Renewing the Good News
One day a group of friends heard that Jesus had come to their village to heal. They were overjoyed because their friend had been unable to walk for so long due to being paralyzed. They worked quickly to gather their friend, and carried him all the way to town to just get close enough for Jesus to heal him. But once they got there they realized it would be harder than they had originally thought. Many others had gathered to hear and see Jesus, and the friends could not make it through. So with sweat on their brows, and their muscles growing weaker they stopped to make a new plan. They knew they couldn’t miss this chance. They knew Jesus was the only one who had this authority, and they had to persevere for their friend. So they rearranged and climbed up to the roof with one hand on the wall and the other holding their friend. After so much toil they reached the roof and began digging violently to make an opening large enough for their friend to fit through. They couldn't stop. They couldn't give up. Finally they managed to shove their friend through the opening and lower him down on his mat to the feet of Jesus, knowing that he would follow through with healing their friend. Jesus looked at their friend with compassion and before healing him Jesus said, "Your sins are forgiven." And with that Jesus confirmed what the friends already knew to be true, that he was the son of God. Though others doubted Jesus' authority, and to show that his words were true Jesus told the man to get up and walk. And the friends began to cry as they saw their friend who had been unable for so long stand up and walk away, healed and forgiven.
Rewritten from Mark 2:1-12
As we begin to read the New Testament in its entirety this semester, I am struck by a question posed in one of our classes. How will you bring the gospels to life for people? Sometimes I act like the good news is boring. Sometimes I forget the awe presented by the way Jesus lived his life. Have the gospels become dull to you? Have you forgotten how good the news of Jesus really is? Maybe it's time for you to go back and reevaluate. Why do I call Jesus Lord? Why is it worth telling other people about him? What am I even doing here? He has lavished his love and mercy upon us, and that love should overflow into our lives. Into our workplaces, our lunch rooms, our homes, our family reunions, our friendships, and our thoughts. So maybe your next step is to ask Jesus to help you remember him. Maybe it is to go and read about the kind of savior he is. Maybe it is for you to practice telling the gospel in a way that brings it to life for you or someone else. I pray that God would reveal his goodness, mercy, love, and grace in your life and in the lives of those around you. I pray that you could get a sense of how wide and long and high and deep the love of God is for you.
As a ministry, we are trying to really push our students to be inviting and outreaching. There are so many opportunities that God gives us to reach out to the people on campus. Our students reach out to people in their classes, at the student union, and at their jobs on and off campus. However, It's easy to forget how much people really need to experience Jesus. It's easy to forget how life changing Jesus really is, and how sweet the freedom we have in him is. To help aid this forgetfulness at UTD, we have set outreach events each month to try and engage our campus and give students a platform to reach out.
When we got back from the break we had three welcome week events to welcome back the students. Our first event was just playing board games at the dorms and inviting students to come join us. Our next event was a Coffee House where we played soft music and gave away free coffee to students on campus. We were able to meet a couple of new people who are now getting involved in our core's and large group meetings. While these things may seem insignificant and unimpressive, God uses them in huge ways to impact the Kingdom.
The next two pictures are very special to me. Each of these next two pictures contain women who we met during the first few weeks of school this year. Both of them joined our community from coming to events we put on to reach out to people, and both of them now are reaching out to others at our second semester outreach events! God is so good to us when we just trust and obey him.
This year at Winter Camp we talked about the Psalms and how to read and use them. We had multiple pastors share different kinds of Psalms that address different attitudes and emotions. Here are a few big takeaways I had:
- Our feelings are not as dangerous when spoken and admitted, God wants to talk to us even in our raw emotion
- Submit to the entirety of God's creation, including his law
- It is a cultivated heart that loves God's word
- Are you willing to remove the bad soil in your life to cultivate God's garden?
- Have you forgotten what God has planned for you?
These are some thoughts and questions I am still pondering as the year continues. The Psalms are very complex, and I hope God continues to use them to reveal things to me.
- Please pray as we continue to reach out to students around campus. Pray that we could show the love and freedom of Jesus to them
- Please continue praying that God would provide donors who are excited to join my support team
- Pray for our students who are preparing to go to SICM
- Pray for the FOCUS staff as they decide what the staff will look like this next school year
- Pray for all of the students and families who are sick, and have loved ones with failing health
- Pray that God would continue working through our studies and sermons
Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement as this semester continues. I have such a strong and supportive community behind me and I thank God all the time for all of you. I am honored to get to do what I do and to be supportive by the people of God around me. Thank you!!