Wow, November has been such a busy month! Even with the break at the end, so much has happened and with the end of the first semester in sight, it's crunch-time!
"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues though all generations." Psalm 100:5
Early in the month we had a special FOCUS meeting on Saturday for parent night! So many students invited their parents to come get a taste of the fellowship they are a part of. And it was so amazing! There were parents and siblings, cousins and spiritual mentors, the room was packed with hundreds of people eager to show and to learn what FOCUS was about. We had a few parents and grandparents share the impact that the ministry has had in their children's and grandchildren's lives, and their testimonies of the changes they saw was so powerful. But in the end we know it's not about FOCUS, this ministry is just the tool that we use to spread Jesus' love to as many as we can, and that is what impacts people so much. They just needed a community of disciples to come alongside them and show them what it looks like here in this world.
One of the major events we do every semester is what we call Pizza Theology. No, it's not about the theology of pizza. We take four hours to really dive into a difficult topics, one that can't be easily explained and wrapped up in a 30-minute sermon, and we take a break in the middle to have fellowship and eat pizza! This year we talked about how to think like a Christian. Too often we take a topic and search the Bible for a verse that explicitly addresses that issue. However, the Bible was written in a time a culture that is so far removed from ours that it doesn't take on issues like how to date, or what TV shows to watch, or whether we should be vegetarians or not. But it does lay down principles on how we should think and how to approach all things in a Christlike manner. This way there is never a topic that we don't know how to deal with, because being like Christ is a lifestyle and not just having the right answers.
We had another round of outreach boards this month alongside our usual one-on-one campus outreach plans. We asked students questions about war, violence, kindness, and peace. Recently our nation has been asking itself, again, those questions of what our role is in conflict. We, as Christians, need to ask ourselves what God's role is, and how do we participate in his plan for this world. But, as always, in the end it's all about relationships. We can ask all the questions we want, but people are impacted by love, not by intellectual stimulation.
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29
We finished up our last official core of the year! On the docket was encouragements and challenges and our guys really stepped up to the plate! They took the time to really think deeply about each other and encourage one another in our Christ-like attributes. As we went around the room and really affirmed each other, we could tell that every encouragement that was being said was powerful and much-needed. Too often in our society we don't tell people how we feel about them, we just expect them to know because we spend time with them. Especially among us guys we can feel awkward complimenting each other. But it's so uplifting to hear from your brothers-in-Christ the things in you that they admire and aspire to be more like. You get to hear the thoughts behind the stories you have together. When the room got to me I felt tears coming on because they knew and affirmed the hard work I've put into this semester in pursuing them and the changes God has done in me over these past four years to make me the minister that I am now. I love these guys so much!
Thank you all so much for the support you've given me this year! Whether financial or through prayer it is so huge for you to think of me and do what you can for me. I always love getting to spend time with the supporters that I can here in Dallas, and I wish I could spend some time with all of you in Washington and California. You are all extremely close to my heart and my every day is possible because of you and the dedication you have to the Lord and the impact He's had in your lives. Thank you all so much and I hope to see some of you over the holidays!