1471386072This semester I’ve had the privilege serving alongside Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) on the campus of Francis Marion University.  FMU BCM holds a special place in my heart because it’s the place I attended occasionally as a teenager with my sister when she was in college.  It was my first experience seeing college students on fire for Jesus.  I still remember the great leadership of Dena Lucy who was the pioneer campus minister at FMU.  It was that experience as a young teenager in the late 80’s that left a lasting impact on my heart.  It helped lead me to get involved in BCM during my college days at Anderson.

This semester I’ve enjoyed getting onto the campus at FMU.  During this semester I’ve learned a few things:

  1. Francis Marion University really is a solid hometown college with a great team of faculty and staff who are providing an affordable – top quality education.
  2. The BCM is a bright lighthouse at FMU.  It’s an inviting and exciting organization that welcomes ALL students and introduces them to Jesus.  It’s not only the largest campus organization at FMU, it is also making an eternal difference.
  3. God is not dead on university campuses.  College students are seeking now more than ever and they want a real relationship with Jesus.
  4. I’m more grateful now for the work of Kendal Danford.  Though I’ve served for six years on the FMU BCM Council, I never fully understood what it took to make BCM great.  Thank you Kendal for your intentional effort to reach the entire campus for the glory of Jesus.
  5. We have an awesome team of campus ministers (missionaries) across our state who are doing vital work.  They are working to reach 275,000 students with the Gospel of Jesus.  They need our prayers, financial support and words of encouragement.

Tonight is my last official night serving with the BCM as a staff member and it’s bitter sweet.  As I look back on these last few months of late nights at FMU, I look back on it with a grateful heart.  I’m grateful one student accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord.  I’m grateful for the dozens of students who came to BCM for the first time.  I am thankful  for the awesome student leadership team as well as our fantastic co-director, Mary Cross.  I’m grateful for local churches who showed up each week to feed students.  I’m also thankful for the countless people who showed up to move students into dorms, make cotton candy, bring carnival games, cook hotdogs and everything in between that helped us connect with students who need the love of Jesus.  I’m grateful for Chad Stillwell and the leadership team at our State Convention.  I’m thankful that Ebenezer now has more students than ever going to FMU BCM.  In addition, I now have great relationships with campus ministers all over our state.  This will help personally connect our current and future Ebenezer college students with local campus ministers at a variety of colleges.

So, today I say – Thank You!  Thank you FMU BCM for letting me be your 43 Year Old Semester Missionary.  Thank you for welcoming me and letting me serve with your team at the local and state level.  It helped me far more than you’ll ever know.  Thank you Ebenezer for allowing me to serve outside my normal ministry duties.  And a very special thank you to Ashley for always keeping things together at home and for being such an encouraging wife and ministry partner… even on the nights I came home at 11:00pm.

Welcome back Kendal!  Keep making much of Jesus at Francis Marion University.

Identity.  Wether we admit it or not.  Whether we even recognize it.  Identity is at the center of our lives and our journeys as humans on this earth.  Who am I?  It’s a question that plagues us all.  It’s not a new question.  It has been on the hearts and minds of ever person that has ever walked on this planet.  I have often asked this question of myself.  But honestly, the question has always become bogged down in less about who I AM and more about what I DO.  As humans, we tend to define ourselves by what we do.  How good we are at something.  Whether it’s a sport, an artistic talent, a job performance, a grade in school or even the number of likes or shares on social media – we compare ourselves to find our worth.  For me when asked who am I – I often say…I am a husband.  I am a father.  I am a youth pastor.  I am a singer.  I am a tech junky.  But who am I really?  Who are you really?

The Lord’s sovereignty is absolutely incredible.  Let me explain.  This week I’m helping multiple students and families through the question of who they ARE.  So many of my students seem to be struggling more today – than ever with this question.  Partly because of the culture and partly because of the effect of social media and comparison.   As a 43 year old man – I’m not immune.  I’m struggling a bit with my own questions of life purpose, calling and at some level with burnout and seeing fruit in ministry.  So, it’s in those times that I get off center…making it easier to question and consider who I am.

So, as I sat down at my desk today to begin my day in God’s Word – I was blown away at what the Lord showed me.  He put three completely separate Bible studies in front of me today to remind me who I am and especially who HE IS.

  1.  Tomorrow’s youth sermon for Wednesday is called BIG WORDS: ADOPTION.  We are going to talk about what the word “adoption” means for a follower of Jesus.  We are adopted by the Lord into his family.  We are rescued out of sin and shame.  We are taken in and called children of God.
  2. Today in our youth D:Group lesson we are reading DEFINED Week 1 – Day 2.  The title is WHO AM I?  The reading includes passages from Genesis 2 about being God’s creation.  We are made in the image of God.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”  Isaiah further reminds us of our true identity in 43:1 by saying, “I have called you by your name; you are mine.”
  3. Then to add to that – my regular daily devotional in the HE READS TRUTH app is currently in a series called, “I AM: Statements of Our Savior.”  Today’s reading is in Day 2.  It is all about how before even Abraham was, I AM.  The focus passage is John 8.  It’s one of the conversations Jesus had with the Jewish religious leaders.  He told them that they were not really children of Abraham.  They were speaking to Jesus as if they were something special simply because of their heritage as Jews.  Jesus boldly told them that they had no real right to the family of God simply through Abraham.  Jesus said, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.” (John 8:44).  Jesus then clearly tells them in vs 58, “I tell you the truth…before Abraham was born, I AM.”

In just a simple moment at a youth ministry desk on an ordinary day, the Lord brought so much together for me all at once.  We do need to know who we are.  But before we can know who we are…we must know whose we are.  We were once children of the devil because of our sinful nature and complete disobedience.  But, because of God’s great love for us…we can be saved by Jesus.  We can be brought near to God and ADOPTED into a new family…with a new name…with a clear purpose and plan for life.  We can be set free and be children of the most high God…the great I AM.

So, if you’re struggling with who you are…know that the great I AM already knows who you are.  Run toward Him today.  He will be faithful to reveal WHO YOU ARE.  There is hope.  God really is there.  If God can connect all these dots through three totally different devotionals in a single moment at the desk of an ordinary guy in Florence, SC on October 1, 2019…he can do anything.  He is sovereign. He is good. He is God.  He is the great I AM.  Put your faith and trust in Him today.  He’s my only hope.  I pray he is your hope!  I pray that he will reveal to you how much you are truly loved and how valuable you really are to Him.

Hebrews 12 & 13

Hebrews 12 & 13

This is the last day of the Crash Summer Bible Reading. We end today a 60 Day journey through the letters of Paul and Hebrews. What an amazing summer! Honestly, whether one hundred people read along in scripture and read these blogs or whether no one read – it’s been a great summer. It’s been so good for me personally to walk through these scriptures and I pray it has been helpful to you as well.

“Brothers and sisters, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for in fact I have written to you quite briefly.” – Hebrews‬ ‭13:22‬ ‭NIV

I love what the writer says here in verse 22. At the very end of the letter he urges them to listen and take to heart what he’s been teaching them. He says he could have written so much more. That’s how I’ve felt all summer. 60 days is just scratching the surface of what God’s Word has in store for you and me. God’s Word is truly life changing. You can do what you want with these blogs this summer – they are just words on a screen. But the Words of Scripture – now that is a different story. They are our daily bread. Don’t stop “eating” this school year just because we finished our reading challenge. Read God’s Word daily and let it change the way you think and the way you live.

It’s been good to be with you each morning this summer and now I pray that the Lord will use you mightily for His glory as you step into a new school year and share this Good News with your friends.

Amen.