discipleship

There Were Bigger Plans in Store for Me…

There Were Bigger Plans in Store for Me…

Little Did I Know There Were Bigger Plans in Store for Me…

“I thought I came to college to earn my degree and get a job. Little did I know that there were much bigger plans in store for me. All my life I believed in God and tried to lead a moral life most of the time, but I didn’t let God get involved in my life.

“When I came to New Mexico State University, I came open-minded. I wanted to discover things for myself. I got in touch with Destino. I experienced so much love from the people involved. They embraced me like a brother. I made up my mind that this was where I wanted to be. Since then I have discovered the power of the Word of God and just how drastically it can affect my life.

“I’ve been given the honor of serving within Destino, which has helped me grow as a leader and has humbled me. The Lord has given me a heart to serve students and to minister to them with the gospel. I now can see clearly that there is something greater to live for than success. It’s the battle for the hearts and souls of people all over this world. I know with all my heart that I want to serve God and do His work. I’ve discovered that I didn’t come to NMSU to merely get a degree and become an engineer, but also to discover the one and only true God in heaven.”

Little did Lucas, at 21, know that he’d be ministering the gospel of Christ to students long after his time in school was done. Today, Lucas and his wife, Christy, serve with Destino and are parents to Daniel.

Photo credit: Fraser Mummery.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Giving Up a “Good Thing.”

Giving Up a “Good Thing.”

One of our staff members, Silas, texted Jose to see if he’d like to meet over coffee or a Coke. Jose responded he’d like to meet.  From Jose’s answers on a Destino survey, you would assume that he was a Christ follower. When they found each other, they sat down to get to know one another before Silas asked, “On the survey, you indicated you wanted to know more about Destino. What about it is of interest to you?”

When asked questions about their answers, sometimes students get nervous. Jose, however, was the very opposite: “Honestly, I’ve been involved in Bible studies, went to a Christian school, and took a hermeneutics [that is, Bible interpretation] class. But I don’t get what Christianity is all about.”

As Silas listened to Jose, he could tell how sincerely Jose wanted to understand what others around him believe.“I know what the Bible says. I can tell you different things. But honestly, I just don’t get it,” he admitted.

They spent a lot of time talking together. Jose began to open up about his potential drinking problem. He found at first it was fun, however, now it’s unsatisfying. He admitted, “I just don’t get how some of my friends–when they became a Christian–gave up drinking. How could they give up something like that?”

Silas asked, “Well, what could make you give up an already good thing in your eyes?” Jose had no answer.

“Only something or SOMEONE that is far greater?” suggested Silas. What a great concept to consider! Destino offers students a place where they can discuss the questions they have about faith. We’re hoping Jose will continue his journey to consider how Jesus can be a great thing in his life!

 

Image Credit: Stefan Insam

 

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
A Calling to Lead

A Calling to Lead

Arielle and Jaymison are juniors at New Mexico State. While neither comes from a Latino family, they share a desire to see God use them as student leaders in Destino.

“I want to do as much as I can during college to serve God,” says Arielle. She and Jaymison are on the Student Leadership Team at NMSU. Together with local staff members, they’re helping to shape and guide Destino.

Jaymison explained his call: “I believe I have a calling to minister with Destino…I think Destino can be an incredible campus ministry that has much potential.”

Do you want to see God use you to reach your peers on campus?  You can get involved on your campus, or help get a new chapter started!

And don’t think your walk with God has to be perfect! Jaymison says, “God has been teaching me about doubt, that it’s not bad to have doubts….I’m learning there are ways to have doubts and still approach God with my insecurities.” The Lord loves when we take steps of faith, are available to Him and open to learning.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Outreach, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Remembered as a Spiritual Influencer

Remembered as a Spiritual Influencer

“I felt lost and overwhelmed,” admits Katrina as she describes her first quarter at UCLA. “I didn’t know anyone. I’d just go to class and go back and eat by myself and wait for the weekend to go home. But then I found Destino, and it all changed.”

Katrina is now involved in a women’s Bible study. She’s also spending time with a mentor, a woman who is staff with Destino in LA. Recently Katrina told Lauren about two of her friends who have been going to church with her. One of her friends, Sydney, works with her at the dorm front desk. Sydney grew up going to church but stopped when she got to UCLA.

 

“Someday, 10 years from now I’m going to remember you as the person
who helped bring me back to faith. You’re so on fire for God!”

God’s using Katrina to encourage her friend. Sydney told her, “Someday, 10 years from now I’m going to remember you as the person who helped bring me back to faith. You’re so on fire for God!”

Kimberly never thought she could be the type of person that influences others for Christ. But just by being herself and living out her faith, she is!

Who are the people around you that might be influenced positively as you live out your faith?

 

Image credit:  Bryan Jones.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Where are you spiritually right now?

Where are you spiritually right now?

As this school year started we’ve met lots of students!

We asked, “What are you hoping for this semester?” and you answered things like, “success” and “good friends.”

Destino likes to ask, “Where are you spiritually right now?” And on one campus students could circle motions like frustrated, excited, and/or empty.

Maybe you relate to Tyrell, a second-year student who identified himself as disappointed, confused and growing. He agreed to meet up for lunch with Matt.

After learning more about each other, Matt asked Tyrell about the words that he used to describe his spiritual life. Tyrell said he was “disappointed” because he doesn’t feel like he lives the way God wants him to live. “Confused” because he isn’t sure how God wants him to live, but doesn’t really understand what the Bible says sometimes. And “growing” because he wants to know God and tries to learn about him in spite of his negative feelings. Don’t you feel some of those things sometimes?!

Matt asked Tyrell what he thought would help his spiritual life, and Tyrell said, “I think I want to study the Bible and learn how God wants me to live.” Just this week, Tyrell and several other students began to do that!

Are you in a small group to study the Bible and/or discuss growing closer to God? Would you like to be?  Find out what’s happening on your campus!

Photo Credit: djromanj.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
How God Grows Leaders

How God Grows Leaders

At USC one afternoon, Stephen met a freshman, Alejandro (middle in the pic). When they read through “Knowing God Personally” together, Alejandro prayed and committed his life to Christ.

Alejandro began to meet with Stephen and two other guys for a men’s Bible study. They started with the life of Jesus in the book of John. At the end of the first meeting, Alejandro said, “I have never studied the Bible like this before, but I really like it.”

Stephen and Alejandro met up each week to play basketball and talk about their faith. Now a computer engineering major and leader in Destino, Alejandro has become a man who applies what he’s learning as he walks with God.

This is what it takes to become a spiritual leader.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
13 Times a Day

13 Times a Day

“It is just so hard to think positive things about myself
and to believe that is really how God sees me.”

That’s what Melody, a Destino staff woman, heard from a student in Miami. Melody was leading an exercise to help students evaluate their identity as individuals, including who has most influenced their lives, and how they view themselves.

When her friend expressed that, Melody shared this startling statistic:  The average woman thinks critically about herself at least 13 times per day.  “If you had a friend who texted, or called you just to criticize you 13 times a day,” Melody asked, “how long would it take you to block their call, unfriend them, and stop talking to them?”

The young woman was quick to respond, “No more than a day.”

“Then why do we put up with believing the lies and criticism of the enemy and of ourselves that we’ve become used to day after day?!”

What an incredible privilege to base our view of ourselves on what God says is true!  What would it be like if you took 13 more times a day to focus on your identity in Christ and to reflect God’s love to those around you?!

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
It Is Broken

It Is Broken

The longer I live, the more I’m convinced of one theological truth:  this world is broken. As I talk to students and hear story after story of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and as I look around and see hatred, racism, and poverty, I can’t help but believe that something just isn’t right.  Moreover, when I see how easy it is for me to sin and how often I choose my own way over God’s, I know that this world is a broken place.

That’s a great place for us to start when we share the Gospel with a student.

Deep down, if we are honest, we all know that the world is broken
and that we are broken and weak. We ache for the way it seems
like things should be, and we feel pain over how things are.

And we ask ourselves why this is. On campus, we spend a lot of time talking about the fact that we sin and are sinned against because man has chosen his own way instead of God’s perfect way, and that this is the cause of all of the brokenness.

At Sam Houston State University, students involved with our ministry wanted to engage the campus with a discussion about this deep brokenness of this world and of our lives.  They also wanted to share that Jesus came into the world to bear our shame of our brokenness, so that we could be reunited in fellowship with God.  As part of the event, students on campus were asked to write on colorful tiles ways that they could see brokenness around them. At the end of the day one of our leaders, who is an art major, broke all the tiles and used the broken shards and pieces to create a beautiful mosaic. Later that week the student body was invited to see the work of art unveiled, and a speaker shared how God desires to take the broken pieces of our lives and redeem us into beautiful works of art. At this final event, many students shared that they wanted to hear more, and seven students said that they wanted to begin a relationship with Christ. We’re so proud of how hard the SHSU student leaders worked to present a beautiful picture of the Gospel!

It’s stories like this that makes us love what we do in Destino. We want to empower students to engage their peers creatively with the reality that they are separated from God and share with them God’s plan for redemption.

Casey is on staff with Destino in St. Louis, MO.

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Pulling Up Roots, Pt. 3–Jesus calls our bluff.

Pulling Up Roots, Pt. 3–Jesus calls our bluff.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed ad self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Matthew 23:25-26

In my first and second posts in this series, I talked about the importance of having a safe community to be honest about who you really are and about the things you’ve been hiding or lying about. That’s a big risk, because you don’t know how a person is going to react to your honesty. We lie about sin and hide our shame for a reason. But Jesus asks us to behave this way with one another because we (ideally) act the same way towards him. Jesus knows us inside and out, and yet the Bible says that he accepted us even when we were at our worst (Romans 5:8).

|How many times do we try to bluff God?

How many times do we try to bluff God, though? I pretend like I have bargaining power with him, or spend time reminding him of how I’m at least better than someone else. I’m reminded of the story Jesus told about the tax collector and the Pharisee in Luke 18.  The Pharisee, who was legitimately an outwardly righteous person, went to his worship service and spent his prayer time reminding God how good he was. The tax collector, who was a social outcast and widely regarded as a traitor and among the lowest of sinners, simply stood at the back of the temple, looking down at his feet, and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

When you play poker, an important skill is bluffing, or getting people to believe something different about your cards than what is actually true. What’s going on is that you decide whether you can deceive the person and manipulate them into doing what will benefit you. If you don’t think you’ll be able to do it, then you fold and give up that hand.

I, however, am shockingly bad at poker. I’m not good at getting to people to believe things about my cards, so I employ what I refer to as the “camouflage strategy.” That is, I try to keep a low profile and let people kind of forget about me until I get a really good hand.

I think it’s a pretty appropriate metaphor for what we try to do with God when we hide our sin from him.  We either try to pull the wool over his eyes and manipulate him into doing what will benefit us. Or sometimes we try to hide from him, hoping he’ll just kind of forget about us until things get a little better.

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there…

If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,’
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day
for darkness is as light to you.”

-Psalm 139:7-8, 11-12

“All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweet us away.”

-Isaiah 64:6

Devin is on staff with Destino in St. Louis, MO.

Photo Credit:  Viri G

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments
Pulling Up Roots, Pt. 2–Shedding light on things.

Pulling Up Roots, Pt. 2–Shedding light on things.

In my last post I asked the question, “How do we live in light of the fact that Jesus wants to pull up the roots of sin in our lives, not just ‘trim the weeds’ and make us look externally good?” Our Destino community finished up last semester and started this new one talking about what makes a community healthy. There is a connection between a healthy community and this pulling up the roots of sin. At our Destino Winter Conference last week, our keynote speaker described the kind of community that breeds healing as, “a place where people can be ‘naked and unashamed.’” This borrows imagery from Genesis 2:25, where Adam and Eve, having a perfectly harmonious relationship with God and with each other, didn’t hide anything about who they were. That, of course, was before sin became a part of their reality, so they had nothing to hide. Today, however, it’s a different story. We have shame and guilt from things we’ve done and things that have happened to us. We have our background and family history that we either want to hide or selectively reveal to others. We have lies and facades that we want people around us to believe.

There are a lot of things to hide and a lot of good reasons to hide them too. Our world’s main operating principle is pretty much survival of the fittest, so if you can’t be the fittest, the next best thing is to look like the fittest and hope nobody calls your bluff. Now, the Kingdom of God isn’t like that at all, but unfortunately we treat it like the rest of the world. That’s to be expected, though, because we’ve only ever known the world. But our Christian communities ought to be places where we don’t need to keep up the lies.

|I have lies, you have lies, and I’m sure we’re both tired…

Maybe part of the solution is just talking about it honestly with another person, saying, “Look, I have lies, you have lies, and I’m sure we’re both tired of keeping up with it. Let’s agree to be a safe place for each other to be honest and start to heal.” In I John 1:7, God tells us, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.” I’m praying that in Destino, if we get nothing else accomplished, that we’d allow light to be shed on our lives, every part, and therefore start to be purified from every sin.

Devin is on staff with Destino in St. Louis, MO.

Photo Credit:  jcarlosn

Posted by Devin Tressler in Discipleship, Spiritually Empowered, 0 comments