Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

I want to start by saying thank you so so much to all of you who are supporting me!  This ministry is a partnership.  I could not be here without your support and I am super excited to be sharing with you about what the Lord is doing here at Rice through us!!  

As the semester begins to wind down, I am struck with extreme gratitude that I get to do this job and work with the amazing students here at Rice.  I am encouraged to see what the Lord is doing in them and through them and feel immensely honored that I get to be an RUF intern.  Growing students spiritually and relationally, God is truly at work through RUF.  There have been both highs and lows along the way, but when I step back and look at the overall picture, I see much fruit am greatly encouraged. More and more, students are being drawn into a community that points them to the mighty love of Jesus for them.  Discipleship is bearing fruit in the form of honesty, repentance, and growth in grace.  As relationships in the group grow deeper, gospel opportunities multiply.  As the reach of RUF expands, more and more people are hearing the good news.  The Word is being preached and the gospel is being proclaimed boldly every week.  Our God is not reluctant to save.  He is working on hearts as He continually uses RUF to draw students to Himself.  Our God is the great Redeemer, and He chooses to use you and me to bring about His plan of redemption.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
~ Luke 1:68

The good news of the kingdom is not freedom from hardship, suffering, and loss. It is the news of a Redeemer who has come to rescue me from Myself.  ~ Paul David Tripp
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A Few Updates


Fall Conference…

In October, RUF took nine students to Fall conference.  This is a conference attended by RUFs from all across Texas.  This is a beautiful time for students to meet fellow RUFers from other colleges, worship together, relax together, and hear the word of God preached five times over a single weekend.  It can be difficult to get Rice students to come to conferences like these because they often feel stressed about school.  Even though Rice students know rest is important in a vague sort of way, they do not really believe that they need it.  More than that, they struggle to believe that they will be ok if they spend the majority of a weekend without studying.  For this reason, I was extremely encouraged that we had such a large percentage of our RUF core group come.  It was a great time and they were all very glad that they came.  It was a beautiful time of rest, and it is always a huge encouragement to worship with so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is encouraging for them to see that RUF is actually a huge national ministry and there are hundreds of other college students, just like them, who are also a part of RUF.  

Conferences like these are a great way to get new students connected fast.  Even though the entire conference takes place over one weekend, from Friday night until Sunday morning, a lot happens during that time to bind people together. We were blessed to have three new students come with us to the conference.  The Lord really used that time to build friendships between our students and also to give them some much needed rest and encouragement.  There is nothing more restful than worshiping, with your brothers and sisters, the God who dwells with His people.  It is only a small taste of heaven, but oh how sweet a taste.  
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:14

Opportunities are Increasing…

Over the course of my time here at Rice, I am seeing increased opportunities to speak about the gospel with students.  Part of this is that I know many more students now than I did earlier on in the semester.  In the course of getting to know the students already in RUF I naturally have gotten chances to meet their roommates and friends, and then their friend’s friends.  I have had significantly more one on ones over the past few weeks than I did any other preceeding week, which hugely encouraging.  The other part is that, as I become closer relationally with students, their willingness to open up about some truly hard things has grown proportionally.  This has been both good and hard.  It means my conversations with many of the students are deeper and more meaningful, which is good.  It also means that some of these conversations take more wisdom than those that I generally had near the beginning of the semester.  Some of these things are cause for rejoicing, and some are more difficult struggles that require empathy.  Please pray for me that I would speak truth boldly when it is needed, and that I would know how to walk alongside students graciously, constantly pointing them to Jesus.

Guys' Night…

RUF is constantly looking for ways to do fellowship and community intentionally.  We have particularly been looking for ways to foster community and friendship among the RUF guys this semester.  One event we had to accomplish this purpose was an RUF guys' night.  What do you do when you want guys to get together?  Well the combination of Braveheart (the manliest movie of all time) and meat covered pizza seemed to work pretty well for us!  It worked so well that after watching Braveheart, they wanted to watch another movie, even though it was already 12 o’clock at night.  So, we watched Gladiator too!  I did not sleep much that night but it was well worth it!  My prayer is that events like this, simple as it was, will help foster community, friendship, and brotherhood between young men at Rice.

A few stories…

One of the ways RUF has been trying to love the campus this semester by handing out home baked cookies on campus for free.  We do it every other week on Friday afternoons as students are walking back to their dorms from class.  On college campuses like Rice’s, it is a pretty normal thing for organizations to promote by handing out quote unquote "free food."  The thing is, most of the time this food is not really free.  In order to get your cookie or slice of pizza, you would typically need to fill out a survey and give the organization your contact information.  What makes what we are doing stand out is that the cookies we are giving out are actually free.  The purpose of doing this really is to love the campus and serve other Rice students.  As a result, there is no survey that they have to fill out.  There are no fliers that they have to take in exchange for a cookie.  They really are free.  It is so counterintuitive to them, they almost never believe us at first and then there is a beautiful moment when they realize we really are just giving them something for free with no strings attached.  Their whole demeanor changes.  Their eyebrows shoot up in surprise and then a huge grin spreads across their faces.  “Really?!” They exclaim, “Thank you so much!” However, the very fact that we are actually giving away truly free cookies often makes students want to stop and talk to us to ask why we are doing this.  These are real gospel opportunities.
A few Fridays ago, I was standing handing out free cookies with some RUF students when a girl walked up tentatively and asked if these cookies where really free? “Yes, totally free!” I said. “No surveys and no fliers. They really are totally free,” I continued.  Still looking a little skeptical she walked up and took one.  “Wow you were serious. They really are free,” she said.  Then with a look of complete confusion she asked, “Why are you doing this?”  “Because we just want to love and serve the campus freely,” I said with a smile and a shrug.  Then I continued, “It is the most natural thing. When you have been loved freely it makes you want to love others freely." She then asked me what organization we were with and I told her, “RUF, which is a Christian ministry on campus.”  She proceeded to have a 30 minute conversation with me and one of the RUF students.  She asked us about what Christians believe in general, about women in the church and about marriage, and she asked about the hypocrisy that seems so rampant in church people.  We got to share the gospel with her and talk through how God sees men and women as equally valuable and equally worthy.  How Jesus constantly dignified women in His ministry and how marriage is a reflection of the Trinity.  Lastly we got to tell her that church people are not better people and we don’t claim to be.  We are actually the people who know we are bad.  We are the ones who know we need a Savior.  We explained that it was for this very reason that Jesus came to die on the cross for sinners.  I was greatly encouraged by this opportunity to share the gospel and I have continued to pray for her since.


Sola Fide... 

Another beautiful opportunity that occurred recently happened while I was grabbing lunch with one of the freshman guys who has been to a few RUF events.  He had been to our Bible study on Mark a few times and agreed to get lunch with me.  We had a great conversation and I got to hear about his experience at Rice thus far, his family, and his faith.  At the end of the conversation we ended up talking about salvation.  Some of the things I was saying about salvation by grace through faith were intriguing to him, as he was accustomed to hearing it preached that our salvation comes from doing good things that earn grace for us.  We looked at verses from Romans chapters 4, 5, and 6. Primarily, we talked about how chapter 4 says that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness, and chapter 5 verses 1-11, where the beautiful promise of our justification is laid out clearly.  It is not by works that the Christian is declared righteous enough to enter into God’s presence, for if it were so then none could enter. Instead, it is by grace through faith in Jesus’s imputed work on our behalf that we are declared righteous enough.  So, it is not our work but Christ’s work that makes us righteous.  After our conversation, this student was interested in hearing more.  I asked him if he would be willing to read Romans with me and he said yes! 
God is at work and we know that His Word does not return void.  We will be talking about Romans chapter 1  next Friday, so please pray that the Holy Spirit would superintend our conversation.
Romans 4:1-5
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  
Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

Romans 4:13-16
13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.  16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham.

Romans 5:1-11
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we 
have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
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