Tune My Heart

Living and speaking for Jesus

Tag: love

Settling in

You’ve got to the end of freshers’ week – but now what? Here’s some advice for Christian students I’ve gleaned from various people over the years (with particular thanks to Dave Bish and Jim Walford).

Join a church

No one can make it alone as a Christian, and living as a student is no exception. You’ll probably be challenged about what you believe, whether in lectures or down the pub. There will be pressure to conform to a sinful culture; many Christians flirt with temptation rather than fleeing, and regret it later. You need people to support you and challenge you because they love and care for you. As a Christian you’re already part of God’s worldwide church, so make it a priority to join a local church community. Church will help you grow as a Christian, so find somewhere where as God’s Word is taught people grow to love Jesus more, love each other more and love the lost more.

Join the CU

Christian Unions are mission teams made up of students from different local churches, united around the gospel in order to better reach students with the good news of Jesus. In short, they exist to make Christ known on campus. Join your CU to get involved in student mission; to be better equipped to reach your friends with the gospel; and to be encouraged as you work as a team to bring others to know Jesus. Find out more on the UCCF website.

Join other societies/do other things!

God’s made a good world, with so many great things in it. Don’t do what I did in my first year and do so many Christian things you don’t have time to play football/sing in a choir/join the wine circle/get involved in student politics/act in a play/go to the pub with coursemates. Not only is it wrong to think such things are “less spiritual” (all of life is for God’s glory!), if you throw yourself into loads of Christian meetings to the exclusion of all else, you’ll find opportunities for mission few and far between. This is my biggest regret about my first year at university. Do something to get outside of the Christian bubble, even if it’s simply spending time with your flatmates!

Work hard, rest well

It may not feel like it sometimes, but you’re at university to study for a degree. This is a good thing to do! Your attitude to your work is a great witness to others, but more importantly God asks us to work as if working for him. My experience is that you actually enjoy your work more the more effort you put in; this is possibly my second biggest regret of my first year, as I didn’t get much out of it academically.

You also need rest, which may seem impossible during freshers’ week, but getting into good habits early on really does help. The temptation is to stay up late like everyone else, because you feel like you’ll miss out on making friendships, especially early on. God knows what you need though, and one of those things is sleep; you will not lose all your friends if you go to bed before them! (You may well find they’re waiting for someone else to suggest going to bed…) Naps are also useful, if you have been up late; caffeine less so.

Learn to love

Your flatmates might “borrow” your food, or not do the washing up, or wake you up after a late night out. Your lecturers might not be very good, or overly harsh, and can sometimes be ridiculed or hated by others. You might meet people in the CU with whom you disagree: on theology, on style of meeting, on whether Jesus would have joined the Conservative or Labour Party, on all sorts of things you hold dear. God hasn’t put you with these people and in these situations to annoy you: he’s given you an opportunity to learn to love people. This is important with non-Christians, but possibly even more so with Christians. If members of the CU don’t love each other, that’s not a good witness. If they do love each other, learning to put aside secondary issues because they agree on the core truths of the gospel, it’s a far better witness. Francis Schaeffer said:

Love – and the unity it attests to – is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father. (Francis Shaeffer, in Graham Beynon, God’s New Community (IVP), p92.)

Remember grace

You may have great intentions, but as a sinful human being you’re going to mess up. Don’t forget the gospel. Jesus died for you, and his perfect righteousness is enough to cover even the most spectacular failings. I was far from perfect at university, and needed daily reminders of God’s grace to me. (Also related: joining a church!) Living in close proximity with others, it’s reasonably sure they’ll get to see your sins and struggles – so take the opportunity to tell them of Jesus, who accepts sinners like you and them.

Summary

University is a great opportunity for so many things, but above all to grow to know and love Jesus more, and so love other people more, through living and speaking for him in your academic work, your time with friends, your CU involvement and in your church family. My prayer is that you’ll do just that!

Overflowing

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3, ESV)

strawberries

Outside my front door is a plastic box full of strawberry plants. The recent sunshine and showers have meant they are thriving – sending out lush green leaves and starting to bud. I can see the first fruit beginning to develop in the middle of the flowers.

The Bible often uses natural imagery to convey something of who God is and what he’s like. Here in Hosea we’re encouraged to “press on to know the Lord”, who will come to us as “the spring rains that water the earth”. Just as the recent rain means that my strawberry plants are flourishing, so it is with knowing the Lord – as we see more of who he is and what he’s like, we find ourselves refreshed, and our hearts are drawn to him once more.

Jesus picks up a similar theme in John 4, where he says that “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

This spring of water “flowing from within [us]” (John 7:38-39) is the Holy Spirit, who brings eternal life. And what is the life that the Spirit brings?

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

The Holy Spirit pours the love of God into our hearts (Romans 5:5) so that we might know the Father and the Son. As we know more of them, our hearts are nourished and transformed. As we drink this living water, just like my plants in the spring rains, we find we grow and flourish, knowing life in its fullness, bearing much fruit.

So drink deep, doubting heart. He will come to us “as the spring rains that water the earth”, graciously bringing life to arid lives and hard hearts, always and forever overflowing with love.

Family

She didn’t even know my name.

I was visiting a church and was browsing the bookstall after the meeting had ended. Having found what I wanted to buy, I realised I had no cash or cheque book on me. A woman overhead me say so.

“Let me buy it for you.”

I protested. I didn’t know this woman. The book cost fifty dollars. I started: “That’s very kind of you, but I couldn’t possibly—” when she cut me off.

“Are you a Christian?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

Immediately she said: “So can’t a sister buy a book for her brother?” As she said this, she got out her cheque book and reached for a pen.

We had just met. I was a white British man in my mid-twenties; she was a middle-aged African American woman. Yet she instantly offered to buy me a fifty dollar book, because in Christ, I was her brother.

Sister, you will likely never read this; but one day, when we meet again, I will thank you for showing me so clearly what Jesus meant when he said: “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another”.

Originally posted on February 29th, 2012. Cross-posted to Call to Family.

There, in heaven, this infinite fountain of love – this eternal Three in One – is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it, as it flows forever. There this glorious God is manifested, and shines forth, in full glory, in beams of love. And there this glorious fountain forever flows forth in streams, yea, in rivers of love and delight, and these rivers swell, as it were, to an ocean of love, in which the souls of the ransomed may bathe with the sweetest enjoyment, and their hearts, as it were, be deluged with love!

Where are the young men and women of this generation who will hold their lives cheap and be faithful even unto death? Where are those who will lose their lives for Christ’s sake – flinging them away for love of him? Where are those who will live dangerously and be reckless in his service? Where are his lovers – those who love him and the souls of men more than their own reputations or comfort or very life?

Where are the men who say ‘no’ to self, who take up Christ’s cross to bear it after him, who are willing to be nailed to it in college or office, home or mission field, who are willing, if need be, to bleed, to suffer and to die on it?

Bring me to Christ

What the Christian heart needs then is simple: It needs Christ. Bring me to him. He is my great physician, my wonderful healer. He is the fire that warms my heart and sets it ablaze. Bring me to him and not to a list of things to do. Tell me of Christ and not law. Tell me of Christ and not a step by step guide on how to live as a Christian. For if my heart is aflame with the love of Christ and my very being filled with the Spirit of Christ then I will walk in step with His Spirit.

Cat Caird’s reflections on new year’s resolutions, looking at what our hearts really need.

What to do as a Christian fresher

Across the country, new students are settling into life in halls and houses. Based on the advice of many people over the years, here’s my advice for Christian students.

Join a church

No one can make it alone as a Christian, and living as a student is no exception. You’ll probably be challenged about what you believe, whether in lectures or down the pub. There will be pressure to conform to a sinful culture; many Christians flirt with temptation rather than fleeing, and regret it later. You need people to support you and challenge you because they love and care for you. As a Christian you’re already part of God’s worldwide church, so make it a priority to join a local church community. Church will help you grow as a Christian, so find somewhere where as God’s Word is taught people grow to love Jesus more, love each other more and love the lost more.

Join the CU

Christian Unions are mission teams made up of students from different local churches, united around the gospel in order to better reach students with the good news of Jesus. In short, they exist to make Christ known on campus. Join your CU to get involved in student mission; to be better equipped to reach your friends with the gospel; and to be encouraged as you work as a team to bring others to know Jesus. Find out more on the UCCF website.

Join other societies/do other things!

God’s made a good world, with so many great things in it. Don’t do what I did in my first year and do so many Christian things you don’t have time to play football/sing in a choir/join the wine circle/get involved in student politics/act in a play/go to the pub with coursemates. Not only is it wrong to think such things are “less spiritual” (all of life is for God’s glory!), if you throw yourself into loads of Christian meetings to the exclusion of all else, you’ll find opportunities for mission few and far between. This is my biggest regret about my first year at university. Do something to get outside of the Christian bubble, even if it’s simply spending time with your flatmates!

Work hard, rest well

It may not feel like it sometimes, but you’re at university to study for a degree. This is a good thing to do! Your attitude to your work is a great witness to others, but more importantly God asks us to work as if working for him. My experience is that you actually enjoy your work more the more effort you put in; this is possibly my second biggest regret of my first year, as I didn’t get much out of it academically.

You also need rest, which may seem impossible during freshers’ week, but getting into good habits early on really does help. The temptation is to stay up late like everyone else, because you feel like you’ll miss out on making friendships, especially early on. God knows what you need though, and one of those things is sleep; you will not lose all your friends if you go to bed before them! (You may well find they’re waiting for someone else to suggest going to bed…) Naps are also useful, if you have been up late; caffeine less so.

Learn to love

Your flatmates might “borrow” your food, or not do the washing up, or wake you up after a late night out. Your lecturers might not be very good, or overly harsh, and can sometimes be ridiculed or hated by others. You might meet people in the CU with whom you disagree: on theology, on style of meeting, on whether Jesus would have joined the Conservative or Labour Party, on all sorts of things you hold dear. God hasn’t put you with these people and in these situations to annoy you: he’s given you an opportunity to learn to love people. This is important with non-Christians, but possibly even more so with Christians. If members of the CU don’t love each other, that’s not a good witness. If they do love each other, learning to put aside secondary issues because they agree on the core truths of the gospel, it’s a far better witness. Francis Schaeffer said:

Love – and the unity it attests to – is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father. (Francis Shaeffer, in Graham Beynon, God’s New Community (IVP), p92.)

Remember grace

You may have great intentions, but as a sinful human being you’re going to mess up. Don’t forget the gospel. Jesus died for you, and his perfect righteousness is enough to cover even the most spectacular failings. I was far from perfect at university, and needed daily reminders of God’s grace to me. (Also related: joining a church!) Living in close proximity with others, it’s reasonably sure they’ll get to see your sins and struggles – so take the opportunity to tell them of Jesus, who accepts sinners like you and them.

Summary

University is a great opportunity for so many things, but above all to grow to know and love Jesus more, and so love other people more, through living and speaking for him in your academic work, your time with friends, your CU involvement and in your church family. My prayer is that you’ll do just that!

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