off pieces of your own to help them on their journey. It’s humbling to have strangers see value in what you have to offer.

The response of their natural parents when we met them, was one of overwhelming gratitude, for us to have loved on their kids. It caught us off guard. It was cool that they didn’t feel threatened, but were rather encouraged and thankful. It feels good to know other people think your kids are amazing!

G&G to parents:  We have found in God’s economy love and get more love back, bless and you receive more blessing, give and receive abundance, it’s the way of the King.  So I would say to those couples that are thinking about doing what we do, start small and bless two or three students and then see what God does to your heart.

G&G to kids:  It means the world to us that you would invite us in to your life!  Humbled that The Lord put us together.  He knows what we have to share with one another. So many times He knows exactly what is needed at the right time!

Being Social

There are no great mysteries here, it boils down to being available and being open.

Be Available

Be reachable:  Get a phone, get a Facebook account, and connect with some of the myriad of Facebook groups.

Be around:  Hang around after class, get there early, make a point of talking to someone new.  Same goes for church.

Start early:  The start of the year is the best time to meet people because nobody has anything to do yet;  so everyone is willing to hang out as long they’re willing to take a chance (see Be Optimistic).

Do Your Homework:  Amazing how this keeps coming up, maybe because it’s important.  Get it done early so when opportunities come you have the chance to take them and aren’t stuck at home.  Or you can kill two birds with one stone, and:

Start a study group:  Even calling a friend over to do homework in the same location is great if you are a quality time person; and talking through an idea is essential for external processors.

Be Open

The first step to something new is outside your comfort zone.
The first step to something new is outside your comfort zone.

Keep an open mind:  Never roller skated before?  Try the rink.  Not a fitness guru?  Go on a short hike.  Not a film buff?  Go to the dollar theatre.  Not a prophet?  Renounce that lie and start encouraging someone in faith.  Be willing to try things you never have before, it’s the only way you’ll change; and if you don’t change by the end of the year, what was the point?  Plus, you may actually enjoy it.

“When it looks like everyone knows each other, and you think you’re the only one that doesn’t know anyone, it’s not true! Just start talking, think about it later.”  ~ Alumni Advice

Get out of the house:  Being friends with roommates is great (and important) but you need to remember to get out of your house once in a while, so if all you do is stay at home then you should think about widening your friend group.  Sven, who read Part 1, knows that eating together is a great bonding experience.

Branch out:  Be willing to make new friends even after you have an established circle.  Welcome new people into the fold, and spend time hanging out in other people’s circles.

Believe in the relationship:  Do not make the mistake of avoiding connection because of the impending severance.  It’s true that most people don’t stay over a year, but it’s still important to develop meaningful relationships, even if you might never see these people again.  These relationships are life-giving, affirming; and increase your capacity to love by showing you different situations and perspectives.

Saying ‘no’ is ok:  Never feel guilty for turning something down, just know that every decision has pros and cons.

“There will be tons of opportunities to get involved, parties to go to, people inviting you to things.  It is ok to not go to all of them.  You will miss out on some things, and that is totally healthy.  Be intentional in your ‘yes,’ because every ‘yes’ to one thing may be saying ‘no’ to something else.”  ~ Alumni Advice

“You only do first year once in life; so max it out. Take advantage of every opportunity.  Absorb.  Soak.  Rest.  Work.  Play.  Socialize.  Love.  And most important trust in, and lean upon, Him.”  ~ Alumni Advice

Single Life Workshop

Besides reading up on Things To Do for inspiration (like Sven has), I encourage single people to consider signing up for Single Life Workshop.  It’s a great way to meet people and learn how to do life better.  I personally learned a lot. The downside to this is that one of your nights each week is taken, but it’s time spent building relationship, so your call.

Dating

There is an entire week dedicated to relationships in first year (a whole month in second year.)  Dating, courting, pursuing is a big enough topic in both that I don’t have much to add, except:

Hold your horses! So many stories of students meeting in September and being married by the next year.  To these couples I wish nothing but the best of love and life.  That said, if you are in first year, then you probably are in the process of learning about who you are; and the last thing you need is someone else’s processing to confound your own.

“Don’t waste your time looking for your better half. Become a whole person [first] looking for another whole person.”  ~ Danny Silk [emphasis mine]

“Wait until the new year before you pursue someone, you’re in the middle of figuring out who you are, and so are they.”  ~ A wise pastor’s wife

Men, be honourable: If not, I just explained above how this girl has a huge family (her RG, small group, and spiritual parents), so watch it.

Little-Fockers-Robert-De-Niro-Close-Up-25-10-10-kc
Because we’re watching you. Punk.

“That there are big brothers that will hurt you if you mess with their sisters.”  ~ Alumni Advice

Ladies, be forthright: This isn’t high school, the games are over.  If a guy isn’t catching on that you like him, just tell him; we won’t think you are pursuing us.

Her name is "Good Girl Gina" for a reason.
Don’t be weird, just tell us.

I’ll close with this:

“Stay intentional with the people around you. Live in community, even if it’s just a few.”  ~ Alumni Advice

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A Guide to Life at BSSM: 2013 Edition – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of ‘A Guide to Life at BSSM: 2013 Edition’.  Let’s recap:

Part 1: Housing, Jobs, Finances, Food

Part 2: Getting Around Town, Things To Do, Keywords & Phrases, Making A Revival Group Map

Part 3: My Bethel Is Not Your Bethel, Class Life, Out-of-Class Life, Why You’re Here

My Bethel Is Not Your Bethel

“throw out the rulebook and be flexible, listen with your heart.”  ~ Alumni Advice

All the advice/wisdom from me, or other alumni, has to be taken in context.  The BSSM experience of this year (Your Bethel) is not the same as last year’s (My Bethel).  Every year the staff at BSSM spend hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours pouring over feedback from their students and seeking God for the ways the school can be improved for the following year.

This means that advice from students of previous years can be inaccurate, so before talking about class life at BSSM I wanted to confess my potential wrongness.  Side note: If I am wrong about something do tell me, no need to stay wrong, right?

Because of BSSM’s radical growth over the years, most classes will have new, challenging problems that didn’t need to be addressed previously.  According to Kris Vallotton, my first year class (2012-2013), had a problem with authority.  We’d ignore direct instruction from RGPs and Mark Brookes, and were talked to by Kris Vallotton and Mark Brookes on more than one occasion.

Now this doesn’t mean that 2013-2014 even has a problem, our ceiling your floor right?  What it does mean is that in general the leadership is going to focus on different topics with you guys than they did with us.

Testimonies

Speaking of ways that the school improves, here’s an example of how a new mandate was integrated into BSSM over time:

  • 2011-2012:  Bill feels God stressing the need to collect testimonies accurately and thoroughly to edify and encourage the body.
  • 2012-2013:  This becomes a growing initiative and is talked about at the start of the year
  • 2013, February/March: bcrr.us/bssmtestify is launched
  • 2013, May: Testimony book is published (credit Dave Harvey)
  • 2013-2014 (Present): bcrr.us/bssmtestify is on the back of your name tag

Another example could be the city project, how it’s gone from a few dozen people to an army of over a hundred, transforming the city on a weekly basis.

Let me summarize all this:

  1. The school is always transitioning positively, from glory to glory as it were.
  2. If you hear complaints from alumni, assume they’ve been fixed.
  3. If they haven’t, see if you can help fix it.

Class Life

Ah, class life; homework, due dates, assignments, lectures, notes, what a wonderful time!  You’ll be exposed to a ton of information while you’re at Bethel, so let’s compartmentalize class life to make it less overwhelming:

Schedule
Your schedule! Once things settle into a groove.

Your day: Class is from 10:30 to 17:45 (5:45pm), Monday to Thursday.  This is the best way to think about it, because then:

Days are the same length: Plan to be busy in between these times.  Do reading, homework, reserve seats in the morning, meet and talk to people upstairs at the civic.

Everyone’s more available: If you plan hangouts or gatherings outside of this time frame, way more people can come.

Schedules

There are morning and afternoon schedules.  Morning means 10:30-12:00 and afternoon means 16:15-17:45.  Monday and Wednesday this will involve your revival group or small group; on Tuesday it involves your AMT/Track, and Thursdays, for most people, means your activation.

Day-to-Day

Each day has a similar “middle schedule,” from 12:00 to 16:15:

Prayer/Worship  [12:00-12:30]

This is a time for you to press into God and join in some amazing corporate prayer, or get drunk as a skunk with Holy Spirit.  This is not a time for:

  • Talking with friends or catching up in the auditorium
  • Reserving a seat (do that before)
  • Being obnoxious or loud in any sense (unless that’s how the prayer is going)

If you see someone you want to talk to, and you are in the auditorium, quietly ask to talk to them outside or upstairs.  If it isn’t worth the 15 second walk, it can wait.

Announcements  [12:30-12:45, varies]

Pay attention!  If there are announcements on the overhead screens read them, they aren’t always read out loud.  This is not talking and catching up time, or coffee time, or potty time (note: coffee time and potty time are tied together, avoid entirely if possible).  It isn’t getting settled in your seat time either, because you were already sitting in your seat, eager to learn about all the awesome opportunities BSSM is offering at announcements today!

Side note: last year, our class would yell, “ANNOUNCEMENTS!” whenever someone at the podium said they had announcements.  I endorse this tradition, it’s fun and it helps the delinquents pay attention.

Bible  [12:30-13:30, varies]

What an amazing opportunity to dive into the Word of God, to enrich your spirit.  In my year this was usually taught by the zealous Bernie Ooley or the emphatic Dann Farrelly.  Whoever teaches it, take in all you can.

Worship  [early afternoon, about an hour a day]

“It’s a totally new place where you’ll probably see some things you haven’t seen before.  Different manifestations, different ideas. The best advice I heard in Redding is don’t be suspicious and use discernment!” ~ Alumni Advice

Refresh yourself, soak in the presence, go deeper in intimacy with God.  This is a time of praise and worship, try not to be distracted.

Bring recording material:  Carry something to record with so if you’re struck by a sudden awareness of your need to do laundry, you can write it down and release your mind to focus on higher things.

“Have a recording device handy everywhere you go. Start a filing system early so you can categorize: homework, proph.words, notes, bills etc..”  ~ Alumni Advice

If this is really new for you, here’s a look at some beginner moves for worship.

Grasping God’s Word  [12:30-13:30, varies]

Taught by the scholarly Dann Farrelly, you will learn so much here it’s crazy.

Bring the book to school: If GGW is scheduled that day, bring the book so you can write in notes and comments.

Read the book: at least the day before, more on this later.

Core Speakers  [Last thing before break]

This is probably why you came to BSSM, to hear Kris, Bill, Jason, and others dispense distilled wisdom into your earholes.  Their talks are sometimes marathons (it can be over two hours at times) so when you are asked to stand and honour them, sneak a stretch into your applause.  Stay sharp, you do not want to miss a word, or expression, from these brilliant orators.

Let’s look at some of the people you’ll be hearing from:

  • Bernie Oolie:  Excitement embodied, Bernie has a passion few can match.  She believes strongly in empowering women in the church.
  • Dann Farrelly:  The scholar of the bunch, Dann is a gifted teacher who delivers his material in an easy to follow along manner.
  • Kevin Dedmon:  Inventor of Treasure Hunts, Kevin’s passion is for the lost, and to say he likes getting drunk with Holy Spirit is an understatement.
  • Chris Overstreet:  Your local motivational speaker, Chris will also likely be the one who releases you to street ministry (more later).
  • Kris Vallotton:  A father of the house and a powerful prophet, Kris has a great passion for the city (City Project was his baby) and for raising a generation of young people with a value for purity.
  • Bill Johnson:  Considered the father of the house, Bill is a great apostle with a sincerity and humility matched by few in this world.
  • Mark Brookes:  Overseer of first year, he’s kind of like your surrogate father for the year, treat him like it.
  • Jason Vallotton:  Kris’s son, Jason’s passion is helping broken people.  He’ll talk a lot about counselling and inner healing.

There are many others besides these select few, including guest speakers and revival group pastors.

Ear protection: My year the sound guys (who were awesome) didn’t have much control over outbursts from speakers.  The resource table has free earplugs to take the volume down a notch.  I recommend having them handy for Bernie, Kevin, and Chris O depending on where you are sitting.

Stories: Bill and Kris lose track of what stories they’ve told to whom.  Your job is to remind them.  Just remember that if you always say, “no tell us!” they will repeat themselves and you’ll miss out on other, different stories they could be telling.

Break Time  [15:45-16:15]

Do not leave your seat until the speaker dismisses you.  Be honourable and give them your full attention for the whole time.  When it is break time, this is your phone-checking time, your potty-break time, your catching-up-with-friends and your making-final-notes time.

If someone has an afternoon schedule that day, don’t keep them, and that someone is you, don’t be kept!  Excuse yourself and get to where you need to be on time.

Ok, deep breath.  That’s the day-to-day, what about the special stuff?

Monday

Let’s pretend your Revival Group meets on Mondays (if they don’t flip Monday and Wednesday when you read this).  We’ll be talking more about RGs in Part 4: Relationships, but for now think of them as extended family reunions, every week!

Seriously though Revival Group time is awesome, make it a first priority.

Tuesday

AMT/Track time!  These are amazing opportunities to customize your experience and get the most out of your time at BSSM.  Advanced Ministry Training (AMT) is like an elective in school, whereas a Track is like a taking a minor on your degree, in that you take the same AMT for the whole year.

Unless you are absolutely certain you want to take a track, I recommend the AMTs; you can try more things that way.

Wednesday

Small Group time!  Of course your small group can meet any time you decide on, but the default is the same slot as your RG time on the alternate day.  Small Groups will also be talked about more in Part 4: Relationships, until then, consider them to be your best friends, your brothers or sisters in your immediate family.

Thursday

Thursday is Staff Speaker day, where you’ll hear from someone you normally don’t.  Did you know Bethel has around 500 staff?  They won’t all talk to you, but you should know how many people work to keep the place jumping.

Finally, before city services is the City Services Speaker.  For us it was usually Chris Overstreet.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man more passionate for the lost.  I find that if you do whatever he asks to get you pumped up, you’ll have a better day for it.

Activation!  Or is it City Services now?  Either way, this is the time when you get your hands dirty for the Kingdom.  You want to know what’s had the most profound impact on the City of Redding’s leadership?  It’s been us happily, hardily, and humbly serving them in any way they need.

Tips for Class Time

To talk to someone about it:  Just had a revelation?  Blown away by that last talk?  If you really want to get that awesome stuff locked down talk it out with someone.  Explain it to each other, write it down, discuss alternate interpretations; attack and defend it with reason and scripture.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” ~ Proverbs 27:17

But don’t talk during class: Just don’t, it’s rude and dishonouring.  Take it outside if you must.

Keep the phone off:  Turn it on during break, but its function should be to record the talk or take notes only, everything else it does distracts you from what you are here for.

Turn-Cell-Your-Phone-Off

Do your Homework: Do it, do it, do it now.  Read your books, read your bible, write and take notes, do your 30 days starting 30 days before it’s due.

Reserve your seat clearly: This was a pet peeve of mine.  Reserving seats is an accepted practice at BSSM, finding a friend on the morning schedule ups your odds of getting good seats.  Just make sure your reservation is clear:

  • Not a pen or torn piece of paper
  • Not something half sitting between two seats
  • Use your binder (no one will steal a binder, and the name helps friends find you)
  • Backpacks are cool too (think big here)
  • Extra classy people put something across the top of the chair so you can tell from a distance that the seat is taken.

Stairwells are for going up or down: Not for hugs and hellos.  There is only one stairwell in the Civic you can use in the entrance area; think of it like cars on a highway.  You wouldn’t suddenly brake in bumper-to-bumper traffic to roll down your window and say hi to a friend.  If you want to talk, wave them over to a place that’s off the “road.”

Coffee timing: If you can’t get your coffee from River Rock and be in your seat on time, you need to find a coffee place on the way to school, or save money and bring a travel mug.

Be Flexible: The schedule will change, mistakes will happen, have grace and roll with it.

Be aware of yourself: Don’t be like school kids who are too self-absorbed to realize they are blocking people’s way.  Avoid standing in doorways or near stairwells, fountains, or RG tables; unless of course you are using them.

Find out who’s taking the great class notes: I recommend you still take personal notes, but official notes can be found if you ask around, or you make your own!  These give you a chance to review what you might have missed.

Out-Of-Class Class Life

Homework

“Do your h-work before you go out on fri and sat….” ~ Alumni Advice

Do it, do it, do it now people.

There’s a method to the madness: If you are doing your homework, you’ll notice that bible, kingdom foundations, GGW, and the speakers afterward end up talking about the same topics at the same time. For example, about halfway to when ‘Culture of Honor’ was due Danny Silk, the author, gave a talk on the fivefold ministry that tied in perfectly with the early chapters of the book.

Challenge yourself: Challenge what you believe and what you are being told.  If something a speaker said didn’t sit well with you, talk to your intern or RGP about it, or your roommate, small group, or friend.  Stay sharp.

Dann will talk to you about logical fallacies and reasoning.  I urge you to do everything you can to understand his talk.  Why?  Because the stereotype that Christians believe whatever sounds good and are uneducated or ignorant doesn’t need any help.  Be smart, you may need it.

Representing Bethel

As a student of BSSM you are a representative of Bethel, and an ambassador of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Just as a diplomat isn’t simply sent to another country with no training, you aren’t being released until you’ve learned how to carry the culture of honour when you speak and minister.

In general, consider how people would perceive your actions, as an ambassador you are being watched every time you are in public.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23

Evangelizing

You’ve already been told I’m sure, but in case you haven’t: you don’t have permission to minister to people outside of BSSM, yet.  You will be released later this year when the leadership knows you are ready.

Ministering at Church

You also cannot minister at church, yet, unless you are a second or third year.  There will be training for this, and seek approval from your RG pastor before doing it.  In this case it is better to ask permission than forgiveness.

Why You’re Here

You are here for whatever you and God decide you’re here for.  If you don’t know what that is, press into God and he’ll help you out.

“Don’t get behind in your homework, and pursue Him; not just the signs and wonders.  You’ll see all the signs and wonders you could imagine but if you don’t allow Him to change you, you won’t have the character to hold onto what He wants to do through you.”  ~ Alumni Advice

“Stay focused on the one thing God has called you to no matter what. Stay on task in the path where his clarity is acute.”  ~ Alumni Advice

You get what you put in: If you don’t work at problems, they won’t be solved; and nobody will work on your problem harder than you will.

2nd or 3rd years aren’t perfect: That sounds mean, but I want you to understand that finishing first year shouldn’t be your goal.  Your goal should be figuring out what you need to deal with, what stands between you and God, and then working everyday to bring that barrier down.

I’m also saying this so you won’t be discouraged or surprised if you meet a 2nd year who seems worse off than you; instead be encouraged that they are further ahead than they were last year, and if you work hard, you will be too.

Deal with it now: There is no better time to fix your hurts or problems than right now.  This has always been true, but it’s more true now, if that’s possible.  Just think, a year from now, you’ll be glad you started today.

You are here for you: Not for your church, or anyone, or anything else.  This year is ultimately about you.  Take the time you need to take care of you.

That’s all for now folks.  Tune in next time for Part 4: Relationships!

A Guide to Life at BSSM: 2013 Edition – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of ‘A Guide to Life at BSSM: 2013 Edition’.  Let’s recap:

Part 1: Housing, Jobs, Finances, Food

Part 2: Getting Around Town, Things To Do, Keywords & Phrases, Making A Revival Group Map

Getting Around Town

In the housing section we touched on having a plan on how to get to key points in Redding.  Here we’ll look at some of your options in more detail.

Getting Around by Car: Buying a Car

I didn’t buy a car myself, but the DMV website is full of useful information.  You can also go to the DMV in Redding and pick up a brochure on almost any topic.

There are two mechanics I can recommend for getting the car looked at, based on testimonies from other students:

Getting Around by Car: Car Owners

There are pros and cons to having a car.  As I said I did not own one myself in Redding, so I had a friend who did shed some light on the subject:

Having a car requires boundaries: If you’re anything like me, you love to help people out.  Arguably, the number one way you will be able to demonstrate that is by giving rides to those not blessed with a car.

Rides to school, rides home, rides to a party, rides home, rides to the grocery store, rides home again.  Are you getting this?

It may feel good the first or second time you help a brother or sister in Christ out to say, “don’t worry about gas money! I’m happy to help!” But what about the third, fourth, tenth time?

Let’s face it: as much as we would all love to say God will miraculously fill up our gas tanks every time we give someone a ride, it won’t happen (trust me, I actually tried that a time or two).  You have to be brave and let people know you are not a free taxi service, because you’re not!

You are NOT this person.
You are NOT this person.

You need to pay for that gas somehow, and yeah, your friends are probably broke, but chances are so are you.  If you can give them a free ride because you love them, they can open their wallet and hand you a couple bucks for the same reason.

If they literally do not have the money, there are other ways to pay you back (my two favorites: dinner and back rubs).  Chief author’s note: I have also offered to wash and vacuum my benefactor’s car, you have no idea how much appreciation that can bring.

You are not obliged to say “yes”: It’s your vehicle.  If you’re tired, heading in the opposite direction, or too busy to make an extra stop, just say “no.”  Your friend will find another ride, I promise!

Getting Around by Car: Non Car Owners

You will be borrowing or bumming rides, so listen up.

Have a list: Try to keep a shortlist of people whose car you can borrow, one of whom has a truck for moving and such.  See the bottom of this post for more information on making a good one.

Have some cash on hand: Always have a couple bucks in pocket to cover their gas/maintenance.  In Canada, $0.40/km or $0.60/mi is what a company would shell out to an employee, and you like your friends more than their boss does right?  Offering $2 for a grocery run or errands is fair.  If they refuse payment, you tried, though I’ve left money in a person’s car while they weren’t looking before.

Stay close: If you aren’t going to have a car, then get yourself close to where you need to get on foot or by bicycle.  Do not make yourself a burden on your friends by living out-of-the-way.

If you live in the following areas then you should be, most of the time, close enough to someone to bum a ride.  This list isn’t complete, but “close to the Civic and cheap” are the basic criteria for student housing, and where drivers live.

  • Clay Street
  • Hilltop Drive
  • Ridgecrest
  • Browning/Churn Creek
  • Mission De Oro

Be ready: Set times and places for pick up and drop off, and stick to those times.  When your ride wants to leave, either stick with them or tell them you’ll find another way.  Don’t make them search for you, or wait around forever.  Respect your driver!

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Getting Around by Bike (Bicycle)

Since people don’t generally borrow bikes this’ll be shorter.

Terrain:  There are some killer hills in the area but apart from that bikes are a quick, cheap way to get around for short distances.

Bring spare clothes: Unless you bike in the cool, early morning, or are incapable of sweating, have a plan for cleaning yourself up for a day of close quarters with classmates.

It's hot in Redding, don't be smelly at school.
It’s hot in Redding, don’t be smelly at school.

Stay on the pavement: Word of warning, avoid going off trail unless you have very durable tires.  There is a weed grass around town that produces sharp spiny seeds.  In the fall, I met someone with a flat tire almost every week.  So stay in the clear, paved areas unless you have puncture-proof tires.

Keep a pump on hand: Have a bicycle pump with you when you bike.  The seeds end up everywhere, and if you spring a leak, pumping up as a temporary fix is the fastest way to get on with your day.  As a bonus precaution, have a tire repair kit at home to fix the bike at the end of the day.

Offer to pay for damages: If you do borrow a bike/car, and you get a flat, or worse, offer to pay at least half, if not all, of the cost to repair it.

Things To Do

There’s too much awesome where you are right now to ignore it.

“Don’t hide!” ~ Alumni Advice.

Hiking

“Tucked away in Northern California’s Shasta County is the charming town of Redding, which over the years has worked diligently to become one of the premier trail destinations in the West.”  ~ TrailLink on Redding

Redding and the surrounding area is a model for beautiful hiking and biking trails, as well as access to rivers and lakes for swimming.  Most parks have an entry fee, check before leaving.

Sacramento River Trail: This trail has multiple access points along the river, and runs past the Sundial Bridge, outside the Civic, all the way to the Keswick Dam.  In general, the area around the Civic is full of beautiful trails for walking and biking.

Whiskeytown: A short, 15 minute drive from downtown Redding, Whiskeytown is home to a man-made lake (great for swimming or kayaking), and a host of trails.  I recommend Brandy Creek Trail as a starter (I don’t recommend hiking the full distance).

I love a beautiful lake.
I love a beautiful lake.

Lassen National Volcanic Park: This state treasure is roughly 2 hours East of Redding.  See boiling mud and steam geysers, or hike to the summit of the dormant volcano itself!  Note: park access subject to weather and season, check before going.  I recommend the Bumpass Hell Trail, the elevation of 8000 ft (2500 m) gives you a certain breathlessness that is quite exciting.

Lava Beds National Monument:  On the topic of volcanoes, this park features numerous caves, some filled with ice year round!  You have to book in advance.

This is an ice cave, outside it was 85 ºF (29 ºC)
This is an ice cave, inside it was below freezing, outside it was 85 ºF (29 ºC)

Castle Crags: Near Dunsmuir, a moderate hike with amazing views and rocky crags.  Mounting points for rock climbers can be found along the way.

You can climb to those peaks in the back. I'm the guy in white!
You can climb to those peaks in the back. I’m the guy in white!

Henderson Open Space: I’ll be talking more about this place in Part 3, but for now I’ll say that it’s a beautiful example of riparian savannah, and it’s in the heart of Redding.  Great for walks and picnics.  I should point out that this place has had vagrancy issues, so don’t go alone on a prayer walk there.

All Trails.com: An amazing site for finding places to explore and hike.

Restaurants

A great way to spend time with people is eating together.  If you don’t want to do a potluck (where you all bring a dish to someone’s house to share), here are some great places.

restaurant sign

Chipotle Mexican Grill (Chipotle): This place is a delicious food maker for a good price.

In-N-Out Burger: The owners are members of Bethel Church, which gives the place a lively atmosphere.  Besides awesome food, a secret menu, and the fact that you almost always will find Bethel folk to hang with, it’s a great place to work.

Razzlicious: Another fro-yo place, there are at least three in Redding, one in the new downtown.

Spoon Me: A delicious frozen yogurt (fro-yo) place in Redding’s old downtown.

Westside Pizza: Another Bethel-member-owned establishment, this place fast became a Bethel favourite after Friday night service last year.  Why? $1 slices after 10pm on Fridays.

Yaks Cafe and Eatery (Yaks): A popular destination for small group meetings.

Tipping: For all non-Americans out there, you should know that tipping is how many servers get by financially.  Use these rules:

  • 10% – The minimum
  • 15% – Good job.
  • 18% – Great job!
  • 20% or more – Blessings upon you!

Also note that if you don’t order while in a restaurant, you are not blessing them.  You are using the restaurant’s space and atmosphere, and you should pay for it.  Freeloading in restaurants give Bethel students a bad reputation.  Consider leaving some money if you didn’t order anything.  Tip your servers!

Day Trip Destinations

Redding isn’t the end of civilization in northern California, or “Nor-Cal” as some call it.  Here are some great day trip destinations (within 2 hours drive).

Chico: It’s the nearest city, lots of stuff to check out.  The Naked Lounge is well-known for its great coffee, and not nakedness.  There’s also a Sonic Drive-In you can stop at on the way there with tasty milkshakes.

Dunsmuir: Cool little shops, train stuff, antiques, and some hiking, a great historical town for walking around.

Mt. Shasta City: Near the base of Mt. Shasta, and you can skate in January!  I had no idea how much I’d missed skating.  There’s also a ski hill.

Here’s a pretty map for you, including some of the ‘around town’ stuff.  See the bottom for instructions on making your own.

Entertainment

There  a lot to see and do, but what about besides eating and hiking?

Dollar Theatre: There’s a cheap theatre that plays movies about six weeks after they premiere at the main theatre.  The tickets are $0.75 to $2.50 depending on the time and if it’s in 3D.

Love Lounge: Monthly live music/coffeehouse all put on by BSSM students.  They have a Facebook page, which is a good place to look for the month’s “dress theme,” which of your friends will be going.  The location has moved so check the page for details.

Dancing

I’m a dancer, mostly swing, but I’ve done salsa and ballroom in the past.  One day I’ll write a post just for dance, but until then I’ll quote ‘Take The Lead’.

“You see… if she allows me to lead, she’s trusting me.  But more than that, she’s trusting herself. Now, if your 16-year-old daughter is strong and secure and trusts herself, how likely is she to let some idiot knock her up? And if your son… can learn to touch a girl with respect, how will he treat women throughout his life?”

~ Mr. Dulaine, defending his program to his student’s parents

Besides those awesome reasons, it’s fun and social.  Here are three places to get your dance on:

Let’s Dance Redding!: My personal favourite, I worked with these amazing people, you should really give it a shot, September is Salsa month, no partner needed.  Weekly lessons, and you can learn California’s state dance (West Coast Swing)!

A Step Ahead Ballroom: These guys are all about the more formal dances.  You’ll know what to do at the next wedding you go to.  Which you may find to be often.

Ceilidhs (pronounced cay-lees): These are Irish/Scottish (different students argue) festivals with a dance as a centerpiece to the event.  Outside the UK, ceilidh refers to the dance.  If you’re interested in putting one of these awesome things together, leave a comment, and I’ll connect you with some people.  It’s something that can be done for all ages and physical abilities.

Keywords & Phrases

Many of the people, and the speakers, at Bethel and BSSM have a condition I call ‘Professor Syndrome’.  When I was in university, I’d run into professors who used expressions or phrases I had no context for, because they’d been teaching this material for longer than I’d been alive, and they would forget that I didn’t know it all yet.

If you’ve already read all the assigned books for the year, you’ll be fine.  Or you can read some that I came across.  In general, Google can help a lot with this.

“Five-Fold Ministry”   This phrase wasn’t explained until October but they used it like everyone knew.  It refers to the five offices of the church and their order of importance, as described in Ephesians 4:11, and detailed in Danny Silk’s book ‘Culture of Honor’.  Here’s the list with some examples.  This list is not exhaustive, and many of these people fill more than one of the categories.

  • Apostle (Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker, Randy Clarke)
  • Prophet (Kris Vallotton, Stacey Campbell)
  • Evangelist (Chris Overstreet, Kevin Dedmon)
  • Pastor (Danny Silk, Jason Vallotton)
  • Teacher (Dann Farrelly)

“That’s a good word”  Originally meant like saying ‘amen’ as a sign of affirmation over a prophetic word or declaration; it is also used in joking suggestion that the previous statement was a prophetic word, and God’s with him on it

“Pull out the gold”  A call to find the best in people and call it out through exhortation and encouragement.  Think about it, in a gold mine, which is easier, to dig up dirt or pull out gold?  Be a gold miner with people.

“I need a Sozo”  A sozo is a spirit led inner (emotional/psychological/spiritual) healing session, one which you can learn how to do while in Redding.  People will use the term to indicate they’ve been exposed to something ‘yucky’, or been ‘slimed’.

It is also used in a jocular tone to indicate a false trauma.  “I just spent four hours watching 12 preschool kids on sugar by myself; I think I need a Sozo.”

“What’s your Love Language?”  There are five principal love languages, or means by which a person communicates emotionally.  They are listed below, and you can take a quick test to see what your mix is.

  • Words of affirmation: compliments, sincere statements
  • Acts of Service: washing dishes, doing laundry.
  • Receiving gifts: a thank you card, made you cookies, “got this cause I thought of you”
  • Quality time: hanging out, going out for coffee or on a date
  • Physical touch: hugs, cuddling, pat on the back

There is a lot of hugging!  You will get used to it, and you will learn all about various types of hugs; which are deemed appropriate and which ones are not.

~ Alumni Advice

“I’m processing”  This has two important meanings.  The first you see after a meaty, deep, or densely packed talk.  It means something to the extent of, “my spirit got ahold of everything but my mind has yet to catch up.”  In other words, “processing” was getting alone, going through the day’s notes and scriptures, and letting your mind soak in more of the day’s revelation.

The other meaning is means emotional processing.  Maybe they are going through a crisis of identity, or a crisis of faith; confronting deep-rooted issues is a lot of what BSSM first year is about.  If you are close, politely ask if you can help.  If they say no, give them space until they figure it out.

“Truth in tension”  A favourite phrase of Dann Farrelly, a brilliant teacher.  We have all met people who say, “the Bible is full of contradictions.”  There is a reason for this.  To quote “Hermeneutic Guidelines” from your binder:

“The Bible never contradicts itself unless it intends to do so, as this might be the best way for the infinite mind of God to communicate truth to finite humans.  In holding to both sides of the “contradiction” we find more complex truth.  For example, we are told to honour and hate our parents.  The drive to solve or wrestle with this idea leads to understanding.”  ~ BSSM Student Guide

As a side note, you should read that entire section now, as well as “The Bible Jesus Read, Phillip Yancey”.  These are indispensable for keeping the right perspective with the Bible and God moving forward.

“RG” or “RGP”  Revival Group, or Revival Group Pastor

Making A Revival Group Map

Welcome to the bottom, where I promised to help you with making a shortlist of drivers.  Last year my brother’s RG made a map of all the people in his group and where they lived.  I thought it was cool so I did it too.

This is probably the fastest way to figure out who has a car and lives close to you, especially because all the road names aren’t clear yet.  Once I’d done this, it was also way easier to find people to hang with or ask for a ride.

I used Google Maps to do this, here are the steps:

  1. Get this info for each person: address, name, phone number, and if they have a car.  I used a spreadsheet, but whatever works for you.
  2. Open Google Maps and make sure you’re signed into Google (note: you will need a Google Account to do this).
  3. Read this and watch the video.
  4. Use the address to pinpoint the spot to add, use the name for the name, put the number in the description, and change the icon of the point to a car if they can drive.
  5. Ok, now if you are clever with technology, you should have a map.
  6. The last step is sharing it.  In all likelihood, your RG has a Facebook group, which you are a part of.  Read this and watch the video.
  7. I recommend selecting ‘Get short link’ and posting that URL to the Facebook group.

A Guide to Life at BSSM: 2013 Edition – Part 1

Hey there! You’re reading this because, well, ok to be honest I don’t know why; but I’m going to guess.  It’s because you are, or were, a student at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM), and you’re looking for advice, or to laugh at some of the things you wished you had known.

I am writing this guide because I think there are many things students would have benefited from knowing when I was at BSSM.  I’m an engineer with a knack for teaching, so seeing how things work and educating are parts of my ‘gift mix’.  I hope this guide, part 1 so far, helps you have a smoother time in Redding.

Housing

Finding A House

Finding a house is, hopefully, something you’ve already done.  But you may find that the accommodations you have now aren’t a good fit.  Here are some tips and info you will want to know.

Questions To Ask:

  • Are utilities, internet, laundry included? If not, who provides them and what did it cost the last tenant(s)?
  • Ask for photos if you are unable to physically visit, make sure they are recent.

According to FindTheData.org, the cost of renting in the 96001, 96002, and 96003 zip codes (a.k.a. Redding area) are in the table below.  Note that this is the base cost, no utilities included.  If you find places to live at in these price ranges, you are likely getting a fair offer.

Rental Type Price Range
Studio Apartment $670-740
1 Bedroom Apartment $680-760
2 Bedroom Apartment $860-960
3 Bedroom Apartment $1,270-1,410
4 Bedroom Apartment $1,410-1,580

Now, you’ve found a place you can afford, but is the location right?  Look at a map of Redding, how close are you to ‘it all’?  Consider the primary locations:

  • Bethel campuses (College View or Main, and Twin View)
  • Commercial Downtown (Hilltop, Churn Creek, Dana, Browning area)
  • Old Downtown (Market and Placer area)
  • The Civic (school for 1st years)

The further you get from these places, the more fuel you, or your chauffeur, will burn.  You will be less likely to go hang out on a whim, or be spontaneous.  Perhaps this isn’t a goal for you, but at the very least make sure you have a plan for getting to the locations above from where you will be staying.

Running A House

This is advice on how to run a household, or the operations of a home.

Pick An Executor

Executor is a fancy dancy legal term for ‘the person who makes sure it gets done.’  Essentially, the executor is the financial face of your household.  They pay the bills, deliver the rent, and collect money from the rest of the house.  This is a lot of responsibility, but picking someone to handle it means that you have someone to thank when everything’s fine, and someone to confront when it isn’t.

The executor should have a small reserve fund to cover emergency expenses; such as rent.  As a Bethel household you already have a reputation for paying your rent, on time and in full.  Beyond that, it is the honourable thing to do.  If you have a roommate unable to make rent then you deal with that internally (i.e. do not involve the landlord/landlady).  Confronting a broke roommate is never fun, so I recommend you meet as a household to discuss what to do (see Have House Meetings below).

Finally, consider that being executor is a burden.  Think about giving the poor soul a break on their rent, or free internet, or pancakes on Sunday?  It’s hard work and can be stressful.  Remember, somebody’s managing a part of your responsibility so the household can run more smoothly, how can you help them out?

Have House Meetings

As a passive aggressive person, I still struggle with communicating my needs clearly.  But if you give me a lay-it-all-on-the-table situation, I’ll do just that; because that’s when I feel safe.

Having semi-regular house meetings is an amazing way to clear the air, to get people talking about what’s on their mind, what their struggling with, what they need, what they can offer, and so on.

How often should you meet?  As often as is necessary.  Schedule time now while you still have it and make it a priority, Tuesday night lets say.  Plan to have Tuesday night free, it is time you spend catching up with your family, or at least time time to air out concerns before they fester into resentment.  It is a sacred time that takes precedence over the coffee date with that cute guy/girl, to talk and share with your mates on what’s up with you.

If the meetings are less than ten minutes, have them less often.  Don’t let them get longer than a half hour though; after that people start to get impatient and the effectiveness will break down.

Final thought: Talk to each other about what’s an issue for you.  In this time of rapid growth and change expect that ‘issue-list’ to change with you, and with your mates.

Build relationship

When you think of the place where you live (in Redding), are you in a house or a home?  Are you 3-12 people who happen to live in the same house?  Or are you a household, a family?  The benefits of having roommates be like family are many, I hope that, at the very least, your Revival Group, and later your Small Group, show you what I mean.

Until then, I recommend you do things together!  Spending time together is a prime ingredient in bonding; sharing experience is another.  “But author,” you ask,  “however will I/we do this?”

  • Game night: Board games, card games, poker, D&D

  • Movie night: Seems everybody watches Father of Lights, but any movie y’all can agree on will do.

  • Drunk Holy Spirit party: If it’s going to be loud make a plan on how to handle it, because your roomies may be tuckered before its over.

  • Worship session: Soak, sing, play, listen

  • Friday morning pancakes: Any morning really, but make it a tradition.  Krusteaz pancake mix can be found at Winco, $8 for a 10lb (4.5kg) bag.  Our house used three in the year.  Invite neighbours to mix it up!

  • Friday night pizza: Westside Pizza has $1 slices after 10pm on Fridays.  Most of the students from the Friday night service go there.
  • Frisbee or some sport at the local park/field

Jobs

This next sentence could be misconstrued so stay with me.  Unemployment is not ‘living by faith.’  Every Christian lives by faith in God every day.  We rely on God for everything, and that includes our ability to work.  You have a responsibility to do all you can use what God gave you to take care of yourself.  I’m an engineer by trade, but right now I’m working landscaping and construction while I go after the job I really want.

International Students

The official law is that it is illegal to work under a student visa; notice how there’s nothing in the Bethel info package.  However, a charitable donation to your missions account, or a gift, is not income.  That’s all I’ll say.

Americans

If you have been looking for work in Redding, you may have already noticed that it isn’t a walk in the park.  There isn’t a lot of industry or manufacturing, the city’s biggest source for work is the medical field.

However!  That’s no reason to give up.  Look for work with the big retail chains, see if you can get a reference from another student.  Working for Walmart or Starbucks isn’t glamorous, but you can transfer to your home one, and back again, consistent work through the year and the next summer is huge.

A popular source for work is sitting.  Babysitting, house sitting, pet sitting/walking.  It’s most effective if you build relationship with the people you are looking to sit for.  In general it’s an organic business.  I babysit for the Parkers, they are friends with the Marleys, who mention that they need to find a sitter, the Parkers recommend you, and so on.

I’ve found that if you visit with someone and ask them about what they need done, you open a door for some labour.  Forty dollars for a morning of work is better than nothing right?

This guide is a little late for this piece of advice.  In general, moving here earlier means less students looking for jobs at the same time.  The early bird gets the worm.

Job Sources

Ask around, always

“Seek and you shall find….”  If you don’t look, you will never find anything.  As Canadian hockey great Wayne Gretzky said,

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

iBSSM Bulletin Board

This place is a gold mine for all kinds of things.  Make it a part of your daily internet check-in.  Link Here (you’ll have to login to iBSSM.)

Craigslist

http://redding.craigslist.org/jjj/  This is the jobs section, read and apply.

General

A lot people seem to find jobs at restaurants and cafes; especially ones owned by Bethel associates, so they are a good place to start the job hunt.

Finances

Let’s talk a little bit about money management.  In Redding, not spending a dollar is easier than making a dollar (see Jobs).  The general pay rate is lower than you may be used to, but everything important is cheaper (except dry cleaning, don’t get things dry cleaned in Redding).  Because everything is cheaper, saving money will be more effective than working more hours.

There are two amazing tools I use to help me with my, and my household’s, finances.

Mint.com

This site connects to your online banking and reads and categorizes your spending.  I have found nothing that was as easy when I wanted to see how much I was spending, and where I was spending it.  You can set limits on spending, and alerts if you’re spending too much in a particular month.

We Split It

Track any shared expenses between your roommates.  I was an executor for my house (see Elect An Executor) and put all the house bills here.  

WeSplit.It Summary of my apartment.
WeSplit.It Summary of my apartment.

Ways To Save

Go easy on the climate control:  Pay attention to the thermostat, windows, AC/Heat, and temperatures during the night and day.  We were diligent in opening the windows and blinds at night and closing them during the day, and we allowed the temp to go from 68-80 °F (19-26 °C) on our thermostat.  Because of those two things, our power bill was half that of comparable houses.

Our utility bill was so much lower we thought our friend’s houses had insulation problems.

North Valley Bank: They don’t charge huge transaction fees for withdrawing cash from international accounts.  They also have drive-through ATMs, and that’s pretty cool.

Thrifting: Technically this is also a fun way to hang out.  There are five or so thrift stores in the area (it fluctuates).  Salvation Army, Goodwill, and A Second Time Around were my favourites, but there are many more to check out.  Get clothed for a pittance, arrange it correctly and you can be a hipster.

Just don't be uppity about your new found coolness.
Just don’t be uppity about your new found coolness.

Food

Originally this was under finances, since food is such a big part of where and how we spend our money; but then it almost became bigger than the finance section itself, so here we are.

There are five main places to get food:

Walmart: cheap, and you can one-stop-shop.  Quality varies with product, great tea though.

Winco: cheap-er, but avoid the meat (I never had a problem, but friends with more refined tastes told me it was questionable).  I found the quality fine for most things, great bulk section, and organic greens.

Trader Joe’s: It’s where the cool people shop for their ovo-lacto-organic probiotic yogurts and such.  It’s expensive compared to pretty much everywhere else but you can’t deny the quality of their products.

Costco: You’ll have to be sharing food to really take advantage of this (see Sharing Food below), but Costco carries very good food at excellent prices.  I recommend the meat and pretty much everything else.

Roadside fruit guy: Ok, so there are two fruit stands you’ll see often.  They sell whatever is in season, it’s super fresh and tastes amazing.  Support local economy!

  • One is at the end of Hilltop Drive, across the road.
  • The other is at the corner of Browning and Churn Creek

Share Food

Unless you have crazy allergies, or are really picky, or hate each other, as a household you will mostly definitely save money, time, and heartache by sharing food.

download
Read on!

You cook less:  Agree to cook once or twice a week, pick a day.  Now you are cooking less, and still enjoying the benefit of hot or prepared meals most nights.  Also, when you do cook it isn’t for just one person, which makes following a recipe easier.

You eat better:  In general, if you cook less often, you can take time to make better food when you do, and you don’t have to do dishes; which brings me to my next point.

When you cook, you don’t do dishes:  That’s the deal, every time.  The cook always works more than the dishwashers anyway.  Now your kitchen is being cleaned completely several times a week, how awesome is that?

You are bonding and sitting as a family several times a week:  Eating together helps build intentional community; and you are happier when eating with friends, so you’ll like your roommates more just by eating with them.

You save money:  I spend about $160-240/mo on food when I don’t share.  When I do share it can be as cheap as $80-120/mo.  That’s over 50% in savings, and over the course of the year, you’ll be able to eat out more, or grab that coffee, or take a weekend trip out of town.  The low end of the budget is a leaner lifestyle, less beef more chicken; less juice, more water, choices like that.  How is this possible?  Three things:

  1. Costco: You can buy lots of really good, quality food here.  The problem is that you have to buy them in quantity.  Milk? At Winco the cheap brand is about $3.50 for a gallon; Costco is $3.25 for better milk, but you have to buy two gallons at a time.  Sharing food with other people allows you to take advantage of the savings.
  2. Big meals:  Pasta and soups are cheap and nourishing.  Learn how to make them.
  3. Avoid meat: If possible, try other foods to get your protein, have a meatless Monday.  I’ve made a spaghetti that was half chick peas half ground beef, delicious and affordable!

I hope you’ve found this informative, I’ll be releasing more sections, be sure to comment on what you think I should be covering!

What Should The Church’s Response to “The New World Order” Be?

Introduction

This is a document produced by the students of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) 1st Year, International Transformation Track 2012/2013, who chose to do the ‘New World Order’ project.  This document is the culmination of the groups efforts and hopes to provide two things.  First, to convey the findings of the project to the common reader.  Second, to provide a foundation for the next set of students to continue the work on the New World Order project.  Due to the magnitude of this project, it is valuable to point out that a number of sub project or topics could be started based on the ideas presented therein, especially the “Our Government, Our Nation, Our Future” project, outlined later in the document.  The motivation for the project was to produce an action plan for the Church to work against the powers and principalities in this world seeking to bring about the end times.  To begin, the group reviewed Dr. Jack Van Impe’s ‘New World Order Rising’1 and Chris Martenson’s ‘Crash Course’2 series as a briefing; and then each chose focus points to tackle.  For the most part we remained fairly high level with a couple of practical examples.  Our goal, since so many are willing and ready to volunteer information for the ‘who’, ‘where’, and ‘what’, was to shed some light on the beginnings of a ‘how’; which could lead to concrete counter-strategies.

Further, this document works hard to protect the hope of the reader.  Negativity and doom sell in this world, so the apocalypse rarely sounds anything but bleak.  The group found it a challenge to guard their hope, and recommend you keep your faith on and pray before consulting some of the sources we list below.

These points have been compiled into a series of short essays with a summary of the key points or actionable steps at the end of each essay. With all of this in mind, let us begin.

What does ‘New World Order’ mean?

To begin it has to be pointed out that ‘New World Order’ has at least two principal meanings.  The first is the New World Order as a conspiracy theory; a theory suggesting that the powerful elite of the world are conspiring to place the globe under an authoritarian government, and eliminate the sovereignty of nation-states.3  For this document the term ‘The New World Order’ will be used to refer to the conspiracy theory.  The second definition is a New World Order as a point in history where global thought or power shifted in a meaningful way.4 This document will refer to these instances as ‘a New World Order.’ We will also use ‘One World Order’, but it will be purposefully ambiguous so its meaning relies on context.

It’s very important to pay attention to how these terms are used. For example, the rise of the Greeks, Persians, Romans, and Napoleon are all examples of a New World Order. The fall of these empires also mark a New World Order. The war for Independence, the abolition of slavery, both World Wars, and the founding of the UN are all examples of New World Orders. Why is this important? It’s important because conspiracy theorists will quote news articles that use the term New World Order when the article is simply making note of a shift in political or economic power at a global scale. This is an attempt to stir up fear and rob you of your peace, ignore it.

Summary:

  • There’s a difference between the New World Order, and a New World Order.
  • The New World Order will refer to the conspiracy theory.
  • A New World Order will refer to a shift in political power or thought that has global influence.

What are we facing?

“If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” ~Harvey MacKay

Harvey MacKay is a successful businessman who makes an excellent point. Planning may not be fun or exciting, but it provides structure and goals that help make a person or organization of persons more effective.  I posit that the Church as an organization has made no such plans with regard to the potential threat of the New World Order.  I would further posit that the New World Order is a real threat, though in my opinion the actual timing is not in alignment with popular estimates.

Dr. Jack Van Impe, in his video ‘New World Order Rising’1, makes a compelling case that the apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel, Revelation, and other biblical books line up closely with recent world events, including the creation of the European Union and the Euro.  In his opinion, elite power groups such as the Bilderbergs, the Trilateral commission, the Illuminati, the Club of Rome, and the UN are working in secret or, as case may be, in plain sight, to position the world for governance by a single person, the Antichrist.

J. Duvall and J. Hayes give an excellent description of how to interpret revelation in “Chapter 17 – Revelation” of their book, Grasping God’s Word.  And as they warn,

“The ‘newspaper’ approach [i.e. fitting prophetic books to current events] assumes that we must be living in the last Christian generation.  It also implies that in Revelation God was not really speaking to the very first Christians.  Doesn’t that seem arrogant on our part as contemporary interpreters [of scripture]?”5 (emphasis mine)

It goes on to challenge that Christ may not return until AD 4000, and since many generations before us have believed they were ‘the last generation,’ what scriptural basis do we have to believe we are not fooling ourselves?  I’m saying this in the hopes that you form your own, well-informed opinion; rather than simply accept what the smartest person you know tells you.

As mentioned in the previous section, the Antichrist will one day rule the world, based on the book of Revelation and other verses from the Bible.  It’s worth noting that the book makes no mention of when this will occur, though clues are given.  Dr. Jack Van Impe believes that these clues relate to the recent past and present history of our world, meaning the rule of the Antichrist is likely within our lifetime.

This of course is predicated on the assumptions that:

  1. You believe the Antichrist will one day rule and
  2. You believe the events alluded to in Revelation match those of our present time.

While these things may be true, it does not mean there is nothing we can do.  The writers of this document generally agree with the eschatology supported by the Bethel house, which can be summarized as such:  we do not believe in a theology that empowers a disempowered devil.  This means that these events are not inevitable and that we are not powerless.  As Aragorn said in The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien,

“A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!”6

If the end of the world is coming soon, I refuse to stand idly by and watch it happen in front of me.  I am not leaving without a fight.

Summary:

  • There are forces seeking to put the Antichrist in power.  If they have a plan, so should we.
  • Bethel’s view on the end times is one that empowers the church to it’s greatest victory.
  • We have a responsibility to make this world like Heaven, and that means stopping anything that would have other ideas.

Democratization: Imagining the system from its smallest scale

Two themes are common among every group or organization of the elite.  The first is the desire to consolidate power among ever tighter numbers of groups, with the presumed fear in our case being that this will narrow to a single person:  the Antichrist.  The second is increasing the amount of control available to these groups.  For example, the US’s power grid can be controlled in it’s entirety from three offices in the West, Center, and East of the country.  Eldon Roth, CEO of Beef Products Inc., is a champion of the industrial meat packing industry.  Every gearbox, for every machine, for every plant in his company, can be controlled from a single room.  This section will discuss some concepts that can be used to combat this.

The main concept I want to present here is democratization or decentralization, as the case applies.  To ‘democratize something’, as I see it, is to make it available to everyone.  Democratization is, in my opinion, a primary tool for combating the forces of globalization and consolidation.  The two principal benefits to this system are increased autonomy of smaller units, and smaller scale failures within the system.  Let me explain what I mean by this using the previously cited power system as an example.  Imagine that each municipality was responsible for its power, to the point where they owned and operated their own utility.  This means that, while more staff are required to maintain the individual power facilities and plants, the maximum fallout of a plant overload or failure is one municipality.  In comparison to the blackouts that blanketed the Northeast US and Ontario, Canada in 20037 it can be seen how this could be beneficial.

Another example could be food services, encouraging diversity on a local level for food production so if transportation fails the area won’t starve in the middle of a cornfield (fit only for meat production, with the cattle being in a different state).  For the sake of brevity I will not go into great detail on these topics but hopefully you grasp my meaning.  A final example is the mortgage lending crisis that led to the 2009 recession, which most of the country is still recovering from. Two companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, held the largest portion of all the mortgage debt in the country, making them ‘too big to fail.’  I strongly believe that under a democratized and decentralized system, which discourages large banks and encourages credit unions, these problems will become small and isolated instead of massive and system crashing on a national scale.

An important caveat is that this way of thinking generally eliminates ‘economies of scale’, a simple truth which states that ten factories making ten cars a day will cost more to operate than one factory that makes a hundred.  This means that democratizing comes at a premium, but I’m confident that as people are enabled to do more, so will they be able to accomplish more, making the premium a small price to pay.

Democratization gives people a sense of ownership; it puts power to control the things around them, to have a say that they feel can matter.  Whether it is your finances, your utilities, your education, or your home, you feel more secure when the control of these things is kept in your hands, and generally you feel better.  I believe there has been an increasing trend to relinquish control of our lives in order to increase our convenience, so we don’t have to think; and in a world that’s growing in evermore complex ways it is a very tempting proposition.

To be clear, I certainly don’t think we should be autonomous to the point of absurdity; that we should be hermits living off the land with no meaningful technology, education, medicine, et cetera.  I would propose developing intentional communities of people around you that value the same things you do, and that that community’s size rest in the 50-60 person range.  At BSSM the most readily available example is a Revival Group.  Many modern anthropologists support the idea of ‘modern tribalism’, and this number roughly reflects the average human brain’s capacity for close relationships.  ‘Tribes’ being the smallest units, they should scale to neighborhoods, boroughs, municipalities, counties, and so forth.

I also want to clarify that there are cases where globalization is important, it allows people to reach across boundaries of class and country to foster new kinds of growth and cooperation that have led, and will lead, to fantastic inventions and new levels of prosperity.  I just believe that globalization should be tempered by as much self-sufficiency as possible, which I believe is a great deal more than developed countries are exhibiting at present.

Summary:

  • The New World Order will come about through the consolidation of power and control.  Promoting self-sufficiency at the cost of convenience will delay and thwart these initiatives.
  • Education is freedom: the democratization of knowledge promotes the ability for people to think for themselves.  If people cease thinking for themselves, they’ll believe whatever they are told, and will lose control of their lives.  Knowledge is power, and it is a power that can be surrendered only by choice.

Apostolic Government

Danny Silk, Bill Johnson, and Kris Vallotton can do a much better job describing the nature of apostolic government, but I’ll try to outline the basic points and how they pertain to the New World Order.  I am speaking very generally here and quite frankly butchering the idea proper; but it is on the assumption that you know all this and simply are being reminded.  If this information is all completely new to you then please try to get a talk or read Danny Silk’s Culture of Honor for more detail.

The apostolic government is detailed most clearly by Paul in Ephesians 4:11:

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,” (NIV, 2011)

The responsibility of the apostle is be a continuous link between Heaven and Earth, bringing the spirit wherever they go and leading the Church into deeper relationship with God.  An apostle is not ‘the way’ to God they are a person in our (read: the physical, observable) realm that is expected to carry Heaven’s mandate and to make it our mandate, so that, “[His] will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

Apostles act as spiritual parents and are natural leaders.  They work with other apostles to insure that there is agreement between them, and consult the prophets as well.  In a culture of honor, everyone is powerful, and the hierarchy is maintained through relationship and mutual respect.  Everyone knows the only person they can control is his or her self, and no one else.  There are no fear or manipulation tactics.

The church needs to adopt such a system on a larger scale than individual churches.  Many already are through Global Legacy; and I believe the structures used in the Catholic and Orthodox churches are apostolic, the only question is if the positions reserved for apostles are being held by apostles, or by teachers and pastors (which is more common in churches cited by Danny and Kris).  Once the church is organized but still has autonomy at all levels (culture of honor) it will be both empowered and unified.  It will extremely resilient to attack since even its smallest part will be incredibly powerful, linked to Heaven, and able to cohere with other cells back into a body no matter how many times it is split or fractured by the enemy.

The principal difference between apostolic government and the New World Order is who is the head.  Christ is our head, with many apostles investing themselves solely in his mysteries.  In the most pessimistic outcome of a One World Order, the head is the Antichrist, or functionally Satan.  No matter what purpose it is originally created for, a One World Order will almost certainly be attacked by the enemy through tactics of fear and manipulation.  I don’t believe that the leader of the world becoming the Antichrist is inevitable, or that world peace will be achieved through Him, but to believe that a world peace would last forever without stewardship is equally foolish.

Summary:

  • The apostolic government is God’s model for the church
  • A culture of honor, through God, is what will unify and strengthen the church to the point of total victory against the enemy.
  • What sets the church as a body apart from any other government is the living God at our head.

Church and State: The wisdom in keeping them separate

This is a brief answer to, “why don’t Christians just run everything?”  There have been examples of successful theocracies in the past, Kings David, Solomon, and Hezekiah being some of them. However, there are no examples to bear witness to under the new covenant (since Christ). This is the first reason I believe church and state should be separate:

  1. The is no precedent for a successful theocracy in the New Covenant.

Further, the church’s agreement on the nature of sin is, for most churches, absolute; the only difference being how much grace, or judgment, is given to the sinner.  The most common issue historically with religious governments is people not having religious freedom, to the point of being specific to denomination, what would stop us from repeating it? This can be summed up in my second point:

  1. Unless the church is completely in line with the culture of honor, the world would be a dangerous place for an unbeliever. Unbelievers should not fear the Church, as perfect love casts out fear!

So what should the church’s position be in relation to the state? Personally, I draw instruction from 1 Corinthians 4:20:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (NIV, 2011)

And 1 Corinthians 2:4:

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit’s power.” (NIV, 2011)

I believe that just as science demonstrates good practices through experimentation and study, and these practices are adopted over time, so should the Church demonstrate the effectiveness of God’s Love.  I mean this on a very practical level.  That hospitals should have healing rooms to offset patient inflow.  Prisons should encourage forgiveness and facilitate restoring relationships between convicts and victims.  These are examples of how the Church can help that can be demonstrated, hopefully to the point where the state will accommodate us to allow for further improvement!  This is my closing point.

  1. The Church is a greater testimony of God’s power if it has to rely on Him and not the State.
  2. Our ‘New World Order Under Heaven’ does not operate with the State.

Cuba’s Peak Oil Crisis: A Case Study in Rapid Cultural Change

This is a case study on the peak oil crisis that occurred in Cuba in the early 90s. The purpose of this is to show that a nation can change quickly under pressure, and that there is no disaster we cannot survive well.

Peak oil is something we will have to face sooner or later.  In the videos from Chris Martenson, we are given information on our world, that the population on planet earth, and its consumption of resources, are growing exponentially, but are finite.  Because of that Chris Martenson makes the statement that, “the next 20 years will be totally different from the past 20 years.”2

We went back and asked history if we can learn from it.  Apparently Cuba had a peak oil situation in 1990.  Cuba still exists; which means we can survive with less oil.  The next few paragraphs talk about how Cuba survived and changed in this time.  Most of the facts we got from the video: The Power of Community.8

The US laid an embargo on Cuba to put pressure on the government to move toward “democratization and greater respect for human rights,” after the collapse of the USSR.9  Because of the embargo the economy went into a recession.  80% of import and export trade stopped.  Access to foreign oil dropped 50%.  There were power blackouts and commercially grown food ran short.

The government reacted by importing 1.2 million bicycles from China and produced another 500,000 itself.  In the first five years the government kept the people alive, by giving minimum food supplies.  Despite the embargo, the government continued to supply its people with free healthcare and education.

Before the embargo Cuba did a lot of farming with tractors, fertilizer, and pesticide.  Because of the embargo it was hard to find fuel and parts for the tractors, so the people went back to using oxen and working by hand.  Old farmers taught how to work with oxen and how to train them.

The farms became smaller, and because transportation was rare, they interplanted their crops for greater diversity, which led to fewer pests that could wipe out the whole farm.  The government gave land to the people for free, to do farming.  Small private farms developed and a sense of ownership lead to greater production.  It is important to notice, that it took three to five years to make the soil productive again, after using so much fertilizer.  Today 80% of Cuba‘s agriculture is organic.

People started to grow food in the city (this is now called urban gardening.)  In 1993, two australian experts came to Cuba, to teach the people how to farm.  In Havana, urban gardens produced 80-100% of the fruit and vegetables the people needed.  Because of this, there was no need for transportation over long distances.

As mentioned before, transportation changed too, not only did people start using bikes, trucks were turned into buses.  One famous example is “the camel,” a semi-truck that was turned into a large bus by pulling a passenger car instead of a freight car.

It’s worth noting that under all this trade restriction, once things stabilized, the quality of life in Cuba remained comparable to the US:

cuba_us_life_quality

The average lifespan in Cuba was the same as in the USA and the infant mortality was the same too.  – Why? – Because the people exercised more (biking around), and they ate less fat and more vegetables.  The difference of the energy used per person is just amazing.

This all sounds very positive, but there were also difficulties they had to face.  It was difficult to build new houses.  People in the city lived in small crowded apartments.  People had less to eat and people couldn’t work on the job they trained or studied for because they had to become farmers.  In fact as a farmer you had one of the best jobs at that time.

Hospitals had power blackouts: Because Cuba used less quality oil to run power plants there was more pollution.

Summary:

  • Cooperate and work with each other: “It‘s not the technology, it‘s the human relationship.“
  • “Change how we think“ (being thoughtful with our resources)
  • “More friendship, more love“

Conclusion

We hope that this document has shed some light on how complex the world can be and that through all the despair cited by the world and too often the church, on the future, hope in God springs eternal.  For the most part the sections tried to add information that would not be found in the sources we reference.  We did this because the sources are distilled to the point where it’s easier to say, ‘go watch/read it yourself’ than copy it out for you here.  And in the case of video material, the visuals are more engaging and save a lot of valuable time over verbal description.

Reference Materials

  1. Dr. Jack Van Impe, ‘New World Order Rising
  2. Chris Martenson, ‘Crash Course
  3. Wikipedia: New World Order (Conspiracy Theory)
  4. Wikipedia: New World Order (Politics)
  5. J. Scott Duvall & J. Daniel Hayes, Grasping God’s Word, 317.
  6. J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of The King.
  7. Wikipedia: Northeast blackout of 2003
  8. The Power of Community, (including the chart)
  9. Wikipedia: Cuban Embargo

Appendix A: Our Government, Our Nation, Our Future

As already noted, our world is a growing and changing place and as such, many of the methods, or procedures, that have been involved in governing our finances and resources will simply not suffice moving forward in this industrial-consumer-technological age.  The uncharted territory we are facing, in regards to the climbing national debt and dwindling resources (in North America) paints a rather troublesome picture of our current state.  No skill is required for one to become discouraged or paralyzed by grand-scale information which suggests that our greatest challenges are ahead, because there will eventually be a breaking point in the structures that are currently in place.  However, we are not limited to viewing global shifts or problems with the natural eye alone, in fact, we are charged to do otherwise by “[setting our] minds on things above” and thus pulling the realities of the Kingdom of Heaven into the present.  That begs the question, how are we going to do that?  This is precisely what we are after, kingdom solutions that support Revelation 11:15b.

“…The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever.” (NIV, 2011)

Getting Personal: What is our response?

It begins with ownership.  One definition of ownership is “to have power or mastery over” (Merriam Webster’s Dictionary).  We extend power over what we empower.  We all know that our thoughts become our words; our words become our actions; our actions create our reality which eventually translates into our destiny (from the teaching of Kris Vallotton).  Therefore we must take ownership of the ‘large’ and abstract concepts.  We do this first in our minds by aggressively shifting our thinking, followed by our speech and prayers to encompass the solutions that have the potential to bring about change.  Generally people care about what they own and take it personally if someone or something challenges this ownership.  Those who are interested in taking the first step in having an ownership-based relationship with the world around them are simply choosing to become informed.  As a democratic society people should be bringing it home by intentionally educating themselves on what is taking place with the resources, finances, trade, and more in their geographic location and how that fits into their nation and the world at large.

Summary:

  1. Ownership leads to responsibility which leads to action and/or involvement.
  2. We extend power over what we empower.

Getting Practical: “Our Government, Our Nation, Our Future”

Disclaimer: The project “Our Government, Our Nation, Our Future” is merely a collection of similar ideas that we hope will someday enter the church, educational system and eventually also the public sector.

Developing a WordPress would be a great first step that could eventually unfold into a website that would contain historical, current, and national information for the common layperson to be able to articulate.  Eventually articles will be written by various researchers, writers, and experts on topics that pertain to the “one world order,” and globalization in the form of a magazine or newsletter.  This document can be available to subscribers of church/school groups and will possibly even be present in medical clinic waiting rooms for people to read.  The purpose of all of these communication avenues is to spread information that will encourage people to take ownership of their response for the world they live in.  Within the WordPress/website/magazine there should always be included a “Things you can pray for column” as well as some practical tips to make changes at an individual level.

Ideas to be further developed

Churches:

Churches can launch a one day event of education and intercession.  The goal of the educational sessions would be to simply cover relevant information in the world we live in, and to arouse an interest for people to get in touch with the world they live in; through methods such as, but not limited to:

  • Speakers
  • Breakout sessions
  • DVD recordings or powerpoint presentation

As a result a degree of ownership should be developing in people’s hearts (it will be different for each person).  The educational aspect of the day should only be take up fifty percent of the day and the other fifty percent should be dedicated to prayer and intercession.  This is an opportunity to gather corporately to pray and intercede for governmental, national and global levels of society (you name the topic).  Not only that but this is also a chance for people to get to partner with God in taking ground, in the spirit, which has direct influence in the natural realm.  People may join or form prayer circles based on the desire in their heart because this is a time of stirring and releasing hope into these areas.  This can start out as an annual event and grow based on availability of material and interest.

Education: High School, College campuses—(Elementary/Middle)

High school students are my first target audience simply because of their ability to think independently and freely.  They generally see the world with fewer limits than an experienced adult.  I would like for a curriculum to be developed/promoted in leadership classes and offered at all levels of education.  If it begins in the form of common interest groups that is great; it is bound to attract some level of interest, which will expand over time.  The idea is to give students the opportunity to make discoveries about the world they live in as they interact with it today, versus how their parents and grandparents experienced their world, and how their children and grandchildren are bound to experience their world.

Leadership groups in schools have the keeners who are more likely to have an interest in what is going on in their government and society.  As young people they will also want to have a measure of influence.  Therefore they should have access to material to help them engage their mind, come up with projects/dreams, and even have the opportunity to take ownership through prayer or intercession if interested.

Prayer at the Flagpole:

Every School has a flagpole.  Imagine the impact it would have on this nation if a group of students from every school in America committed to praying for one hour, once per week at their flag pole for their schools, business, agriculture, transportation of goods, immigration, and for religious freedom to prevail.  This could happen before/after school hours or at lunch time.  Now imagine that this idea grows and takes root so that there is prayer happening at every school in America, then every school day for the country of the student’s residence.  Do you think that the ownership that young people would be taking through such an involvement could change the spiritual state, the economic state, of a geographic space and affect global change?

Scripture to Ponder looking forward

Hosea 4 (Review entire chapter but look specifically at vv. 2-4)

Our nation needs to return to recognizing the Lord as God.  Prosperity naturally flows out of a reconciled connection to the Ruler of the World.  The King of Kings.  God gave us the earth to take care of it, so this is our earth.  God knows beforehand what is going to happen (He has foresight-we have access to the things of God) but it is up to us to want to take care of the land and what he has given us.

Gen 17:1 “I am El Shaddai, God Almighty” (The All sufficient one)

Hold onto this promise and declare this name of God when charts/predictions display images of incredible debt and point to lack due to the clamp up of particular resources.

You made it to the end! Congrats, and thanks for reading. Be sure to comment!

International Transformation Track 2012/2013

Instructor: Anne Kalvestrand

Written by: David Lenton, Shannon-Leigh Barry, Lukas Schmid, Shara Frazier

Can there be miracles, if you believe?

Technically, yes and no. There can be miracles whether you believe or not. I have no idea when I’ll stop using lyrics for post titles, we’ll see I guess.

This post is all about God and his activity in the supernatural on Earth, past and present. The motivation for this post stems from a friend’s question on the purpose of tongues in the church and another’s on Quakers, well, quaking in worship. Most of the material I’ll be using will come from one of three places:

  1. First hand experience, things I’ve witnessed or personally felt/done.
  2. Second hand experience, things people I would vouch for have witnessed or personally felt/done.
  3. The Bible.

All of the links for bible verses have the actual verse in the alt-text, so you can just hover over them to see the verse, should help with flow. Onward now!

God

Infinitely deep, rich, and complex; yet the most relatable person you’ll ever meet. A loaded sentence there. I’m coming from the perspective that God is a person, who can and wants to have a personal relationship with you. God is simultaneously one entity and three, the trinity: God the Father (God), God the Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. These three/one are co-equal and co-eternal.

There’s some of the official theology, the point I want to focus on for now is in these two quotes:

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

“He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”
― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

So, God is good, wild, and also not ‘safe’ (or what you perceive as safe.) As Bill Johnson, senior pastor at Bethel Church and one of BSSM’s lecturers, said today, “if God wanted us to be comfortable one of his names wouldn’t be the Comforter.” The ways God expresses His self to us are innumerable, certainly beyond the documentary capacity of one book (John 21:25).

God is not to be placed in a box, and God will do as He pleases, so don’t go making rules or formulas about how He works.

The reason I’m saying all of this is because when I originally went to lay out the different kinds of ways God demonstrates his power I started limiting him to my understanding, which is a bad idea. With that in mind, I’m going to make some basic groupings later, but know that there’s more to it than what I’m writing.

Gifts of the Spirit

The gifts of the spirit are listed in a few places, mostly by Paul. My favourite one is 1 Cor 12:8-10:

  • Word of wisdom
  • Word of knowledge
  • Faith
  • Gifts of healing
  • Miracles
  • Prophecy
  • Distinguishing between spirits
  • Tongues
  • Interpretation of tongues

I don’t really want to get into things like cessationism, so I’ll drop some verses here and move along: Matt 9:35, Matt 10:7-8, 1 Cor 4:201 Thess 1:5a, and 1 Cor 14:1. I want to emphasize these last two:

“…because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” ― 1 Thess 1:5a [emphasis mine]

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.” ― 1 Cor 14:1 [emphasis mine]

The Holy Spirit brings power to the word of God, often through us in the form of gifts, and we are to eagerly desire these gifts.

Edifying The Church

Many people say that tongues is a lesser gift of the spirit. Paul seems to agree, especially that tongues is unintelligible jibber-jabber to the ears of all, and that only the spirit understands. In general prophecy is seen as superior as it is understandable and edifies (1 Cor 14:5). Some have used this as a reason to suggest we shouldn’t speak in tongues, and nothing could be sillier. Just because something is less important doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it all, just that more important things should have priority.

Analogies:

  • Listening is more important than talking; don’t stop talking though.
  • Melody is more important than harmony; barbershop quartets are still awesome.
  • Driving a bus is more valuable to the riders than driving your own car.

Besides being silly, we have Paul himself back us up (1 Cor 14:18, 39).

My Experience

In my experience, tongues rarely involves interpretation but is a corporate act done in worship or when the speaker asks. The effect is often exciting, freeing, and fun for everyone. In a way it is edifying to the church internally, but externally it’s more like 1 Cor 14:23.

As far as quaking, shaking, rolling on the floor, well there’s the day of Pentecost which, among other things, involved behaviour described to mimic drunkenness (Acts 2). I’ve seen and heard a lot in my time as a christian. Screaming, whoops and hoots, convulsing, crying, laughing, heat, electricity, numbness, tingling. These are cases of what we call manifesting, where God’s presence is manifested physically in people. One of my most intense experiences involved electricity in my jaw, nape, and arms. I say electricity because the sensation was more intense than the electromyopathy I’d had in physical therapy.

God heals! I’ve healed people, I’ve seen people healed of impossible things (my brother saw someone healed of terminal lupus). And the healing is always available, it is always God’s will to heal, it’s one of his names! Jehovah Rapha, The God who Heals. But this is for another post maybe.

And God doesn’t just manifest in people, Bethel Church has been witness multiple times to glory clouds, collections of glittery dust that manifest from nothing, don’t really settle, and fade into nothing again. Sometimes they’re spread thin across a room, sometimes they’re thick swirls that ebb and flow in direct response to the worship team or the speaker. I’ve seen one myself and can say it wasn’t just dust catching light. My parents saw this one last year.

Conclusion

I hope that clears up some of the original questions, and opens up a wealth of new ones! Have a good one all.