For any college ministry, the month of May can be rather dull. With the majority of students leaving for the summer to either return home or go on co-ops and the incoming freshman not starting orientation until June, May is the lull month in-between. Because of this, writing a newsletter over just the month of May would have been scarce and not very informative. So, I chose to combine the months of May and June into one update instead.
One of the best parts about being in Cincinnati for the summer is getting to partake in summer Life Group. Unlike during the normal school year where we have anywhere from 8-12 Life Groups meeting simultaneously, summer Life Group is combined into one large meeting where we then split off into four or five discussion groups. There's an aspect to community here that we don't normally receive since it allows people who have never been in a discussion group together to open God's word side-by-side. For me, one of the best parts about summer Life Group so far has been being able to take a back seat, observe, and not worry about leading and making sure everything goes smoothly. Granted, if something comes up myself or another staff member would gladly step up, but a lot of our summer activities are run by two interns, thus giving our staff team a much needed break. So far, we have done a rough overview of the book of Genesis and have spoken about the Holiness of God, which is something I think is often very misunderstood. If you're interested in hearing more about this, check out this video by The Bible Project on YouTube.
I Gave a Sermon!
By far, the highlight of May was having the opportunity to preach on a Sunday morning. Since summer is less formal, there is no specific series that we are going through, so the topic was wide open for me to choose. After speaking to the men's ministry in February and writing a topical message, I chose to take a different route this time and find something God has been teaching me about and then dissect a verse that speaks to that. So, I chose to preach over the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14), which deals heavily with pride and how one is made righteous with God.
While I could go through and lay out everything I spoke about here, all of our sermons are recorded and put on H2O's website. So, if you would like to listen to my sermon the link to that is below.
From the time I moved down to Cincinnati in January until school let out, I was kept busy by a multitude of things. Whether that be school, ministry related things, or my own personal writing, the fact is I was always busy. So, when summer hit and I went from having a full calendar to twiddling my thumbs trying to find something to do, I kind of had an extensional crisis for a brief time in May. Sermon prepping definitely helped with that, but only for a short while since I wrote and revised the main chunk of it in a span of two days. That pretty much sums up how my brain works: sit down and plow through something until its done. Yet when my sermon was over, I drifted right back into the state of "I have no idea what to do with myself." Ironically, it was only then I realized how little I was actually diving into scripture. I was reading multiple 300 page books a week and neglecting the most important book of them all. So, I decided to just start going through the entire Bible in a manner that rotates Old Testament and New Testament books. Basically, read The Torah and then read the Gospel of Matthew, then Joshua and Judges, then Mark, and so on. To put this more in perspective, the last time I read through Genesis was a couple of years ago when I was just starting to invest in my faith again. Since then not only has my knowledge of scripture grown tremendously but so has my ability to interpret it, see the deeper meaning, and connect it with the rest of scripture. To use fancy theological words, I've grown a lot in the areas of Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics. Thus, going through Genesis this time around has been eye-opening. I've never noticed the number of prophecies, how many times we see Jesus physically appear, how flawed Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, his sons, and everyone else is, and have never put together why these stories are in the Bible. Quite simply, Genesis has gone from a book I considered alright to one of my favorite books of the Bible (up there right next to Hebrews and Philippians). Why do I mention this? Because in that time where I wasn't sure what to do with myself I became like Lot who knew where God told him to go and yet he chose to go the opposite direction or like Jacob who put up fail-safes in case God didn't come through. I had all these other places to go to instead of God and found a lot of my identity in what I was doing not who I was doing it for. This mindset change has made all the difference recently as we've started planning and preparing for fall semester.
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" button on the top of your screen.