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Archive for the ‘Austin Stone Bloggers’ Category

As the Lord is teaching us more and more about marriage and parenting, we are learning how little we know and how valuable the community of believers around us is.  There’s a reason that God calls us to train our children within the context of a church, and its absolutely because we need the wisdom and the guidance of those around us to help us train our children well.  Our friend, Kimberly, began posting a series of blogs regarding parenting, and they have been invaluable to my parenting of GTB.  If you are a parent, are about to be a parent, or think that at some point in the future you just might be a parent, you should read these blogs.

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GTB and Kimberly’s daughter, Sally

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I had the awesome opportunity to preach to almost 1000 college students about a week and a half ago.  If you would like to listen, you can go here, and you can get a good recap here.

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Family Reunion and Baptism Header

Austin Friends,

On Saturday, October 25, The Austin Stone will be hosting our Family Reunion and Baptism starting at 10:30 am.  Come and join us as we celebrate what God is doing in Austin, and rejoice with brothers and sisters who are being baptized!  Baptism will start at noon, and we’ll have some Pokejo’s BBQ immediately following.  You can sign up and find out more info at www.austinstone.org/familyreunion.

Hope to see you there!

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Update from Toodus

It’s been quite awhile since I posted something here, so I figured I should alleviate some of OTown’s burden for carrying this blog and do something to help.

I’ve been unbelievably busy with everything that is happening at The Austin Stone, but it has truly been a season of joy in the midst of the long hours.  If you’d like to know more about what is happening at the church, especially as things unfold regarding our land purchase/building development, check out this website and follow our sermon podcast.  My role in this great church has been to develop our Connections Ministry with the help of some great teammates, as well as continue to lead our College Ministry.

OTown and I have had the great privilege to take over the Nearly/Newly Married equipping class this Fall, and are very much enjoying the opportunity to shape young marriages.  Our prayer is that God would use us to shape these marriages into Christ-honoring and God-glorifying marriages that demonstate Christ’s love for His church.  In addition to this class, I’m also walking through Tim Keller’s Gospel Christianity with a class of about 30, and hopefully helping to create a class that God will use well in the coming years at The Austin Stone.

OTown has done a great job of capturing many of our pictures from our summer Turkey adventure, and I’ll try to post some of my reflections in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned…

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Over the past three years, our family has fallen in love with the city we live in.  We love Austin for the diverse people who live here, the awesome landscape of the hill country, the uniquely “weird” culture.  We love Austin for its growth and vibrance.  We love the university, the capitol, the music scene, the tech industry, the clash of people and purposes who inhabit this city.  We love it because so many other people who live here are love it.  Its hard not to love what everyone around you loves.  

Over three years, we have come to learn that, not only is Austin an incredible city, but it’s a city that God’s heart seems to be broken for.  A city in which God seems to be moving.  A city where people are stirred to see transformation and revival.  Over three years, we have run into so many people who have been brought to Austin with a burden for seeing the kingdom of God spread to the people of this city.  Our church represents a small segment of the people who have a passion for the transformation of this city, but we are blessed every day by the faithfulness of our church body who believe that God is moving in Austin.  We are blessed by a church body who desires to exalt the supremacy of the name and purpose of Jesus Christ, to proclaim Christ crucified to a city in need of a Savior, and to trust that God’s hand is mighty to save the city we have all come to love.

 This week was spring break in Austin.  Being a university town, Austin is accustomed to seeing a mass exodus of its population during spring break, winter break, and definitely during summer break.  When 55,000 people leave the city at once, it’s noticeable.  By the time spring break rolls around, most college kids are ready to peace out for fun and relaxation…who can blame them?  I was certainly bummed when I finished school last year and realized that I was no longer entitled to a “spring break” week of fun anymore.  Or so I thought.  Turns out–thanks to a group of college kids who decided to spend spring break in this city instead of elsewhere–this week was the most amazing spring break I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing. 

This week GTB and I witnessed God’s mighty hand moving through a small (small?  is 100 people small?) group of faithful people in the city of Austin.  It started with one college student who saw a need in Austin–a city she, too, loves.  She saw that the children in the St. John’s neighborhood–an impoverished neighborhood in East Austin–would have nothing to do during their week of spring break.  They would be sitting at home, hanging out on the streets, likely to either be bored or getting into trouble.  She saw a need, and the Spirit prompted her to meet it.  What if she could provide a day camp for the kids of the neighborhood during Spring Break?  She shared her vision, and before long, she had assembled a team of college kids willing to sacrifice their spring break–their week of fun and relaxation–to provide the kids of the St. John’s neighborhood with a day camp.  As this group spent time planning–and more importantly, passionately praying–the vision became a reality, and this week, I had the privilege of watching as over 100 volunteers – college kids, high school and middle school kids, and adults – labored side by side to love the children of St. John’s and to tell and show them of the love their Savior has for them.

God has humbled my heart as I have watched him humble the hearts of the volunteers this week.  We are all learning that we are nothing but servants–slaves–to Our King, and it is a privilege to serve Him.  We are feeling the joys of proclaiming Christ crucified and the satisfaction of being a people who are merciful.  We are becoming a people who desire to see the kingdom of God on earth, and we are experiencing the power of the Church body and the community of belieivers.  We are finding that God has instilled in each of us a love for this city, but he does not intend to let us simply sit in our love.  He intends to use us to reap His harvest.  We are confessing that it is God and God alone who is mighty to save, and we are trusting that He is the God of this city. 

You’re the God of this city,
You’re the King of these people,
You’re the Lord of this nation
You are
You’re the light in this darkness,
You’re the hope to the hopeless,
You’re the peace to the restless
You are
For there is no-one like our God
There is no-one like You, God
GREATER THINGS HAVE YET TO COME,
GREATER THINGS HAVE STILL TO BE DONE
IN THIS CITY
(Copyright Bluetree 2007)
These are a few clips of the camp this week. 
Chili Baby wins “Best Song at Camp” award:
Eli sharing the Gospel:
There’s a fun video of the kids starting their easter egg hunt.  As soon as it finishes processing in YouTube, I’ll post it here:

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Ministry Update

I figured that I would give everyone a quick update on what I’ve been up to and will be up to since I’ve been near impossible to get ahold of for the last few months…

God has been so faithful to our ministry here in Austin, and it has been a pleasure to watch Him stir and move in the lives of our college friends!  At the beginning of January, we sent 23 students to the Dominican Republic where six of our student leaders were trained to lead mission trips to the nations this summer (you can find more about their trip here).  Overlapping the DR trip, one of our interns also led a ski trip of 50 students to Aspen, where the students were able to spend some quality time with our lead pastor and minister of care and counseling (a true blessing at a church of almost 4000), and I am told that the Lord cultivated some tremendous community through the experience (you can see photos here).  It gives me great joy to see students sacrificing portions of their time off during the holidays to commune with fellow believers and advance the kingdom of God, and I am so thankful for all God did during that time.

We launched our small group ministry again in third week of January, and followed with our semesterly event called Austin Stone on Campus on January 31st.  God was incredibly on display and powerfully worshipped by about 850 students in the heart of the UT campus at the Texas Student Union Ballroom.  Nothing can quite capture the energy of a room where that many students are so passionate about seeing God glorified on campus, and it gave me tremendous hope and eager anticipation of what God will do during this semester!  Matt Carter preached a challenging message on living with urgency based on Jonathan Edwards Resolutions #17 and the martrydom of Stephen in Acts 7, and specifically what that means for a college student.  Additionally, we rolled out our spring and summer mission opportunities (we’re mobilizing close to 75 students this summer to North Africa, Asia Minor, and Zambia!), and I am particulary excited about a group of our students beginning to engage an economically depressed neighborhood in Austin.

Finally, I’ve got a number of things upcoming that I would covet prayer for.  Next weekend (February 15-17) I am taking a group of 110 to Dallas for the Passion Regional Conference, and combining it with some retreat time.  Pray that God would continue to stoke a fire for the glory of God in both my and the student’s hearts, and the time would be well used to build community and birth new mission.  Secondly, I’ll be joining our student leaders on a spring break mission opportunity with 40 other students to Memphis, TN to work with an organization called Service Over Self doing urban development.  Pray that God would teach us His heart for the poor and oppressed, and that our hearts would be broken to be a people of mercy.

In addition to the variety of trips, another exciting development of the semester has been the birth of two new college-specific equipping classes.  We would really appreciate prayer for the classes:  one for our graduating and newly-graduated students, and one specifically for college men.  Both are taking a biblical perspective on practical issues faced by the respective demographics, and I am excited to see the how the Lord trains and prepares our students to pursue Him both immediately and into the future.

The last prayer point for our ministry is prayer itself.  Last semester, many of our students began gathering at the steps of the UT tower to pray, and we are continuing to do this on a monthly basis.  Pray that God would sustain the fervor for public, corporate prayer that would unite the body at UT and advance God’s kingdom. 

That’s the abbreviated version of the last month and the coming few months :).  God has been so faithful!

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Thankfulness

I’m thankful for Jesus, and all He is doing in our family’s life right now.  I’m thankful for my wife, who has been constantly serving and encouraging me through this transition into a new calling.  I’m thankful for my son, whose smile melts me.  I’m thankful for my family, even though they are far away, who pray for me and encourage me.  I’m thankful for my friends, who give me amazing grace when I’m a terrible friend.  I’m thankful for my church, for confirming God’s call and walking beside me.  I’m thankful for my boss, mentor and friend, for taking a risk on me and seeing what I could not.  I’m thankful for southerners, and their amazing hospitality.  I’m thankful for this great city, and all it has to offer.  I’m thankful for Texas Barbecue and smoked meat.  I’m thankful.

I’m thankful I’m a child of the King!

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