Monday, April 27, 2015

Reflections of a graduating Northland Student - What have I learned?

When I came to Northland I had a small view of God, a big view of myself, and a view of Scripture that saw it as a big book of expectations that I had no hope of ever meeting. I felt very self-important because I had been in the Navy for 4 years before college, and I was also older than most of the students. I had anger festering in my heart toward God for things that had happened in my past and this resulted in a deep bitterness in my heart. Because of this bitterness I was unable to love people. I didn't want to let anyone get close to me because they might see me for who I really was.

I interacted with students on campus and with people at my church, but these interactions were very superficial. I couldn't love people because my anger and bitterness was so dominating the way I interacted with everyone.

After my first year at Northland my view of God and of myself began to change. My view of God began to expand as I sat under professor's like Bryan Blazosky, Brent Belford, and Phil Trach. These men opened the Word and taught it with passion. I began to see my God as totally sovereign and beyond my comprehension. My God was a "box breaker"...as Dr. Brown spoke about at Missions conference my Sophomore year. He could not be tamed...however, though He could not be understood fully from Scripture, He could be understood TRULY. I could learn truth about who my God was from Scripture, and I began to become very excited about this truth.

As time went on I became more and more aware of the fact that through my joy that I had in God, I could be empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey Him. Now, this does not mean that I could be sinless...but God could work in me through the Word to change me. As I delighted in Him from what I read about Him in the Word...I could change. And another liberating thing for me was the fact that sanctification doesn't happen over night...sanctification is a process by which I am made more and more into the image of Christ. It is a gradual process. You see, I had grown up being taught Keswick theology...which teaches that when you dedicate your life to God, you are elevated to a higher level of spirituality...this teaching always left me disappointed feeling as though I could never measure up. But when I understood sanctification rightly, I understood that it was a process...it is "taking the next step spiritually"...as Northland Camp taught me.

When it came to dealing with the bitterness in my heart...this came through an internship I did with a previous Northland Professor (Dr. Fellars) when I interned at his church in Maroa, IL. It was there that God showed me my own bitterness, and I began to deal with it...and in time I found myself able to love as I'd never been able to love people before.

Northland was also where I met my beautiful girlfriend...and I cannot thank God enough for bringing her into my life. I am so blessed...

So...all this rambling is to say that God has used Northland so much in my life. Could God have done the same things in my life at a different college? Certainly...God can do what He wants...but He especially used Godly faculty, staff, students...and just the general community of Northland to change my life in a way that I will be forever grateful for.

These words were motivated by the fact that after this year Northland will likely be closing. If you want more details about why, click here to read Northland's statement about it, and click here to read Dr. Albert Mohler's statement about it. Please pray for Northland!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why Homosexuality Is Not Like Other Sins

Click here to read a great article on why homosexuality is not like other sins.

Best quote from the article:
Distancing ourselves from both the left and the right, we don’t celebrate homosexual practice, we acknowledge God’s clear revealed word that it is sin; and we don’t hate those who embrace homosexuality, we love them enough to not just collapse under the societal pressure. We speak the truth in love into this confusion, saying, simultaneously, “That’s wrong” and “I love you.” We’re not the left; we say, this is wrong. And we’re not the right; we say, you’re loved. We speak good news, with those sweetest, deepest, most glorious words of the cross — the same words that God spoke us — “You’re wrong, and you’re loved.”

Thoughts of a graduating Northland student...

If Northland were what it is today when I was coming almost four years ago, I probably would have gone to a different school. That sounds like a really negative statement at first glance, but allow me to explain.

I've talked a little bit about where I was before I came to Northland almost 4 years ago on this blog, but let's just say I had a lot of legalistic ideas about what genuine Christianity was supposed to look like and what genuine Christians were supposed to act like. Anyone who didn't match this view was wrong and might not even be a Christian.

In my view of things at the time there were many "hills to die on."

Therefore, with this view I had of things, Northland would have been out of the question if it were what it is today when I was considering going.

Soon after I came on campus my view of things began to change. I remember during orientation Dr. Olson was talking about what music we were allowed to listen to (this was the first year they allowed students to listen to whatever they wanted to in their own time...they just had to use their own discretion based on what they saw in Scripture) and he said something like, "As much as we may try to say that Scripture says explicitly what music we should and shouldn't listen to, it does not." I couldn't argue with this...and boy did my views of things change throughout my years here...

I learned that there are a lot fewer "hills to die on" than I had thought there were. There are charismatics who genuinely love Jesus, are committed to following God's Word, and holding to the true fundamentals of the faith. There were genuine Christians who had tattoos, long hair, and dressed in jeans to church.

I am so thankful that Northland opened my eyes to the beautiful diversity of the Church. There are people in the genuine universal church of God who had different views on side issues, and that's okay! These churches who agree on the fundamentals of the faith can and should work together for the cause of the Gospel!

Another thing that I have so appreciated is the freedom Northland gives to their students to work through what they believe about things. Our student handbook has gradually shrunk during my time here...my freshman year it was about 100 pages I think, and now it's only about 15 pages. They give general guidelines and help students think through their own standards on things. So they allow their students to be adults. Do you take risks by allowing your students this kind of freedom? Absolutely...but it helps them so much in the future! Preparing them for real life.

Now does this mean that Northland students just run amok doing whatever they want? No, definitely not! They have a discipleship model of discipline, which I think is actually Biblical. When someone does something wrong they will sit them down and try to figure out what made them do what they did, and try to help them work through their struggles biblically, rather than just throwing punishment at them right away. This is the kind of gracious and loving pursuit I think we see Jesus living out in His earthly ministry with His disciples.

So, I say all this to communicate that I'm so thankful for all that I've learned during my time at Northland! I'm so excited about what is going on here and I look forward to seeing what God continues to do here after I graduate!