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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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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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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Who Is God?

Posted on March 12th, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Knowing God.

Kelsey Zach

I love people. I love relationships and touch and anything tangible. Intellectual subjects that challenge me and really make me think are exciting to me. I love voices and facial expressions and laughing with people. I enjoy conversation with others and the uniqueness each person that crosses my path has to offer.

Yet as much as I embrace relationships, I still struggle making time to sit down and talk to God, the most important person in my life. I can’t sit down and face him, really face him. He’s not tangible. I can’t see his eyebrows rise in surprise or see his face crinkle in laughter, or watch his head fall back in even deeper laughter. When I’m struggling, searching and crying, I can’t physically hear a comforting voice like that of my dad’s telling me I’m going to be okay. I can’t feel His strong hand wiping away my tears.

However, what I’ve been learning is that I shouldn’t give up on God simply because He’s not tangible. Instead, God should be pursued with a burning passion. God is gracious, holy, righteous, pure, and beautiful. He’s everything that I am not. He’s my constant pursuer, my strength when I am weak, my Savior who has brought me out of the darkest of places.

God is good. Sometimes when we are going through trials in our lives, that’s a hard truth to remember. All of us have different struggles in our lives. Whether it is alcohol, drugs, impurity, pornography, pride, jealousy, putting other relationships before ours with God, or whatever idol one may have, God is good, and He wants us to conquer that temptation and that struggle in our lives. God wants a deep relationship with each one of us. He loves us and has a plan – a perfect plan – for us. And the cool thing about that is that although we are sinners, God sacrificed His only son for us, so that we may have eternal life with Him in heaven. If you believe in Christ, believe that He died for your sins, accept Him into your heart, and repent of your sins, this eternal life is His promise.

During a Bible study this summer, after hearing about my past struggles with alcohol, a friend challenged me to think about what it is I ultimately want. At first, I thought, “Of course I want eternal life with God.” When I reflected more on it later, I realized that my question to myself should be, “Right now, ultimately what is it I want MORE? Alcohol or God?” To answer my own question: “God.” He has shown me mercy and grace a countless number of times and forgiven sin after sin after sin.

So to counter my previous uncertainty and doubt – He’s not tangible, yet his love is so real. I saw it and continue to see it overflowing out of so many people that I met last summer and so many people currently in my life. God is love. I’m so thankful that God refuses to let Satan have a stronger hold on my life than He does, and that He continues to hold fast to my heart and grasp it tighter each day.

What is it that you want? Who is God to you? If He’s not the deepest desire of your heart, fight until He is. Pour yourself into the Word daily and learn about God and His character. Take hold of His hand as tightly as He’s grasping your heart, and run with Him without turning back. Let Him be your everything. Let Him be enough.

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The King

Posted on December 20th, 2006 by Tyler.
Categories: Knowing God.

Ana Fontes

“Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

There are so many people with terrible misconceptions about who God really is and what He expects from us. The word “church” nowadays evokes images of tight-lipped church ladies, sheltered kids in ankle socks and knee-length skirts, a big list of do’s and dont’s, and, worse of all, a wrathful, policeman-like God ready to strike us down at any hint of enjoyment with a wimpy, naïve Jesus at his side.

This terrible misinterpretation of God’s character sometimes comes from a negative encounter with a Christian or a church. The discrepancy between what people preach and what they do tends to leave a bad taste in your mouth. Specially when it involves God. But mainly it develops when people don’t try out God for themselves and resort to forming their opinion based on what they’ve heard.

Despite different perceptions of God’s character, He was, is, and always will be the God who “so loved the world that he sent his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). If only people slowed down just enough to unwrap all the love and grace packed up in that one little sentence.

It’s a fact that the world in which we live is a broken, desolate place. Everywhere you turn there’s pain, hunger, waste, complacency, loneliness, violence. Those things dominate the world because of sin. What we often don’t realize is that they exist because of our rebellion against God. You see, sin isn’t just not doing what you’re supposed to or doing what you’re not supposed to. Everytime we rebel against the Word of God, we turn our backs to him and are essentially saying right to his face, “your glory isn’t glorious enough for me.” Owch. Kind of makes things a little more serious doesn’t it? Our sin is much more than bad behavior: the tendendy towards it is embedded in our very nature.

God, being holy and perfect, can’t be in union with sin. But his love for us, his precious creation who chose lesser things, is so great that he made a provision, a way to break the barrier between us and him: Jesus Christ. Since sin exists in a very real way, God can’t just dismiss it. It would be completely outside his just character to do so. Where there is a debt, it must be payed, and God, in his perfect and selfless love, sent his only begotten son to pay that debt in our place. Jesus died so that the sin that fills our hearts can be replaced by his righteousness. Now, cloaked with the purity of Jesus Christ, God looks at those who place their faith in his salvation, extends his arms and calls us each, “my child!”

Much more enticing than the stern killjoy we often reduce God to, isn’t it? He offers this gift freely to everyone, he doesn’t discriminate or choose favorites, and he certainly doesn’t wait for us to clean up our acts. He only asks that we come to him, tired, broken, humble, sinful—just as we are—and put the world behind and the cross ahead.

If you have placed your trust in this truth, then you are an ambassador for Christ wherever you happen to be at this moment. And in case you haven’t noticed, God doesn’t do things by accident. You are part of your fraternity or sorority because he has a plan for you there. It includes much more than just having a good time and being involved in the organization. It has to do with making an impact for eternity, and part of that is making sure that our words and actions reflect and magnify the awesome beauty of the one true God.

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This Is Really Cool

Posted on December 20th, 2006 by Tyler.
Categories: Knowing God.

Will Walker

You are not going to believe this: John Mayer just became a Christian! He met Bono (U2) at a benefit last summer and has been in an ongoing conversation about faith since then. For whatever reason, he finally gave his life to Jesus within the last few weeks.

Not only that, but Madonna and David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey and every famous person in the world became a Christian, too. Plus, I am completely making all of this up. I do not know about the faith of anyone I just mentioned. But I have been wondering why most people (including me) get very excited when they hear that someone famous is or has become a Christian.

In college I was a groupie of this really cool band. They were not Christians, but they were cool. Recently one of them became a Christian and I have told everyone I know as if their life depends on knowing about it. Most of the people I tell act very surprised. I guess they thought someone like that was unreachable or didn’t need Christ.

Identifying ourselves with the good-looking people of the world makes us feel better about ourselves. We would be Christians no matter what, but we are affirmed in our faith when it gets a booster shot of coolness. Something about it being cool makes it feel truer.

A few clarifications at this juncture: Getting excited about famous people coming to Christ is not wrong. Getting less excited about not-famous conversions may be.

Jesus was no more amazed or excited when Paul came to faith than when one of the women who heard him preach on the hillside that one day believed. He is not looking for anyone to validate his existence. He is not hoping for a few good recruits and a better season next year. He knows who he is and where he came from.

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