Archive | April 2007

RA Questions

This weekend all the Resident Assistants for next year head off together for a mini-reatreat and preliminary training. The process to become an RA is rather intense, capped by an interview conducted by the Dorm Staff. Being an RA is a large responsibility, and the school wants to make sure they are qualified. They are responsible for overseeing a wing of a dorm and working with the Resident Director. Here is the “master list” of questions for the RA interview. Take some time to answer them yourself!

  1. Are you hard to lead?
      
  2. What are some things that you know well but you’re not putting into practice?
     
  3. Tell me why I should follow Christ.
     
  4. How do you fight against apathy when you’re consistently in a Christian environment?
     
  5. Are there any fractured relationships in your life right now?
     
  6. What makes you laugh?
     
  7. How do the people around you know that you love them?
       
  8. How do you think the Lord has humbled you the most over the past year?
     
  9. How would you minister to people who are spiritually comfortable and who don’t care about things of the Lord?
     
  10. What have you risked for Christ?

    11.   What is the one question coming into this interview you did not want us to ask you? Answer it.

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Blogging

When people find out I have a blog, they often ask, “Why do you blog?” It is an important question. The blogging phenomenon is quite amazing. Never before in human history has it been so easy for people to publish their own opinions. This can be a good thing, but it also creates a cacophony of voices clamoring for attention. I don’t presume to ever have anything original or creative to say, but here are the reasons I blog. Some are spiritual, some aren’t, but here they are:

1. Blogging reminds me of my dependence on the Savior. I constantly am writing about the Gospel, Christ’s death on the cross, the intersection of culture and Christianity, and my response to it all. Trying to put it all into words reminds me of the dependence upon God I have for clarity of thought and understanding.

2. Writing forces me to think through many things I otherwise would brush off and not think about. If I am to offer an opinion on a given topic, I am going to have to be able to defend it because people will disagree and tell me so! This forces me to return to the Word again and again to make sure my grounding is correct.

3. By blogging I practice putting spiritual things into words. Clear expression is an art which must be practiced, and I have a responsibility to develop my ability to communicate the Gospel.

4. It is fun! I enjoy writing as a hobby, and blogging allows me to share what I write with others, should they desire to read.

5. Ultimately, I blog for the glory of God. What I write is a celebration of what the Lord is teaching me. Perhaps someone else might be encouraged by what I have been learning, and so I will share it joyfully.

Desiring the Word

The Bible is literal. Scripture is true. Not one word of it shall ever fail. The Bible calls itself “living and enduring Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). It is the one evangelistic tool which will cut apart the unbelieving heart and the one counseling resource which can restore a fractured relationship. The Word of God convicts and encourages, sobers and excites. It is the very foundation for life, the one shred of heaven on earth untouched by the curse. The Bible is truth (John 17:17). It does not merely contain truth, it is truth. The Bible does not merely contain life, it is life.

The danger of making this life-giving book a mere textbook stands as a constant threat to spiritual zeal. The Curse manifest in the human heart often steals the joy from reading Scripture. There will always be times where we read from the Bible and feel nothing. No conviction. No excitement. No joy. No life. Just indifference. And then there are the other days. Days where the heart craves the Word and every sentence resonates deep within the soul. Days where the heart is broken and the soul is refreshed. It is a process of sanctification to grow in desire for the Word. As with all matters of sanctification, our motto cannot be “Let go and let God.” We are responsible to cultivate within ourselves a desire for the Word. It is not an abstract concept to desire the Word, it is a lifestyle. Here are some practical ways to cultivate such a heart.

1. Ask God.
Jesus says, “Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find…anyone who asks, receives, and he who seeks, finds.” This is literal. A desire for the Word is not something generated from within by the human heart. Jesus also says, “Without Me you are nothing.” The human heart cannot even desire God without God placing that desire within the sinful heart. Attempts at self-motivation will ultimately fail. Beg God that He might give a desire to know His Word, to love His Word, to not merely see but understand His Word. God will not answer this prayer “no.” (James 1:5)

2. Remember the Cross.
Jesus gave His life so the Bible would give life. Without Jesus Christ, the Bible is worthless. The Son of God “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but…humbled Himself…[to] death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8). The death of God is not something to be trivialized. Without the cross, I go to hell. The Bible is redemption of man from the perspective of God. Despite all man’s failures and hatred of God, God still desired to save some from their sins and, to effect this salvation, died and rose again.

3. Examine Your Heart.
Confession of sins is not discussed in detail very often. But unconfessed sin will deaden the heart faster than anything else. The heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Ask God for new eyes to see sin. Nobody is without sin, and consequently there will always be sin to confess. Man’s evaluation of himself will yield far greater righteousness than God’s evaluation. Sin rarely comes to the believer saying, “Hello. I am sin. Let me in so I can wreck your relationship with God.” Our pride keeps us from acknowledging our dependence upon the Lord for keeping sin from destroying our relationship with Him. So long as I exist, I will have sin to confess

4. Acknowledge Your Own Pride.

God hates pride. He cannot stand to look upon it. It was the sin for which God flung Satan from Heaven, and was the sin which drove Adam from the Garden of Eden. It is no different for the redeemed. At the root of every sin is pride. Man desires to make much of himself. God is a jealous God and will not share His glory. Reading Scripture is acknowledging dependence upon God for life, and to do so with pride is an inherent contradiction.

What We’re Doing Right

It is view weekend here at The Master’s College, and we have over 100 potential students roaming around campus. Every view weekend, I pause to reflect over what I have learned from attending The Master’s College and how God has blessed me over the last two years. When I first visited the college it seemed practically perfect: good doctrine, friendly people, and an unyielding stand on the Word of God. I quickly learned TMC is indeed not perfect. It is an institution which strives to glorify God and pursue Him passionately, but it is composed of fallen people. And 1,000 fallen twenty year olds living in community is going to produce an atmosphere stained with sin. It is easy to lose perspective and forget all the good things about The Master’s College when you are constantly taught how you ought to live and then confronted with the reality that you and everybody around you will never live up to that standard. I want to reflect now upon the life-transforming truths which I have learned from attending TMC.

1. Living as a follower of Christ will cost me everything. How I live cannot be dictated by the expectations of both Christians and non-Christians, but only by Scripture. The Jesus of the Bible who says, “Take up your cross and follow me” is not safe. Contemporary Conservative Christianity is a danger to my soul as it strips the zeal and life and passion out of the life of Christ and His call to live radically. When any words of Scripture no longer impact my soul but rather seem dull and unimportant I have moved my eyes off of Christ. Paul said, “Follow my example as I follow Christ.” This Christ Paul followed was not a safe, tame individual who pulled His punches to keep from offending the crowds, the religious leaders, and even His own disciples whom He loved dearly. Rather love and concern for their souls drove Him to do the will of the Father come hell or high water. Christ knew exactly what His passion for the will of the Father would cost Him. Rip Matthew 23 out of the Bible and Jesus isn’t crucified three days later. But He verbally tore the Pharisees apart for their unbelief and hatred of God knowing He was signing His own death warrant. This is the Jesus I follow.

2. Relationships are not optional. I came to TMC a very judgmental person with a penchant for scratching people’s names out of the Book of Life if they didn’t match up with my own standards. But I am not the judge of my brothers and sisters. I called by God exhort, encourage, and strengthen them. I must see fellow Christians as Christ sees them—people God Himself was willing to be crucified for. Personality differences melt away when faced with the heat of the cross. No amount of awkwardness or pride or cliquish mentality can stand in the way of my love for fellow Christians. Because of my love for God, I love the people who He has redeemed and pour myself into their lives so that we may both grown further in our love for and service to God.

3. Knowledge avails me nothing. During my first class of the semester, the professor walked in the door, set his bag on the table, looked the class in the eye and said, “I do not care what you know about the Bible when you leave this class. You can get an ‘A’ and go to hell. I’m not interested in making smarter sinners in my class. I’m here to help you know God.” Knoweldge does not equate to spiritual growth. Knowledge does not equate to loving God. Knowledge does not equate to eternal life. Knowledge provides an intellectual framework for loving God, but it is not loving God. Loving God is pursuing satisfaction in Him! The Great Commission commands us to “teach them to observe all I have commanded them.” Don’t just teach the truth. Teach them to apply the truth. In order to teach application, I must be already applying the Word to my own life. Scripture is literal. Do exactly what it says.

Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (7)

We come now to the end of my time in Salt Lake City. Hopefully reading my journals has been an encouragement, an exhortation, or an insight into evangelism. I am thankful for everyone who supported me financially and prayerfully so I was able to be a part of this trip. SLC did not serve to radically alter my thinking; it did not set my life on a new course. But it did teach me to be gracious in my presentation of the Gospel. It taught me more of how to serve. It taught me to be thankful for my own salvation.

Friday
Today was hard. I think I’ve started every journal entry with that comment. But I’m beginning to realize that ministry isn’t easy. It is inconvenient. It constantly confronts me about my own imperfections and sinful attitudes. But I wouldn’t trade this week for anything. I requested to go back to Temple Square as opposed to a presentation on LDS ceremonies. Its not that the presentation wouldn’t be profitable, I haven’t even talked to an LDS for three days. That bathroom took forever to fix. The Lord is teaching me what true service is—doing what He wants me to do as opposed to what I want to do for Him. It was a struggle, as I definitely had the attitude of “I drove over seven hundred miles to do this?” No. I drove 700+ miles to serve the Lord. Because I worked 17 hours on the bathroom, others were able to witness to the LDS. I need to learn to joyfully serve regardless of the activity. Thank you Lord for the opportunity to grow.

Rod, Leslie, and I were the only ones who decided to go to Temple Square as opposed to the presentation. We got there, ate lunch, then split up as opposed to working in a threesome. I see why missionaries typically work in pairs. Flying solo is no easy task. I started out by taking another tour of the convention center. I wanted to talk with a tour guide for a long time, and had a good conversation on the tour earlier in the week. I intentionally didn’t go in at the same time as a group of people, so as to not get attached to a large tour. It didn’t matter. I got attached to a tour of six other people and didn’t have a chance to talk to anyone for an hour. Frustrating. Afterward, I talked with the tour guide for a couple of minutes. He just told me to go over to the visitor’s center if I had questions.

I was kind frustrated about the lack of opportunity and tired of approaching people, so I went to the Visitor’s Center. I asked for a copy of their articles of faith, and sat on a couch comparing the articles and the Bible. I knew somebody would approach me, as that is why the volunteers are there. Little did I know what was coming. An elder came up and asked if I had any questions. I said yes, and asked about the ordinance of baptism and the thief on the cross. I like starting out with that because it is easy to question and provides a natural segue into the grace of God. The elder said paradise in that verse is not heaven, but rather Spirit Prison. I commented that it would be funny to call prison a paradise! I asked about works and the free gift grace of God. He answered, and I asked another question. And that is when he went off. Everything was said with a smile, but he was deadly serious,

This is the problem with you people. You come to our property and our temple with closed minds, seeking only to argue and not understand the truth. You are no different than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who saw the Messiah with their own eyes yet rejected Him. You care nothing for the truth, but only for your own arguments and agenda. You carry your Bibles around and do not seek to know. I hate you all being here. You need to get out of our temple, our square, and our property. And everyone else you’re with. You all need to stop coming back here. We know who you are, who you’re with, and you are not welcome. You’re a bunch of Pharisees and arguers who see the real Jesus and care nothing for Him.

I wasn’t escorted out, but rather left on my own free will. I walked down the street into the building next door, and started again. It is difficult. I have no intention of seeming argumentative. But how do I confront people with the Gospel persistently? Getting told to leave doesn’t weaken my resolve to preach the gospel. It was intimidating to talk to him. He was three times my age, and an upstanding member of the church. But I have the truth and he does not. I think I’m beginning to understand what Paul meant when he said we preach an offensive message. The Gospel is good news, but good news which people really don’t want to hear.

Later in the day, I got into a conversation with two foreign sisters in a subfloor of the very same building. We talked for forty-five minutes, and they agreed with almost everything I said. The language barrier of English compounded with the spiritual language barrier and proved almost impossible to overcome. I didn’t know any other way other than to say, “The Bible says you are following a false Messiah, and are going to hell.” It killed me to say that. But I had to. Father forbid me from antagonism, but I must say the truth. If the only way to get the truth across is to come down hard, I’ll do it out of love. It is hard to present the gospel in a loving manner when the very message of the gospel offends every human sensitivity. But I’ve got to try.

Tonight was fun. Stayed up until 3. We’re leaving at 6:30 tomorrow morning, so probably not the best decision, but hey–live a little.  I’m going to miss The Commons, the team, and Utah itself. This time will never be repeated. Great new friends made, great opportunities to witness, great time in the snow. But it will never quite be the same. But this is life, enjoy the present, for the you can’t go back in time. God, bless the conversations we have had over the last week. Don’t let the LDS rest until they repent and turn to you. I firmly believe you can accomplish anything.

 

Rod, Leslie, and I in front of the Temple.

Temple Square Proper

There are 14,000 seats behind these!

Me, Ellen, Molly, Rod, Eric Rebecca

Now, just for fun…

Clowning around with the Cal Baptist guys.

Eric showing off his purse-wearing capabilities.

Rod, as he might have been.

Heather chowing down.

Thanks again for reading. I plan to resume “normal” blogging now that I’m finished with my recollections of Utah.

Utah: Home of the Latter Day Saints (6)

Only two more days of Utah left! It has been a blessing to reflect once again upon the mercies of the Lord specifically expressed through my time in Salt Lake City/Ogden. His mercies truly are new every morning. Every day is a fresh expression of His grace, and in Utah we were specifically dedicating every day to share the gospel of Christ with those who do not know Him. There was one simple chorus which seemed to be the prayer of our team. I heard it independently sung by at least three of us on multiple occasions. It is nothing extravagant, nothing glamorous. Just the prayers of fifteen college students realizing their own inadequacies

Spirit of the Living God, Fall afresh on me

Spirit of the Living God, Fall afresh on me

Melt me, mould me, fill me, use me

Spirit of the Living God, Fall afresh on me.

THURSDAY

This morning started early. We shoved off from The Blue House at 6:15 am in order to lead chapel at Intermountain Christian School. Brought back old memories from my high school days at North County Christian. Only today, I was the one preaching. It was my first time preaching ever…which is ironic given how I feel the Lord moving me to be a pastor. I sat down last night and began to write a sermon out of 1 John 5:20. About 3/4 of the way through, I realized that I wanted to speak on an entirely different subject. Cameron advised me to tear up the old sermon and speak on what I felt I ought to preach on. I was up until 2am writing it, but I’m glad I heeded his advice.

I modified my blog post “The Gravity of the Gospel” and added to it. We don’t seem to talk about the character of Jesus Christ and the incredible love He has for us. I never heard a sermon on that topic in high school chapel, but it is quite foundational to my personal walk with the Lord. I hope the Spirit used my words to be a blessing to someone in the chapel. It was only a 20 minute sermon, but I really enjoyed it. Which is a good thing considering my planned future.

We had originally thought Jr. and Sr. High each had their own chapel services, so Cameron was going to preach to the Jr. High, and me to the Sr. High. Turns out they were combined, and Cameron quickly volunteered me to preach instead of him. What a sacrifice on his part. He was up until 2am writing his sermon as well, but never once complained about not being able to preach. Jennifer and Heather led singing, Cameron and Jennifer shared testimonies, Keenan and Leslie passed out Jesus Christ:Joseph Smith DVDs to the kids. It was truly a group effort.

During the last song, Russ leaned over and whispered intensely, “Nate. Are you wearing bowling shoes?” “No.” “Nate. Give me your shoe.” Russ took my shoe up on stage, and said it was a bowling shoe, then passed it around the room to determine if it was or not. The whole time I was preaching (from my socks) I watched my shoe travel around the room from person to person. Good ole’ Russ. After chapel, we all answered questions about college asked by a senior Bible class. They all should come to Masters.

I came back to the Blue House to finish up the bathroom with Cameron. The toilet is leaking again. Putting this bathroom back together is proving to be a greater difficulty than it ought to be. We have an expert coming in, so hopefully he will be able to undue the damage we have done. As I type this, Rod is attempting to psychoanalyze all of us in The Commons. He’s…not doing so well. But, boredom will never reign supreme on our team!

Running around with some elementary school kids at ICS

The Cal Baptist team arrived today. This is “Johnny Mac.”

More Cal Baptist friends!

Rebecca packing Joseph Smith:Jesus Christ DVDs. We packed over 3,000 all total.