Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Update

The year is nearly half over.  It's sad to think that the time has gone so quickly, but I'm glad to have seen that God used it for a lot of good.

I wanted to start out my update this month with a picture of my core group:

These are some of the people that you are impacting through your support.  They are such neat guys!  Some of them I have known for a few years and others only a few months.  There are so many different interests and personalities, but despite all of that we are unified in Christ.  That is one of the coolest things about the body of Christ.  Our relationships don't rely on surface level activities, but on our mutual interest in learning about and following God.  Sure we can talk about those things, but ultimately our reason for being together has a higher purpose.

We have made it halfway through the beatitudes in core now.  There is so much depth in what Jesus says in Matthew 5:3-10!  This week we discussed dating as an extension of the conversation in our last large group meeting.  The discussion involved comparing the following Biblical principles to the normal pattern of dating seen in the world and even in many Christian communities:

1. Consider others better than yourself.  Philippians 2:3-4; John 13:14-15
2. We should not have even a hint of sexual immorality. Ephesians 5:3; 1 Timothy 5:1-2
3. Attraction (created within ourselves and what we look for) should be based on Godly characteristics instead of outward appearances. 1 Peter3:3-4; 1 Timothy 2:8-9, 4:8-9
4. Be wise and seek advice! Ephesians 5:15-17; Proverbs 12:1, 15

Discussing these principles was not an extensive conversation about dating, but our purpose was to create some thought and conversation within our community about healthy dating that glorifies God.

Last month I talked about how Kenneth had some personal issues going on in his life and he had decided to take a step back from being involved in our community.  He did say that he wanted to continue studying the Bible together, but we were not able to schedule a time to do so until last week.  The good news is that we actually met last week!  And we have a weekly time scheduled again.  On top of that he decided to start coming to the large group meeting again after we talked about his reasoning for not coming.  Overall, he is really striving to challenge himself amidst the current stresses that he is dealing with.  Please pray for his work situation, relationship with his parents, and perseverance in following Jesus.

I am still meeting up with Thibault occasionally to maintain that friendship and he continues to struggle with his belief in God.  He says that he thinks there probably is a God, but he doesn't see any evidence.  I think it's important to invest time with him so maybe he will see God through our friendship.  There is another guy that I have been meeting with named Kalub who is non-religious.  I met him on campus during the first week of the semester.  We have some very good discussions about life and meaning regardless of our conflicting beliefs.  Please pray for both of these guys that God will reveal himself to them in his own way at the right time.  Also pray that I will be willing to do what God wants in those relationships.

We are starting to prepare for our winter camp, which is one of the most important events for starting off next semester effectively.  We plan it on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend every year for the extra day of no class/work.  Our goal is to focus on spending time with each other in order to build community and be saturated in the Word together.  We really strive to have every student come and be involved.  Please pray that each student sees the importance of that time and will join us.

One last thing to pray about is the winter break from classes.  During the break students generally have a significant amount of free time and are around their families more often.  It's a really important time to take advantage of because the stress of classes is temporarily relieved allowing them to invest more time in their families and friends.  We always encourage our students to be purposeful in serving their parents and siblings at home and fostering meaningful conversation during that time rather than merely entertaining themselves.  Before Thanksgiving I decided my main goal when spending time with my parents is to make sure that I open up about meaningful things in my life and ask thought provoking questions in order to learn more about them.  Over Thanksgiving I asked my parents some deeper questions and discovered a few things that I never knew about them.  I want to encourage all of you to invest your time in loving God and the people around you during the holidays because it produces a tremendous return on investment.  May we all learn to apply the following to our lives more and more:

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:36-40)

Thank you again for all of your continued support and prayers.  I hope you each have a wonderful time with family and friends this Christmas!  I will keep you in my prayers and ask that you do the same for me.

Yours for the Campus,