Thursday, March 1, 2012

March Update

I have learned so much this year through my internship with FOCUS.  It has provided me with the environment and resources to develop the ability to minister to people and grow closer to God.  Although high-paced and stressful at times it has brought me intense joy.  Right now others are applying for next year's internship program. The staff will be interviewing them and by the end of March we should know who all the interns will be next year.  That's pretty exciting!

Another thing I'm excited about is SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry).  It is a one week campus ministry training conference hosted in Bellingham, WA, by a college ministry that we model our ministry after in many ways.  Their ministry is called CCF (Campus Christian Fellowship).  Students who have shown potential to be leaders next year have been invited to attend the conference in order to give them a head start on learning how to disciple other students next year.  I was invited to go to this after my freshman year back in 2006.  It gave me many of the tools necessary to be a spiritual leader.  People will often compare SICM to drinking from a fire hose because there is so much information that they have you process in a short amount of time.  It is essentially a class that meets every day for about 8 hours all week long.  By the end of the trip they have at least one 3-ring binder full of paper, which continues to be a resource years later.  The incredible thing is that even though it is heavily academic they include an element of deep, sincere worship that I have rarely witnessed before, if ever.  Anyway this year we will probably send about 70 students from our four campuses to one of the two sessions in May and June!  Please pray that these students take the decision to go seriously.

Here are some links in case you want to check them out:
CCF: http://www.ccfministry.com/
SICM: http://www.ccfministry.com/sicm/

In core the goal has been to get the guys to engage more with God, His word, and each other.  So Austin and I have tried to create activities and discussion that promotes these things.  This week we asked them to bring a meaningful song, scripture, thought, or just something God has laid on their heart to share, and then we took time to write out our own psalms to or about God.  Some of the guys shared what they had written and it was such a neat thing to hear what was on their hearts as well as how they conveyed it.  Ronnie talks a lot about how he writes psalms on occasion and that in addition to the plethora of psalms that David has written has made me wonder if there is something behind pouring out my heart to God on paper regularly.  Thinking back on when I did so this week it did help me to shift my focus back to God and my perception of myself became more accurate.  I've kind of debated on whether or not I wanted to share what I wrote on here, but I decided that it doesn't matter whether or not I feel comfortable sharing.  Instead, if it somehow inspires one of you then it is worth it.

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Of Matt.  A psalm.

Why am I so disobedient when you are always faithful?  Please rescue me from where I've gone on my own.
How are you faithful even though I'm not?
My trust in you is weak and my faith small, but you have grown it slowly over the years.
Even though I'm far from perfect I can promise you one thing: I'll never leave you; you will always be my God.
With that in mind I will persevere through the troubles of this world knowing that your love for me is unfailing.
Father I ask that you teach me to be like you; help me to love like you have loved me!
Your ways are good and your timing is perfect.  I won't expect an immediate change, because part of growing is learning patience.
God, make me a patient man!  Teach me to be still and wait for you.  Pour out your wisdom on me.
Make me whole and make me yours.

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The Bible study with Greg is going very well!  He has become much more serious about making time for God and community.  He reaches out to me when he needs encouragement or advice.  It's been such a blessing getting to stand next to him and help him stay strong in the Lord.  Please continue to pray for him.

I started another Bible study with a guy named Preston who has started coming to core.  He has a great heart as well.  I met him playing ultimate frisbee over a year ago and he started coming to FOCUS through the relationships he made there I believe.  All last school year he would tell me that he was planning to come to core, but never showed up.  This year he has made it a much higher priority to seek out God's community.  When I asked him to study the Bible he was excited to say yes.  Please pray for his continued desire to grow.

Morgan and my study with Kenneth has continued to be a challenge at times.  Please pray for two things here.  1) that Kenneth will realize how important Morgan and I consider that time and take it more seriously.  2) that Morgan will really learn a lot from this experience of teaching someone else about the Bible and continue to make that a part of his life after this study ends.

James, one of the younger student leaders, and I started a Bible study with that new guy I mentioned last month named David.  It's a similar situation to the Bible study with Morgan and Kenneth.  James has never led a study before and it's more comfortable to have someone with experience there to back you up.  I have every bit of confidence that he could do it on his own though.  This study also needs prayer.  We have been meeting for two weeks now and it really seemed like David was learning a lot and enjoying that time.  Unfortunately he texted me today to say that he didn't want to do the study anymore because he doesn't have the time to commit to it right now.  I was very sad to hear that and just lightly challenged him to rethink the importance of learning how to follow Jesus and let me know next week if he still wants to stop.  Please pray that God guides him in his decision.  I'm willing to accept that maybe this Bible study isn't what he needs right now and if quitting allows him to do what God is wanting, then so be it.


The FOCUS staff is currently reading through a book called "Spiritual Leadership" written by Henry and Richard Blackaby.  One of the topics we discussed last week was practicing unhurried time with God.  The author's main point is that we have to spend time with God if we are going to be led by him and "the key is not whether leaders spend time with God but whether the time they spend is unhurried and allows time for all God wants to say (Isa. 64:4)."  He also says, "If leaders attempt to do things in their own strength and wisdom, they will achieve commiserate [sic] results.  If leaders wait upon the Lord, they will experience what God can accomplish."  He made a pretty bold claim later that caused us to really think about whether or not it was true: "God does not reveal his truth on people's terms.  Spiritual leaders must remain in prayer as long as necessary until they are certain they have heard from God."  Part of me wants to say that I don't think we have the right to expect God to answer us like that and the other part of me wonders if I'm just thinking about it too close-minded.  I can't say that I have ever simply taken the time to wait for God to respond so I don't really have the right to say it's not possible.  Well anyway our director challenged us all to practice unhurried time with God over the next few weeks.  It's really hard!  Somehow as Americans we have developed this habit of always being way too busy.  It's sometimes hard enough just to set aside time for God in the first place so when I get around to it often I'm in too much of a rush or too exhausted to really make that time meaningful.  As I've attempted to spend more unhurried time with God it has made me think more about what I'm going to talk to him about.  What should I be telling or asking him?  I already pretty regularly unload my thoughts and feelings on God so that wasn't really an issue, but I rarely ask him to reveal how he wants me to grow and in what ways I should be actively changing myself.  In addition to that I need to ask for more guidance in leading others to him.  It doesn't stop there though.  I also realized that this time was perfect for actually writing out tangible plans to implement these revelations.  I mean if I'm already spending time with God discovering the "what" I might as well take advantage of having him help me figure out the "how."

I hope that all is going well with you and that you are able to enjoy the amazing weather outside.  Please let me know if you have any thoughts on my blog update or if you'd just like to let me know what's going on in your life.  I love to hear from you.  Thanks again for every way that you support me and my ministry.

Yours for the Campus,

Matt