Seven Things CUs Need to Learn

As the next academic year starts, Christian Unions up and down the country re-start. CUs are great; a place for students to come together in fellowship, to pray and evangelise in their campus. I was fortunate in having such a welcoming CU when I went to University, and it probably played a role in leading me to fully commit my life to Jesus. However, they aren’t perfect and in this article I will suggest a few improvements for CUs in general.

  1. There is always a danger of cliques in CUs, where churches group together. This can make it a bit awkward for visitors or for those of smaller churches. In the CU, don’t go to your friends, talk to everyone, chat to those who are on their own. Sometimes, I felt on my own because I never went to one of the popular churches. In my MA year, someone even asked if I was a fresher — not a good sign! At the same time, I don’t judge these cliques because I know they are easy to get into, but always try to avoid them! After all, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, no?
  2. There is a danger of a dominating church. This can lead to the other churches pushed to the side and the committee promoting one church, or one church having too much influence. A CU is not a place for denomination, I love it that a traditionalist and a Pentecostal have the potential to mix in such a space and it should be kept like that.
  3. Welcome traditional churches. Don’t focus on the churches that are big, or are popular, focus on all churches! I reckon 30-50 students at each University don’t go to their CU because they are more traditional in their worship and such and do not feel welcome. The CU is not a charismatic hub; it should be for all churches, so make an effort to include all churches.
  4. Don’t sing your favourite four songs on and on. I have been in a few CU meetings where this has happened and it’s a pain, it’s boring. God is not there. Change it up, sing old stuff, sing new stuff. Write your own stuff! Basically change it up, let God lead, and not yourselves.
  5. Be serious. This sounds like a weird statement to make, but sometimes I felt looking at my CU that some Christians weren’t taking Jesus word seriously enough, I mean we are all sinners, but when some people get put on the committee and you look at their lifestyle, it doesn’t look godly. Now I know, we are all sinners, I am just as bad as them to be honest, but if they don’t even try, remotely to keep the commandments, then how will God bless us? How will people see us?
  6. Don’t be scared to talk about the difficult stuff. Hell, Judgement, sin. They’re not easy subjects and ones that none of us like talking about. They shouldn’t be the main focus of the CU, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything mentioned even once in three years….three years, it does make you wonder. God is love, He is awesome, He is exciting, He is beautiful! Amen to that brothers and sisters, but the gospel is much more. Don’t be afraid of talking about the difficult stuff!
  7. Keep doing what you’re doing. Weird again, eh? Well the acts of love, of kindness that the CU show on campus is always amazing! God blesses you and will use what you do. Keep on showing love and spreading the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep on praying, keep on meeting, keep on singing. I was so blessed, especially in two of my years at the CU and I pray that God will bless your CU, wherever you are.

So I hope these points’ help and start something. I love CUs; I love what they stand for and what they are all about. I love how they might have been rejected by the Universities for their stances, because they are faithful! Yet they do need to improve, as we all do. Have a blessed year brothers and sisters at University.

Youthful Wisdom

So you have probably seen this title and maybe freaked out a little. Here we go again, the youth thinking they know it all.   Hopefully by reading on, you will find that I think nothing of the sort, however, I also don’t think we are plain dumb either.

Youth Arise!

Let’s consider the Methodist revival really quickly. George Whitfield was twenty-six when he became a preacher and John Wesley was just eighteen. These two men, along with many others were young adults when they started in ministry, and these two arguably saw one of the greatest revivals ever! Later, Charles Spurgeon became the pastor of the biggest Baptist church in London aged nineteen, the prophet Jeremiah was a little squirt when he became God’s mouthpiece, and David was a shepherd boy when he fought Goliath. Yet God used the youth to help people see the light! Now hopefully you will see where I am going with this article.

I often hear the argument that young people need to listen to their elders and listen to their wisdom. Now I do not dispute that the more mature of Christians have wisdom that they must share and we as youth must listen. However, at the same time, I think that it’s dangerous to just go along with something because ‘so-and-so’ says to.

If the Wesley’s and the Whitfield’s’ had done the same then it could be argued that the revival may never have happened. Of course God is in control and He may have used someone else to accomplish the same aim. Young people have ideas, we can be enthusiastic, we can be passionate and we can be energetic. This is great and should be encouraged, not frowned upon!

The Wesley’s challenged the old views from the Church of England. They were enthusiastic, they travelled the country, they wrote hymns, they preached the word, and they cared for the poor. In many ways, they went away from what was expected and did what youthful wisdom does, they followed their hearts and were led to places God wanted them.

Let’s look at Jeremiah again, what did God say to him? It’s worth quoting in full:

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

 ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’

‘Alas, Sovereign Lord,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’

But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.

Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.’” (Jeremiah 1:4-10).

The point of this short article is this: Do not let your youthful energy and vigour go to waste, do not let your ideas go unheard! Share them, act on them, be passionate about them. Being young does not make you stupid, in fact you bring a fresh approach to things that haven’t been discussed for years. Challenge the older people in your congregations, don’t cower away. We are like Lions if we are in Christ.

My favourite biblical verse on this is 1 Timothy 4:12:

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”

‘Health warning’

Now, so far it sounds as though I am saying youth beats everything else. That would be foolish to say the least. Saints before us have been through the same experiences of youthful eagerness. It is up to them to guide us, to help us; and down to us to go to them. Older folk, I urge you to encourage young Christians in their ideas and talents; guide them like Christ guides all of us through life, be there and who knows what God can do?

Remember, do not shy away from listening to people, and taking their advice, but remember to pray and seek guidance from God. Before acting on any idea, pray, ask that God shows you if it is the right thing to do, and then pray that he uses it for his Glory. Worship him before you start anything, and never think you are alone. God is with us, and he will use us if he wants. Do not let people say that you are young deter you from doing God’s will. Time and time again, God has proved He will use the youth to shame the older generations, ‘out of the lips of babes, you have ordained praise.’ Time and Time again, God has used the young to shine his light.

Always remember Paul’s words, on our relationships with our brothers and sisters, to the young pastor Timothy:

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).

So brothers and sisters, be encouraged, and may God use every single one of us. Now if you don’t mind I’m going to write some more songs, and think and pray on how we handle Church unity.

How Should Christians Respond to Terrorism?

In the wake of recent horrific terrorist attacks (which are now almost a daily occurrence) in Barcelona, Finland, Russia, London and many other places, there are many different reactions. Some people are inclined to panic; others put on a show of resilience, resolve and unity; and some angrily attack back, verbally or otherwise. But how should Christians respond?

Do not fear

First of all, we should not fear. People with guns, knives and bombs come and go. The Bible tells us not to fear such people, instead to fear God, who is Sovereign in all things:

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28).

In times of crisis and disaster Christians should shine brightest. We have peace and assurance, that whatever happens, Christ is our Saviour, and we eagerly await the heavenly home that awaits us. We are blessed beyond belief. However, this blessing is not reason to hide away in some hermit-hole up a remote mountain in Tibet or pretend everything’s OK and stick our heads in the ground like Winnie the Pooh. That won’t help anybody.

In times of war, everyone is mobilised and prepared for battle, and in the same way we all need to report for duty to our King and Commander. We all have a role to play within the world. We should not shirk from our duty (*wink wink* Jonah).

We don’t fear. We praise the Lord as we march out to battle (2 Cor. 20:21). He is the One we should fear. He is the One with almighty power who allows such atrocities to happen, and even uses them for good (Gen. 50:20, Rom. 8:28), so that He might unite everything together under His Son (1 Eph. 1:10) and thereby make known His Name and His Salvation to the ends of the earth.

Why?

Every day we read or hear the news of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and horrendous accidents all with massive loss of life. Many ask how God can exist or allow such atrocities to carry on. Without wishing to get bogged down with this question, we must remember that this world is fallen, and it is not everything; there will be a day of judgement, where everyone will have to give an account for their actions, and then there will be a new heavens and a new earth.

One of the reasons I love the Psalms is that they were written by people who experienced the exact same problems as us. They are so exactly like us, it is remarkable. There is a psalm for every occasion. Psalm 73 is a great one to read when we feel like everything is going wrong, and people who do evil seem to be having a whale of a time.

The root cause of terrorism and this savage thirst for blood is, of course, sin. Terrorism and war brings out the worst in human beings, as well as sometimes the best in the aftermath. We are sinful fallen creatures, but we are still made in the image of our ever-merciful ever-graceful God.

Prayer

Our first reaction should surely be to pray. Prayer is our most powerful weapon, a direct channel of communication to our God which should be open at all times (Eph. 6:18). We pray for the families of the victims of the attacks, that they may be comforted and find strength in God. We pray for the security forces and leaders in the country, that they may be blessed with guidance and wisdom in protecting the nation. However hard it is, we should also pray for the terrorist organisations responsible for these attacks, for the poor deluded individuals who are so misled by false religions and ideas as to commit such atrocities. At the end of the day they are sinners just like us, the same uncrossable chasm that once separated us from God separates them also. Jesus is the bridge and we pray that all may know Him.

The West is trying to bomb Islamic State out; a much more effective means of removing them would be to pray them out. Can you imagine if world leaders were to call for an international day of prayer for terrorists and terrorism?

We must remember that the Lord is in control and that is not a throwaway statement. The more I look at the pattern of things in this world, the more I see the Lord’s hand at work in the course of events, ever merciful, ever just. God allows life to go on, and us to carry on.

Witness

Christians should show the world in these dark and desperate days the love of God. We love not only our brothers and sisters in Christ but also the people of the world who live a Christless existence (Luke 14:12-14), and this is a love that should not only be in thought or prayer but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:16-18). We mourn with those who mourn. Their loss is our loss. We love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44), we need to have hearts of love and forgiveness (Matt. 6:15).

One of my favourite examples is that of Elisabeth Elliot, who after her husband and four others were brutally killed by a tribe in Ecuador went back and ministered to that same tribe, telling the Gospel with such a love that spoke volumes to the murderers. Later, a son of one of the murdered men was baptised by the very man who had murdered his father and now come to Christ. That same love and forgiveness that so characterised her heart, although it was incredibly hard, we should have with us too. Read 1 Corinthians 13. We may not lose our loved-ones in such a brutal way, but we should remember our Saviour on the cross. The agony He endured for us, at the hands of those who had cheered Him into the city. Our trials and sufferings are as naught, through all suffering, all embarrassment received through the cause, we should love.

As Christians we should be calm, strong and sturdy witnesses, anchored so deep in Christ that the strongest storm cannot wrench us from our position. We should be ‘Quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires’ (James 1:19-20).

We have the most glorious Gift, Jesus Christ, a gift that needs to be shared to all the world. The three ways we share with them and the three things the world needs are prayer, love and the Gospel.

Pray, pray, pray!

In conclusion, the best thing we can do right now is to pour out our hearts to our Heavenly Father for mercy on our world. We must come ‘boldly before His throne of Grace’, and lift up the poor people of this world who go about their day-to-day lives without a thought of God. We should pray that the Lord will draw them to Himself and that they may know Christ for themselves. We should pray that the Lord would send forth His Spirit into the world, into the Church, that we might have a real full-blown revival in these dark times. We should pray for strength, love and faith for ourselves and our Christian brothers and sisters scattered throughout the world. The battle-song of John Bunyan springs to mind:

Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather;
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is,
No lion can him fright;
He’ll with a giant fight;
But he will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit,
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say;
He’ll labour night and day
To be a pilgrim.

Christ is our hope. He will never fail us. Until He comes, we must be ever watching, ready at a moment’s notice to leave all and go with Him to glory.