Thursday, November 20, 2008

Listening to God's Voice (Katy)

Sunday, at small group leaders' training, Sunroot did a brief teaching on listening to God's voice and then had leaders pray and listen together for what God might be saying to them. What that looks like is this:

An individual or group comes before God to ask what His will is, either in general recognition that God cares deeply about who we are and what we do and that He might have something to tell us about the two, or in response to a specific question or situation where we will allow God to have a say in how it is answered. The individual or group will start in a prayer where they:

1. Confess sin and seek forgiveness so that one can come before God with clean hands. (Psalm 24:3,4)

2. Admit our desperate need for God's specific guidance for our lives. (Proverbs 16:9, 20:24, Isaiah 30:21)

3. Ask God to quiet your own thoughts. (The idea of "not my will but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)

4. Silence Satan with the spiritual authority God has given us in the name of Christ Jesus. (Luke 10:18-20)

5. Invite God and the Holy Spirit to speak. Then listen to what He says.

This is a discipline that I have been trying to cultivate in my own life, and that e-board has started to practice together this semester.

The simple fact is that God wants to speak into our lives WAY more than we are willing to listen. Our God is a God of relationship and communication. He is willing, able, and wanting to burst from the pages of the Bible to speak to us as individuals. Jesus said "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27) The Bible tells us SO MUCH of who God is, what He has done, what He wants to do, and what He wants to do through us. But it doesn't tell us everything.

As a 17-year-old in school for missionaries in Colombia, I could and did make a great Biblical case for why I did not want to go to college, and instead go directly onto the mission field. Unfortunately, my parents who were also quite versed in scripture could make an equally compelling case for why it was better for me to come back to the States to receive a higher education first. It was only through the Holy Spirits strong conviction that I should go to college followed by almost immediate confirmation (three different people told me in the period of a day or two that they felt like God was telling me to go back to New York for school) that could change my mind.

The Bible tells us everything that we need to do. However it is listening to God in the context of the relationship that we have with Him that tells us how to do it. As leaders in the fellowship, both e-board and small group leaders would be doing the people the lead and serve a huge disservice if they only assumed how to obey God instead of asking him directly.
Below are some common concerns that Christians have with the idea of listening to God. I hope they clear things up for you. If you have one that isn't addressed here, leave it under the comments, and we will try to respond.

Isn't this a little like Ouija board?

Yes, but only in the same way that a one night stand is like good and godly marital sex. Ouija board, tarot cards, and other forms of fortune telling are a perversion of the good and Godly act of seeking guidance from something more powerful then one's self. The difference is who and why you are asking. Fortune telling is almost always done to further one's own interests. Listening to God is done to further God's interests and his kingdom. Fortune telling often includes some level of manipulating the "spirit world" who are demons. Demons and Satan are characterized by lies. God is TRUTH.

How do we know that what we are hearing is really from God?

Once I was praying before bed, and I heard someone call my name. "Katy!" The voice said. I sat straight up and was like, "Holy crap!! Did God just call my name?!?!" I waited and heard again "Kaaaaty!!!" But this time I was more suspicious. Another couple of seconds went by and I hear "Kaaaaaaaaty!!! Turn off the light in the bathroom!! I'm trying to go to sleep." It was my sister, her voice slightly muffled by a pillow, who was bothered by the light coming through the crack under the door of the bathroom that opens into both of our rooms.

Especially when we start off, we might not distinguish between our own voice and will and God's. Not to worry. There are guiding principles that can help.

For situations with minor consequences: Just do it!! If your praying and you feel like God has told you "Billy-Bob, I want you to go to Hinman dining hall and buy a thing of orange juice." Instead of sitting there for ten minutes wondering if it was you or God who placed that thought in your head, just go to Hinman and buy orange juice. If it wasn't God, the worst thing that happens is that you end up with some orange juice you might not have bought otherwise. But imagine if it was God telling you to do this. Maybe the orange juice didn't matter, but as you walked to Hinman you saw a friend who was really upset and you are able to comfort them. Perhaps as you get back to your dorm see a hall mate. When you ask your hall mate how they are they tell you that they feel like they are coming down with a cold. You fortunately have a nice bottle of orange juice in your hands and you can give it to them and tell them "I know this sounds crazy, but I was just praying a while ago, and I thought I heard God tell me to go get orange juice. I had no idea why, but I think its cause God wanted me to give it to you. God cares about you, and even about your sniffles. Can I share with you about Jesus?" (ok, I added that last sentence in just cause I'm outreach coordinator.) But do you see what I mean?
For situations that have weighty consequences: Lets say you're praying about marriage, career, major, how to lead a ministry that you are in charge of, even where you live on campus next year. Confusing your will with God's on who to marry obviously has much more serious implications than ending up with an unwanted bottle of orange juice. For decisions such as these...

1. 1. Compare what you think God has told you meticulously with God's word. He will never contradict himself.

2. 2. Seek the advice of unbiased and mature Christians.

3. 3. Ask God a question in a group. If God gives all of you the same answer, chances are, it's Him and not you. If there isn't agreement, ask God why. (Are you asking the wrong question? is there more He wants to say?)

4. 4. Ask God for peace and/or confirmation on what you think he has said. Its not wrong to ask for a sign if we are asking in faith so we can be confident of God's will

5. 5. If you do all of that and are still not sure, I'd say, go ahead with what you think God wants you to do, but keep checking in with him. Ask him, and trust that he will guide you in the way you should go, and stop you if you start unintentionally going astray.

LisListening to God is an adventure. It requires complete obedience, complete trust, and a strong faith in the goodness of God. Reading of the lives of those following Jesus in the New Testament, actively listening to God was posed to be a normative part of the Christian faith. As we seek to see lives transformed, Binghamton renewed, and world changers sent out, InterVarsity as a community will need to learn to listen to what God is saying to us and following it whole heartedly. God cares for these things more than we do, and he knows how to make them happen better than we do. Imagine what would happen if we only stopped to listen.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Post-Expedition Musings + NEW EBOARD!!! (Pam)

Post-Expedition Blog! (For Expedition and non-Expedition attendees... in other words, relevant to everyone!)
Dear IVCF Fellowship,

How is life, post-Expedition? Well I'm not going to beat around the bush... I'm just going to say what I came here to say: I know that at Expedition, God impacted us in different ways... a lot of people learned or became aware of a different things and are taking action steps in response to God's promptings. Awesome! God has allowed us to partner with Him, and it's such a blessing that He's trusting us with more and more. Imagine that.

In light of that, I realized that because our fellowship is growing, moving forward and starting to see and be immersed in the value and joy of living out as a true community of God, I believe that Satan can now see us as a "force" worth messing with.
Crazy, right?
What does this mean? Satan can and will use any possible means to manipulate, lie, make us feel content or comfortable or make us doubt... and the list can go on. He's a tricky one.
It wasn't until college that I realized the eternally dire implications of when we fail to acknowledge that we are in spiritual warfare. We all need to not just be aware that we're fighting spiritual battles everyday (questions of integrity, having boldness to take God up on the opportunities He presents us with, etc.) but that we need to be constantly preparing ourselves and calling others into action. This is urgent!
What does this mean? Many things! Including:
_Diving into His Word daily.
_Investing time and energy into things that are outside of our own (esp. immediate) needs or desires.
_Being diligent with what God entrusts us with (classes, family, friends, time, etc).
_Allowing God to mold you continually into His image.
I leave you with two verses.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11
But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Mark 13:32-37
The Day and Hour Unknown
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!' "

AND... if I may, I would like to take the liberty in announcing to you the new e-board!

President: Steve Kong
Large Group Coordinator: Gary Chow
Outreach Coordinator: Katy MacFadden
Small Group Coordinators (yes "s"): Michael Leung and Matthew Tuttle
Administrator: Tammy Chan

Are you excited? I sure am. = )

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Treatise on Small Groups (sunroot/joanna)

Before you all read this I have a confession. (sunroot does) I was really angry when I originally wrote this email. I'm frustrated for the small group leaders and I think that we all can be experiencing more in our small groups. Joanna cleaned up the language and the finger pointing. I hope this will be helpful for you all. (try to look for the undercover passion)


Recently I talked to small group leaders about this and I wanted to share this with the whole fellowship, and especially those of you who are small group members. It comes with a challenge:

I personally think that there is a problem in our fellowship in the depth of our relationships with each other. We need to be vulnerable, and push to go deeper. We hang out, play sports, talk and play a lot together, but we can be so much more of a fellowship to each other. I want that deeper community to permeate into the culture and environment of our fellowship. I don't want us to need 2 years of hanging out with each other every day to be able to talk about our father issues. Or for it to be 4am in the lounge of Oneida 4th floor lounge for us to talk about how another member in the fellowship hurt us.

I think we all know this and we all want more.

Unfortunately, I have used small groups as a means to fight this and I don't think it's fair for the leaders as well as for yourselves. I'm sorry I used so much effort to try to make the focus of small groups community building when, yes, community is an important aspect of small groups, but it cannot and should not be the sole means of it. We've tried to do so much with small groups: community building, evangelism, fundraising, community service, bible study. And in the midst of doing so much, we've done very little.

When we try to do too many things, it's inevitable that we end up doing it all half-heartedly. We don't want this for our small groups. We want to invest in people in a way that promotes a transformation in personal lives as well as relationships with others - but this requires A LOT of effort and focus.

Community building is not the primary role of small groups contrary to what we've been emphasizing previously. Bible study is. Small groups are the one place we can study the bible in depth on a personal level. We need to focus on that. The expectations that have been put on small groups to fill this void of friendship and belonging are unrealistic for small groups and for small group leaders. It's not fair that the leaders get frustrated or hurt because they aren't sure what to do or when their members don't become best of friends; this is not their responsibility.

Small group leaders are there to lead you into a Bible study. And when they do so, they should be able to end their meeting knowing that they've done right and not be frustrated with themselves because their members didn't seem to connect. They should be assured that they have obeyed God's calling for them and should walk away from a meeting thinking. 'Heck Yeah! It wasn't perfect, but I obeyed. And that's what God called me to do for this group of people."
A lot of times, members come into small groups with a consumer mentality. They want to be served. To be fed. For example, if you come into a small group expecting that the leaders will make it so you are able to bond with others, please re-evaluate yourself as well as your leaders' roles. It's not fair to the leaders. I fervently believe that you get what you put into a small group. And I think it's about time that people take ownership of their own growth. In your small group, you should have been given the opportunity to bond through the Word and if you are teachable in that way, that's what will bring you all together. You will need to take more ownership of the depth of your friendships outside of small groups.

Many of you have heard a "bad" sermon. Or attended a "poorly led" discussion. And you know what? You got something out of it. Why? Because you anticipated God speaking. You went in with the right heart and attitude. I believe in our leaders this year. They are equipped and gifted. How much more so will you learn from them when you go in with an open heart?

God speaks through His word. God speaks through His people speaking His word. If you're not getting anything out of small groups, take a look at yourself and evaluate your attitude
. Is it a consumer attitude? Or an attitude ready to hear what God has to say through whatever the circumstance?

For many of you, you're thinking, "I do go in with the right attitude." I would ask you to think about the Bible Study part of what I talked about. Expect a bible study and make more of a personal effort to build relationships on your own.

For many of you, you need to do a heart check. Think about what you're expecting.

I'm not saying that small groups are perfect. I'm not saying we shouldn't try to improve. But small groups can't be made perfect to meet unrealistic expectations. They won't have to be to meet the needs of someone with an open heart.

Please think about such things. Then go and make your small group even more AWESOME because I really do believe God has already begun stirring in hearts and minds.

-sunroot (joanna making it nicer)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Big and little: inter-class community and discipleship for all in a growing fellowship (Katy)

How to structure the big sibling/ little sibling program for this year has been a hot debate inside e-board since last spring, but last e-board meeting we spent most of our time talking and praying through this one issue, and we are excited to present to the fellowship the plans we have for structuring the big/ little program for this year.

As previously mentioned in this blog, we as a fellowship have prayed and planned for growth -- and we are seeing it, thanks be to God! It is our expectation that every year we will have more freshmen than upperclassmen, and we couldn't be happier, because we believe that being part of this community facilitates transformation, renewal, and the development of quality men and women who God will use to change the world. And again as mentioned before, this means we get to try new and creative means to provide welcome and friendship to our new students. So this year, instead of assigning one big to one little, we have decided instead to take advantage of the number of upper-classmen living in the dorms by facilitating/ encouraging the development of community based family groups, where your bigs are assigned to you by where you live.

For example, Joanna and I are now officially the bigs of the 4-6 underclassmen who live in Newing. We will either cook dinner, organize a group dinner in the Newing Dinning hall, or ask one of our littles to cook dinner (if they like doing things like that) on a weekly bases (most likely on Sunday nights). There are no agendas for the conversation at those dinners, only that we might get to know each other and share life with one another. Newing kids will know that our door is always open to them if they need to talk, and the contents of our dinner conversations will let Joanna and I know when one person might need some extra big-sistering that we can either provide or facilitate with someone else who may be more aptly suited to address ther needs(especially if they really need big-brothering).

In larger communities, where there are both more bigs and more littles (such as in Dickinson) it will be up to the bigs to decide how to subdivide the littles into more manageable sized groups.

For those who either live in grad, hillside, or off campus, we suggest one of three things:

1. Create family groups for your area of influence. There are lots of new students who live off campus. You could create an off campus family group, or groups in hillside or grade for new folks you know that liver around you.

2. You can attach yourself to an on campus community. Most communities do not have enough upper classmen to keep the groups small, or (as in Newing) only have upper classmen of one gender. Talk to God and the upper classmen in the communities to see where you might best fit in, go to dinners, and take any relationships you build with folks from there.

3. Be a big on reserve. While we hope most people will feel comfortable in a family dinner setting, some might not. For those who are either very shy, or whos needs for discipleship are not being met through the consolation of other discipling opportunities that are available in the fellowship, you could be paired up with some one who really does need or would benefit most from some intentional one on one time with a more mature Christian.

We hope for these groups to strengthen community, and facilitate natural friendships through which discipleship will occur.

We realize that you may have many questions about this restructuring and the implications that it will have on you. We will have a Town Hall Meeting on Saturday October 4th at 4pm in a location TBA to discuss this further (as well as other issues) so come prepared with your questions and suggestions. Also leave a questions comments and concerns on the blog or e-mail us at and we will to our best to address them.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Community, wise spending, and yummynesss: a good stewardship dinner (Katy)

Has your conscience ever been a little uncomfortable when, after a large group where we talk about participating in Social Justice, you go out to BJs & Bubble Tea, Applebee’s, Texas etc… and spend way more then you want on food you don’t need? Or do you feel left out after Large Group because your new and never know where the fellowship is going, or know you can’t afford to go anyway?

We want to be able to be able to enjoy each others’ company on Friday night after large group, with out excluding people, and with out spending tons of money that will not end up going to Kingdom work. Good Stewardship Dinner or GSD (better name suggestions are welcome) is an answer to this dilemma that we are going to be trying out this Friday, October 3rd.

This is what it is going to look like. This Friday after Large Group we are going to have a ministry fair for kids who did not go to Chapter Retreat from 9:00-9:45ish, and at 9:45 we are going to start loading cars to head to Good Shepherd Church 74 Conklin Ave, Binghamton. Instead spending your usual $5-20 at a local restaurant, we are going to charge $7 for a simple yet delicious spaghetti dinner that a group of kids from the fellowship will have prepared. From 10:00-11:30pm we will hang out at church and have dinner and fellowship together before returning to campus.

This will be a conscious decision on our parts as individuals and as a community to do something perhaps a little less chic then going to a restaurant, so that we can steward our money better for God’s purposes. For this GSD we are going to be giving all the proceeds to Love146 (formerly the JFCI) to support their work providing aftercare and therapy for young girls who have been rescued from forced prostitution in South East Asia. (Check out Love146 at If the same number of people who went to Applebee’s last large group go to GSD instead, we will raise enough money for 2 girls rescued from sex slavery to receive after care treatment. If half of the large group goes (60 people), 5 girls will be able to receive after care, and if the whole large group goes 10 girls will have that opportunity. This includes medical care, education, psychological counseling, as well as providing for safe homes for these girls. (For more info on sex trafficking, check out or

If you always hang out with the fellowship after large group, we ask that you set your plans firmly on GSD this Friday. If you have never hung out with fellowship kids after large group, this would be a great week to start! You will be able to sign up for a ride at Large Group, but please be sure to join the face book event page (LINK HERE) and RSVP just so we have an idea of how many rides and how much food we will need. This might also be a good event to invite friends who can’t make it or don’t feel comfortable attending large group.

If you have any questions, comments, ideas, concerns or questions, leave them here, or let me (Katy, know.

We hope that you are excited for this, and that we will see you Friday night with $7 cash!

In Christ


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

i just wanted to say... (Pam)

hey all!

this blog was created in order to help the fellowship be on the same page and for you guys to understand how we're thinking through things... so, i wanted to share this with you guys (because one should never wait to encourage or edify others):

i just wanted to say that i feel so incredibly blessed to be serving with this year's e-board.
katy, joanna, steve and sunroot... you guys have affirmed me in who I am as a daughter and leader and servant in more ways that you know. you guys bring so much to the table (your God given gifts, your ideas, you vision, your passions) and i love diving in together, not being afraid of change, doing radical stuff and figuring it all out with you guys.

hey everybody, don't hesitate to encourage and build each other up! we live in an increasingly depressing, lost and deteriorating world and we can't afford to not do the best we can to share the love that God has unconditionally shown us.

okay so here's my challenge to you: think of someone and go encourage them. go! now! = )

bouncing around with joy,

Monday, September 22, 2008

are YOU up for it?! (Carrie)

Hello Fellowship! Carrie here.

I need to warn you all -- we have entered a competition! I told the IV staff of the RPI/Russell Sage fellowship (near Albany) that we were hoping to take 50 people to EXPEDITION, our great fall conference. Schools from all over Upstate NY gather together to grow in their ability to encounter and know God through Scripture. Anyway, she told her fellowship, and they are absolutely determined to beat us and have the most people there. They are convinced they can beat 50. I think we can have more than them. What do you think? And hey, RIT often has the most, so they are in the running too. The registration is now LIVE and you can register at: See you at Expedition!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New wine skins (Katy)

Hello InterVarsity! This is Katy McFadden (Outreach Coordinator) writing.

Some of you may be wondering why e-board is making a blog. So right off the bat, I thought I would give a brief explanation:

The days where every one in the fellowship knew every one else have long gone and the transition is pretty scary for us (as e-board and as a community). It is way more comfortable to be in a group where everyone can know every one else. It’s easier logistically, and it’s what we are used to. Being bigger requires more diligence to make sure that every one is included in the Body, more faith in God that He will do things out of our control, and most formidably, it requires change. (Scary, right?)

Daunting as it is though, we are never the less committed to the growth of the fellowship. If we do what we are supposed to be doing, InterVarsity will be a place where people encounter the God who brings transformation- and the more people who are involved, the greater number of people there are who are being transformed. We also know that to do what God has called us to do on the campus (to see the campus renewed and people sent out from here to change the world) we need as many people as we can get.

So, as we commit to the constant growth of this fellowship, we also commit to follow God in the inevitable changes that will occur. Always checking and replacing the wine skins so as not to loose new wine.

So here is a new wine skin. We (E-board) want everyone in the fellowship to understand why we do what we do- the method to our madness. At the same time having one on one conversations with everyone, taking big chunks of time at Large Group meetings, or having lots of people sit in on e-board meetings are impractical. Our hope is that this blog will give you valuable insight as to how decisions are being made, offer transparency in our leadership, and let you get to know us so that if you have a suggestion or question you will feel comfortable talking to us about it- even if we aren't already friends. We will try and update at least every week, and rotate who writes so you can get a sense of what we are all like.

E-board is super excited about this year, and we hope that comes through in our blogs, and gets you excited too!

With much love

Your Out-Reach Coordinator