“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Over the years, there have been numerous occasions where people have come up to me after I was finished speaking to share with me a tragedy in their life. Many of these stories were heartbreaking and difficult to hear. If you hear a lot of hard stories, it is tempting to not really listen to the person. Instead of serving them well, you give them some trite Christian clichés to apply to their pain, but in the end you offer them no hope.
One time I was visiting with a friend who is a pastor and a biblical counselor. He said to me, “Remember, nothing is wasted.” That has always stuck with me.
The reality is that God wastes nothing. While God does not do evil, he uses all things to bring glory to himself, to draw people to Jesus, and to bring deeper purpose and meaning to the Christian’s life. As I continue to reflect on this truth, I have realized that Paul’s statement in Romans 8:28 is not only true, but also life-giving. God really is able to use all things for good, for those called according to his purpose.
GOD CAN USE THE HORRIFIC
This has been true in my life as well as in the lives of those around me. Even the most tragic, horrible, and sinful things have been used to open doors with the lost, to connect with those who are hurting, and to point people to Jesus.
For instance, I was in a car crash when I was 17 that resulted in the death of a friend. It was through that tragedy that I was led to the truth of Jesus Christ. God has used that horrific time as a way for people to be connected with Jesus through the sharing of God’s story through mine. I also know of people who have taken the abuse they’ve endured, and allowed Jesus to use it to help them connect with abuse victims and to point them to Jesus.
Paul writes that God uses all things to work together for good. He can and will use your past, your horrific sin, and whatever else you believe is beyond the grace of Jesus. Living in the guilt of our past inhibits us from living in the freedom and purpose of our future together in Christ.
In Ephesians 2:10, Paul writes, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Therefore, we are able to receive the transforming grace of Jesus, learn from our past, and trust that not only does he use all things for good, but we are now his workmanship, commissioned for good works that he has set beforehand.
5 THINGS TO REMEMBER
Here are a few helpful things to remember moving forward.
1. ACKNOWLEDGE JESUS
Jesus is the only hope you have to experience redemption. This holds true for all aspects of your healing and ministry, not just salvation.
2. YOUR STORY IS HIS STORY IN YOU
When you share your story, the focus should be how Jesus has rescued you. Your experiences are the illustrations that point back to him.
3. DON’T GLORIFY YOUR FORMER SIN
Glorify the one who forgave it. It is tempting when you are trying to establish rapport to make light of your sin, or to make it sound glorious. This temptation should be avoided. The purpose in sharing your story should be connecting with people, and then pointing them to Jesus, not connecting them to you and leaving them there.
4. YOU MAY NEED HELP GETTING TO THE GOOD
There are situations and circumstances that are difficult to find healing and redemption in on your own. You may be helped through your community of faith, a biblical counselor, or a combination of both. There is no shame in needing some help.
5. YOU ARE NOT ALONE
It is very likely that you are not the only one to have experienced what you have in your past. There are others who have been through something similar and your experience with Christ might be what God uses to draw that person to himself.
This is not a call to forget your past. It is an opportunity to allow Jesus to redeem it and use it for his glory and for your enjoyment. Your life can and should be used as an illustration for those who will believe (1 Tim. 1:15–16). This can be a very slow and hard road, but wherever you are on this journey just know, nothing is wasted.
This article was written by Casey Cease for The Resurgence. For this article and others like it, go to http://thereserugence.com.
Below is a true story of how God changed one freshman's life. As you read, ask yourself, "where do I find myself in this story?" This fall, might you, like AJ, have an opportunity to help a freshman like Sam discover what really matters? Or, are you more like Sam? Could God be calling you to find true, lasting satisfaction in Him?
Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of this upcoming freshman class, and pray that God would open their hearts to Him and His great love!
When Sam attended his first week of college, he was not looking for a Christian group, in fact it was not on his radar at all.
Raised in a Christian family, he routinely went to Sunday School and youth group. However, when he started high school, he questioned the reality of God. By year 12 he was less interested in church, starting on a destructive path fueled by the approval of friends and lust of the world.
After an unexpected break-up with a girlfriend, Sam was shaken. He says: “I was dating a girl from youth group. She went to some camp, came back and didn’t talk to me for a week. She said ‘God’s telling me that it’s not His plan for us to be together.’ I was like, ‘He didn’t tell me that!’ I took it really bad.” Sam found solace in drinking. During his gap year after high school, he began clubbing, eventually pushing boundaries by experimenting with drugs like ecstasy. “I wasn’t happy. I knew something was wrong,” says Sam.
When the first week of classes rolled around, it had been two years since Sam attended church. That week, Cru ran a booth where they handed out spirituality surveys. Sam filled one out. A few days later, he received a call from a missionary AJ. Although hesitant to meet AJ, Sam did. Through their first meeting, God began to turn Sam’s life around.
AJ was there to listen, but strongly prompted Sam to make a decision about what he already knew to do. Sam checked out his first Cru group meeting and was refreshed by people different from his friends. They were not trying to impress each other and talked about things that really mattered. Sam started attending church again.
Sam began to recognize his sensual life of lust and drugs was eating him alive, and he could not break free. He says: “During the worship session I was on my knees and was crying; I was a mess. I knew something wasn’t right--something had to change. I remember surrendering my life to God.” From that moment the pleasures that consumed him lost power, and he began seeing victory over the sins that had plagued him.
The satisfaction Sam finds in pleasing God far outweighs his old habits, and he now lives with a passion to do what God is calling him to do. He lives in the ecstasy of new life in Jesus. Having open, honest and accountable friends from Cru has been a huge encouragement. Furthermore, being discipled by AJ has made a lasting impact on Sam’s life.
He says: “Every time I share my story, it just reminds me I have a lot to be thankful for. It’s God that has brought me this far. I can never go back.”
Sam is now happily married to a wonderful young lady named Eldora.
This story was written by Gina Liu on June 25 2012. You can find more stories like it at www.cru.org.
College should be a temporary season of academic preparation and personal growth to propel a lifetime of effective service to God and neighbor. It should be a launching pad into all that goes with responsible Christian adulthood. Yet for some, it’s a time when they abandon the Christian faith, displaying that they never really belonged to Christ (1 John 2:19). For others, their faith remains intact, but they waste their college lives with video games, partying, and other frivolities—an expensive vacation funded by Mom, Dad, and debilitating student loans.
Today, seven out of ten high school graduates immediately go on to college, but about 30% will never become sophomores, and about 50% will not have graduated even six years later. Many who do graduate move right back home with their parents, assuming little responsibility and armed with little ambition for Christ.
Thrive at College
I’m convinced that you should not just survive college but thrive at college. Don’t just maintain your faith, but really come to own it — growing thick, strong roots (1 Timothy 4:12). Don’t just squeak by classes with as little effort as possible, but strive to discover your calling — what God uniquely wired you to do — and to love God with all your mind by giving it your very best (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
Socially, college is a season for making life-long friendships — not just the kind you have a great time with (good as that is) but the kind that spur you on to love, trust, and follow God. Pursue relationships that help you put away childishness, grow in maturity, increasingly make wise choices, and “expect great things from God and attempt great things for God.” And who knows? Maybe one of these friends will become a fabulous husband or wife.
College is a time for assuming responsibility, for becoming a disciplined steward of time and money, for recognizing that recreation is a gift of God to be enjoyed in measure but never to dominate our lives. Rather, when properly pursued, recreation empowers us for our work rather than distracting us from our work.
As a student, remember that your work is learning (studying) so that you can, for a lifetime, increasingly love God with a well-trained mind, a mind that can identify key questions, pursue understanding, dissect arguments, discover logical fallacies, and communicate effectively.
Be Trained to Make a Difference
College is an opportunity to get the training you need to make a difference in the world — by becoming a business person, an engineer, a doctor, a teacher, a historian, a physical therapist, a husband, a wife, a parent, who sees God’s lordship extending to every area of life and every corner of the globe.
It’s a time to take the gifts God has given you and develop them into finely-tuned skills — the kind that can really serve and benefit other people (some of whom may even pay you). It’s a time to become a man or woman with unshakable character and faithfulness — the kind that can be given increasing areas of responsibility, and who can eventually rise to leadership. It’s a time to honor all that your parents did for you by learning to own your decisions, even your mistakes, as you embrace a full-orbed, God-dependent adulthood.
Alex Chediak is an associate professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University and the author of Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World! (Tyndale House Publishers, April 2011). Learn more about Alex on his site, and follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
(This post originally appeared at Desiring God’s blog. Reposted with permission.)
 “College Enrollment and Work Activity of 2010 High School Graduates,” United States Department of Labor, April 8, 2011. Mike Bowler, “Dropouts Loom Large for Schools,” U.S. News and World Report, August 19, 2009.
Family. This is perhaps one of the most powerful single words in our language. For most people, the word 'family' comes loaded with vivid images, memories, and emotions. For some, those are bright, beautiful memories. For others, those are dark, painful emotions. For all of us, however; our only true hope and peace comes from knowing that the one truly good Father has adopted us as His own children, and brought us into His own family.
Still though-our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and others are dear to us. And even if most of those in your family love Jesus Christ and are walking closely with Him, all of us know at least one or two people in our family who are far from God. As author and Cru staff member Randy Newman writes, "Jesus is off limits for a lot of families and friends-or at least that's how it appears sometimes. Why does sharing the good news with a stranger often feel less frightening than telling those you love most?"
This week, we share a video clip where Randy talks about that very topic: Bringing God Home. Most college students (that means you!) will spend at least a few weeks of significant time with family during Summer break. So, take a deep breath, think about that family member you love greatly, and yet know that they haven't embraced Jesus Christ, and pray for them. Then press play, and let Randy Newman encourage you.
For more helpful videos on sharing your faith and helping others know Jesus, check out http://overflowtoday.com.
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