Winter break stinks.
For students, faculty, and anyone who doesn't need routine to function, it's likely one of their favoirte times of the years. But for me. For someone who desperately needs some sort of structure to not sit around and twiddle my thumbs all day, winter break feels like one of the nights where you can't sleep and 5 hours feels like 5 days. That's not to say there wasn't some awesome and fun things that happened between our last campus service of 2019 (12/8) and our first one of 2020 (1/12), but that those awesome things came and went by very, very quikly. So, because of the nature of how this break went I chose to not write a letter for December and combine it with the beginning part of January to reflect on what's happened during that time and also to look forward to the incrediable things God is doing at the University of Cincinnati.
On the flipside of all of that, I have never been more excited for a semester to start and cannot wait to see what God does with it.
One of my favorite moments of each semester are the baptims that take place at the end of each semester. For fall, we chose to do baptims on December 8 directly following service. If you aren't aware of what baptim is or what we believe at H2O, baptism is an outward expression of an inward transformation. By that I mean baptism in and of itself has no saving power. Jesus is the only way through which one is saved and rescued from their sins. Baptism is a way of representing that on the outside. We see the act of being baptized as a command for all believers in Matthew 28 and therefore preach that if anyone receives Christ as him or her individual savior they are to be subsequently baptized. Last semester, we had 9 people chose to be baptized, some of which because of new belief in Christ and others due to realizing the command of baptism and being obedient to it.
H2O always has an annual Christmas party and while a lot of the photos didn't turn out well due to the lighting, the ones of the gingerbread house making contest (my personal favorites) were taken in an area with a lot more lighting. So, enjoy these photos of college students attempting to make gingerbread houses and spending half the party watching the Ohio State game.
This is an annual retreat H2O does to Gatlinburg, TN as a weekend getaway and teaching series. Our speaker this year was a local pastor, Joshua Lenon, who took us from Genesis to Revelation going over the story of the Bible and how God pieced everything together to tell the greatest story of all time. While Josh was great, the best part about Winter Retreat is always the community with the people who go on the trip.
What God has been teaching me
Despite what I said at the beginning about winter break being the worst, it did give me a lot of time to spend with God. A decent portion of that time was spent on guitar. I began learning in September and have fallen in love with the instrument and through it I have experienced an entirely new way to worship Him. Since I have zero musical background, I've been teaching myself theory along with guitar and how everything fits together is marvelous and made me come to enjoy worship in a new and different way. Worship has always been meh for me. I've always connected to God the most through intellect. Whether that is reading Systematic Theology, digging deep into scripture, or simply piecing together parts of the Bible I hadn't before, I've always been able to see God so clearly and feel so close to him--worship has never been that way. Learning guitar and music theory has changed that and I really began to see it over the month of December as music made sense and thus began to engage me intellectually. It's simply cool to see another ascept of God's marvelous creation.
On a devotional level, I've been spending a lot of time in Genesis (again) recently and have been loving seeing how cyclical scripture is and how it is ultimately telling one large story. One thing that has been especially cool to see is what happens after the flood. There's six verses that mirror what happens in Genesis 1 with creation. We see God reestablishing his creation and recementing it as something he loves and he treasures. So much of it is pointing forward towards what is to come and there's no mistaking God's love for humanity.
In addtion to all of that, God taught me alot through sermon prepping since I was given the opportunity to preach at our city service over break. If you want to listen to my sermon, simply click the play button on the player to the left.
The spring semester is already shaping out to be the best one yet. Starting yesterday, we began a new sermon series over Revelation, beginning with the 7 letters to the churches and then covering the 5 major themes in Revelation. You can listen to all these sermons on our website, our app, or on Spotify.
Other than the sermon series, our Life Group will continue going through the Gospel of John this semester. Thus far, our freshmen are INCREDIBLE. I love them and their enthusiasm for the Word and community and so many of them have caught onto vision of H2O and why we are on a college campus. Some are already doing outreach around campus, to their friends, family, etc., and it is encouraging to see this happening. So, continue to pray for our Life Group and what God is doing in it and through it.
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.