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.
Memorial Day is here, school is nearly done, and the days are growing longer and hotter. The firstfruits of summer have arrived.
As the summer season approached in 1995, Pastor John reminded his church of the spiritual benefits of summer, along with the annual temptations to spiritual laziness in his article, “Setting Our Minds on Things Above in Summer” (May 31, 1995).
Every season is God’s season, but summer has a special power.
Jesus Christ is refreshing, but flight from him into Christless leisure makes the soul parched. At first it may feel like freedom and fun to skimp on prayer and neglect the Word, but then we pay: shallowness, powerlessness, vulnerability to sin, preoccupation with trifles, superficial relationships, and a frightening loss of interest in worship and the things of the Spirit.
Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute. If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fianceé, don’t fall in love with the mailman. That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come — “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Don’t fall in love with the video preview and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.
Jesus Christ is the refreshing center of summer. He is preeminent in all things (Colossians 1:18), including vacations, picnics, softball, long walks, and cookouts. He invites us in the summer: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This is serious summer refreshment.
Do we want it? That is the question.
Christ gives himself to us in proportion to how much we want his refreshment. “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, RSV). One of the reasons to give the Lord special attention in the summer is to say to him, “We want all your refreshment. We really want it.”
Resources on the spiritual value, and temptations, of summer
-by Tony Reinke, for the Desiring God blog. For more articles like this, go to www.desiringgod.org
Let’s face it. Summers can pose a major challenge to our faith and obedience to Christ. It can be a very spiritually isolating time because you are away from the environment and friends that have helped you grow spiritually this past school year. It can be a dangerous time to your faith and your future.
But it also can be a great opportunity to see your faith tested and increase and an opportunity to make some key steps on your own. You can make some decisions now that will put you in a position of advantage and strength as you go into the summer. As a Christian, we can embrace challenges because we recognize the opportunity to trust God in new ways and see our faith grow in ways that we would have never seen otherwise.
Now is the time to act. How can you prepare to meet the spiritual challenges that the summer will bring? Three key essential elements will help you be “more than a summer survivor”. Click here to view the More than a Summer Survivor Guide and let us know how God is working in your life this summer!
Until next week-
Your friends at Cru
Happy Monday friends!
We're excited for y'all as you start off your summer vacation, and are praying that it's restful, fun, and one that grows you as men and women who walk intimately with Christ. In light of that, Upstate Cru is sending out a weekly email during the summer, to encourage you in your walk with Christ.
This week comes from a friend who works with Cru down in Florida, named Ben Rivera:
Luke 7:36-39 records an event that describes one example of what devotion to Christ looks like:
“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
During the time of Christ, it was customary for a visiting Rabbi, as well as other guests, who came for a meal that you would first greet them with a kiss. A kiss on the cheek meant that you were honoring them and showing that they had social ranking. To not give someone a kiss was like ignoring them in front of everyone in attendance. Today it would be like not shaking someone’s hand or greeting them, as though they were not even there.
Part of the custom in the Middle East was the washing of feet before a meal. You would wash the feet of your guests if you really honored them or at least give them water so they could wash their own feet. If someone were an extra special guest, you would think about anointing their head with olive oil.
This was not the case with Simon the Pharisee. Simon should have known these customs as he spent his life studying the law and religious customs. But he did not honor Jesus. Now enter an uninvited woman of the city, a prostitute. They were likely eating in a courtyard setting. We see this “woman of the city” awkwardly come up to see Jesus. In the book, “Not A Fan”, Kyle Idleman describes the moment this way,
“…when she looks at Jesus, he seems to know what has happened in her heart. He gives her a warm smile. He seems delighted she has come and he looks at her with the eyes of a loving father watching his beautiful daughter as she enters the room…She falls to the ground and begins to kiss his feet. Soon, the tears are just pouring down her face. They begin to drip onto the dirty feet of Jesus…She can’t ask for a towel so she lets her hair down.”
She pours out her flask of ointment on the head of Jesus, which shows her honor for Christ, which not one of them at the meal bothered to do. Jesus has just transformed her past life. Look at what Luke 4:47-50 says as Jesus talks to Simon the Pharisee:
“ Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
This is a story of illustrating what true intimacy with Jesus might look like. No doubt the guests who were at the meal were snickering when this prostitute began to interact with Jesus. But it did not matter to her, she understood that there was something different about Jesus.
Do we look to the Word of God on a regular basis and ask God to continue to transform our lives?
Do we pray and tell God our every care and most intimate secrets? (yes, He already sees them).
Do we do things out of religious duty or because of our heartfelt love for Jesus?
Do we have the same outward heart for Jesus that the woman illustrated, despite what others might think?
This summer, keep your hearts focused on the main thing – Jesus. Follow the truths in His Word as the roadmap for our lives. Spend time regularly with Jesus now and especially throughout the summer.
**If you'd like to read more of Ben's writing, check out his website at http://www.benrivera.org. Have a great week treasuring and displaying Christ!
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