Dear College Student: Be Brave


Dear College Student,

Be Brave.

This is a big thing you are doing, not a little thing. Jumping head first into the world. Entering the unknown, in order to know and be known deeper; learning, growing, becoming a truer version of yourself.

Some days might be scary. Other days might be lonely. Some days will be filled with laughter, so full and rich, that you’ll beg for more days, just like that one. You’ll crave more of that, want more – stronger relationships, more authentic conversations, more vulnerability and less doubt.

You’ll look around you and know suddenly that these are the people that you’ll stand beside to watch them marry, you’ll walk together through success and failure, you’ll hold each other’s babies. You’ll cry with them when their jerk boyfriend leaves them, even though you never really liked him anyway. You’ll comfort each other with Doritos and Halo Top, when life sucks the heart and soul right out of you. You’ll cheer and jump when someone gets accepted to something that seemed impossible and elite.

But again, none of it will be easy. It will be good, but very rarely will it be easy, and that can be more than a little disconcerting.

It’s time to be brave. Braver than you’ve ever been.

It’s not actually about reaching the skies. Don’t worry, GPA matters, but people matter more.

Be brave.

Care about truth more than being right.

Set some boundaries. Give of yourself, but only give yourself away to Jesus. Care for friendships, stay up late, do crazy things, but know your limit.

Be brave.

Tell boys, “No.” Tell girls, “No.” Only drink when it’s classy, and stop before you think you should. When situations feel not-quite-right, they aren’t. Get out, don’t do it. We all have a reverse button. Use it.

Be brave.

You have one life and one body, be good to it. Eat good food, three times a day, plus snacks. Workout, join intramurals, or be your athletic self. Get sleep. Stand in front of a mirror and tell your body it’s doing a great job. Don’t berate it. Speak the truth in love to yourself. Make sure you don’t creep out your roommate while doing it.

Be brave.

Some friendships may die. Some of the first people you meet may be your friends forever, but it’s ok if your first roommate isn’t the best one, and it’s ok to let a friendship go when it doesn’t bring out the best in either of you. God is always bringing new people into our lives, some things are worth holding on tight to, while some just aren’t. That’s ok.

Be brave.

Decide what really matters today. And if it takes some time to figure it out, that’s fine too. But don’t let professors tell you what really matters. Don’t let Joe Schmo tell you what you believe in.  Surround yourself with people who have questions, but are looking for answers, not those who believe they have them already. There is a difference between believing in something and being a know-it-all.

Be brave.

Listen for and follow people who share hope. Watch out for people who claim zeal with no mercy. Something is off. That’s a warning signal. People who cry mercy, but have no truth, that’s destructive too.

Think for yourself.

Ask often, “Is this truth in love and love in truth?”

Be brave.

Do not leave your Bible at home. You are going to have to open it, even if you never have before. If you don’t own one, go buy one. I’ll send you one, for that matter! You need a foundation, or everything you think you’re building will crumble. Look in the Word of God for the answers. Find pastors and campus ministries. Go to church, not just for the message, but to be part of the people of God. Seek, find, knock, and pray. Otherwise this world will seem so hopeless, so broken, so lost, that it will physically hurt.

Be brave.

Hold tight to Jesus. He’s not worth giving up – for a boy, a class, a job, a reputation, or a moment.

Be brave.

It’s hard. It’s work. It’s good. It’s new. It’s vibrant. It’s awesome.

Walk brave.
Think brave.
Be brave.
These are some of my favorite college students to be brave with.

* …for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord… 2 Timothy 1:7-8a 

 

Written in Iron Ink: Cancer, waiting, and a God who tends

Cancer is everywhere.

I’m no longer surprised by the growing list of those fighting cancer in our church bulletins, in our personal prayers, and in our neighborhoods and families.

Satan likes to destroy and if he can do something easily, he’ll take that route.

The good news is that cancer only destroys the body. It feels like it destroys the spirit, but time and again I have seen individuals I love stand up and fight it and proclaim the victory of Christ in it.

I am in awe. I am in awe of a God who works hope when life seems to be falling apart and I am in awe of the individuals who cling to Him in the dark moments, as well as the light.

In my recent podcast visit with Rev. John and Sharla Fritz we talked a lot about Waiting, because that’s the title of her latest book, but also because it is the earthly reality of life with cancer.

There are lots of gems of insights from the Fritz’s, but my favorite is their awareness of today. Cancer reminds you that each of us is only promised today, and while it is very imperfect, that day is a tremendous gift.

“Tending to the tender mercies of today.”

This day, right in front of us.

Cancer may feel like it’s winning, this day.

Life may feel overwhelming, this day.

The road may seems so long, or way too short, this day.

The waiting may be unbearable – waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for treatment options, waiting to see if the treatment options worked, waiting to see if it’s in remission, waiting to see if it comes back, waiting to hear how your loved one is doing, waiting, waiting, and more waiting…this day.

But God is tending in the waiting. He tends to us. He tends to our spouse, our children, our loved ones. He tends to today and He tends to eternity.

The body of Christ is there to tend to one another. This life is so momentary. Cancer makes us intensely aware of that, but…

this momentary life is lived in His hands, and best lived together.

God works His testimony in even this, in cancer. He works to shine the hope and light of Christ through our body’s imperfections and weaknesses. He shines so very bright.

He also gives us one another in the wait and I have rarely seen God shine brighter than in tending to one another.

I pray that however you have been touched by cancer, this resource and the other resources listed below will be used by God to tend.

Resources:

Waiting by Sharla Fritz on Amazon

Waiting by Sharla Fritz on Concordia Publishing House with free downloads

Cancer Companions

Phil’s Friends – Care packages for those with Cancer

 

Jesus in Everything: Pringles and Faith

There once was a boy who loved Pringles.

He loved them so much he would save up money to buy them, alongside his hot wheel cars.

When he got married his wife failed to understand his obsession with Pringles, but out of love and care, she faithfully bought him cans of stacked potato chips for his stocking every Christmas and his easter basket every Easter.

But this isn’t a blog about love and marriage, it’s a blog about disappointment, and more than that about faith and genuineness.

I shattered Dave’s world one day when I checked out a series called “How It’s Made” from our local library. In one episode, they show the making of Pringles from start to finish. I remember Dave jumping up from the couch…

“They’re powdered potatoes???!!!”

Dave’s whole life he thought Pringles were the world’s most carefully cut potatoes. Then one day he learned, they’re kind of fake…artificial…not what he thought at all.

We laugh about it. It’s a funny story and you’ll really want to hear Dave talk about his chip struggles in the podcast, but what matters more than the humor of it all is that small things, like this in life, teach us about a bigger picture.

There are so many everyday things that can point us to something bigger if we just let them, if we let our minds wander to the eternal, rather than settle for the here and now.

In John 3, a man named Nicodemus asks Jesus a very complicated question about belief and faith. Jesus answers about being born again. Nicodemus asks another question, based on his limited perceptions and biases-

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Like you and I, Nicodemus thinks about things in a very narrow way. Birth means one thing to him in this story until Jesus reveals to him the bigger picture.

Jesus says “new life” and we think “isn’t there only one life?”

Jesus says “family” and we think “people we live with.”

Jesus says “taco” and we think “Mexican.”

Ok, so Jesus never said taco or Mexican, but the idea for chips and salsa came from somewhere, and I’m pretty sure that’s why God makes tomatoes grow on a vine. 😉

There is a myriad of things in everyday life that can point us, and others, to Christ, if we let them.

At I Love My Shepherd one of our core values is Jesus in Everything. We believe that all things in creation, all of life’s relationships, all of life’s challenges, are best when we let them give us a little more perspective and understanding into who He is.

So, welcome to our new podcast series, Jesus in Everything –

Grounded in the Word, found in the everyday.

Today’s episode is indeed about Pringles and genuineness – how Dave learned that being the most genuine form of ourselves is important and showing people the most genuine and truthful version of Jesus is important too, all through a potato chip.

Where do you see Jesus in your everyday life? Tell us more! We’d love to hear your suggestions for future episodes! Send them to us in the comments below or on social media:

YouTube – I Love My Shepherd

Facebook – @ilovemyshepherd

Twitter – @ilovemyshepherd

Instagram – @ilovemyshepherdministries

Jesus in Everything: Pringles

PS This is not a op-ed about Pringles as a product. They are, and continue to remain, delicious. Dave simply prefers kettle cooked chips with the skins clearly visible, at this point in his potato chip journey.

As mentioned in the podcast – Christ is the Unseen Guest art by Pure Joy Creative