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.
31 Proverbs: Grace Day for Sunday 16 September
If you’ve been reading along in this little series, you’ve now read 29 of 31 chapters of Proverbs—well done friend! Today is a “Grace Day.”
Day Thirty: Vistas of Wisdom
I am very near the end of this little writing experiment called “31 Proverbs.” While I’m unsure how helpful it has been to how ever many have read it, I know that the process of sitting down six days each week to read, ponder, and then ponder some more by plunking on a keyboard has helped me grow in my understanding of wisdom.
This past Sunday we continued on our journey through the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, focusing our study on Jeremiah’s epilogue to his large book, an extended treatment of his grief over Jerusalem and Judah, the five poems of Lamentations.
Day Thirty-One: A Mother’s Wisdom
Even Kings need to listen to their mothers, and Solomon is no exception. It is probable that Lemuel, meaning for God or devoted to God, is merely another moniker for Solomon. It may even be that it was a nickname of sorts, one of endearment that his mother used to call him in his younger, growing up years, and it stuck. And now as Solomon completes his book of Proverbs, his mother comes to mind. He looks back with Holy Spirit-inspired memory to recall worthy words of wisdom his mother had taught him, and were invaluable in the pursuit of a wise and good life. In particular, how to be a wise and good leader.
Day Fifteen: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy. Woh, I always feel like somebody's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? So sang Rockwell in the dawning of my high school years back in 1984. All the cool kids were singing it at the time, and its the tune that sprang to mind when I read this similar sentiment this morning: Yahweh is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3, New Living Translation)
Day Twenty-Three: When You Feel Like Quitting, Remember Why You Started
Committing to any endeavor that takes time always carries with it the challenge of making it to the end. Refinishing that dresser. Repainting the downstairs. Reading all of War and Peace (or finishing any long-ish book for that matter). Completing the class you decided to take at the community college. Running a marathon. Taking up a new hobby. Learning a new sport. Trying to introduce a new habit into your life and routine. You often hit this pain-point, where you consider giving up. At such times, it can help to remind yourself why you started in the first place.