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.


Courage and the Gospel

Acts 23:11 says,

The following night the Lord stood by him [Paul] and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

As I was reflecting on this passage in prayer and even now, I notice a few things about this statement that God spoke to Paul after he appeared before the Jerusalem Council.

1) Take courage. God told Paul not to be afraid. That’s fairly explicit in the verse. The reason Paul can write, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16) is because the Lord Jesus himself appeared to him and said, “Take courage”. Also, Paul could say to Timothy, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7) because Jesus said to him, “Take courage”.

2) You have testified to the facts about me. Paul did not believe in some random set of mystical opinions about Jesus. These were cold, hard facts. The reason Paul could write, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:16-17, 19). Paul was so confident in the resurrection of Jesus that he risked being wrong and pitied by men. Because of the facts, however, Paul can say, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Cor. 15:21).

3) You must testify also in Rome. Paul wasn’t just commanded to go to Jerusalem, he was called to Rome–the New Yorks, the Tokyos, the L.A.s, the Londons of the world. Rome was the center of religion, government, trade, and social interaction. Because the Lord said, “Take courage” and because Paul knew facts about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, Paul could go to Rome.

As I begin to apply this to my own life, I think of times I lack courage. I think of situations when I don’t know the facts about Jesus. I think of chances I’ve had to “go to Rome” for Jesus and didn’t do it. May we be encouraged that Jesus gives us courage, shows us the facts, and leads us to where he wants us to be.

“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things” (Rom. 10:15). Is there any greater duty to be done for the kingdom? How beautiful it is. We must share the gospel. Without it, there is no forgiveness, no redemption, no salvation, no everlasting life. If God is truly for us, how can the world be against us? He gives us comfort in the face of affliction. His yoke is easy and burden is light when sufferings bear us down.

Take courage. Go share the gospel with the world.


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.