I know that revelation will surprise those of you who know me well.  For those who don’t know, I’m an avid Mac user, and I spend much of my time espousing the gloriousness that is everything that Steve Jobs does.

BUT, as you all may realize, much of the business world still operates in Bill Gates’ sphere of influence.  I was running VMware Fusion to create a virtual PC on my Mac (which is only possible on a Mac :)) but it was slowly killing my MB to use it 16-18 hours a day (at work and at home).

SO…solely in the interest of preserving my Mac, I got a PC laptop too.  (Lenovo Ideapad, for those who care)

I know, I know…all you PC users that I made fun of over the years are sitting behind your desks snickering right now.  Don’t worry, I’m not becoming a Gates’ disciple or anything, it’s quite the opposite.  I just want to be able to use my Mac as a Mac again.  🙂

Anyone else run Windows on their Mac and just shiver when you hear the startup audio clip for Windows…ugghhh.  No more for me!

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

The other night my girlfriend and I were driving back to Illinois to visit my family. We stopped along the way to visit some of her family in the Twin Cities, and then left for Illinois in the mid-afternoon.

We settled in for, what we thought would be, a nice seven hour drive. We realized quickly, as we sat in Twin Cities’ gridlock, that we might be in for a long day.

After we broke free from the traffic, we were soon encountered with an even worse problem…fog. This was not just a few little patchy wisps of light fog either. This was the definition of pea soup.

People were creeping along the highway, trying to see the white lines and braking quickly as they realized they were about to miss their exit.

But then I made a realization. My GPS navigation device acted like a set of eyes for me, showing me well in advance when I should expect the road to curve, and alerting me when my exit was approaching.

Once I made that realization, our drive got a lot smoother. I still wasn’t able to drive the speed limit, and our trip still took a few hours longer than we thought it would, BUT we made it safe and sound, and the fog actually cleared for the home stretch.

Here’s how this has affected me:

– never take for granted the ability to see clearly while driving
– go out and get a GPS right now!

On a deeper level…
I wonder if this is an allegory of our walk with Christ.
When it is hard to see we get frustrated and it seems to ruin our plans. BUT if we would look to Christ (modeled here by my GPS – I know it’s cheesy but give me a break) He would show us the way through the fog.

And as the fog gets thicker and thicker, we need direction more and more. Often we are resistant to someone telling us what to do, but the sooner we realize that Christ has our best interest in mind, the sooner He will be able to navigate us through the fog of life.

Here’s an article I wrote a while back for an online magazine edited by one of best friends.  It just popped into my head tonight as I’m working late, so I thought I’d share it with you all.

Happy reading, and may you all step boldly into the pool.

“The only thing louder in that moment than the beating of my heart was the deafening silence coming from everyone around me. I stood there with several of my best friends in the world, all of us waist deep in the cool water of a pool in the early morning. We were waiting…”

…Read the rest of the article here…