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OK, so bear with me here. I know I’ve basically been off the radar for about the last month, but that’s honestly because I’ve been reevaluating why I blog, why I twitter, etc.

With that said…change is coming in my virtual world. Definitely not today, probably not tomorrow, maybe not this month, BUT…I will return!

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If you know me well at all, you know that the first (and last) thing I do at work every morning is make a list. At the end of the day, I reconcile the list with what I’ve actually accomplished and make a list of the things that I need to that evening.

I’m leaving for two weeks to go visit our teams: tomorrow I head to Phoenix and then next Thursday I’ll meet up with our team near Philadelphia.

Now imagine, if you will, the size of the list that a compulsive list-make like myself has to make to prepare for a two week business trip.

It’s huge. But I’m powering through it!

My work of late

Of late my work here at CTI Music Ministries has been keeping me very busy!  I have taken over most of the day to day management of our current fulltime teams.  This is a great process to get to be a part of.  I get to help play a role in shaping the lives of young musicians who are passionate about the Gospel of Christ.

This day to day management manifests itself in a lot of ways.  On a given day I might do anything from managing road sales inventory to offering encouragement or guidance to a struggling team member, to helping plan for future teams and future tours.  Needless to say, it’s a great mix of things and I am never bored!  I love my job!

CTI in general is moving forward, as always.  We are working hard as a ministry to play our part in fulfilling Christ’s commission to “make disciples of all nations.”  We feel our part of that rests in two main areas: supporting global mission and ministry through the impact of music and developing Christian leadership and character in young musicians.

Thanks for supporting me as I play my part in this exciting work!

Field Report: Team 14:21

Our fulltime teams our currently in the midst of their Winter Tours.  They have been back out on the road for about a month now, and they are becoming road warriors in the amount of mileage they’ve covered.

It brings me much joy to watch team members grow over their time with us.  I thought I’d give you a brief thought from one of them.  This is an excerpt taken from a blog entry posted by Laura Schuh, team leader of team 14:21, regarding being back out on tour after break.

“… I’m so grateful to be back. There’s nothing like a nice, long, relaxing break to remind me of what it is I’m called to do this year. While it was wonderful to be at home, to spend time with friends and family, and to catch up on some sleep, I must admit that I missed our team, our nasty van (though we have a few more weeks before it really gets all that nasty), the many host homes we’ve been privileged to stay with, and the music we all love so much. There is a feeling of utter contentment I get every time I’m on stage (or back at the board)- knowing that I am doing exactly what I was created to do. It’s a remarkable feeling, and I can only pray that I can be aware enough of God’s calling in my life to be in this state all the time. While I realize that I will not always be called to be traveling with CTI, I know that God has a plan for my life, and only by following Him into that willingly will I ever recieve the kind of peace and joy that comes from fulfilling that purpose that God has in my life. I pray this for all of you as well.”

Read more at here.

My Personal Life

As I mentioned last month in my update, I bought a house!  That purchase has been dominating my time outside of the office.  But, I can’t complain, because I feel so blessed to have a place to call my own and go home to after work.  I’m hoping to post pictures of the house to my blog soon, so stay on the lookout for those.

I’ve done a few projects in the house, but nothing too drastic (a few new light fixtures, some painting, etc.) but the majority of the work that I have done at the house has been snow removal.  Yup, you read that correctly.  The house I bought was unoccupied and therefore there were massive piles of snow built-up when I took possession in late December.  It has been quite a bit of work to dig out from underneath the massive drifts.  It’s ok, though, because it’s February now.  Spring is coming soon!

Specific Prayer Requests

Team 14:21, as they minister on the East Coast

Team 14:22, as they minister on the West Coast

My support raising efforts

My new house! (Praise!)

Field Report: Team 14:22           

Here’s an excerpt from another team member, Carrie VanderHorst (Team 14:22).

“BEAUTY. This is the one word that I would use if I was to describe the tour so far. I have seen so many beautiful things. Some of them the nature of God’s creation like the canyons, mountains, and beaches. Other things like the attitudes and generosity of our contacts and host homes. But the most beautiful thing I have seen so far is the body of Christ at work.”

Read more here.

How to Support Paul:

Sign up online to be a monthly supporter:  Go to www.ctimusic.org/donate.   Click on “automatic recurring gift” to set up a monthly

draft from your credit or check card.  (You can also manage your monthly gift manually, by mail if you’d prefer- just follow the appropriate

link.)  Be sure to fill “Paul Vasilko” in the “staff member support” blank.

*You can make a ONE-TIME (non-recurring) gift at any time – just go to the donate page and click “one-time online donation.”

Friendly reminder: This is a tax-deductible gift.  If you are looking for a destination for some tax write-offs, consider making a donation to my support account!

I am getting so excited about so many things.  Spring is coming, so I will have survived my first winter in Minnesota, which I consider to be no small accomplishment.  We are planning for our summer tours, as well as continuing to support the ongoing ministry currently engaged in by our team members.  I have a wonderful new home, a great job that I love and gracious supporters like you.  Thanks for all you do for me!

I just finished listening to a podcast by Andy Stanley about decision making. He proposed that we all ask ourselves this question before we make a decision:

In light of my past, present and future, what is the wise thing to do?

I’m trying this out. So far, it’s changing the way I’m thinking about most things.

Hello everyone!  Here is an update of the goings-on in my life as we kick off 2009!  Thanks for reading!

Six Months?!

It’s hard to believe that as of January 15th, I will have been on staff here for six months already! I have a lot to be thankful as I look back at my first half-year with the ministry on staff.  God’s provision for me has been undeniable.  Because of God’s provision, I was able to buy a house last month.  I officially closed on December 22nd.  It turns out that owning a home is actually cheaper here than renting most apartments.

God provided the perfect place for me and I am so thankful.  I got to work with a wonderful Christian realtor, who is actually on our board of directors, and the perfect place just kind of fell right into my lap! I am working on getting all of the little things taken care of that go along with owning a home, but it is such a blessing!  If any of you need a place to stay in Willmar, feel free to let me know and you can crash at my house!

My new address is 1416 7th Street SW, Willmar, MN. For now, though, any mail that you’d like to send can still be sent to the ministry (P.O. Box 100, Willmar, MN 56201).Thanks to all of you who prayed for my housing search.  The Lord definitely had His hand on the whole process!

Teams head out on Winter Tour
Just this past weekend, we bid an early-morning goodbye to our team members as they departed for what will be their longest tour to date.

Allow me to backtrack a bit before I outline their tours.  The teams left for an approximately two-week long Christmas break on December 19th.  They returned on New Year’s Day and left for tour early on the morning of January 3rd.  As you might imagine, this was quite the whirlwind for all of us.

I spent much of their break (aside from the normal Holiday hustle and bustle) getting everything ready for this quick turnaround, so that the teams could hit the ground running.

After brushing up their repertoires and loading the trailers the teams were ready to spend three months touring most of both coasts of the United States.  Team 14:21 heads south and then east.  They kicked off their tour with some time in Illinois, will make a whirlwind trek to Florida (by way of Texas) and then spend the bulk of their 12-week tour working their way up the eastern seaboard.  Team 14:22 heads west and south.  They had a snowy drive out to Nebraska this past weekend and are slowing making their way to the Pacific Coast of California.  They’ll spend large amounts of time in Colorado, Arizona and California.

Live in or near any of these areas? Interested in seeing a team? Check out our website (ctimusic.org) for booking schedules.

Some Words from One of Our Team Members
“One of the most common expressions I hear on the road is “Wow, the same six people for a year! Don’t you get sick of each other?”
People are fascinated by the idea of choosing to live with the same people for so long.  Honestly, I see it as a gift: God has given me six other people with whom to share this experience. Six people to offer encouragement and support. A six-person accountability team!  Yeah, it’s actually not that easy.

We have to work on keeping our relationships going in a positive direction. We have to make time to spend with each other and grow in togetherness (believe it or not!)  We have to sacrifice for each other.  Sometimes we have to work just to love each other!

But still, with all the work involved, isn’t this something that everyone longs for?   An opportunity to live in community, where people are willing to do that kind of work for each other?  A chance to connect on a level deeper than mere small talk? To live with people who have seen us at our worst, and love us anyway?”

These words were written by Laura Schuh, team leader for Team 14:21.

At CTI, we desire to achieve a level of community that has a life-changing impact on all who are involved.  Laura’s words illustrate just how hard that process can be, but also how rewarding community can be as well.

If you’re interested in this kind of community and are a musician between the ages of 16-30, consider joining one of our teams.  Visit our website for more

Specific Prayer Requests
–          Our Teams’ Winter Tours

–          Continued prayer for our ministry as a whole

–          Thanksgiving for my new house

–          My continued fundraising process

How to Support Paul:
Sign up online to be a monthly supporter:  Click here.   Click on “automatic recurring gift” to set up a monthly draft from your credit or check card.  (You can also manage your monthly gift manually, by mail if you’d prefer- just follow the appropriate link.)  Be sure to fill “Paul Vasilko” in the “staff member support” blank.

*You can make a ONE-TIME (non-recurring) gift at any time – just go here and click “one-time online donation.”

Friendly reminder: This is a tax-deductible gift.  If you are looking for a destination for some tax write-offs, consider making a donation to my support account!

I’m really starting to feel at home here in Willmar.  I finally have a place of my own and I am really settling in to the work that I am doing here at CTI.  It’s been such a blessing to see God’s providential hand at work in my life and my decision to step out in faith and take this job.

As one of our team members put it: there is no failure in obedience.  Through the grace of Christ, I am learning just how true that statement is.  Thanks for helping me through that process.  Your support makes it possible.

The other day, I arrived to my office to find a copy of an article in my mailbox. It was an article from Relevant Magazine. The title? “The Problem of Pride in the Age of Twitter.”

Quite a thought provoking title, I think. My boss put the article in my box, knowing my penchant toward all things social media. At first, I was skeptical of the author. I thought he was going to tell me that my use of my smartphone to post pics to Twitter, or my desire to constantly check others’ Facebook profiles or my addiction to Google Reader was unchristian.

Quite the contrary, in fact. The author, Brett McCracken, postulates that it is not the use of these social media devices that is sinful, rather it is our need for the approval that comes from a higher Technorati ranking that causes us to stumble.

I must admit that I check my blog stats pretty regularly, and I am anxious every time I see a comment on one of my posts. I try not to let it take up too much of my thought process, but there are times when I have a little more bounce in my step after a big day of visitors to my blog.

Here’s the bottom line: I believe that God can redeem just about anything and use it for His glory, including technology and social media. I think that there can be true community that exists on a virtual platform. BUT, I think that in order for these things to happen we have to start from the perspective of serving others, and not our own interests.

I shouldn’t try to write a better post so that people think I’m a better person. I should try to write a better blog post, so that someone else could be a better person. In that way, we’ll follow Christ’s example even on Twitter.

Here’s a few more articles about technology and community:

Jeff Goins is putting a positive spin on the answer to the question, Can online community exist?

Jeff Campbell is pondering the Limitations of online community

Elysa MacLellan claims that Virtual community was her real community.

“Absolutely nothing is beyond Jesus’ sight or sovereign hand.”
– Phil Lutz

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