Hey! We made it back from Italy.
I still cannot believe we got to go. We are incredibly thankful. The weather and the pasta were hot. We praise God we made it back in one piece.
I wanted to share a more reflective update this month. One of my favorite parts of my job is doing one-on-one studies with students. I love reading the Bible and creating space for people to think through God's word. Our series this summer at our services is actually over our study. We are teaching the heart behind the lessons. Our one-on-one study is called "Focus on Jesus". It's about eight-nine lessons (many people take whole semesters to go over it). We cover different biblical concepts and well, help people focus on Jesus.
The first lesson is called "Words of Life". There we talk about how we view scripture and what we expect to get out of it. This, to me, is such an important place to start. We talk about what biases we might bring and how we should come to the Bible humbly. I love this lesson. So, I really loved when one of our pastors Garret got up and shared a sermon about it. It has been on my mind since hearing him. He shared that he had recently been ministering in some really tough situations. Situations where people were utterly broken and devastated. He shared that in those moments when facing these unthinkable circumstances, all he had to offer was the word of God. No words from his worldly wisdom could suffice. What gives people hope is what is in the Bible. What speaks into the darkest places is God's word.
I have found in ministry that often a temptation I face is to give people my thoughts or psychology. I'm a natural problem solver. I love thinking up steps to help get people out of messes. Of course, the issue here is that this might be alright when a student oversleeps but is super problematic when it is matters of the heart. I should not just slap a bandaid of steps on someone who is struggling to pray. "Oh, just add an alarm to your phone. You'll pray more then". I should be inquisitive. I should pray and discern what might be causing them to not seek God. Steps are helpful; we all need practicals at different times, but in my effort to problem-solve, I can miss the opportunity to bring them to the foundation of life that is God. John 4:13-14 comes to mind:
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
I can be like the water that leaves people thirsty when I don't point people to Jesus. the Bible is like living water to me. I can think of many ministry situations this semester where the people I met with needed to hear the word of God. Only God could speak into the pain they were experiencing. The word of God was like a tether for their soul because God felt distant. I wanted to share this because I think we all need to be reminded of the powerful resource we have. I pray you too can prayerfully think through where you need the word of God. I pray that your words can be like living water to the people around you.
A personal favorite to share with people is Hebrews 4:15-16:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
This is good news.
Thank you so much for your support of this ministry. Be praying for August. Pray we can be ready to meet all the freshmen!! It's an exciting time.
Here is some of the art I saw in Italy: