Posted by: Ed | October 12, 2009

IOWA, Salt Co RETREAT & The Weekend that Was

This weekend I was in the Shangri-La that is Iowa. “What are you doing in Iowa?” you ask. I was speaking at the Salt Company retreat. “Pardon? Was this a corporate gig? I know they grow a lot of stuff there, I didn’t know they grew salt.” Seriously!

Salt Co is a college ministry at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. It spawned a great Church out there in the middle of the cornfields called Cornerstone Church. A great church led by some great people. My connection is that a friend that was a student in my youth ministry when I was in Omaha, Mark Arant, went to school at ISU, went on staff & eventually became the head scho of Salt Co & a pastor on staff at the church. This is my 3rd time speaking. They bring in about 650-700 students every week to their Thursday night meeting. Almost 400 of them were on this retreat. I flew in to speak at the Thursday thing & then at the retreat.

They have incredible worship & God is wonderfully moving in this ministry. You can check out their latest worship CD called Anthem here.
A bonus for me was that the college group at my old church in Omaha, Christ Community decided to come up for the retreat.

God was clearly moving in the lives of the students. It seemed like it was a running take off starting on Thursday. I did a talk called “Dangerous God” that a several kids told me was their favorite one.

Fri & Saturday we did 3 messages on Elijah since I’ve been pretty immersed in his story & that part of Scripture.

Saturday night, customarily, is the night when you hope things culminate & God really lands. It was an amazing night. The band seemed to have the Spirit of God all over them. I could feel the message landing & at several points I knew that God had a word for some specific people in the crowd. As I finished we worshipped some more & then we just seemed to get leadings & specific words of things God wanted to do, gifts he wanted to give. There were some wonderfully deep prayers prayed, some great expression of the body of Jesus at it’s best, some Holy Spirit breakthroughs. It was a “WOW” moment. No doubt!

Here’s what I wrote in my journal:
I went to bed Saturday night feeling pretty spent. Thanks for releasing words, for giving me the faith to call people up, for leading me to & away from things, for bringing the weekend to a great climax for kids having that WOW, GOD IS HERE experience. Lord, people need to see You be real, obviously real sometimes. Thanks for the people I was able to pray with & for giving me guidance on how to pray with them.

After every session the staff met while the students were in their small groups. I love being able to talk about how the stuff we were teaching & preaching on can work its’ way into our ministries, and more importantly into our lives.

Here are a few of other highlights:
• It’s always cool to see Mark’s family. His kids are fun & obviously happy.
photo 2photo-1
• I was supposed to snow & rain this weekend. It was actually pretty nice (by Iowa standards). Chilly & clear about 45-50 on Saturday.
• It’s fun to see the big sky & landscapes & the tree leafs starting to turn colors.
• The world changing potential of college student is breathtaking. They can & do go anywhere God leads them. They don’t have quite as much baggage to unpack as those that find Christ later in life.
* The filthiest thing I’ve seen in a long time was the air in the barn at the barn dance – hundreds of college students shaking it up at 1:00 a.m. stir up a lot of manure laden dust – looked fun… for them.
photo 5-1
• It’s never automatic. We must pray. I’ve done lots of retreats. But I always find myself crying out to God. I know without doubt, that what need to happen in these situations is totally beyond my ability to do. GOD needs to show up & work. I love it when it happens. It’s always an act of faith as you wait.
• Seeing a guy that you’ve known since Jr High lead a ministry like this is pretty darn gratifying. I remember Mark as a student; I remember when God really got a hold of him in Jr High & high school. It’s kind of like surfing. Hear me out. One of the fun things about surfing with your buddies is that it is almost as much fun seeing them catch a good wave as getting one yourself… almost. In this case, it’s actually BETTER seeing God use someone that you’ve known & had a small part in their walk with Christ than having God use me. Hope that makes sense.

I’m flying home as I write this. The early returns say that it was a great weekend at Journey. I was praying hard that it would be. I heard that Todd did a great job with the message. I’m pretty amped up to be back & for us to launch our new series on worship: FROM CONSUMER TO CONSUMED.



  1. Ed,
    I just wanted to thank you so much for coming all the way to Iowa to teach us. I learned so much this weekend. Your sheep story hit me hard. I forget that so many times God just wants to show me things. It’s not always this huge crazy storm. My life has had a lot happen in the last 5 years, and I forgot to listen to the whisper. I kept looking for this huge miracle to happen or a storm or earthquake or something huge. This was better. I feel God in such a real way right now and it’s because of a whisper I heard this weekend. God is doing some cool things through you!

  2. Welcome Back Salty One – we are all looking forward to the new series on Worship. The theme of being consumed by God or a consumer brought back memories of an article I read wherein Chris Tomlin said the following:

    “It’s an interesting word in our times, consumer, in a sense of, that’s one of the main issues in our day and time, and that’s, Are we too much of consumers and … not being the ones that are consumed? In worship, we’re supposed to be consumed by God and not consumers.”

    Tomlin points out that, “It seems like we’re going through songs today, like every three weeks you’ve got to have a new song. That’s that consumer mentality.” He admits that it even pulls him in sometimes. “I feel that as well, like, Oh my gosh, it’s been three weeks, I’ve sang this song for three weeks, I’ve got to have a new song. That’s consumer, that’s missing the whole point. That’s not being consumed by God, that’s being a consumer of songs.”

    And there’s a danger with our need to consume more and newer worship music. “You know, you think of a song like “Shout to the Lord,” you think, Oh we can’t do that song it’s so old. When did those words ever become old? In being consumed, you’re saying something in that song to God and about God, and so it should not be old. That’s why I think the hymns have been around so long, because there was not a consumer mentality to them, it was just an expression of faith.”

    The consumer in me is saying, ut oh, I’m in trouble and in need of repentance. The part of me being consumed by God in worship just revels all the more in the death of the consumer in me. The intercessor in me just loves the idea of being consumed with God or by God but eh reality of what it takes to live that kind of life is the tough part.

    Steven Johnson

  3. Finally! A great shot of a good ‘ole American Barn Dance! SoCal folks are “too cool” for such freedoml

  4. Ed – Thanks so much for investing in our students. What a blessing your influence your retreats at TSC, your investment in Mark, podcasts, and the short time we’ve been able to chill together have impacted me and our ministry. Reports about what the Father is doing because of the retreat are reaching the other side of the world. I’m sorry I missed it. Keep up the good work bro. – Mike

  5. Mike,
    Thanks for the comment & the nice words. We missed you big time at the retreat. You came up in Mark & I’s convo several times.
    Hey if you are doing an email update of what’s going on with you I’d love to be put on the list.

  6. Ed,

    I’m continuing to get great reports from the retreat. More lives were affected than you’ll ever know.

    Also, I just hung out today with Buddy Hoffman, a pastor of grace in Atlanta. Have you ever met him? Good, kingdom guy you’d like.

    Thanks again for coming out!

    – Mark

  7. Mark,

    So good to hear – sola gloria Deo!

    Don’t know Buddy – although, I always thought it would be cool to be named “Buddy”.

  8. Ed,

    My name is Kendra and I was fortunate and blessed to be at the Salt retreat for your amazzzing “sessions”. This weekend was incredible for me, God brought out a lot of things that i had locked up and burried deep within me, those “knots” that you talked about on Sunday morning. Things I thought I had “gotten over and dealt with” in the death of a very best friend last summer. A lot of anger with God that i never realized i harbored, and Saturday night, God totally changed my attitude of “God, i dont really know why im here this weekend, ive already given up things you have asked me to give up, theres nothing else- this is pointless. im not getting anything out of this.”…..God thought different. And he yanked those issues out- thank you so much for your words, your prayer, your encouragement, and your leadership to those of us here in little ol’ Iowa at the Salt Company. God is doing great great things through you here and there (san diego) and everywhere!!!!
    Thank you thank you!!
    Come back again, PLEASE!! :)

  9. Kendra,
    What a cool story of God working in your life. I’m so glad to have been there with you guys & to see God work.
    God IS doing great things in Ames, Iowa & at ISU!


  10. I was so incredibly blessed being in worship with you the first Sunday of your series on worship. it was timely beyond mention…I am now on itunes to follow up with the rest of the series! I can’t wait to see how God leads you re: ‘I love me my idols’ partly because I recently discovered Isai 43:12 in my One Year LB…
    ‘Whenever you have thrown away your idols, I have shown you my power.’
    I have acted on that in my life and I can not believe the change…I can not keep up journaling! God sightings and weavings all over the place!
    I was visiting my daughter there and love to worship where she does. I am from Iowa, and my son is very active in the Salt Company and spoke so highly of the retreat. I have been blessed by your blog of your time there also. felt a little like I was stalking…getting more details he didn’t tell me :-)
    may God continue to use you mightily!You are a blessing.

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