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Spring Has Sprung

Hey everybody, it is really good to be writing to you again! I hope that this letter finds you well. If it hasn't let me  know and I'd be more than happy to be in prayer or offer help to you however I can :) Lord knows that you have been praying for me and have been an amazing help to my life. I once again want to start by just expressing my gratitude for your investment in my life and in this ministry and in what God is doing on this campus. It truly has been a deep encouragement and when I sit down to write this blog and am reminded of the generosity that you have shown me I am always dumbfounded by the grace of God that He would use me and support the mission I get to do here on this campus because of you. I pray that God continues to provide for you, that through His spirit you continue to grow in your knowledge of Him and understand how deeply He loves you and the rest of His people.

That prayer is one I've been reflecting on recently, I'm delivering a sermon tomorrow over a section of scripture found in Ephesians. Paul begins this section with a prayer for the church in Ephesus that never fails to blow me away. 
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 
I've found myself reflecting on this prayer recently in a way that is different than I had before in the past. I think I had always prayed verse 20 and 21 in a way that is a plea to God to accomplish the things I want him to accomplish. Whether that be a thriving ministry. Or provision for myself or a friend of mine. I certainly was not thinking of God as small. In fact I do believe that God can and will accomplish amazing things for His people. But I believe through this prayer of Paul's God has really been teaching me that the truly great work that God is doing through his Spirit in the lives of those who have Christ is that he is revealing Himself to them. He wants them to know His love. This love is almost so great that it is unknowable, incomprehensible even. Without God's own power we would remain this way, not fully comprehending his love and only being changed in a minor way. But through Christ, we have been given God's Spirit, and the power to understand His love. Maybe just maybe the work that God is doing that is immeasurably more than all that we ask or imagine is showing Himself to us. So that we might know him more fully. And in knowing Him, become changed by Him. I'm not sure if I've really found the meaning of the prayer. I don't consider myself a great scholar. I ask for grace if you think I'm way off :) But to the best of my ability this is the understanding I've come to. And the result has been a renewed kind of prayer. In the last several weeks I've been praying for the Spirit to empower me to know the love of God in Christ. And that through knowing Him I might be changed to be like Him.
Alright now for what's happening over at UTA!
Bryan, Cole, Myself, and Matt enjoying a round of Disc Golf the day after my birthday.
I turned 26 about 3 weeks ago! Hayli came down from Denton and we spent most of the day together doing casual things like taking my roommates dog to the dog park, going to see a movie, getting food together. It is always great to see her! I'm still reeling from the fact that she said yes to marrying me. She is a blessing to me every day, but the cake she made me on my birthday was exceptionally heavenly! My birthday always falls on spring break and most of our student body was gone on vacation for the week. But these three guys were sticking around and the day after my birthday in a continued celebration we went out to a nearby park to go do my favorite past time, disc golf. I love going to play disc golf with the students in our community because disc golf is a slow sport where you just walk in a park with a group of friends for over two hours and you get to talk about life and what's going on and laugh and joke and be an encouragement to one another. Each one of the guys in this picture are either already leaders in our community or will be in the next year. I get to meet with each one of them nearly every week and I'm so thankful that God brought them on to this campus. They love the guys in their core groups so well and are passionate about God and making His name known at UTA. I couldn't be more thankful for the young men that the Lord has brought into our community. These guys are only a small few but in His wisdom the Lord walked for only a few short years with only a small few disciples and it was on those men that he built His church. I would love if you would join me in praying for these guys as they continue to mature in Christ and continue to learn how to be ambassadors of Him on their campus :)

Outreach on Campus


 Every year a group of students from Western Washington University with a partner ministry of ours called Campus Christian Fellowship sends a group of students to Texas! These students have decided to spend their spring break not on vacation or binging netflix but instead going out on to the university campuses that Focus is on and doing outreach. These posters are from events at UNT and Collin College. Nearly every answer that you see on these boards was written by a student who was walking by and was drawn into conversation by either a student of focus or one of those students in Washington. Those students got to have a conversation with our students about why they wrote what they wrote, what their background is, how college is going, how making friends has been, if they have a place to belong to, where they are in their faith. All of these questions lead to positive conversation and our campuses at large engage with our Christian students who want to bring Christ into the world. I'm always so encouraged by these days when I hear really amazing stories of how God is working in peoples lives all over the DFW area and beyond. Pray that the conversations that we got to have during these weeks lead to real lasting fruit, that people are reminded of their need for God and respond appropriately, or at the very least establish a friendship with a christian student who will continue to pour into them. Thank you for supporting missions on college campuses.

Spring Showcase 2017 with the great emcee of the event Sarah King

Every year we send students from all over our campuses in the DFW area to a training retreat called SICM or Student Institute of Campus Ministry. These students will spend a week at this training retreat learning how to lead small groups, how to do outreach, how to study the scripture with someone in a one on one setting, along with a number of other topics that they will then bring back to their campuses and help lead others to Christ as a student leader in our ministry. In order to help those students support raise for their trip we will throw a concert fundraiser called Spring Showcase! At spring showcase some of our most talented students and alumni will put on a benefit concert for college ministry. There is art, and music, and dancing, and singing, and it's really an incredible evening of showcasing the talents that God has given each one of those students. All proceeds go to helping those students that we are considering for leadership attend SICM and learn how to do college ministry on their campus more effectively. This year people came out to support in large number and it was an incredible evening! I'm so thankful to everyone who came out. If you were unable to make it this year then there is always next year. I would love to see you there!
A picture of our staff dressed up for spring showcase, I was helping with the stage management team that evening behind the scenes.

Thank you again for everything that you have given and are doing to support God's mission on these campuses. I can speak first hand of the change I see in the lives of the students as they encounter God's word in a setting of community every week. Students who were completely inhibited are becoming comfortable in who God made them to be and are sharing their lives and gifts with the body around them. Students who have always been popular and outgoing are learning humility and are seeking to serve those around them. Students who are constantly battling anxiety and depression are finding peace and Joy in Christ. This is all because of you. I can not thank you enough for your prayers, friendship and contribution. I pray that you will find joy in these words and find reason to rejoice in the Lord for the abundance of his glorious goodness towards us. 

In Christ,
Austin

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