Preaching with a Tender Fierceness

This morning, John Piper posted a short blog on what preachers should aspire for.  I think it’s extremely valuable:

Especially on Sundays, preaching is paramount in a pastor’s life. When we prepare to preach, we remember that our words should fall “as gentle rain upon the tender grass” and “like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.” Such speaking is not simple. Pray for us.

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distil as the dew,
as the gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and as the showers upon the herb.
For I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Ascribe greatness to our God! (Deuteronomy 32:1-3)

Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD,
and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? (Jeremiah 23:29)


The Joys of Ministering to International Students

Tonight, I was at an international grad student Bible study, filling in for a Crusade staff member who is at a conference.  Toward the end of the evening, I started to instruct the students how they would go through follow up lessons with a new believer.  I prefaced it with, “We’ll go through this pretty quickly, since you three already know Jesus.”  Then, Soo (pronounced “Sue”), who is from China, said, “Uh, I am not Christian.”  I looked at him and said, “Oh, then this will be really good for you!”  I couldn’t tell because his answers to the questions were very “Christian.”  What he said next was shocking and exciting wrapped up in one: “I am trying to become Christian.”

I couldn’t help but smile when I heard this.  At that moment I prayed, “Lord, make him a Christian…and soon!”  I know that God is sovereign and he calls and chooses those who will come to him.  That is first and foremost.  But I also understand that we have a responsibility to place our trust in Jesus.  The Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13).  I fully believe that.  Right now, Soo is wrestling with the truth of the Bible, the claims of Jesus, and the promises God makes in Scripture.  His childlike heart is utterly refreshing to me.  It gives me so much joy because I don’t know if I would have ever heard an American say anything close to that.

There is no doubt in my mind that Soo will soon place his dependency on Jesus and turn from darkness to light, from death to life, and experience the power and joy that comes with knowing Jesus as Lord, Savior, and Treasure.


Big Red Welcome to Freshmen

The Sunday before school starts is always a night full of energy, excitement, fun, and, of course, food.

Today is the Big Red Welcome street fair on campus. Almost 5,000 freshmen are going to start the first day of their college careers tomorrow. Tonight, Campus Crusade, along with hundreds of other student organizations are vying for their attention, allegiance, and phone numbers.

What’s our goal in getting information from students? Simply, we want to connect with them on a deeply personal level. We want them to know they are loved and cared for. We want them to know they are somebody–that they matter to us.

And to God.

Freshmen can be so funny. Parents follow them everywhere. They are embarrassed, yet at the same time they don’t want the parents to leave at the end of the weekend. A familiar passage comes to mind when I think of freshmen coming to town.

In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Now, what in the world does that have to do with 18 year-old students? It might seem strange that this verse came to mind. But, it has so much to do with them! They are so young, impressionable, and ignorant to the world around them. Most of these students have lived a sheltered, suburban or farm-town lifestyle. They haven’t experience true independence, just like a little child. Furthermore, freshmen can be considered less-thans or non-importants. Not to us and not to God, either.

Jesus says, “Bring to me the ones who are the less-thans, the young ones who no one else will care for and I’ll take care of them.” We want these freshmen to experience true, life-changing community. We want these freshmen to see, meet, experience, and delight in Christ more than anything.

Let them come to us tonight and Lord willing, may we lead them to the fountain where they can drink and never thirst again.


Evangelism: Tell of All God’s Works

Psalm 73:28 (ESV):

But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

For the Psalmist, he made God is treasure for one reason: to tell other people. He sat at the Lord’s feet, learned from him, was reproved by him, was fed and clothed by him so he could tell of God’s mighty works. The point was not so that he could gather up God’s love for himself and keep it in. In Luke 11:33-36, Jesus said that no one lights a lamp for it to be hidden. Rather, it is to be displayed for all to see.

We must be a city on a hill, burning bright for everyone to see from miles away so Christ’s cross would be magnified. We must be lights in a dark place so that God would be seen as the all-satisfying, all-sufficient, priceless treasure that he is. When Christ is our treasure, we share him with others. Our desire and motivation for evangelism is weak, useless, and dead when Christ is not our treasure. But when we, like the Psalmist, can proclaim, “Whom have I in heaven but you? Who do I desire on earth besides you, Jesus?” then we will relentlessly pursue relationships with others in order to tell of all God’s works. Only then will we be dedicated to live humbly, poorly, dangerously, and recklessly for Christ. Only then will we live radical, Jesus-centered lives where we are able to, like Paul, say, “I would rather be accursed so that you could drink deep of God’s goodness and grace.” With Paul, we would say, “I would be beaten, lashed, stoned, and shipwrecked if I could just see joy in your heart in Jesus.”

O, that Christ would be my treasure! That he would be my satisfaction and my utterly complete joy. O, that Christ would be my only possession in heaven and my only desire on earth. May his cross be my ground for all hope, glory, boasting, rejoicing, treasure, and desire for evangelism.