Campus Ambassadors @ UAlbany

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Jesus IS Practical!

What have we learned this year?  As we wrapped up 2009-2010, we looked back at the vast amount of topics and distance we had come in just one year with Jesus’ help and direction!

It was a powerful year and there is some great testimony to that in this talk!

Due to technical difficulties we were not able to record this talk, however please read the notes and view the slides below.  Talk given on 5/4/10.

Jesus is Practical – Year end wrap up [powerpoint]

Jesus is Practical – Year end [Notes]

Posted 4 years, 2 months ago.

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Julissa overcomes fear through reading the E-100

The E-100 challenge is a great opportunity to learn more about the Bible. Even though we are only half way through, I have already learned more than I expected. The E-100 challenge helped me to understand the Bible more and understand God’s love for me. I have always been intimidated by the Bible because it is not an easy book to read. However, by taking the challenge and doing the readings, I was able to read key parts of the Bible without feeling overwhelmed.

I love learning new things about God and the amazing power and love he has for his people. I also love getting together with my group and discussing what they’ve learned.

Every week I’m excited to open my Bible and read God’s word, and the E-100 challenge helps me to look deeper than the words on the page and look within myself at the feelings, thoughts and questions I have about God. Being able to share with my group what I learned, or how I felt reading the passages, has enriched my relationship with God and others. I can’t wait to finish the challenge and start it again!!!

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago.

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Natalie’s challenge and victory

The E-100 Challenge helped me commit to reading the bible a few times a week. I have always struggled with reading the bible on a schedule, but this challenge gave me a schedule to follow and stay on track with. While reading the Old Testament passages each week, I noticed there was always a parallel to Jesus and His wonderful attributes. The amount of foreshadowing to Jesus life that occurs throughout the Old Testament just amazes me.  It shows how present God really is in planning our lives.

My favorite readings were those from Proverbs because they teach about wisdom. Proverbs 4:25-27 stood out to me the most because it states that you must not stray from the right path that God has planned for you. It says, “Do not swerve to the right or the left”.   It occurred to me the one person that that did not stray form the path is Jesus and we should all strive to be like Him more and more each day. This stood out to me because I struggle with listening to God and letting Him guide me the way He has planned.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago.

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Katherine receives wisdom from God’s words and through prayer!

Without a doubt, Psalms and Proverbs are two of my most favorite books of the Bible. These books contain some of the most encouraging, comforting, and challenging words of wisdom that one can ever hope to run across in this fallen world. For me, Psalms 23, 51, and 103 are particularly beautiful Portrayals of God’s incredible love for us, and I thought it was  wonderful that these were included as part of the readings in the E100 challenge.

Psalm 23 does a fantastic job of describing just how much our Lord cares for us when it pictures Him as a gentle and caring shepherd watching over his flock of sheep (that’s us!).  An important fact about sheep is that they are not very smart, and, often find themselves in trouble of one sort or another. Sounds a lot like us humans, doesn’t it? And yet Jesus guides and protects us when we put our hope and trust in Him, just like a good Shepherd does for his wayward sheep. He does this even when we have sinned, as Psalm 51 openly illustrates. The writer of this psalm, King David, knew firsthand what it was like to mess up in life and find himself feeling distanced from God because of his sin. However, the wonderful thing is that he also knew that his God was a merciful and forgiving God if he would repent and be truly broken over his sins. Psalm 51 appears to be King David’s prayer to the Lord—an intense pouring out of his heart in remorse and repentance so that he might be able to restore his fellowship with his Creator.  He desired that nothing would stand between him and God—a desire that shows the incredible attitude of his heart.  After such a moving prayer to God, we come to Psalm 103, which follows the cry from Psalm 51 as a wonderful promise. When we forsake our sins—just like the author of Psalm 51 sought to do—God is “merciful and gracious” (vs. 8) to us and removes our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” (vs. 12)—an absolutely unfathomable kindness that we could never possibly deserve!  What a beautiful encouragement to us as fallen and sinful human beings!  I really cannot express how humbled, awestruck, relieved, and overjoyed this Psalm makes me .  To know that God “does not deal with us” as our sins really deserve because of His amazing grace and love, but instead chooses to forgive us and forget about the offense of our sins leaves me utterly speechless.

Following these pictures of God’s indescribable love and forgiveness in the Psalms, Proverbs comes in as God’s ‘practical instructions’ on how to live a life that pleases and glorifies Him—by living a life in pursuit of Godly wisdom. Proverbs makes it clear that this wisdom is not just ANY kind of wisdom; it is a wisdom that seeks to obey God’s Word with the desire of ever growing closer to God. This wisdom goes way deeper than mere knowledge, it is not simply a store of facts in one’s head, but rather is an attitude of the heart springing from an ever-deepening relationship with God that always seeks to pursue God’s will and place HIM first in one’s life.  Proverbs gives a striking contrast between those who choose to follow God and His ways—live in wisdom—and those who reject God—live as ‘fools’  (Proverbs 1-4). In these chapters, we see how choosing to live for God brings a life of joy, peace, and blessing (of course, this does not mean that the follower of Jesus will never see hardships in their life, but this could be the topic for another blog post) , while choosing to live life without God brings nothing but ruin, pain, misery, and sadness (Proverbs 1-4)(though a person who rejects God may seem to be successful on the outside, the pain and emptiness is there on the inside). In light of the consequences of rejecting God and living for one’s self (as given in Proverbs), I would say that it is definitely worthwhile to choose serving Jesus over anything else in life! You’ll never regret it; I know I certainly haven’t!

So we see in the Psalms and Proverbs a couple of ‘big ideas:’ first, encouragement of who God is and how He loves, takes care of, and forgives us even when we don’t deserve it, and second, a challenge/exhortation to follow God in all of His ways (choose ‘wisdom’!).

What I take from all of this is that God wants all of me—He wants me to be all His. He loved me so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for me (John 3:16) in order that I might have a restored relationship with Him, and if I accept His incredible sacrifice, He will forgive me of the wrongs that I have done and I can then live in freedom from those wrongs as the recipient of His love and care.  He doesn’t do any of this so that He can control us like robots, but because He knows that only in relationship with Him can our lives be the best that they ever can be. And ultimately, this is what life is all about; having a beautiful, unhindered relationship with the Creator of the Universe and Savior of our lives.

Do you have that kind of relationship with God?

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago.

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Nick discover’s JESUS throughout the Old Testament!

At the start of the E-100 Challenge I didn’t know what to expect.  I was somewhat skeptical and I didn’t think too highly of the whole small group idea in the first place.  Well, God absolutely tore down my preconceived notions and personal desires after going through the first week of leading the E-100 Challenge family group the following Tuesday.

First, the E-100 gave me a reading plan and a way to stay on track with reading my Bible on a daily basis and staying immersed in God’s word throughout the week.  Second, it also gave me a better, more complete understanding of who God is.  Specifically, God showed me how my personal walk with Him and my own life could easily relate to most, if not all of the characters’ lives in the Old Testament stories that we read, and in many cases it did!  I love that about the Bible – how it transcends different time periods as well as cultures and because of that we can easily read, relate and apply the things we learn to our own lives.

One theme that really stood out to me throughout the first ten weeks of the E-100 challenge is God’s unfailing faithfulness along with the great, bold, and audacious faith that the characters we read about possessed (yes, I know that was two things, but the general theme here is faith).  Take Gideon for example.  First, it’s important to understand that Gideon was an extremely unlikely candidate to do anything great for God (God will often use ordinary people to do extraordinary things).  So in the book of Judges God calls Gideon out of the winepress to save His people, the Israelites, from the Midianites.  And right when Gideon and his army is about to go kick some Midianite butt, God tells him to dwindle down his army from 32,000 men to 300 men so that only God can get credit for the victory.  Think about the amount of faith that it took for Gideon to basically let everything go and let God take over trusting that he would deliver them from the Midianites.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not too sure how I would react to that command by God.  In the end, Gideon’s great faith paid off and, through his obedience to everything God commanded him to do, watched as the Midianite army literally self destructed.

We serve such a faithful God who keeps all His promises and never fails us even in the midst of the darkest times.  Through the E-100 challenge my faith has certainly grown and I have been able to understand God’s unfailing faithfulness (even when I’m not faithful) in a deeper way.

Lastly, throughout the reading of the different Old Testament scriptures via the E-100 Challenge it was so awesome to see the character of Jesus in several of the characters.  Ultimately, the Old Testament is a foreshadowing of the person of Jesus Christ and what he was going to do.  It was not about Noah, it was not about Abraham, and it was never even about Moses! It was all about JESUS.  All of it points to Jesus and I cannot wait to read through and discuss the E-100 passages in the New Testament!

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago.

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Amaury Experience’s Family at CA!

This past semester in Campus Ambassadors (CA) we ventured into a different format. It was a real gamble for us because it was something we had never done before. We didn’t know what was going to happen. Would people love it or hate it? All we knew was that we were following the Holy Spirit and what the Lord had placed in each one of the leader’s hearts.

From all the meetings and all the conversations it was clear we all wanted to turn CA into a family of brothers and sisters. Not just a group that you visit once a week and forget about until next time you see them. Or the type of group that after an entire semester of attending the meetings the leaders would come up to you and ask “what’s your name again?” No. We wanted it to be real and personal.

The result? A CA that meets in several small groups, or as we like to call them, “family groups.” These are groups of ten people at the most that meet weekly and discuss the readings or the teachings that we have been learning over the week. Beyond what a great educational opportunity it is to hear other people’s opinions, thoughts and questions; what I love most about the family groups is that they’re a safe and private environment where people are not only encouraged but welcomed to speak from their hearts and share whatever it is that may be happening in their lives and we help each other by listening, providing advice when appropriate and prayer.

I can honestly say that I consider everyone in my family group and CA as part of my family!  They provide strength in times of weakness, joy in times of sadness and love in times of hurt and pain. My life wouldn’t be the same without CA and for that I’m thankful.

I hope that if you’re reading this and you’re not already a part of the wonderful family, CA is that you stop waiting and join us. If it changed my life it can change yours as well.

With love,

Amaury

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago.

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Taylor learns to put more trust in God!

Throughout last semester, I learned a lot while going through the Old Testament with the E100 Challenge. Before taking this challenge I had never really read through the Old Testament before (only certain verses).

First, one of the most important things I learned while reading through this, was how much God loves each and every person. Throughout the Bible, God keeps providing in times of need and even when we don’t know why He does what He does, it is always for our good. It amazes me how God can make all things come together just for our good and that He provides in the times we need Him the most.

Second, I learned to always put my trust in God. There have been many instances in the Bible where people put their trust in God and God never fails them. The best example of this for me is the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-46. Even when Joseph is in prison and at his lowest point, he trusts God and waits on God to fulfill His will. He does not whine and complain and say how horrible his life is but he simply waits and trusts God. This is only one of many examples in the Bible that show how having trust in God is ultimately the best to live your life. Putting trust in worldly things, something I have definitely struggled with, will set you up for disappointment. God is the only one we should trust because He will never disappoint us and always has our best interests in mind.

It was important for me to read through the Old Testament not only because I learned so much but also because God’s Word is truth. I know that reading through the New Testament will be just as informative and exciting as reading through the Old Testament was. I hope many of you have been learning along the way too because knowing the truth and following it is a powerful and invaluable gift.

Posted 5 years, 2 months ago.

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Reflections on Joseph [Eric Tam]

After reading the Old Testament from the E-100 challenge, the story that stood out to me the most was the story of Joseph.  Not only did it reveal the strong faith Joseph had in tough situations, it also demonstrated how God has everything planned out and taken care of.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and was accused of having an affair with the wife of an Egyptian official.  Consequently, he was put in prison. However, God was with Joseph all along.  After interpreting the Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph rose to power and no one had greater authority except for the Pharaoh himself. Later on, Joseph reunited with his family during the great famine.

From his story, I learned that when struggles come, I have to remain faithful and trust in God’s plan.  I should not blame God for the situations I was placed in.  Meanwhile, I must also use these opportunities to rely on God even more.  Lastly, I need to acknowledge that God already has a plan and will definitely turn a bad situation into a good one.

Posted 5 years, 8 months ago.

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Making Tough Decisions

When I was preparing for my talk on “What’s God’s Will For My Life?” I realized that I was focusing more on the theological aspect of knowing God’s will, and less practical advice. While that (hopefully) should give some insight on how we view God and hence live our lives, I didn’t have the time to go over more concrete advice for making tough decisions (which is what most people really mean when they say they want to know God’s will).

Some Tips

Here are some things to consider when making a tough decision:

  • Pray – Scripture tells us that we can pray for wisdom and it will be given to us (James 1:5). Of course, wisdom is not about just knowing the answer, but more about learning to exercise good judgment, so don’t be let down if your answer doesn’t just magically come to you.
  • Study the Bible – Take a look at Proverbs 16:3, notice the order, first we commit our work to the Lord, then our plans will be established. In other words, Continue Reading…

Posted 7 years ago.

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Dave Ramsey’s Budgeting Forms

At the end of this post is another excel model that I have put together using Dave Ramsey’s Budgeting forms.  I have never seen these in excel format anywhere else so I think this format is original here on this site, however the content is not.  I am giving these away.  Just download and use them.

This model contains 13 of the most important forms that Dave includes in the information in Financial Peace University.  He gives 15 forms with his package, but I have only included what I believe to be the most useful here.

To buy any of his financial products or for a boat-load of information on financial advice from a Christian perspective, check out Dave Ramsey’s site at: www.daveramsey.com

The document is cell-protected so the only cells that can be changed are the cells that are in grey [where you plug in your own information].    As in the other budget excel model, the numbers and information already plugged in to this model are fictitious and there as an illustration

Hope this blesses you and assists you to be the manager of God’s resources that He wants you to be.

Dave Ramsey Budgeting Forms

Posted 7 years ago.

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