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Lynsie Petersen


November 25, 2015

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

November 25, 2015 | By | No Comments

My all-time favorite Thanksgiving themed “movie” is “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, and it has been for as long as I can remember. The message is just important to me now as it was when I was a little girl: No matter the circumstances, you should always remember to give thanks for what you do have.

Barely 2 minutes into the short film, Charlie Brown’s little sister Sally says the following: “Why should I give thanks on Thanksgiving? What do I have to be thankful for? All it does is make more work for us at school.” and then complains about an essay her teacher asked her to write.

How often do we complain about the little things in life? Or do we question what we have to be thankful for? As Americans, we tend to take things for granted? Like the fact that we live in America and have the freedoms we do.

My mom is in the Air Force and has been deployed twice. My dad was a Marine as well. I’m definitely not the biggest fan of the US government because of this, but I’m still thankful I live in this country and that my parents are willing to give up their lives if needed to protect our country.

I’m just as guilty of the next person for taking the obvious things for granted. The air I breathe, the fact that I have a home and loving parents and (sometimes annoying) siblings, and that I go to college, or that I’m allowed to be writing this blog post. These things seem to be the things I’m supposed to have, but so many people don’t. And that’s why we should be grateful.

I'm thankful for my family, my pets, and the privilege to celebrate Christmas openly.

I’m thankful for my family, my pets, and the privilege to celebrate Christmas openly.

Towards the end of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”, around the 17 minute mark, Peppermint Patty begins complaining that Snoopy and Charlie Brown are serving toast, popcorn, gummy worms, and pretzel sticks for Thanksgiving dinner, more specifically, the Thanksgiving dinner that Peppermint Patty invited herself and two friends to, last minute nonetheless. “Where’s the turkey, Chuck? Don’t you know anything about Thanksgiving dinner? Where’s the mashed potatoes? Where’s the cranberry sauce? Where’s the pumpkin pie?” Next, Marcy reminds Patty that she invited herself over, thus she should be thankful there’s any food at all.

That’s another thing I take for granted, having food every day, multiple times a day. I do complain about Campus Center, but at least we have Campus Center. It may not be Chick-fil-a or Chipotle, but at least a source of daily nourishment is offered. When I go home for the weekends (which I’m blessed with the ability to do), there’s always food in the cupboard and fridge, and a good chunk of America doesn’t have that luxury.

The “movie” rounds out with Charlie Brown’s grandmother doing what any grandma does: invites the unfed friends of Charlie and Sally to Thanksgiving at her condominium. Snoopy and Woodstock share their Thanksgiving meal and all is well.

I'm also thankful for my decor-crazed mother and brother. Our yard looks awesome!

I’m also thankful for my decor-crazed mother and brother. Our yard looks awesome!

So take a minute and be thankful for what you have because it could all be ripped away from you in a flash of an eye. And if the opportunity arises, be like Charlie Brown’s grandmother and invite someone over for your Thanksgiving feast. They may need it more than you think.

What are you thankful for? Comment below and let’s all share in the blessings! :)

Mackenzie Theiler


November 23, 2015

Living ON Campus vs. Living OFF Campus

November 23, 2015 | By | No Comments

Living ON Campus:

It has its perks, but it also, has its downsides. Being a freshman, it can be super exciting coming in, fresh out of high school, excited to be on your own and have a roommate. You get to meet new people and make new friendships. You get to experience, what it means, to be a true college kid. On this campus, for both, men and women, there are three styles of dorm living. The first style, is the freshman and sophomore dorms. In them, there are one to two roommates per room. They share a community shower with the rest of the hall. The second and third style are both, considered, upper class-men dorms, but are two different styles. In them, there are six roommates, with three bedrooms (two roommates to a room). The differences between the two upper class-men dorms are, one is an apartment style dorm (upstairs/downstairs, two bathrooms, and a kitchen); and the other dorm just has three rooms and a bathroom. Being a transfer student, I am used to living in an apartment. I was lucky enough, to live in an apartment style dorm. Living in the dorms is not always pleasant. A lot of the times it is hard for students to adjust to a dorm life. Especially, if they are not used to living with new/random people. With that being said, not everyone gets along all the time. People are human, meaning they are not perfect. Living with five or even one to two roommates, peoples personality can create conflict. This could cause roommates to have arguments and disagreements. Also, with going to a school that has a small campus, a lot of people try to know your business, when you live on campus. The school is very on campus living, oriented. They like the idea of a community. Living on campus is not all that bad, the school tries to do a good job with having different dorm activities to make it fun and feel at home.

Living OFF Campus:

You have to be 22 or older to live off campus. You can also, live off campus, if you are living at home, with your parents. Every college has their own set of rules, and not all of them have the same rules. They very, when students can and cannot live off campus. This school has a lot of diversity, from international students to students all over the USA. The majority of the population on campus, are student athletes. The reason for student athletes staying on campus, instead of off campus, is because a lot of these athletes are here on scholarship. This means, depending on the size of the scholarship, there living expenses are paid for. If they live off of campus, the school does not provide them with off campus housing coverage. Most students wish they could live off campus, but they are a college student and/or student athlete; and most cannot afford to live off campus. If you decide to live off campus, a lot of them say, they like living off better, than living on. They feel as though, they have more privacy in their life and people tend to be less in there business. Living off campus does not exclude them getting to enjoy the fun activities that the school hosts, throughout the year.

I would say your first year here wether a freshman or a transfer, feel out both, living on campus vs. living off campus. Everyone is different and has their own acquired taste, of what they like. I know, next year, I will be living off campus, once I turn 22. Being from California, where everything is so expensive, things out here are much cheaper. Figure out what floats your boat and offers you the best experience; because everyone has a different experience, wether it is living off or on campus.

Renee DeVault


November 9, 2015

Let’s Be Freaks and Weirdos Again

November 9, 2015 | By | No Comments

A lot of things can happen during a show week. When you’re forced to spend almost thirty hours in one week with the same group of people, crazy things are bound to happen.

Brigadoon was last week and, like most of the “fun” things I try to do on campus, God managed to wrangle his way into it.



I’m not going to talk about the show its self–although it was totally awesome, everybody in the cast did a fantastic job, the crew rocked as did the pit, and the male lead was absolutely wonderful (I think he’s super cute too. For anyone who doesn’t know, Quinn, my boyfriend, was the lead).

The really cool stuff was what happened with my friend group back stage, after the show, exhausted, and just hanging out.

I don’t know if you have ever gotten a verse stuck in your head, but the whole week I had the same one.

John 13:35 states, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This verse is right after Jesus has washed his disciple’s feet, had the Passover meal, and called out Judas for his future betrayal. Not to make an understatement, but these disciples were going through or about to go through some pretty serious stress: a lot of it in their relationships with one another.

When Jesus was crucified, I wonder how many of them thought their whole group would separate forever. I mean, in all logical reality, the twelve of them never should have been together to begin with. They were an odd group to say the least.

However, when I think about the church of Acts it talks about them eating meals together, meeting at each others’ houses every night, praying for one another, and confessing their sins to one another. Later on it is obvious how much Paul loves everybody in the church and how much they loved Paul.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” right after Jesus told them to love one another as he loves them.

This whole idea had been bouncing around in my brain while I did this show. I was spending more time with these people then ever before. With my closest friends, I was even choosing to stay up late: sitting with them and listening to problems they were having.

Why don’t people talk anymore? Really, really, talk?

What evidence is there that we really love one another? Posting “I love you!” on somebody’s Facebook or just saying it in passing just doesn’t seem real, not when compared to the kind of biblical brotherly and sisterly love we see as part of the early church.

I know my friends and I aren’t perfect. I am a self diagnosed freak and no offence to my friends but they are far from being relationally perfect as well.


My friends laugh whole heartedly at this photo, for example

Ally Tinker (My Phantom gift giver during the show) made me a dinosaur hoodie. They made fun of me about it too like true friends.

Ally Tinker (My Phantom gift giver during the show) made me a dinosaur hoodie. They made fun of me about it too like true friends.

I think the key difference is being willing to tell people what needs to be said.

This could be me confessing something about myself that had been eating me up inside, or it could be telling a friend something that I know they need to hear. Both situations make things awkward.

It’s ok sometimes to be awkward.

Jesus washing his disciple’s feet was awkward.

Jesus sharing about his giving of his blood and his body was probably awkward.

Jesus telling Judas he knew he was going to betray him would have definitely been awkward.

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Love is weird.

I had to think about it. Why would I want to stay up to all hours of the night/morning talking about personal issues? Why would giving a stressed out friend a back rub, helping them with their makeup, or stopping in the middle of the street to legitimately ask them if they are alright be a normal thing?

It all hit me hard when, at Midnight Thirty (12:30 AM for those who don’t speak Renee), a friend texted me and asked me to bring them soup from Walmart. My gut instinct was to show the text to someone else who I knew loved this person, and before I knew it, I had a car-full of people who had previously been gung-ho ready to call it a night after a long and exhausting week of the show. We love each other.

I want my friends to be able to tell me absolutely anything they need to, and I don’t want to have a drop of judgment for, or resentment towards, them because I know there is a common grace. I want to be a relational freak, that one weird person who will say things that I culturally shouldn’t say to people and drop everything and go to their aid like a total weirdo if need be.

That’s my goal for relationships at MNU. I don’t want to attend a Christian University, have mostly Christian friends, and be able to leave without knowing what it’s like to love people to the point of it reflecting God himself.

Two things I’m praying for this week as rehearsals no longer force me to see certain people every single day…

  1. That I can somehow channel God’s love towards me into the way I relate to my friends. Jesus was radical in how he formed relationships and I need help so why not learn from him.
  2. That students at MNU would refuse to settle for casual. We were designed in the image of a being intimately dependent on three separate persons that all make up one God. It’s beautiful and complicated and engrained in our very being. Faith cannot be purely individual. We need to rediscover our need for each other.
Renee DeVault


October 26, 2015

Don’t Go as God for Halloween

October 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

Fall break was this week. I vowed to do two things

  1. To kickstart a revival of my bible reading habit
  2. To get all of my homework done so I could bask in a glorious no-homework, stress-free beginning of my week

Let’s just say God may be happier regarding my fall break reading habits than my professors. I didn’t get much homework done. I read my bible and hung out with my friends doing caffeine induced non-study study parties, mall trips, movie nights, and listening to music.

In communications studies there is a concept called “reframing” in which the words chosen to describe something effect how one perceives it or acts towards it. So instead of saying “I slacked off and hung out with friends and read my bible instead of my textbook”…I’ll say “I spent Fall Break forming meaningful relationships with both humans and the almighty” which causes me to think better of myself than I probably should :)


I don’t know if you have ever had this happen to you, but sometimes when I read the Bible God smacks me in the face with something and no matter where I go it follows me. I believe God has to do this to me because I am stubborn and often refuse to listen to what I need to hear the most.

The phrase of the weekend for me seemed to be “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” This is the beginning of Proverbs 1:7 in the NIV. Other translations substitute knowledge for wisdom but something about the word knowledge stuck with me better. Being a college student I am pretty much a knowledge leech, just frantically soaking up anything I can get from my professors, friends, and random internet literature.

Later in Proverbs 2:1-5 Solomon writes that the fear of the Lord comes from storing up the commands of God in us, attempting to understand them, and earnestly seeking further understanding of them. I had never thought of “the fear of the Lord” that way. But, since I didn’t want to write a paper and I had a perfectly good cup of hot apple cider already made and sitting on my desk, I decided to try it.

In Pentateuch with Dr. Edlin we’re studying the Exodus. I began to think about Moses standing before the God who brought the horrifying plagues on Egypt, who killed the first born of all of their households, who parted the red sea and killed the Egyptian army. I thought about when Moses first came before God and had to remove his shoes. I thought about how, later, the Israelites couldn’t go on the mountain of God because God’s presence would destroy them. And in light of the acts of a terrifying all powerful God, I thought about the commands God gave his people and how immediately God’s people broke those rules.

This led me to think about the law in general, the rules we follow as Christians and I began to realize something about myself. I’m not afraid to sin. I know that sounds odd, but in that moment I realized I’ve never really felt the wrath of God when I’ve sinned. The ground has never swallowed me up, I have never been struck by lightning, my water bottle has never suddenly turned to blood, and I may have been attacked by a frog once but I do not believe that was retribution from God.

The grace of God is incredible. He is the same God today as he was in the Old Testament. My physical, sinful self should not be able to physically exist in the presence of God and yet I know his presence is with me wherever I go.

I take for granted the fact that I can just pray to him. I don’t have to climb a mountain, and almost more importantly for me, I don’t have to be Moses. I don’t have to be born of a Levite or brutally murder petting zoo animals in order to talk to God.

Reading the Old Testament and Proverbs always makes me feel humbled. I am living in the Kingdom of God, a new era of personal relationship with the Father. That is a huge gift. I was very convicted as to the level of my own personal reverence of God. He put me in my place as a puny little human and praying from that perspective feels much more natural to me. I guess the fear of the Lord helped me gain some knowledge about my own shortcomings in that department.

To throw one back to Communications, I had to reframe my concept of myself from “obligated to pray to God” to “somehow miraculously able to talk to God”. My reality didn’t change, but the way I perceived it did and that in turn has effected how I’ve been praying.

So I am most in fear and awe of God while entering this Halloween season. Ghosts and Vampires are not real, but an all powerful being who can destroy whole nations with the words of his mouth is real. I’m just glad in his grace he has let me be on his side.

Two things I’m praying for this week

  1. Appreciation and acknowledgement of the sheer might and power of the God I am attempting to serve
  2. A humble and thankful heart for God’s grace and acknowledgment of my wimpy human status


Renee DeVault


October 19, 2015

How to Make Friends with the Awkward Dinosaur

October 19, 2015 | By | No Comments

One question that I get asked all the time is, “Renee! My goodness, you are a college student now, what ever is your major?”

I reply with “Good Sir or Madam, I am a double major in “Bible and Theology” and “Communications”. I love it very much.”

To which they reply, “Good heavens! What an unusual combination! What ever do you plan to do with your life?”

And they receive from me a blank look of alarm because despite my air of cool collectedness I am quite uncertain of my path in life. This fact never really bothers me unless somebody asks me about it. I know I am supposed to be a Bible and Theology major. I know I am supposed to be a communications major. I know I am supposed to be at MNU. I’d say I’m pretty well off for now.

As my boyfriend Quinn (Quinston Churchill, Quintonamore, Quinny-the-pooh, Because of Quinn Dixie, Quinn to the Woods) often tells me, “God doesn’t give you the tickets until you’re ready to board the train.”

Quinn and I at homecoming this weekend

Quinn and I at homecoming this weekend

So I’ll be content waiting at the station with my bible and giant communications text book nerding out over communications theories and how they relate to the bible and my group of friends.

Speaking of friends, I had a lot of fun this homecoming!

Friday night a group of us went down into Kansas City for an adventure

Friday night a group of us went down into Kansas City for an adventure

Quinn and I love going on adventures like these with our friends

Quinn and I love going on adventures like these with our friends

We often compare Jordan to Ted from How I Met Your Mother so we made him take this photo with a dumpster

We often compare Jordan to Ted from How I Met Your Mother so we made him take this photo with a dumpster

We found an alley with art all over the walls. It was insanely cool stuff and we had a lot of fun with it.

We found an alley with art all over the walls. It was insanely cool stuff and we had a lot of fun with it.

Quinn had a brilliant idea to start posing with the art.

Quinn had a brilliant idea to start posing with the art.

Alex and Shakespeare

Alex and Shakespeare

We went to "Thou Mayest",  an awesome coffee shop in Kansas City

We went to “Thou Mayest”, an awesome coffee shop in Kansas City

We got up on the roof of the coffee shop and had a cool view of the city.

We got up on the roof of the coffee shop and had a cool view of the city.

Saturday afternoon we decided to go to the Cider Mill.

Saturday afternoon we decided to go to the Cider Mill.

Sparkling cider and donuts made an awesome pre-homecoming snack

Sparkling cider and donuts made an awesome pre-homecoming snack

Homecoming was incredible. Quinn and I have a fun habit of attempting to ballroom dance to pop songs

Homecoming was incredible. Quinn and I have a fun habit of attempting to ballroom dance to pop songs

Sunday afternoon we went to IKEA for dinner and adventuring

Sunday afternoon we went to IKEA for dinner and adventuring

Throughout our adventures this weekend, one of my communication theories stuck out in my head. Irwin Altman and Dalmas Taylor’s Social Penetration Theory basically states that deeper intimacy and closer friendships with people can be achieved through a process of self-disclosure and vulnerability.

It explains personality like an onion where, to get to a person’s core, you need to get through layers of more shallow or obvious information. It encourages, to gain more meaningful and intimate relationships, voluntarily opening up to people with both depth and breadth. This basically means letting people know who you really are, what you really think, and letting them have this information for multiple areas of your life.

There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the key point.

When we first studied this theory (sorry Dr. Hamilton) I thought it seemed nice, but I doubted that simply telling deep and diverse stories would lead to close friendships. I thought personality, similarity, and spending time together would be bigger factors, however, when I was out with some of my friends this weekend I began to think about this theory a little bit more.

Our trip to the city brought out conversations of various Kansas City experiences and city experiences in general. When we got to the coffee shop and were walking around we got into a conversation about experiences with spiritual warfare and our vision for Kansas City as a church. This formed into a conversation about our personal strengths and weaknesses.

Our cider mill trip sparked conversation about fall and Halloween family traditions which led to talking about our families and fall traditions we miss now that we’re in college.

Going to IKEA led to conversation about our future plans and dreams.

These are some of my closest friends. Over the course of a single weekend we hit several topics of conversation and we have known each other long enough to be comfortable in talking about things we wouldn’t usually talk about with casual friendships. We were naturally participating in this communications theory without even realizing it, but now that I’ve learned about it I can use it to make other friends.

But self-disclosure involves vulnerability which is difficult to do. In order to grow in my boldness to share to and be open with potential close friends I have turned to the bible.

In 2 Corinthians 6:11 Paul writes “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.”

The Beginning of James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

So as I love and appreciate my friends, I realize that I can’t keep my spiritual life, struggles, visions, and dreams a secret from my friends. It’s in the Bible and in my Communications Text book so I should probably listen to it.

I’m the girl who runs around IKEA acting like a raptor from Jurassic Park…I need all the help making friends I can get.

Points I’m praying over.

  1. I want to be willing to be real with my friends. If God is really the center of my life I want to be willing to talk about him and my relationship with him including struggles and visions. I want to be vulnerable to my friends so as to better the kingdom of God.
  2. I want to be the kind of person that people feel comfortable opening up to without fear. As deep of information they want to give and about any subject they want to give it I want to be trustworthy enough in their eyes to be someone to have a close friendship with.







Mackenzie Theiler


October 18, 2015

▿ Recognize the Good in Your Life ▿

October 18, 2015 | By | No Comments


“God blesses you to become a blessing. When he gives you a gift, it is because he trusts you with it. He hopes you turn around and do something powerful with it.”  

                                                       – Anonymous

   Throughout life God blesses us. These blessings are gifts. These gifts can be a wide variety of many things, from a challenge we have to overcome, learn from, start over, accept, appreciate, be thankful for, etc. He gives us these gifts to help make us into the person we are today. He would not bless us, if he was unsure we could handle them. A lot of us have dealt with some type of challenge or challenges, that we either had to overcome, learn from, start over, or accept. I know I have. This is why I am, who I am today. Does he still challenge me? Yes, I am not perfect . . . I am always changing and bettering myself to become the powerful blessing he created me to become.

   Choosing a difficult major and a collegiate athlete, let alone, is a lot of time, effort, and hard work. Trying to juggle that, with a social life, family, and friendships, is a lot to take on! With last week and this week, there has been so much that has gone on. Since, I have arrived at MNU, I feel as though God has been challenging me. To see if I am capable of over coming the obstacles he has placed in front of me.

   For those of you who haven’t started college, in college, or even out of college, we are already half way through the semester. God has thrown a lot at me, just in these last few weeks. This is about the time when students start getting sick (strep throat) and tired (late nights studying) because classes have started to pick up with exams, homework, projects, etc. Besides school life, to be a top athlete you always have to be preforming at your highest level every practice. Being so far away from home, students start to get home sick. Realizing you cannot talk to your friends every day or plan a get away weekend, just to relax. Students may start to feel overwhelmed and feel as though there is to much to do and not enough time, in the day, to do it all. This is what people experience in everyday life. A coach told me, “Life keeps going. It does not care about your feelings or what is going on in your life. Deal with life as it comes at you, and no matter what, you, keep going.” 

   What God has taught me to overcome from these last few weeks is how to time manage, stay disciplined with my life, and focus on what it is that I want to accomplish.

   As we make our way through this hectic, fun, adventurous, stressful, tiring, vivacious, and energetic life . . . maybe, currently dealing with a challenge God has placed in front of you, know that you are not alone. Be thankful for the opportunities he has blessed us with. If it is rough, it too shall pass . . . and . . . if it is gratifying, enjoy every moment of it.

Facebook: /kenzie.theiler
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Hailey Kendrick


October 14, 2015

You may say that I put my faith in a God that I cannot see

October 14, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

I took a trip to North Carolina this past May and saw some amazing things in nature. It's one of the many times that I was reminder that God is all around us.

I took a trip to North Carolina this past May and saw some amazing things in nature. It’s one of the many times that I was reminded that God is all around us.

You may not understand, you may not even agree. You may say that I put my faith in a God that I can’t see. But the truth is, I see him every day.

I see him when I walk outside and see the weather, in whatever form it may be, I know my God created it and all its diversity. I see him when I wake up to my loved ones and see their smile every morning. I see him in the 4-year-old in their mother’s arms; what a beautiful sight that God has made in his own image. I see him in my mentors; how they guide me and push me beyond my own imagination; I imagine that is what God would do if he was in human form.

I see him in my professor when he demonstrates his vast amount of knowledge and radiants such brilliancy in his work. I see him in my professor’s passion to help us, to love us, and to be a guidance when we have questions. I see him in the students that lead chapel, not because they are praising God, but because they stand there, with hands held high, eyes closed, and overwhelmed with his love for them and how powerful in their lives that it is, that means something to them. It means something so powerful that you can only stand back and wish you had it, whatever it is, that fantastic feeling of love and mercy. Well, that’s if you don’t already know what it feels like.

I see him in the boy’s soccer coach, who spoke at chapel a few weeks ago, taking about how he lives out his life turned towards God and all that that meant in his life; shaping and forming him into the man he is today. I see him in St. John, who I don’t have as a professor yet, but every time I walk by he smiles (when I’m just a stranger) and you can tell he truly cares for people. I see him in my store manager when she talks about how to manage best and shows her care for her employees, even at the sake of the business, she stops and listens and offers a hand. She trains me carefully and tries her best to mold me into a better person. I imagine that is how God is to us. In fact, I know that is how God is to us.

I imagine that all these people embody what in means to be Christ-Like. Because I believe in a God who wants to have a personal relationship with me. He wants to be my father, if I just let him. He wants to help guide me on important decisions, through my tough times, and love me through good or bad. He wants to accept me, exactly how I am, and take care of me as if I was his student, employee, friend, or stranger.

I know this may be hard for some people to imagine. The act of loving and focusing our whole life on a God that isn’t in human form. Who isn’t going to walk up and shake your hand directly; but someone else will, someone like these people. You see, God does it through others; he does it through the weather, the mentor, the 4-year-old, the professor, the coach, the stranger, or the manager. He shows himself to us because he wants us to know him. This may shock you, but God doesn’t live off in some mystical place. God does not only reside in heaven. God is standing next to you; he is by your side, he doesn’t leave, and he never will. He simply waits for you to turn your focus to him. He waits for the time when you realize that he is what is going to fill the void in your life, to help you find purpose, and even more, to be better than you ever imagined before.

Our whole lives we are searching to be known and to know. I’ve spent years in unhealthy relationships that proved time and time again that the people who say the love me, don’t even really know who I am. I will be the first to say I hate the feeling of being unknown, unheard, or misunderstood; I think we all do to some extent. But the beauty and awesomeness of the God of the bible, the God of my life, is that he knows me from beginning to end. He has never misunderstood me, and all he wants is for us to know him too.

I hope this inspired deep thought for someone; challenges you to think outside of our own personal boxes. It makes you think when there’s so many negatives in the world that God is still surrounding us in unexpected forms.

Renee DeVault


October 12, 2015

Intro to Ministry Retreat

October 12, 2015 | By | One Comment

Friday night into Saturday morning was the Intro To Ministry class retreat, a trip designed to help beginning ministry students get to know each other and their professors better as well as learn new spiritual disciplines, how to “be real” with people, and the importance questioning mind-set. They threw in a gorgeous catholic retreat center and food because they love us and we got to meet and hang out with the professors who will be teaching us as we embark on our quests for a degree from the Department of Christian Education and Spiritual Formation.
It sounded really nice. I would have been happy if that was all God wanted me to learn over our short, less than 24 hour retreat. But I guess thinking I could slide through a ministry retreat unchanged was a tad foolish of me.
As always, I had managed to get myself in way over my head, pulling my brain in a hundred different directions right before I needed it to focus. Dr. Dunn asked the class to handle the introduction, worship, prayer, and devotional for the group on Saturday morning.
When he sent out an email requesting help I responded, in my first week of college optimism, that I would definitely have the time to write a meaningful and well thought through devotional that could potentially impact the lives of a class of future leaders of the Kingdom of God and thus could have eternal consequences, sure thing.
I was a good little student and got my devotional written more than a week before the retreat, had Dr. Dunn edit it for me and felt like I had completed my assignment when I boarded the people mover with some of my classmates on the way to our Catholic Retreat Center.
Friends who happened to share the van ride up

Friends who happened to share the van ride up

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It was during all of the (absolutely incredible and I wish I could nerd rant about how cool they were) “get to know you” activities that I began to question my little ten minute devotional I had written. There was no heart in it, no real call to action. It was all facts and criticism. I was reminded about something Dr. Hayse said in Honors Seminar. I have to paraphrase him but it was basically that criticism is easy but offering a practical solution to the problem is hard.

As we moved into the night to play volleyball and board games I began to worry about it more and more. I wanted so badly to shine for ten minutes of informative Jesus glory but I knew my material was flat. I tried to talk myself out of caring, but it morphed into praying when St. John explained the spiritual discipline the group was going to be practicing that night.


He asked us to not say a word to one another or even talk out loud at all for the rest of the night and into the next morning. Silence shows reverence to God, respect. He also urged us to quiet our minds. I was utterly confused about that even being a human possibility. My mind runs a million miles an hour, I constantly have dozens of things on my mind at a time but as we walked into the dark chapel my thoughts slowly began to lessen.

Its difficult to describe exactly what happened. I encourage you to try it some time though I can never promise God will act the same way twice. After our allotted prayer time we were told that we could stay in the chapel and pray or read our bible. I situated myself in the very back and began to pray, then just let my mind be quiet. The next thing I knew God started bringing aspects of my life that I needed to give to him to mind. In order to keep my mind quiet I had to give each thing to him as he brought them to me until everything that I was worrying about was gone. I opened my eyes to find myself alone in this big beautiful building, the only lights shining were on the crucifix up front and on the alter.

It was 1:00 in the morning.

God never agrees with my time table.

It was at that point that I began to rewrite. I opened my notebook, wrote what was on my heart, then at almost 2am I was allowed to sleep.

I woke up without a care in the world. It was an experience I haven’t had since starting high school. 8:30am rolled around, my friends and professors came into the chapel. We read scripture, we worshiped, and I got up to the pew and got to tell people what God put on my heart.

I shared from Jeremiah 29. I am unable to tell you exactly what I said because I threw out my typed manuscript, but basically I talked about how Christians today aren’t all that different from God’s people historically. We have a pattern of being exiled in a foreign land and then called out again. In Jeremiah, God is talking to his people in exile in Babylon. Since we, members of God’s Kingdom, are living here on earth, we are (in essence) exiles as well and thus, I figured since God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, that his instructions to his people in exile in Babylon apply to us today.

God basically told them to settle down and work for Babylon, allow themselves to live life there, and called them to work and pray for their country of exile because their lives for the time being were bound up in that nation. However, God then warned about the false prophets and teachings of Babylon, telling his people not to be fooled by thinking their version of good was what God defined as good. He then gave his famous “for I know the plans I have for you” bit and promised to answer them when they called on him and to eventually lead them out of exile.

My devotional was about not allowing our standard for Christian behavior to be set by the culture, becoming comfortable and then being afraid of asking for God’s instructions because our God is one who cares much more about our character than he does about our comfort. I said that when we allow ourselves to use God’s standard to evaluate our lives we are no longer comfortable living as socially accepted Christians. I feel like we can be living in and working for our country of exile for so long that we begin to adopt their ideas as our own, and when we adopt these ideas God calls us to act contrary to them, and when God asks us to act contrary to them we have a crisis of faith, being unwilling to take the risk that God asked us to do. And when we don’t want to take the risk we stop asking God to give us instructions, and when we stop asking God to give us instructions God can grow quiet.

I don’t want to live in a world with a quiet God.

And so I called for two things.

  1. That we would begin to develop a holy discontent for the amount of God’s presence we allow in our day to day lives. I want to be a part of God’s church that has the same revolutionary impact and supernatural power as the church in Acts, but I was convicted, realizing I wasn’t even praying for it.
  2. That we would pray without fear of God messing up our lives. I had found myself avoiding prayer because I thought God would ask me to risk something, that he would make me uncomfortable. I have to stop questioning God’s attempts to make me uncomfortable and start questioning why I allowed myself to get comfortable in the first place.

Some people told me my devotional was really good. I was thankful for their compliments, but really I think it did me more good than it could have done anybody else. I loved it. I loved speaking about what I’m passionate about. I cannot believe the incredible opportunities MNU allows me to have. I got the opportunity to be completely scared out of my mind, learn to listen to the spirit, and get the practical experience of giving a devotional to a room full of professors and future ministers. In all technicality, this retreat was just one large class session. I got points for going, I think. But this was only one example of a time when the boundaries between class and “real life” went away and “school work” became God’s way of doing some “life work” on me.


Katie Linsey


October 7, 2015

What Forgiveness Is – And What It Isn’t

October 7, 2015 | By | One Comment

Recently, I’ve had to forgive people for some things that I wish didn’t happen. Through the process of apologizing and forgiving, I came to realize that my definition of forgiveness was skewed. I assumed that forgiveness came with certain expectations and stipulations, but the truth is, it doesn’t.

On Sunday, my pastor talked about forgiveness, and what he said was nothing short of a revelation to me. Here’s what he said…

Forgiveness doesn’t make someone’s sin okay.

Forgiveness doesn’t deny hurt or offense.

Forgiveness is not always a relational reset.

And here’s what I got from what he said…

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean burying the hurt that you feel. It doesn’t mean that you have to force yourself to forget what happened. It simply means that you are no longer giving yourself the right to judge someone based on what happened.

Forgiveness doesn’t always result in things being back to the way they were before. It may mean that the relationship drifts apart, or even ceases to exist. And that’s okay.

I used to get frustrated when I would forgive someone and then still remember the hurt I felt, or when things wouldn’t go back to normal and I thought I had forgiven them the wrong way (or maybe not at all).

Ephesians 4:31-5:1 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Love people. Forgive people. Don’t be angry or bitter.

But don’t bury hurt. Don’t force relationships. Don’t ignore sin.

It’s a fine line, and sometimes I feel like it contradicts itself – but I do know that the Bible says to love and forgive… and that’s solid truth.

I’m still learning how to fully forgive, and what that looks like. I’d love to hear your input if you have any to give.

Thanks for reading, friends.


P.S. If you’d like to watch the sermon that my pastor preached, click here.


Renee DeVault


October 5, 2015

Night of Worship and Prayer Round One

October 5, 2015 | By | No Comments

Last night, October 4th, about fifty MNU students walked in the cold to the Harvest Prayer statue in the middle of campus and found a team of about fifteen people who were in way over their heads and praying their heart out for God’s will to be done because their human ability was just not enough.

Before I tell the story of last night and the incredible things God did, let me just say hello! My name is Renée DeVault, I am a freshmen Bible and Theology/Communications major at MidAmerica Nazarene University and I am having the time of my life here. I want to tell the story of October 4th as my “introduction” blog because it presents a model for what I hope my life on campus stays like.

Jordan Warren and a group of our friends have been praying about this series of events for about eight months but had only been planning this particular event for a few weeks, ever since meeting with a group of students who all shared a vision for revival on campus. Jordan did most of the planning, he reserved the space and the equipment, recruited the worship team, and recruited me to coordinate the prayer side of this “worship and prayer” event. When he said that he wanted to pull everything together in only a few weeks we were up for the challenge but I admit I was highly skeptical that it would all come together, further proof of why I should not be in charge 😉

But sure enough, posters were made, people recruited, equipment rented, songs practiced, and I found myself walking from my dorm to the campus mall with my prayer team, all bundled up for a cold night and scared out of my mind. We had about fifteen people setting up when I arrived a little after 5:00. I gave a disjointed pep talk to my prayer team, trying to fit four years of tips I’ve gathered from prayer ministry into a four minute crash course before rushing to help the worship team set up.

I am technology ignorant and physically uncoordinated so I generally helped with tasks like “hold this metal bar up”, “hold my phone for me”, “fill this bag with rocks”, and “You should take a picture of this.” I am constantly amazed by the technical “know-how” of my friends, watching them run wires and set up sound systems, it was definitely a very humbling experience.


At 6:00 when the team was scheduled to be practicing, the equipment wasn’t fully set up, the sound wasn’t working, the projector wasn’t working, and we were beginning to feel rain drops. Around 6:30 Jordan called us all together and asked me to pray. The fifteen of us stood in a circle, arms around each other and asked God to show up despite our human limitations, despite the sound not working, with no lyrics on the screen and possible rain. I was struck with the realization that if anything happened that night, it was going to be because of God, not because of anything on our part.

After we all prayed together, Jordan sent me to continue to pray while the rest of the team prepared for an acoustic worship set and the sound team desperately tried to turn on the sound. I began to walk around the area of our event and pray, just calling for God to come and praying for the people who were going to be coming. Fifteen minutes before seven, we found a button that hadn’t been pressed and suddenly the sound was working. There was barely enough time to do a sound check and absolutely no time to rehearse before about fifty students showed up ready to worship.

What these students got was a worship team that had never played together, a prayer team which had never prayed together, a sound system which hadn’t been fully tested, a screen which started working moments before the event, what seemed like the coldest night we’ve had in Olathe so far this year, and an encounter with the living God. It was incredible. That’s almost all I can say about it.

I saw people in tears who I had hardly ever seen show emotion. People I prayed for opened up about pain in their lives, doubts about God, anxiety about life, and generally just stuff they were struggling with. By the end of the night people were huddled in groups of two to five people praying for each other, listening for the voice of God with each other, and putting aside their worries as they discovered the joy that comes with corporate prayer and worship.

While packing up the event we shared stories about what God had done. I thought I had seen a lot but each member of our clean up crew had just as many stories as I did. It was late at night by the time we were done packing up and talking, but it felt like only a few minutes.

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Some people may say it’s a small start. Fifty students, two hours of worship, no big deal compared to the huge churches and worship teams which draw thousands into auditoriums and stadiums, but numbers weren’t what we were going for. In the culture of a private Christian school, we wanted to have an event that wasn’t on the original calendar. Worship has become so normal for us that we wanted to move it to a different setting, know that we weren’t going to get spiritual formation credits, and seek God for the sake of God, not for the sake of routine or requirement. This isn’t to say there’s anything wrong with the school scheduled events, we just reached a place where we wanted more of God than the schedule of events allowed for and we had a hunch that other students felt the same way.

So long story short we planned, we failed, but God still showed up. I can deal with that pattern. So we’re going to keep planning events because we want to be proactive in making our faith our own, not depending on what the school or ASG or Res-Life plans. We’re hoping that these events inspire people to plan their own and realize that there’s no pressure in having to perfectly plan something in order to develop their relationship with God and with fellow believers.

For our next “Night of Prayer and Worship” we’re planning on partnering with churches in the area to expand the ministry beyond MNU. For me, that’s the whole spirit of this school. We’re learning how to listen to and serve God here so that we can bring it out from here. Stay tuned, I’m hoping for many more adventures to come.