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.