Recent events in our country leave me feeling burdened by the weight of evil and ignorance, but also galvanized in my mission to bring the light and truth of Jesus Christ to a dark and broken world.
Two weeks ago, a young man walked into a church with the intent to murder. Compelled by hatred, he opened fire and killed nine people. Upon hearing the news, I was at first stunned by the depth of evil that persists in our world. Then I heard the stories of the victims' families offering forgiveness when they could have returned hate for hate. One week after the shooting, a Bible study was held in the same room, and the interim pastor declared, "This territory belongs to God." (http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/19/us/charleston-church-shooting-main/index.html)
I am deeply moved by the faith of the members of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. Their response to evil is a valiant trust in our great God. I trust along with them in Jesus, who told his disciples to turn the other cheek when they were struck. This is the Jesus who promised that those who follow him will have trouble in this life. This is the Jesus who called his followers to take up their crosses daily as they followed him. This is the same Jesus who promised that he would be with his people always, and that those who gave up much in this age would receive in the next the reward of eternal life. Our God is good and He loves us. To this truth we can cling even in the face of unimaginable evil.
You may have heard about another recent news item recently: the US Supreme Court issued a decision that effectively legalized gay marriage in all fifty states. The issue of gay marriage has been a divisive one for our nation and even for our church, and I don't expect that the recent change will end that division. Whatever you may think about the morality of homosexuality, my prayer is that you and I and all the church along with us would love others as Jesus loves us, that we would seek wisdom and truth, and that we would embrace the renewing of our minds and hearts that comes from the Spirit's work in us. If you are interested in reading more about the Scriptural commands regarding sexuality and various perspectives on them, I found this collection of blog posts very helpful (there are a total of 20 posts on the topic).
The reality of college ministry is that FOCUS includes students who grew up attending black churches as well as those who grew up in the shadow of a waving Confederate flag. Some of our students identify as openly gay while others struggle to suppress same-sex attraction. Into this reality, I am trying to shine the light of Jesus. I am doing this along with an incredible team of ministers who are wholeheartedly committed to preaching the gospel to students in Denton and all over the metroplex. I earnestly request your prayers for this team as we enter into the 2015-2016 school year. Pray that God would shine His light in the darkness and guide people into His wisdom and love.
|The Denton FOCUS staff. From left to right: Cody, me, Aaron, Matt, Miriam, and Sarah|