|A group of men's pastors (from multiple campuses) appreciating nature together!
From left to right: Drew, Cole, me, and Connor.
“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court;
indeed, I do not even judge myself.
My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.
It is the Lord who judges me.
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes.
He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will expose the motives of the heart.
At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 (NIV)
"Paul is saying something astounding:
‘I don’t care what youthink and I don’t care what I think.’
He is bringing us into new territory that we know nothing about.
His ego is not puffed up, it is filled up.
He is talking about humility – although I hate using the word ‘humility’
because this is nothing like our idea of humility.
Paul is saying that he has reached a place where his ego draws no more attention
to itself than any other part of his body.
He has reached the place where he is not thinking about himself anymore."
Timothy Keller in The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness
A lot of the pastors and students in FOCUS are currently wrestling through just how pervasive ego is in our hearts. So many emotions, perspectives, and attitudes on the heart that seem to be innocuous or even beneficial can so easily become tainted by ego. The creativity and sacrifice of ambition that we see in God's character can so easily become selfish dreaming. The desire to do well in one's work can come from a fear of failure that is entirely wrapped up in ego. Ego can just as well cause someone to hide themselves in some instances and to broadcast themselves to the world in others. I often become my own worst critic- a clever way to hide my own ego, since I can convince myself that I'm not looking to others for their approval.
The freedom we see Paul expressing here is freedom from the need to prove our own worth, ability, or purity to ourselves or to anyone else. We can only look to God for that, since He is where our worth, ability, and purity come from in the first place. Just like in Genesis 3-6, our pride, selfish ambition, violence, and more all trace back to us lacking in faith and trying to make a complete picture for ourselves outside of God.
What I've Been Up To
This has been a very interesting semester so far! We've had a lot of unexpected circumstances that have made it difficult at times for me to find a "rhythm," but I've gotten to see God working nonetheless. Despite a delayed start to school, getting COVID, and having to stay at home during an ice storm, there's still a lot happening.
- I've gotten to continue to fill gaps and help train up a new generation of students to serve behind the scenes running sound for our Friday Night Fellowship services and for Winter Camp. This has been a learning experience (and at times a difficult one!), but it's making it possible for all of the FOCUS students at UTD to gather together to worship God.
- Men's ministry- We recently had our Winter Camp, and there have been so many cool conversations and decisions coming out of it for a lot of people. I've heard from at least 3 guys in the small groups whose leaders I get to mentor that they've started going to church again for the first time in years after camp last month. Guys are also starting Bible studies, getting accountability for sin struggles, and becoming friends rather than acquaintances. It's been humbling to see God do all of this while I've felt sidelined at times from sickness or the need to work around the edges. That's the power of doing ministry together, though! There's always someone stepping in to fill the gaps.
- Seminary- Two cool updates here! First, I'm now on my 4th class in seminary. It's called Global Christian Tradition, and it's about the history of the church in different continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe) and how different systems of theological thought and worship came out of those times and places. It's giving me a much better understanding of how the Church has arrived at different places on topics like the Trinity, canonization, iconography, and more. Second, I will be going into full-time seminary work for a year starting in July in order to get my seminary degree and open up doors to start a FOCUS chapter at Texas Christian University. I will still be working with FOCUS, but my work time will shift towards a lot of reading and time with people, and less of the planning, administrative stuff that it takes to keep an organization running. I'm humbled to have the opportunity to do this, and excited about both the learning itself and the doors it will open for us to reach a new campus.
You are cordially invited to Showcase 2022! (Side note: no one says cordially anymore, except when inviting someone to something).
Showcase is a fundraiser where 100% of the proceeds go toward sending students the Student Institute of Campus Ministry, a week-long leadership training conference in Washington state where students learn how to become missionaries on their college campuses. This was incredibly formative for me when I went back in 2014, and I've watched countless other students (literally hundreds at this point) find passion and wisdom to purposefully disciple others for the remaining years of their time in college (and after that) through this conference.
The Showcase itself is a mixture of a variety show with singers and dancers and an artisan market. The show itself features people who have sung professionally and gotten degrees in theater, an improv comedy troupe, and dancers who have danced professionally and competed at the prestigious Jacob's Pillow Dance festival. The artisan market features paintings, crafted items such as handmade stuffed animals and wooden cutting boards, and some culinary creations such as home roasted coffee beans and pastries.
Please, please come! And donations are welcome either way!
- Pray for protection and favor with our college campuses! We want to be able to meet together and reach students, but the campus is often forced to change rules and reservations because of COVID.
- Pray for our students to grow in their involvement in community and in their individual pursuits of God.
- Pray for Showcase! We've made a decision to send anyone to SICM who we believe would benefit from it and who has shown that they're willing to put effort into raising money to go and make the most of their time there. That being said, finances are really tight for a lot of people, and Showcase is one of the main ways we offset that.