Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What a week/weekend! =)

Last Wednesday was another amazing night in CSF! =) We got to see what God had to say concerning the lie that is running rampant all across the world of Christianity today: "Everyone Should Believe and Act Like You Do." I began by looking at and establishing the basics, covering the fact that I wasn't advocating that a sin might be acceptable to one and not another, because sin isn't acceptable for either one! I also explained that I wasn't referring to the secular postmodern position that everything's relative, and that whatever you believe is acceptable and whatever I believe is acceptable. While there ARE in fact somethings that can be relative, there ARE some things that AREN'T!!!


     Relative - Frank listens to both Christian and non-Christian music, while Bob listens to Christian music only

     Non-Relative - Jesus is the only way to eternal life with God

(I'm going to include parts of my manuscript to fill in the rest of what we talked about for you all... it's quicker and easier than typing it all out again.. haha =)...)

Do you see the difference? There are some things that are core to the message of Jesus Christ that CANNOT be changed because they are part of the DNA of a Christian. If it’s changed, then it’s no longer Christian. We talked a little bit about these types of things last spring. Some of these non-negotiable, DNA areas include: Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus died on the cross to redeem humanity, rose again, and is alive today, Jesus is the only way to God and eternal life, if you’re going to be a Christian then you’re going to be baptized (if only for the simple reason that Jesus specifically said that we are to be), our God is a Trinitarian God (3 persons in ONE…not polytheism), etc. I could keep going, but this is good enough for right now. Some negotiable, non-DNA areas include: predestination vs free will, once-saved always saved vs the possibility of losing one’s salvation, contemporary music vs ancient hymns, etc. I think you get the picture here too.

Christ didn't die for His Church to be separated. This lie has been weaving its way into the minds of Christians everywhere for a LONG time. It’s nothing new. The Corinthians wrestled with it, and Paul had to help set them straight. Paul helped the Corinthians begin their church, and the proceeded on to help other cities and people start churches as well. After he left, other evangelists came and continued the work Paul had begun. Sounds great! Christians working together to further the Kingdom of God. However, trouble arose. Divisions began forming within the Corinthian church. Here’s what Paul had to say about that:

“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. Some of you are saying, “I am a follower of Paul.” Others are saying, “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow only Christ.” Has Christ been divided into factions?” Was I, Paul crucified for you? Were any of you baptized in the name of Paul? Of course not! I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, for now no one can say they were baptized in my name. (Oh yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas, but I don’t remember baptizing anyone else.) For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News – and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power.” (1 Corinthians 1.10-17 NLT)

Paul’s asking the Corinthians, “what the heck are you doing?!?! Christ isn’t divided!!! So why are you trying to go and divide Him?” A little later in chapter three, Paul elaborates on the roles that Christ, Apollos, and even himself all play in the development of the church, as they are co-workers with Christ. He explains it in this way: he planted the seed, Apollos watered it, and God made it grow.
1. Paul planted the seed through preaching. (Romans 10.17)
2. Apollos watered the planted seed.
3. Christ brings about the growth (Ephesians 2.2)


Each party played a part in a person becoming a Christian and getting saved. Look again at verse 17. Paul makes it clearly known that his primary purpose was to plant the seeds, present the gospel to the Corinthians so that God’s Word could begin moving in them to bring about a decision of placing their faith and lives in Christ. Baptism is a marker event of a person becoming a Christian. It signifies that a person is crucifying their old self, so that they can live in Christ. It's seen as the identifying marker that a person has accepted Jesus (this is a position that is held across denominational lines). A person believes, repents, and is baptized. It's as simple as that. If you read through the book of Acts, every time a person made a decision to give their life to Christ, they were immediately baptized. Look here:

The two are connected. This is why Paul brings baptism into play here in this passage. He wasn't given the specific task of be there when people made the decision to become a Christian, although he was blessed with the privilege of being able to be there and take part in the decisions of Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. Instead he was given the task of preaching the Gospel, which would begin that process within them.
All of this is only possible because of Jesus Christ. He’s the one that was crucified for us. Therefore He’s the one we were baptized into, not Paul and not Apollos. And since Christ is one and in Him there is no division, there should be no division among those of us who are in Him. This doesn't mean that we all have to have the same theological opinions and stances. In fact we are entitled to our own understanding s because we have freedom in Christ. If we had to have every single theological understanding perfectly correct in order to be a Christian and to have salvation in Christ, then every one of us would be in trouble, because none of us have everything 100% perfect! But thanks to Jesus, we don’t have to have everything 100% correct, because love and grace exist!

There are going to be some things in life that will seem acceptable to do to you, but unacceptable to others. There are going to be some things in life that will seem unacceptable to you, but acceptable to others. Unless that thing is a sin, a person has the freedom in Christ to do that something, in respect to his or her conscience. In Romans 14, Paul advises us:

“Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.”  (Romans 14.1 NLT)

He then uses the example of meat sacrificed to idols. 

Here’s the history of this really quick. In the Roman Empire, there were pagan cults who were sacrifice animals and their meat to their ‘gods.’ It was a part of their worship that after they offered the meat up, there would be a meal where all of the worshipers would eat of that meat. Afterward, if there was any meat left over, it would be sold in the marketplace. Sounds harmless right? Well this proved troublesome to Christians in Rome. Many of the Roman Christians were converts who at one point in their lives had participated in these pagan worship services. Some of these believers quit participating in it, but others continued. It was troublesome for many of them when they saw other believers still participating in these worship services. Because there was a chance that this meat that was sacrificed to idols would be sold in the market place, many of these Christians quit eating meat altogether because it was impossible for you to determine if the meat you purchase in the marketplace was the same meat used in pagan worship. This is how the big conflict between eating and not eating meat arose within the early church. Paul wrote to the believers of multiple cities where this issue arose. I found a nice summary of his position that he wrote in Romans 14.

“I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble.  It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” (Romans 14.14-23 NLT)

It’s imperative that we use this principle in determining the things that we are able and that we ought not do. But whatever you decide, make sure that you don’t become a legalist and condemn or judge another if he/she arrives at the other decision than yours.

So what do we do? Maybe as I went through some of the characteristics of a Christian legalist, some of them hit uncomfortably at home, and you find yourself in the same situation I've found myself in many times of the course of my life. Well if you have, there’s good news, that can change. You want to know how? I’ll tell you. Here’s just a few of the things that will help:
  1. Give other Christians permission to be different from you.
    1. 1 Corinthians 12.6 (God works in different ways within us, but is the same God to all!)
  2. Keep your mouth shut and pray.
    1. Before you spout off to a person about his/her behavior, or talk about someone behind his/her back (which is gossip/slander…and a sin…), pray for him/her!
  3. Remember that God is still working on others, and on you!
    1. Philippians 1.6 – Salvation is a process. No one’s completely saved or sanctified (meaning made perfect) until they get to heaven.
  4. Practice the spiritual discipline of confession!
  5. Know the difference between the gospel according to the New Testament and the gospel according to you
    1. Negotiable vs non-negotiable stuff
Remember, the core of the Christian message is LOVE and GRACE!!!


Emily and I had a chance to travel down to Caswell, NC and help out with a youth retreat this past weekend. It was a blast! We had a lot of fun and it served as a short refreshing mini-vacation for Emily and I as well! =) I probably enjoyed it even more, only because the retreat happened to be at Fort Caswell, which is a former fort that was used beginning the in 1800's and going through WWI and WWII. Being the history nerd that I am, I absolutely LOVED IT! =) Anyway, it's certainly great to be back in Lock Haven and back with the students! Tonight we have another night that's been planned by the leadership team, so I'm looking forward to that! Thanks for reading! Until next time! =)


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Long Overdue Update

I'm convinced to get better at doing this, but I just can't seem to get it down on a regular basis, haha. My apologies. =)

I get to update you all on three weeks worth of CSF's! Today's your lucky day! ;)
Luckily, two weeks ago, the CSF on September 19th was led by the CSF leadership team. They put together a Bible scavenger hunt as a community building activity night. It went really well and each of the members on the two teams that tied received gift cards to Sheetz.

The very next week I was back up to preach, and we tackled the lie, "This wouldn't be happening if you were a better Christian." We began by realizing that things can happen to us because of sin in our lives, but more often than not, things just happen to us because we live in a fallen world and they are no direct result to an action on our part (i.e. a family member gets diagnosed with cancer..etc...). Sometimes things will happen to those of us who are disciples of Jesus because of that very fact. In fact, Jesus left us with some warnings and encouragement:

“Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself He said this to indicate how he was going to die.”  (John 12.31-33 NLT)

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.(John 16.33 NLT)
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”  (John 15.18-19 NLT)

To hammer home the point that the rough times you may be going through is not a result of you being a 'bad Christian,' but instead because you are a Christian. We first looked at Paul. Paul had a huge impact on the New Testament as well as the rest of Christianity as a whole. Yet he went through A LOT of tough times:
"Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches." (2 Corinthians 11.23-28 NLT)

The second case study we looked at was of the only person who could ever claim to be the perfect Christian, Jesus. Yet Isaiah described His persecution with these words:

"He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave." (Isaiah 53.3-9 NLT)

I would have loved to been a fly on the wall if someone were to tell either Paul or Jesus that none of these things would have happened to them if they had just been better Christians.

I ended by sharing words that God spoke to Israel through the prophet Hosea, to bring encouragement for those who might be suffering from some sort of hardship due to a sin in their life (I even put the sin/bad addressing parts in red, and then put the last part in white to show a visual representation of what the text was saying...yes I'm cheesy, but that stuff gets the point across). =)

"Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for your sins have brought you down. Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord. Say to him, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises. Assyria cannot save us, nor can our warhorses. Never again will we say to the idols we have made, ‘You are our gods.’ No, in you alone do the orphans find mercy.” The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon." (Hosea 14.1-7 NLT)

Finally we get to last night. Last night we had 49 people show up. It was once again a pretty packed night. We covered the lie, "It's okay not to love certain people." Since God's word is even more explicitly clear on us loving our brothers and sisters in Christ, all I did to make sure we were all on the same page of how we are called to love all other Christians, period, was show a quick collection of verses from 1 John.

“If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness.”        -1 John 2.9 (NLT) “But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.”    - 1 John 2.11 (NLT)

“Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.”    - 1 John 3.15 (NLT)

“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?”           - 1 John 4.20 (NLT)

Since it's pretty obvious we as Christians are expected to love other Christians, period, I spent the rest of the night taking a look at loving non-Christians too. The very first thing that we all have to constantly remember, is that non-Christians do not have the same world view or standards as we do, so we can't keep acting surprised when they act in sinful manners. Another way of saying this, is that we need to expect sick people to act sick. Non-Christians are still enslaved to sin and evil, and so they don't know anything else. They are still horribly sick with the infection of sin, because they haven't received the cure yet. In fact, when we look at it in this way, we're closer to seeing people the way God see's people.

In Romans 5, Paul explains the situation like this:

"When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God." (Romans 5.6-11 NLT)

Paul explains how no one in their right mind would risk their life to help/save a person, even if he/she is good. Now if that person were exceptionally good, helping those in need, showing kindness to everyone, etc, someone might then contemplate risking his/her financial security or even life to help him/her. You want to know the shocking truth? WE DIDN'T EVEN MAKE THE LOWEST RUNG ON THE 'GOOD LADDER'!!! Yet despite this horrifying fact, God still risked His life, in fact gave His life to save us! Every human being is on the same field and at some point in his/her life is classified as evil. Just two chapters earlier, Paul explains this very fact, and as he does this, he quotes two Psalms. One of these Psalms is Psalm 53, and the first three verses of this Psalm are disturbing:

"Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good! God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!" (Psalm 53.1-3 NLT)

Paul sums this up in one of the most famous verses from Romans:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3.23 NLT)

We are all sick and enslaved to sin and evil until we encounter Jesus. Until then, the only thing we know how to naturally do, is mess up (sin) and act selfishly, hurting others and ourselves (evil). It's when we take a step back from our selfish perspective and start viewing people as God views them, as lost sheep. And when you get here, realizing that we all fall into the category of sick, lost, people in need of Jesus, that Romans 5 becomes all that more powerful. It's then that you can answer this question: "How in the world can I love someone who insults me, ridicules me, insults my God, and wants to rip me apart?" The simple answer... because God did it first! It doesn't matter if you feel like it's unfair for you to respond to hate with love, because in reality you should be thankful. If God acted in our human view of fairness, repaying hate with hate, Jesus wouldn't have come. Instead, God saw sick people, in desperate need of a cure, just sneezing/coughing/running fevers, and showing other symptoms of the disease (sin). He had compassion, and showed the ultimate expression of love!

I ended with giving three practical ways that we can look at our lives and try to rearrange ourselves so we can see people from God's perspective instead of our own:

1. Read the Bible  

(The ultimate case study to look at and learn from is Jesus Himself... [i.e. Look at Jesus' handling and reaction to a man who was quite visibly showing the symptoms of a person enslaved an infected by sin/evil in Mark 5.1-15])

2. Pray for them
(Jesus Himself advised us to do this in Matthew 5.44-45)

3. Serve them

(This is the HARDEST of all! There's not much motivation to serve someone who doesn't like you, let along love them. But once again, Jesus Himself did it first! [Mark 10.45]...besides, here's some food for thought... if Jesus came to serve/save us, and it's His kindness that leads us to repentance and the cure, wouldn't one of our responsibilities as co-workers with Christ to be to let our service and kindness lead others to the kindness of God that will then lead them to repentance and the cure?)

Welp, that will just about get all of you caught up! =) Thanks for hanging in there and reading through the whole thing! (If you skipped to the bottom... shame on you... ;)... just kidding). This weekend we have a group of students going on a retreat to help out with a camp for mentally and physically disabled campers. I'd appreciate your prayers for their safe travel to and from the camp, as well as an experience that will help them grow closer to God and develop a great love for other people. Thanks! =)


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Another week, another lesson...

Last Wednesday we had another amazing turnout for students coming to CSF. I was told by one of my leadership team members that we had 34 people show up, but another report indicated that we might have had up near around 40 once again. In total, we have 55 people 'registered' with the school as being involved and a part of CSF. (PRAISE GOD!!) We continued our series on Things Jesus Never Said, this time tackling the belief that Jesus said, "I'm so disappointing in you." It was cool how this topic landed on the same week as our visit from our 'perfect' preachers, and so we had a number of people show up because I talked with them that Monday after they were berated by these two guys. Here's a quick outline of what we talked about.

I began by explaining just how hearing the words "I'm so disappointed in you" coming from the mouth from someone you are very close to or admire highly could arguably be one of the most devastating things you could ever hear and endure. However, living a life in the fear of disappointed God isn't living the life God wants you to have. God didn't free you from being enslaved by sin to go and fall into slavery to fear! The crazy thing about God, is that you're not going to surprise Him or disappoint Him. David writes in Psalm 139:

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” Psalm 139.1-12 (NLT)

God knows everything, He sees everything, and there is no where that you're going to go that He won't be there too. I mentioned earlier that living a life of constant fear of disappointing God isn't the life that Jesus came to give us. Jesus said:

“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.” John 10.9-11

Living a life where you're constantly looking over your shoulder to see if God saw you slip up and fall isn't a life of faith, it's a life of fear and bondage. Jesus came, not to leave you in bondage to fear and sin as you already were, but to free you and give you the opportunity for a rich and satisfying life! Paul describes just how powerful a life of faith is:

“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.” Romans 3.21-26

No one is going to get to heaven because they got it right. The ONLY reason someone will get to heaven one day is because Jesus got it right, and He's got our back if we only allow Him to, by giving over to Him control of our lives. But even in this, we don't become mindless zombies or robots, instead we become coworkers with Christ, He allows us to continue and work with Him in what He's doing! We walk on the path of life, and if we happen to stumble and fall, we need not fear because grace is the net that's there to catch us and lift us back up again! There were millions of people who lived and sinned before we were even born. Even if God were restricted by time (which He's not), He's seen these sins before. People today are falling into the same trap that our forefathers did thousands of years ago. When Jesus came to pay for our sins in order to redeem us, He did so once, for all!

One interesting example of Jesus not showing disappointment in our failures, is His handling of Simon Peter.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Luke 22.31-34

Did you catch that? Jesus knew exactly what Peter was going to do, and He wanted him anyway! If Jesus still wanted Peter even though He knew he was going to deny Him, what does that tell you? God knows your very thoughts. He doesn’t have to wait for you to speak them aloud for Him to find out what you were thinking, and yet even when you’re thinking the darkest of thoughts, He wants you anyway! That’s what true love is. That’s what perfect love is. That’s what true, perfect, unconditional love is. John explains to us:

“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4.16-18

Let go of your fear of disappointment and allow God’s love to be perfected in you! It’s truly liberating! It relieves so much unneeded stress in your life, and grows your faith in a way you couldn’t believe.

This week is going to be a special week that the CSF Leadership Team has planned out, so I'm not preaching this week. I'm looking forward to experiencing what they are putting together and look forward to updating you on how it goes! =) Thanks for reading!!!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book "Hope, Help & Healing for Eating Disorders"

First of all, I have to say that I got this book in hopes of being able to read about ways that I could help students at the college I am a campus minister at with eating disorder issues. That being said, I was a little disappointed to see that this book wasn't meant to help me with that. I don't mean that it's a bad book, just not what I was hoping for. However for the purpose that it was written for, I would say it does a good job. Dr. Jantz takes time to walk through each chapter in a very easy to understand way and then takes time at the end of each chapter to have an activity for the reader to complete. In the introduction of the book, Jantz explains that it is important that you don't skip over these questions/activities, but instead answer them and do them honestly. He also admits that this book is not meant to be a stand-alone 'fix' for a person who is struggling with some sort of eating disordered, but it meant to be used in conjunction with a professional counselor. I can honestly say I was convicted a little by some of the things I read in the book concerning disordered eating, which is not really a specific eating disorder. Jantz takes time to explain the effects that your food choices and eating habits have on you not only physically, but emotionally as well as spiritually. Overall I would recommend Jantz book for anyone who is struggling with their image in relation to how it ties in with what they are eating. It's a fresh take with some helpful advice for everyone regarding a healthy relationship between you and food.

Author's Website
More Info

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."

IMPORTANT NOTICE (Warning, this post MAY include sarcasm...and when I say may, I mean yeah... it's in there)

So yesterday I found out that I'm going to hell. I was really appreciative of the guy who told me, because without him telling me I would have continued living my life following Christ. I guess you all can now stop sending money because I'm not supposed to be here being a witness to the students of this campus, because after all, how can a person who's going to hell do such a thing?

OK, so laying the sarcasm aside, for now, I'll explain and update you all on something rather interesting that happened here on campus yesterday (9.10.12). Yesterday we had two men come to campus and "preach the gospel" on the street corner. Now I put "preach the gospel" in quotations because I don't believe that's what they were doing. Now I must say, that did have some truth in what they were saying, however it was one of those things where there's just enough truth mixed in to make the the whole thing believable. The campus minister for the New Life group here on campus and myself took the liberty to go and talk with these guys. When I approached these guys, one was on a personal bullhorn and the other was holding a sign and talking with an agnostic/atheist student. I approached the guy with the bullhorn and asked him if I could talk to him and ask him some questions. His response, "You can talk to my friend over there." (referring to guy holding a sign) I responded, he's busy, so I want to talk to you. Then I here his buddy yelling at me asking if I had ever been to a church. I laughed, and said yes, and actually I'm a minister.

Crazy preacher guy: Well do you have people stand up and ask you questions in the middle of your sermons.
Me: Well actually, yes. I actually welcome questions.
Crazy preacher guy: (Flustered a tad bit) Well what's your question.

I could spend hours writing about our conversation (I just documented that part because I thought it was funny), but instead I will summarize their message.
- My crazy preacher friend claims to be perfect. He used to sin, then accepted Christ, and from that point on in his life, he has never sinned. NOT EVEN ONCE.
- Secondly, if you aren't perfect, then you're not a Christian (man, I must have been believing a lie for a LOOOONG time... *SARCASM*)
- Next, apparently I'm not doing my job. Therefore they have to come the campus and do it for me. (I simply responded: "So you, who have never seen me talk with students, preach on campus, or share Christ with people, can ACCURATELY say that I'm not doing my job?)
- I, and the other campus ministers on this campus, don't preach the God and Jesus of the Bible. We instead preach of a "mammy-pamby God"... (quoting them exactly)
- Our goal isn't to help people meet Jesus and become disciples, we aren't supposed to do that... what we are supposed to do is preach the 'gospel' (which from their example is a message of condemnation and of a God who's love is conditional... yes they actually said God's love was conditional...)
- etc.

Now obviously, I see some very significant flaws in their beliefs. (PLUS, I DON'T RESPOND WELL TO BEING TOLD I'M GOING TO HELL) Aaron (New Life) and I talked with these guys for a while, during which they tried to twist my words to mean something that I wasn't saying, but finally I got them to admit that they might be wrong in their interpretations of some (or a LOT) of Scripture. I even asked them about something regarding the Greek in 1 John that was contrary to what they were proclaiming, that stumped them and led them to admit that they don't know (thank you Dr. Girdwood!).

Anyway, I just wanted to write to you all to share with you my fun little experience yesterday and to see if you all will pray for the campus and for the UNCONDITIONAL love of God to be felt and seen all throughout this campus! Thank you all! =)


Oops, haha...

So I just realized I forgot to post about last week. I apologize for that! Last week we had 43 people show up for CSF, which was once again a great joy to see that many people come out to worship God with other people and to fellowship with one another. We continued the series on "10 Things Jesus Never Said" and the topic for the sermon was "You're Too Far Gone To Be Saved." This is probably the biggest lie that I've heard people buy into, both Christians and non-Christians alike, so I was pretty excited that this was in fact the first major topic that's not accurate to what Jesus taught to be addressed.

The first thing we addressed, is the misconception that some people convince themselves of, believing that some sins are greater than other sins, and because of their past, there's no way that God could forgive them. I explained to them that God doesn't see sin in the same way that we do. He sees all sin as just that, sin. We are all on the same playing field. Paul explains this very simply:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3.23 (NLT))

James also spoke on the matter.

“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.” (James 2.10-11 (NLT))

After we established the grounds that not any one of us is better off than another, we went into looking at how Jesus reacted to a sinner who was caught in the very act of their sin.

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”” John 8.1-5 (NLT)

My first question has always been, where's the guy?!?! We're not given an answer in the text, but I've often wondered where he had gotten off to. These Pharisees and teachers of the law were crafty. They weren't dumb. They put Jesus in a horribly difficult position. Here He was faced with a question which demanded one of two possible answers:

1.    Agree with the mob and the Law and condemn the woman, and in doing so destroying his message of grace and forgiveness; or
2.    Pardon her, and undermine the very Law that He claimed to love and support.

How did Jesus respond?

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.” John 8.6 (NLT)

These guys were probably like, "WHAT IS THIS GUY DOING?!?! STOP STALLING!!!" I wonder if Jesus implemented this tactic to take the focus off of the woman. She was standing there in front of everyone, probably naked, and full of shame and disgrace. We aren't told what Jesus wrote in the dust, but I just wonder the this whole action was to have these people to stop focusing on this woman's sin and focus on Jesus. It's when we stop looking at and accusing other people of their sin and fix our eyes on Jesus, that we are able to see and identify our own sins that are keeping us away from Him. When Jesus didn't respond to their question, but simply just got down and started drawing in the dirt, everyone would have been wondering what He was doing. (Just try it next time you're with a group of people and you're asked a question. Let me know what happens... =)...)

“They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”” John 8.7-15 (NLT)

Jesus wasn't an idiot. He outsmarted them and put them in their place. When He was left alone with the woman, He didn't yell at her, He simply said "Neither do I [condemn you]. Go and sin no more." Jesus was compassionate, and willing to forgive this woman rather than kill her.

This is the same Jesus that died and rose again for you and for me. If He did all of this to give you the opportunity to be saved, why would He then refuse to forgive you if you are willing to forsake you life of sin, and give everything over to Him?

I want to end with this passage from 1 John:

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” 1 John 1.5-10 (NLT)

“God doesn’t see sins, he sees the sinner. He doesn’t see a murderer, a liar, a gossip, a slanderer, a drug addict, or a lazy person. He sees people in need of grace. And he sent his Son into the world to deal with the root cause of our symptoms – sin.” - Will Davis Jr.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

And... We're off!!!

Last night was our first official CSF Wednesday night of the new fall '12 semester and it was amazing! We had 49 students show up last night (with still more students saying they weren't able to make it because of beginning of the year meetings for sports and other activities). It was certainly a blessing from God that we had such a huge turn out! Last night we kicked off our new series "10 Things Jesus Never Said." We started with "The Most Important Thing Jesus Ever Said" focusing on Jesus' words in Matthew 11.28-29.

To set the stage for everyone to clearly see why the most important thing Jesus ever said can be found/summed up in Matthew 11.28-29, I took everyone on a journey. I borrowed a lot from a series that I wrote for junior high week of camp that I preached this past summer and just shortened the whole series into one blitz through the story that we are living as a part of. And so I began with scene/act 1 of our story: Creation. In the first four words of the first verse of the very first book of our Bible, we encounter the hero of our story. "In the beginning God..." In this one verse, we discover a lot about our hero. God is very powerful. He's able to create things out of nothing. We also learn that He's a God of organization and has plan because of the mere fact that He creates! We also notice that God creates a bunch of things, ranging from plants and animals, to planets and stars. And then He gets to man, but when He creates man, He does something a little different.

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”       Genesis 1.27

The Greek word that some of the early church fathers used to describe the trinitarian nature of God, was perichorisis (Sorry if the spelling's wrong...haha). This word means a close, intimate dance. The three persons of the Trinity are engaged in a close, intimate dance, where they are moving as one unit. This shows us that God is in relationship with Himself, and since He created us in His image, we can safely say that we were created to have relationships with God and with other people! But something horrible happened.

Scene/Act 2: Infection. We rebelled against God. We sinned and because of our actions, a deadly infection was introduced into our world, and it began to destroy everything. It broke relationships, it killed people, it significantly distorted creation. Everything changed, and God was no longer able to have the kind of relationship that He wanted with His most beloved creation because they were infected. But our hero didn't just give up on us, He worked on a plan.

Scene/Act 3: Infiltration. The way that a doctor develops a cure for an infection that he has never seen before, is that he takes a clean, uninfected culture and places it within an infected test area. If the culture becomes infected, it's a failed test, and the culture is discarded. But if the culture remains uninfected, that culture holds the cure to the infection within itself. This is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus came and lived in the middle of this infected area and lived a completely sinless, perfect life! Because He did that, the cure was developed within His blood. Now that the cure had been developed there was one thing left to do, and that's administer it.

Scene/Act 4: Redemption. For Christ to administer the cure, He had to shed His blood. And so, in the greatest act of sacrifice in all of human history, Jesus went to the cross, willingly died there, and shed His blood so that man would have the opportunity to once again be able to be reunited with the hero, their creator, God. But God still desired a genuine relationship with His beloved creation, and so for them to genuinely choose Him, God had to take the same risk that He took in the beginning of our story, and give us a choice.

Scene/Act 5: Decision. The cool thing about this journey through this story, is that we are not the only ones who have traveled this road. And so we also have examples to look at and evaluate before we make our decision. In the OT, God taught Moses everything that He and the Israelites needed to know in order to enter into the Promised Land, and so Moses delivered the message to the Israelites and after telling them everything that God had said, Moses said:

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  Deuteronomy 30.19-20 (NLT)

We have arrived at a crossroads in our journey, in this story, and we find ourselves at a similar situation as Moses. Though we aren't set to enter into a Promised Land such as Israel or anything, we are faced with the opportunity to enter into the promised land of heaven and eventually a renewed/restored earth! And so here at the crossroads we are faced with a choice of life or death.

God gave advice to travelers who were here before. He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, saying:

“This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.’”    Jeremiah 6.16 (NLT)

In the NT, Peter says the devil is going around like a roaring lion looking for people to devour. In the NT, the devil is also called the father of lies, and he's done a scary good job at devouring/deceiving people, because all around us we hear people saying that it doesn't matter which path you choose, you'll end up at the same place! So here we stand at the crossroads, with a crowd of people, each telling us which way to go. With all of this noise in our life, how are we supposed to find the old, godly way in which to walk? It's simple. You see, right there, in the midst of this crowd, is Jesus calling out for you to come to Him. He's uttering the greatest thing that He ever said:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”    Matthew 18.28-29 (NLT)

How do you find the right path? Jesus is right there telling you, it's Him! He is the way! With this 'great invitation' Jesus summarized a lot of what He came to do and accomplish. He identified the destination of our journey, and offers to walk with us as we progress into the next scene/act of the story.

That was the basic outline of what the sermon was on and how it went. Afterward we all enjoyed pizza that we ordered and hung out to meet new people and catch up with others to see how their summers went. I know I keep saying this, but it truly was an amazing night full of fun, fellowship, and laughs! I'm sure I can speak for most everyone in CSF when I say that this semester is going to be a great semester! If last night was any indication of how CSF is going to be this year, I'm super excited to see how God's going to move in/through CSF and how we are going to impact the campus here at Lock Haven University!! =)


Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Back!!! =)

So after a long and eventful summer, SCHOOL IS FINALLY BACK!!! Today was the first day of my 2nd year as CSF campus minister at Lock Haven University! I have to admit, I haven't been this excited for a new school year for a long time (if ever)!!! =) This semester we're going to be talking about sayings that Jesus never said, but for some reason people, including disciples of Christ, fall victim to believing that He did in fact say them! If you're in the area, I personally invite you out to hear what Christ wants to share with everyone this semester! If you're not in the area, I'll try to post some highlights and notes after every Wednesday night like I did last semester. I'm so pumped that I can hardly contain myself! haha =) I do humbly ask that if you are reading this, would you take a couple of minutes to pray for LHU, CSF, Emily and I, and the ministry that's going to take place on this campus over the next school year! I have a special feeling that God is up to something that's going to completely blow us away and I'm SO excited to be a part of it and experience it first hand! I know this is a short blog entry, but  my OT Research Final Paper is calling my name, haha. =) Look forward to sharing more with you in the near future! =)


Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I just finished another book! This time I was able to read and review a book that's set to come out 9/4/12. It's called 'Greater' by Steven Furtick. This is one of the better books that I have read within the past while, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is finding themselves in a position where they might be currently or in danger of becoming stuck in a spiritual rut. Basing the book off of John 14.12, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father," Furtick uses the story of Elisha as he creatively takes the reader on a journey to discover a greater life! You will feel challenged to embark on living your life based upon faith rather than complacent conformity, yet encouraged to see that all you need to do is take one small step of faith at a time! This book is fairly quick read. I had it done in three days. If you have a chance to get the book when it is released this coming fall, I HIGHLY encourage you to do so! I believe I'm going to implement this within the campus ministry, as a small group study since I think young adults and especially college students could greatly benefit from the message that Furtick conveys!

Author's Website
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"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."