Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Matt's September Update

A lot has happened over the past month. THANK YOU for your prayers. The preparatory days we had for our student leader team went very well and they did an amazing job of reaching out to new students over the last couple of weeks. Our first FNF (Friday Night Fellowship, which is our weekly large group meeting with all the Denton campuses) meeting was nearly packed out. It was impressive just to see what God had done through the commitment of our community to befriending as many people as possible.

FNF Kickoff














This coming weekend we are hosting another leadership training day to prepare our student leaders for starting their small groups. We call these groups "cores" because they are the core of our ministry and a place where students can experience deep Christian community through studying God's word and living their lives together. We try to use this training day as a way to cast a vision for their cores and give them practical advice on how to be successful. We will talk about our mission - to make and mature disciples to the glory of God - and how to take real steps toward that in the context of core. We'll talk about several other things and do some activities to further equip them for kicking off their core groups to the best of their ability. Please be praying for our student leader team as they start their cores next week! You can specifically pray for the Lord to:

  • give the student leaders a spirit of peace as many will be nervous
  • bring whoever He wants to each of their groups
  • prepare the hearts of those who come, even if they aren't new
  • use our staff to adequately support the student leaders in their roles


Reflections from my first month of marriage

Recently I was encouraged by one of my close friends and supporters to share more about my personal life, especially my new life with Danielle, in my blog. I'd love to just share a little of my insight from the past few weeks. I'm sure it will be nothing new to those who have been married a while, yet perhaps there is something to be remembered from the beginning of your own relationship.

Since Danielle and I have been married I have grown a lot. I've learned even more deeply the meaning of Proverbs 27:17. Marriage has the powerful ability to work the selfishness out of each person, but it doesn't come naturally. It takes hard work, just like it takes hard work to rub two pieces of iron together in order to sharpen one of them. I would say this is the characteristic of a good marriage. It is one of the many blessings that God gives us through this holy union.

I have surely been blessed in this way through uniting with Danielle. But I'm blessed even more by her desire to intentionally make me better. She calls me to a high standard, as Christ calls all of us - to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. Not that she expects me to be "perfect" in the sense our culture understands, but to become who God intended me to be (perfectly made for the purpose). She challenges me to be more thoughtful, to be more organized, to be more sensitive, to be more encouraging, to be more expressive, and to be a better leader. Through our relationship I have every hope that God will make me into the creation He intended. My prayer is that I will do the same for her.


One last thing I'd like to tell you about is our upcoming event, the FOCUS 20 Year Celebration. This is for anyone who has ever been involved with FOCUS (in any way) to celebrate with us. We'll be telling stories from the last 20 years and then casting our vision to you for the next 20 years of ministry. We're really looking forward to celebrating with everyone!

Saturday, October 8, 2016
UT Dallas
Edith O'Donnell Arts & Technology Building

Reception 4-5PM
Celebration 5-7PM

To RSVP for the event, please go to anyfocus.org/celebrate20.



Thank you so much for your prayers and support! I thank our God for you often for the blessings He provides though you. Please continue to keep us in your prayers and let me know if I can ever be praying for you.

Yours for the Campus,

Matt

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Matt's August Update

One thing that I was especially encouraged by this week happened while I was a new restaurant in Denton. They were giving away free food...so of course some of our college students were there also. While I was waiting in line with Danielle, I watched two of the students go sit with a guy who was there by himself and talk to him for a while. Later I asked one of them about it and she said that they had seen him on campus last week and noticed he was alone. They wanted to say "hi" and make sure he had friends by just being that to him. How great is that?! I'm just constantly impressed by the people God has blessed us with to reach out on these college campuses. He is good!

Here are those crazy college kids I just mentioned :)

Now that it's August, classes will begin soon - that's both exciting and a little terrifying at the same time! Terrifying because the amount of work to do and people to meet & befriend is downright overwhelming to wrap your mind around. Yet it's exciting because nothing is too big for our God and the possibilities for Him to change people's lives through us is unimaginable!

When I think back to past Welcome Weeks (the first couple weeks of the school year), I remember the people I had first met during those times. It's only then that I start to realize the full impact of my outreach efforts. I notice that so many of my close friends now were people I had met during those initial weeks. And, actually, that was how I was brought into the ministry when I was a student at UTD.

I think you can see how critical these two weeks are when it comes to meeting new people! What's sad is that so many young people are lonely during their transition into college. Even if they do make some friends, it's really tough to find good friends. We want the members of our ministry to be making friends with new freshmen and transfer students so they aren't lonely and DO find good friends. We want to make every effort to reach out to them while they're involved in "Welcome Week" activities out on campus. We want to show them a welcoming spirit to set a good precedent for our campus' culture. We want them to have an opportunity to see and experience God's goodness in community.

Since these two weeks are so important we take a significant amount of time to prepare our student leaders for making the most of that time. We have scheduled 7.5 hours next weekend to cast a vision for young leaders to be embody God's love to incoming students, prepare our hearts and theirs for service and humility, discuss various practical advice for reaching out during Welcome Week, spend time developing relational unity as a team, and worship our Lord as a community through song and prayer. We will also be inviting our entire Denton student community to a portion of the weekend to equip as many people as possible! I want to ask you to be praying over this time as well, that God will prepare each of us to do exactly what He wants us to do.

We will go on campus this month to reach as many as we can. Will you pray for us as often as you can starting 8/19 through the end of the month? Please pray that we will do the Lord's work and not our own. Pray that we will be brave in moving outside of our comfort zones when necessary. Pray that the Spirit will guide us to specific people whose lives He is currently moving in.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your support! Knowing we have committed brothers and sisters praying over our efforts and a good God going before us gives me all the confidence I need.

Yours for the Campus,

Matt