Theme Devotions 2013-14

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The Campus Ministries theme this year is “Sowing Compassion, Side by Side.”   

What images come to mind when you read these words?  What stories and experiences and people that you recall epitomize this theme?  For me, I (Bob Yoder) think about my youth group advisor holding me, a teenager, at the casket of a close friend.  Or several of my aunts who demonstrated a posture of unconditional love and acceptance.  Or a college professor asking me “how’s it going?” when it was clear that life was not going well for me as a college student.  These “memory seeds” have helped guide me when offering compassion to others. 

In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  These verses come at the end of a chapter that contains several healing stories of Jesus.  Verse 36 states, “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless…”  Today there is much pain and grief in this world.  We need more people of compassion, working side by side with others to walk in the midst of these realities.  May these devotionals encourage you to be a person of the compassion of God that leads to healing and fruitful harvest.

Download the GC Prayer Booklet 2013-14 here

Related Scripture Passages:           

  • I Corinthians 12:12-15, 26-27. . . . . . . . . .Like Those Stars
  • II Samuel 2:26. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Achieving Miracles
  • James 3:13-18……………………………Roots of Compassion
  • Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43………………..Living Like Wheat
  • Ephesians 4:1-6, 16………………………Learning from Others
  • Philippians 2:1-11……………………….A Life with Humility
  • Mark 6:30-44 ……………………………Choosing Compassion
  • Micah 7:18-20……………………………The Gift of Forgiveness
  • Matthew 10:42……………………………A Cup of Sloshing Water
  • Genesis 33:3-4, 8-10 …………………….Compassion vs. Bitterness
  • James 5:7-11……………………………..Understanding Pain
  • Galatians 2:19b-20……………………….Why Live a Cross Centered Life?
  • Ruth 1:15-18……………………………..Compassion Away from Home
  • Matthew 6:22-23…………………………Be Excruciatingly Vulnerable

(Printed passages are in New Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)

Ways to Engage the Theme and Related Passages

Personal Devotions: read over the same passage each day per week

Group Bible Study: (select one passage per meeting time, read over it together, and ask the following questions)

  • what jumped out to me?
  • what questions arose?
  • how does this apply to my life as a college student or employee?

Clubs, Floors, Small Group Housing Units, and Department meetings: open with devotions by reading over one of the passages, along with a simple prayer

Spiritual Friendship: as you meet with a spiritual friend, read one of the passages together each time you meet

General Reflections: (ask yourself or with a group of people)

  • when have I or have I not experienced moments of stillness?
  • moments with/with out God?
  • what might I do to help create such times?

Goshen College Prayer Booklet: engage this prayer resource containing over a dozen different ways to connect with God individually, with a friend, or with a group (pick up a print copy by AD 12)

Lectio Divina (“Sacred Reading”): individually or with a group, utilize this prayer practice (see Goshen College Prayer Booklet) for each of the scripture passages

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I Corinthians 12:12-15, 26-27 – Like Those Stars

by Alicia Hofer, Senior Psychology major, former Ministry Leader

12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body….26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.

27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

There are currently more than 1.7 million baptized believers in 243 national conferences of Mennonite churches in 83 different countries (according to Mennonite World Conference.) We speak many different languages, sing different styles of music, and worship in many different ways. What may seem perfectly normal in one country may seem quite bizarre in another. And yet, despite our differences, we are bound together by one common truth.

Christ Jesus is at the very core of our faith; He is the foundation for everything we believe. According to Jesus, the greatest commandment is to love one another. When we place God as the foundation for our everyday interactions with the world around, we are living in love. Knowing and showing this love allows us to live in community with one another, maintaining unity despite our many differences. When we join together in unity and share God’s love, we make an impact on the lives of those around us.

At night I like to look up at the stars and revel in the brilliant expanse they create. We, as a global Mennonite Church, are very much like those stars. We are single groups, scattered across many continents, and yet, God’s love is in each of us. When we share the light of His love and unite as a community of believers, we can touch the world in a unique and powerful way.

I encourage you to show that light to others. Let the love of Christ be evident in your words, thoughts, and actions. Choose to seek out the commonalities of our faith, not allowing differences to divide us. Let us reach out to each other so that as believers we may fill this earth with the awe-inspiring light of Christ’s love.

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II Samuel 2:26 – Achieving Miracles

by Ammon Allen-Doucot, sophomore Bible/Religion major, History minor, Ministry Leader

26Then Abner called to Joab, “Is the sword to keep devouring forever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you order your people to turn from the pursuit of their kinsmen?”

This verse in 2nd Samuel comes after the death of Saul the first king of Israel.  Civil War was breaking out between those who supported the old line of Saul’s heir and those who supported David.  In the midst of the bloodshed, Abner recognizes the brotherhood and in doing so stops the violence that is about to take place.

We live in a world today where divisions amongst people are constantly on the verge of breaking down good work.  I personally connect this to the events happening in Egypt.  During the Arab Spring, there was an incredible nonviolent revolution in Egypt, Christians and Muslims, conservative religious folks and liberal democrats working together.  However in the wake of the revolution factions have emerged and some are saying that civil war is looming.  I think that the prevention for such conflict is the same today as it was back then.

Some said it was a miracle that Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power.  The liberation of Egypt is an example of beauty and compassion that was achieved by working side by side, it could only be done because the Egyptian people, laid aside their differences and recognized their commonalities.  Those of us who seek to sew compassion must do what the Egyptian people did in 2011 and what Abner did in 2nd Samuel we must see what we share before what we don’t.  In this way we can achieve miracles.

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James 3:13-18 – Roots of Compassion

by Becky Snider, junior Music Education major, Worship Assistant

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (New Living Translation)

As I write this I am coming to the end of a summer of living and learning in Nicaragua through GC’s Study-Service Term (SST) program. Like many of its neighboring Central American countries, Nicaragua has experienced quite a bit of unrest in the past few centuries. It has been interesting to consider these verses from James in the context of what I have learned.

It appears to me that at the root of years of violence and political turmoil in the 1970s and 80s is—in the words of James—jealously and selfish ambition. The US was first motivated to get involved in Nicaragua because they didn’t want another country to build a canal competitive with theirs in Panama. The Somoza family, who controlled Nicaragua’s government for over forty years, was not eager to share their power and wealth with anyone who wasn’t an upper-class friend. The result of these selfish, earthly ambitions was incredible inequality that led to a revolution.

But James’s description of living in the understanding of God’s ways is my favorite part of what he writes here. These people love peace and are gentle, yielding, and sincere. Now, the violent overthrowing of the dictatorship by a party focused on the needs of the people of their country is not an ideal example of this lifestyle, but perhaps it planted the seeds of peace to which James refers. Since the revolution, Nicaragua’s issues have continued, but many people—natives and foreigners—are passionately tending to the growth of what will hopefully someday be a harvest of righteousness.

Disclaimer: This devotional reflects some of my political biases. I encourage you, the reader, to do your own research on the history of Nicaragua and the United States’ involvement there and consider how it relates to this text.

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Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 – Living Like Wheat

by Bobby Switzer, junior Molecular Biology/Biochemistry major, PJCS minor, former Ministry Leader

24He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; 25but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. 26So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. 27And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ 28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. 30Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” 36Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, 39and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!

The parable of the weeds and wheat is one in which I’ve found comfort while on study service term in Nicaragua. The parable assures us that as we go through our lives as wheat, we will grow next to weeds. It is inevitable. Some days all we see may be thorns and thistles, but we are also assured that God has an eye on our field. In the long term, we know that God will gather the weeds, and they shall be burnt. The wheat will then be gathered. The peace for which we have been striving will finally be harvested and put to use. Some of our wheat may be ground into flour for bread to feed the hungry. Some may be saved and used to plant new fields of wheat, to grow and reproduce exponentially.

When we are discouraged and tired while working for God’s shalom, we should remember that we are part of an entire field of wheat, all growing for peace under God’s compassionate eye.  We should be at peace while working for peace. While in Nicaragua I was discouraged with a lot of what I saw: economic disparity, children unable to read, alcoholism, and violence. How do we handle seeing so much wrong in the world?  It seems insurmountable, but this parable tells us that all is in God’s hands.

Prayer – #729 Hymnal: A Worship Book

Spirit of peace, quiet our hearts, heal our anxious thoughts, free us from our fretful ways.

Breathe on us your holy calm so that in the stillness of your presence we may open ourselves to trust and be transformed.  Amen.

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Ephesians 4:1-6, 16 – Learning from Others

by David Zehr, sophomore History major, Ministry Leader

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all…16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

When I think of the theme passage for this year’s Campus Ministries, Sowing Compassion, Side by Side, it is the latter part which sticks out to me. The past couple months for me have been filled with living, dialoging, and worshiping with Christians of different cultures, languages, and faith traditions.  From late night conversations with conservative Mennonites and Beachy Amish in South America to sharing open dialogue question times with peers my age hailing from a Methodist megachurch in Texas, I have found that living with and learning with Christians who in many ways may think differently than me is a rewarding experience. In some ways, such as hymn singing, I have been reminded of things which are important to me. In other ways, I have been better able to understand where some thoughts which are foreign to me are coming from, a kind of putting myself in another’s shoes. But most importantly, the time spent worshiping and learning with fellow followers of God has reminded me that even though there are many differences which distinguish us, there are far more important similarities which should unite us.

When Paul writes to the church of Ephesus in the above passage, he emphasizes how, beyond our differences which make us unique individuals or groups, our belief in God and our daily demonstration of our trust in him should be like the glue which binds us as Christians together. As we live out our days, it is important to remember to practice the fruits of the Spirit, such as patience, love, and kindness, with those who surround us. I invite those who read this today and in the days to come to put themselves in situations where learning, growth, and mutual understanding can be fostered.

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Philippians 2:1-11 – A Life with Humility

by Halle Steingass, sophomore Music major, Music & Worship minor, Resident Assistant

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he talks about living humbly as Christ has done. This past summer, I consumed most of my time with leading worship and music at a Mennonite summer camp. This period of time proved to be a humbling experience for me, which was exactly what my spiritual life needed. During this time I began to grasp how success-based our society is and how we are taught to project a certain image.

Paul talks about not living out of selfish ambition, but instead living out of humility, considering others better than your-self. This practice of living life with humility is a difficult concept in a competitive world, where we strive to have material belongings and copious amounts of wealth. In this, we lose sight of the grace that God grants us. However, when we believe ourselves to be brothers and sisters of Christ and live with the conviction that we are all children of God, we are more inclined to live humbly and fully.

At summer camp, I was surrounded by campers who exemplified that what matters in this life is to love one another; they taught me to do everything out of love and not out of vanity. They also showed me that the music I offer to the world isn’t about prestige or impressing, but rather about giving. When we choose to live in humility it effaces the selfish desire to be the best, and replaces it with grace, which sustains us and can help us live alongside Christ.

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Mark 6:30-44 – Choosing Compassion

by Hannah Beachey, sophomore Elementary/Special Education major, Ministry Leader

 30The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; 36send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” 37But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” 38And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. 41Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. 42And all ate and were filled; 43and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.

When hearing the story of Jesus feeding the 5000, the first thing that comes to mind is the miracle of 5 loaves and 2 fish feeding 5000-plus people. However, from a compassionate point of few, it’s a secondary theme. While still important, the story is shown in a very different light if a few verses before it are included in the reading.

Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison…When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

Setting this story in the context of Jesus just finding out that John has been beheaded and then bombarded once again by people needing healing and prayers and general leadership puts a new emphasis on this passage. While Jesus is the one who needs understanding and peacefulness, he sees that these people are in need and chooses to have compassion on them, setting aside his own troubles.

I strive to see those people in my own life, and recognize what tools I have to help others. I hope to have the courage to set aside my own worries and trust that if I help another, help will come to me.

Compassion is not focusing on what you need in the moment, no matter how serious it may be. Compassion in its purest form is seeing that someone else needs you, and not being able to refuse the urge to help them.

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Micah 7:18-20 – The Gift of Forgiveness

by Irene Schmid, sophomore Nursing major, Ministry Leader

18Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency. 19He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20You will show faithfulness to Jacob and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.

No matter how much I try, I, like Micah, do not think I will ever truly understand the concept of forgiveness. The thought of God’s mercy is such a hard idea to grasp. In our society, we are encouraged to treat people as they treat us, good for good and evil for evil. Forgiveness is not a natural occurrence for today’s culture, but rather we are taught to take revenge and hold grudges. We must rise above common belief in order to receive the blessings that come with forgiveness. It is only through the help of God that we can truly be able to practice forgiveness, by both offering and accepting the gift.

Sometimes, though, I find God’s forgiveness almost too overpowering. Although I am extremely thankful for his forgiveness, his forgiveness often makes it hard for me to forgive God and others because I know I will never equate to God’s mercy.  I must show forgiveness in order to truly appreciate my relationship with God and others.  And often through forgiveness, I am able to experience the peace I was looking for by holding a grudge.  Since God has shown me the depth of his mercy, how can I not forgive God and forgive others?  I realize that I have no right not to forgive God and others.  I must forgive or I am nothing.

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Matthew 10:42 – A Cup of Sloshing Water

by Joanna Epp, sophomore Environmental Science major, ’13 Service Inquiry Program

42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

As a young child, I would often see my father working on something around the house or in the yard. I was always eager to fetch him a glass of water when he stopped for a break.  I’d heard this verse before and though I was not exactly sure what everything in the Bible meant, I knew that if giving people water when they were thirsty would get me into heaven, I would do that.

As I’ve grown up, I have come to understand this verse beyond its literal meaning and recognize the themes of compassion. God calls us to be compassionate to each other and look for ways to help others, and not just so we can “get into heaven.”  Whatever we do, He wants us to look for the big ways and the small ways to nurture and minister to others.

As I go through life, looking for ways to show compassion, I sometimes remember that earnest little girl running through the yard, water sloshing out of the cup in her hand as she carried it to her father. Though my reasons might have been somewhat skewed, I believe my heart was in the right place as I tried to put God’s Word into action.  I invite you to join me in earnestly seeking both large and small opportunities to sow compassion today.

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Genesis 33:3-4, 8-10 – Compassion vs. Bitterness

by Kiernan Wright, sophomore Social Work & History/Social Research major, Ministry Leader

3He himself went on ahead of them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near his brother. 4But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 8Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company that I met?” Jacob answered, “To find favor with my lord.” 9But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10Jacob said, “No, please; if I find favor with you, then accept my present from my hand; for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God—since you have received me with such favor.

The story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 33 deals with the drama of family, something that many people can easily relate to. Most of us have siblings, and although we may not have gotten our birthright stolen, there are bound to be some rough times

After stealing Esau’s birthright and blessing, Jacob runs away from his brother for fear of death. When Jacob is forced to meet up with his brother many years later, he fears for his life, and for good reason. Jacob was the wimpy kid who liked to cook and hangout with his mom, and Esau was the hairy outdoorsman, I imagine he had anger management problems. It only makes sense that Esau should want to kill his scrawny younger brother who had kept getting the best of him. Jacob had no more tricks to pull.  It was finally a fair fight.

The critical point of the story comes in verse 4, when Esau’s compassion for his brother overcomes his own bitterness and pride.  The relationship between Jacob and Esau in this story mirrors the relationship of Israel and Yahweh, which is fitting since Jacob’s name was changed to Israel.  Esau plays the unlikely part of the forgiver.  He has every right to be angry, but instead chooses to let his love and compassion outweigh his bitterness.  Like Esau, Yahweh repeatedly chose to show compassion towards Israel throughout the Old Testament.  Time and time again, God showed Israel that he was a compassionate God.

Growing up with a brother a few years older than me, I know what it is like to harbor bitter feelings towards my siblings.  Something that I was never good at, however, was staying mad.  Like Esau and Jacob, my brother and I would eventually forget our own agendas and pride, and go back to living in (relative) peace with each other.  At the end of the day, the compassion of Yahweh is a far greater alternative than the selfishness and bitterness of this world.

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James 5:7-11 – Understanding Pain

by Leah Amstutz, sophomore Molecular Biology/Biochemistry major, Spanish & Music minor, Ministry Leader

 7Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Suffering and pain are an inescapable part of our world. Every person has his or her own unique experience with or connection to hardship, including but not limited to extreme illness, poverty, rejection or abandonment, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, and death. The Bible was not written for people who “have it all together,” but rather for real people who experience real hardship. Throughout the Bible there are stories of pain, perseverance, and faith in God, such as Job in the Old Testament and, of course, Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection. Our God is a god who understands our pain.

God created us to live in community, to live in relationship with God, with our neighbors, with the environment, etc. Thus, it is important that we reach out to one another, especially in hard times. Alone, our pain can overwhelm us. However, together with God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ, side by side, we can find patience and strength, and persevere against the torrents of injustice and pain.

Whatever hardship it is that you are currently wrestling with or witnessing in the lives of others, I encourage you to bring it before God.  Some situations are difficult to comprehend, and some emotions are impossible to articulate.  However, when you come before God in prayer, you do not need fancy or elaborate words; God is always listening, and God always understands.  There is a peace that comes from releasing your frustrations and pain to the One who will never leave you.  Healing and peace take time to grow, so be patient and do not try to walk or carry your burden alone.

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Galations 2:19b-20 – Why Live a Cross-Centered Life?

by Natalie Hubby, sophomore history major, art minor, ministry leader

I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Everyone’s life is centered on something. Think about what the center of your life is. There can one big focus of your life, or many interests. Make a mental list of your priorities, and then take note of things that define you as a person. Even if your defining characteristics and your focuses in life are good things, if it isn’t God, then it isn’t the right thing to be focused on.

My life in high school was defined by my volleyball career, but while I was passionate about my sport; it not always there for me. Volleyball let me down my senior year of high school when I injured my ankle and was unable to play for the rest of the season. I felt like I had lost a part of me, but after listening to a sermon the following Sunday about being focused on God, I realized that even though I knew would heal from the injury, volleyball would not always be there for me.

God will always be there for me, and that joy will no longer be based on the emotions our current circumstances that I happen to face. When I was injured I was upset about not being able to participate in one of my strong passions, but if my focus would have been more on Christ then I would could have recognized that maybe God was trying to use me in a different way, or just showing me that there is much more to life than just a sport.

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Ruth 1:15-18 – Compassion Away from Home

by Quinn Brenneke, senior Public Relations and Interdisciplinary major, ’13 Ministry Inquiry Program

15So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16But Ruth said, “Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17Where you die, I will die— there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!” 18When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

The first day of living on a college campus is exciting.  Everything is new: dorm rooms, food and people from around the world.  Opportunities for new relationships and experiences are bursting at the seams and it’s hard to believe that this awesome place is going to be home for the next four years.

Similar feelings reemerge during the first day of being in another country – people look different, the food is new and of course, everyone is speaking another language.  However, after all of the newness normalizes, these different places can feel lonely.

Naomi might have felt that same mixture of excitement and loneliness when she first arrived in Moab with her husband, Elimelech. When he and Naomi’s only two sons died, it’s not surprising that she decided to go back her home in Judah.  What is surprising, though, is that Ruth, one of her Moabite daughters-in-law, decided to leave her home to go with her.

Giving up the comforts of familiar life to accept the struggles of a new life requires a lot of compassion.  It means feeling merciful to someone to the point of giving up personal comforts to help them.  At times, giving up comforts feels lonely.

Ruth probably felt lonely living in a place that was far from her home, but God blessed her for the compassion she showed Naomi.  Her line of descendants ended up bringing Jesus into the world, who is the perfect example of compassion (Mt. 9:36) and who shows us that being compassionate makes the world look a little more like the kingdom of God.

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Matthew 6:22-23 – Be Excruciatingly Vulnerable

by Sam Carlson
sophomore Nursing major, International Studies minor, Ministry Leader

 22“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; 23but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

It’s easy to think I have boundless courage:
thinking I’m comfortable with myself and my convictions.
I’d like to think I can voice my opinion in any situation,
being entirely transparent with personal morals and ethics.
But that’s simply not the case.

want to be heard
but sometimes courage can interfere –
courage to be vulnerable.

I believe a lot of people’s struggle comes from a lack of courage.
We often close off courage because we don’t feel inherently good enough
or worthy enough or smart enough.

It seems as if we’re distanced from each other by fear
the fear of courage – the fear of vulnerability.

As you go about your day today,
have courage to be vulnerable.
Have courage to connect with others, despite apparent differences.
Recognize the light of others, and let light in.

You’re worthy of a voice,
just as others are worthy of their voices.
Your existence entitles you to be excruciatingly vulnerable.

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