Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review of 'Clear Winter Nights'

I must say that I originally looked past this book to read for a review because I didn't really think it was a book that I was interested in reading. However now that I've read it and had time to process the book, I must wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone! I had never heard of Trevin Wax before (I suppose I must have been living under a rock), but the way that he has written this book is in such a way that is easy to read and addresses some modern, pertinent issues in a non-threatening/abrasive way!

The story of Chris is one that many young adults, Christian and non-Christian alike can relate to. Chris is on a journey where he's not quite sure what he believes and this uneasiness leads him to make some drastic decisions in his life. It just takes one winter break, spending time with his retired-pastor of a grandfather to uncover and address the hurt, uncertainty, and anger that was hidden underneath. Since I work with college students in campus ministry, there have been many of times when I've had conversations where I've talked with a student who didn't think he/she could continue in his/her faith because they were uncertain of whether or not they could agree and follow the Biblical position on certain issues, and this book is a narrative journey that helps a person see someone embark on the journey of exploration without feeling threatened themselves.

I certainly recommend this book, as I said before, to everyone. While there are some doctrinal stances that are alluded to that I might not agree with 100% of the time, the mere fact that the main character Chris deals with real-life issues that every young adult is going through this very moment. The conversations Chris has with his grandfather Gil are worth the entire book in and of itself. It's a very quick read and will keep you entertained from the very first page!

Clear Winter Nights

 "I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The New Year

Hey guys! I just wanted to take some time and try to update you all on what's happening here in Lock Have, PA! As of right now, we're in/almost through our 4th week of classes, leaving us with about 10 1/2 weeks of classes and 1 week of finals. Things are flying by at a really fast pace, which is proving to be both good and not so good, haha. I can speak for both Emily and I and say though, that this semester is by far the toughest semester we've had here at Lock Haven. It seems like at every turn, there is some major obstacle that we have to overcome. This past summer, we were praying intensely for this school year and really excited for it, so maybe that's why so much is going on, however it's a little discouraging when the most opposition that we are facing is coming from members of our own leadership team. The biggest issue thus far is a mindset that CSF is a club and not a ministry. I even had a conversation with one of the team members about two weeks ago now (which got rather heated) about his opinion of how the ministry should be run (which was very club -based and focused). It was also revealed to me in this conversation that there, in the past two years, has been some behind-the-back grumbling and gossip amongst our leadership team regarding Emily and I which, needless to say, hurt but frustrated me beyond words can describe. Needless to say, there is a overwhelming amount of spiritual immaturity among some of leadership team members, even some from whom we expected more from. However despite these major frustrations and difficulties, there are some major bright spots in our ministry thus far. Just last weekend, we took a day trip up to the finger lakes in New York to baptize one of our students. It was a really cool time and I'm super excited for the things God is going to do through this kid! In regards to CSF Wednesday nights, we seem to be growing a little once more. Just last night I counted at least 35 people, with at least 3-5 people that I would consider regular attenders not able to make it.

This semester we are doing a series called 'Listen Up.' In this series we're going through Scripture and taking a look at various times when God paid a visit to people to deliver a message about something His people were doing well, doing poorly, or both. The very first week, we took a look at what God was saying to us as CSF right now, sort of a prep and stage-setting night for the semester. The message was essentially, "Listen Up: This is NOT a club!" The idea that I felt God was trying to get across was simple, CSF is a ministry and NOT a club! I used Paul as an illustration to explain what this means. Just as Paul used his tent-making business as a means to 1) earn a living to support his ministry/live off of and 2) reach potential customers with the gospel. His 'business' was a 'storefront' which he used to further his real purpose, being an ambassador for Christ! Likewise, CSF is a ministry that is merely using it's 'club' status as a 'storefront' to reach the people we're desire to impact and witness to for Christ, college students! I opened that night reading the passage from 1 Corinthians 4.20, "For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by Go's power." (NLT) The idea there is that if we are merely just a club, then meeting on Wednesdays is 'good-enough.' But if we are going to listen to God and see CSF as more than a club and as a ministry, then just 'doing' Wednesdays is just a lot of talk, and that's not what the Kingdom of God is all about. (In my conversation with that student he also felt like mentioning how they thought it was a bad message and should have been done differently, something I believe is a direct result of that individual being so obsessed with viewing CSF as a club and not a ministry.... once again, a lack of spiritual maturity.) The next week we took a trip to the OT book of Haggai, and we looked at the message of Haggai 2.1-9. The message there was "Listen Up: Be Encouraged to Do What's Right." Last week we moved next door to the Book of Zechariah and the message there was "Listen Up: It's Time For a Heart Check!" The idea for this one was examining our actions and discerning whether we are actually obeying God or rather just trying to appease Him. For that message we started at Zechariah 7.3-6, and saw how these people's actions were just done in order to appease God for the mistakes they had made in the past, rather than obeying Him, thus avoiding the mistakes in the first place. Last night we began a 7-week stint in the book of Revelation, where we are looking at the 7 letters to the 7 churches. Our first stop was the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2.1-7, and almost a continuation of last week's message from Zechariah. Last night's message was "Listen Up: Don't Forget About Your First Love!" We talked about how it's possible to be so focused on the action part of things, that we neglect the personal relationship side of things, and the challenge there was that they examine their lives to see how much they are in prayer (relationship), in the Word (relationship), and allowing themselves to be put into or even putting themselves into situations where their faith is going to be tested and stretched (actions).

Emily and I also had the opportunity to lead worship for Penn State's CSF group for the past 4 weeks until they had students trained up and willing to take over the worship leading role(s). It was an absolute blast and quickly reminded me how much I miss planning for and leading a body of believers in a time of praise and worship, Scripture reading, and prayer during services. This past Tuesday was our last week, because they now have a core group of students ready and eager to take over and lead. It is a bitter sweet feeling, because as I said, I really enjoy and have missed doing that, but additionally, it's really awesome see students develop in their spiritual walk(s) and be eager to take on this role and responsibility. Another positive out of this, is the fact that Emily and I now have at least one more night free, which is nice, because prior to this week the only night that we had free was Friday nights. We had something going on every other night of the week, which is something that I know is not the very best, haha.

Well I suppose that's the biggest things happening right now in our neck of the woods. If you guys wouldn't mind, I want to ask that you pray for CSF here at LHU, specifically the spiritual maturity of everyone who is a part of this ministry. I also ask that you would pray that God would break the hearts of our leadership team, and piece them back together in a way that makes them much more sensitive to what He's leading us to! Finally I would ask for prayer for both Emily and I, for this is the most we've ever been discouraged here in campus ministry and with these students. Thanks for reading, thanks for supporting us, and thanks for praying! =)


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Good Old Kentucky

Hello all! Currently, I'm sitting in a nice little McDonald's in Kentucky typing out this blog for you guys. Why you ask? Why not? Haha, just kidding! This week I'm down at KCU for my last 'on-campus' Master's Class of this degree! WOO HOOOOO!!! I'm sitting at the McDonald's because for some reason or another, my computer has rejected nearly every wi-fi network I've attempted to connect to, EXCEPT MCDONALDS! I find that fairly ironic, but hey, at least I'm able to get on SOMEWHERE!

Anyway, I just wanted to update you all on some of the happenings in the life of the Willis Family. Emily's currently in Lexington, KY with her best friend/roommate from college, Leah Amerine, visiting another good friend who just had a baby last week. If you ask me, this might be baby overload... jk! ;) But Emily's doing well, or at least as well I suppose that one can be when pregnant! She's had a few concerning pains here and there, and of course that vile sciatic nerve has ALREADY began to give her problems, but the doctors been able to help you accommodate these things and get through them. Currently, I'm doing an online Bible-Study/Devotional series with the college students. Something I challenged them with before we broke for the summer was to stay active in the Word and to spend time with God daily. With the exception of a week at camp with no internet and a few days here and there because of traveling or my own forgetfulness, I've been able to get on and write up a post about a particular passage. We've already gone through the book of Ephesians and right now we're going through the book of Job, set to go over chapter 29 tomorrow. I'm not doing anything TOO in-depth because of the limitations of the online format and time, but it's proven to be a pretty good experience. I've been held accountable to stay in the Word more frequently because of this too, so it's certainly been a plus for me! I've gotten messages and texts from students saying that they are really enjoying this, or that they've been without internet for the past couple of days and they're really excited to be back and get caught up. These messages have certainly been a source of encouragement!

In other news, Emily and I were able to purchase a new car! Well, not NEW new, but new for us! The worship leader at our church is neighbors with a mechanic who fixes up cars on the side, once he comes from work. He was told about our situation and wanted to help us out, so he fixed up a car for us and sold it to us for $1,000. Not only that, but he also paid for our state inspection and is letting us pay off the car in payments each month of however much we can afford! We were praying for something like this because of the need of having an alternate mode of transportation in case Emily needed to go to the doctor and I wasn't able to go get her, and God provided this opportunity and moved this guy to really bless us with this car. It's just amazing to think about! =) So anyways, Emily and I are now proud owners of a 1995 Buick Park Avenue. WOO HOO! God is good! =)

Well, that's the big highlights for what's been going on here with Emily and I. I hope you've enjoyed reading this, and feel free to comment below or email me! =) God bless!!!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"God Distorted"

I can honestly say, I am SO glad that I chose this book to read and review. My wife and I are currently expecting our first child this December, so when I saw this book I thought to myself that it might be a good one to read to understand what kind of influence (positive and negative)I can have on my child/children and how that will affect how they view God. John Bishop did a magnificent job with this book. Not only does he take the time to outline and explain various 'types' of fathers, but he then takes time to help the reader establish a Biblicaly based view of God, overthrowing any type of misconception that they might have because of their earthly father.

This is easily one of the top books that I have read in the past year. I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone, but especially anyone who might have had a troubled family history, especially with his/her father. There were many times in this book when I would be reading, and then all of a sudden I thought about a person who I know and realized that this might very well be describing them! I never knew that even the best of fathers can influence our perspective of God in a way that can become distorted. From reading this book, I feel better prepared, and I hope that I am, to lead my  family and be the father to my children and my wife that God wants me to be.

"I receievd this book free from Water Brook/Multnomah Publishers to review."

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Exciting News

So, for those of you who haven't heard yet, Emily and I have some exciting news....


I'm SUPER pumped and so is Emily! We're expecting our little bundle of joy come this December! I figured what better way to start the whole summer updates with this exciting news. =) This being said, I'm currently trying to start a new phase of fundraising. My goal is to find more supporters/ministry partners who will help me reach my goal of raising an extra $500/month. Emily's currently making about $400-$450/month, so I'm hoping that I can raise about $500 so that by the time December rolls around, she'll be able to stay home, recuperate, and take care of our son/daughter. Depending on how much more funding we are able to get, the ideal goal would be for Emily to be a stay-at-home mom and do campus ministry with me. I'd appreciate any prayers that you guys could provide and offer up for us! If you have anyone come to mind who might be looking to support someone (tax-deductible goodness.. ;)....), feel free to send them this way or tell them about us! Thanks you guys! Love you all!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Hello all! I'm really excited to update you guys, but I can only do so much at a time, lol. Anyway, it's finally summer time! Emily and I just got back from NC today and we're exhausted, but I wanted to take a few moments to let you know that I haven't forgotten about this blog even though I've been awful at keeping up with it. I'm hoping that I'll be able to keep up with this a little better because I'm also doing a daily blog-Bible study for the students, so everyday I see this one. I'm hoping that I'll be able to share some updates and prayer requests with you all though here this summer as Emily and I prepare for the new school year! Love you guys! =)


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Humble Orthodoxy

I recently had the pleasure of reading Joshua Harris' new book Humble Orthodoxy. First of all I have to say that I couldn't have asked for a better book to come along at just the right time. For a long time I've felt the conviction of cross-denominational unity and I've made it a personal mission to not 'discriminate' against any Christian brother or sister who happens to go and participate in a congregation that believes some things differently from me. All that being said, Joshua Harris' new book Humble Orthodoxy is a book that I think every theologian, minister, really every Christian should read this book. It isn't a very big commitment, lasting on around 60 or so pages before you get to the study notes and index, and is a very quick read!

In this book Harris exposes the easy temptation to learn theology and bash others who disagree with our conclusions and beliefs. Even though he seems more 'reformed' than I am, I can honestly say that I agree side-by-side with him on this issue. I love how seriously he takes this matter, pushing his readers to evaluate him/herself and see whether he/she really is honoring God with what they are doing. So often have I fell into the trap of thinking less of someone else because they didn't agree with me on a certain issue, but over the years God's shown me that thinking and looking down on my brothers and sisters isn't honoring him, but is actually an act of boosting my pride and my own self.

Harris' book is a great piece of literature for our day. There are many people who are so caught up on learning something just for the sole purpose of proving another brother/sister wrong, and Harris correctly exposes this as wrong. Holding firm to the truth, orthodoxy, is CRUCIAL! However living a life of humility and love and gently correcting those who are wrong about ESSENTIALS of the Christian faith is just as CRUCIAL! Never before have I read a book that addresses this issue of maintaining humility and truth in one's life as clearly, concisely, and effectively as this book from Joshua Harris. I HIGHLY recommend this book! You won't regret it! In fact, you'll be wishing there was more! =)

I received a copy of this book to review by Water Brook and Multnomah Books.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I Am Not But I Know I AM

I recently just finished reading a book by Louie Giglio called I Am Not But I Know I AM.

First of all, I really enjoy listening to Louie Giglio, so when I heard that he wrote a new book I was very eager at the opportunity that I had to read it. In this book, Giglio takes his readers on a journey that reevaluate their lives and adjust them, in whatever way they might need to, to better connect themselves with God Almighty. Louie explains how each of us live within a grand story, a meta-narrative, if you will, where the main character is not ourselves, but God Himself. Taking time to realize the bigness of God and that we are not can make the difference between a life that is full of life and faith and a life that is full of spiritual hardship and disappointment. Louie includes personal stories in the book to illustrate his points that really help his message come to life. Over all, even though there are times when it seems that Louie is being a little repetitive, I think he presents a VERY important message in this book. Every person needs to come to a point in their own life where they realize that "I am not but I know I AM!"

I received a copy of this book to review by Water Brook and Multnomah Books.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Two Weeks Into The New Semester...

Well, we're finally back to school and the new semester is in full swing! This semester we're doing a series called "All-In" where we are going to take a look at what it means to be all-in when it comes to our relationship with Jesus. My hope is that from this series, we will all be able to look at our relationships with Jesus and go to the next level in the areas of evangelism and discipleship. Our first week was last week (1/30/13) and we had 38 students show up. We talked about Jesus' desire for us and how it's two-fold: 1) Jesus deeply desires you and me; and 2) Jesus has desires for/of us (our lives and what we do). Last night we talked about Jesus' mission for us. There are so many awesome benefits to being a Christian! Yet so many of us restrict them and reduce them to only salvation. Some even go as far as thinking that it's acceptable and part of God's plan for us to just receive Salvation through Jesus Christ and then just be idle, not doing anything to share this gift or improve in our relationship with Jesus. I think that this mentality doesn't  represent God's desire(s) for us, in fact I think it displeases God as well. Reading through the Bible as a whole, you can very clearly see this as a part of how God interacts with His people. God expects those who are His, not to be lazy but to do the good works that he had intended and planned for us to do from the beginning (Eph. 2.8-10). Perhaps one of the reasons people begin to think this way is because they are afraid of the persecution and rejection they might face for living the way Jesus calls us to live. But that opens the door to another question that I've had for a while, and that's "who ever said that persecution and opposition for living a life for Jesus is a bad thing? In 1 Peter 4, Peter encourages us to rejoice and be thankful. So why is it that we as Christian fear persecution, rather than rejoicing when we face it? I was reading a book a couple of weeks ago by Randy Alcorn and he said something that's stuck with me. "If God answered all our prayers to be delivered from evil and suffering, then he would be delivering us from Christlikeness." For Christians, even opposition and suffering is a good thing! I think redefining evangelism from meaning "telling others about Jesus" to "living life for Jesus" makes our part in Jesus' mission to redeem creation more personal and more impactful for us to grasp. It's so awesome to think about all of the connections we have with Jesus, but I have to admit that thinking about the fact that we are partners with Jesus in this mission brings me encouragement and sets me on fire with a passion to live my life in such a way that I "preach the Gospel at all times, and [only] when necessary use words." I pray that God would fill you with this same passion and desire to join Him more intentionally in this mission to save the world and that He would use you to completely change the face of your area! =) Until next time!!!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"The Goodness of God" by Randy Alcorn Review

The subject of pain and suffering has been troublesome for some people as they journey through life in search of God and meaning. There have been many books written on the subject, but I think Randy Alcorn's "The Goodness of God" is one that will be near the top of my list for recommendations. Not only does Randy take the reader by the hand and lead him/her through this minefield of a subject, but he does so in a book that's not super long. There are many people today who disdain reading because they are more interested in playing video games, listening to music, and/or watching TV/movies. Randy's book is only 117 pages and is a very quick read. While there are some parts of Randy's theology that I'm not sure I would buy into 100% or see eye-to-eye with him on, what he had to say about suffering and the life of a Christian was worthwhile. I especially like and agree with him when he explains that as a Christian, the suffering that we endure and live with isn't for nothing. In fact it's through times of trial and suffering that we as Christians become more like Christ. As in all things, perspective is everything. If you are a Christian, these trials and tribulations really are only temporary and a momentary blight on your bright future, a life with God! I highly recommend this read for anyone who is suffering or who knows someone who is suffering and/or going through a rough time right now in life.

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 "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."