Friday, February 24, 2012

Wow, another week here... another week past....

It's been really hard for me to realize just how fast time has been passing. I can't believe we've already had  5 CSF's this semester!!! We only have about 9 left for the entire semester!!! It feels like it's only been 2 weeks since we started the new semester. This past Wednesday we had nearly 40 students show up once again, some of which coming out for the very first time! It is truly exciting to see God work and move here at LHU and in CSF!! This week, we had half a dozen people come out from a supporting church out in Montoursville, PA. It was great having them join us! They also risked their lives bringing great tasting food to a bunch of hungry college students, haha. This week I talked about another fairly controversial topic, "Are people who are once saved, always saved?" This is a topic that I've been on both sides of the floor on during my life thus far. To keep me from preaching the sermon again on this blog, I'll touch on some high-lights. You can also check out the CSF-LHU webpage ( and check out 'Cody's Corner'. It's a blog that's maintained by our worship leader Cody Park.

The question remains after years of debate, when a person is saved, is he/she always saved? I think this question is TOO generic to be honest and answer it correctly. Instead, I think it's better to split this question into two questions:

1. Is a Christian who is saved, always saved?
2. Is a person who is saved, always saved?

To answer these questions, we first, I think, have to define what/who a Christian is. During our very first CSF of this semester, we did just that! This is what we came up with:

“A Christian is a person who believes in Jesus and who lives a life of repentance, turning from evil to God, placing his/her faith in Christ, committing his/her life to obedience in baptism, edification of other brothers and sisters, and to sound doctrine, having the heavenly seal of the Holy Spirit and experiencing the blessings that come from God’s goodness and power."

So to answer the two questions:

1. Is a Christian who is saved, always saved? Yes.
2. Is a person who is saved, always saved? No.

The key, I think, to understanding what living as a Christian involves, is the part of living a life, which means living in a continual state, of repentance, turning away from the evil things around us and turning to Christ. This being said, it is possible for a Christian to become just a person!!! There are many New Testament passages that we read that warn against this "falling away from the faith." As I said before, the key to understanding all of this is realizing that a Christian is LIVING IN A CONSTANT STATE, A CONSTANT RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS. To best understand this, I think it's best to read what John has to say:

“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)

I absolutely love how John puts it! If we aren't living our lives in a state of repentance, we are living in spiritual darkness. If we are living this way and we claim to be a Christian, we're lying! We don't truly have that relationship that Micah shares with us is what God desires (Micah 6.6-8). However if we are living in the light, we DO have that relationship with Jesus and we can truly/rightly be called Christian. Now I need to add a clarification here, walking in the light DOESN'T MEAN that you never sin and that you're perfect. If that were the case, John wouldn't have added the 'blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin' or 'if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.' What walking in the light means, is that we understand and truthfully acknowledge that we are sinners who are lost without Jesus. We confess our sins to Him and REPENT from them, 'he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.' It means that you are not living in a constant of continual sin!!!

So I guess from then a new question arises, "Can a Christian, become a person?" Unfortunately, as much as I want to say the answer is no, the answer is yes. Paul was very conscientious about this, writing:

“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9.27)

Despite this however, I think we as Christians can be confident and reassured of the fact that if we continue in our relationship with Jesus Christ, continue to walk in the light, every time we fall (stumble into a shadow) and lay on the ground, holding out scrapped knee, God is light, and he will help you back up, forgive your confessed sins, and love on you like no one else!

"As for me, I look to the LORD for help.
      I wait confidently for God to save me,
      and my God will certainly hear me.
Do not gloat over me, my enemies!
      For though I fall, I will rise again.

   Though I sit in darkness,
      the LORD will be my light. 

I will be patient as the LORD punishes me,
      for I have sinned against him.
   But after that, he will take up my case
      and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies.
   The LORD will bring me into the light,
      and I will see his righteousness."

                                                       (Micah 7.7-9)

Well I think that sums up most of the night! =) Hopefully I'll be able to update you on more happenings here soon! Until then!


Friday, February 17, 2012

God blesses you when...

This week as been absolutely crazy! Yet for the most part, it's been a good kind of crazy. This past Wednesday night, I preached a 'part 2' continuation of the previous week's sermon about how we need Jesus to live. We dug into how Jesus' work on the cross doesn't JUST affect our eternity, but it also affects our lives in the here and now too! I think that there are too many Christians in the world today who lose sight of this, and in doing so rob themselves of the freedom, joy, and LIFE that Jesus brings about to those who have accepted Him as Lord and Savior of their ENTIRE life! I talked about how the New Testament writers use two words to talk about Jesus' work on the cross, Soteria and Sozo, which both can be translated salvation/saved/heal/etc. Sozo is the word that's used when talking about our eternal salvation/healing, while Soteria is the word that's used when the New Testament writers are talking about the temporal/physical salvation/healing in the here-and-now! It was an exciting evening to preach this sermon to, because there were 47 people in the room! I was able to share my testimony and give encouragement to those who had been living in the deception of Jesus not having any affect on their lives in the here and now. Over all it was a moving night, but not because I had anything to do with it. I felt God moving and I really felt Him preaching to me just as much as He was using me to preach to the students.

I went back to the room in the next morning, because I had left something there, and I found that someone had written on our white board, and renamed CSF. They wrote "Christian Satan Followers." At first I was a little taken back by it, but then I had to chuckle a little bit as I erased it. The first thing that popped into my head what what Jesus said in Matthew 5.11: "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers." I certainly have been feeling God's blessing on CSF this semester, and in the lives of both myself and these students. I know good things are happening and about to happen and it's making me really excited! I look forward to posting more updates for you all! In the mean time please continue to pray for Emily, myself, and the students here in CSF and at LHU! Love you guys!


Monday, February 13, 2012

A Valentine's Day to Remember

This past Sunday night we had around 15 students over at the house. Typically Sunday nights are a game night where the students are able to come, hang out, relieve some stress, play some games, fellowship, and eat food. This Sunday night we did something different. We created 217 Valentine's Day cards, which we will be taking to local nursing and assisted living homes on February 14th. It was one of the community outreach ideas that one of our students came up with and I believe that it's a great one! We had a blast, made a mess, and created quite a few creative looking cards. Aside from the apartment looking like a glitter factory exploded, it was a fantastic evening, filled with fun, fellowship, and an opportunity for us and the students to share the love of Jesus with people whom many in society may have a tendency to forget about! Tonight Emily and I both had our Bible study groups, and they were phenomenal! In case you don't know the guys are studying Revelation, while the girls are studying the Gospel of John, so needless to say, Emily and I have been doing a lot of commentary research and studying in order to try to get ahead on the text. Despite all of the tiring work that we put into it, nights like tonight make all of the effort completely worth it! I ask that if you're reading this blog right now, that you would take a quick 10 seconds and just pray that God would help Emily and I to grow in our weaknesses, and that we would be able to be used by Him to lead more and more students from Lock Haven University to encounter Jesus in a new, tangible way that leaves a lasting impression in their lives!!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We need Jesus to live!!!

Last night was, as always, a fun night at CSF!! But there just seemed to be something different about it as well. We had around 37 people there (not sure if I miscounted or not). Cody and Eli did a phenomenal job leading us in corporate worship and I couldn't have asked for a nicer set-up before I was up-to-bat. Last night the topic of my sermon was centered around the question, "Why do we need Jesus?" I struggled for the week trying to prepare for this sermon, because I wanted to find a fool-proof, 100% universal answer of why EVERYONE needs Jesus. However the more and more I thought about it, I could only think of ONE WAY of proving this. At first I thought I could take the traditional approach ask people if they feel broken or empty, or maybe they have a vast void within them that they need filled, but the more and more I thought about it, the more I realized, though these are good reasons of why we need Jesus (because he can mend us up and restore our brokenness, as well as fill the vast void of emptiness that's within us), there are some people who whether out of pure stubbornness or out of honest sincerity, could respond to these things with "No. I don't feel broken or empty. I have a great life! I don't feel like I need ANYTHING else to be happy. I'm happy now!" It was when I reached this point in my preparation that I realized that there is literally only ONE, UNIVERSAL way of showing people and explaining to people of why we ALL need Jesus. This way is the Bible.

However when I arrived at this conclusion, I then ran into another popular problem. Not everyone believes the Bible because they don't think they can trust it. In light of this obstacle, I made the decision to combine what was originally two sermon ideas/topics, into one. I took some of the information I received from my conversations with non-Christians in Bentley to pull together some of the biggest reasons as to why they don't think they can trust the Bible. While I could go on for hours and hours about how we can know the Bible is true, and how we can trust it, I decided to focus in on the main two reasons that I heard from these students. The two biggest reasons I heard surprised me a little. They were that the Big Bang Theory explains where everything came from better than everything coming from God, and there are lists in the Gospels that don't have the same names in them, so they can't be accurate. I quickly explained the Big Bang Theory doesn't answer the question of where EVERYTHING came from, because it doesn't explain where the two particles that reacted together came from. Additionally, I asked the question that if it was what happened, then why hasn't happened again? It doesn't make sense. If the earth really is billions of years old, there has been PLENTY of time for it to happen again, and the conditions are even more favorable, because there are even more particles around!!! If something always existed, it would have to be very powerful, and exhibit the exact characteristics that the Bible describes God as having. I then brought up the fact that it really doesn't matter how old the earth is, only because the Bible never specifically said. If you look at Jesus' teachings in the New Testament, he NEVER talked about the age of the earth. The only thing that was important for Him to talk about regarding the beginning of everything, was the very fact that He (God) created it!!! I shared with them what God said to Job in Job 38, basically pointing out the fact the we speak so much about things that we don't know and can't know for 100% sure (regarding the age of the earth). God himself asked Job, "Why do you talk without knowing what you're talking about?...Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much!" The fact of the matter is, God created it, and that's all that really matters!

In regard to the differences in names, I gave an example of Emily and I going to a CSF party and being asked by a student who wasn't able to make it how it was and who was there. I tell him a bunch of people whom he knows, while Emily tells him the names of those he knows, but also even names of two new people whom he doesn't know. This example isn't completely transferable 'as is', but the principle is still there. Just because Emily and I gave different names, DOESN'T MEAN WE CAN'T BE TRUSTED!!! Neither one of us was lying! After talking through these two topics, I told the students that I only had time to graze the tip of the iceberg, so if they had questions or doubts that they wanted to research, they could come talk to me and I'd help them with it!

Finally, after establishing that foundation, I was able to proceed. I pointed them in the direction, first of Paul's words in Romans 5. Paul explains that sin entered the world through Adam, bringing death. There was sin in the world BEFORE the Law was given. During this time, people's sin wasn't counted as such, because they didn't know about it, yet they were still dying and had no idea why. So in His grace, God had to do something to help us. He gave us the Law, so that we could see and identify the sin that we were infected with. I then pointed them to Jesus' words in his first major public sermon, that's recorded in Matthew 5. Jesus said he didn't come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill/complete it. He also noted that those who trivialize even the smallest of the Laws, only trivializes himself (The laws are there to help us see how sinful we are and how much we need Jesus. If we begin thinking that one Law is less than another and is thus in comparison 'acceptable', we begin to limit Jesus' cleansing power in our life! We essentially say, 'This infraction is less than the others, so it doesn't matter. I don't really need Jesus to cleanse me of that area, just the major ones.').  I used the medical analogy of an infection to bring the point home. Whenever a person is infected with a new infection that has never before been seen, the doctors have to develop a symptoms list and diagnosis chart. This is what God did. The Law is our symptoms/diagnosis chart/list! In the Old Testament, there are 613 laws that God gave to help us see what we were doing that was killing us (sin). In his graciousness, God also gave us ways to manage/treat the infection. The sacrifice system is representative of God's grace more than we realize. Yet these weren't enough to CURE us, only to manage the infection. The only way for a doctor to make the cure, is to make it from using the infection/disease (ex: flu shot). More than not, there are times when they take untainted specimen samples and try to duplicate them in order to discover what about it makes it immune. Then from that, they can derive a cure. God did just this. He sent Jesus (untainted) and put him right in the middle of the contamination zone, surrounding Him with the infection. Yet Jesus remained untainted, and never contracted the infection. Through his death, his blood became the cure, and now it is made available to us all, we are cleanse of our infection of sin by the blood of Jesus. I ended by saying, "Simply put, we need Jesus to live!"

Needless to say, I had fun preaching last night. I know that God taught me a lot and helped me to develop an even better understanding of Jesus' work on the cross, bringing salvation to me and to all who believe in him. My hope and prayer is that God shoved me aside as I was preaching, and revealed the same to the students last night, and that they will get this medical analogy in their heads, so that they will take evangelism even more seriously, and pass along the cure to the hundreds and thousands of infected people all around us who are dying with the hope of the cure. I would appreciate any prayers you guys could give for Emily, the students here in CSF-LHU, and myself in following God's leading and growing closer to Him each and every day! Well, I guess that's all I have for now! Until next time! =)


Here's some pictures from last night. (I didn't know my president was taking pictures during the sermon... tisk tisk... jk ;)...)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What a night!

Last night at CSF, we had around 41 people show up and I had a blast! Part of the reason I had so much fun, was because I had the opportunity to talk about an issue/topic that's pretty controversial among Christians, predestination verses free will. It was a very fun night! It was very encouraging at the end of the night, because I had a student come up to me and tell me that there have only ever been two sermons on this topic that have every made sense to him and that he enjoyed, and mine was one of them. That was very encouraging to hear! I've had a number of other students come up to me with further questions that they have. The most encouraging comment I received, however, was that a student said he gained a better, deeper understanding of God's love and grace than he had ever had before through hearing the sermon last night. I've already had someone submit a new topic that they are dealing with and want to know what God has to say about it!!! This is VERY exciting to me, because it tells me that they want to know what the Bible, and ultimately what God has to say about the issues that they are constantly wrestling with!!! This is the kind of impact that I hope God continues to use me to instill and spread on the campus of Lock Haven University and all of Central Pennsylvania! I haven't had the chance to do my homework as of yet, but before I leave LHU today, I'm going to talk to another student and ask them about whether or not they know Jesus. I'm super excited about the changes that I can see God working through and within me. I am totally blessed and can't believe that I have the opportunity to call what I'm doing my job!!! Stay tuned for more updates as they happen!!! Keep praying for the Kingdom of Heaven to continue it's expansion, and that Central Pennsylvania would be a MAJOR part in that!!! Love you guys!!!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Look at God move! =)

Since beginning these discipleship groups this past Sunday, I have already begun to see a huge change taking place around me. I already have two groups and one individual discipleship group that I'll be meeting with each week. The first installment of the Discipleship Group was a huge eye opener for all of us, including me! The first step we're taking is looking at Jesus' sermon on the mount that's found in Matthew 5-7. For the first week, we covered more specifically verses 1-12. Our homework assignment for the week, was to read this section at least one time every day, and to find some practical way that we can reflect these kingdom characteristics that Jesus lists here in our lives for the week. From the students who I've seen and talked to, it's encouraging to hear them talk about how much of a challenge it's been, but how they are excited to be growing. I told them that I was going to be doing homework myself, and my homework assignment for the week was to everyday while I'm in Bentley, I'm going to go talk to one student who is just sitting by him/herself and start a conversation that leads to talking about Jesus and invite them to come check out CSF or another campus ministry. So far I've been blessed beyond belief!!! This was a huge step out of my comfort zone, but to see the look and the reactions of the students in reaction to the fact that I am a Christian who is willing to sit down with them, be open and transparent, have a conversation within which I ask questions and allow them to ask questions, and not blow up on them in judgmental overtones is astonishing!!! I've been praying specifically that God would give me eyes and a heart like His, and that He would show me someone new each day who talking to could plant seeds that would lead to their decision for Christ. Just earlier today, I met a student named Luke. Luke isn't a Christian, but he likes Jesus. He literally said to me, "I wish he was here today so that he could clean up a bunch of this stuff around us." The good news for Luke, is that Jesus is here. His Spirit resides within us, as His Church, and we are called to be His hands and feet, to "clean up a bunch of this stuff around us." I ask that you all would pray for Luke, and for students like him here at Lock Haven University! Pray that CSF will grow stronger and will take the good news that Jesus is alive and kickin' and He's changing the world still today!!! Pray that CSF-LHU can continue to raise the necessary financial funds to keep going, growing, and reaching those who no one has ever taken the time to have a normal conversation about who Jesus really is with!!! God bless!!! =)