Friday, February 20, 2009

Cultural Commentary

Much has gone on in the cultural and political sphere in the last few weeks, and I could not hope to keep up. Questionable economic stimulus packages have pushed through Congress; debates have raged surrounding in vitro fertilization, abstinence, and childbearing in general because of the unwise decision of a doctor and an irresponsible mother; the theory of evolution was "celebrated" in honor of the birthday of Charles Darwin, almost as much as freedom was celebrated in honor of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln; a defender of pornography was nominated for the position of Deputy Attorney General of the United States; and much more.

My commentary is futile. What is needed is a fresh word from a seasoned, discerning man of God. Billy Graham delivered:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!"

As heard on the radio show The Rest of the Story with Paul Harvey.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Faith and Frat Boys

You may have seen this article in Time Magazine a couple years ago:

Faith and Frat Boys.

The ministry it speaks of is the center of my testimony. I came to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ through the presentation of the Gospel by this ministry. I found God in a fraternity, which is a unique testimony. Yet volunteering with Greek Intervarsity has become second nature to me. I do the Golf Marathon thing, I help with Greek Conference (two of my favorite days / weekends of the year), I help mobilize alumni, generate awareness, etc. It would be very easy to let this involvement slip into the extracurricular category in my life. Just another activity on the calendar.

Thankfully, God has a tendency to show up and prevent such a tragedy, because He knows the damage such neglect would do to His plans. God showed up this last weekend at the National Greek Conference in Indianapolis. Helplessness was acknowledged and students were saved. And that is only the beginning. For me specifically, He revealed and reignited a fire for what is just too amazing a thing to pass up.

This year, with less responsibility from a volunteer standpoint (though still a small group leader), I was fortunate to be able to sit back and observe. After observing passionate and selfless, yet sporadic and individual, service from alumni volunteers in the past, this year I was deeply encouraged and humbled to see a united body of people with purpose, laying down their lives (specifically their weekend and energy) for students. I saw commitment that was bigger than a weekend service project, and more lasting than a once-a-year obligation. My pride and arrogance that still told me that I was the only face and force behind Greek IV alumni contribution was shattered, and it was refreshingly wonderful. My selfishness and laziness that told me my servant heart was becoming "tapped out", crumbled in front of my eyes and it was beautiful. My insecurity and anxiety that constantly distracts me, and fights off the Holy Spirit, in worship experiences, melted at my feet, and it was illuminating.

But still I am inclined with this post, especially to those who have experienced it firsthand, to plea for continued strategic and prayerful engagement in what God is doing in this area. Not to be included on email lists, facebook groups, and newsletters only, but to witness and be a part of a revival that will change the world. Seriously. I’m not exaggerating or being dramatic. The emotions of the weekend have passed and still the Holy Spirit has solidified a passion that the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ will continue to stir. I pray for sensitivity to that and endurance for the foreseeable future.

I don’t think I could ever adequately describe the significance, uniqueness, and power that is in Greek Ministry. Fraternity and sorority students are very blessed people; financially, socially, physically, and intellectually. This is not to say that no other segments of students are blessed in these ways, but that Greek students certainly are. They are also broken and helpless, just like everyone else, sometimes in uniquely tragic and insurmountable ways. The obstacles between a fraternity boy or sorority girl and a saving relationship with Jesus Christ are huge. And a ministry to this “people group” is much like a ministry to business professionals; crucial and very challenging.

To someone who is healthy, wealthy, beautiful, intelligent, and successful, the message of redemption through Christ seems oddly irrelevant. But it is not. Someone needs to tell them that. And the challenge is worth it, because when people who are healthy, wealthy, beautiful, intelligent and successful are sold out to Christ, all those things look less precious and less necessary for salvation, and Christ looks more precious and supremely necessary for salvation. This is a powerful witness to those in plenty or those in want. Additionally, in many cases Greek students are the future business professionals, Presidents, parents, teachers, lawyers, and doctors, and to reach them for Christ, though challenging, is eternally fruitful, and will only get harder as families, jobs, and American dreams add to their obstacles. This concept and strategy is not rocket science. Yet it is indescribable to see in practice, and insane not to prioritize.

Instead of recognizing the hidden brokenness of this group of young people, most write them off as snotty brats and drunk, irresponsible, hopeless kids. They may be snotty, they may be brats, they may be drunk (sometimes), they may be irresponsible, and they may be helpless. But they are not hopeless. They are positioned to renew our culture. And they need the Gospel, and they need people who are willing and able to make it relevant, real, and applicable to them.

My fraternity brought 0 guys to conference this year. My campus brought 75% less students this year than when I was a senior. Yet in the midst of what the devil would use to discourage, God is using to encourage and mobilize and reassure. The message is the same, and the obstacles are the same. Jesus Christ is still more relevant and able to save than beer, sex, and internships. I have always known this, but through an incredible conference I was reminded of it in a fresh and powerful way, and don’t intend to let it pass like the fleeting emotions that can be so deceiving. This is real.

"In Revelation 3:20, Jesus Christ Said, ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat with him, and he with me.’ I have heard Christ's voice all my life. I grew up listening to the written and spoken word. In my confirmation into the Lutheran Church I opened the door. For the longest time I had left Him outside in the cold and it wasn't until Saturday, January 31, 2009 at Greek Conference that I finally invited Jesus into my heart and my home. At first, I was a little apprehensive of going to GC. I thought that it was only for liberal, touchy-feely Christians. In my small group I was introduced to the concept of having a personal relationship with Christ and I realized that I wanted and needed that in my life. I am truly glad and truly blessed that I put my reservations aside and went to Greek Conference!”

- Student Testimony