Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."

My friend Cal and I have had long gaps in our friendship since we met in high school.  Recently, we spent some time together catching up and talking about the past few years.  Cal is not a Christian, but he has respect for and sincere interest in my faith.  After we talked about what I do, he asked me, "What are some of your hobbies or interests that are not related to your religion?"

At the moment, it was difficult for me to come up with an answer to Cal's question.  I told him there is really very little I do that is not somehow influenced by what I believe about God.  The more I have thought about this question, the more I realize how much the Spirit has infiltrated every aspect of my life.  Some things are obvious: when I go to church or to Focus, my purpose is directly related to what I think God wants me to do.  Others are less obvious: when I work in my garden, I think about God walking in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  I think about the instructions Yahweh gave to the Israelites to decorate his Temple with lampstands shaped like trees and pomegranates embroidered on the curtains.  I think about how Jesus retreated to the garden of Gethsemane as he prepared himself for his death.  I think about the image in Revelation of a main street lined with beautiful trees whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.  When I plant flowers and pull weeds in the garden, I'm not just passing time or entertaining myself.  I'm connecting to God and experiencing the beauty of his beloved creation with my own hands.  It's easy, when we go too long without getting a little dirt under our fingernails, to forget that God formed our forebears out of the dust of the earth.  God loves beauty and he loves his creation.

The Spirit of God permeates his creation and all his people within it.  I realize that truth and allow it to shape my life more and more every day.  If you call Jesus your Lord, my hope is that you would have no boundaries to limit the work of God in and through your life.

Right now, I and the rest of the Focus staff are raising funds to support our ministry for the coming school year.  It would be easy to say that fundraising is something separate from ministry; that money is something crude and mundane, so asking for it couldn't possibly be spiritual.  I have found that is is simply not true.  Fundraising is a way to minister to potential donors even as it enables us to minister to students.

This enlightened view of fundraising has become so clear to me through my meetings with Rachel.  Rachel is an upcoming intern, and I am her fundraising coach.  We have been meeting about every two weeks so I can hear how she is doing, pray for her, and advise her.  Rachel has come to our meetings with so much enthusiasm for this part of her internship and many exciting stories about the people she has contacted.  She isn't just looking for someone to send her money; she's looking for a way to share the gospel with people she may not see or talk to very often.  She told me one story of calling some old family friends.  The husband had been a pastor when Rachel knew him, but during a conversation with his wife, she found out that he has left ministry and has been struggling with even believing in God any more.  Rachel saw this as an opportunity to minister to a family that is hurting deeply.  If she hadn't made the call to ask this couple to support her during her internship, she would never have known how much they need her prayers and encouragement.

Rachel, who will start her internship August 1

As I raise support this summer, I hope to have the same attitude as Rachel.  Every person I talk to is God's beloved child and worthy of my care.  I am a college minister, but that doesn't restrict me to ministering only to college students.

Speaking of college students, I'm sure you want to know what is going on with them!  Over the summer, we have been meeting each Thursday at Lifepoint Church in Plano.  This church has graciously welcomed us to use their facility, and we have been so blessed by it!  Thank you Lifepoint Church!

Students worshiping God at Summer Focus

Each week, we have heard a sermon from a different speaker.  One of my favorite parts of Summer Focus is this opportunity to hear so many different voices from across our campuses and from people outside of Focus who contribute in significant ways.  I invite you to join us each Thursday night this summer.  Come out and see these students whose lives have been changed by Jesus!