Unless you have familiarity with death I’m not sure it’s very easy to be encouraged or moved by Jesus’ words in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new." I’m not necessarily referring to physical death, although that certainly applies, but rather to the far-reaching implications of the brokenness of this world. Doing college ministry familiarizes one with death and sin. Our staff have gotten more and more familiar with students who desire to numb life’s pains through drugs or alcohol, who believe that a romantic relationship will give them final satisfaction, who think that as long as everyone likes them they will feel loved, and even students who simply ignore the realities of a world they cannot see in hopes that they will be absolved of answering to their Creator who sees them. Is it a joy to wade into these waters? Yes and no.
As we enter into our third year of ministry at Saint Cloud State University I think we have been sobered by the sins that surround us. Don’t get me wrong. Myself and my team (Berto and Elisa) are well aware of our own contributions to the brokenness around us. In fact, I think we all would agree that consistently holding out the light of life to those who prefer the darkness causes us to question the brightness of the very light we’re holding. When we’re not careful, our questions can take a sinister turn. This is when the wading is not so joyful. Strangely, though, we know the light wouldn’t look so bright unless it were contrasted with utter darkness. This gives us hope and longing. We long to see students able to deal with life’s difficulties not by numbing the pain, but by crying out to God. To see romance simply as a gift given that points them back to the Giver is our aim. We hope for students who know they’ll experience disapproval from others at times but not be crushed. And we hope the eternal truth that in Christ "there is no condemnation" would make their faces gladly turn toward their heavenly Father. We aren’t promised we’ll get to see all of this take place in every student’s life, but by his grace we have seen glimpses. Please pray we continue to see more for God’s glory and our joy.
We are now making our way into the “Prophets Before the Exile” section of The Whole Story. I really like the way our Read Scripture plan breaks a bit here from the order of the books of the Old Testament in our common English translation of the bible. For the Read Scripture plan is more in line with how the story actually unfolded.
On Easter Sunday, the Calvary family got to witness God working in the lives of two men who publicly affirmed their faith through baptism. It was a joy to see!
As the Bible is an ancient text, it makes sense that much of it is a recording of history. But to respond by merely reading it as a textbook would be a mistake, for this is history written with a very particular purpose. Namely, it is a theological history — its authors, under the inspiration of God, make theological arguments by the way they tell the stories, and what they include in them.
King of My Heart (Samuel part two)
It’s a little hard to believe that we are already twelve sermons into our adventure through the Bible called The Whole Story. I have been very encouraged to hear from many of you how this pace of moving through the Scriptures week-by-week, book-by-book has helped you see things you’ve never seen before, and appreciate our Father and his Son, Jesus, so much more. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed preaching as much as I have this year, discovering how, as our friends at The Bible Project say it, “The Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus.”
Eight Acts of Service on Easter
We’ve arrived once again to the glory of Holy Week. And as Easter Sunday draws closer, it is good to remind ourselves of ways we can bless those who don’t normally attend Calvary on this highest attended service of the year.
Samuel Part One
As Douglas Wilson has observed, these are fragile times. And when a nation finds itself in the kind of mess we find ourselves in, there is a kind of widespread longing for a leader who has the qualities, vision, and ability to show the way out. That makes sense. Who doesn’t want to find their way out of a mess? But it’s a dangerous spot to be in. It can leave one vulnerable to charlatans and pipe dreams.
Two weeks ago, we spent our Sunday morning gathering in the book of the Judges. It describes a time in the nation of Israel of great darkness, disobedience, destruction, and dystopia. It was a time, states the last sentence in the story, when “there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). It was very disturbing.