Thursday, February 28, 2013

March Upper Room Teaser

Life After Newman: Evangelizing in the Real World

Friday, March 1, 7:00pm at the UNL Newman Center

We will have 7 UNL Alumni joining us to share about their "real world" evangelization experiences!

Below are some teasers and profiles of a few of the alumni who will be joining us!

“Seeing how challenging it is to reach out to people once they are outside of college makes us glad we took every opportunity we had when we were in college to reach out to our peers.”

Katie Madsen was ASUN student body vice president and homecoming queen while she was a student at UNL. After she graduated, she became a FOCUS missionary. Matt Ostegrenwas a member of AGR, a FOCUS student leader, and former seminarian. They will be married this summer and live in Holdredge, NE.

Becky Deaver, former Newman Board Exec Member and Choir Director, lives in Holdridge, NE with her husband Luke and four children She says,

"We've implemented a Pub Theology in an attempt to evangelize to those in our own parish who might not feel as comfortable in church. It's been very successful. We also did a women's retreat before Christmas. Luke and I are very strategic about the activities and committees we are on in the parish in order to reach out to those who could impact the most amount of people."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

UPPER ROOM : Lifelong Catholic Mission

Hey all you student missionaries! Get excited for our next upper room!

Who: Student Missionaries

What: Monthly Upper Room. This month we are going to dive into what the heck "lifelong Catholic mission" actually means! Come hear stories from UNL Alumni on what their experience in evangelizing has been after college in the real world.

Where: FOCUS Building

When: Friday, March 1 @ 7pm

We will see you there!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Difference Between Knowing About Jesus and Knowing Jesus

Growing up I learned a lot of Catholic stuff.  Attending K-12 at a Catholic school left me full of knowledge about the Catholic Church.  I knew what seemed like everything from church history, to apologetics, to the story of the Bible, and the sacraments.  I knew Sunday Mass was an obligation, and I knew confession made me feel better about myself after I did bad things.  I knew Jesus came and died for our sins on a cross.  I knew He established His church on earth and gave power to priests to forgive sins and allow us to participate in His sacrifice.  However, through all of that, I did not KNOW Jesus.

It wasn't until my Junior year in college that I started to make a serious effort to understand my faith and why it was important to me.  Long story short, I discovered Jesus as a person for the first time in the community that He provided me with at the Catholic campus center at KU.  As I grew to know and understand Him and His will for me, I became more and more convicted to live out my faith in Him as the center of everything I do.  Am I perfect at that even now as a missionary?  Of course not!  But its a decision I must make day in and day out, to love Him with all that I am because He loves me into existence. 

This journey of coming to know Christ as a person instead of an institution has brought me an incredible conviction to help others discover it too!  Naturally, through deeper exploration of scripture, God revealed a way to show others how to encounter Him as the person of Jesus Christ within the Gospels.

This revelation came in the form of a Bible study that specifically focused on passages that Jesus relates to us as a human being.  These passages include things like His taking on human flesh, His Baptism, His temptations, His emotions, and His agony in the garden.  By studying these instances in Jesus' life, He starts to become more real to the reader, because they can relate to Him (Heb 2:17-18).  

Once the reader starts to relate to Jesus, they start to KNOW Him personally.  Only then can they start to let His life and teachings take on new meaning within them, within the context of that relationship.  One thing about scripture that is often overlooked is the fact that it is the LIVING Word of God.  Its not just some story book thats a couple thousand years old.  It is Jesus, coming to dwell in us, in whatever situation we find ourselves in life.  Don't believe me?  Go read John Chapter 1, and you'll see that the Word IS God!  This means that every time we open scripture, God speaks to us personally.  It applies to each one of us here and now. 

A practical way I tell guys to pray with scripture in order to truly relate to Christ personally is to ask themselves these 3 questions:

                 1. Do I believe this is God speaking to me here and now?
                 2. What is He saying to me specifically? 
                 3. How am I applying it to my life right now?

Coming to know Christ in a personal relationship is essential.  As Pope Benedict said in his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person(Jesus Christ), which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."

Often times people fall into the assumption that God is an abstract idea or being that is just on the fringe of the Universe, watching but not acting.  More frequently in the Catholic church, people just think of the church as an institution with a bunch of rules.  And we all know that rules without a relationship leads to rebellion.  Do yourself a huge favor and get to know Jesus as a person, I promise it will change your life!


Monday, February 11, 2013

You're Not the Only Ones....

Martha Griswold is a second year FOCUS missionary here at UNL. She is a graduate of Ave Maria University and majored in Philosophy. She comes to Nebraska from Hilton Head, SC and is in charge of Wesleyan outreach.

You're Not the Only Ones...

FOCUS at UNL has all sorts of great stuff going on all the time! FOCUS Greek, Varsity Catholic, etc….super fabulous! But did you know that God is at work on other campuses here in Lincoln as well? No?? WELL, let me tell you about it!

Wesleyan is a Methodist school here in Lincoln…but the Catholics are still dominating! Last year, there was a weekly Bible study that met every Monday night. An average of around 15-20 rock-solid students came every week…pretty sweet. About 15 Wesleyan students joined us for our SEEK cross-country adventure. They all came back on fire for Christ, and this semester there will be three weekly Bible studies (one for men, one for women, and the co-ed one), a weekly Wesleyan Holy hour at the Pinks, and a monthly Wesleyan hang-out at the mish house.

Pretty sweet stuff! Jesus is movin and groovin in their hearts…if any of y’all want to take the initiative to get to know some of these awesome folks, let me know! I’ll bring you to Bible study or Holy hour sometime! At the very least, know that you’re not alone in this mission to bring Christ to your fellow students, and please keep all that God is doing out at Wesleyan in your prayers.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lenten Challenge:

Amanda Teixeria presented UNL with a challenge during this Lenten season: go to Mass every day and go to confession once a week for a month. Now I know most of you think this is insane due to the crazy busy schedule of a Greek student because we are constantly on the pursuit of excellence. But just hear her out. 

Going to mass and confession transforms us, every time we receive these sacraments we are made more into the image and likeness of Christ and get stronger every time we go. I know that it seems like an extra hour a day is a lot to give up; that between homework and meetings there is no time. But the point she made was that if you start to go to mass every day you won’t need to study as much or work as hard on your projects. (And no she isn’t telling you that you will stop caring about school). 

When Adam and Eve fell in the garden, our relationship with God was broken and our intellect diminished. But, every time that we expose ourselves to Christ, He makes us more himself. When we go to mass and confession we can think clearer in all aspects of life because we no longer carry around the burden of sin. When we grow in closer to Jesus we no longer worry about what others think of us, how we look, or what are future will hold because we know that our relationship with God is what truly matters. She personally experienced just how true this was as she started attending daily mass and realized her school work got easier and she built stronger relationships with her sorority sisters. She promises that if you do this for a month you will never stop, you will realize how much better your life has become with Jesus as the center and will want to continue to grow.

Mother Teresa had the Missionaries of Charity saying a holy hour a day and as they began to expand and help more and more people the sisters asked her to decrease the holy hour to a half hour so that they could have more time helping people. Instead of following their request Mother Teresa upped the time to two hours. However, instead of helping less people, they ended up doubling the amount of people they were able to help.

Lesson learned: when we give the time to God that he deserves, he gives us the time to accomplish the things that we need to do. Think of what the Greek system could become if we all committed to going to daily mass and confession every week.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What it means to have Faith

Many of us claim to have faith.  But do we live this faith out? Do we really understand what it means to have faith?  Alpha Phi alumni, Amanda Teixeria, spoke at FOCUSgreek about her experience coming to college and realizing what it truly means to live out her faith.

 How do we live out our faith? By first knowing Jesus and then by sharing Him.

There are three types of relationships with Jesus:

1.      He is outside of our lives and has nothing to do with how we live
2.      He is only part of our lives.  We fit Him in during free time between practices, schools, and meetings.  He is just another activity in our schedule. 
3.      He is the center of our lives and everything we do revolves around our friendship with Christ

Another way that I sometimes like to think of this is: 1. We don’t realize that our actions are sins because we don’t know Jesus, 2. We know that what we are doing is wrong, but we continue to do it anyways and pretend like Jesus won’t mind, 3. we have Him in the center of our lives and try to avoid all sin because we realize how much it pains Him.  Being Greek makes it often hard to have Jesus at the center of our lives, we are constantly chasing after the next best thing to put us on top and we fill our lives with distracting temptations.

When Amanda would go to Frat parties, everyone would always feel sorry for her because she wasn’t drinking; but she knew she wasn’t missing out on anything, they were.  She knew that through her connection with Christ she was living in reality.  He reveals us to ourselves. We no longer try to be like anyone else, but are free to be who we were created to be.  It is attractive to see someone who knows who they are and is living a life of joy and freedom.  This is why we urgently need to build our life around Jesus; there will be ups and downs, but it will be the wildest adventure you have ever been on and the best.  God takes our small plans, blows them up, and then invites us to go on an even greater ride.   
Step two seems to scare people a lot more: Sharing Jesus

If our lives truly do revolve around Jesus and we know His love, then we would be so compelled to share His love that everyone around us would also know Jesus.  It has been said that we can see our own relationship with God based on how we invite others to know Jesus. 

People often think they are quoting St. Francis of Assisi when they say, “Preach the Gospel at all times, use words if necessary.” The thing is, hedidn’t say this.  In fact, he believed something far from it.  He would often travel to up to five towns a day preaching the Gospel using words.  If I see someone helping an old lady across the street I wouldn’t just think, “Wow that person must really know Christ, I want to know Him too.” All people see is a good person.  If we never use our words, then who are we witnessing to? Ourselves? You need your words to proclaim that your actions are because you know Jesus loves you, otherwise some people may never connect the dots.

What should really be our motto is, “Use your words to proclaim God’s love; but if your actions don’t match up, then your words are useless.” What this is saying is that unless we live out what we say our faith teaches us, people will just consider us hypocrites and never feel the need to know Jesus.   

Now, imagine what might happen if we never say anything at all:  It’s the end of your life, you are riding the escalator up to Heaven when you look over and see your fraternity brother or your sorority sister on another escalator that’s going down.  What is more awkward: bringing up Jesus in a conversation now, or the moment when they look you in the eye at the end of your life and ask “why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t I deserve to be told so that I might be in Heaven also?” Let’s just say I personally hope I never hear those words.  Our Greek houses don’t need another funny guy who cracks jokes about how drunk they were the night before or someone who was on exec for all four years and is awesome; what they need is someone they can rely on to be a witness for Christ. They might not know it now, but being that witness is the best gift you could possibly give them.   Every year since Amanda has graduated she has gotten a letter or facebook message from one of her sorority sisters letting her know that they have come to know Jesus in their lives and thanking her for being that witness for them. 

People notice, even if they don’t say anything.  Our words might not bear fruit now, but they will later.  God’s hears our prayers and won’t let them go empty.   

One way to be a witness is through the idea of servant leadership; that by serving others, you become a leader.  (Prime example: Jesus) The small things do matter.  Do things that are counter cultural; by putting yourself last behind the pledges or simply just throwing out the trash when it gets full, our actions will back up our words and people will start to follow us on our journey for God. 

We don’t need to be perfect to preach the gospel, but we do need to be trying.  The biggest pitfalls we Greeks face are chastity, sobriety, and excellence.  Chastity and sobriety can be the biggest temptations and also the most detrimental to our witness.  If we are not living out the words of Jesus, why would they change their lives if they see that our lives are not changed?  Don’t let your actions turn someone away from finding God and spending eternity in Heaven.  

(sorry this is so long, she had a lot of great things to say)

Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.” - Pope Benedict XVI

The Interior Life by Stephanie Pott

Stephanie Pott is a first year UNL Missionary. She graduated from Colorado State in May 2012. Stephanie's post is the first in our series written by the UNL Missionaries to keep our students informed on what is going on in our lives!

So what is the life of a missionary? We are supposed to have all knowledge and understanding of God and a perfect prayer life, right? If that’s what you are thinking, then you would be right; you can just call me the next Mother Theresa, how about St Spott? Sounds good? No I didn’t think so. 

The truth is we are still a bunch of sinners. We even have feelings. That’s right we fall into desolation and consolation just like anyone else. So what makes a FOCUS missionary so special? Well honestly nothing, that doesn’t make anyone else striving for holiness special. Every day I try to grow closer to God and I know every day there are ways I let Him down. I’m not perfect but it is about the journey. Its about striving for holiness. It is about perseverance. God called me out of Colorado because he wanted to work on me. He said “Stephanie, I am calling you to greatness, I want you to bring my children back home”. The first step he showed me was in order to bring his children to him I would have to become a child as well. I would have to completely depend on him for everything. I would have to die with him so that I may rise with him. 

Anyone can be a FOCUS missionary. 

Everyone is called in some way to serve God on a deeper level, to have a deep-soul relationship with him. I answered his call through FOCUS. How will you answer yours?