Thursday, April 13, 2023
Thursday, March 2, 2023
"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."
“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.”
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?
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.
A group of professional African drummers and dancers teaching a dance to
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
|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!
|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 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.