Have you ever noticed sometimes, many times, we make plans and they just don't seem to work out the way we had hoped. It doesn't mean we shouldn't plan, but I've been reminded about the difference of "doing mission for Jesus" vs "Joining Jesus on His mission." It's easy to be distracted and think we are doing what we are supposed to be doing; even within organized missions and churches.
There are good days and bad days of course, but lately I've been looking with new eyes. Some of this inspiration has been because of getting past the struggles of last year. Other inspirations are several books that I have been reading over the summer, refocusing me to be in close relationship with the Lord like men of faith from history: John Woolman, John Bunyan, David Brainerd, John Newton, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, William Cowper....
These are men that struggled with depression, set backs, discouragements and who earnestly sought after the Lord, although their plans did not turn out the way they expected.
David Brainerd for instance, sought to attend seminary at Yale. He started out there, but after a speaker (I believe Jonathan Edwards) spoke at their campus to encourage the students to follow the Lord's word even at the cost of offending others, David was eventually kicked out. One day in ear shot of some staff on campus, he said something to the effect of "so and so has no more grace than this chair." That statement got him kicked out of seminary. He tried, along with other advocates to get him back in to Yale, but to no avail. After much discouragement and depression, David received an invitation from a friend to apply to be a missionary to Native Americans. So for the rest of his life until he died at the age of 29, he served in this capacity and led several hundred Native Americans to faith in Jesus. He suffered his last few years with tuberculosis, but kept a good attitude and faithfulness to the call God had given him. Jonathan Edwards cared for him in his own house, with his daughter serving him until his death. The sacrifice that Edwards did not expect was that his daughter died shortly after.
I've made plans last year and everything was decimated. Nothing came out as I had hoped. But I have to trust God has his purposes, even in the midst of challenges which come from my sin, others sin and spiritual warfare. Yet we know, "..that God causes all things to work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
So I am earnestly praying for and expecting the Lord to move this year in ministry at WCC and beyond. I am watching even more keenly to the work He is doing and joining Him. I am showing students how to watch and listen for Jesus' work around them. The yoke is easy and the burden is lighter when we watch for Jesus and learn from him. I'll share more about missional communities in another post. But for now watch and pray!
As many of you probably already are aware, this year has been a difficult year for my family. After having baby Matea in October 2013, we discovered Laina had breast cancer early in the New Year. This was a shock to us and an unexpected burden on top of our weariness in caring for our colicky baby and caring for our then 2 year old. Besides these things, I had some ministry challenges with some students that took much prayer, tough conversations and endurance. Not to mention that my father was found to have cancer in his bladder back in November. Burdens stacking on more burdens. How much is a person able to carry? I had mentioned back several months ago, how this cancer journey is like traveling down into a valley. We do not take this journey alone. There are others who have traveled before us. Others who travel with us, for short periods of time and others who walked the entire journey with us. We honestly would not have endured, had it not been first for the Lord leading us and for the many sacrifices of family and friends who provided food, prayer and encouragements along the way. Thank you!
As I reflect on the past several months there are a flood of thoughts that rush through my little brain. All of the "what ifs", the concern for my wife, my children, my own needs, lack of sleep, finances, future plans, broken dreams and the grieving process. What is it I am supposed to learn from this experience? This is a sinful, broken world with disease, illness and so many things we can not understand, but God is fully in control. I love my wife, my children, my ministry and even my own life - these are all such great blessings indeed. However, I was learning to "detach" myself from putting these things/people above my love for God. For me to fully love others and even myself, I must learn to "attach" myself fully to God. But in-fact, it is God who loves me so deeply (and you of course) that He is willing to pursue me, even to the depths of his own suffering on my behalf. He is acquainted with suffering and is willing to suffer to bring us back into a relationship with Him through his son Jesus.
There were times in the last several months, where I just didn't know how to connect with God. The usual bible studies and prayers felt empty, hollow even. I couldn't express my feelings on these matters of the illness my wife had. I knew in my head and heart that God was in control and that I needed to trust Him. Yet I found myself getting angry and having very little patience for others. My students were enduring their own hardships with some having their fathers have brain cancer, heart attacks and one students father was even murdered during this time. I felt helpless and had nothing to offer them; no support, only shallow prayers. Even those a church would come up to me and offer condolences or share their burdens with me. I felt anger building up in me and thinking to myself - "Don't you understand! I have nothing to offer you! I cannot bear your burdens!" I was alarmed at my thoughts and feelings, as I have always been a patient and kind person, desiring to pray for and help anyone who had need. But I felt as if I was empty.
So what did I do? I went to find places of solitude. I talked honestly to God about these feelings and fears. I cried out to Him! Then I discovered something that let the anger, the pain, and the internal suffering be released. Where bible studies and prayer seemed not to offer the consolation I needed, I found that hymns started to open up and heal my heart.
"It is well with my soul" by Horatio G. Spaforrd (1873)
"When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul."
Horatio's story is that he lost his family as the boat that they were on sank in the Atlantic Ocean. He traveled across the Atlantic on another boat that followed and wrote this song as he passed the location where his family perished. Deep sorrow and suffering, were met with the knowledge of the living God comforting him through this song.
Other hymns like "Be Still my Soul", A Mighty Fortress is Our God, Blessed Assurance, I love to Tell the Story and now one of my favorites - O the deep, deep love of Jesus.
As I studied these hymns and the stories that inspired them, God led me through this darkness, through this storm. I read Psalms as well. These songs were deep because people had suffered and the Lord met them in their suffering, as He did mine. We all grieve differently, but this is my story. I'm sure I will write more about all that the Lord taught me through this journey. I will probably be even more vulnerable and share some of my journal entries and poems. If it helps you or someone else grow in your relationship to Jesus - then it will be worth it. Thank you for listening.
We have such a creative God. I look at the created things of this world and even at myself and I am amazed! Awestruck wonder. How does God do this? I mean create something out of nothing.
We are created in God's image. Amazing! And part of that is re-creating and designing beautiful images, scultures, paintings, stories, architecture, landscaping, drama, music... to glorify God. At Urbana12 I attended the Art Lounge. I feel so at home when I am able to be around other artists who use their gifts and talents in proclaiming the wonderful God and creator that we serve and especially those who can creatively proclaim the message of Christ.
Bette is an arts staff with InterVarsity. I sat in on one of her design discussions as she presented a painting series and opended it up for critique. It is a vulnerable thing for an artist to open up their creation for others comments. But Bette handled it with grace. It was amazingly devotional to consider the stories she told through her art. It made the viewer consider himself/herself in light of eternity and presented God's story in a way not always understood by someone just reading the words in the scriptures. Can you see God's story in full view? Eternity past and eternity future? A small moment in that plan enters Christ, he finished the work he came to do and now we wait for a future without sin, without pain, without death. We wait. Art opened up a new perspective on eternity. But art takes time to consider. We need to slow down wait, listen, feel and respond. I wish I could post Bette's painting here, but I don't have her permission. If you are gifted with any type of creative talent - I encourage you to use it devotionally. Meet with God. Worship Jesus. Allow others to do the same even if they do not have those gifts.
Jesus be glorified through art!
The fall 2012 semester flew by and I am now just taking some time to reflect. I love attending conferences and Compelling is InterVarsity's statewide student conference which is held each November. Student leaders, luke-warm follwers of Jesus and unbelievers attend - all of whom encounter Jesus and come away challenged, changed and looking to take a next step of faith in following him. As staff members we too encounter Jesus, although we also have a lot of work to do and can become tired. This is where I am and have been off and on the last couple months. I love to see students lives transformed, but in the process my life and my families lives often come short of the fulfillment and peace that Jesus desires for us too.
I am learning the importance of "Sabbath." Resting in the Lord in the midst of high demands, great needs and an ever increasing task list of good things to do for the kingdom of God. It is where we are caught by the desire to meet needs, real needs of those around us and who need practical help and spiritual healing. But all of this comes from God, not from our own ability, talent, compassion or even spiritual power. Relationships need time. Our relationship with others can only succeed as our relationship with God continues and is nurtured and made a priority on a daily basis. I hope this is what my students learn from me. However, I cannot just tell them, I have to show them by the way I live. So pray with me to rest in the Lord, so that this generation of students will learn to do the same.
I'm struck by the lessons I learn from my 20 month old, Kysa. Even though she is so young, I see her immitating Laina and me. One day I was eating dinner and then I noticed Kysa watching me intently and copying each motion I made. I lifted my cup, she did the same. I brought my fork to my mouth, she did too. I laughed and she did too. What I do says so much more than what I could say to her. Her vocabulary is small, yet she learns so much from my actions. Lord help us, so that she will learn to walk in the way of the Almighty God. I watch the Lord and follow after Him. Kysa watches me and Laina and follows after us. It is our hope and prayer that she will follow after the Lord too.
Follow Christ always.
Just this week we began yet another year of ministry on campus at Washtenaw Community College. There are a lot of new things on campus. There is a newly renovated Student Center. There are new faces, along with some old ones. There is a new hope of what this semester may bring. I’m even taking a new class, Cultural Anthropology.
www.intervarsitywcc.orgis our new website! Check it out and encourage anyone that you know who attends WCC to get involved!
Also check out my website www.toddjerdon.weebly.com for my blog and to ask how you can support our ministry in various ways.
As we begin a new semester, I am asking you to pray for us. There is no greater power than seeking the Almighty God in prayer! Will you ask, seek and knock earnestly with me on behalf of these student and faculty at WCC?
At a community college there are a lot of re-starting things, readjusting plans and expectations and especially continued trust in the Lord even in the midst of discouragements or challenges. This semester seems to be no different. We had about 9 active student either transfer from last spring or take time off to work before they come back next semester. We have a remnant of some young students, who are committed, but who are uncertain of their ability to grow into leadership.
Pray that the Lord will
gather more student leaders who sincerely love Jesus to join us this
Pray for our outreaches – especially Welcome Day on 9/11/12.
Pray for unbelievers and seekers – Steve, Mazy, Tom, Dalia, Hannan, Kenneth, Martin, Luiz,
Pray for our student
core – Amy, Melissa, Jacob, Suzel, Cameron…
Pray for Christian
Faculty. We have about 4 faculty who have committed to pray for each other, the students and me. May the Lord add to the number.
Pray that I would have wisdom and the Spirit’s leading as we seek to share Christ this semester.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to unify believers on campus, through InterVarsity’s ministry.
There are many who are making excuses (too busy) and others just doing their own thing.
has been on my heart for over a year now. It speaks of the great banquet of a certain man and how he sent his servants out to tell those who had been invited that the feast was now prepared. Many people had excuses and refused the invitation. Then the master has the servant invite “the poor, the crippled and the blind and the lame.” The servant did so but there was still room! Then the servant was told to “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.”
O that the students and faculty and all of us, had ears to hear and eyes that see and minds that understand! Jesus shared some true but harsh words. But who will listen? The cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is giving away your life! Some will scoff at that thought, but the rewards are great to follow Jesus. Matthew 25 also has parables of the Kingdom that speak directly to us and the entrustment of the gospel.
When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?
I pray he will and that the students at WCC will respond to Jesus even this year!
Prayerfully enduring in Christ!
I can hardly believe how quickly the summer is passing by! So please allow me a few minutes of your time to fill you in on some of the happenings both with ministry and personally.
Fiscal Year - Ending & Beginning...
Thank you for the prayers and generous gifts for the ending of the fiscal year in June. The Lord provided through you and covered my expenses so that I can start the new fiscal year out with no deficit! The last two years of serving with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship I have pretty much broken even. Each and every gift made that possible! So thank you!
For this next year, I am starting out behind again. I receive about $1800 in monthly gifts and I need around $4000 per month. The last two years special gifts at Christmas and end of fiscal year gifts have supplied my needs. I praise God for this, but I also would love to have a consistent support team that would ensure my budget is balanced. If you would be interested in supporting my ministry visit http://toddjerdon.weebly.com/support--donations.html and fill out an interest form. I would love to meet with you and explain more about what it is God is doing through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Washtenaw Community College. I have been making phone calls to set up appointments. So hopefully I can talk with you soon!
Preparations for the Fall:
Have you ever considered "what makes up your identity?" This is a question that I see in students but I have been seeking myself as well. How often we build our identity on what the crowd says about us or how we interpret what others say about us. What makes us who we are? Is it our job? A talent or skill? To better define this for students this year we will ask this question along with "what is God's identity?"
Everyone has beliefs about themselves and beliefs about God that just are not true. So through scripture we are going to ask these questions and I pray that as students and faculty seek God's identity they will find their identity in Christ!
As I have been planning for the fall I get excited about all of the ideas that run through my head, the possibilities, the opportunities, the students and faculty who will grow and who will believe in Jesus because of our witness! But I also understand that my imaginations and dreams are not always God's plan. At community colleges students are uncertain of many things: their finances, their career, their relationships, their living situations, their faith... For two years, I've seen students come and go and often I have no certainty that any students will indeed be back the following semester. This case holds true even for this fall. A student who I had anticipated being one of our main leaders has postponed her return until winter so that she can work and earn money for school. Many community college students do not want to hold any debt and so they pay as they go. Other students surprise me and though I had thought they had transfered end up showing up once school begins. At times it is discouraging for me to continue to build community with this context of fluidity. However, I still see God at work!
Over the past two years I have been getting to know several faculty members at WCC. Particularly the Christian faculty members have expressed a fear or lonesomeness as an instructor. So last semester we gathered a couple faculty together to pray for each other and offer encouragement. InterVarsity desires to RENEW the campus and faculty are a major part of that renewal. Faculty need community just as much as students. And it may surprise you but faculty have doubts and fears about their faith too. It is an integral part of my ministry to support, encourage and develop faculty at WCC as well. This is often quite challenging as they are very intellegent and ask deep penetrating questions. This does not even begin to penetrate building community with unbelieving faculty, of which I have been pursuing as well. Faculty are integral to renewing the campus! Please pray to this end!
Other doors of opportunity have been creeping open due to the seeds that have been sown over the last two years. International students, WTMC (high school charter) students, nursing students, trades and art students are also natural networks within WCC's campus community where we are building relationships and establishing small group communities.
Where will God show up on campus this fall? I watch and pray! Will you join me?
1. God will send a core of students and faculty into authentic Christian community with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at WCC who are passionate about sharing the Good News about Jesus!
2. God will grant me wisdom as I seek to set vision and develop students and faculty.
3. Isaiah 58 & Luke 19:1-(10) & Luke 14 as prayer focus for students, faculty and me.
4. That the Lord would reveal his "identity" to us more and more every day!
5. That unbelievers would "listen, see and understand" the good news about Jesus!
6. Personally: for Laina, Kysa and me as Laina will begin working only part-time by September 4th.
7. Pray for Laina as she is doing a Spring Triathalon over Labor Day weekend!
8. Pray for Kysa that she would grow into a "girl after God's own heart."
9. I praise God for all of you and your committment to read this far and to pray! :)
Personal stories of the summer:
101 ways to travel...
Prior to our vacation Laina, Kysa and me ran the Plymouth Father's Day 5k. Laina and I ran, but Kysa was in a stoller. However, Kysa did toddle the 50ft toddler dash. She had a little assistance from dad, but had a blast - as you can see! :)
Then within a week later, Kysa was beginning to walk on her own. I guess she figured I was slowing her down and she will be much better prepared for next years race. We did kind of spring it on her this time. But I'm sure she will find ways to do some training.
For our vacation we flew out to Vancouver B.C. (That is in Canada). The purpose was to visit a seminary and then check out the city sights. We traveled by plane, taxi, bus and walking while in Vancouver. It is a very beautiful city and has ocean views, mountain views, forests, beaches, cityscapes, suburbs and many multi-million and billion dollar homes! One of our favorite adventures was walking through a park and noticing a domestic rabbit. Then another... then another x about 1000! Yes, Vancouver has a location where people drop off pet bunnies that they do not want to keep. So, well... you do the math. There were lots of pet bunnies and Laina and Kysa loved it!
The main objective for our trip was to visit family in Seattle. So next we hopped the train and headed to Seattle. Once in Seattle we took another sky tram to city center where Chilhully's glass exhibit is and where Frank Gary's (Architect) music hall of fame is located. We met with Laina's sister and her husband and had a wonderful visit with them. Then later that afternoon we caught up with Laina's parents and grandmother and took a ferry to visit her cousins.
After the visit with the cousins we headed out to stay on Orcas Island off the coast of Washington state. My favorite was a walk down a trail to a water fall and looking through tidal pools. Laina found an 18+ legged sunfish! There were several starfish as well. Laina and I also went sea-kyaking and saw a seal. When we got back to land, I found that I had not brought my sea legs. So I needed some time to rest. The rest of the family enjoyed what they said was a "wonderful dinner."
The last leg of our trip was to be on a train for nearly three days! But alas, the train was delayed and they transported us by bus to Spokane, WA because of a freight train derailment. We had a sleeper car and so we slept well on the train. Kysa was also learning how to walk during this entire trip. That was entertaining and challenging as she can now escape quite rapidly! As we continued the train was delayed yet again. This time a piece of the track was warped and the inspector caught it just in time before we traversed over it. It was definitely God's hand of protection that we were not derailed!
Eventually we arrived in Chicago and then again were delayed. Train rides are comfortable but not timely. But we did make it to Ann Arbor and were greeted by our wonderful friend Melissa Kloostra who served us by taking us home.
It was such a blessing to see the northern part of the United States and see what wonderful things the Lord has created! But I am thinking next years vacation will be a bit more stationary. :)
What does it really look like to trust God with everything?
The scripture states, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30).
As God calls us into a deeper relationship with Him, it seems He allows us to be tested. "Do you really love me? Then give up _________." It's a test of faith. I've faced these multiple times when God called me to something new. I experienced this when I quit architecture to go into ministry. I experienced it when I was laid off and had to wait several months before God gave me my next step. And I am experiencing it now as Laina and I have made the decision to move her to part-time so that she can be home with Kysa. We really believe it is God's best to have Laina home with her more. Kysa is growing up so quickly! However, there is a sacrifice, a test of faith. Will God provide? History and experience proves that God does keep his promises. Then why do I (we) doubt? Why do we get anxious and fearful about the unknown? God knows and God hears our prayers.
So should we give "everything" to God?
"Henry Varley, a very intimate friend of Mr. Moody in the earlier days of his
work, loved to tell how he once said to him: "It remains to be seen what
God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly unto Him." When Mr.
Henry Varley said that Mr. Moody said to himself: "Well I will be that
This is my prayer too. That I, and those who believe in Christ will follow him wholly; devoted to His will each and every day.
Everything is God's anyway. We cannot even take our bodies out of this life with us: from dust to dust. How much more our homes, finances, family, ministry, jobs... There is more to live for! We need to seek eternal treasures! People are those that are most valueable to God. If they are important to God, then they are important to me! The gospel of Jesus Christ is a treasure that claims and transforms people. How precious! Here I am Lord, send me! Right now, it's Washtenaw Community College. O Lord hear our prayers! Amen.
Here you will find updates, thoughts, discussion and prayers for my life and ministry...