Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Life to the Full

Our students during evening worship at Fall Camp. Getting to do something stripped down in an 
outdoor pavilion was such a great experience!

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
Jesus in John 10:10 (NIV)

“Let us all live snugly without risk, 

and life will soon be little more than a 

thick gelatinous stream of 

comfortability and ignorance.”

Myles Connolly in Mister Blue

It's been a while! I'm sorry for not looping you in on things. 

In short, you haven't heard from me because we have been hitting the ground running in a way that we haven't in a long time. By the time this Fall semester came around, every college campus FOCUS has a presence at had been devoid of any "official" campus life for nearly 18 months. 

That means people who had only been in school for a semester when universities shut down due to COVID are now upperclassmen! 

As they come back onto campus, they are experiencing very different mindsets. Some students feel like they're making up for lost time, and want to hit the ground running in the party scene (which while very small at UTD, is undoubtedly growing). Some students feel frozen by their social anxiety, and by anxiety surrounding the pandemic. Either way, Jesus offers a full life of intimacy and change that looks like neither of those things, but speaks to both of those people. 

So now that we're back on campus, we've been meeting students as much as possible, and God has been so, so good in providing connections and protecting our students. 

Thank you for making that possible!

Fall Camp

We got to do a camp this September for our students, and it was such a fun and meaningful time. The theme of the camp was making and sticking to decision for God- something so relevant and helpful for college students, especially at the beginning of the year.

Michelle, one of our apprentices, talking to the students about Communion.

Nhala (left) and Sion (right) are two of the nicest guys you'll ever meet! Nhala was in my peer
team last year, and continues to serve the community super faithfully, and Sion has been in the
community for years and serves on the worship team. 

Students playing basketball at Fall Camp. I'm passing the ball to Landry like my life depends
on it, because in that moment, it does. Just kidding.

Jadon, here seconds away from doing something
very silly, is a senior this year, and has become
one of my favorite people over the last couple of years.


  • Pray for continued safety for our students.
  • Pray for our students to get closer to Jesus, and to find meaningful Christian community in our cores (small groups).
  • Pray for resilience for our student leaders and pastors as we seek to be as present to people as possible. 


Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Celebration and Foundation


My beautiful bride (Kaylee) and I. I believe I'm on the left.

"Nehemiah said, 'Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks,
 and send some to those who have nothing prepared. 
This day is holy to our Lord. 
Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.'"
Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)
[This verse was shared with Kaylee and I by my friend
and mentor, Brandon, during our wedding ceremony]

I've had quite the time over the last several weeks!
As many of you know, I got married on June 19th. The season of wedding planning and entering marriage has brought a lot of notable things with it.

Celebration and Thanksgiving

This has been such a good time to see all of the ways that God has been good to Kaylee and I. To look around while at our wedding was to see the countless blessings God has given me.

My groomsmen represented the ways that God has provided me with godly, caring friends throughout every course of my life. 
Our officiant, Brandon, represented how God has provided me with mentors who push me towards God and are willing to believe in me enough to entrust me with responsibilities in ministry.
The front rows represented the godly family members in my life whose loving presence and consistent generosity have shaped me into the person I am and provided for my needs as I focus on ministry.
The rows of people represented so many friends and family who have changed my life, and who- somehow- God has used Kaylee and I to show His character to in some way or another. 

There is something powerful to celebrating God's blessings! I didn't really do anything to deserve so many godly, caring, fun, generous friends and family members. 

My heart has been overwhelmed on an almost daily basis with awe and thankfulness to God, and to countless people who have blessed me on my journey through life so far.

If you're reading this, I want to say: thank you so much! 

Foundations in Marriage

One thing that I've encountered over the last 10 days or so is the extent to which I'm in a season of setting foundations for years to come. Transitional periods are so important in this way.

In short, Kaylee and I are learning what it means to become one flesh while continuing to become more centered on Jesus and dedicated to serving others. 

  • One flesh- There's something powerful just about sharing things with someone. We're in the same space together, we're sleeping in the same bed, we're merging bank accounts, merging insurance plans, we're sharing food with one another, and we're learning how much we affect one another's lives and callings
  • Centered on Jesus- The first day after Kaylee and I arrived back home from our honeymoon, I found myself completely crashing in terms of mental energy and overall ability to function well. I took a break to be alone with God (journal in hand), and He essentially told me that He was disciplining me as a reminder to build upon the foundation of Him. I hadn't been seeking God much over the last few days of honeymooning and since arriving back home, and God was showing me how true the words of John 15 are: "apart from me you can do nothing." After spending time with Him, my mental energy immediately returned, and I was able to go back to helping Kaylee with setting our apartment up.
  • Dedicated to serving others- It's already evident to us how easy it will be to simply retreat into one another, shrinking back from meaningful friendship and service. We want to grow up as a couple in community, seeking to be a greater force for the Kingdom than we were before.

Foundations in Ministry

I also find myself in the midst of a season of foundation-laying as a pastor. 
The summer brings with it the chance to lay a few kinds of foundations.

  • Foundations for leadership- We are in the process of thinking through student leaders for the upcoming school year (which is less than two months away!). We are also planning for the first Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM) to take place in Texas. This will involve a full week of training students in how to be missionaries and disciple-makers on their campuses.
  • Foundations for ministry partners- The summer is also a time of the year in which we are laying the foundations for our ministry partner teams- people who will support FOCUS pastors in the mission to make and mature disciples on college campuses through their prayer and financial donations, both of which are vital and appreciated

  • Please be praying for our staff and our incoming apprentices to be able to reach their goals in fundraising, and to trust that what God provides will be enough
  • Pray for our students to continue to embrace community, prayer, and Scripture so that they can come back to school more centered on God and filled with His heart for their campuses

Thursday, April 1, 2021


One of our students, Ari, helping us deflate a giant beach ball after an outdoor outreach event!

"Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."
Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)

"But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."
1 Timothy 6:8 (NIV)

"Said the robin to to the sparrow,
'I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."
Said the sparrow to the robin,
"Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me."
The Robin and the Sparrow by Elizabeth Cheney

So far this year, God has been challenging my conception of what is "enough." He has been exposing the myriad of ways in which I seek to twist and stretch towards a life that is convenient, satisfying, and exciting. He is exposing the ways in which I feel like I "deserve" a certain kind of food or entertainment or appreciation after a long day or a hard week. 

One of the biggest ways in which God challenged me was by giving me the opportunity to preach on a single line of the Lord's Prayer: "Give us today our daily bread." In short, He showed how when we learn to bypass our own pride-and-fear-driven desire for gain, we give space for God to show us that He is giving us what we need, and we are able to enter into the truly abundant life of sacrificial Kingdom-love that Jesus typifies and leads us in. If you're curious about this and would like to hear more, you can find this sermon here: https://www.thenortheastchurch.com/content.cfm?id=315&download_id=1443 (it starts at around the 20 minute mark in the audio). 


Every year, FOCUS sends over a hundred students who have demonstrated faithfulness, availability, teachability, initiative, and a heart for God and people to a week-long leadership training conference called the Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM). This year, instead of sending students to Washington state for SICM (to a wonderful ministry near Seattle called Campus Christian Fellowship), we will be hosting our own version near San Antonio. SICM was influential and formative in my own development as a disciple when I was a student. 

Showcase is the main way we help these students offset the cost of room, board, and travel so they can give God and one another their undivided attention over the course of a full week. It's going to be live-streamed THIS Saturday from 6:30-8:30 on anyfocus.org/showcase!

I've had the pleasure this year of writing two original songs that will be featured during Showcase, as well as being a part of the tech team. I think we've got something very special planned, so I would highly encourage you to join us. 

I had the chance to record a song for Showcase in an actual recording
studio a couple of weeks ago! It will be "debuting" on Saturday.


I've had the enormous blessing and opportunity to begin online classes at Fuller Theological Seminary this week! I plan on working towards my Masters of Divinity with a focus in Biblical Theology over the next several years. I'm excited and grateful to see what I learn through the lectures, reading, discussions, and times of prayer that this will lead me through, and I trust that God will use it to grow me in knowledge and love for Him and His people. 

A student leader (and incoming FOCUS apprentice) named David and I line
 our faces up on a Zoom call to create this terrifying image.

We've had to get creative this whole year, but as more students receive the vaccine, we are finding that more opportunities are beginning to open up to spend time with students. While there are a lot of grave and deep conversations that happen in the course of discipleship, there is also a lot of laughter as we build friendships and enjoy the quirkiness and zest that college students bring to the people around them each year. 

  • This year brings a lot of life-transitions with it. I plan on getting married and moving to an apartment with my future wife Kaylee this summer, in addition to starting seminary and preparing for a year of more normalcy on campus. My body tends to react to transitions and stressors like this through anxiety and health problems, and I've noticed some of that lately. Please pray for me to find strength in God, to have wisdom to handle these transitions well, and to have a heart for others during this season. Also pray for the people around me to have patience on my bad days :)
  • Please pray for continued protection for our students. But thank the Lord for how good He has been to us so far!
  • Please pray for Showcase to be a success, and (more importantly) for SICM this year to be safe and impactful for our students. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Gospel

"Behold Your King"
The second station of the cross from an outdoor sculpture garden at the Museum of Biblical Art

"God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son 
into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us 
and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins."
1 John 4:9-10

"To fix beliefs or ideas in someone's mind, especially by repeating them often"
Definition of "inculcate" from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

"To stamp in, to form upon, to impress"
Etymology of "inculcate"

Over the last month or so (but really for much longer than that), God has been pushing me to-you guessed it- inculcate the Gospel in myself. I think it can be easy to think that once we have read the Bible, accepted the Good News, and even "taken ownership" of the Good News, our work of absorbing the Gospel is done.

However, a quick look at our fears, our insecurities, our beliefs, our doubts, and our identities shows that although we hold onto the Gospel and are held onto by the Gospel, the truth of the Good News doesn't pervade our thinking in the way we would like it to. This has been my experience all too often. Headlines about a worsening pandemic overshadow the hope of redemption. Stories of Christians putting their faith in politicians (on either side of the aisle) overshadow the hope that Jesus so obviously had for his Body, the Church. Constantly being confronted with my fragility and weakness overshadows the trust that God could know me, love me, and (here's the craziest one) use me. 

I wonder if this kind of situation is why churches throughout history have leaned into consistent liturgy so heavily. I wonder if that's why I could visit my grandparents' Lutheran church this Sunday and hear the same creeds, songs, and prayers that I heard 20 years ago when I couldn't even see over the pew in front of me. God has been teaching me the extent to which the world muddies the living waters of the Gospel.

I don't always trust God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Not only is that something God has grace for- it's something He isn't at all surprised about.
I (and all of us) can choose to be purposeful about finding ways to preach the Good News to ourselves and to one another regularly. 

I've been developing a personal liturgy- a set of five scriptural truths, each with two accompanying verses that I read out loud to myself daily, and I've been encouraging the students I meet with to do the same.

A moment from our introductory sermon on idolatry. We've since spoken on the idolatry of entertainment and beauty.

We've been teaching on some of the many things that we as humans tend to idolize. I would highly recommend watching some of these if you have the time!

  • Please pray for continued safety for our students and their families during this pandemic.
  • Please pray for opportunities to reach students on campus. The lack of campus life and the cold weather has made that difficult, but God has been faithful! One of the small groups whose leaders I've been mentoring has doubled in size over the last month.
  • Please pray for conviction and wisdom for our students as they seek to follow God well without the normal structure school provides (most classes are currently asynchronous).