Sunday, September 29, 2013

Break Every Chain

A couple weeks ago at our UTD Friday Night Fellowship (FNF), I had the opportunity to introduce our theme for the year--Break Every Chain.  I shared about God's ultimate desire to end oppression and bondage and bring true freedom through Jesus to the world.  After the lesson, we had every student fill in the blanks to this sentence: "____________ is a chain in my life that I want to see broken this year so that _______________."  

After a song, we opened up the mic to let anyone share what they had written.  Around 70 students came up to share!  I wish you could have heard how they made themselves vulnerable to the community as they shared about chains of fear and anxiety, of sin and shame, of constantly comparing themselves to others, of laziness, of depression, of weakness, of lust, of vices like smoking--and that barely scratches the surface.  On the one hand, your heart would have broken as you heard what the world has done in and through these students.  But on the other, you would have been so encouraged to see them boldly renouncing those things, openly facing them, and powerfully praying for God to move this year!  Transformed lives is absolutely the best part of campus ministry!  

The students in attendance that night who don't know Christ were blown away by the openness and acceptance they witnessed that night.  And many of them shared as well!  We have so many students coming who are investigating Jesus for the first time, and so many Bible studies started with them already.  

This past FNF, I had a girl tell me that she was trying to be serious about finding God for the first time--she'd started reading a Bible given to her by a friend and she's made it to Leviticus!  She's coming to a class I'm teaching on Mark's Gospel starting this Friday--I can't wait to tell her all about Jesus.
Please be praying for God to move powerfully this year, breaking the chains in these students' lives and bringing them into intimate relationships with Him.  And please message me with your own answer to the above prompt so that I can be praying for you too!

A couple more notes:

1.  My peer team is made up of the Core group leaders I'm mentoring on a weekly basis.  I'd so appreciate your prayers for them as they try to reach out to the nearly 40 guys attending their groups.
From left to right, it's JD, Morgan, me, Christian, & Peter.

2.  I wanted to share with you these cool articles about UTD.  You can just read the headlines, or click on the links to find out a lot more.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

U.S. News Ranks UT Dallas in Top 25 for Diversity
UT Dallas has one of the top 25 most ethnically diverse student populations in the country, according to recent data from U.S. News and World Report. “Diversity is important to the student experience,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. read more

Big Freshman Class Lifts Enrollment to 21,145
The largest freshman class in UT Dallas’ history is a major reason that enrollment has grown more than 7 percent since fall 2012. The preliminary total enrollment tally of 21,145 shows a record 2,231 new freshmen – a 44 percent increase since last year. read more

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

It's been an awesome beginning!

I'm running about three weeks behind on most of my tasks, but the student ministry is off to an amazing start!  Honestly, I think we've had our best Welcome Week yet on every campus.  At UTD, our 36 student core leaders went out and made tons of new friends, starting with move-in and continuing on through all the campus-sponsored events.  I wish you could have seen these young disciples in action!

One of the students I mentor was sharing with me about how last year he was too shy to meet new people.  So he thought about one of the most outgoing people he knows--Charlie.  Then, when he'd see a freshman standing by himself this year, he'd just ask himself, "What would Charlie do?"  The answer? "He'd walk up and introduce himself." So that's what he did!  And he has about 15 guys coming to his core, only a couple of them returners from last year.  I could repeat stories like that over and over.  These students are willing to stretch outside of their own comfort zones in order to meet the needs they see around them. I'm reminded of Paul writing, "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Corinthians 9).

Had you been at our first Friday Night Fellowship at UTD, you would have stood among nearly 200 students!  Had you attended UNT's meeting last Friday, you would have worshipped with around 250.  I'd be worried except that we have nearly 40 small group leaders on each campus--plus a host of staff and returning students--ready to befriend, teach, and mentor these new people.  God is growing these missional communities, but we aren't losing our core value that ministry is personal--"One on one is how it's done" as my father/mentor Ronnie always says.

After Welcome Week was over, we took all of our staff and small group leaders on a retreat--over 100 people.  Our topic was the Heart of Leadership.  In one session we focused in on the idea of vulnerability (if you haven't seen the BrenĂ© Brown TED talks on vulnerability and shame, I highly recommend them).  Afterward, each student anonymously wrote a secret on a card and slipped it into a box.  Later that night we had them on the wall for everyone to read and reflect on.  I think you would have had tears in your eyes if you had been there reading those secrets--some exciting, some heartbreaking.  I know I did!  I've included a sampling of them below so you'll get the idea.  Pray for these students and all the others.  If these are the secrets in our student leader's lives, think about the brokenness in the lives of their peers who don't yet know our loving God.  Thanks for supporting me in so many ways so I can be on campus and with students.  Without our partnership, so much Kingdom work would go undone.

These are just a sampling--some were darker, others really encouraging.

Developing Our Pastoral Team

We are back in August and ramping up for the school year! We have an amazing pastoral staff, and an outstanding group of student leaders. At...