A Word of Thanks...
I truly believe that thank you never goes without saying, so I would like to begin this months blog with a prayer of thankfulness to God and by showing my sincere gratefulness and appreciation to all members of my prayer and financial support teams:
God, you are far too good to us. Thank you so much for being a God worthy of our praise. Thank you Jesus for being a savior and king worthy of emulation. Thank you Spirit for being a constant source of encouragement and guidance, for challenging when necessary and affirming when needed most. Thank you for equipping me to meet and serve the young men and women in my immediate ministry. Thank you for giving me an entire team of fellow students and apprentices so that I have people to learn and to grow with. Thank you for any and everybody who has decided to join me in my ministry by financially supporting me, and thank you for all who have asked me questions and prayed prayers on my behalf and on behalf of the teens who have stepped into my life and my heart. My prayer, God, is that I can love, serve and lead them well. We love you so much, God and we know you love us. In Christ's name we pray, Amen!
To all of my supporters...
I am truly thankful to God every time I think of you. Your generosity, your support, the ownership that you have taken in all of this has continued to bless not only myself, but dozens of young people. Some who are experiencing God and community for the first time, other who I have had the pleasure of knowing since they were little ones. You've purchased countless meals and cups of coffee for the high school students that I get to study the Bible with! Your support even purchased a copy of the Bible itself for one of the freshman that I meet with! And it was one of the nice ones with the thumb index on the side and red letters so you know when Jesus is talking! Really fancy stuff. I can't stress enough how none of what I am doing would even be possible if it weren't for your partnership. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so very much!!
|From our class with Ronnie Worsham (senior pastor of Northeast Garland Church)|
What I am Learning...
Myself and my fellow apprentices have been slowly and rigorously working our way through the Old Testament. We have read the entirety of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), about half of the historical narrative of the OT (Joshua - 2 Kings), and have dipped our toes, so to speak, in the major and minor prophets (Isaiah, Hosea, and Joel).
Coupled with this, we have been listening into lectures from Regent College (a seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia) specifically an Old Testament course taught by Iain Provan, which has been incredibly enlightening and challenging.
In a couple of our other classes, we have started the process of learning how to think pastorally and what it means to be an effective Christ-like leader to help those we are serving best grow as well as how to mature in our own relationship with God.
So, in short, I'm learning a lot........like A LOT!
I'm learning how to read scripture, ancient Hebrew text, through a lens that tries to combine what these words meant to its original audience and how to extrapolate relevant, transcendent and transformative truths in our modern world and lives.
I'm learning to ask questions like "what am I supposed to do with the violence that flows throughout Joshua and Judges?" and "how do I take ancient law written to a foreign people and pull any relevant truth out of it?" and perhaps most importantly, the questions of "what does this tell me about God?" and "what does this tell me about myself?"
I've had to wrestle with preexisting misconceptions I have held not only toward the Bible, but toward humanity and toward God himself. This can be a rather scary practice. Try asking yourself sometime "how have I gotten God wrong?" and then humbly letting the Spirit, Body of Christ, and the Word of God respond with "I'm glad you asked..."
But for any ways I have gotten God wrong, I have gotten certain things right: He is a just and merciful God. Amen!
Micah 6:8 says "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
If what is required of us by God is justice, mercy and humility, what does that tell us about the being we call Lord? I would posit that He is in fact a good and loving God.
A few weeks ago I was able to give a sermon to our youth group. We are in the middle of a series called "There's a Better Way". The series has tried to present various trials, vices, sin struggles, and just things our students can expect to come up over the course of their lives and set it up against the life that Christ offers.
The title of my talk was "There's a Better Way Than Anger" and I tried to guide them through how tricky and dangerous responding in anger can be. There are absolutely times where anger is warranted and appropriate. After all, we see Christ and God angry in scripture. But the danger of anger is that it tricks you into thinking that you are completely in the right, and everybody else is completely in the wrong. You become incapable of seeking peace and instead seek retribution.
The question "is my anger justified?" is good but it is incomplete. You must follow that question with "what then does my anger justify?"
But it hasn't been all anger! We had an event where we went roller skating and Thunderbirds roller rink in Plano. It was supposed to be 80"s themed, but it kind of just turned into "wear something ridiculous" themed.
|Matt G., Ian, me, William and Kole (left to right) at Thunderbirds|
|Me not knowing how to skate (at Thunderbirds)|
Overall, I am so thankful to God for the fact that our ministry is in a very healthy place right now. God is moving in some really really cool ways!
It's kind of like drinking through a fire hose (forgive me if I used this analogy in my last blog)
I definitely feel sometimes that I am being exposed to more things than are possible for me to actually retain. Which is why I am trying very hard to take good notes. After all, the dullest pencil is sharper than the sharpest mind when it comes to remembering things.
I am so thankful again to all of you for your continued support and prayers! You have blessed me so that I may in turn be a blessing.
- My girlfriend Sam and I have begun pre-engagement counseling. We are learning a lot about ourselves and about each other. Please be in prayer for our relationship and that it is God-honoring and that I can continue to learn how to best love and serve her.
|Sam and myself (dressed poorly at Thunderbirds)|
- My fellow apprentices. A few of them have begun to feel the effects of burnout. We are all so busy and are schedules are jampacked, so if you all could be praying for endurance, peace, rest, and a spirit of enjoyment and thankfulness.
- My teens. That they can begin to taste and see how good the Lord is and that we can plant seeds in their lives that will ultimately blossom into a beautiful and lifelong faith.