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Wanted: Students With a Desire to Change the World

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By: Elisha Lawrence

I like to listen to the news.

I know that makes me a nerd.

I like to read books too so I’m doomed to that stereotype.

I like to listen to the news because I enjoy hearing about what is happening in our world. I’m drawn in to hear about the latest Supreme Court case or developments in nanotechnology.

I can hear about current events happening in Baghdad moments after it has taken place. That is fascinating to me. Knowing about things happening all over the world is genuinely intriguing to me, but it’s also exhausting.

A lot is happening in our world. And the reason most people don’t like to listen or watch the news is because reports of what’s happening in our society tend to be pretty negative.

Another bombing, another school shooting, another corrupt politician or sadly corrupt pastor. It’s exhausting, and it’s disheartening. We don’t want to live every day resigned to experiencing tragedy. We long for some good news.

We long for some hope in the world.

I have been reading the books of Daniel and Ezra over the past few weeks. One of the most amazing things to me is the way that God shows up in the midst of absolute madness.

Most people have heard of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3) or Daniel and the lion’s den (Daniel 6). They are incredible stories of God’s power to preserve his people. And yet they wouldn’t be possible without complete insanity happening all around those people.

In both cases, a mighty king makes a provocative law to promote the worship of themselves.

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar tells everyone to “worship the gold statue” of himself that he set up or they’ll be thrown into a fiery furnace. (Dan 3:5) In Daniel 6, Darius makes a law that people can pray only to him or they’ll be “throwing into the lions’ den.” (Dan 6:7)

Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel don’t abide by these kings laws, refusing to worship anyone but the God of Israel. The first three are thrown in the furnace and Daniel is tossed in with the lions.

But in both cases, God delivers them from sure death.

God delivers them from insane narcissistic kings.

These kings have the power to destroy anyone who goes against their word and yet God miraculously overcomes them both. Hot flames and ravenous lions cannot defeat this God.

As I read these stories, I had a longing rise in my own heart. When I hear the news, my heart does sink many times. I hear about the brokenness of our world and all the tragedy.

When will rape and sexual abuse stop? When will misuse of power and taking advantage of the weak stop? When will the hungry be fed? When will the elderly be loved? When will the prisoner be visited? When will those without hope find ultimate hope?

As the school year begins and college students return, I am deciding to have hope for the future. I don’t base that hope on anything I’ve heard in the news. Instead, I’m counting that there is hope found in the God that I serve.

He can step into the midst of crazy situations and bring healing and deliverance. Our current cultural state is no worse than the one in Babylon in 600 B.C. God is the same God.

College students, I am praying for you. I’m praying the same prayer that Jesus prayed in Matthew 9. Jesus looked out at great crowds of people, like the ones that will enter MTSU this fall, and it says that “he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

I’m praying that God would see fit to raise up students at MTSU who believe that God wants to change our world. I’m praying that God would graciously send some of those students to City Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

I’m praying that God would graciously use me to help equip students to work for meaningful change in the world. I’m praying that God would then send us out to be workers in his harvest.

College students, I want you to become teachers who are passionate about learning and helping kids understand the world that God has made.

College students, I want you to become missionary pilots that fly people to remote villages where the gospel has never been shared.

College students, I want you to enter the music industry with a vision to sing about truth with creativity and ingenuity.

College students, I want you to become lawyers who fight for justice for those who are oppressed and ignored by those with power.

College students, I want you to become church planters who are willing to go wherever God calls you to go and do whatever He calls you to do. And I want to do it with you!

There is hope for something great to be done in our generation. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb 13:8) Yes, there will still be bad news reported.

Jesus hasn’t returned yet. But why don’t we give our lives to be part of the good news that the world is dying to hear about? College students, I can’t do it without you.

Have your people call my people.

Posted by Elisha Lawrence with

Community On Purpose

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By Dustin Walker: 

If you were to look two years into the future of your Community Group, what would you wish to see?

I suspect we would want to see the spiritual fruit of faithfully reading scripture and praying for one another. My guess is that you would want to see deeper friendships. And perhaps you would desire a vibrant faith that is expressed in generosity; generosity to serve, to share, and to speak openly about Jesus.

However, I believe the unspoken assumption many of us have is that we will hit these marks if we just do life together with the right people.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t work out as naturally and organically as we hope for two reasons:

  • The reality of entropy
  • A lack of purpose

Here’s what I mean:

The Reality of Entropy

Entropy is defined as a gradual decline into disorder. Unfortunately, the natural spiritual gravity of every individual is downward. Guided by the strength of our willpower we can hardly rise above our tendencies toward disorder in our thoughts, our words, and relationships. And when we get people together in a group, the entropy is multiplied exponentially. We are prone to passivity, impatience, hurt feelings, jealousy, insensitivity, and malice.

Our first admission must be that we are not the right people. I need Jesus. So do you. Other people aren’t the problem. The problem starts with me. My gradual decline begins when my heart slips away from being anchored in the gospel.

Abundance of Gospel

So how do we combat the forces of entropy in our groups? Good works? Accountability? Making a big commitment? It starts by remembering the gospel. This is done by reading it in the Bible, meditating on it with your mind and heart, and continually speaking and hearing it with others. And once we’re grounded in the gospel, then we can provide the structures and rhythms of good works, accountability, and commitments.

Lack of purpose

Another enemy of fruitful growth in community is a lack of purpose. Think of your group right now (whether or not you are leading the group). Does your group have a stated purpose or set of goals you’re all striving to reach? Zig Ziglar once said, “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” I believe that is true many times of our groups.

I wonder if the things we’re celebrating in our groups are the result of accidental success or prayerful intentionality. Only the Lord knows, but I hope it is the latter.

On Purpose

Merely stating a goal is not the point. We need to think, talk, and pray with one another to determine how we would like to see God move in and among us. Then we need to back that up with faithful words and deeds. Out of our understanding of the gospel, we should link our groups’ godly desires to a commitment and plan of action. This is so we can see spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to do this. Each group has its own personality due to the unique gifts and stories from every individual in the group. But every group goes through seasons where the purpose needs to shift to meet needs in the group. Some groups need to be reminded of the importance of evangelism and hospitality. Some require the discipline of reading scripture. Others need to develop the capable leaders in their group and send them out to plant.

My prayer for this next season of Community Group life at City Church is that we will press forward with purpose. I ask that the Lord would bring purpose and urgency to the gospel task that he’s given each of us to fulfill on our groups. And may Christ be exalted as we faithfully depend upon the strength of the Spirit to supply more than we could ask or imagine.

What do you see as you peer two years into the future for your group? What are you asking for God to do? How will you resist entropy and purpose?

Posted by Dustin Walker with

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