5 Things College Freshman Should Know

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 8.15.36 AM1. Don’t Be Stupid.

This is my number one rule for students, and it’s a great one for life.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

Know what you believe, and stick to it. Don’t bend your convictions for others, and don’t get manipulated into not living out your beliefs. In short, be wise how you live.

2. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.1 Corinthians 10:23

You have more freedom than you’ve ever had in your life. Just because you can do what you want, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

You can stay up until 3am, but should you?
You can go to that party, but should you?
You can make out with your honey in your dorm room, but should you?

Write down what you will and will not do in the areas listed below. Once you have it, put it in your Bible. Be specific about the following:

Dating and physical boundaries
Church attendance
Study habits
Class attendance (hint: GO TO CLASS!!!!!)
Computer viewing
Drinking/ Bars/ Parties
How to resolve conflict with your roommate

Keep this in your Bible for the next four years, and don’t waver from it. If you feel bad about what you are planning of doing or not doing and have a problem with putting it in your Bible, then you need to go with a plan B that is more Christ-like.

3. Know that loneliness is part of the experience.

Up until now, you have friends you’ve known most of your life. You’ll make new friends in college, but it is different.

Your family isn’t around your dorm when you need them.
You’re going to feel lonely. Learn how to handle loneliness now, because you will have lonely times in your life.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. Psalm 25:15-18

Don’t lean heavily on texting old friends, facebook, or facetime. That is not the answer to your loneliness. It actually could make it worse.

Cling to God and His Word. Rely on His strength. Let Him meet your need and he will take away your loneliness. Sometimes He will be enough. Sometimes, he will provide friends to walk with you.

4. Don’t rebel against what you know is right.

They will say of me, ‘In the Lord aloneare deliverance and strength.’”All who have raged against himwill come to him and be put to shame. Isaiah 45:24

Raging against God with the way you live your life will only bring you shame.
You know what the Bible says about how you should live. Don’t act like you don’t.

You have a brand new chance to make a first impression. If you’ve messed up in the past here’s your re-do. If you’ve played it straight, keep it up.

You’ve got nothing to prove, and everything to gain by being a person of integrity, honesty, purity, and faith.

5. Stay involved in Church.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:52

This is key to keeping you on track.
Don’t just go to worship. Find a college ministry that is awesome.

Campus ministry is not enough. You need a faith family to help you grow, and you don’t need to get out of the habit of going to church.

If the church offers adopt-a-student be the first to sign up. This is free food and laundry people, plus you’ll have a family away from home.

Keep up your quiet times, and develop Christian friends. Stay on the track you are on in your faith, and you will continue to grow and mature in Christ.

How to Help the Persecuted

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If you don’t recognize this symbol by now, you should. You also need to understand it, and not just because it is all over social media.

It is the Arabic letter “N”. It is the mark ISIS is leaving on Christian homes in northern Iraq, showing they can choose to:

  1. Pay a tax (which has been repeatedly reported they kill the people afterwards anyway),
  2. Convert to their radical form of Islam (again, then get killed anyway), or
  3. Die a horrific, violent death.

What can we do to help these people who have been forced to flee from their homes? First, lets understand who they are.

It has been estimated tens of thousands of Kazidi people have run for their lives. 40,000 0f them were trapped on desolate Mount Sinjar where temperatures reach up to 120 degrees. They are Christian families who have lived in Iraq for thousands of years. On the mountain they were and are dying of hunger and thirst. If they come off the mountain on their own, they are seized by ISIS and hung, raped, or beheaded. Aid and rescue have gotten half of them off the mountain, but many are still there left to battle the elements.

You also need to understand it is not just Christians being persecuted. ISIS is also punishing other forms of Islam for not being “Muslim” enough. ISIS are Islamic militants, not to be confused with all Muslims. There are many muslims who are against ISIS. Believe it or not, Al Qaeda has even said they are to extreme. They will go into towns and rape, hang, behead anyone who will not join them. They have crucified Christians and bragged about it in photos and videos on social media.

It is easy to feel small, inconsequential, and helpless. This seems a world away, but it is not.

YOU are not.

And you serve the God of the Universe, who is a God of love, miracles, and provision. Here are ways you can get involved.

1. PRAY.

Ask God to protect and provide for these people. That could be through humanitarian aid, or even rain on a dry mountain. Pray for stamina. Pray they won’t lose hope, and that they will have peace amidst the chaos and evil surrounding them. Pray they will feel God suffering with them, because He is there, among them.

Start realizing what you have that they don’t, and pray about those things. Every time you eat, lay in your bed, when you feel safe at home with your family. This will help you pray for them ALL DAY LONG.

Galatians 6:2-3 says, Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.” As Christians, we must carry each other’s burdens. Christ carried our burdens to the cross. If we are to be Christ-like, our faith should cost us something, too.

I always tell my teenagers, your life is not about you. It is about Christ IN you, using and working through you for His purpose.

We must help carry it.

It is only by the grace of God you aren’t on top that mountain. You didn’t control where you were born. God did.

Please don’t ignore what is going on, or think you can’t handle the thought of it. You can, and you must. If Christians lose our compassion, we lose our view of the world through Jesus’ eyes. We can’t let that happen.

2. GIVE.

There is an International Mission Board through the Southern Baptist Convention that has formed a relief fund for northern Iraq. If you text imbrelief to 80888, you can donate ten dollars to that fund. ($10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your account if you load your phone monthly).

Challenge your friends to do this as well as yourself, and see how many you can get to donate to this cause. Put it on facebook, instagram, twitter – get it out there.

Carry this burden through prayer, through your thoughts, through your social media, and through your pocketbook. We must have a global outlook. Help and encourage others in a time of need. Jesus said the greatest commandment is loving God and loving others.

Here’s our chance to love others, Christian people. Don’t let it pass you by.

When God Holds Your Hand

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 8.18.05 AMA teenager from my student ministry recently joined the army. He currently is engulfed in basic training, week two.

I am writing him a letter of encouragement and using this verse in the letter:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Great verse, right? But I kept reading and saw this little nugget…

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

Isn’t that a fantastic word picture of a deep, personal, nurturing God?!

When we are hurting, stressed, or troubled, God doesn’t simply lift us away from the issue to find balance on our own. He doesn’t remove us to simply bring comfort and later dump us back in the fray.

He leans down, gets face to face and tells us we are going to be okay. He is in our ear and in our hearts, encouraging us. Like a kind daddy, our Creator takes our hand. He is a compassionate God who walks with us through whatever we are facing.

It’s wonderful our God is a loving God who promised to be with us and “never leave us or forsake us”. If you’re having a tough time today, know that God is with you.

The God of the Universe,
the one who saved you from sin,
who heals you,
forgives you,
roots for you,
and loves you no matter what…

THAT God is holding your hand.