Why I’m Exhausted.

WoW Week 2017

Day #1

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Today marks the first day of Week of Welcome at UNF with our preview service at Campus Church the Welcome to College Luau that the campus puts on. Wow week is both incredible for ministry opportunities and the most exhausting week of the year. This year is has the potential to be both the best year for my ministry to date but it also has the potential to be the most exhausting WoW week I have yet to experience.

Opportunities

This is my third year with Campus Church. What this means is that I now have a strong ministry foundation with a lot of the students (and former students) in our church. There are a few things that I have resolved to really focus on this semester and this week will dictate the direction my personal ministry will take for the rest of the year.

Discipleship

I really want to get more involved in discipleship… Both as a disciplee and as a discipler. Yes I’m going to actively pursue the Holy Spirit with Pastor Barry through (hopefully weekly) searching the Scriptures together. I have so much to learn about Jesus and ministry from him which is why this is a priority for me.
But I also have resolved to disciple a younger believer. This is the week where I get to meet first-year students who are away from their moms and dads for the first time and they are hungry for someone to pour into them. It is an earnest prayer of mine that God will put a freshmen that needs discipling in my path this week.

Internationals

There are so many international students at UNF. So many students from foreign lands that came here to get an education. What if they not only got an education while they were here but they also met Jesus? And then they went back to their homes as missionaries? It’s like God is really doing us a solid by bringing the nations to us! The Great Commission truly has never been easier than doing ministry on a college campus!

We have one student that spent the entire summer in China and he came back with an incredible love for the Chinese people. What’s cool about this is I have always had an interest and love in the Chinese people and their culture because of my background in Kung Fu. I am resolving to partner with this student to help him reach Chinese students who have no idea that the thing they need more than anything is not an education…but Jesus!

The Struggles

What makes this year harder than the previous two years is that because of our family situation and the struggles of support raising, I am working almost every day at Starbucks. I am so incredibly thankful for my part time job at Starbucks but if I am not careful it can distract me from the gospel work that I have been called to at UNF.
I am so exhausted. All the time. If I were honest, I sometimes wish God would call me somewhere else where I didn’t have to work two jobs and focus on raising support. But I know that God, at least for now, has called me to this. And he has allowed me to see so much fruit in just the past three years of being here.

My prayer is that God would change my heart and attitude when they are not aligned with his calling and gospel. That he would keep me free from discouragement. My tendency is to get depressed about support raising and my workload but I know that this is where he has me and if I were honest I know that he is teaching me that he is truly enough… that he is a good Father who will take care of me.

I’m Not Worthy.

HEAR Journaling Through John

The Fall Semester starts next week at UNF and with that our church is starting a new sermon series through the Gospel of John. Because we are going through John, my personal devotions for the next few months will come from John. There are many fantastic methods to studying the Bible but the one that I find works the best for me is one that was developed by Robby Gallaty. It’s called the HEAR method.

What you do is you read a portion of Sripture and you go through the acronym HEAR (Highlight, Explain, Apply, Respond). By using this method I believe that I  have heard from the Word of God and I love it! God is a personal God that has given us the Bible to be read and put into practice in our daily lives and ministry.

John 1:19-28

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Highlight – What verse has the Holy Spirit pointed out to you?

26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” – John 1:26-27

Explain – What does this verse mean?

John is Jesus’ crazy homeless cousin that lives in the desert and eats bugs and honey. He begins his ministry as prophesied by Isaiah 40:3 by preaching that Jesus is coming and that all these people need to get ready by repenting and having pure hearts. People were being baptized by John because they were repenting and believing in Jesus before he even began his ministry.

Paul says in Acts 19 when he was preaching in Ephesus, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” – Acts 19:4

I love how John answers these guys that were sent from the Pharisees. They’re interrogating him, not because they like what he’s doing but because the religious leaders were nosy and thought they were too good to go themselves.

They said in verse 22, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” – John 1:22

They didn’t care who he was. John’s answer to them was he is the one to prepare the way for Jesus because Jesus is the point.

John’s response is incredible and something that every believer, every ministry leader, every pastor needs to hear. He says to them that they can go tell the Pharisees that he isn’t important but there is one who is.

Apply – What does this verse mean for my own life?

Is Jesus the point of my ministry? Or am I the point of my ministry? When I see lives changed by Jesus on a secular university campus do I pat myself on the back and tell myself that I did a good job or look for affirmation in my peers… or do I point to Jesus and say, “look at what he did!”

Keeping a spirit of humility is something I really struggle with. I want to preach good sermons, I want to get to my fundraising goal, I want to walk with new Christians… and it’s not always because I want show the world how great Jesus is.

We all need to approach life and ministry with the same attitude that John the Baptist did. The attitude that says, “I am not worthy but He is… I am not the point but He is.”

Respond in prayer

Father, kill my pride. I know that my heart tends to want to make myself look good but that is sin. When I see lives moved by the Holy Spirit, when our church experiences true gospel-centered Biblical community, when there are students with no Christian background being baptized… When I see success, may I recognize that you are the reason and the only one that deserves to be praised.

Amen.

Faith Tested

One of my favorite ways of serving in our church is by preaching on Sunday mornings. I am so grateful for the many opportunities to share from God’s Word with our congregation at UNF.

There are times when Barry is on the preaching calendar and something comes up and he asks me to cover for him. Well last week, Pastor Barry asked me to preach. We were done with our summer sermon series through the book of Philippians and so I had to think of something to preach fast (I do better with sermon series through books of the Bible).

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Lessons from Genesis

The text I landed on for this morning was Genesis 22:1-14… The story of God testing Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. I love this text and the reason why I think that the Lord put it on my heart is because my own faith has gone through some serious testing in the past few years… and every time the Lord has shown himself as my provider and my rock.

Being a Christian is hard. We go through trials, difficult times, we go through times of suffering and heart ache. A lot of the time we are being attacked by the Enemy. But something that we don’t talk about too often is that God himself puts our faith through trial to test it. Not to prove to himself that our faith is genuine (he’s God.. he knows our heart) but to prove to us that our faith is indeed in him and not just the good gifts that he gives us.

God Asks Hard Things of His People

God asked Abraham to do something hard. Have you ever noticed that God often asks us to do hard things? I have…Me being a missionary planting a church on a college campus is a result of that.

Pastor Barry and I have been friends since I was a freshmen in college. He discipled me through college and I remember about three years ago he sat me down at Starbucks and was like, “hey man, I know you want to be a pastor. How about you join me in planting a church at UNF.”

I remember I was thinking, “yeah right. I got a great job that pays well and has benefits. Emily is 9 months pregnant and about to give birth. I’m leading a Community Group at my church and experiencing true gospel community. Why would I leave that?”

Thank Jesus for a wife that is more sensitive to the calling of the Holy Spirit. Emily said to me, “why wouldn’t we go? God has called you to ministry.” And well obviously we did go! And God has provided for us time after time. We have seen so many lives changed by Jesus through this church.

When the Lord asks you to do something and you have the choice to either obey or disobey just remember that no matter how hard it may seem, there is no where more safe than in the center of God’s will. I can’t imagine where my life or my heart would be if Emily and I were disobedient to God when he told us to leave a good job, raise support, become a missionary, dedicate our lives to seeing more worship of Jesus made.

The point of Genesis 22 is Jesus. The point of all the Bible is Jesus. God provided the sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac. And he has provided for us Jesus to be our sacrifice. He spared Abraham’s son but he did not spare his own Son. He is our Jehovah Jireh which is why we can be obedient to his seemingly impossible tests.

 

The Hardest Thing I Have Ever Done

I grew up in the church, I was raised to love Jesus and put my faith in his work on the cross for me. I went through all of the programs that were offered in the church starting from when I was in the nursery all the way through High School Choir. And when I was in the High School ministry at First Baptist of Jacksonville, FL I remember going on two trips that changed my life forever. The first trip was a choir tour to Corbin, KY and the second was a mission trip to Managua, Nicaragua.

Corbin

I first believed the gospel when I was a seven year old kid listening to the great Dr. Homer G. Lindsay Jr. preach on the judgement of God but I didn’t experience true worship until a choir tour to a small church in Corbin, KY.

I remember we sang Revelation Song in a revival that was held in a school and as we sang, I felt like I was before the throne of God. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty. Who was and is and is to come” are the words of this song which echo the words of the angelic host who sing praise before Jesus on his throne for all of eternity. I love it.

Nicaragua

My first overseas mission trip was to Nicaragua. Here I experienced people in poverty, people who have nothing… see Jesus as something that is worth more then anything that they could possibly want. This is where I first shared the gospel to a crowd of people. I remember my team leader asked me to share my own story of how I came to know the Lord and then give a gospel presentation.

What I learned

As a believer in Jesus I have two purposes: 1) to worship Jesus in Spirit and in truth (John 4) and 2) I am on mission with Jesus to see others become worshippers of Jesus. I believe that it was in Nicaragua that I felt a calling by God to serve his church by equipping the saints to live on mission to see disciples that worship him in spirit and in truth made.

I have had many ministry opportunities…

but what I am doing now is the hardest thing that I have ever done. What makes it so hard is that as much as I want to rely on my own awesomeness I can’t… because I have no awesomeness.

I have been working as a missionary serving a local church on a college campus and I am daily reminded that I have to trust Jesus is working and that he is going to take care of my family.

The campus is hard soil. There is intellectual liberalism that hates God, post-modernism is everywhere, professors (not all) are teaching things that are opposed to what God says in his Word. And on top of all that my family has to raise support to keep us on the campus to make disciples. This means that we are constantly losing supporters (talk about a relying-on-God lesson).

But in spite of all that lives are being changed. We have seen students with absolutely no Christian background changed by the Spirit of God and believe the gospel. They have been baptized and take the gospel that they have just believed in and take it to their own spheres of influence! It’s incredible!

So yes, this is the hardest thing that have ever done. But it’s only hard if am the one that is doing it. Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (ESV).”

I need God to move the hearts of people to give to our mission. I need God to move the hearts of God-hating people to believe in Jesus’ gospel. Because with God all things are possible. With me, only some things are possible.