The month of February has been jam packed with some incredible events that have showcased how much God is moving throughout the H2O Network, on UC's campus, and in every individual life. I've witnessed someone going from death to life, hundreds of men worshiping the Lord at the top of their lungs, a revitalization of passion for worship within our church, and the continued unity of the church as a whole.
Kicking off the month of February was our men's and women's times on February 7th. Both of these events went through a lot of twists and turns in the final two weeks of planning because myself and the men's ministry leaders were working hand-in-hand with the women's ministry leaders to make sure we were addressing an issue in the church as effectively as possible. To sum up what we saw going on in H2O (and in the church as a whole) is a lack of ability to properly deal with conflict. I often feel like this topic is glossed over by the church as being something that should be a given. Jesus dealt with conflict by loving people regardless and we are simply supposed to reflect him. Easy, right? Not so much, especially when we bring human emotion into the mix. Yes, the simple answer is that we are supposed to love people through conflict, but often the way that people approach conflict and respond to it is not in a loving way but, instead, selfish and prideful. So, for the men's talk, this is what I aimed to address: why it is important to address conflict in a Biblical way and why should we even care? If you want to listen to my talk, I recorded it and you can access the file here (it's roughly 24 minutes long). This was my first time speaking and giving a "sermon-like" talk and it definitely showed as I made a couple of mistakes and sometimes sped up my already fast talking pace. Regardless of that, though, I thoroughly enjoy public speaking and sermon prepping and likely will continue to take on more opportunities to do so as they come up.
A couple of years ago I dreaded the term Man Makers. Despised it even. I've never done community well with other men and the idea of getting together with 300 plus men over a weekend was the furthest thing from appealing for me. But, as I grew older and God called me to enter ministry into my biggest weak spot (I'm talking about you, Man2Man), my heart towards this weekend has done a complete 180. Not only has it become one of my favorite things that the H2O Network does, but I look forward to it every year.
The general format of it is the same from year to year. All the men from all the H2O's come together in Columbus from Friday to Saturday to have three large sessions of worship and sermons, various smaller workshops about specific topics, play a lot of basketball and euchre, and collectively get about two hours of sleep (I think I actually managed to get three this year). The ways that God worked through this event though was incredible. To have 300 plus men in the same room worshiping is an unforgettable experience, but the best part for me has always been the late night talks that inevitably ensue. This years' Man Makers was the best one I've been to and seemed to be the most relevant in terms of the sermons being given.
One of the most memorable moments of this Man Maker's this year was walking into the sanctuary of the church we were staying at and seeing Cincy's worship team spontaneously playing together and worshiping. Only a few other people were in there, most of the other men were across the street in the gym playing basketball, and they chose to simply pick up their instruments and play. In essence, this is what Man Makers is all about; coming together as men of the body of Christ to worship and grow closer to Him together.
Our mental health ministry has started the year off strongly, having two very successful meetings so far. This most recent one (on February 25th) was definitely one of the most interesting in terms of planning and also one of the most amazing ones to see how much God worked through our decision to call a last second audible. Simply put, we had planned for me to give a talk that we we deemed as extremely important and when less people showed up to The Valley meeting than normal, we made a last second decision to change the topic five minutes before the meeting started. Thankfully, one of the other leaders happens to be Cassi, a fellow staff member and someone who performs extremely well when put under pressure. She told us that she had an idea and ended up ad-libbing a discussion about finding hope in the midst of struggles which was absolutely amazing.
The most amazing thing was how the talk that Cassi gave was exactly the talk that the people in that room needed to hear at the moment. The one I had prepared is still important and one that we'll get to later on, but it was a total God thing that we didn't use it for that meeting.
Our Church as a Whole
As a whole our church has been doing awesome this semester. We've been going through a series titled Words of the Wise, which is covering the wisdom literature within the Bible. For being a college church aimed towards college students, I highly appreciate how we don't pull the punches the Gospel holds for fear of offending people and delve deeply into what the Bible actually says from cover to cover instead of preaching the stereotypical college sermons about time management. We aim to give people an authentic church experience and one that answers the toughest questions in life, because the Bible doesn't refrain from addressing them.
I would encourage you to listen to our sermons online, which you can access via the links below.
A week ago, two of the worship leaders, Jared and Laura, and myself began planning an end of the year worship night where we'll have a full band, play roughly ten songs, and dedicate the entire night to worship. The best part is that we want to open this up to anyone who wishes to join. We are already inviting our sister church here in Cincinnati (New Life) and Christ the King due to them allowing us to use their church for our worship team to practice in, and want to also extend that invite to our supporters and family and friends back home. If you've never been to Cincinnati to see what we do or you've never experienced H2O Cincinnati, I highly encourage you to come (even those of you from Ashland) and personally would love to show you what our ministry does in person. If you think you would need a hotel but don't want to pay for one, send me an email or a text and I can help you work out the arrangements and likely even find you a place to stay at either my house or another staff member's house. The details are below:
When: Saturday April 13, 2019 @8:00pm Where: Lindner 450 (triangle building next to the football field)
Cost: Absolutely nothing
Something I've been more and more convicted on since returning to Cincinnati is the necessity of prayer. I've never seen it as irrelevant, but I've never implemented it in my life to the extent that God calls us to. So, since this is something I am attempting to live continuously in, I want to put it out there that if you have a specific prayer request please reach out to me so that way I can add it my list.
For me personally right now, please be praying for our upcoming spring break trips (info on them can be found in my previous update), those who are considering interning with H2O for the summer, and for my eventual acceptance into the master's of secondary education program at UC.
What I'm currently reading (outside of the Bible):
The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Once again, I want to thank all of you who are supporting me either financially or via prayer through all of this as you are making it possible for me and the rest of H2O Cincinnati's staff team to reach the students at the University of Cincinnati. If you are not a part of my financial support team, I ask that you prayerfully consider joining me and my mission with H2O Cincinnati at a monthly amount by clicking on the "give now" button on the top right of your screen.