God Saves Both Irreligious and Religious

Posted on October 16th, 2008 by Tyler.
Categories: Christian Life.

“Most people in our culture believe that, if there is a God, we can relate to him and go to heaven through leading a good life. Let’s call this the “moral improvement” view. Christianity teaches the very opposite. In the Christian understanding, Jesus does not tell us how to live so we can merit salvation. Rather, he comes to forgive and save us through his life and death in our place. God’s grace does not come to people who morally outperform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a Savior.” – Tim Keller (The Reason for God)

I would submit that there are three types of people in your fraternity or sorority: religious, irreligious, and gospel-centered Christians.

THE IRRELIGIOUS

Whether these people claim to believe in God or not, they live how they want to live. They are on the throne of their life. External sins are easier to spot in this crowd – getting drunk, sex with whomever, stealing, verbally or physically abusing someone, etc. Everyone will practice external sins to varying degrees – so don’t think that someone who “isn’t that bad” is not irreligious. They key here is that they are on the throne of their life and that they don’t see a need for a Savior.

THE RELIGIOUS

These people claim to believe in God and practice regularly in a religious denomination – trying hard to devote themselves to the teachings of that religion. Their sins are not as easy to spot as the irreligious because they are mostly internal – greed, selfishness, envy, judgment, jealousy, and most of all – pride. These people are climbing up the ladder of morality trying to become better people. Yet, at the same time, they have a sense of pride that they are much further along than everyone else. This leads to judging others who aren’t as religious as them. They think that if they keep up their performance, then they will have a better chance of being accepted by God. Rarely does a religious person see sin in his life, and if he does, he tries to hide it.

GOSPEL-CENTERED CHRISTIANS

These people recognize that they are deeply flawed and broken. They realize that the gospel says that we are all sinful and in need of a Savior – which means that the irreligious and the religious are all in the same boat. No one is better than the other. Instead of spending their time rebelling and doing whatever they want (like the irreligious) or trying to earn God’s favor and judging the people who aren’t like them (like the religious) – they are confessing their brokenness daily and asking God to save them and restore them.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

If you are living irreligiously, it is not too late to ask God to forgive your sins and to put Himself on the throne of your life. 1 John 1:9 says that He is faithful to forgive you if you simply ask in humility.

If you are living religiously, you need to realize that you are way more sinful than you think and that all of your efforts to earn God’s approval are useless. Ask God to give you a bigger awareness of your sin so that you can have a greater awareness of God’s mercy through Jesus’ death and resurrection. And as you experience this great mercy, you’ll be able to extend it to your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters instead of pride or judgment.

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A Freedom That Leads To Slavery

Posted on March 19th, 2008 by Tyler.
Categories: Personal Growth.

Tyler Zach

Is it possible for a free person to be a slave?

Is it a paradox that a person growing in earthly freedom can actually become less free?

Rob Bell, in his newest book, Sex God, says something quite interesting:

“Often freedom is seen as the ability to do whatever you want. But freedom isn’t being able to have whatever we crave. Freedom is going without whatever we crave and being fine with it.”

Let’s look at a drinking scenario since it is a rather common occurrence in fraternities and sororities.

Many Greeks have the potential to become pendulum swingers when it comes to personality and attitude. During the big parties, these students are energized, happy, humorous, and seem to enjoy life to the fullest. But during the school week comes complaining, bitterness, and depression. Thus, the weekly Wasted Wednesday becomes an oasis opportunity for these guys and girls to drink and be satisfied with life again.

As these students choose the freedom to drink in increasing measure and start to rely on these “party nights”, they slip more and more out of freedom.

We often become dependent on what we are free to do. Therefore we become un-free.

Guys who choose to look at pornography because they are free to do so, become addicted and then become slaves to pornography. Girls who choose to date one guy after another because they are free to do so, become addicted to dating and then become slaves to dating.

Whatever you are choosing to do that you have become a slave to, as trivial as it may seem, still affects your daily attitude. A guy who doesn’t get his daily or weekly dose of pornography will simply act different than a guy who isn’t dependent on pornography. A girl who can’t go without having a boyfriend will act different than a girl who can be without a boyfriend for a period of time.

So, how can we be really free?

The bible makes it clear that we are born as broken people. We are slaves to doing the things that bring chaos instead of order. We’d rather be addicted to things that benefit ourselves rather than benefit others. We are slaves of wrongdoing.

Jesus, however, offers us an alternative – being slaves or right doing. Can you imagine being the type of person who can’t help but do the right thing in every situation?

This is true freedom: Not being addicted to any wrongdoing.

However, simply abstaining from wrong things will not lead to satisfaction. A lot of Christians are really good at following the rules and abstaining from the wrong things. But there is no joy and not satisfaction in their life. That is why they secretly envy their fraternity brothers or sorority sisters who are living it up, partying, and enjoying life to the fullest. This type of envy makes it easy for them to condemn the wrong doers because they wish they could be having “fun” too!

No, true freedom means replacing the addiction of wrong things with the addiction of right things. True freedom means leaving behind the story of your life for a better story.

By receiving Jesus into your life and submitting to his way of life, you will eventually become more and more addicted to him and a life of right doing. You will find yourself desiring to go down and serve Hurricane Katrina victims rather than going on a party trip to Mexico. You will find yourself serving your housemates by doing extra chores rather than locking yourself in your room to look at pornography. You will find yourself hanging out with and mentoring younger brothers and sisters in the House instead of spending an hour on the phone each night with your boyfriend or girlfriend – who you will eventually break up with.

Being a slave to right doing is the only kind of addiction you want to have in your life. And this change of desire can only come through Jesus.

He died and was resurrected so that we could die to a life of wrongdoing and be resurrected into a life of right doing.

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Away With Praise And Worship

Posted on February 28th, 2008 by Tyler.
Categories: Christian Life.

God sometimes gets tired of praise and worship. It’s true.

Check out these words (from God to His people) in the book of Amos:

“Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

The original Greek word for “justice” is “Mishpat” which translates into: justice, right, rectitude. Rectitude means “the quality or state of being straight”.

In a sense, God isn’t saying that He is against praise and worship sessions at church or on campus. He is, however, saying that praise and worship doesn’t mean much if we aren’t about what He’s about.

He’s about justice. He’s about straightening things out. Making things as they ought to be.

There are huge injustices going on in the fraternity and sorority world. In other words, things are out of order and in chaos. Some fraternity men are raping sorority girls. Drunkenness is abundant. Girls are gossiping about each other. Hazing is still very common. Leaders are criticized and mocked. There is disunity among different chapters. Some students have to drop their fraternal experience altogether because they are too poor to go on paying dues and no one is there to help them out. Other students are getting expelled because of bad grades and none of the academically gifted in the chapter are offering to tutor them. There is stealing, lying, and host of other things that finally need to be confronted instead of avoided.

Things need to be made straight.

So, let’s continue to go to our campus meetings and church services praising and worshiping. But, let’s do so while upholding the justice and righteousness of God in our fraternities and sororities. Let’s bring the Kingdom into our Houses, so that peace and order will be displayed “as it is in heaven”.

Justice is just as spiritual as singing.

Perhaps if justice comes in greater measure, we will sing more. Perhaps we will sing louder.

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New Resource: Jesus Without Religion

Posted on November 27th, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Knowing God.

Jesus Without Religion

Great. Another book about Jesus. Whose agenda will the author be lugging along this time?

Author Rick James begins by clearing his throat. Free of creeds, quarrels and specialized theologies, he speaks of Jesus.

No dogma, no politics, no moral at the end.

Jesus. What he said. What he did. And what, exactly, was the point.

The answers about Jesus, according to Rick James, are in the context. In his own unconventional way, James recalls the specific contexts that color Jesus’ story, bringing forward this man you’ve heard so much–and so little–about.

Buy The Book

:: Amazon Review ::
“This book is an introduction to Jesus, to the real Jesus, the one you meet in the pages of the Bible. It isn’t about the latest alleged discovery. It isn’t yet another expose on who Jesus really was. It is a clear, readable presentation of what the Bible says about Jesus, and an observation that the story we find there is actually pretty persuasive. There is no denying the impact Jesus has had on the world. Who hasn’t heard his name? Who doesn’t at least have some idea that he was some great religious teacher who lived long ago? Get rid of the vague notions you have about Jesus and get introduced to the Jesus of the Bible. If you haven’t met the real Jesus, or if you aren’t sure that you have, then this book is for you.” – Kevin

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Giving Blood: The Story Behind The Story

Posted on October 25th, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Knowing God.

Tyler Zach

I sat in the big blue reclining chair today waiting to be pierced. Every eight weeks I get a polite call from an American Red Cross saying that they are in great need of my blood. As I sit back, I think about why I am waiting to be poked with a needle in the first place. What is the reason for all of this?

It’s true that if there were no accidents, there would be no American Red Cross. Without sick or dying people, giving blood would not be necessary. Accidents cause problems. Problems require solutions – giving blood. Without the problem, no solution is needed.

Jesus, at one time, was not very necessary for me. People told me that he was the solution to my problems but I didn’t see a problem in the first place. I thought of Jesus as a really nice guy who came to teach us how to live good moral lives. That’s the extent of why I thought Jesus came down to earth. So, when I heard about Jesus dying on the cross and spilling his blood for me, it didn’t make sense. I didn’t see a problem in my life for such a solution to exist.

In order for Jesus to become relevant to us, we have to realize that we are sick and dying right here right now. Though we like to think that we aren’t sick and dying, we talk about our brokenness everyday. However, we usually like to talk about others’ problems – conveniently looking beyond our own.

Hospitals contain many unique and wonderful people, who were going about their lives as usual until they got hit by a car, struck with cancer, or some other tragedy. However, in the case of our spirituality, our sick and dying state in not an accident. Though we were created uniquely and significantly in the eyes of God, by our own free will we stepped out of the yard and wandered into the street. We caused our own accident.

Now we sit in pain as the doctors desperately try to put us back together again. The only hope that we have of surviving is someone else’s blood. Without the blood, our efforts as well as the doctors don’t matter.

In a physical accident, the blood that I’m giving today may save someone’s physical life. But in the spiritual context, only the blood shed by Jesus will save someone’s spiritual life. What you or I could not do, he’s done.

“He lived the life we should have lived and he died the death we should have died,” pastor Mark Driscoll explains.

That’s the story behind my story today.

Every time I sit in that big blue chair, I think not of the blood I’m giving, but the blood I’ve been given by him.

“But [Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

Tyler Zach is an alum of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Nebraska-Omaha – where he earned a degree in Management Information Systems. Tyler is currently on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, working with Greeks in Omaha, NE.

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7 Questions To Rock Your World :: Part II

Posted on September 24th, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Personal Growth.

Steve Shadrach

(see Part I for questions 1-3)

4. Are you relying on your strength or God’s?

When I travel overseas, the moment I step off the plane, I’m in charge. Why do I get to be the “instant leader”? Because I’m an American. Don’t laugh, there’s more. Not only am I an American, but I’m an educated American. On top of that, I’m a sharp, educated American! Do you think the locals there pick up on my blatant arrogance and egotism? It’s literally dripping from me! Before you condemn me, though, take a look at your own heart. It is so hard for us to truly believe it when Jesus says in John 15:5b, “Apart from Me . . . you can do nothing.”

“Nothing at all, Lord?” That’s right. Zero. The big goose egg. To be honest, sometimes I deceive myself into thinking that somehow, someway I’m clever enough to accomplish something in this world – on my own – apart from Christ. Moses forsook this kind of foolishness in Exodus 33:15 when he demonstrated the principle of relying on God’s strength, not his own, praying, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” There’s something greater than ourselves, even greater than our country. It’s God. Rely on Him – and Him alone.

Bottom Line: Lose the Arrogance and Abide in Christ

5. What price will you pay for integrity?

The Josephson Institute of Ethics’ most recent survey claims that 74 percent of students cheated on an exam this year. 38 percent have stolen something from a store in the last 12 months and 93 percent have lied to their parents. If these figures are correct, we’re in the middle of a spiritual epidemic. It’s easy to go with the flow, allowing the immoral stream of your campus to carry you along, but the tougher choice is to say, “Enough is enough” and swim against the tide. You may lose a friend or two, but you’ll like yourself better and certainly sleep sounder at night!

Acts 24:16 notes Paul’s policy in such matters: “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” Whether it’s test taking, tax returns or net surfing, who you are in private is who you are. According to my pastor, one of the keys to keep a clean life is to allow the Scriptures to “wound” you on a daily basis, referring to Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Verse 13 then gives the rationale for why we ought to simply surrender and allow the Word to pierce us to the core: “All things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” God sees all and knows all and like a spiritual surgeon, He’ll cut away everything that isn’t Christlike in our life – if we truly want Him to.

Bottom Line: Use the Word to Build Deep Convictions

6. Do you really love others?

Anna had been happily dating Chad for almost six months before the bomb hit. She found out he’d secretly started seeing Christy, one of her sorority sisters who had been e-mailing him notes and pictures of herself. It hurt Anna badly to see her relationship with Chad vanish as he and Christy became inseparable, spending every weekend together. In her quiet time one morning, Anna came across Ephesians 4:31 telling her to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger” followed by verse 32 exhorting her to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” At that moment, she knew exactly what the Lord was telling her to do: Release the anger and bitterness she held toward Chad and her friend Christy.

As the tears flowed, Anna felt the shackles fall off and the cleansing of Christ’s forgiveness wash over her. With a new freedom and perspective, she set out to show kindness and compassion, especially to Christy, whom she was pretty sure was not a Christian. A few weeks later, a devastated Christy came to Anna’s room after Chad had used her and moved on too. Christy was different though, now asking for forgiveness and seeking solutions for her shattered life. Late that night, because of the unconditional love she felt from Anna, Christy bowed her head and invited Christ to come into her heart as Savior and Lord. Now they became best friends, spiritually growing by leaps and bounds together. These two girls experienced the supernatural love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, in the face of a cruel and undeserved betrayal, and their lives would never be the same.

Bottom Line: The Love of Christ Changes Everything

7. What legacy will you leave in life?

From 1989 to 1998 Prairie View A & M University obtained the not-so-distinguished honor of being the worst college football team of all time. They may forever own this legacy, because during this 10-year period, they lost 80 straight games. In 1991 they scored only 48 points the whole season, while their opponents racked up an average of 56 points per game. If you’re a college student, you have the opportunity once you graduate to leave something behind that’s more than just a win-loss record, a 4.0 GPA or an impressive resume stashed in some school file.

Life is all about relationships and touching people for Christ. Some of the very last marching orders Jesus gave us were to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). A woman once came up to Billy Graham, complaining to him about Dawson Trotman (the founder of The Navigators, a college ministry across the world) and spouting, “That Dawson Trotman, all he can talk about is making disciples, making disciples. He has a one track mind.” Graham paused, looked at her wistfully and whispered, “Madam, I wish I could get on that same track!” Jesus Christ, along with Trotman and Graham’s words can motivate a new generation of students to take seriously this Great Commission and leave behind a legacy that will live on. Multiply your life by finding someone who can help you help others and then – get started!

Bottom Line: Become a Disciple and Make Disciples

Epilogue: I recently had the privilege of traveling to the small Massachusetts town where the famous 19th-century American evangelist D.L. Moody was born, as well as buried. Standing there by his grave, I realized that here was a man greatly used of God around the world and yet was uneducated and with speaking disabilities. Where did this former shoe salesman, who became one of the most spiritually powerful men on the planet, gain this depth of life and purpose? The secret might be revealed in a statement he would often make, “The world has yet to see what God can do through a man who is totally yielded to Him. I want to be that man.” Moody sought the source of real power. Do you?

Bottom Line: Power Comes from God

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Connections Between God and Greek Life

Posted on August 27th, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Christian Life, Knowing God.

Tyler Zach

Is your understanding of who God is… fuzzy? Are you investigating faith but finding out that church talk is just too complicated for you to make sense of it all?

Perhaps you are already a Christian who is just struggling to clearly explain spiritual truths to your brothers and sisters.

Greek Things is a new fraternity and sorority resource that takes you on a reflective journey to help you make sense of God and Greek Life.

Are there really connections between our everyday Greek experiences and spiritual realities?

Go READ IT ONLINE now to find out!

Then discuss it on the Greek Things Facebook Group.

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7 Questions To Rock Your World :: Part I

Posted on May 10th, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Personal Growth.

Steve Shadrach

Who is the most spiritually powerful person you know? I’m not necessarily talking about someone who has a position of authority in a ministry or even the person who has a ton of Bible knowledge. I’m talking about someone who has such a deep and authentic devotion to the person and purposes of Jesus Christ that everything he does, everything he says, exudes a profound spiritual authority. Like Jesus, he is full of grace and truth.

In contrast, the world is seeking a different kind of dominance, evidenced by a popular magazine that rates the top 100 most powerful celebrities on the planet based upon their wealth, how many magazine covers they’re on — even the number of Web searches for their name. It seems that a multitude of actors, athletes and business tycoons are stepping all over each other to get to the top of that heap.

How about you? What kind of power are you seeking? After all, true power doesn’t come from fame and fortune, but from God Himself. Psalm 62:11 says, “Once God has spoken; twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.” If it’s true that God is the only One that possesses real power, then we had better plug into His power source. The secret for obtaining this spiritual authority is as simple as “turning our eyes upon Jesus, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim,” but to give you some handles to hang onto, I’ve crafted seven questions that I pray God will use to rock your world!

1. How do you view yourself?

One proud father was quoted as saying, “My son will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity. He’s more charismatic, more educated, more prepared than anyone. He’s the bridge between the East and West. There is no limit because he has the guidance. He is the chosen one. He’ll have the power to impact nations, not people, but nations. The world is just getting a taste of his power.” The father? Earl Woods. The son’s name? Tiger.

As much as I certainly appreciate the way Tiger can hit the little white ball, I think dear ol’ dad went a tad overboard. My hope is that the son doesn’t hold the same inflated opinion of himself his father does. Most of us don’t have the problem of thinking too highly of ourselves, but rather too lowly. Struggling, wretched sinners are what many of us see in the mirror each morning. Which we are — but that’s not all we are. The key is not to view ourselves too highly or too lowly, but to see ourselves the way God does. Check out Ephesians 1:3-8 and discover that as a child of God you stand holy and blameless before your heavenly Father. So get up, dust yourself off, lift your hands to heaven and praise God that you are a “chosen one.”

Bottom Line: Develop a Biblical Self-Esteem

2. What place does the cross have in your life?

Is it a Bible story you’ve heard so many times it’s gotten old? Is it a hymn you’ve sung so often the words have become meaningless? Shake the cobwebs out of your brain for a moment and transport yourself back to the scene of the crime and stand (no, kneel) at the foot of the cross. In the midst of the crowd’s cursing and crying, try to focus on the silent One in the middle, looking up into His eyes, full of pain, yes, but also love. Don’t speak, just feel. Feel the cold, hard stakes driven through His wrists and feet and the blood flowing down. Feel the agony of being separated from His heavenly Father as He absorbs your sin into His very body.

Now, with your eyes riveted on His, pray this version of Galatians 2:20 back to Him, “Lord Jesus, I am being crucified with You; it is no longer I who live, but You who lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in You, who loves me and gives Yourself for me.” You and I deserved to be on the cross that day – instead of Him. The only logical response to this ultimate act of mercy is for us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him. The cross: what place does it have in your life?

Bottom Line: Say No to Yourself, Say Yes to Him

3. What do you count as significant?

Jack Welch, former president of General Electric Corporation and his wife, Jane, are divorcing. In splitting up the assets, they each submitted a budget that listed what they believed were the absolute bare essentials to sustain the lifestyle they’ve acquired. A sampling of Jane’s monthly “needs” includes: $7,500 for clothes, $2,500 for cell phones, $2,500 for dining out, $20,000 for travel, $1,000 for movies and opera, $10,360 for jewelry and $8,260 for wine.

I’m sure Jack’s budget is just as ridiculous, but who is she kidding? We shouldn’t scold her too much because most Americans, like Jane, don’t know the difference between their wants and needs. In fact, you can perform an easy test on yourself to determine what you count as significant. Step one: Keep a detailed log this week on how you spend your time. Step two: Look at your checkbook and credit-card statements over the last three months. Step three: Prioritize these activities and items according to the most time and money spent down to the least. After finishing, you will be staring down at a piece of paper that reveals what you believe is important.

Bottom Line: Invest Yourself in the Eternal More than the Temporal

Stay tuned to find out what the last four questions are!

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Falsely Active, But We Got Name Tags!

Posted on April 23rd, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Knowing God.

Tyler Zach

Being in a fraternity for over three years, I saw a lot of members come and go. As I stood behind an executive board table and looked out into the crowd, I saw mostly freshmen and sophomores. Most of us have learned that a lot of fraternity and sorority members trickle out when they get into their later college years.

I stop and think about the most active members – who they were and what they did. Many years after college has passed, I’m sure that they will tell stories of how they led a community service project or organized a dance or raised money for charity or was the President for a year. They will look back on their experiences and the time they invested into the fraternity and be satisfied.

However, my opinion is that this scenario won’t look too different from a guy who was in the fraternity but never did anything. He is the guy who boasts that he shows up for every chapter meeting but never really joins a committee or takes on any leadership role.

He is what I like to say, “falsely active”.

On the outside he is a member, but he has never given his heart to the ideals of the fraternity; he is there but at the same time is not there. And down the road, he will still boast of the great things that his fraternity did and how he was involved in the action – and most people will believe him.

Does simply showing up to chapter meetings prove that you are an active heart-embracing Greek? Neither is a Christian who simply shows up for church on Sundays.

Churches are great nametags. We wear our nametags so that when people ask if we are a Christian or a follower of Christ, we just point to our nametag and smile. “I belong to _________,” we say. They reply, “Ohh, that’s wonderful.”

Just as the fraternity man points to his nametag (pin or membership card) so does the Christian point to his nametag (church). These nametags are inclusive evidence that the member has given his whole heart to the cause. Many Christians act like zombies each week flocking to a Sunday Service and then calling it good for the rest of the week.

Jesus points out that our nametags and boasting someday will be stripped away. We may claim big things, but He will simply say, “Did you really know and follow me.”

I’ve used this quote from Jesus before but I must use it again to drive the point home.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day [judgment day at the end of the world], ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” – Matthew 7:21-23

Tyler Zach is an alum of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of Nebraska-Omaha – where he earned a degree in Management Information Systems. Tyler is currently on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ in Omaha, NE.

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Ten Essentials For Every Christian College Student

Posted on April 10th, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Christian Life.

Steve Shadrach

Only 1 percent of the world’s population are college students and I commend you if you are one of the few and the proud that represent us in institutions of higher learning. It’s one thing, though, to start college and quite another to finish it. In fact, most drop out somewhere along the way and just under 25 percent of Americans have actually completed a college degree. One reason students give up on college is because of “priority pressure”, the constant stress of trying to choose what is good — versus what is best. If you’re currently a college student, I know your life is swirling around you like a Kansas tornado, but unless you want to be picked up and swept away like Dorothy and Toto, read and heed “The Ten Essentials for Every Christian College Student.”

1. Choose a Life Purpose

It is a choice and you get to make it. You have a free will, but an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God gave it to you. So why not revolve your life purpose — not your choice of major, mind you, but something much more basic — around the One Who gave you life in the first place? Don’t let one more Survivor episode go by before you’ve nailed this down. Lock your door, get your Bible out, and search. As a sophomore I came up with: To glorify God through knowing Him and making Him known to others.” Not original, but it was mine. Having a God-centered life purpose gets you up in the morning, helps you make good decisions, and looks cool on your bathroom mirror.

2. Develop a Biblical Worldview

I’m reading an intriguing book by Chuck Colson called How Now Shall We Live? that’s giving me a major paradigm shift. After taking two Tylenol, I admitted that I had a puny, self-centered worldview and forced myself to ask, “Am I looking at life from my perspective or from God’s?” When we saturate our minds with the Word, we develop a God-shaped grid to run every song, movie and idea through.

3. Seek Out the Right Friends

My pastor says, “If you’re trying to follow Christ, don’t choose as your best friend someone who is running from Him.” Studies show at least 50 percent of students have cheated and don’t think it’s wrong, almost one fourth are frequent binge drinkers and cohabitation (us old timers call it “shackin’ up’) is at an all time high. Be careful, getting tight with one of these folks could be more painful than watching an XFL football game! I’m not saying don’t befriend non-Christians — that’s the key to drawing them to Christ. But bind your heart to someone who is really seeking God: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Touche!

4. Join a Good Church

Away from home? No one to tell you to get up and go find one of those premium back-row seats at the fam’s church? Now you can find out what you’re really made of! Micro scooter yourself over to the late service of that local fellowship that: 1) Teaches the Bible as the Word of God, 2) Has great worship, and 3) Welcomes you and your friends. Don’t just sit and soak it in, though. Give your time, talent, and treasure to those folks. It will pay great dividends.

5. Form Consistent Study Habits

I’m a total hypocrite even mentioning this one because I don’t think I cracked a book until midway through my junior year! Yeah, you can buy tests and papers via the Internet, and supposedly everybody does it, but why not keep your integrity intact? Besides, having a clear conscience and an educated mind is a powerful combination! As I “matured” in college, I started going to every class, sitting on the front row, and finding the top student to study with. Stay focused and you’ll get to be part of those 24 percent of U.S. citizens who possess a college degree. Be all you can be!

6. Initiate Personal Ministry

To balance out #5, I must say: Don’t let your studies get in the way of your education! The biggest lesson you will learn at college is what God wants to do in your life — and through your life. Find a group that’s trying to witness and disciple others. Pray about living on campus, starting or joining a small group Bible study, sharing your faith and seeing God change some lives for eternity. If you really want to get radical, join the thousands of students who do short term summer mission trips.

7. Set up Dating Standards

Fifty-seven percent of collegians claim they’re “sexually active.” Think this is just locker-room braggadocio? Think again. Many are looking for sex without strings and relationships without rings. Over 16 million people are downloading their love life via online dating services. That’s more people than have ever even heard of Roy Orbison’s song Only the Lonely. Here is a profundity: You will marry someone that you date! Commit yourself to only date others who have the kind of goals, faith and character you want in a mate someday. Think I’m being picky? Exactly!

8. Maintain a Proper Balance

Harry Potter’s Professor Dumbledore sheds this light: “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Whether you like Harry’s series or not, the prof’s got a point. College is all about choices. With suicide now the third-leading cause of death among college age young people, it’s time to adopt the foursquare life that Jesus sought in Luke 2:52: “He increased in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man.” WWJD? He chose not to sweat the small stuff, but instead to develop Himself mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.

9. Appreciate Your Parents

OK, so my wife put me up to this one. It is amazing, though, how much smarter your parents get once you leave for college! You begin remembering all their laborious lectures and suspect that maybe they did have a sliver of wisdom in those thick brains! And if you catch fire for Christ, don’t make the mistake I did and go home and tell your parents they’re going to hell. People most often become Christians through the witness of a family member. So call them. Visit them. Tell them you love and appreciate them; and if they oppose you getting branded with a “tribal art” tattoo — hear them out!

10. Keep Graduation in Mind

Nearly one third of freshmen drop out of college their first year. Congrats if you are part of the remaining two thirds! Also, know that those with college degrees earn nearly twice as much as those without. But more important than a diploma or an extra zero on your paycheck is what kind of person you plan on being when you graduate. My definition of college? A window of time God gives us to make critical decisions and prepare ourselves to live them out. Set goals, seek the Lord, build a deep foundation and understand that the end of your college career says so much more about you than the beginning. Oh, and have some fun too!

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