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.
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.