A sample from my two favorite Christmas presents, If by Amy Carmichael and a Canon digital camera:
IF the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me;
if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself;
if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.
If you haven’t read Carmichael’s book, you really ought to. It’s only $5 through christianbook.com, and is one of those refreshingly painful books to read.
Go. Go and take what you learned this semester and display what God has wrought in your life throughout the last three months. You’ve received some of the finest Bible teaching in the world. You’ve had a community of people who love you, hold you accountable, challenge you, confront you. You’ve been forced to attend chapel three times a week, church two. Its easy to overestimate your maturity when you’re forced to act mature. Its easy to make good-looking decisions when you only have to choose between what’s better and best.
But now, now there is no roomate to ask you how you’re doing. No RA or RD to make you go to church. No five sermons a week. The names Halstead, Behle, Varner, and Thorsell don’t mean anything out there. People don’t care about your theology professor. Its easy to toss around the TMC buzz words. We all know them: “biblical community” “pursuant love” “the Gospel” “the sovereignty of God” “conversational ministry” “high view of God.” Toss enough of them out in conversation at TMC, and people are bound to think you’re doing okay. But now people don’t care about fancy terms. They care about who you are. Was it worth $15,000?
Breaks are the proving ground. Do I go to Bible Study because I’m in love with the Lord or because I want to be around that girl who sits three seats down from me in Theology and is really attractive and must be godly too if she’s that pretty. Am I involved in outreach because I like being around that guy on my wing who is so godly that I want to soak up every word he speaks? Or do I evangelize because the world is dying all around me and going to hell ?
I’ve read Edwards’ 70 Resolutions. I’ve spent an afternoon in Rick Holland’s living room. I’ve been an RA for a semester. And none of it matters if I’m not the same person I am once I leave The Master’s College. A man who is faithful is a man whose life screams “Jesus is Lord.” He’s the same in the classroom as he is in the dorm as he is in the church as he is on the field, as he is watching movies, as he is talking with his brother. If there’s any difference, get on your knees and beg God for the grace to change.
Take every single reason you enjoy living at The Master’s College and bring it back to your church. You’ve had more Bible instruction than most the people warming the pews. Will you change the world? No. But rest assured God will use you, either as an example of grace or an example of His wrath on those who defame His name.
There’s no such thing as a break. Satan is always on the prowl, always seeking for someone to devour. We all know someone whose been eaten, who dropped the shield of faith and took an arrow to the heart. We cried, we prayed for their restoration, we prayed for grace for the faithful. Don’t be the cause of someone else’s tears.
God will be faithful to preserve His saints. Christ has washed us clean, the Spirit has sealed us. Forgiveness is permanent. Take these truths and trust them enough to use this break for radical ministry. The first step to not wasting your life is not wasting your break. God didn’t give you four weeks off from school so you could watch YouTube. May the death of God Incarnate loom as a shadow over your Christmas. Rejoice in the glory of forgiveness, and may the cost of salvation stir you to action.
Its Thursday morning of finals week, and I only have one paper left to go. Over the last two weeks, I’ve written 70 pages for papers and read or researched upwards of 1,000 pages. God has been gracious, ordering my thoughts and making my study time very profitable. It is hard to complain when God’s grace is so readily apparent.
The discussion in Pastoral Ministries class turned to books a few days ago. Rick Holland said, “You become what you read.” The point being, be careful what books you immerse yourself in, for they will affect you more than you think. I came upon this little list of nine questions about a year ago, and I’ve found it helpful to periodically answer them. This helps me remember content of books I’ve read, and refreshes my desire to read. For last year’s list, click here.
One book that changed your life: Humility(C.J. Mahaney)
One book that you’ve read more than once: Chosen by God (RC Sproul)
One book you’d want on a desert island: The Swiss Family Robinson (Johann Wyss)
One book that made you laugh: All Creatures Great and Small (James Herriot)
One book that made you cry: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (Foxe)
One book you wish had been written: Art, Beauty, and the Reformed Mind (Dr. Greg Behle)
One book you wish had never been written: The Book of Mormon
One book you’re currently reading: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
One book you’ve been meaning to read: The Reformed Pastor (Richard Baxter) and Desiring God (John Piper)
How do you outrage a society–or a person–that has grown numb from having outrage piped into the home every day?