Here's a glimpse of some of the main things that went on through SPO this Fall '17 semester, including Fight Night!
I just started my last semester of college! So excited to graduate!
Following the YWAM excursion, I've been back in NJ, living at the "Men's House" with Saint Paul's Outreach. The Men's House is made up of men who are living together, pursuing the Lord, building up one another in faith and character, and spearheading ministry at Seton Hall University. Through SPO, we run our own ministry programs and outreach events for discipleship and evangelism of students on and off campus. I've been living there for the past two and a half years.
Gabe, Tim, and Dave manning the grills at Campus Ministry's BBQ event last September.
These past few months have been especially precious to me. During the awkward time of being at college between October and December without taking any classes, I committed myself fully to three things: mission, discerning the future, and preparing for missions in the future. While I first thought that I'd be doing a lot of evangelism on campus, the Lord led me to focus primarily on relationships and discipleship within the Men's House.
In short, it's been awesome!
It's been wonderful to be able to come back to the Men's House with everything God has shown me during my time with YWAM Denver. Sometimes it has been hard to not share at every opportunity what I've grown in through my experience - I'm learning to share as led by the Spirit and wait on what he's doing, giving him control of how he wants to grow us as a house. One new development is that we've started meeting together informally in the evenings, sharing how we've been doing and what's on our minds/hearts before praying for each person. It's been a time to be vulnerable with one another and speak truth into each other's lives. We've been entering into deeper brotherhood as we're coming to share our burdens with one another more, instead of carrying our own weight.
God has really put the freshmen of the Men's House on my heart. I've gotten wrapped up in so many deep conversations with them, listening to their similar but entirely unique aspirations and situations. It's been humbling and life-giving whenever they invite me into the wrestling ring of their minds and hearts.
Here's part of a video we showed at our Men's House Interest Night this year.
Men's House Interest Video, made by Meeko Natural.
I remember telling people that winter break wasn't going to be any kind of a break for me.
After giving the Fall semester to God to do mission, I looked back and felt like I hadn't accomplished what I really wanted to. So when winter break came along, I thought, "Now's my chance to do what makes sense to me - paint like crazy and earn money while I can!"
Because the beginning careers of Art + Ministry = Financial Insecurity...
...or so I thought.
Before the Fall semester was even over God convicted my spirit to spend time with my family in TN.
"TN is really far away!" I thought. "I can't keep living like this without earning any money."
Despite my sullen heart I obeyed and drove down to TN.
I got to surprise my mom and sister! You should have seen the looks on their faces! It was a priceless time, and from the moment I arrived, I was so glad I went down, getting to love and receive love from my family.
God was instilling in my heart and soul that family is more important than work. He was always refining my heart attitude - what I did over the Fall really was work, and God accomplished things through me that he wanted to accomplish.
Merry Christmas from the Folta Family! (John couldn't it make it down from Alaska).
"Now I get to paint!" I thought to myself as I drove back up to NJ.
The Landaus graciously let me stay at their home while I commuted to the studio almost every day. There was an upcoming exhibition that I was hoping to finish a painting for. I had to finish it by a certain Friday. The frame for it was going to arrive on Friday too. I pulled two all-nighters in order to finish the painting in time.
Fleur de Triomphe, oil on canvas, 14" x 22"
But the frame didn't show up. Because of a snowstorm, the frame arrived four days late. Because of this, all of my busy plans were ruined, and suddenly I was left with no more busy work to do.
It was as if God intentionally sabotaged my efforts to spend my time earning money through art.
Deeply frustrated about this, I had a conversation with my mom that went something like this:
Daniel: How am I going to provide for myself? How can I be sustainable? I know that God is the provider. I know that God is the sustainer.
Mommy: We have to be sensible and practical about that too. After all, God is a practical God.
Daniel: But what if that's just an excuse to live as the rest of the world lives?
Mommy: Not everyone is called to full-time ministry. God wants all his people to be in all spheres of society.
Daniel: I know. Ultimately, we're called to live with God in every aspect of our day-to-day lives. So we should just be focusing on what he wants us to do and not worry about the rest.
Mommy: So why are you frustrated?
Daniel: Because I can't figure out how God wants to sustain me! I don't know how God wants me to participate in receiving his provision.
Daniel: I keep trying to follow God in each moment. But when I do that, a month goes by and I feel like I haven't accomplished what I thought God wanted me to accomplish in that month.
Mommy: You can't worry about following God, Daniel. We make mistakes, we're human. But God knows that and accepts us anyways. We can trust him when we follow him. Be wary of getting too caught up in justifying every single little thing as God's will.
The more I've reflected on that conversation the more I've found that she's right. Just as God doesn't want us to worry about how we're going to be taken care of, he also doesn't want us to worry about whether or not we're following God. Of course it's good to be mindful and seek out God's will, but I stumbled into trying to follow God's will out of a place of prolonged hesitation and anxious fear instead of patient discernment and joyful trust.
I'm sure that I'll continue to be facing these questions as different circumstances in life change. For now, I'm going back to who God is.
Because he is Love, he loves me.
Because he is Sovereign, he's not worried that I'll take the wrong path when I surrender my plans.
Because he's my Friend, he has hope for me.
Because he's my Father, he has good things for me.
Who God is changes everything.
So, maybe Art + Ministry = Financial Insecurity.
But I hold on to this: God + (Me - Control) = Something Great.
Thanks for taking the time to hear what's going on :) I'm always a phone call, text, or email away. I'd love to get to know you!
In two weeks SPO is running a retreat called Fan into Flame! I've been asked to give one of the talks, which I've been preparing for! So excited to share it! I could definitely use your prayers!