Areopagus Campus Ministry

21 Apr

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If you get a chance, check out the Areopagus website here.  On it, you’ll find details regarding the ministry of the Christian Reformed Church at Iowa State.  I am excited to be the new director, and look forward to what God is going to do through Areopagus.

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The Federal Head of the Hillsborough 96: Liverpool F.C.

17 Apr

On April 15, 1989, tragedy struck at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England.  On the cusp of an FA Cup Semi-final tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, police allowed fans to flood standing room areas at the Leppings Lane end of the stadium.  This rapid influx of fans, combined with the lack of police control, led to a human crush.  Chaos ensued. Fans screamed and did everything they could to escape the area, climbing over the side fences and clambering up to the sections above.  As the pressure was relieved, the bodies of the injured and dying were strewn about the pitch, many of them awaiting emergency care that never came.

Ninety-six people died that day.  Seventy-nine of them were 30 years old and younger.  It remains to this day the worst stadium-related disaster in the history of Britain.

As a Liverpool football fan, I cannot help but grieve for the families of those who lost loved ones.  That is part of what is means to become part of a sports family.  You become a part of the history; the successes, the failures, the triumphs, the tragedies.  Though fans are found around the world–myself in the United States–we are united together around this football team.

And this leads me to a video I found yesterday when I was perusing Youtube:

It is a very powerful video.  Emotionally charged.  A roller coaster of pain and frustration, culminating in triumph and determination, looking ahead to a match with title competitors, Manchester City, on the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary.

But whether knowingly or unknowingly, the video presents us with something more.  It reveals the power of sports, the hope it creates for people, and the way in which a team can unite them around itself and represent them.

In this case, Liverpool F.C. serves as the federal head of all kinds of Liverpudlians, bringing them together under the red banner and emboldened Liverbird.  Even the motto, You’ll Never Walk Alone, conveys the unity and bond between club and community.  And did you catch the language? The video connects religious language to the tragedies of the past and the present hope in the form of the current squad.  The team takes on a messianic role, to represent the community–and especially the 96–and bring justice in the form of realized hope: a Premier League Title.

And yet, the hope a team brings is fleeting.  For every success, every victory, and every title, there are countless failures and losses.  The pain of  loss and the questions of justice will remain even after championship parades and celebrations ushering in the good days at Anfield again.  But there is a greater hope that does not fade, a more perfect representative who stands at the ready–to bring true justice, victory over death and despair, and loving kindness–for all those who might find Him as their head: Jesus Christ.

And so, I hope along with all my fellow Reds supporters that we can bring the title back to Anfield.  I desire to see joy and happiness return–if only for a summer–to many of those whose life is football, and many who have lived with the pain and trials of the past 25 years in the wake of Hillsborough.  Yet, as a servant of Christ, I yearn that their eyes, like mine, would be opened to the glorious grace of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For surely, with Him, we may never walk alone.  Amen.

 

Update in Ministry

11 Apr

In February, I visited and accepted a position as the director of ministry for Areopagus, the campus ministry of the Christian Reformed Church at Iowa State University.  If you would like to read more about this ministry, check out their website here.

Please pray for me as I take on this new role, and if you would like to financially partner with the ministry, check out the donate page, here.

Selected Writings 2

17 Mar

Today’s text: Genesis 14:16, 18-20:

Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people. (v. 16)

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.  And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” 

Abram saves Lot, delivering him from the enemy kings, and receives the blessing of God Most High, from the priest-king Melchizedek.  There is some amazing typology going on in this passage, revealing the consistent, and amazing, faithfulness of God to his people.

Abram serves as the kinsman redeemer, saving his relative, Lot.  Just like Boaz and Ruth, Christ and his Church.

God uses his chosen to save a people (Lot, his family, all their possessions), and be a blessing to the nations (like Sodom, Gomorrah, etc.).

Abram receives the blessings of God Most Hight through the priest-king, pointing ahead to a day when man would receive the immeasurable riches of God’s grace by the perfect prophet, priest, and king, Jesus Christ.

Immediately after this passage, God again covenants with Abram.  God declares that he will bless him.  And how?  Promising himself to Abram as a shield, and to give him the son needed to guarantee the perpetuity of the Covenant of Grace.

So what does this mean for me?  I can take confidence in the patterns, promises, and faithfulness of God to his people.  He will do what he has said he will do, and I need only to look to the cross to be reminded of this.  I can rejoice in this and, despite my fears, failures, and unfaithfulness, strive each day to live obediently in light of the Lord and his faithfulness.  Amen.

 

Selected Writings

11 Mar

The ESV Bible and Diet Coke

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share some selected passages from my devotional journal.  This past year, I have been making a more concerted effort at writing down my observations, thoughts, and prayers in a journal (something that has always been a struggle for me).  Today’s selection comes from Genesis 7:1:

Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.”

God tells Noah that he is righteous before him (God) in this wicked, violent generation (Gen. 6:11).  Noah’s righteousness points ahead to that of Abraham.  His righteousness was based upon faithful obedience to the command of God.  The Lord tells Noah that he is going to destroy all flesh, and that Noah is to build an ark to preserve the remnant (another fascinating type throughout the Scriptures).  In faith, Noah does this, to which God declares him righteous.

Hebrews 11:7 states that Noah, by faith, and in reverent fear, constructed the ark.  Through this, he and his household were delivered, the world was condemned, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.  So, it was not the building of the ark itself that brought righteousness, but the manner in which it was built: faith.

And just as Noah became an heir to the righteousness that comes by faith, so, too, does Shem, his son.  And one of Shem’s sons, Terah, had a son named Abram (Abraham), who also received this righteousness as he trusted the gospel preached to him beforehand by God (Gal. 3:6, 8-9), and acted out of this faith in all that God commanded him.  And through Abraham’s offspring, Jesus Christ, all peoples would be, by faith, found righteous as well.

Today, I must trust in these hopeful words, and live by faith in the God who sent his Son to bless the world by his life, death, and resurrection.  Not only this, but I need to remember these truths when faced with temptation to sin, as well as opportunities to serve others:

1. I am united to Christ, the holy, righteous one of God
2. Because I am united to Christ, I can resist temptation, and strive to put sin to death (just as my old self was put to death, and then raised to new life in Christ)
3. It is Christ in me who works for the good of others, and he empowers me by his Spirit to minister to their needs
4. Daily I must turn to Christ, rejoicing in the blessings he’s secured for me, faithfully obeying the commands he’s given me, and looking ahead to the promises yet to be fulfilled

 

 

Photo Credit: Scott Fillmer (http://scottfillmer.com)

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