The verse to the left is taken from Job and is something I stumbled upon when I preparing to give my slice of life on Sunday morning. The whole point behind me getting up front and speaking was to share about my experience with Winter Retreat and pitch this year's retreat, and in the process I stumbled across this beautfiul passage in Job where Job is sharing with his friends how God's creation speaks for itself. The animals, the birds, the earth, the fish, all of them know the Lord's hand was the one who created them and sustains their life. This isn't anything new to me, per se, as it's basic knowledge for any "Christian". But something about it struck me differently this time than it has in the past. In verse 10, where it says, "in his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind," the imagery there makes me think of me holding a butterfly in my hands and despite being large enough and powerful enough to crush it, choose to let it rest gently in my hands. And this entire thought is perfect for reflecting the moment of life I'm in now, which I would simply dub as remembrance. We see throughout scripture how God calls his people to remember him (passover feast, feast of the booths, communion) and what he has done for his people, but also as a time to look ahead at the promises he has in store. As our maker holds all of creation in His hands, all of those things are true at once. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and for Him those promises that appear linear in time to us occur all at once. It's not a radical revelation by any means, but stopped me in my tracks nonetheless and focused my eyes on the eternal rather than the temperal.
Ten Year Anniversary
This past month, we had the privledge of celebrating H2O Cincinnati's ten year anniversary. The fact that H2O Cincinnati has survived this long is a gift from God. Ten years ago, H2O Cincinnati was planted by one man and, if you know anything about church planting, you know most church planting teams are just that: teams. So, on November 2nd, we celebrated the fact that God used one man to start a movement on the second largest college campus in Ohio by inviting back past alumni and our supporters. In addition, one of our students aided us in producing a video featuring our current head pastor, Grant Rohlfer, one of deacons and first staff member from UC, Kyle Barta, and the founding pastor, Matt Hilderbran. You can view this video and other photos from the event below!
Ten Year Anniversary Video
Ten Year Anniversary Photos
Collegiate Staff Conference
For those of you who aren't aware of how the H2O Church Network is organized, we are a part of a larger church network called the Collegiate Church Network, who is then a part of Reliant (the organization whom distrubutes our paychecks and aids us in funding). Every year, the Collegiate Church Network hosts a staff conference for all staff within the network, which includes all the H2O churches in addition to other church groups in the network. This year, the conference was hosted in Columbus, Ohio.
Why am I telling you this? Because the one of the main goals of staff conference is for church unity. We go there as seperate, independent, churches yet are all a part of the same Church and striving towards the same goal: building disciples on college campuses. Seeing the bigger picture allows those of us on staff to see that we are a part of something that is impacting the world; and I want all of you to see how H2O Cincinnati is one piece of the puzzle. The ministry in Cincinnati is incredible and, like Kyle said in the ten year video, is on the verge of rapdily expanding, yet we are no more or less important than the next church and seeing how God is using everyone from the Church as a whole to me as an invidivual staff member at H2O speaks to his unfathomable Glory.
I've raved about the Life Group I'm a part of for the majoirty of this semester (and for good reason in my opinion). I have been super blessed by this group of freshmen and have seen how God has been working in their lives and using them for incredible things. This past week, we celebrated Thanksgiving with our Life Group by having a potluck meal at one of our student leaders' houses. We had eighteen people from our Life Group show up with thier own dish, which led to enough food being there to feed forty. I'm so thankful for this group of people here and their willingness to come into a university like Cincinnati and pursue God above many other things that appear to be so life-giving. It's been incredible to witness.
One person I'm extra thankful for is the man pitured to the right, Bradley. He was my mentee in The Well (our discipleship/church membership class) this semester and we would meet up at least once a week and do life together. I saw this man grow so much in his faith over the past semester and truly wrestle with God and what he is being called into. He's grasped onto his faith and begun to run with it and being more and more willing to share it with others, which, in turn, has pushed me to be more evangelistic as well. It's been truly incredible to witness and I cannot wait to see what the Lord is going to through him in the years to come.
As well as Life Group has been going, though, our leadership team has realized there was a blind spot with how we were leading the Life Group and each other. Prayer was barely there. We would have leaders meetings, have maybe one person pray and then get going. Have Life Group with prayer at the beginning and small group prayer at the end. Prayer was there. But it was secondary. And we cared more about doing Life Group with prayer than doing Life Group through prayer.
This has been the biggest change in our Life Group and my personal life recently. Prayer has to be the foundation of everything we do. Whether that's in my life or in leading a Life Gorup, if I try to do either without prayer I'm doing everything on my own efforts. And it has been incredible to see how changing the format of our leadership meetings to include an open prayer time, altering our prayer time at the end of Life Group, and how being more devoted to prayer in my personal life has changed my heart and began to the change the culture of our Life Group.
Below are some more photos from our "Friendsgiving. In the top left is a post-group picture featuring Katherine carrying Cassidy (her sister-in-law). Top right is one of our amazing students, Matthew, getting ready to carve open his home-made ham. Bottom left is Brycen, one of our student leaders, enjoying his turkey. And in the bottom right are the girls who were able to make it. From left to right they are: Cassidy, Laura, Julia, Katherine, Arianna , Sarah, and Charlotte.
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.