Sunday, August 31, 2008

Heart of God

Welcome week is over! It was a good welcome week from what I can tell. I have seen returning students reaching out to new students. I have seen new students making new friends. I am going to enjoy having the day off tomorrow...a much-needed break.

As we look to help all our students experience Jesus this semester, I pray that their decisions bring glory to God. This is the time when many students begin making small decisions that lead in directions away from the heart of God. To expect this of our students, I must be ready to lead the way.

Lord, may I continually seek your heart in every decision, in every action, in every conversation. Give me your patience. Show me your heart. May your Spirit guide me.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wrestle God

I am excited about the semester! Who knows what plans the Lord is about to unfold? My prayer is that I have the courage to empower students to experience God in powerful ways. I pray that God move in such a way that when looking back one cannot help but say, "That was God!"

Tomorrow we begin our semi-leadership retreat. I say "semi-" because I haven't advertised it as a leadership retreat at all. This retreat is a small step toward one of my major goals this year: to develop a team of students committed to lead other students closer to God's heart! This will take a major investment of my time and energy.

I have even considered not doing the discipleship group for this year in an effort to streamline some of my time and energy. This is the time that I wrestle with God in what to choose. Where do I spend my time? What good, wholesome things do I choose not to do? What will have God's blessing? What should I avoid? What do I teach? Dare I say, like Jacob, "I will not let you go unless you bless me?" We will see.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The One Shot

The SHSU football players came to church this morning. It was good to see them there. I'm grateful that their coach makes them experience church at some level. I pray they see God.

I do always wonder what is going on as they sit in the couple of services they are required to attend each year. Are they freaked out with the non-instrumental singing? Do they understand the things we do? Are they hyper-critical of, disinterested in, or excited about things? How religiously inclined are they? Does the sermon connect to them? Are they encouraged? Are they engaged? Will they seriously come back? Did they see Jesus? Are we pushing too much or too focused on them? All these types of questions have circled my mind in the last week, especially this morning.

Here is what I conclude: I can't worry about it.

Sometimes we can get all worked up over what we believe to be the one shot, the one opportunity, the only chance. I hear some saying nervously, "They may never step foot in this building again!!" meaning that we must do everything we can right now.

My approach is somewhat different. I take what opportunities the Lord provides and do what I can. I am in the planting seeds business. The Lord is working the ground of people's heart before they ever come my way sometimes. So, I'm not too interested sometimes in how "perfect" everything went.

I do pray that the Lord brings to himself those he needs right now. I pray that hearts were pricked. If they don't come to our building again, may the Lord draw them to himself in a later conversation or in a powerfully deep experience. There are many ways that the Lord draws us to himself.

I pray that we look for more ways to put ourselves out there in opportunity-ridden situations. May we scatter the seeds, water when necessary, and patiently wait for God's fruit to appear in time. Where does the Lord need you to be?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What Right Do I Have?

“What right do I have, a person called by God, confirmed by the Holy Spirit, and spurred on by divine love…what right do I have to expect something out of any of you in regards to living God’s way of life?

My answer is threefold:

One…I have NO RIGHT.

I have no right to expect something out of you. I have no meaningful relationship with you. I don’t really know you. I might know of you, but I don’t know you. I don’t go with you to work or to have fun. I haven’t been in your home. I see you here in the building occasionally. But, I don’t have your trust. I am not an influential person in your life. So, I have no right to speak any expectations into your life.

Two…I have SOME RIGHT.

I have some right to expect something out of you. As a fellow human being I understand the struggles you have, the temptations to turn away from God. I do know you more than you think. I also know what God intended for his creation. I know it is good and beautiful and full. I know God’s love for us. I know how God desires to mend the broken relationship. So, I have some right to speak some expectations into your life.

Three…I have EVERY RIGHT.

I have every right to expect something out of you. I am your example. I am your minister. I am your servant. I am your leader. I am your pastor. I am your shepherd. When you listen to my words it is as if God is speaking. His spirit directs my spirit. His movements are my movements; there is no difference between us. Everything that has been created, has been created through me. So, I have every right to speak expectations into your life.

I expect you to give up your rights and follow me. Or do you not understand when I said, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’ Yes, I am Jesus…the one who died…for you.”

I, Chris, ask this: are you spending time with our Lord and letting him speak expectations into your life?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

God's Process

Yesterday I reconnected with two of my High School friends through facebook. Thinking back to those days draws me into reflection on how God has moved me in this journey toward full life with him. From golf to accounting to marriage to graduate school to ministry God has moved me closer to his heart slowly over these last 12 years. It is a process that takes time...a lifetime. God's patience truly does mean salvation.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Organization, Part 2

So I received a call this morning from a random person. She introduced herself as my mind thought...telemarketer. She said she was a professional organizer. I thought that this was strange, but interesting. Some anonymous person from my church called her to come help me with my office. I started laughing out loud at the thought!! She asked what my thoughts were and I couldn't stop laughing. It was hard for me to admit to a stranger. She wanted to find a time when we could meet. After deciding on a time later this week, we discussed my office situation in a little more detail. This lady is now going to help me develop a plan for organizing my office. Is that cool or what?

My initial thoughts turn toward my relentless and sometimes unhealthy self-reliance. To hear myself say I need to get organized sounds completely different when someone else says the same thing! I briefly felt embarrassed to admit that I needed someone else to come help me get organized. But, I came to my senses understanding this is exactly what I need...a plan.

What do you need to admit that you need help with? What's stopping you from asking for it?

Kats for Christ Name Change

We are Kats for Christ.

In years past we have been called "The Bible Chair" (some still call us that) or "The Church of Christ Bible Chair" or "The Church of Christ Student Center."

Beginning this fall semester we are intentionally starting to make a move from "Church of Christ Student Center" to "Kats for Christ." While we have been using both interchangeably since the early 90s, the Lord has led me to help us make this much-needed transition official. There are several reasons this transition needs to happen.

First Reason

We need to point others to Jesus rather than to a particular denomination. This is shaped mostly by my meditation on the stories of Jesus. I hear Jesus' words burning in my heart. "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." "...any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple."

The more I look at our students the more I see people who want to follow Jesus more than any particular denomination. Without rejecting their denomination, they do experience tension in contending that their denomination is the only one students should choose. They recognize that Jesus calls us to loosen the dividing lines of religiosity, to love our "Samaritan" neighbors with God's love, and to invite "the sick" in to be healed by our heavenly doctor. All of these help us fulfill Jesus' charge to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. Our students understand that Jesus transcends and permeates our dividing walls. That is why they feel this tension.

Second Reason

The students on campus are starving for the heavenly feast of Jesus. They need a safe place to come where they can encounter our Lord without any strings attached. And unfortunately (right now anyway) our church buildings are unsafe. Innocently, as students come to our church buildings we exalt the church building or being a part of our denomination rather than Jesus. We invite them to potlucks, to worship services, to whatever other events we can create. These are good! Hear me! At the same time, we force them to fill out this card so we can contact them later, we lock them in to hear our little spiel, or we stigmatize them as outsiders in the way that we talk about belonging to our group.

It seems like Jesus allowed people to belong to him publicly without forcing himself into their "space." He fed thousands and seemed to be okay with this. Even those who come looking for him afterwards in John 6:25ff. (presumably at their own initiative) are met with more admonitions to work for eternal life kind of food. In Luke 7:1-10 Jesus could have easily forced himself into the centurion's house; he was even on the way. Yet, when he hears this, he stops and reveals the surprising example of faith (rampant in Luke) to the crowds following him!

Jesus never told the centurion to fill out a card if he wants to really belong to the faithful. Jesus never admonished the centurion that he needs to have more faith. He simply and safely meets people where they are and allows them to belong without any pharisaical strings.

Interestingly enough, simply changing the name on our building from "Church of Christ Student Center" to "Kats for Christ" will tremendously help us create a safe place for those looking simply to belong to Jesus.

Third Reason

We have to change our initial conversations to focus more on Jesus! We must spread the fragrance of Christ wherever we go! We must stop creating a hurdle for students in their search for Jesus! Our name has been creating that hurdle!

Consider the hypothetical (yet incredibly normal) conversation below. Notice the trajectory of the conversation, even if we say the exact same thing after their first question.

NEW STUDENT: "What group are you with?"
KFC REP: "I'm with the Church of Christ Student Center."
NEW STUDENT: "Oh...okay. Well what do you do?"
KFC REP: "Well, we do everything we can to follow Jesus."
NEW STUDENT: "Do I have to be a member of the Church of Christ to come?" ....

Notice the subtle tendency in the conversation toward Church of Christ rather than Jesus. I see the new students thoughts in their question. They think (always to themselves), "I smell the fragrance of a denomination here! I better explore this!"

In today's campus environment all kinds of red flags go up for students when they sense exclusiveness from anyone...even if they are part of a particular denomination. It makes them incredibly uncomfortable to know that someone would reject another believer's beliefs based solely on their denomination. And they will avoid any Christian group that even "seems" to give that impression with their name.

Change the name, change the conversation! Change the name, change the fragrance!

Consider these new conversations that I anticipate becoming normal:

NEW STUDENT: "What group are you with?"
KFC REP: "I'm with the Kats for Christ?"
NEW STUDENT: "Oh...okay. Well what do you do?"
KFC REP: "Well, we do everything we can to follow Jesus."
NEW STUDENT: "Like what?" ....

This conversation explores the ways that we seek to follow Jesus in our service, our Bible studies, our conversations, our activities, our friendships, our mission trips, and in our relationships with everyone. The denomination conversation takes a back seat.

Sure, if someone wanted to know, they will eventually ask. We have no reason to hide that we are supported by Huntsville Church of Christ and carry many of its traditions. What is important in today's campus culture is the center of the conversation: Jesus! The fragrance of Christ is spread more readily with something as simple as a new name.

Name Change

Our name is an expression of our character, our values, and our focus. We seek to train and mature disciples of Jesus.

We are Kats for Christ.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I don't know whether this is an excuse for not being polished or organized in ministry like I should, but my organization skills are lacking. Don't get me wrong, I can organize things, but compared to others (specifically my wife...I love you sweetie) my organization unorganized.

Then in my spiritual reflection on this issue I hear a small voice. I'm not sure if it is something inside me or if it is God, but a voice nonetheless. The voice tells me that if I manage to get my office organized, the grace of God might overtake me in regards to my organization skills. I don't know how to take this, but I do know that I would like my office consistently cleaned and organized. It makes me feel good about myself among other things.

A lot must happen before the semester begins...I pray that God's grace comes when and where He needs it. Maybe organization will come as part of that grace. We will see.