Every month comes with new blessings. Our God is so good in every sense of the word. In the happy times and the sad times, God remains good and faithful.
"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'" John 8:31-32
A saying that our community lives by is "one-on-one is how it's done". When I first heard it, I found it revolutionary. It gives explicit language to a concept that many people believe in but don't necessarily realize it. We believe that the most impacting ministry is done in a one-on-one setting. That's why we try to make sure that every individual in our ministry, if they want, has someone who will study the Bible with and disciple them. I meet regularly with four guys and it has been such a growing experience. Every year I continue to do ministry I realize how much better I am than the previous year and also how much I still need to grow. Recognizing the needs and encouraging the growth of the guys I meet with is so time-consuming, energy-sapping, and yet extremely fulfilling. There's nothing I'd rather do with my time.
"And afterward, I will pour our my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions." Joel 2:28
Every year, our family of churches puts on a leadership conference available to all members and potential leaders in the FOCUS community. It is such an amazing event with an outpouring of creativity and excitement over catching the vision of what God is doing in this area. I'm so proud of the counter-cultural way my church operates. In it's dedication to a simple mission statement of "making and maturing disciples for the glory of God" or its brief belief statement, "Jesus is Lord." This is the most inclusive community I've ever been a part of, and yet we include people not because of what they've done, but rather who they are as people deeply loved by God.
Reaching the Lost
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:36-38
This week we've been doing a special push in our outreach by setting up large boards with thought-provoking titles like "Jesus Is", and "Meaning and Purpose of Life", and encourage students passing by to provide their thoughts and answers. This is such an amazing opportunity to get to know new people,
discuss spiritual topics, and insert some of that "welcome week" feeling of making new friends. Too often, we Christians are satisfied with just blurting out the Gospel message and expecting hearers to be changed forever. I don't doubt that it works sometimes, the Gospel is powerful and can work powerfully. But I also think that we can put more effort and more thought into how we present the Gospel. The greatest way, I believe, is through relationship. We are changed most by our family and friends, and that is because we approach them with a foundation that these people love us already, and what they do and speak is done out of love. So the Gospel is most powerful when we present it out of love and they know that it is out of love. It's taken me years to come to a point where I feel comfortable enough to put myself out there, talk to strangers, and develop relationships where they can hear about Jesus and know that they're not a project to me, they're my friends. What used to cause me anxiety now brings me joy: preaching the good news of Jesus to all people.
"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." Psalm 145:18
-Great home stretch of the year, as tests come around and vacations, pray that the students keep God as their number one priority.
-Those who are not going home or may have difficult homes, pray for their peace in God.
-As always, pray for relationships, that we may love and impact others the way Jesus has entered into a relationship with us and has loved and impacted us.