Monday, December 7, 2015

Matt Clark's December Update

I hope that you were able to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with friends or family. If not, my heart goes out to you. I'm reminded of my sister, Meagan, in India right now. My family and I haven't seen her since January! Yet even though she was missing her family, she still embraced her time with the friends around her to give thanks for what God has provided. I'm looking forward to seeing her this month when she finally returns (briefly)!

Meagan's attitude of her situation combined with what I read in Joshua recently reminds me of how sometimes our expectations when unmet can cause unnecessary disappointment. This can especially be true during the holidays. At the end of Joshua 17, in the middle of distributing allotments of land to the Israelite tribes, the people of Joseph ask Joshua for more land because their allotment wasn't enough. Joshua tells them to go up into the forest to clear out land for themselves. The people respond with excuses and Joshua's final response rebuffs their excuses and he essentially says, "God has provided what you asked for. Take it or leave it." I can't tell you how many times I've looked at my life and thought, "This isn't enough. God, I need more ______." And the Lord's reply is most often similar to Joshua's response: "It's right there waiting for you to just take it!" I think the disconnect is that we don't want to work for it or we expect something different. We fail to see the good things that God has provided for us and instead see how he failed to meet our unrealistic or subjective expectations. This is a problem because we cause ourselves to miss out on 1) the blessings God has given us and 2) a deeper relationship with Him, which is what actually matters.

So my encouragement to you this Christmas season is to look for the good God is doing around you and praise Him for it! We must be careful not to measure the world by our own expectations of it - that's not fair! God doesn't work by our standards but His own, which are so much better! His ways are higher than our ways.

We are nearing the end of our 2nd annual Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser. This is an important event because it helps provide a means to maintain growth in our organization. As we expand to more campuses and reach out to more and more students, we must grow our staff team. As we grow our staff team, the administrative roles increase and become more complicated. It may not be as exciting to help fund an administrative position as sponsoring a child with World Vision (or something like that), but it's important because of the impact it has on college students. This impact on a few individuals can make a tremendous ripple effect on the lives of many others - in this way, we passionately believe that God will change the world. Sure He is working in many other ways; this is just our calling and we're excited to be called! The money from this fundraiser will go toward many other things like materials for studying the Bible, professional counseling for students who can't afford it, advertising that reaches people we may never have met, etc. - all of which will directly impact college students. I ask that you pray for this fundraiser and prayerfully consider giving. You can either click on the image above or the following link to get more information on the fundraiser and how to donate:

Check out #itsworthit to see why our students
think it's worth it to invest in college ministry!
(If you aren't familiar with hashtags, other non-related items may appear here as well)

Denton FOCUS Christmas party!

Our Christmas party this past Saturday was the last large group meeting we have with our students until January. Please be in prayer for students over the Christmas break, as many will be separated from the community. Although not for everyone, this can be a trying time for newer members of our ministry who have just become serious about their commitment to the Lord and will be around family/friends who may trigger a relapse into old ways of thinking or behavior. Also pray for our Winter Camp attendance. We don't have any other events before camp so it's always tricky getting students to sign up. It's a significant event, not simply because of the teachings we have planned, but more so because of the enormous amount of time the students get to deepen the bonds of friendship within their small groups, campuses, and our entire family of 8 campuses. It's exciting for me, personally, to see my friends from the other schools but I'm deeply encouraged by the deep inter-campus friendships our students develop as well.

Speaking of Winter Camp, I want to invite you to visit (even just for a day) if you are available and interested. We will be at Sky Ranch from Jan 15-18. Just let me know if you want more information - I would love to see you there!

Thank you so, so much for all you do to invest in our ministry. No matter how small, I appreciate your contribution. It's people like you that God's Kingdom is built on.

Yours for the Campus,