Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Looking Back, Looking Forward


Our UTD pastoral team this year! From left to right / top to bottom (ready for this?):
April, Cort, Peter, Brandon, Stian, Mandy, me, Andrea, Kylie, Coral, Amy, Hannah, Michelle, Lindsey, and Lailah.

This has been an incredibly bittersweet month of ministry for me! With the exception of my apprenticeship year at UNT, I have been involved at UTD for a decade, and now I'm getting to move on to a new chapter.
As I mentioned in my last ministry update, my wife and I are moving to Arlington at the end of this month- I'll be coming onto the UT Arlington team as their assistant director and continuing to help plant a chapter of FOCUS at TCU. I've felt called to the Ft. Worth / Arlington area for almost five years now, so this has been a long time coming, but it's still shocking that the time has already come. 
It's been such a blessing to get to be a pastor for the last several years at the campus that I first walked onto as a 17 year old with little to no direction and drive. God has blessed me immensely in this time, and I hope I can continue to be faithful and be a part of God changing many other students' stories out west.

Parking Lot Graduation

Parking Lot Graduation is an annual tradition that UTD FOCUS has been doing since 2020. It started as a spur-of-the-moment idea from Peter (one of our pastors) to do something for students who weren't going to get to walk the stage to receive their diplomas because of the pandemic. Now, it's a fun way for our students to celebrate each other and be able to invite more family members. The structure is simple: almost two hundred people line up along the sides of a parking lot on campus, and we play Pomp and Circumstance over a set of speakers and give students who are getting degrees their own (not official) FOCUS diplomas. It's very silly and very sweet.

Our fearless director Brandon graduated from seminary, and I got to congratulate him!

End of Year Party

All of our male pastors at UTD got together for a picture, and SOMEONE had to ruin it by blinking.

We got to celebrate the end of the school year by throwing a party for our students. It's incredibly rewarding to see all of the friendships that have formed between students by the end of the year that didn't exist at the beginning.

  • Please be praying for our students as they go back to their respective homes and hometowns for the summer break. The summer can be a time of rest and growth for some students, but it's a time of spiritual struggle for many.
  • Pray for our pastors as their raise their salaries. It can be a daunting journey (and a humbling one), but we're always blown away by God's faithfulness and peoples' generosity.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

He is Risen!

When your church has a petting zoo at its Easter potluck, you pet the baby goats.
This is not optional.

Spring Outreach Week

Every year, we have the pleasure of hosting a group of students from a ministry in Washington State called Campus Christian Fellowship. They spend their spring break (which is the week after ours) reaching out to and serving students on OUR campuses!  
This year, our outreach during this week was focused on how God is a relational, healing God who moves to restore our relationships with Him, others, and ourselves.

For one of the days of outreach, we created a life-sized (or bigger!) cut out of a person who we
affectionately named Frederick. We invited students to write down what it feels like to be them
on a mirror square and place it on Frederick. We then got to talk to them about how God can change
our self-perception and purpose.

Wisdom for Dummies

Every semester, we host an event called Pizza Theology, in which we dive into a topic related to Scripture and faith for four hours (!) with a one-hour pizza break in the middle. This semester, the topic was the wisdom literature (Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes). 

Rez Fair

For the past few years, we've had the pleasure of hosting a giant Easter celebration right by the student union at UTD! The celebration includes tables with interactive Gospel presentations, free food, raffles, live music, inflatable slides, and more. We get to partner with several other Christian organizations on campus for this, so it's a blast to get to do!

UTA, Here I Come!

While this has been in the works as a possibility for years, it's not official: I will be moving (with my wife of course) to Arlington to join FOCUS at the University of Texas at Arlington as their assistant director and lead men's pastor! This is an exciting (and terrifying) opportunity, and will move us closer to the accompanying goal of planting a chapter of FOCUS at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth next year. Outside of one year at UNT (and TWU), I've been at UTD for a decade now, so it's a bittersweet time for me. I preached my last sermon as a pastor at UTD this past Friday.


  • Please be praying for the transition to UTA- that God would give me and everyone involved wisdom, peace, and strength.
  • Be praying for our upcoming trip to Washington with our student leaders for the Student Institute of Campus Ministry- the annual week-long leadership conference. 

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Love Always Hopes


"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (NIV)

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast

and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget, I will not forget you.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;

your walls are ever before me."

Isaiah 49:15-16

“Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.

As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; 

it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.”

GK Chesterton

Lately, God has been showing me just how insidious how an unloving, unforgiving heart can really be. I think we often assume that an unforgiving and unloving heart must be actively bitter- at the forefront of one's mind. While that is certainly often the case, I wonder if this kind of thing more often flies under the radar in the form of mild annoyance, lowered expectations, and subtle avoidance. Maybe a lack of love and forgiveness looks more like a lack of involvement than like hostility. Perhaps that's why Scripture tells us that God disciplines those whom He loves. He has enough hope for the kinds of people that He can transform us into that He doesn't give up or shy away from extreme measures. He has been showing me how often I don't exhibit this kind of loving persistence- passing off my dismissal of others as acceptance and my unwillingness to challenge others and myself as patience.

Is there anyone in your life who you've lost hope for in subtle ways? What would it look like to embrace the reality found in Jesus that love always hopes?


A group of professional African drummers and dancers teaching a dance to 
audience members.

One of the goals FOCUS has begun to pursue more is to more effectively welcome all kinds of people into our community. UTD is one of the most diverse college campuses in the country, but (like in most places), people tend to cluster into groups that look the same and think the same. It can be easy to reach out to students who look like me, invite them to a service where the pastors all look like me where they can sing music made by people who look like me and listen to me quote theologians who look like me in my sermon. While diversity for its own sake may not be the main goal of ministry, the call of God's people is to be a blessing to all nations, and often we assume this will happen with no effort or thought on our part. Some of our pastors and students recently put on an event called RELEASE that celebrated African American and native African art- much of which is Christian. It was a way to communicate to a large section of the campus that the community we offer is for them, too. That we want God's fingerprints to be on everyone at our campus, and we want our community to look more and more like the multitude of every tribe and nation that God revealed to John in Revelation. 

But beyond the seriousness of these goals, it was a beautiful event, and some of the most fun I've had in a long time!

The show ended with a New Orleans style second line chorus. It was one of
the most joyful things I've seen happen on any college campus.


  • The last week of March is Spring Outreach Week- a time where a group of students from another college ministry in Washington state called Campus Christian Fellowship joins up with our students to reach students across campus- connecting them with Christians, bringing them into Christian community, and sharing the message of Jesus with them. Please be praying that God work work through this!
  • There are still a lot of students and staff members in FOCUS who are going through a really hard time with crises and tragedies in their own lives and in the lives of family and friends. Please be praying for comfort, peace, and strength for them- both through God's people and directly through His Spirit and provision.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Word of God Lives in You

A moment of worship and celebration at our annual Winter Retreat. Sirak, Jadon, and Lailah- all sweet
friends are seen here making a joyful noise!

 "I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father,
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one."
1 John 2:14 (NIV)

I am persistently amazed by the ability of myself and others to keep God's Word at arm's length while living lives that are surrounded by it. As a pastor, I read Scripture with students and with other pastors, I teach on preach on Scripture, I read Scripture on my own, I study Scripture in seminary classes, I ask and answer questions about Scripture nearly every single day. And yet, invariably, I find myself and others reducing Scripture to ideas- believing the mature student of Scripture is the one who can navigate the Bible the most quickly or who knows the most potential interpretations of the most frustrating passages. And yet the relationships with God's Word espoused by people of God like David, John, Paul, and others point to one on which the Word lives so much within someone that it shapes their assumptions, dreams, reactions, and hopes- stabilizing them in times of difficulty and destabilizing them in times of complacence. It seems that in the quest to let the Word of God live in us, there is no replacement for a combination of humility, openness, pain, and time. 

I have recently felt a push from God and from some key people in my life to not settle for learning about Scripture, but to lean into it with the constancy, intensity, and thirst necessary to make it come alive in me. 
How alive is God's Word in you? And do you believe He has a more vibrant relationship with His Word in store for you?

Lasting Friendships

A group of UTD grads- all of whom I got to know as students, and many of whom I got the pleasure
of meeting with on a weekly basis. Mark (in the Dr. Pepper shirt) is getting married next month!

While my monthly ministry updates usually focus on my time with college students while they are still in school, it is also a blessing to get to remain friends with many students well into their post-college years. One special way of getting to do that is at weddings, and I've had the blessing and honor of getting to be a groomsmen or officiant in several weddings of men who used to be students in FOCUS. This weekend, I'm a groomsmen in the wedding of two of our graduates- one of whom I got time with every week for two years. Next month, I get to officiate the wedding of two of our other students- one of whom has graduated, and the other of whom is graduating soon. As I push further past my own college years, I'm learning more about what it takes to launch from college into the rest of adult life as a disciple, and it's a great gift and responsibility to share this with the men I disciple.

Thank you!

Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying for our students and who has been supporting us with your prayers, your conversations, your encouragement, and your financial support. As I re-read the first several books of the Old Testament, I'm reminded of how the Levites were only able to serve in the Temple because they were provided for by the rest of God's people- thus, they all took part in caring for the Temple. Similarly, the pastors in FOCUS would never be able to devote their full attention to ministry without the support of hundreds of people who have long since left college and college ministry.

  • A lot of our students and pastors have gone through (and are going through) very difficult seasons of life right now, dealing with the serious sickness and loss of close family members. Please be praying for peace and provision for these students and their families, and for the students and pastors around them to have the compassion to grieve with them and the strength to be a support to them.
  • Our leader team is focusing in this semester on pursuing a vibrant prayer life, pursuing purity of speech in how we speak of one another, and growing in reaching our campus with the Gospel (it can be very easy to get complacent in the Spring semester). Please be praying for us to be faithful to this, and for the Spirit to work in these ways.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Seek His Face


"My heart says of You, 'Seek His face!'

Your face, Lord, I will seek."

Psalm 27:8 (NIV)

Song of the waters calling: come and drink. 

Come, all you creatures, to the shadowy brink 

in dark of night.

This spring of living water desire, 

here in the bread of life I see entire 

in dark of night.

Song of the Soul by St. John of the Cross 

(translated by John Frederick Nims)

There is a unique plight that a college pastor who is concerned with the spiritual health of the people under their care will always face: How do I foster spiritual health in this person that will outlast their time as a student? It's the teach-a-man-to-fish conundrum- only in regards to loving God. I think there can often be a problem in the Church in which pastors concern themselves with motivating people to pray, and churchgoers concern themselves with finding pastors who will motivate them to pray. What's interesting is that the material on prayer found in Scripture, as well as the material on prayer throughout Church history that has been deemed worthy to be passed down through the centuries is hardly concerned with motivating people to seek God.

Instead, the angle of approach seems in many ways to be one of showing the kind of precious, intimate, all-encompassing relationship with God that is possible. Rather than pushing prayer onto people the way a parent pushes their child to eat vegetables, these writers presume a thirst for prayer- seemingly operating on the assumption that the ache for more that we feel is not a problem to solve, but a blessed invitation. What if rather than searching ourselves for an energized motivation to pray, we searched ourselves for spiritual hunger pangs, seeing them as an invitation, rather than a problem?

A Smorgasbord of Pictures

A bunch of college students have started using the social media app BeReal over the last handful of months. Rather than providing users with a constantly generating feed of content, all it does is randomly ping you (and all of your friends) once a day at a random time, giving you two minutes to take a picture of what you're up to. It has proved invaluable in capturing both the candid moments of ministry and the horrifying faces I am capable of making. Enjoy.

Talking through small group leadership with Stian (left) and Jonathan (right)

I try to play basketball with students once or twice a week.
Pictured here is Jadon, in the worst-timed picture ever.

Sometimes a 20-30 minute time alone with God in the afternoon
helps to process the day so far and prepare for the rest of it.

Eating breakfast with Drew, a Denton FOCUS pastor.
We led a core together in 2015-16, and were both in each other's weddings!

The Northeast Church retreat!

Teaching a preaching workshop for our apprentices!
Pictured: Hannah and Stian
Not pictured: Katherine, Coral, Kevin, and Eileen

Getting to study the Bible with Andrew, a TCU student!

Bonus content:
My wife and I brought home a kitten (who we've named Winnie)
to be a little sister to our cat (named Captain).


  • Pray for our students over the Thanksgiving break. Pray that they would be a light to their families, and that they would be able to come back refreshed.
  • Pray for our one-on-one Bible studies, that God would use them to bring people closer to Him.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

"I Am Prayer"

"In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer."
Psalm 109:4 (NIV)

"'The vision of God,' says Bishop Westcott, 'makes life a continuous prayer.' 
And in that vision all fleeting things resolve themselves, 
and appear in relation to things unseen...
'I am prayer,' said a Psalmist. 
'In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,' said an Apostle."
The Hidden Life of Prayer by David M'Intyre

The Psalms often show a writer who is facing great adversity, but is learning to "find themselves" in God- finding comfort in His presence and provision. Think of the image of God's presence with the Psalmist in Psalm 139, or of the images of God's attention and provision in Psalm 23. One of my favorite instances of a Psalmist learning to find themselves in God, however, is tucked away in an angry Psalm of lament. In Psalm 109:4, the phrase that the NIV renders "I am a man of prayer" is intentionally vague. While "I am a man of prayer" is a valid translation, tt could be translated: "I am in prayer," or even "I am prayer." In short, the Psalmist is not just describing prayer as a habit of his, but simply attaching himself to prayer. 

This has made me wonder on and off for the last couple of years: What kind of intimacy with God would someone have to reach in order to be able to say: I am prayer? Or is the Psalmist expressing a reality that is already there: if you have given yourself to God, you can only really find yourself and be yourself when you are in connection with Him from then on. You have been bound to Him. You are prayer.

Ministry Highlights

This time of the semester is one of my favorites. While the August and September season of intense sowing (meeting new people, starting new relationships, etc) is always fruitful and rewarding, the subsequent months of really getting to know students and really getting to be on the front row of God's work in their lives are my favorite part of being a pastor. 

Jonathan (left) and Stian (right) are two of my favorite guys to meet with. Here they are, both wearing the same shirt, and both frozen in what can only be described as a half-grimace.
Jonathan is a student who has blessed me and others with his humility, consistency, and dedication to being a faithful disciple and a good friend. Stian is a good friend of mine who is doing the apprenticeship this year! More on him below.

Stian (pictured here cutting my hair) was someone I got to mentor as a student a few years ago. Since then, we've become good friends, and I'm getting to help him step into life as a full-time college pastor. And he's helping me not look totally disheveled.


  • Please pray for our students to learn to rest in God. October is often a time of the year when students are busy and stressed, because they've been at their studies for several weeks now, but the end of the semester isn't in sight. I've found that students who struggle with depression often find this time of year when both mental energy and daylight are more at a premium to be difficult.
  • Pray for our students' hearts to be shaped by God's Word and by Christian community. It's "basic," but we just want them to know Him.
  • Let me know how I can be praying for you! 


Thursday, September 8, 2022


All of the current FOCUS pastors from over a dozen different campuses, all together in one place!

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty, 
darkness was over the surface of the deep,
and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."
Genesis 1:1-2 (NIV)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: 
The old has gone, the new is here!"
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

As I have mentioned a few times in these ministry updates, I have spent the last year and a half in part-time (and occasionally full-time) seminary classes with Fuller Theological Seminary.

One of the many classes I have gotten to take this year boasted a beautiful name: The Church's Understanding of the Church, Humanity, and the Christian Life in its Theological Reflection (as you can imagine, it provided me with a lot of nice, easygoing, rainy day reading material). Two of the many topics covered in this class were those of Creation and Anthropology (the study of humanity, and what it means to be human). Studying these things brought about a much more robust understanding of the fact that not only did God create everything I see around me- He is continually sustaining and creating new things. 

The ways we see God creating in Genesis help us understand the ways that He makes us into new creations! Just as the Spirit hovered over the chaos and nothingness of reality before creating the universe, He hovers over the chaos and nothingness of our hearts, our relationships, and our lives. Just as God spoke light, life, order, flourishing, purpose and relationships into being for Creation, He is doing the same in our lives today. Notice the words John picks up on when describing Jesus in his Gospel and in his letters- light, life, water, birth, etc...all images that first find their way into Scripture in the narrative of Creation. 

How does your life resemble the story of Creation? Are you in a time of chaos and nothingness, barely cognizant of the Spirit hovering over you, planning something new and keeping you from boiling over? Is God bringing order to an area of your life? Is He shining light on something in your heart? Is He introducing new relationships- filling your life in new ways? Is He clearing away something old, making room for something new (like a gardener)?

The Creator in Ministry

At the beginning of each school year, college pastors get to see a new stage for God's creating work to take place in. There are new students we meet, who God plans on turning into new creations. Because of the turnover rate of college ministry, the student body on each of our campuses takes on a totally new culture every year, and we get to join God in creating and cultivating something new, by His grace helping to bring light, life, and order into dark and chaotic places.

Over the last few weeks, we have:
  • Frantically advertised our presence on campus so that students looking for a college ministry know we're here for them
  • Met as many freshmen as possible through board game nights, field nights, seminars, helping people find classes, eating lunches and dinners with strangers
  • Sought to plug freshmen into church homes by offering rides to church (and advertising their availability all over campus!)
  • Started to have ministry-specific events like worship nights and Bible classes
  • Started around two dozen new small groups on campus
  • Begun to invite everyone in those small groups into one-on-one Bible studies with pastors and student leaders
  • Other things I can't think of right now!
This is a hectic time of year, but also an exciting and blessed one. I wish I could tell you about every freshman and first-time student leader who I'm excited about this semester, but for now it will have to suffice to say that there are a lot.

Thank you so much if you have prayed for me, checked in on me, or supported me financially. You are the reason I can be a full-time college pastor.

Click here to read a handful of my papers from seminary (if you're interested)!

Click here to listen to my most recent sermons!

Prayer requests

  • Please pray for the many freshmen (and new students of all kinds) that we have met over the past few weeks. Pray for them to find good friends who point them to Christ, and to dedicate themselves to following Jesus during their time in college and beyond.
  • Please pray for our campus pastors and student leaders. While this time of year is encouraging, it is also incredibly exhausting! Pray for physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
  • At the end of September, our campuses all do what we call Fall Camp, which is a unique ministry opportunity, because the students get a lot of time around one another and around their pastors.