Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Soil, Roots, and Such

Matt doing a short devotional at our Christmas party while dressed up as the conductor from Polar Express (obviously)

"So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."
1 Corinthians 3:7 

"This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how."

Mark 4:26-27

What's Happened in the Last Month

Perhaps the two most unique events that took place in the last month were our worship night and our Christmas party. These two nights, followed by our last get together for our student leaders this Monday, all showed the way this community is growing. On Friday, a lecture hall full of students worshipped Jesus for an hour and a half, dwelling on Him and expressing their awe of Him and love for Him through singing, journaling, reflecting, and encouraging one another. On Sunday,  I got to watch our community just have a blast together at our Christmas party. If there's anything you see about Jesus' relationship with the disciples and Paul's suggestions to the churches he wrote to, it's that as Christians we ought to genuinely be friends with one another and actively find life in one another's company. That's definitely what I saw on Sunday. 

In addition to this, I've gotten to have a lot of challenging, stimulating, and beautiful conversations with students, staff, and strangers alike in the last 30 days. Seeing the eagerness and joy of students in our ministry has reminded me of how wonderful it is to find newness in Christ, seeing the humble boldness of my mentors has encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone in ministry, and seeing the difficulty and hardship of people from many walks of life has grown me in compassion and reminded me of why Christ's healing is so needed in this world. 

Our staff at the FOCUS Christmas party. You may recognize me as the one with the worst costume. 

What God's Been Teaching Me About Ministry

God has been reminding me a lot that He is the one who is working in ministry, and I am privileged to join Him in this work. I've spent a lot of time this semester learning to be a better minister, which is something that is necessary and a blessing (trust me, I need it), but I've come face to face more than ever with the fact that no amount of skill, hard work, or "faithfulness" on my part can change someone's heart. My job is to call people to Christ, and He changes people. 

Some Thank Yous and a Reminder

As always, thank you so much to everyone who supports me directly and who gives to FOCUS. 

Also, thank you so much to everyone who has chosen to give to KFG. For those who have managed to avoid the 2,284,858 Facebook posts about KFG, it is an annual fundraiser FOCUS does to keep FOCUS growing called Keep FOCUS Growing. Makes sense, right? Establishing FOCUS on a new campus can take quite a bit of money, so in order to allow our communities to continue to grow and to allow FOCUS to reach new campuses (i.e. SMU,  UTA, etc.), we need help from people who believe in our vision to make and mature disciples on college campuses in the DFW Metroplex! 

So far, KFG this year has been hugely successful! We decided to take advantage of Giving Tuesday on Facebook, and our donors came through and gave $30,000 of our overall $50,000 goal in this one day! The fundraiser will be going through the end of this year, so please consider joining in and putting some of your December generosity towards FOCUS :)
Read more at https://anyfocus.org/kfg/


  • Pray for the seeds planted in our students' lives to continue to mature as they spend time away from the community over the break.
  • Pray for God to watch over our students as many of them go away from their new friendships to their hometowns where they may have had fewer Christian friendships. 

I love you all!
- Rhett

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Where God Resides

Our family of churches worshiping together at our all-church retreat. Seeing people from these three churches coming together to celebrate what God has done in their communities is an enormous blessing.

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing...14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14
Seeing the Body at Work

      As I complete this third month of the FOCUS apprenticeship, I figured I was overdue to take some time to share about the kind of community FOCUS is, and why I believe God's fingerprints are all over it. 

     Over the last month, I've seen students of a wide variety of ages and backgrounds minister to me and to one another in very real ways. During one Friday Night Fellowship (our larger group meetings), we were talking about Psalms of Lament, and how we often see the authors in the Psalms express painful realities and difficult questions to God while still choosing to trust in Him. After the sermon, students were asked to come up to a microphone (in front of ~150 of their peers) and share a sentence that matches the prompt:

"[Lament], but I choose to trust Him."
     Pain comes in many forms, so the prompt was left as simple as possible. Over the next several minutes, students shared about illness and death amongst their loved ones, broken relationships, depression, anxiety, and countless other things that often don't make sense. Even as they were sharing these things, it was obvious that God was using the Body to comfort them. 

     Just last night, Matt (FOCUS's director here in Denton, also my mentor, also my friend) preached on humility, putting forth a phrase that has become popular in FOCUS: "humble people honor people." Again, students were challenged to put this into practice by directly encouraging and thanking people who had made an impact on their lives that year. The amount of very real, simple, vulnerable encouragement that went on in that room was beautiful. 

     This is a body of students who truly want to know, follow, and live like Jesus, and I'm humbled that I get to help them in that. 

Nate and Jacob (left and right, respectively) are two of the guys in my peer team. This picture was taken after they finished praying for one another. This time of the semester is always hard in campus ministry, but God has been faithful to give us the peace needed to do His work. 

Peer Team

     My relationships with the group of student leaders who God has put into my life to mentor (which is a joke because they minister to me more than I minister to them) have begun to sprout and bring fruit in ways that I could only hope for at the beginning of the year. All I could ask for from these guys is for them to show up to do what God has called them to do and allow Him to work in their hearts, and I've gotten to see so much more than that. All of these guys are within a year of my age (both older and younger), and the spiritual "acquaintances" that we started with are fast becoming spiritual friendships. One day I might be having a difficult, challenging conversation with a guy, and the next day he could be beating me in an arm wrestle. One moment, I might be reading through Scripture or an article with a pair of core leaders, and the next moment, one of us could say something unintentionally ridiculous that becomes an inside joke. 

     God's goodness continues to be surprising, baffling, and better than the human goodness that I often ask for from Him. 


The last day of our Old Testament Foundations class. Normally, we have class in a conference room, but Mandy (leftmost) who teaches the class, decided to treat us to a home-cooked meal in her home to celebrate a class well done.

     As we have continued to delve deeper into more classes, I have again been struck by how incredible a blessing it is that God has chosen to keep revealing more of Himself throughout history- and that we get to learn more about Him. The apprentices recently finished reading through the Old Testament, and it's given me a much stronger appreciation for how God shows Himself to be good once you get some perspective, and how I'm so, so thankful for Jesus and a community that knows Him. 

     We also recently started a class called Pneumatology, which really just means "the study of the Holy Spirit," but we call it Pneumatology so we can feel smarter than we actually are. In all seriousness, the Holy Spirit is something that I (and the church traditions that I grew up in) have tended to shy away from or misconstrue. This is pretty tragic, considering how highly Jesus (and Paul) spoke of the Spirit. That being said, I believe God has already begun to reconstruct my view of His Spirit, and I can't wait to see what He shows me.

     Thank you again to everyone who has helped me through prayer and financial support. I hope my blogs have been at least somewhat of an encouragement to you. I would also highly recommend that you read blogs from the other FOCUS apprentices this year (Jalen, Caitlin, Eddie, Dawn, and Kristen). You can find their blogs at [name].anyfocus.org. 

  • Praise God for what He has already done. People are studying the Bible and forging close friendships with Christians who never thought they would!
  • Pray for wisdom as we seek to reach out to the male students at TWU. This particular campus is in many ways a uniquely dark and lonely place, and it has been difficult to reach the 15% of the student body who are males. 
  • Pray for our student leaders to find peace and rest. They've had amazing attitudes and hearts this year, but many of them are full-time students, work jobs, help with FOCUS, and have families who live far away from Denton. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Settling In

Last month, I shared my thoughts about how new I was to everything around me.

While this month has not been a particularly easy one, I've been able to see the seeds of ministry and friendship that had been planted over the last two months begin to grow. I didn't realize how much I had needed to settle into friendships and into God's peace until I experienced those things again in Denton.

Fall Camp
The group picture of students at Fall Camp. Such a fun and God-loving group of students. I'm the white dot in the third window from the right. Hey there.

     Twice a year, FOCUS sends their students to a camp ground in Texas to spend an extended amount of time together getting to know one another, worshiping the Lord, learning, and just plain having fun. The first of those two camps is Fall Camp.

     Our theme for Fall Camp this year was the same as our theme for FOCUS as a whole this year: Send Me. We had several students share stories of how they were faithful to God's call, often in ways that were completely unexpected, but also completely unglamorous. It was a useful and poignant reminder to see how God can work through our confused, reluctant to decisions to follow His call. It was also an important reminder that we don't always understand what God is doing through our faithfulness to His callings, even as we are in the midst of following them.

A number of our students playing a game on a field. God blessed us with some surprisingly good weather for a September afternoon in Texas.

     Each Fall Camp, we also have a two hour worship night with our students. Getting to worship with these students while also observing them worship was an incredible blessing. The things I saw and stories I heard of students praying for one another, encouraging one another, and worshipping God more fully and intently than they were used to remind me of what the Holy Spirit can do when a group of people is gathered together to worship God. At the end of the worship night, I realized that I was the most at peace I had been in months. In a season of life marked just as much by anxiety as by growth, this was a much-needed time of rest.

Peer Team
Two guys from my peer team named Drew and Alex. They're pretty brilliant.
     Probably the most consistent blessing and area of leadership growth for me has been in my time with my peer team guys. They are an amazing group of 8 hard-working, God-loving student leaders, and it has been an amazing experience to get to speak into their lives. Like any of us, they all have their strengths and weaknesses, but God has worked very dynamically through their individual willingness to put their strengths to work for the Kingdom and to grow in their weaknesses rather than hold onto them as part of their identity. Imagine the humility it takes to choose to be mentored by someone who is almost the same age as you. 

Two more peer team guys- Bekwele (left) and Ivan (right). Ignore my weird pants. It's a Denton thing.

     These guys have certainly taught and encouraged me more than I have taught and encouraged them. Several of them have taken the time to take me aside or text me to encourage me.


    Imagine eating a delicious, nourishing meal, but every time you finish something on your plate, someone comes and adds 4 more courses. That's what classes are like in the FOCUS Apprenticeship. But a good minister is a good disciple, and a good disciple is a good learner, so that's exactly how it should be. 

    We've continued to read through the Old Testament, and I've learned more about the minor prophets in the last few weeks than I had in my previous 21 years of life. We've also gotten to spend 4 hours a week learning Christian ministry from a more foundational perspective from Ronnie Worsham, the pastor of Northeast Church. Add a class on leadership habits, a class on evangelism, and class on body stewardship (a hugely pertinent topic in this day and age, especially for college students), and you've got a very busy but very happy disciple. 

  • Please be praying for the communities in Las Vegas and Puerto Rico, who have both experienced very different, but very real catastrophes.
  • Pray for our students and staff as we go deeper into the semester. I've often found October to be a rough month for students, simply because they're going through midterm tests and working long hours at their jobs, but the end of the semester still seems like a long way off.
  • Pray that God would continue to show Himself to our new students and guide them towards Him. 
  • On a more personal note, please praying for God to give me the peace to work diligently without seeking to exert control over my environment. I've been dealing with a fair amount of anxiety with all my new responsibilities.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

New Faces

A few of the many freshmen I was blessed to get to meet over the last week
New Faces
Few things can bring as much excitement- or as much anxiety- as a place full of new faces. When you are freshman moving into a dorm, living away from home for the first time, you are a new face amidst a world of new faces. For some, it's an exciting opportunity to make new friends and enjoy new freedoms. For others, it's an anxiety-filled time that they hope will not be a social repeat of high school.
Both kinds of people need good friendships, and both kinds of people need to know Jesus.

When I started writing this blog, my mind went straight to the idea of new faces for two reasons. On one hand, I've met more people in the past week than I had in any one previous week of my life. On the other hand, I've jumped into ministry in a community in which I am a new face.

Welcoming the "Fresh" Faces
The first Friday Night Fellowship at UNT. The night went so well, and a lot of new students said they loved it!

Welcome Week, or "First Flight Week," as it's called at UNT, is the frantic time in campus ministry (and campus life as a whole) in which new students arrive on campus and spend their first several days adjusting to their new environment. Most campuses fill this week with fun events and free food, which makes it a crucial time for meeting students.
Between three move-in days, two late night Capture the Flag events, several board-game times, and a plethora of other activities I know I'm forgetting, I met a lot of people over the last week. The goal for us as campus ministers is to cast our nets as wide as possible this first week, and then let peoples' varying levels of receptiveness and commitment determine who we end up spending the most time with as the semester goes on.
While a lot of conversations cover the same general details of background, hobbies, and interests, I have met a few people who got vulnerable with me almost immediately.
One freshman at TWU shared about the difficulty of finding friends in college who genuinely cared about him.
A freshman at UNT shared about how he had fallen away from Christ in high school, but that he wants to pursue Jesus and grow in his faith over these next four years.
Another freshman at UNT shared about how he hadn't felt at home in any group on campus until he met the people in FOCUS.

I cannot wait to see how God continues to unfold His plans for these people and lay them on the hearts of the leaders in our ministry.

Learning to Lead While Learning a Community

While I had a fairly large handful of acquaintances and friendships in Denton before moving, I was far from being fully connected with everyone in FOCUS here. As an apprentice and a peer team leader, a huge part of my role is to be a close friend and pastoral voice in the lives of our students. Throughout this past month, I have continually been struck by how much of a challenge this is, but also by how welcoming and humble the students here really are. The student leaders I will be mentoring this year have been enormously encouraging, and it's been a blessing to get to learn more and more about them.
The people here have been faithful to affirm the fact that God has called me here for a reason, and I'm more confident than ever that this will be a year full of fruitful relationships.


  • Cores are starting this week- please be praying that people would immediately begin opening up to one another and forming deep bonds! (For those who don't know, cores are our gender specific small groups where the deeper friendships in the community tend to be built)
  • Pray that new students would have hearts that yearn to know Christ. God can do so much with a willing heart.
  • Please also remember to pray for those recovering from the floods in Houston and India. 
Thank you so much to everyone who has been supporting me, whether it be financially, through prayer, or simply through encouragement. I would be neither willing nor able to do any sort of effective ministry if it weren't for God working through people like you, and it's humbling to remember that.
Our student testimony for this month! I got to know Michael a little bit last year, and he is an incredibly selfless guy.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Oh My Goodness, it Already Started.

Our staff at the annual staff retreat last week! I could list all of their names, but I won't. Just know that I love all of them.

The apprenticeship is upon us! 

I don't know whether to say "finally!" or "...already?!" 

What I do know is this- these past 10 days have been an enriching and exhausting ride, and God has been hard at work in my heart and among our staff as a whole. Needless to say, I cannot wait to see how He uses us (and FOCUS as a whole) in Denton this year.

See you next time!

...oh, you want details? Okay, here are a few of the ways in which I've seen God working in the last 10 days, and a few of the ways in which I can't wait to watch him work over the next 10 months. 

Staff Retreat

The very first experience of a FOCUS apprentice is...well, lots of paperwork. But after that, the apprentices all cram into a couple of cars and go join the staff at the annual FOCUS Summer Staff Retreat! It's hard to describe how much of a blessing it is to get to spend a few days saturated in a missional community of people who have been brought together by their love for Jesus, their love for one another, and their desire to share those things with college students. 

The ~30 of us spent 3 days worshipping, sharing our stories, playing board games, laughing, crying (that includes yours truly), and growing closer to one another. 

God's goodness was readily evident throughout the entirety of the staff retreat, but one moment was particularly encouraging. On the last evening of the retreat, we all bunched together into a circle in the living room- as we had done several times that week- and shared the stories behind how God got us where we are, both as ministers and as His children. What stuck out so much to me is that none of us should be here. Most of us, in fact, had been the kind of freshmen and sophomores that you dread studying the Bible with- uninterested, insecure, running from God, with just about every kind of baggage imaginable. On top of that, even after God had worked in our lives so much, most of us would never have imagined Him calling us into campus ministry (and away from careers in business, nursing, the arts, and so much more). None of us should be here, but God wants us here

Classes and Reading Days!

Do you ever just think to yourself: 
"Man, I would love to read the entirety of Leviticus and Numbers today." 

If so, you will be incredibly jealous of the material the apprentices have been reading and talking through for the past week. In all seriousness, it is a rare and incredible blessing to have the ability to spend 8-10 hours a day in God's Word and in textbooks and discussions surrounding it. So far, we've gotten to read through the Pentateuch, Joshua, and Judges, along with sections of two books that break down the history, theology, and literature of those writings. It's safe to say that this is the most Biblical learning I have ever done at one time.

There have been a few times where it's cooled off enough to read outside. 
Definitely a welcome change of pace!

It's been incredible to realize how blessed we are to have Christ living in us, and to be able to "approach the throne of grace with confidence." (Heb. 4:16) After having spent the week saturated in the period of Biblical history in which God was commanding the Israelites to build the Tabernacle so that He could dwell among His people, I'm reminded of how truly unprecedented- scandalous, really- it is that we should be able to commune so closely with God.

The Other Apprentices

Five of the six of the apprentices in one car!
Not pictured here: Caitlin Quiroz

At one point, we all got barbeque from that shack in the background.
[If you plan on reading for several hours, don't eat a sandwich the size of a two-month-
old child.]

I honestly could not ask for a better group of people to enter into this season with. Although some of us just met a few months ago, we've already developed a strong bond with one another, gotten to know one another's stories, laughed together, and had some sobering conversations. I know that a lot will be asked of us this year, and each of us will have areas where our sin and need for growth becomes apparent, and I can't wait to watch how these people model Christ in helping one another through it all.


Matt Clark, my supervisor. He's way cooler than I am.

I'm here to do ministry, but I'm also here to learn ministry. It's exciting to have a group of people who have been walking with the Lord and doing campus ministry for much, much longer than I have. Matt Clark (pictured above) is the director of Denton FOCUS, and my direct supervisor. He will be delegating ministry work to me, helping me to grow as a minister, and helping me to grow as a follower of Christ. I can't wait to see what God teaches me through him, and through the many other staff members who will be leading our classes and challenging us this year.

Prayers, Prayer, and more Prayers

Here are things that I have been praying for, and that I would love for you to join me in praying for:

  • Please pray that God would be working in the hearts of the people we meet this year, especially during the first few weeks of school. Pray that they'd be hungry for Jesus and ready to humbly seek Him out.
  • Pray for my relationships with the other apprentices and with my mentors. Pray that we would be open, bold, missional, and full of grace.
  • Pray for our student leaders. FOCUS runs off of student leaders who sacrifice incredibly generous amounts of their time and energy to bring Christ to our students. Pray that they would actively submit to Christ, work hard, and rest purposefully. Pray that God would grow them into the kind of ambassadors for Him that will change the world around them as they go out into their career fields.