This weekend I was in the Shangri-La that is Iowa. “What are you doing in Iowa?” you ask. I was speaking at the Salt Company retreat. “Pardon? Was this a corporate gig? I know they grow a lot of stuff there, I didn’t know they grew salt.” Seriously!
Salt Co is a college ministry at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. It spawned a great Church out there in the middle of the cornfields called Cornerstone Church. A great church led by some great people. My connection is that a friend that was a student in my youth ministry when I was in Omaha, Mark Arant, went to school at ISU, went on staff & eventually became the head scho of Salt Co & a pastor on staff at the church. This is my 3rd time speaking. They bring in about 650-700 students every week to their Thursday night meeting. Almost 400 of them were on this retreat. I flew in to speak at the Thursday thing & then at the retreat.
They have incredible worship & God is wonderfully moving in this ministry. You can check out their latest worship CD called Anthem here.
A bonus for me was that the college group at my old church in Omaha, Christ Community decided to come up for the retreat.
God was clearly moving in the lives of the students. It seemed like it was a running take off starting on Thursday. I did a talk called “Dangerous God” that a several kids told me was their favorite one.
Fri & Saturday we did 3 messages on Elijah since I’ve been pretty immersed in his story & that part of Scripture.
Saturday night, customarily, is the night when you hope things culminate & God really lands. It was an amazing night. The band seemed to have the Spirit of God all over them. I could feel the message landing & at several points I knew that God had a word for some specific people in the crowd. As I finished we worshipped some more & then we just seemed to get leadings & specific words of things God wanted to do, gifts he wanted to give. There were some wonderfully deep prayers prayed, some great expression of the body of Jesus at it’s best, some Holy Spirit breakthroughs. It was a “WOW” moment. No doubt!
Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
I went to bed Saturday night feeling pretty spent. Thanks for releasing words, for giving me the faith to call people up, for leading me to & away from things, for bringing the weekend to a great climax for kids having that WOW, GOD IS HERE experience. Lord, people need to see You be real, obviously real sometimes. Thanks for the people I was able to pray with & for giving me guidance on how to pray with them.
After every session the staff met while the students were in their small groups. I love being able to talk about how the stuff we were teaching & preaching on can work its’ way into our ministries, and more importantly into our lives.
Here are a few of other highlights:
• It’s always cool to see Mark’s family. His kids are fun & obviously happy.
• I was supposed to snow & rain this weekend. It was actually pretty nice (by Iowa standards). Chilly & clear about 45-50 on Saturday.
• It’s fun to see the big sky & landscapes & the tree leafs starting to turn colors.
• The world changing potential of college student is breathtaking. They can & do go anywhere God leads them. They don’t have quite as much baggage to unpack as those that find Christ later in life.
* The filthiest thing I’ve seen in a long time was the air in the barn at the barn dance – hundreds of college students shaking it up at 1:00 a.m. stir up a lot of manure laden dust – looked fun… for them.
• It’s never automatic. We must pray. I’ve done lots of retreats. But I always find myself crying out to God. I know without doubt, that what need to happen in these situations is totally beyond my ability to do. GOD needs to show up & work. I love it when it happens. It’s always an act of faith as you wait.
• Seeing a guy that you’ve known since Jr High lead a ministry like this is pretty darn gratifying. I remember Mark as a student; I remember when God really got a hold of him in Jr High & high school. It’s kind of like surfing. Hear me out. One of the fun things about surfing with your buddies is that it is almost as much fun seeing them catch a good wave as getting one yourself… almost. In this case, it’s actually BETTER seeing God use someone that you’ve known & had a small part in their walk with Christ than having God use me. Hope that makes sense.
I’m flying home as I write this. The early returns say that it was a great weekend at Journey. I was praying hard that it would be. I heard that Todd did a great job with the message. I’m pretty amped up to be back & for us to launch our new series on worship: FROM CONSUMER TO CONSUMED.