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Shape My Heart

Hello everyone! I hope in the Lord that you have been filled this month with love and joy. It is my complete and total honor to share with all of you what God has been doing on campus here at UT Arlington and how he has been shaping me to be more like Him in this past month. I pray that you find this update encouraging as each of you has been and is a huge encouragement to life every time that I think of you.

For the ministry as a whole this has really been a month of celebration. The school year is coming to a close, but as I looked around the room at one of our most recent Thursday Night Fellowship meetings I was so encouraged to see how the students of this campus have stepped up this year in a major way. Each week I am encouraged by their leadership, their humility, their boldness. Most often I am impressed by their active desire to invite others into what God is doing. But beyond all of this, it is incredible to think that just 7 months ago there was no FOCUS branch at UT Arlington. But 2 weeks ago I stood on the side of the room and I saw this!
That is a room full of students worshiping God with their arms outreached asking for his presence in their lives! That image makes me want to shout praises to God all day long! Not because of the numbers, but because I know those students, and I know that their love for God is sincere and that they have learned more about who He is by being a part of this ministry. And because they have learned more of who He is they have chosen to turn around and worship God all the more! If it were one student that shared this story I would praise God for his goodness and transformative power taking root in their lives. But he has not done it with just one, on an average week we have about sixty students fill that room and each one of them is currently experiencing a changed life because of Christ centered community. That is in no small part due to you and your contribution. If you wonder where your donations have been going, they have been going to this. To changed lives on college campuses because of students experiencing deep friendships that point them to God and teach them to be better disciples of Christ Jesus!

As I look around this filled room I am reminded of a song by one of my favorite worship bands called Kings Kaleidoscope. The name of the song is "All Glory Be To Christ" and it is sang to the tune of Auld Lang Syne

The lyrics are this:
"Should nothing of our efforts stand, no legacy survive. Unless the Lord does raise the house, in vain it's builders strive. To you who boast tomorrow's gain tell me what is your life, a mist that vanishes at dawn; all glory be to Christ. All Glory be to Christ our king, all glory be to Christ, His rule and reign we'll ever sing, all glory be to Christ."

All glory be to Christ. That has been the anthem of this year as I have watched this ministry grow from nothing to where it is today. Without God, this truly would not be possible. Thank you for taking part. It means the world to me, but I can tell you even more so that it means the world to the students in that picture. Feel free to stop by any Thursday night at 7:30 for the next month and ask one of them. 
Core is still going really well! In case you need a reminder, cores are our small group bible studies in which the guys discuss spiritual questions amongst themselves in hopes that we will all learn more about God and as a result collectively spur one another on towards being better disciples of Christ.
The picture above is from a board game night several of the core guys ended up coming to. At the time my glasses were not only broken, but covered in super glue from when I tried to repair them myself. I have since ordered and received a new pair but that is beside the point. 

Our Core guys this year have formed some really special friendships and memories. I for one have been very blessed to be able to not only know each one of these guys, but also study scripture with them regularly, both in a core setting as well as in a one on one setting in our weekly meetups. I have seen growth in many different areas of their lives as a result of their understanding of who God is. And in the process of their growth God has used many of them to minister to me. The moment of a young person recognizing their need for and dependence on God is one of immense encouragement and pure celebration as all the glory in their life begins to turn and be given to Christ.

This month for me has been one of a desire and an active attempt to become more like Christ. I believe that has been a real and honest desire of my life for about the past 4 years, but with each sermon, scripture, lesson, and song that God has placed on my heart this month I feel that I should share a few of my thoughts. This month I've been reading a book called the Master Plan of Evangelism written by Doctor Robert E. Coleman and in it Dr. Coleman writes on the many ways in which our Lord, Jesus practiced Evangelism during his time with us on Earth. He speaks about Jesus intentional selection of his twelve disciples. The increased time he spent with each one of them as opposed to the rest of his followers at the time. He speaks about how Christ brought his disciples with him as he went so that they might witness his life and not only hear his teachings. I've been pondering a line from those books "One living sermon is worth a hundred explanations" I've been pondering what a living sermon looks like. For me the one of the main points of delivering a sermon is to point people towards Jesus so in short, I desire my life to point people towards Jesus, not just my friendships, not just my career, but my whole life I desire to display Christ in every way. 
As Paul writes in Philippians 3

"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith ina Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead I press on. I could share many other scriptures with you in which I feel God has been calling me to be more like his son Jesus, but because that would make this blog go on for forever I want to share a song that has been on my mind recently. It's called Shape My Heart and the lyrics are as follows
"So shape my heart, until it's just a true reflection of who you are,
Lord you have my full affection" 

If you could pray for one thing for me in this following month I would ask that it be this, that God answers the prayer in that song and that he gives me the wisdom, humility, and endurance to become more like him in every way.

Final few announcements! Spring Showcase was a huge success! We had several hundred people come out for an evening of musical performances and art sales in order to support the further training of many of our student leaders in ministry, evangelism, and the process of making disciples for Jesus! Because of your support this was able to happen! Thank you to everyone who came and attended!


Also, on another note! I gave a sermon! It was over Philippians 2:19-30 and you can listen to it right here!


If you would like to hear my next sermon live in person you can do so on May 31st, the last official day of the internship. On that day I will be sharing my biggest takeaways from this internship. It will be at Northeast Church in Garland on Shiloh Road. I am currently unsure of the exact time, but it's safe to assume morning or early afternoon. I'll keep you updated next month or if you want to give me a call you are always welcome to!

LAST ANNOUNCEMENT/PRAYER REQUEST

I am staying on staff with Focus next year, which I am beyond excited about. I have loved every minute of working with and for the people in this organization and I truly believe that this is where God has me for this period of my life. I would love to have each one of you continue on my support team whether through prayer or financially. Once again, I will need to be fully support raised. As always, I am so thankful for your partnership in seeing college students lives changed for God and making disciples for His kingdom. I would love to have you continue as my partners in that misison but in the meantime I would just ask that you pray about that decision! I look forward to speaking to each of you soon! I am eternally grateful for all that you have given me. This experience has not only changed my life but blessed the lives of the students that I get to interact with every day. I love you and I am praying for you always. In Christ, Austin.

Here is a picture I took of a dog in sunglasses.



Comments

  1. Hey Austin! Thanks for that encouraging post. Your reflections on Master Plan are so true, and such a good reminder for me in my ministry as well. I pray that I can be a living sermon worthy of the good God we serve. It's clear that you've been doing that for the guys in your Core!

    And also, thanks for those great pictures!

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