Friday, August 26, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Freshman 15

This is good advice for first year students and upperclassman. It comes from Pastor Jeff Brewer,

Dining hall food gets a bad rap, but incoming college freshmen don’t seem to have a problem packing on the infamous “freshman 15.” Honoring that tradition, here are 15 ways incoming freshmen (or upperclassmen for that matter) can seek to glorify God as they head off to college this month.

1. There is no greater way you can spend your time, energy, and effort than pursuing Christ with all your heart. Education matters. That’s why you’re going to college. But pursuing Christ matters more. Remember, you can make only one thing your central aim in life. Make it the right thing. Ask God for much grace to keep him at the center.

2. Join a church. Find one that preaches the Word, loves worshiping God as a body, and seeks to make Christ known. Once you find it, join it and start building relationships.

3. Make a plan for your first semester about how you are going to be in the Word. If you use a Bible reading plan, put it in your schedule now. If you don’t currently have a plan for reading the Word, make one before you leave.

4. As now so then. Don’t spend your college career talking about how you will follow Christ in the future. Follow him now the way you want to follow him then.

5. Take advantage of the unique opportunity to get to know a wide variety of people from different backgrounds who have all been sovereignly put in the same dorm. Ask people to tell you their story. Sit, listen, and ask follow-up questions. Tell them you like to pray for people you’ve met and ask how you can pray for them.

6. Seek to radically love others as Christ did. Avoid gossips and gossiping. It’s gross. Loving like Christ isn’t.

7. Remember, following passionately after Christ is not going to be the norm (yes, sadly even at Christian colleges this can be true). Look to God’s Word for the standard of what an authentic follower of Christ looks like and seek others who seek him in the same way.

8. Look for opportunities to serve. Serve broadly, serve lovingly, serve faithfully, and serve diligently. Look for where there is a need and dive in.

9. Remember that others are going through the same changes and new experiences. Look for opportunities to speak truth about the gospel to people who want a fresh start in college. Show them the hope in the gospel and forgiveness available to them.

10. Attend every opportunity for biblical teaching that you can. Go to a campus ministry’s weekly meeting and invite someone from your dorm to go with you.

11. Work hard. Remember the privilege that you are afforded and respond appropriately. Fight against laziness by remembering you are seeking to please Christ, not your professor (or mom or dad).

12. When you find someone you are interested in dating, make sure that their one aim in life is the same as yours (see #1 above.)

13. Take advantage of the variety of classes and opportunities that will be available to you only in college. Look for at least one class to take for the sheer love of learning about a subject you have never studied before (or may never have the time to study again).

14. Make a prayer list and pray for the people on it. Start with your roommate and the guys down the hall who don’t give a rip about Christ.

15. Pursue God joyfully. Is there anything greater than knowing Christ? Make the joy of pursuing Christ a hallmark of your life.

Posted on The Gospel Coalition.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Unless the Lord Builds the House...

Details. While I enjoy working on some details and seeing a plan come together, details can make me forget the most important thing: that I need God. Organization and planning can do this to you. They get you so into the moment and often distract us from the real focus of what we're doing.

Over the past couple weeks as our church staff has been working at a frantic pace getting ready for the Fall and launching a new service, and my wife has been organizing everything in site getting ready for a new baby, it's been easy for me to get lost in details. But the Lord keeps bringing one important verse to mind, "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain" (Ps. 127:1, ESV).

The same thing that's true for houses is true for churches and families and individuals. We need the Lord to guide and empower everything we do. Or better, we need to be doing everything the Lord has for us to do, depending completely on him.

I'm not sure of a better way to make sure the Lord is the one building things in my life other than to read His Word and pray. Actually, I don't think it's possible apart from prayer. Not that it has to be elaborate or as consistent as we want, but there must be a regular looking to God and asking for His help.

When I get busy with details I tend to just go. And then I look back thinking, "Is that what God wanted me to do?" Or, "Uh-oh, I didn't even ask God for direction." That's not a good place to be! Of course, He is gracious, but I know the right way to do things is to let Him lead and to look to Him all the time for help.

Have you been looking to Him for help? Seeking His guidance? Are the things you are so busy doing really what He wants you to do? Is He building your "house"?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back to School

I've taken a while off from the blog while getting ready for the Fall. This is the busiest time of year for me and our church, and this year we decided to have a baby. Yes, both my wife & I and the church decided to have a baby...of sorts.

Michelle (my wife) is due next week with our fourth child. Our church is "due" next Sunday as we launch a new campus. These are both extremely exciting opportunities. All at the same time. And I have no idea how it's all going to work out. What I do know is that God is in control, and we're seeking to trust him.

As you think about the next couple weeks would you pray for God to do "far more abundantly than all that we ask or think"? I know this is a busy time for everyone, so we need God's guidance and grace to keep our eyes fixed on him and to take advantage of the opportunities he has given.

If you're in Oxford, come be a part of what God is doing with Oxford Bible Fellowship. We gather together on Sundays this Fall, and in homes through our Community Groups. If you are a student at Miami check out the campus ministries. For the Sunday schedule see here. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for praying, and I hope to see you soon.