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Winter Takeaways

Over the last couple of weeks most of the students at UT Arlington left campus and returned home to their families in order to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones. While Hayli and I also had the opportunity to go visit our families, over the winter break I felt like God had a lot he wanted to teach me and remind me of. So below are a few key takeaways. I hope that they serve as an encouragement to you today!

1. God is raising up ministers of his truth every day!
A few weeks ago, the campus ministry apprentices on our staff shared their first sermon. Their subject was "this is my gospel" and it was an opportunity for them to share all of the ways that they had seen God be good and faithful to them in their lives, and how His love had been and continues to transform them. What I love about the way that pastors join our staff is that we rarely hire from the outside, but God has faithfully brought up students from within the ministry who make the decision to dedicate an entire year of their lives or more to learn how to serve in college ministry and to faithfully proclaim their story to not just college students but to everyone that they encounter. Every year we have graduating students apply to join the staff as apprentices. And they raise support from a team of generous ministry partners just like you so that they can go and proclaim Jesus to college students in the same ways that Jesus had been proclaimed to them. I love listening to these apprentices share their stories because it's an encouragement to me that across all our campuses, every year, God is raising up a new generation of ministers, people who are all in for Jesus and His Kingdom. Thank you for investing in students and making this possible!

2. Jesus embraced both Humility and Suffering, so if I want to look like Him, I need to as well.





I had the opportunity to read two books over the summer. Both books were written in the 1800's but both of them were full of lessons that were applicable to my life today. 











Humility was a pastoral reflection on the significance of the trait of humility in Jesus' life and teaching. Humility was a great reminder to consider myself as nothing and become the greatest servant to those around me. After all scripture tells us... "In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

The second book we read is an autobiography by Frederick Douglas. The book details his experience as a young man living in slavery, how he gained his freedom, his critique on the american church, and his reflections on suffering. Much of this book was impactful and I recommend you read it if you never have before. For me one of the largest takeaways was how often I avoid suffering or complain at its presence in my life. But how God uses suffering to bring about his purposes in us! James says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4). Paul writes "we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope" (Rom 5:3-4). And in Hebrews, "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children... If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all... but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (12:7-11).

3. And lastly, Community is a really good thing.

Hayli and I are continuing to invite the different pairs of student leaders over to our house for a meal almost every week and we are continually encouraged by our time with them. Most recently we had Jordan Reeves and Matt Carothers come over. Jordan, who is holding the package of cough drops, is strongly considering the apprenticeship with Focus next year. Even this semester he is considering how he can cut back on work so that he can make more time to evangelize to his peers on the college campus! And Matt who has been faithfully studying the bible with a young man named Isaac this semester shared with us how recently Isaac's mom wrote him a thank you card expressing her gratitude to Matt for sharing Jesus with her son. Matt shared how much of an encouragement that was to him and how much he has loved getting to meet and read God's word with Isaac over the last semester. Hayli and I love having this student leaders over, preparing a meal for them, and praying for them at the end of the night. Our hope is to encourage them as much as you have encouraged us!

Thank you for everything that you have done as a partner in ministry. I'll never be able to express my gratitude for your generosity fully in words. Please join me in praying for our students during our upcoming Winter Camp in Van, Texas, it starts next weekend. Winter Camp is always a place where students encounter Jesus and learn to love him even more. I'm so excited to hear all the stories from the retreat, and I can't wait to share the good news with you. Don't forget to read the student testimony below!

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