Our God is an Awesome God

“When I survey the wondrous cross,

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did ever such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

(When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Isaac Watts)

It is the most stressful time of the year! That is what the college kids are singing. We’re on the home stretch, almost done with the semester. Though I must keep up on my studies and focus on school, it never gives me the excuse to forget about my time with the Lord. It is so easy for us humans to forget the one and only who can protect us from what life throws at us. That is why we must fight and continue facing the battle of sin every day. One of the many quotes I will never forget, “The battle is within, daily I must fight. Death comes from sin killed only by Christ’s might…Every day that you wake up, you’re in a battle. You take sin and you put it to death” (Mark Vroegop).

School and personal issues in my life tend to fill up my day pretty quickly. It causes me to become self-absorbed and self-centered that I tend to forget to look for help from the Lord. But here is what I love most about going to a Christian university. It reminds me every day that I am a sinner, but a child of God. My friends, professors, and teammates redirect me from my sinful nature to God’s will and His plan for me. Without God I am nothing. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made,” (John 1:3, NIV). If we believe that we can do anything without our Father, then we are just fooling ourselves. For Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NIV). 

If you struggle with self-absorption, I want you to take a moment and look at the night sky or stare at the endless view of the ocean. Our world is vastly large. And in this world, you are only a speck of dust. You are one in seven billion. In case you didn’t know, that is an extremely small fraction. It doesn’t matter how powerful or famous you are. You are just one human being in this entire universe. But you know what the crazy thing is? Even though there are only a few that know you, God can spot you out. He knows everything about you, more than you will ever know. He created you and gave you the unique characteristics that only you have. And though you are a sinner just like everyone else, He still calls you His own. That is the greatest love story ever told. Fellow readers, this is true love.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment because in this world we are like him…We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:9-10, 16b, 19, NIV).

I encourage and challenge you to anyone reading this to make a daily personal time to God to help us to focus on what we are called to do. Let us also show God’s love to others so we can remind others of His love for us as well and for to show His love to ones who do not yet know His love. Let us try to do our best and kill the sin that comes at us each day.

 

When it Rains, it Pours…

Sometimes, things just don’t seem to go right.

This week has been one for the books. Between failed experiments in lab, questioning friendships, midterms, and a host of other things, life has been one heck of a storm. Honestly, it feels like nothing has gone right in a long time. My plans failed and my schedule was completely trashed aside from my classes. And all of this leaves me with one question…

What is going on?

When one unexpected thing comes after another, it can feel like there’s no use in trying to make more plans or make adjustments to fix the current situation. But. I think there might be some beauty in this realization. How often are we apt to take on more commitments than we can handle? To say yes to more than we realize? To load up our calendar with an impressive list of interests, activities, and one-on-one time with friends? The answer for me would have to be, “far too often.”

Now the question we have left with is, “What do I do now?”

The first and most cliché answer I can give you is to lay your worries at the feet of the Lord. In the Gospel of Matthew we find a very direct question to ask ourselves, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” While there is scientific evidence that could suggest that letting the overwhelming events and concerns of life is not adding time to your life, I think there is something else to consider. At what point in time has worry added to the minutes of enjoyable life you have had the opportunity to experience? Here, I’ll give you a hint.

It hasn’t.

While it is important to not worry, there is a difference between worry and concern. As I advise you not to be filled with worry, I also want to say to you that having zero concern is just as dangerous. If you have exams, study for them. If your friends need you, talk to them. If you have something going on in your family, love them and offer support, but know that everything in this world is working together for good and not for evil. Remember, also, that if things go wrong, it isn’t the end of it all (and for those of you staring Spring Break in anxious anticipation, don’t let anything that may happen this week get in the way of enjoying your break).

God is holding all things together and working to magnify Himself. He is working for your good and His glory, and if He loves you so dearly that He would be willing to lay down the life of His only son, what, do you think, would ever be able to get in the way of that? I’ll give you another hint.

Nothing.

So go on this week knowing that God is behind every step you take, mistake or otherwise, to remind you of His sovereign and steady hands.

Fresh Encouragement for a New Start

Opportunity can be Overwhelming…

It’s the start of a new semester and we’re starting our second full week back from break. We’ve started new classes in new schedule with some new friends, and for some of us we started life in a new room. After three weeks of rest I would argue that there is something refreshing about coming back to campus to meet up with friends and prepare for a new set of challenges. Unfortunately, though, these new opportunities don’t come without cost. Some of us are staring at the hardest semester of our college career right in the eyes, some of us will be filled with new anxieties, others will fight to maintain academic performance, fail to balance social and school life, and some will just struggle.

I know some of you reading this are trying to understand what my point is or why I would bother to dig any of that up. The truth is, at first, I had no idea why I did either. In the end, that might just be the point. With so much “new” being thrown on our plate we can get lost and overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all. It’s so easy to worry. While I hate to be the bearer of cliché suggestions, when these challenges come your way, the best place to turn to is God.

When you’re anxious: Psalm 43:5, Matthew 6:34, Philippians 4:6-7

When it feels like what you’re doing isn’t good enough: 2 Corinthians 12:9, Romans 8:39, Psalm 138:8

And, of course, never be afraid to go to your friends, or even your professors, when you just need a friend, because “…if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12).

Whether it’s just another semester or the final semester leading up to the rest of your life, we’re all experiencing some kind of change approaching at breakneck speed. And if it gets to be too much, never be hesitant to ask for prayer.

Many blessings to you all as we start another semester!!

Photo taken and edited by Zach Bevins