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Are You In a Good Place Or What?

August 31, 2017

When we get to be sixty-six, nobody is too surprised when we start forgetting things or acting a little strange. But when we do strange things all along the way, that’s another matter altogether. So I have a sort of confession to make. One of the things I do to get away, to refresh and recharge, even on a number of vacations is (wait for it…) to visit university campuses. And I don’t mean good Christian colleges where Jesus plays Catan in the union with the Apostle Paul, Francis of Assisi, C.S. Lewis and members of the band Switchfoot. I mean liberal, secular, faith warping (So say some.), God hating (So say some.), alcohol and sex saturated (These are there.), society polluting (So say some.), values corrupting (So say some.) institutions oozing with demonic pus and evil of all kinds (So say some.)  I just love these places. Books that limit universities to what I just said are out there but not on the “Great Reads” page of this blog. Nor can they be bought from Hearts and Minds Books or sold at places like Jubilee, Urbana and the Passion Conferences.

Why do I do this, love these places, seek them out? I just need to be somewhere I can feel the Holy Spirit ripple across the grass! And you, returning or beginning student, get to live or drive here every day for the next few months! When I speak to students in the fall, I take special pains to identify the freshmen (freshers in Canada) and tell them this. If God wanted to do one single thing to build into someone all they needed to love Him for the rest of their lives, to live with sustainable resilience that could meet any and all life situations, to lean into life with a cutting edge that brings His life to any and all circumstances we might encounter and to live with joy, intimacy and satisfaction running deeper than emotion and having a bottom deeper than the blackest depression – He would place us on a university campus.

Christians in student ministry groups get calluses on their walk with God, learn how to take a punch, get some dirt on their faith. And you will get to pump much spiritual iron this year. Here are some of the ways.

1.) THE WORLD WILL COME TO YOUR CAMPUS. Globalism is little more than something on TV or the internet. But students from places most people can’t find come to the American campus, even to the smallest schools. We can meet the world in the hallways outside our dorm room. Make friends with as many of these as we can.

2.) OUR CAMPUS IS THE INCUBATOR FOR BOTH MUCH THAT WILL FLOW INTO THE SURROUNDING CULTURE IN YEARS (MONTHS?) AHEAD BUT ALSO FOR MUCH THAT BOTH GOD AND THE EVIL ONE LAUNCH FOR THEIR PURPOSES. Start paying attention to bulletin boards and student newspapers (especially student produced ones as opposed to official ones). They’re telling us things.

3.) BEING ON CAMPUS TAKES THE PLUNGE INTO THE REAL WORLD WHERE WE WILL SPEND THE REST OF OUR LIVES. DON’T WASTE IT. Parents want to protect us as long as they can. We did with our kids. That’s why there’s a new freshman somewhere this fall with a parachute under their bed. Mom and Dad aren’t there to take care of us so we’d better have one just in case. Faith is like a muscle; it grows by working against resistance.

4.) WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN TO THINK. We assume that this is what higher education is about. Sometimes it’s about embracing only those points of view branded as okay. Sometimes students just zombie their way through classes doing minimums to pick up the credits. But the great ideas that shape lives and cultures still cry out for a hearing and a good chew. Meeting big ideas on their own turf builds mental and spiritual muscle – a sharpened mind. We’d be amazed where Jesus Christ can take that.

5.) I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO LOVES THE CAMPUS; THE LORD LOVES THEM TOO. A hidden but juicy part of Christian history was, and is being written, on university campuses. Some things on the “Great Reads” page of this blog tell those stories. But know for sure that Jesus Christ knows your campus and smiles whenever He thinks about it.

Some good advice for the new year, freshmen or not? Try here and here. Advice from upperclassmen? Try here. Some old timers? Try here or here. Advice from an old dog who emerges unannounced from the woods to speak in large groups in the US and Canada for the last 34 years? Got you right here. And if all these don’t say anything to you, please don’t fluff the following. A father gave his son beginning at Cambridge this advice in 1777.

“Rise early. Shun idleness. Read the Bible with prayer. Take care that your bed be thoroughly dry and lay for the first night in your waistcoat, breeches and stockings. Don’t let spiritual immaturity make you arrogant or excessive. Be chaste, sober and humble. Keep a diary. Study standing up. And every other morning attend your mouth and clean it well with snuff [read smokeless tobacco], which I find of great service to my teeth.” Doesn’t that just say it all? Could I possibly add anything to that?

If you think anything here might encourage a student or someone who loves them, then share, Twitter, subscribe and all those social media things. If we already subscribe, than maybe we need to be part of Geezer 1. It’s mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, pastors, administrators, artists, theologians, writers, musicians, composers, business people, broadcasters, booksellers, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs, a few campus rats and one Goth who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. Take a look. You will only make us better.

See you next post at



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