Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Word of God Lives in You

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!

 "I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father,
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one."
1 John 2:14 (NIV)

I am persistently amazed by the ability of myself and others to keep God's Word at arm's length while living lives that are surrounded by it. As a pastor, I read Scripture with students and with other pastors, I teach on preach on Scripture, I read Scripture on my own, I study Scripture in seminary classes, I ask and answer questions about Scripture nearly every single day. And yet, invariably, I find myself and others reducing Scripture to ideas- believing the mature student of Scripture is the one who can navigate the Bible the most quickly or who knows the most potential interpretations of the most frustrating passages. And yet the relationships with God's Word espoused by people of God like David, John, Paul, and others point to one on which the Word lives so much within someone that it shapes their assumptions, dreams, reactions, and hopes- stabilizing them in times of difficulty and destabilizing them in times of complacence. It seems that in the quest to let the Word of God live in us, there is no replacement for a combination of humility, openness, pain, and time. 

I have recently felt a push from God and from some key people in my life to not settle for learning about Scripture, but to lean into it with the constancy, intensity, and thirst necessary to make it come alive in me. 
How alive is God's Word in you? And do you believe He has a more vibrant relationship with His Word in store for you?

Lasting Friendships

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!

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.

  • A lot of our students and pastors have gone through (and are going through) very difficult seasons of life right now, dealing with the serious sickness and loss of close family members. Please be praying for peace and provision for these students and their families, and for the students and pastors around them to have the compassion to grieve with them and the strength to be a support to them.
  • Our leader team is focusing in this semester on pursuing a vibrant prayer life, pursuing purity of speech in how we speak of one another, and growing in reaching our campus with the Gospel (it can be very easy to get complacent in the Spring semester). Please be praying for us to be faithful to this, and for the Spirit to work in these ways.