"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
John 10:10 (NIV)
Have you ever, as a child (or as an adult), realized that you don't know your parents as well as you had thought you did? That you don't know what they were like as your age, or how they interacted with their parents, or what they used to want to be when they grew up, or what is on their mind on any given day?
The things most central to our lives can be easiest to take for granted. I think that's true for us as Christians, too.
Why do some Christians seem bored of Jesus by the time they arrive to UTD as freshmen?
Why do other Christians reach their 70s, 80s, and 90s and seem more in love with- and more mystified by- Jesus than ever before?
Two words come to mind: "wonder" and "experience." Put more simply, God wants to turn our dead periods into living question marks and exclamation points.
Lately, God has led me to the conviction that I don't get Jesus to the extent that I think I do. I don't feel like He is saying this from a place of condemnation, but from a place of invitation.
He is inviting me to ask why Paul could be nearing the end of his painful and fruitful ministry and reflect that he wants to "know Christ, —yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10, emphasis mine). He's also inviting me to reflect on what it looks like to experience Christ's death and resurrection in my own life.
When Jesus talks about being the "life," when John refers to Jesus as bringing life and being full of life, what does that actually mean?
I have thoughts, but I'll let you comment your thoughts to this question :)
What has been happening?
Sometimes, when I have a particularly long day or week, I'll journal everything that happened in bullet-point form so I can get it all down on paper. So here's an information dump of some things that have happened!
- We got new apprentices at UTD! I'll have pictures of them later on, but for now, their names are Maria, Cort, Kylie, Hanna Mason, Hannah Diaz, Ashley, and Erin. They've done great work on campus already, and I'm loving getting to work with them.
- We had quite possibly our most successful Welcome Week to date! So much cool stuff happened. I've gotten to see so many freshmen get several close Christian friends, come to their first Christian event, pray for the first time, and begin to study the Bible for the first time.
- We've gotten to try a lot more outreach geared towards international students and minority groups on campus. Our goal is for FOCUS to match the ethnic makeup of the campuses we're on, and for it to begin to reflect the heart for diverse people-groups that you see in Exodus, Isaiah, Mark, Acts, and Revelation (really, everywhere). We worked on an event with several other Christian organizations called the Big Howdy, in which hundreds and hundreds of international students (primarily from India and China) got invited into Christian community and experienced Christian hospitality. 400+ international students filled out interest cards at this event and were contacted individually by our students. We did an event for Latin-American students called the LatinXplosion, where 80 students (most of whom had never been to a FOCUS event) came, experienced the love and hospitality of Jesus, and were invited into our community. We did a worship and bubble-tea night for Asians and Asian-Americans where several Korean and Chinese students heard the Gospel for the first time, and a handful have stuck around! What's been really cool has been seeing our Latin-American and Asian-American students and staff taking ownership of these events and thriving in this environment.
- One of our apprentices, Ashley, has begun running our Instagram page, and she has done an amazing job! Using social media in this way has allowed us to reach so many students we otherwise wouldn't be able to reach.
- The first few weeks of school were amazing, but they were tough. I had a lot of 14-15 hour work days back-to-back (as did the rest of our staff at UTD). I sprained my ankle at a field day event I was helping run, and ended up being on crutches for the next two days. My car was hit by a truck and totaled a couple of weeks ago.
- God has been good through all of this. I've gotten time to rest more recently, my ankle healed much more quickly than it should have (also my roommate just happened to have crutches that weren't his at our house), and God (and my parents) helped me find a Prius that will hopefully safe me a lot of money on gas and repairs. Praise Him!
- We're currently in a sermon series on our theme for the year, which is Steadfast. The sermon series examines what it means to be steadfast (in love, in truth, in sacrifice), how God is steadfast, and how we can reflect His steadfastness in our lives.
- There's a guy on the phone next to me yelling on the phone about business, and it's making it hard to focus on writing this blog. You'll figure out whether the total was $750,000 or not, sir. I just know it.
- I've begun to co-lead our Tuesday Night Fellowship nights with Sarah Glenesk, another staff member (who I joke is my older sister, because of how nice and mean she is to me depending on the day). It's been so cool getting to work a fellowship night in a more intimate setting (60 people instead of 200).
|Students from several Christian organizations on campus being led in benediction at an event called United Worship|
|Students leading worship at our firsts Tuesday Night Fellowship|
|Students worshipping at our first Tuesday Night Fellowship.|
|My Hyundai Elantra, which is now advertising for FOCUS in a junkyard somewhere in Texas. Truly a city on a hill. |
|A bunch of students at our Latin Xplosion event! We played Loteria, and it was a blast.|
|Keep scrolling to find out what's going on in this pic!|
(See what I did there? Now you have to keep reading)
|Akwasi, one of my best friends. He's a huge source of encouragement and creativity in my life, as well as a constant reminder of God's goodness.|
|Henry Pham- a student who came up in our Richland ministry and is about to graduate from UTD! He's wearing my glasses in this picture.|
|Cort Thomas is one of our apprentices (our only male apprentice at UTD). He came up through the Dallas Metro Family of Churches (who helped start and fund FOCUS), and has been doing an awesome job this year.|
|Joshua Marsh was in my core his freshman year, and now he's leading core for the second year in a row. Love this guy!|
|Stephen Milian was in my core his freshman year, and now he's the leader of our sound team on Fridays. A huge source of joy and remover of stress in my life. |
|Alex Crossley is in my peer team for the second year in a row. His incredible hair and sense of style are rivaled only by his unique perspective on life and his genuine pursuit of Jesus. |
- Pray for our new students to stick to the pursuit of Christ and Christian community that they've begun.
- Pray for energy and encouragement for our student leaders and staff.
- Pray for our upcoming Fall Camp to go smoothly (no injuries!) and for God to use it to help students see Him and know Him.