Unqualified

I’m Unqualified

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

One of our desires at BASIC is to be relevant and connect you with content that is going to best help you as you serve your campus and ministry context! In an effort to bring in fresh perspective and new ideas, we have asked a few student leaders and advisors to share their voice! We’ll get to hear from one of them each month. This week, we have the honor of hearing from Michael Polzella.

Michael has been involved in leadership at both the Suffolk County Community College and St. Joseph’s College BASIC Chapters. After transferring to St. Joseph’s in Spring 2012, Michael planted the BASIC chapter in Fall 2013 and currently remains active as the group’s Church Advisor.

Have you ever felt like there was something that you wanted to do or something that you felt like you HAD to do, or even, something that you felt that God wanted you to do but didn’t feel like you have the proper qualifications to fulfill the role? If you answered “yes” to any of the previous questions, then I want to remind you that you are not alone. If you answered “no”, I know you’re lying—or not human.

As leaders, it’s normal to sometimes feel inadequate in our own abilities. So, what do we do when we don’t feel adequate enough? Pray. Pray for God to show up in the situation… and He will.

Let me just take a minute to share a personal story of how God intervened in my weakness. After being involved with BASIC College Ministries at Suffolk County Community College and completing my Associate Degree, I transferred to St. Joseph’s College. At the time, I felt like God was impressing on my heart to start a BASIC chapter at St. Joseph’s.

I found out that the school currently had another campus ministry already there. When speaking with the club’s executives, I was told that the school wouldn’t allow a BASIC chapter there since its mission and vision is almost identical to the other ministry. That’s where the story ends, right? Well, not exactly.

I eventually got voted onto the leadership team at that ministry as the Secretary.  When that term was up, I felt that God wanted me to run for President and make a few changes. Over time and prayer, the group ended up going in a different direction and became a BASIC chapter like I had hoped from the start!

At this time, I knew God was calling me into leadership, but I didn’t feel qualified to do it. Yes, I am a pastor’s kid; yes, I’ve sat through 100,000 sermons; yes, I’ve heard a million prayers — but I still didn’t feel qualified to do what I felt God was telling me to do.

While talking this over with one of my friends, Will, the vice president-elect for that school term, told me something that changed my perspective on the whole situation. He said, “God doesn’t call the qualified… He qualifies the called.”

Steven Furtick of Elevation Church said something similar in his book (Un)Qualified (awesome book if you get the chance to read it):

“If you look at the great men and women of Scripture, you find one common denominator: they were all unqualified. God has a habit of picking people who have been passed over.”

Wow, that’s powerful stuff. So, what did that mean for me? It meant that I didn’t have to feel confident in my own abilities because I was confident in God’s ability. I am just the vessel that is used by God.

So, to wrap up this story, I ended up becoming president of BASIC’s newest chapter in the fall of 2014. Unbeknownst to me at the time, God was not only orchestrating my love for BASIC back in 2010 while I was a student and the ability to lead through the transition, but He also paved the way for me to become the Church Advisor for the St. Joseph’s BASIC group in the spring of 2016.

Through all of this, God has shown me that we must rely on His power and not on our own. When the time comes, God will give you the qualifications needed to complete whatever task He’s impressing on your heart to complete.

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

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Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Do it Afraid

Do it Afraid

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go on “adventures” with my friends. Adventures can be anything from deciding to get ice cream, to going kayaking, to finding a sunflower field. One day, I had the pleasure of adventuring in Ithaca and found myself at a swimming area that was surrounded by cliffs to jump off of.

I saw person after person jump into the water from all different heights and I wanted in on the action. I went to the biggest cliff first and peaked over the edge. My throat closed up and I felt my stomach drop. I was afraid, my mind started racing with all the ways this was a dumb idea and how badly I could get hurt if I did it wrong. There was a certain level of risk involved. Not only could I actually physically get hurt, but my pride would be bruised if I stepped up and didn’t end up jumping. No one wants to be that guy.

I went back and forth a million times, waiting for my turn, then getting out of line when I got close. Finally, I took a deep breath and decided I was going to do it afraid. The thoughts hadn’t stopped, the sinking feeling in my stomach hadn’t gone away, but something inside me knew that taking on this cliff was what I had to do.

In life, we are often confronted with these kind of moments. Maybe you aren’t jumping off a literal cliff, but it can certainly feel like it. We have all encountered decisions or opportunities that scare us. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I risk everything for this and I fail? What if I take a chance on this person and they end up hurting me?

There was a man who was very comfortable in the life he had built for himself. He had a wife, children and a peaceful job working for his father in law. But one day, God showed up in a burning bush, and spoke something that would change his life forever. “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Our man Moses was not about that plan, and for good reason. He had a nice, safe life. He had a past he would rather forget in Egypt. He did not see himself as qualified for the job. He was not eloquent and certainly not confident. He says in Exodus 3:11, “Who am I that you would send me?” That’s how he felt. Maybe that is how you feel too.

I think there is a tension that exists inside of all of us to live a life worth telling stories about and to feel established and safe and secure. Life with God often means being called outside your comfort zone. It means daring to dream that you were made for so much more than simply existing. Moses was given an opportunity to go on a God sized adventure, and he was very much afraid.

God’s response to Moses and to you is simple, “I will be with you.” It is ok if you are fearful. It’s ok if you don’t feel adequate, or prepared or qualified. It’s ok if the uncertainty of the future causes you to be afraid. Just don’t stay there.

Today I am here to tell you that God himself goes with you. He is already on the other side of your big decision, your crazy leap of faith, your stepping out into the unknown. He knows where you are going and leads you with wisdom and kindness. Don’t let fear paralyze you from making moves. Let the knowledge that God holds you bring your heart into perfect peace. He will make the way, He will give you what you need, and He will give you the courage.

Spoiler alert: Moses did leave everything to go to Egypt. His yes to God impacted an entire people. He was very much afraid, but he did it anyway. I jumped off a cliff. What are you going to do? Are you willing to hand your fear to God so that He can take you on the adventure of a lifetime? Sometimes you just got to do it, do it afraid.

 

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

Twitter

Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Super Simple Bible Study

Super Simple Bible Study

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development, Resources 0 Comments

I never grew up going to Sunday school, but almost everyone knows the song, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” At the risk of sounding ridiculous, the lyrics are actually pretty profound. Somewhere along the line, we have made cool one-liners and little sound bytes a substitute for you know, ACTUALLY reading our Bibles. If we did, we would find that the good book does indeed tell an incredible story of redemption and love. The word leads us in wisdom and has the power to transform our hearts and minds.

Romans 15:4 says, “Everything written in the Scriptures was written to teach us, in order that we might have hope through the patience and encouragement which the Scriptures give us.”

So if you are anything like me, knowing that we should read the Bible isn’t the problem, it’s how to do it well. Where do you start? How do you understand what it means? How do you make sure you are interpreting it correctly?

I have done some research and asked some questions. I wanted to find the MOST simple and easy way for leaders and students to read the Bible and lead Bible studies with confidence. The following five questions can be utilized on any passage of Scripture and can easily be used for one on one situations or in a large group setting.  They are not my own, but versions of them have been floating around the internet for some time (If you know please let me know so I can kiss them with thankfulness!)

  1. What does this passage teach us about God?
  2. What does this passage teach us about man?
  3. Is there a command to obey, an example to follow, or a promise to claim?
  4. How does the truth of this passage differ from what we see in culture today?
  5. How can I specifically apply this passage to my life?

That’s it! Can you believe it?! I love these questions because they are super simple. They are easy to model and easy to reproduce. This is a good place to start if you want to grow your Bible reading muscles or if you would like to start your own Bible study! These questions help us figure out what the word is actually trying to communicate and leads us to a place of personal application.

Do you have a go to Bible study? What are your favorite questions to ask while you are reading the scripture? Comment and share your experience!

 

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

Twitter

Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

New Year, New Vision

Anna Marie Magyar Advisors & Student Leaders, Event Ideas, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning, Resources 0 Comments

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:19

Hello, friend! I hope this blog finds you well and with a great big cup of coffee! I would be dishonest if I did not share with you that as I write this it is currently 8:00 at night, and I am enjoying the most delicious vanilla sweet cream cold brew!

As a sixth grade teacher and a volunteer serving in college ministry, the summer presents itself as an invaluable time. I am intentional to rest and recuperate, but also in preparation for the new school year. I begin to pray and ask the Lord what new and exciting things He will do. I celebrate as I recall His marvelous works the year prior, and recount the ways He provided, opened doors I thought were sealed shut, and gave us opportunities I could not have asked nor dreamt of.

I also bring to the Lord the areas I may need wisdom in, situations I felt were challenging, and things I feel we need to do differently or completely get rid of. Without failure, the Lord meets me in this time of dreaming and visioning for the new year. I am filled with a new hope, new excitement and joy, and a new vision for how we can show the unconditional and unimaginable love of our God to our campus.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” -James 1:5

As the topic for this blog began brewing in my mind, I was reminded of James 1:5. For so many of us, we expect the same from the Lord that we have received or encountered with people. Circumstances with influential people in our lives begin to influence the lens through which we see our Heavenly Father. It becomes easy, even natural, to question if we deserve what we seek from the Lord, or if Jesus is truly faithful to give as generously and freely as He has promised.

It is for this reason I am so thankful for the Word, and the wisdom James received and shared. The Lord is faithful to give to you generously and without finding fault; not because He gains anything, but because He made you, He loves you, and He is pleased with you. If you question this, I challenge you to put it into practice. Seek the Lord, be open to Him doing a new thing, and watch as He amazes you with His faithfulness.

I am so excited for the new things the Lord will do this year. I am seeking Him as I embark on the new challenge at my job in doing math centers to improve learning opportunities for my students. Excitement fills me as the leaders and advisers of Saint Rose BASIC begin a whole new structure to our weekly meeting schedule (read on below if you are interested to see what this format will be). And I am filled with joy and wonder in the new thing the Lord has for you!

My friend, I want to encourage you that there is new vision for your future, your family and your life. The Lord promises to do a new thing, and I believe that is possible for you regardless of your season of life. I pray you seek His face diligently knowing that although change may seem difficult at times, you have a God who is so passionate about you that He would never leave you nor forsake you in the midst of these changes (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5).

Saint Rose Basic Meeting Schedule: Fall 2017

Starting in the fall, we will run our meetings in a four week rotation, as follows:

Week 1: Meeting will include a worship set of three songs and a message from an in-house speaker, like our advisor. A student leader will be asked to take notes on the message to share a summary of at the next week’s meeting.

Week 2: We will have worship, most likely a shorter set to account for time, and then the student leader who took notes the week prior will come up to briefly share a summary of week one’s message. This is done so that anyone who missed the week prior will not be left out of the small group discussions we will be transitioning to after the summary. Small groups will be led by student leaders who will have focus questions that will build off the week prior. We will end our meeting with a social activity of some kind.

Week 3: During this week, we will have a typical worship set of three songs, and a guest speaker. The plan is to get guest speakers from our sponsor church to help our students get even more connected.

Week 4: On the final week, we plan to have a fun get-together. We chose to incorporate this into our meeting schedule for several reasons. Firstly, many of our members already plan to attend the BASIC meetings Thursday nights. Trying to plan an event on another evening often loses several people who can’t come because of classes or other commitments. Additionally, our leaders work so hard and pour so much of themselves into the bi-weekly leaders meetings, weekly BASIC meetings, getting together with students, and their own personal to-do lists and responsibilities. Oftentimes planning additional events on top of this can be too much for our leaders. We’re making this change to avoid burnout in our leaders, and to prevent what is supposed to be a good thing becoming a burden upon them.

Words cannot express how excited I am with the changes we are making! I hope to update you on the progress of this shift in the future. 

About the Author

Anna Marie Magyar

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Wife. Cat mom. Lover of Jesus, coffee, and all things Disney. I was a student leader in my BASIC group at the College of St. Rose and have continued to help out with the group after graduating.

Comparing and Competing

Sarah Ball Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 1 Comment

Something that I’ve noticed lately is how fascinated we are with talking about our personality types. Everyone asks each other whether they are an introvert or an extrovert, a thinker or a feeler. And if you don’t know, then you’re supposed to go online and take a free test to figure out how your mind works.

The last time I took the test was a few months ago and I turned out to be an ENTJ. So that makes me extroverted, intuitive, a thinker, and a judger, or what 16 Personalities likes to call it, “The Executive.” After you get your results there are pages upon pages of explanation of your personality type, how common it is or isn’t, and how it relates to other personalities.

I find that we tend to compare our personalities with each other. We like to see the differences between us, and then determine if one personality trait is “better” than the other. Comparison is something that has exploded throughout our generation as millennials. We compare personalities, we compare our Instagram profiles, and we compare ourselves to impossible standards portrayed through media exposure.

I find myself comparing all of the time. I compared myself to other women I would see on social media, and to other people’s lives and how great they were compared to mine. It came to a point where I had to delete my social media pages because I became consumed in measuring up to the standards set before me on my iPhone.

And then I had a thought, how is it possible to compare two people who are uniquely made?

If we look at the definition of the word compare we see it defined as, “to represent as similar.” We are not able to live in this unhealthy mindset of comparison because we were not made to be compared with each other. We are each uniquely designed and created by God for a purpose that is set apart from all else, we are not similar.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mothers womb.” We were uniquely created by God, not carbon copies printed out designed to be compared to each other. We are God’s special possession, something to be cherished.

I love Lisa Bevere and her book, Without Rival. It really takes this idea of comparison and being made unique to a new level of understanding.

She says,

“God uniquely created your DNA and knit your frame in secret so he could surprise the world. He authored how your heart expresses itself; he was the architect of your smile and the melody of your voice; he made all of your features with the fondest thoughts of only you in mind. He celebrated along with your parents your first smile and watched with affection your first steps.”

I love her wording and her explanation throughout this section in her book. We are unique and complex creations. We look different, sound different, are gifted differently, we like and dislike different things. We were created this way to celebrate the differences and uniqueness, not compare them and decide who is better than who.

Often, especially on social media, when you’re comparing yourself with others, you’re comparing their highlights to your behind-the-scenes. Not only are we unable to compare because of the fact that we are unique, but we are unable to compare because of the fact that what we see on social media is not real. It’s edited, fabricated, and embellished from the truth. 

When we change our mindset and outlook on comparison we are no longer insecure, we have less doubt, and we are able to live life freely and more enjoyably. We are able to stop competing with each other and begin to encourage and lift up others. 

Stop Comparing. Stop Competing. Be Unique.

 

About the Author

Sarah Ball

Sarah Ball graduated from Elim Bible Institute and College with a degree in Theological and Biblical Studies with a focus in ministry. It was at Elim where Sarah knew she had a passion for ministry and college students through the exposure of BASIC. In June of 2017 Sarah joined on staff with BASIC along with her husband, Elijah.

When Other People Get What You Want

When Other People Get What You Want

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 1 Comment

Let’s face it, we have all felt it; that hot jealousy that rises up in us when someone else gets what we really wanted. We don’t want to feel that way, we don’t want to be upset over it, but sure enough, the feeling hits you like a brick wall.

It comes in many shapes and many ways. Maybe you are feeling inadequate because you have applied to what feels like a million jobs with no luck and your friend got their dream job right out of college. Maybe you feel stuck or left behind because you have received your 6th wedding invitation this year and you can’t even snag a date!

Maybe you scroll through your feed and are overwhelmed with feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction because you didn’t just climb a mountain in Peru like your friend Paco. Maybe you are feeling frustrated that someone (who in your humble opinion is a big ol jerk) is stepping into their dreams and you feel like you are still waiting on something, anything to start going good.

You are not alone. We live in a world that is fast paced and on display for all to see. With the prominence of social media today, young adults more often then not walk away from a scroll sesh feeling envious and inadequate. So what gives? What do we do when other people seem to be living the life that we want?

God has something to say about this. God thought it was SO important that He made sure to include it in the ten commandments. Deuteronomy 5:21 says, “ And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

So in today’s language, don’t be desirous of your friend’s bae, their stuff, or their life. The word covet means to yearn, crave, or want really really badly. Craving someone else’s stuff, circumstances, financial situation, opportunity or relationship status doesn’t change anything for them and really only hurts you. Teddy Roosevelt once accurately said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” 

The author of Hebrews writes in 13:5, “ Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself (Jesus) has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’” A jealous heart is usually a discontent one. A discontent heart says, “What God has given isn’t enough.” This attitude is harmful to your spirit and can lead to bitterness, frustration, anger and reeks of ungratefulness.

As believers we have a promise. Jesus comes alongside of you and says, “I’m not going anywhere kid and I’m never going to abandon you.” God knows us and loves us. He knows exactly what we need and want and will always provide for us according to His perfect will. He actually promises to give us the desires of our heart when we make a habit of delighting ourselves in Him (Psalm 37:4) The discipline we must learn is being content in the knowledge of His goodness.

If you are struggling today, I challenge you to take a break and challenge your own perspective. Where is your gaze? What are you focusing on? What is one beautiful thing in your life right now? When was the last time you took time to delight in God?

It is only in the light of understanding who you are and how loved you are by the God of the Universe, that you will be able to trust. God is for you. He is writing YOUR story and you can be sure it’s a good one. Don’t let the enemy steal one more second of your joy. Focus your heart on Him and His promises to you and watch every fear and jealous thought disappear.

 

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

Twitter

Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Coffee & Rest

Anna Marie Magyar Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

—C. S. Lewis

The chills of the rain and wind ruin what I believe the beauty of this May afternoon should be. Rather than warming up with a hot cup of something delicious, I choose to stay cool and go for my favorite lavender and ginger latte (Sounds crazy, but you MUST try it!). I wait patiently to be joined in this quaint coffee shop by an old friend, where there will be full conversations, endless laughs, and words of encouragement that bring hope to my soul.

My name is Anna Marie. I love coffee, Jesus, my wonderful husband, teaching my sixth graders, and my house tiger, Rajah (not necessarily in that order). You and I may never meet, but I hope the connections that will be made through the words typed across this page, and the pages to come, will bring you encouragement, hope, vision, useful and applicable tools, and of course, the desperate need to try a lavender and ginger iced latte (as seen on the left).

Rest. Something I have been longing for. I don’t just mean a good night sleep. I mean the rest that comes from being in the quiet place–the presence of the Lover of My Soul. I long to return and to stay in this place of deep rest. My calendar, rather, longs to remind me of school deadlines, lessons to be written, activities to be created, coffee dates to be had, that hiding laundry by the washer doesn’t mean that it is done….and so on.

My life is full of GOOD things.

Encountering Jesus at 17 has forever changed the course of my life as I joyfully grabbed His hand and accepted the journey of a lifetime. I have an amazing church, friendships that encourage me to grow, mentors who are always there, students who make me see all of the good I can do (and all that needs to go), fulfilling ministries, a husband who is truly the Aladdin to my Jasmine, and a cat who completes our magical family.

In the midst of all of these good things, it is easy to become distracted by what the Lord has blessed me with and miss the times where I need to enter into His presence.

Is there anything keeping you from entering into that quiet place? A busy schedule? Pursuit of goals? Family obligations? Shame? Fear? Anger? Whatever it is, I pray we overcome these obstacles that would keep us from fully entering in and knowing the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). That we would be changed as our mind renews through His word (Romans 12:2) and the hope we have would not only anchor our souls, but those around us who are lost and desperate for truth & this love we have been given.

This rest–His presence, is what will change our hearts and minds. It’s what will bring healing and renewal to the depths of our souls. As we commune with our Heavenly Father, our lives will be changed. Our classrooms, dorm rooms, and college campuses will be changed. Families and relationships will be healed. Generational ties will be broken. Destinies will be realized. We will know who we truly are and who we were made to be in our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

My prayer over you:

Lord, thank you for this son/daughter whom You have called to know Your deep love for them & to be a part of Your amazing plan to make what is on earth as it is in heaven. I pray You would increase their hunger to know Your character, Your heart, and Your thoughts. Continue to pursue them in this life and bring them to amazing places and opportunities that reflect Your goodness and heart for them. Help them to enter into the life giving rest of Your presence.

 

Practical ways to find rest in the Lord:

  1. Plan time to rest
    • Wake up early to spend time with the Lord by praying, worshiping, reading your word or a devotional.
  2. Journaling
    • Life can be distracting. Grab your journal, a good pen (coffee!), and begin writing your prayers, appreciations, experiences and emotions to the Lord.
  3. Being still  (Psalm 46:10)
    • Be diligent to sit in a time of silence before the Lord. I like to put on worship music, sit in a comfy chair, and close my eyes. Being still before Him allows me to actively enter into His presence–a place of peace.

 

About the Author

Anna Marie Magyar

Facebook

Wife. Cat mom. Lover of Jesus, coffee, and all things Disney. I was a student leader in my BASIC group at the College of St. Rose and have continued to help out with the group after graduating.

To be in the Presence

To Be In The Presence

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

One of our desires at BASIC is to be relevant and connect you with content that is going to best help you as you serve your campus and ministry context! In an effort to bring in fresh perspective and new ideas, we have asked a few student leaders and advisors to share their voice! We’ll get to hear from one of them each month. This week, we have the honor of hearing from Emily Baker.

Hey there, I’m Emily Baker! I’m a former student of SUNY Cortland, where I served for three semesters as the Worship Leader for our BASIC Chapter. I got to experience all of the joys of being a part of college ministry including seeing our group grow and watching the Lord radically change some of my best friends lives! I am now the Worship Director at a church in Cortland called Believers’ Chapel Cortland, and am getting to witness God do amazing things in the city.

God’s presence is everything. The closer I grow towards Him, the more I realize that understanding what it means to be in His presence is so incredibly important. As a worship leader I have found some people have never been taught what it means to be in the presence of God. They have never been taught why it is an amazing privilege to be able to enter the presence of our Creator.

When I look at the Bible, I find that one of my favorite moments in history happened right after Jesus died as he was hanging on the cross. Matthew 27:50-54 displays this moment:

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

The part I’d like to focus on is verse 51 when the veil inside the temple was torn in two. In the days before Jesus there was a temple built to house the presence of God. Within the temple there was a massive veil that separated the Holy of Holiesthe room where the presence of God residedand the rest of the temple. This veil symbolized the separation of man from God’s presence because of how he had turned from the ways of God to pursue ways of his own. Only high priests were allowed into the Holy of Holies once a year on behalf of all of Israel to atone for their sins.

So, what is so significant about this veil being torn at the very moment of Jesus’ death? The veil being torn proclaims the radical reality that Jesus’ sacrifice, his body being bloodied and torn, was a sufficient sacrifice for the wrong we have done. With the veil torn, every single one of us now has unlimited, twenty-four-seven, VIP access to the presence, the love, the forgiveness, the mercy, the peace, the freedom, the joy, and the grace that is found only in Him.

With this amazing truth in mind, I believe that God is calling us higher. If we’re being honest, life can be a little crazy. In one moment, you may be having the best season of your life. Maybe you encountered God at BASICCON, your grades are amazing, and your friendships are incredible. Then all of the sudden life throws you a curve ball; you don’t pass that one final that you spent hours studying for, someone cuts you off and you said some words under your breath that you shouldn’t have, your car breaks down when there’s no money in your bank account. Maybe you even find yourself skipping out on Bible reading because busyness has consumed your mind.

Within a moment our circumstances can completely change our countenance. We forget about the encounter we had with Him at BASICON because we lose sight of Him. We live in a world that wants nothing to do with Jesus and are constantly bombarded with it’s opinions and behaviors. If we’re not careful, we can easily find ourselves in the same patterns and mindset that we were in before.

But see, Jesus paid the highest price a man could pay, and I don’t think He paid it for us to remain the same. I don’t think He died so we could keep walking in anger, and frustration, lust, and anxiety, pride, and depression. You know what I think He paid for?

I think He paid for us to step behind the veil. I think He paid for us to hold unswervingly to the hope He’s given us, being untouched by whatever the world tries to throw our way. I think He paid for us to walk in the world shining bright His character, being cleansed from the character of the world. I think He paid for us to draw near to Him sincerely and get truly intimate, so that we can find freedom from all of the junk that tries to creep into our lives.

He is waiting; He is there; He is available to us through Jesus. It’s time to go deep with Him; to boldly enter into His presence, yielding to His skillful hands, allowing Him to change us and mold us to look more like Him. Will you discover what it is to be in the presence?

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:19-23

 

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

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Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Making the Most of Your Summer

Making The Most Of Your Summer

Sam DiStefano Advisors & Student Leaders, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning 0 Comments

School is out, summer is in and life is good. The first few weeks of summer break always seem the sweetest. Papers, finals, and grades are all just distant memories and before us we have seemingly endless days of relaxing, reading, exploring, and enjoying our summers. As a college student, thinking about being back on campus is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Today I want to give you some practical ways you can make the most of your summer.

Connect

College campuses are amazing places to be immersed in community. When you conveniently live just minutes from all your friends, it is easy to feel connected. Many students love their BASIC groups because of the community it creates. When summer begins, many people go back to their hometowns and friends are no longer a text away. Be intentional about making connections.

Often, we wait for others to reach out to us, but I encourage you this summer to be the person who takes initiative. Connect with both the people in your current context and your friends from school. If you aren’t already connected to a church back home, make the effort to find one and get involved. Send a text, write a letter, make a call and let the people in your life know that you are thinking of them and praying for them. This ensures you are being built up at home and deepening connections for your return in the Fall.

Reach out to Newbies

College ministry is a revolving door. As we say goodbye to one class of Seniors, a whole new batch of Freshman make their way onto the scene. More so than other ministries, we must be on our game when it comes to reaching out and welcoming incoming students. During the summer, many colleges give tours for accepted students that often include group fairs. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with Freshman before they arrive!

If you haven’t already, check your school’s summer calendar and see if your BASIC group can get some local students to represent the club on those days. Make sure to have some way to collect their contact info and reach out to them the first week of classes! This simple strategy will make a big difference when school starts.

Do your homework

Many BASIC chapters have already made plans for their upcoming Fall semester (PROPS). This is an amazing way to be prepared and ready to hit the ground running when the semester begins. If you haven’t, do not fret! I challenge all groups to do their summer homework.

What is working on college campuses? What ways can you improve your evangelism approach? How can you reach a bigger percentage of students on your campus? During the summer you have time you wouldn’t necessarily have once school begins. Use it wisely to learn new methods, read up on best practices, and catch up on powerful teachings and podcasts. Knowledge is power and it is always a good idea to keep learning, even during the summer.

Set goals

There is a quote that says, “If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?” It is easy for us to get busy once school starts and revert back to doing things the way we have always done them. Setting big picture goals and making strides to achieve them are what launch ministries, groups, and people into the next level.

Has your leadership team set goals for this upcoming year? What are you dreaming about for your life? Your BASIC chapter? I encourage you to sit down this summer and dream about what you would like to accomplish this upcoming year and how you plan to do it. When we are intentional about setting goals, we are already one step closer to actually seeing them happen. 

Rest

With all the papers, tests, and projects during the year, it can feel like rest is an old forgotten friend. With the pressure to juggle your school work, family stuff, personal relationships, and Jesus time, there seems to be little to no room for actual rest. I encourage you to intentionally take time to rest this summer.

Rest doesn’t always mean taking naps (though praise Jesus for a good nap! Can I get an Amen?). Be intentional about doing things that bring rest to your soul. Is it kayaking? Going on hikes with friends? Sipping coffee and reading at a local coffee shop? Soak up this opportunity to rest and recharge.

Spend time with Jesus

Summer may be a break from school, but it shouldn’t be a break from spending time with Jesus. Just like any relationship, it will take work. Summer schedules can fill up and get really busy, really fast. Do yourself a favor and make spending time with Jesus a priority. Whether it’s spending some time in the morning reading and doing devotionals before work or going on a walk after dinner to chat with Him, you will never regret the moments you intentionally pursue Him.

If you only do one thing this summer I pray that this is it. Jesus will speak truth to your heart, calm fear, and release dreams and vision over you. Deeper intimacy with God is the best way to prepare for anything the future might hold for you! Let Jesus encourage your heart this summer and take you to new places in Him!

I pray that these six things excite you and motivate you to make the most of your summer! Enjoy the season!

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

Twitter

Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.