Common Notes 4.18.17

What do you call someone who’s first impulse when life gets hard isn’t to look for God’s help, but always to take care of problems themselves? Stubborn? Defiant? Prideful? Perhaps. But how about human? After all, Hezekiah was like that and he is remembered as one of the greatest kings in the Bible.

“Hezekiah relied on the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. He remained faithful to the Lord and did not turn from following him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses.”      2 Kings 18:5-6

That a pretty good obituary! But what makes it truly noteworthy is that it is recorded of a man whose instincts weren’t always to choose God first. If you take the time to read about his life in 2 Kings 18-20 you’ll find that virtually every picture we have of his life is questionable at best. Faced with an overwhelming army at the gates of Jerusalem, he tries to buy his way out first (by stripping everything of value from the temple no less!). Promised an extra fifteen years of life because of his faithfulness, he demands a miracle to prove it. And when he sees a chance to lean on Babylon to help him deal with Assyrian tyranny, he shows them the treasury.

Are these really the actions of a spiritual giant? According to scripture, yes. What’s encouraging about the life of Hezekiah isn’t his overwhelming spirituality, but his constant devotion in spite of himself. He doesn’t always make the right first choice, but in every instance he ultimately chooses God and at the end of his life he is remembered for it. That’s inspiring, isn’t it? Alexander Pope famously wrote, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Maybe he read about Hezekiah. With all the mistakes and errant first choices we make in life, it is hopeful and helpful to know that God still cares and is willing to redeem us anyway if we’ll just remember to turn back to him.

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Vandalism at the BSU

At some point during Spring Break a graffiti artist tagged the storage shed behind the BSU. “Ethos” covered two walls facing away from the building and our trash dumpster. When it was discovered, The Joplin Police department were informed and an officer came out to take pictures and file a report. Last weekend, “Ethos” returned and tagged the south wall of the shed and the phone meter. He was, apparently, in a hurry the second time out because he obviously put much less effort into it. The second incident was also turned in to JPD and added as an attachment to the original report.

West wall

North wall

Dumpster

South wall, round 2

Phone meter, round 2

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Spring Break 2017: St. Louis, MO Pt.5

Our last day in St. Louis. We had so many positive conversations from Monday through Wednesday that we decided to add a special event to the Thursday afternoon calendar, a meeting with some of the students who showed an interest in starting a new ministry at Washington University. We made the decision on Wednesday night, before spending our 4th day on campus, so hopes were high, but even if we weren’t able to pull it off, the fact that we had enough response to try was a victory in and of itself.

Students from NMSU, MSSU and WU gathered to talk and pray together about starting a new ministry on the WU campus.

Clearly, there is a hunger, a desire for something more that burns in the hearts of many of Wash U’s students.

In our final briefing, we took time to summarize our impressions of the week and personalize the experience by asking questions of ourselves.

MBC Collegiate Strategist Travis Hamm leads students through the final debrief.

What did we learn? What will we take home? How will we use this later? The responses were great to hear as students talked about the ways they were challenged, stretched and grown by their time on campus. Overcoming interpersonal conflicts, personal fears and physical limitations, they did everything they were asked without grumbling and complaining (at least, not complaining too much) and along the way laid the groundwork for a possible new campus ministry.

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Spring Break 2017: St. Louis, MO Pt. 4

Our second day on campus. More information gathered for the Missouri Baptist Convention to use as they work on establishing a campus ministry at Washington University. More gospel conversations. More contacts with interested students. It was a success. There are always challenges on trips like this, physical exhaustion, logistical problems, personality conflicts… but so far we’ve been blessed with a minimal amount of drama. Pray that continues!

Besides spending more time on campus, the only other activity on this day was the college worship service at FBC Arnold. Brad Russell taught from Matthew 24-25, leading the group to stay focused, be faithful and serve continually.

Spider-Man showed up at the church, but why is the webbed wall-crawler using a ladder?!

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Spring Break 2017: St. Louis, MO Pt. 3

Our first day on campus went well. Students were sent out in small groups on the Washington University campus to engage in conversations about the culture and context there. After some initial hesitation, everyone really got into it. Several groups were even able to share the gospel in the course of their conversations. Once we finished, everyone came back to the church for a debriefing and to compile whatever information they were able to collect. And there was cheesecake for dessert.

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Spring Break 2017: St. Louis, MO Pt. 2

Our second day in St. Louis started with us attending the college group for FBC Arnold followed by the worship service, wherein the Senior Pastor, Kenny Qualls, preached a fantastic message out of Joshua 2. Afterwards, we ate lunch at the church before heading off on our sightseeing day. Part of the group went to visit the Gateway Arch and the rest visited the zoo, which is free in St. Louis. When dinner time rolled around, we reconvened at Fritz’s where the root beer floats contain about a quart of ice cream apiece. Crazy! It was strange thinking about the hardships suffered by Paul on his missionary journeys while we gorged on BBQ after a day of enjoying the city. The day ended with a commissioning service and prayer back at FBC Arnold.

Tomorrow and the rest of the week will be spent reaching out to students at Washington University.

As it was, in fact, Grant Strickland’s Birthday, we stopped at the zoo to sing to him. Being the intensely private individual that he is, he took it well.

Travis Hamm leads the group in prayer at the end of our commissioning service.

“Through Jesus, for His glory, God will take us where we have never been before.”   –Kenny Qualls

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Spring Break 2017: St. Louis, MO Pt.1

MBC Collegiate Ministry Strategist Travis Hamm walks students through a team building exercise on day 1.

This year when considering Spring Break options, the only one that was even considered was the invitation from the Missouri Baptist Convention to spend our week helping launch a new ministry in St. Louis. As details for the trip unfolded we eventually discovered that we would be working on the campus of Washington University with a team of BSU students from Northwest Missouri State University. In preparation for the trip we spent time praying for the endeavor and investigating WU online. FBC Arnold graciously volunteered to serve as our hosts during our time in St. Louis.

Travis Hamm, a Collegiate Ministry Strategist for the MBC, spent the first day of our trip walking the combined MSSU/NMSU team through a series of exercises to help prepare us for the mission. Students were led through a strategy session for sharing on the campus, a lecture on the context of Washington University (which is quite different than both our campuses), a brainstorming session to identify how we can best accomplish our task here, a team building exercise and more.

And in the evening, worship broke out…

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