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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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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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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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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When I’m Facedown, Begging My God

Posted on March 27th, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Christian Life.

Kelsey Zach

Maybe you’ve had times in your life where stress piles up and everything seems hopeless. I’ve definitely let stress get the best of me these days. I let it pile up in layers and layers, allowing it to build up, to in turn tear me down. I let school and work and finances and relationships and family and my past and decisions I’ve made and worries I have for my future build up and control me and my thoughts. I forget to capture the lies Satan is placing in front of me and throw them out.

Have I forgotten that my God is in control? Am I really of so little faith? Even after I talk and talk about trusting my God and letting Him be in control. Do I really believe that He’s good, like I’ve been saying over and over and over? I do, I do. And yet I struggle. I struggle because I’m human. There are days I’ve been broken to the point of tears as I realize how much I’ve hurt my God – and in those realizations I feel like maybe I’m really starting to get it. I feel like I’ve truly connected with this intangible God when I hurt so badly because of the hurt I’ve caused for The One I Love. But, then I make a mistake again and feel like a failure.

I used to worry about being accepted by others – getting accepted and feeling loved and admired by my peers was critical and vital to me – and maybe still is – but now, I worry about being a failure in front of God. And again, who am I to think such thoughts? I am not a failure in His sight. Rather, I’m a beautiful creation, and you are too.

Psalm 139:13-14 says:
“For you created my inmost being,
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”

I was fearfully – and wonderfully! – made by a Creator who sees me as nothing less than majestically beautiful. I was created by a Father who loves and forgives, by a God who IS indeed good. Perhaps I should stop worrying about that 15-page paper and say a little prayer? Perhaps I should stop wondering whether I am loved and start seeking His Word? Perhaps I should stop wallowing in self-pity and anguish about what I’m going to do with my life, and fall down on my knees, facedown on the floor, and WORSHIP and PRAISE the God who gave me life?

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Moses Could Have Been Greek

Posted on February 26th, 2007 by Tyler.
Categories: Christian Life, Personal Growth.

Tyler Zach

I was reading in Exodus today and realized that Moses definitely could have been a Greek at his local Egyptian college.

There are some sweet lessons that we can learn from him that are applicable to us as Christians living in a fraternity or sorority House. Here are a few:

1) MOSES DID NOT WANT TO GO

Moses complained to God, after God had commissioned him to lead the Israelites out of bondage, that he wasn’t talented enough to accomplish the job at hand. Do you ever feel haunted by the fact that you are one of the only Christians in your fraternity or sorority? Leaders that are called by God for a specific mission usually are leaders who never wanted to go in the first place. I think this is because God calls us to a mission that is above and beyond our ability to complete it. Do you feel like there is no possible way to make a difference? If not, then you are right where God wants you.

2) MOSES WAS NOT GIFTED FOR THE JOB

Moses didn’t know how he was going to go to Pharaoh and change his mind. Moses claimed that he didn’t have good speaking skills. How was he going to persuade the King of the Land to do something crazy?

Do you feel like reaching out to your brothers/sisters but feel inadequate because you are not a full-time minister? Do you feel like people will reject you if you try? Moses experienced all of these same feelings. But, God told him to GO anyways, promising to go with him and perform many miracles. The Bible tells us that God’s power shines through our weaknesses. If some of your unbelieving Greek friends see you leading a movement in your House and know that you aren’t a good speaker or a good whatever, God will get much glory because they won’t know how to explain the miracles going on. God gets the glory, not us.

3) MOSES FOUND OUT THAT HE WASN’T IN CONTROL

Once God started performing all these miracles through Moses, I can’t help but wonder if he started to strut a little when walking around Pharaoh’s palace. The strut, however, couldn’t have lasted that long because Pharaoh wouldn’t change his mind! Even after all the cool miracles Moses was doing, Pharaoh still wouldn’t let the Israelites go! What the heck?

I’m sure Moses was probably getting really frustrated at what was happening. God sent him there and nothing was clicking. Actually, things were getting worse. Moses’ own people were ticked because Pharaoh was making life a living hell for them. So what was going on?

God actually warned Moses about this. He said that he was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart until the proper time. Welcome to the school of hard knocks.

You may be in your fraternity or sorority right now trying all kinds of things for God – but nothing seems to be working. There is a lesson in this. God wants you to know that He’s in control, not you. No matter how many great things you do on your God-given mission, only God has the power to change peoples’ hearts.

This truth should drive you to your knees in prayer. Only through spending time with God in prayer will any of your efforts make a difference.

If Moses showed up to your fraternity or sorority today, I’m sure he’d tell you to step up and do something radical, to depend on God’s work through you, and to leave the results up to God. After all, He is in control.

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Trusting God During Times of Uncertainty

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

Ana Fontes

“As you wait upon the Lord, you learn to see things from His perspective, move at His pace, and function under His directives. Waiting times are growing times and learning times. As you quiet your heart, you enter His peace; as you sense your weakness you receive His strength; as you lay down your will, you hear His calling. When you mount up, you are being lifted by the wind of His Spirit; When you move ahead, you are sensitive to His timing; when you act, you give yourself only to the thing He has asked you to do.”
-Roy Lessin

A big part of being a college student is waiting. Some people are lucky enough to know exactly what they want to do and know exactly what they need to do to get there. For the rest of us—the confused, the unsure, the unclear—we’re waiting for an epiphany. Maybe there will be that one class that completely captures your interest. Or perhaps there will be an advisor who’ll take a personal liking to you and end up being one of those wise and insightful mentors like we see in the movies. Chances are you’re still waiting for the sky to open and illuminate your path.

That’s where I am. I’m a senior at Virginia Tech double-majoring in psychology and English. I graduate in May 2007 and have no clue what I’m doing next year, much less what my life calling is. There’s this pushing sensation that if I don’t have all of that figured out by the time I walk off that stage with my little diploma, I’m going to miss the grand opportunity of my life and waste precious years. And I hate wasting time. But recently, I’ve realized something important: I am wasting precious time right now!

This awkward period of waiting, trying different things, failing and succeeding, is just as important as the time you’ll spend fulfilling your life calling. As a matter of fact, it’s part of it. This time of cloudy thoughts, changing passions, self-learning, and waiting, will help shape your character for the future. During these times, God wants us to “rest in [Him] and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). If you’re fretting and worrying you’ll miss the opportunities to know more about God and to impact the lives of those people in your life right now.

God calls us to love those around us as He loves us. And just how does he love us? Well, he died for us. His love is a completely selfless and compassionate love that overcomes boundaries of inconvenience, discomfort, or insecurity. Every day there is someone in your life that needs to experience God or be reminded of His great character. Show them how powerful and great He is by being sure of his sovereignty over your future and setting aside your own worries to serve those around you. Simple things like a phone call to see how someone is doing or making time to hang out with those friends you never seem to have time for can make a world of difference in someone’s life.

By taking the focus off yourself and the uncertainties surrounding your life, you’ll see the world around you much clearer. “Be still and know that I am God,” says the Lord. In this time of mystery and uncertainty of the unforeseen, be still. Seek God every day, in every way, through all means: read His Word constantly, attend Bible studies, and surround yourself with people who are seeking Him also. Focus instead on God and the people He’s placed in your life. All you have to do is be still and trust, and God will bless every effort you make to seek Him and His will.

Stop worrying about what makes you happy for a little bit. Instead seek to make someone else happy, to show them God’s love in some way. You’ll be surprise to find your own happiness—actually, not just happiness but meaning—that way.

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