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Giving Thanks and Preparing for the Start of School

I want to start this month's blog by expressing my gratitude and appreciation for each one of you. We only have about a week and a half left before the incoming freshman will move into the dorms at UTA. The season of summer is quickly coming to a close and it won't be long until I will once again be on campus full time meeting with students.  I just want to say thank you to both those of you who have been my ministry partners for 2 years now, as well as to those who may have just joined in the last week or so. I don't think that any one of us are designed to do ministry alone. Each one of us, in one way or another, need the other. Whether that is prayer or encouragement or the funding of missions. It is together that we are the body of Christ, and it is together that I believe God will really use us to bring about His kingdom here on this earth. So I just want to once again say thank you. Thank you for being my partner in this mission of college ministry. I have no delusions. I would not be able to meet with these particular students and help to make disciples of Jesus on college campuses if it were not for you. Your generosity has touched my heart deeply and my appreciation for you knows no bounds. I get to see every day what God is doing with your gift. I pray that this blog will serve you in some way as an encouragement by capturing even just a glimpse of that of which I can share with you.
A picture of our UTA Focus Staff including our two new apprentices Jalen and Caitlin!

One really neat thing that God is doing is answering prayers for new apprentices! Jalen and Caitlin are the two people on the left of the picture above. Over this next year Jalen and Caitlin will be a part of intensive class taught on a number of different subjects related to college ministry. They will study the entire text of the bible in depth in a heavily scholarly context while also meeting weekly with pastoral supervisors who will help them to think through the day in and day out of college ministry. They will also serve on our campus as harvesters of the wheat field, reaching out to students on campus and investing in them, teaching them about Christ, and leading others deeper into discipleship.  Jalen has been a student in our ministry at UTD for 4 years now and has proven himself to be someone who is deeply in love with God and is passionate about leading others to Him. Caitlin has only been a student in our ministry at UTA for one year but has recently graduated. She is dedicating this year of her life to giving back to the ministry that God used to impact her by serving as an apprentice before continuing on to pursue her career in nursing. I am beyond proud of both of them. I know that the Lord will use each one of them to bring life to so many young college students and I can hardly wait for the school year to start so that I can get to see that  happen first hand :)If you'd like to receive the blogs of either of them just shoot me a message and I would gladly connect you to them!
Hayli and I enjoying nature on our honeymoon!
On a personal note, I recently got married to the woman that I love, Hayli (Gage). The Lord has used her over these last two and a half years to teach me so much about commitment, grace and joy. Especially as someone who deals with not being too big of a fan of himself sometime, having Hayli in my life has been an endless blessing. She is constantly affirming of the positive qualities that God has given me. She is also ready to challenge me when my not so positive qualities reveal themselves. But she does not change her affection for me. Even when what I do or the words that I say are less than perfect and maybe even cause her hurt, she is there. Since marrying her I've been reflecting a lot on God's goodness. How I too often fall into the trap of believing that I do not measure up to God's standards. But if Hayli, who is also broken same as me, has seen me and yet still decides to remain with me. How much more so will God not reside with me as I stumble along this life in which I am trying my best to serve Him?

I am reminded of Romans 8 which says.

"18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.19For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21thath the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whoi have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”j
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,k neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

On the wedding day I reflected a lot on my mom and how dearly I wish she could have been there. My life really and honestly has not been short of pain, but it has been full of so much more blessing. And I know that even the pain, as mentioned in Romans 8, will also be brought to blessing. God has given me a wonderful wife, one whom my mother, I believe, would have dearly loved. And that is another reason why I give thanks, always.

To wrap up, I am beyond excited for the school year to start. Im shaking with anticipation just thinking about who God might bring into our community this year. Please be praying for the incoming students, and for our student leaders who will be there to meet them. Pray for me as I meet with our student leaders, pray that God gives me His wisdom to share with them. Pray for our sermon series, that the Holy Spirit would open peoples hearts to hearing the truth. Pray for my marriage as we are just getting started, that we would build a firm foundation of service and care, in reflection of Christ to the church. And if you would please continue to pray for support raising. I only reached 85% of my goal for this year. If you personally feel God leading you to increased support, would you please let me know? I will also be calling most of you in these next few months to ask if you know anyone who might be interested about college ministry and who may want to use what God has given them to invest in this mission. Please be praying about that, and let me know if anyone comes to your mind!

Once again, I am so grateful for each one of you. If there is any way that I can be praying for you, please never hesitate to let me know. We have our large group fellowship meetings at UTA every Thursday night. You are always welcome to visit, just let me know when you'd like to do so and I'll send you the information on how to join us 🙂 Also, don't forget to check out the student testimony below! I always find these so encouraging, I hope that you will too. This one is from a young woman at TWU in Denton!

"20Now 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, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

In Christ,
Austin




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