Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Oops, wrong info on Union College vespers

I had this bright idea to check out Union College's website and check out their religious programming. And as I looked at their vespers programming, I saw that it was very similar to Southwestern's vespers programming. So, I started wondering, "What were the Union students talking about?" They told me that they had a student give their testimony at vespers, but on their website, it shows that they brought in speakers like Jose Rojas and James Black. In fact, my chaplain even spoke for vespers at Union.

So, I did some more investigating and I realized that the vespers with the students' testimonies was actually on Saturday around sunset time. Union calls the Saturday vespers "V2." Vespers 2, maybe?

Well... there goes my argument for changing Southwestern's Friday night vespers. Our Friday vespers is like Union's Friday vespers.

I still feel that more student involvement (including preaching) at Southwestern's Friday night vespers would relate to the students more. However, convincing Pastor Lane to make radical changes to vespers may be difficult. I'm not sure if God wants me to "fight" this battle.

Also, I've asked two Christian friends for their opinion on vespers and they like vespers just the way it is.

Maybe vespers doesn't need to be changed.

What will be my input towards vespers programming next year? I don't know. I'll have to keep praying and see where God leads.

I'll keep you all posted.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

"Pastor Lane, can we radically change vespers?"

"Pastor Lane [my chaplain], can we change vespers [Friday night program]?"

"Sure, what do you want to change?"

"I heard about Union College's vespers where they have students give their testimony. I think that would glorify God and unite the student body. I don't have a problem with flying in speakers to speak to us. But I think the students would relate more to a testimony given by one of their peers. Secondly, I feel that there would be a uniting influence on the student body as we listen to one of our peers share their story. Finally, we, as the campus ministry staff, would show that we want students to speak out and get involved."

"That sounds like a good idea. We can definitely make those changes."

Okay, so I'm dreaming. This conversation didn't really happen. Big changes don't usually come that quickly or easily. In fact, I haven't talked to Pastor Lane yet because we've both been busy this week. But I am definitely going to ask him to make these changes at vespers.

See, in the last couple of semesters, I usually didn't go to vespers. I would go to church and be part of a small group or Sabbath school class, but I felt that one sermon was enough per week. I feel I actually get more from reading a book than hearing a sermon. (You should see all the books I've read during my college life.) Also, I didn't get much from the vespers speakers. So, I would go to church but not vespers.

However, I've just started going back to vespers since I came back from the campus ministry conference. It doesn't seem right for me to be part of the campus ministry staff and not go to the main spiritual college program. Also, it seems that God has also been dealing with me. I probably should go to vespers to be an example to others. And God seems to be pushing me to be more outgoing and to mingle with students and get to know them better. Well, vespers is probably a good place for that.

Anyways, I'm trying to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. I think having student testimonies would be more powerful than bringing in a speaker who may or may not relate to SWAU college students. One thing I noticed at the campus ministry conference is that the most effective programs seem to be programs where the students do everything -- even the preaching and speaking.

Well, please pray for us, the SWAU campus ministry staff, as we wrestle with the vespers programming for next year. I'll post later on how things go with vespers.

Happy Sabbath!


Friday, March 25, 2005

Steve's cool vision for Adventist youth

What a cool day (see previous post for more of this cool day).

Steve (pseudonym) used to go here at Southwestern. I didn't really know him that well. We were more like acquaintances instead of friends. But he seemed like a cool guy. Anyways, I see him after the Friday night program and we start chatting. I ask him about his job since we both graduated with business degrees. He's at Houston working for a loan company. And he tells me of one of his job offers that he was about to accept. However, this company was going to make him work on Sabbath. And he struggled with that decision. He even thought about donating the money from his Sabbath work. But he finally decided to not to take that job and God blessed him with his current job.

Now, that decision in itself is awesome. But it gets better. Since he doesn't work on Sabbath, he's helping out with his local church. He's church leader over the youth. And he's encouraging them to go to Southwestern. In fact, one of his youth members is coming to Southwestern this weekend to check out the campus and the people.

He's got a cool vision for his youth group. He's has some of friends at Southwestern that will come back and live in Houston and help out with the youth group. And he hopes that with his and his friends' influence, people in his youth group will attend Southwestern.

It's a pretty cool cycle. Go to an Adventist college. Grow in Christ. Graduate. Go back and serve in the local church. Encourage the youth in the church to go to an Adventist college. Those youth go to an Adventist college. And the cycle repeats.

I bet this cycle would help keep Adventist young people in the church.


Joe's crazy decision

What a cool day.

Today I was talking to one of my good buddies. I'll give him the pseudonym Joe. Now Joe is pretty intelligent. However, his spiritual life goes up and down. Sometimes he's on fire for God and sometimes he's indifferent towards God. And he's had this spiritual struggle of not trusting in God especially about marriage. See, he wants to get married. And, in the past, he worried about finding the right person and getting that person to like him. It would always be a barrier to his relationship with God. But, currently, he seems to be growing closer to God.

So, we're in my place talking about different topics of life: the corporate/working world, careers, the church, our generation, ministry, family, etc. One thing I like about him is that he is gut-level honest with me. He doesn't beat around the bush. He gives his honest opinion and perspective of life.

Anyways, we're talking about these big life issues. And then, he starts telling me about this decision he's made. And it's a big decision. I won't tell you the decision for various reasons but it's a huge choice he's making. This decision basically puts him in a place in life where he must trust God in regards to marriage. He's making a decision that really makes his future uncertain and unpredictable. But he believes that this decision will bring him meaning, fulfillment, and happiness.

So, after he explains the decision, I'm kinda shocked but not too surprised. He's always been one to be creative and live differently from everyone else. And I ask him, "So what about your future? What will your future look like?" I didn't want to blatantly talk about marriage.

And he says, "Well, I'm living one day at a time."

Praise God! This is such a huge step for Joe. I don't think he realizes how much a step of faith this is. If he continues to have that attitude, he will really begin to grow spiritually.

Matthew 6:33-34 (NIV)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Back from the mountain top

I had a really awesome experience at the Campus Ministries Conference at Oakwood College. There just something powerful with hearing awesome sermons, meeting and hanging out with other spiritual people, and just generally focusing on God for a couple days in a row. This experience is what I call the "mountain top" experience. I feel good. God seems near. I sense that God is going to do great things.

But as I arrived back on campus on last Sunday, I began to feel a loss of excitement. I was back at Southwestern with classes on Monday. I had a bunch of homework due at the end of the week. I looked around on campus and realized many students were still indifferent towards spiritual things. I remembered friends that were still struggling with issues in their lives. I was back from the "mountain top" and entering into the "valley."

It was kinda disconcerting, almost jarring to my soul, to realize that things hadn't changed at Southwestern. I don't know, I guess I was expecting people to be praising God and being excited about serving people when I got back. Kinda dumb, huh?

Well, I don't know if others from the conference are feeling "mountain top" withdrawal, but I know
I already miss the people I met at the conference. I miss the powerful sermons. I miss not having to worry about homework. I miss being able to just focus on God without all the distractions in student life. I miss the newness of being in a different college.

But I'm back at Southwestern at the end of my 6th year here. (Because I'm on my second degree). I'm at the "valley" where the multitudes are. I'm at the "valley" where the crowds of students gather. And the students here have many distractions: finances, friendships, romantic relationships, homework, family, etc. Will they hear God's still voice? Will they reach out for Him? Will they seek Him? And will I myself continue to connect with God?

It's amazing to see that Jesus spent much time in the "valley." I'm sure He spent a lot of time praying and meditating on the Old Testament. But I also see Him mingling with people in the crowd. I see Him eating with tax collectors and sinners. Amazing. His first miracle was at a very festive occasion, a Jewish wedding!

I guess I'm realizing that God has me where He wants me. I've had my "mountain top" experience. Now it's time to serve people in the "valley."

[God, thanks for the awesome experience at the conference. I praise You for calling so many talented and passionate people for campus ministry. Thanks for the new friendships, the awesome sermons, and ability to praise You. Please bless us as we serve in the valley. Give us Your love, strength, and patience. Amen.]


Sunday, March 20, 2005

Highlights from the 2005 NAD Campus Ministries Conference

Top Ten Highlights in NAD Campus Ministries Conference (IMHO, of course):

10. having long breaks (over an hour) between meetings

9. playing Mafia until 3:00am (okay, I didn't participate in this but it must've been fun)

8. getting to choose between pizza, sandwiches, and chinese food at the Oakwood College cafeteria

7. experiencing the friendliness of the students at Oakwood College

6. seeing someone laugh when she caught herself making a request to God during the two-day challenge to only give thanks

5. staying up until midnight thanking God and reading His word aloud with the Southwestern leaders

4. hearing Jose Rojas' insights on thanking God in the Thursday night meeting

3. feeling energized and grateful after thanking and praising God in that same Thursday night meeting (I was pretty tired before that meeting)

2. meeting people from the other schools who inspired me spiritually because of their passion to serve God and people

1. taking the two-day challenge to only give thanks when praying

Other random highlights:

  • so, who's the "real" CUC?
  • sitting and eating with five other campus ministries leaders and realizing that five schools were represented at the table
  • meeting someone who eats way too much but has a tapeworm :) and/or a super-super-fast metabolism so he's still relatively skinny
  • Clive's English accent
  • "Ohhhhh Ceeeee"
  • Granola bars
  • sitting at a caf table with a bunch of people and finding out that two of the girls helping out with campus ministry were taking Theology and were also from the same school (way cool!)
  • "whatchu gonna do about it?"
  • Oakwood has two chaplains and twelve chaplain's assistants; Southwestern has one chaplain and one student chaplain; hmmm, I gotta talk to my chaplain about this...
  • Jose's accent
  • "Swaaaaa Oooooo"
  • cool names: Fidi, Sonam, Cale, Beamie (sp?)
  • What I got from Jose's last message on the samaritan woman: the campus whore in the hands of God may be our most powerful evangelist, so we must reach out to "sinners" like her like Jesus did
  • consistently praising and thanking God takes practice; it's hard work
  • And finally, one of the best prayers you can ever pray: "Thank you, thank you, thank you."