Love is…

This week we spent a couple of days in the Lion’s Den at MSSU asking people to finish the statement, “Love is…” As you might imagine we got a great variety of comments and had some really good conversations with people about why they answered as they did as well as what we, as Christians, believe to be the answer.

Love is…complicated! As students wrote on the board, they were asked if, time permitting, they wouldn’t mind sharing more about their answer. This often led to them asking us about it in return.

From the Christian perspective, love is what God demonstrated toward us when he sent Jesus to die on the cross. This Sunday is Easter, when the followers of Jesus celebrate not his death, but what happened next. We believe that three days later he came back, was resurrected, and so proved the truth of all the crazy things he taught during his life. Claims like he was the God incarnate. Crazy! But how else to explain his return? Claims that he came to heal broken relationships, to make the world a better place and that by trusting in him we can have a relationship with God that leads ultimately to life with him in heaven. Love, for us, is God leading us live better both today and forever, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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Common Notes 2.15.18

The BSU is a Southern Baptist ministry, and one of the greatest benefits of that is our association with the Baptist Faith & Message, the Southern Baptist statement of faith. The BF&M helps inform our belief and behavior, acting as a guideline and guardian for us in our daily lives. This semester, we have chosen to highlight a few of the articles contained therein…

“Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image.” So begins article three of the Baptist Faith and Message. It’s an important sentence. Within that sentence are sown the seeds of much of what we believe. What is says is that people are special, stamped with the image of God, and “every person of every race” bears that special mark. That’s a good thing to keep in mind, because throughout scripture it is clear that God is very concerned about His image and the way that image is treated.

Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:6)

Often that concept, that we are created in the image of God, has been used to defend the rights of the unborn in the fight against abortion (and rightfully so), but what is all too often overlooked is how that applies to so many other social justice issues. God is just; justice is as much a part of His character as love. Article 15 of the Baptist Faith & Message helps us understand what that looks like in practice. There, among other things, we find these words:

We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death…

Social justice is an issue for us because we bear the image of God. So the next time you see someone, anyone, and begin to feel a seed of irritation, apathy or superiority, keep in mind that they bear the image of God, and He is a jealous God. Try instead to, “act in the spirit of love without compromising… loyalty to Christ and His truth.”

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Holy diorama, Batman!

Holy diorama, Batman!

You have to appreciate the Old Testament prophets. They were called on to do all kinds of crazy stuff and they always came through. Even Jonah finished the job, although he clearly took some convincing to do so. One great example is Ezekiel. Take a minute to read Ezekiel 4:1-8. (Go on, I’ll wait…) Essentially, God asks him to make a diorama of the siege of Jerusalem and lay down in the dirt with it for over a year while he preached to passers-by. Image what that must have looked like!

Now, let’s bring that forward. Consider this question: who was your all-time favorite teacher or professor? Chances are they were really good at creative engagement; they found ways to hold your attention and make the material interesting, the good ones always do. God understands that. That’s why, if you take time to read through a lot of the Old Testament prophets, you’ll find tons of examples of these guys doing all sorts of crazy weird things to get people’s attention and make their point.

What does that mean for you, though?

It means this, instead of shirking the responsibility of sharing faith, have a little fun with it instead. Be creative. Look for odd connections and teachable moments when you can take the conversation in an unexpected direction. Don’t force it and you’ll find opportunities to share can come quite naturally. And don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely you’ll wind up making a diorama and laying on the ground somewhere. After all, it’s been done already!

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Thoughts from Defend 2018, day 3

Craig Hazen pointed out that while Jesus is a universal religious figure–everyone feels the need to deal with him–only Christianity makes him the central figure.

Gary Canfield taught that it’s okay to fail, that failure can direct us to where/what we need to be and we’re not going through it alone.

Gary Habermas shared with us six facts that NINETY PERCENT or more of academic experts agree on (including atheists):

  1. Jesus lived and died by crucifixion.
  2. The Disciples sincerely believed they had seen and experienced the risen Jesus.
  3. The Resurrection was proclaimed extremely early by the church.
  4. The Disciples were transformed by their experiences.
  5. James the Skeptic (Jesus’ brother) was transformed.
  6. Saul the Accuser became Paul the Apostle and was transformed.

Given those academically indisputable facts, you do a lot! That said, again, most disbelief is centered not in fact, but emotion. People don’t want to believe, for one reason or another, and twist truth to justify their disbelief. (Incidentally, Habermas indicates that over 75% of all scholars believe in an empty tomb.)

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Thoughts from Defend 2018, day 2

  • Lisa Fields helped us understand that where racial tension exists, trust must be established before truth can be heard.
  • “In Mississippi, if you get divorced, you’re still cousins.” Seriously, though, Mississippi has the lowest per capita income in America and the highest per per capita giving.
  • Science affirms the Bible’s credibility and authority. (Jeff Zweerink)
  • Most doubts aren’t factual, but emotional. (Gary Habermas)
  • “Generalizations are the silent killer of effective communication.” Lisa Fields
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Thoughts from Defend 2018, day 1

“If God is all good, and if God is all-powerful, then why does Alabama keep playing in the national title game?” (Rhyne Putnam)

“There has been far too much genuflection at the altar of David Hume.” (Tim McGrew)

And when asked about the possibility of the existence of Batman somewhere in the multiverse, Jeff Zweerink admitted it was, in fact, possible.

We were also reminded that in a public arena wherein Jesus is misrepresented in an astonishing variety of ways, what he said about himself by word and deed was fairly unequivocal: He. Is. Lord.

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For your consideration…

A great thought we ran into today:

“If you were to raise a child and work your fingers to the bone to send that child to college, and the child only occasionally sent you a Christmas card and never gave you the time of day, that would be wrong. It’s wrong because child owes not just deference but love. Now, if there is a God who created us and keeps us alive every minute, then the love we owe God would be infinitely greater. To not love him supremely would be infinitely worse. If you believe that, you begin to see how much we have wronged him. It begins to draw your heart outward toward him in humility and grief.”


Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God

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