We had a busy yet wonderful time at North Greenville University this week. I got the extreme privilege to serve as the preacher for the North Greenville Crusade. This partnership with the school and the local Baptist Association is an attempt to unite the church together and bring the Word!
The picture above is from Saturday night at the festival they had at the football stadium. To invite people to the Crusade, they had free food, inflatables, and music throughout the night. You can see my two sons really enjoyed their snow cones. No matter how I tried to show them to stay clean, it was obvious they enjoyed it and you could even tell what color each of them had hours later that night. The evidence was undeniable!
And that was my prayer for the week. I wanted Jesus proclaimed so that there would be no denying that He had been in our midst! I wanted the campus atmosphere to be different. I wanted people to walk around and their faces portraying that they had “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).
Here’s what I preached:
- Saturday Night – Grace Intro – This 8-10 minute talk outside at the festival was an intro to the week and inviting people to come and discover God’s grace.
- Sunday Morning – If Christ Makes the Difference, Why Am I So Full of Questions? – At this service for just the 700 new students at NGU, we took a look at John the Baptist’s questions from prison (Matthew 11) revealed that Jesus only resents the questions that are not brought to Him. I allowed students to write questions to God and relinquish them to His capable hands. Blown away by the hurt present with just the new students as I prayed through those cards.
- Sunday Evening – If Christ Makes the Difference, Why Am I Still Lukewarm? – A look at the church of Laodicea (Rev. 3) helped us realize that Christ is standing at the door and knocking – on the doors of the church! He wants us closer!
- Monday Afternoon – Freshman 15 – Got to meet with the Freshman class. They are using my book as a textbook for their Freshman course. Really talked from chapter 3 (“The Entourage”) on the need for them to pick their friends wisely in these first days because it would set the course for the entire college career! I even showed them some home movies of what it looks like to have someone pulling you up when you fall.
- Monday Evening – If Christ Makes the Difference, Why Are There Worship Wars? – A study of Mark 7 and 2 Samuel 6 revealed how much all ages have allowed preferences to drive our perspective of worship. This was a tough message to preach but received so much feedback from broken people realizing they had made worship and church all about them! This service was also very special in that the North Side Worship team filled in last minute to help lead worship for someone who had a family emergency. Some of our crew got of work early, piled in cars, and did a soundcheck up till time to start. Our time of worship as they led was so wonderful but also personally special for me.
- Tuesday Morning – Don’t Drop Your Kids Off at Church – I got the privilege to meet with the area pastors and talk with them about my doctoral work on equipping parents to the primary evangelists and disciple makers in their children’s lives. For this 90-minute discussion, Eli sat with me coloring the entire time. I shared the only thing I regretted about being there was I had missed many of North Side’s fathers baptizing their children on Sunday night. They seemed to really grasp the picture and gave some great insight as well.
- Tuesday Evening – If Christ Makes the Difference, Why Am I Stuck in My Sin? – We studied some great Bible passages (Luke 6:46-49; 2 Cor. 7:10; Eph. 4:19) and camped out in Psalm 51. We asked God to break us over our sins. There is a difference in being sorry we sinned and being sorry we were caught. To conclude our time together, I let people come up and read Scripture at a microphone that talked about how we should live. People did this for 60 minutes. We then had an incredible confessional prayer time. We were done way late and no one seemed to mind. God had spoken.
- Wednesday Morning – If Christ Makes the Difference, Can He Make It in Me? – We studied Mark 2 and Ephesians 2 in the first of the year school chapel. I presented the gospel and used the story of the paralytic who wanted to be healed yet Jesus first choose to forgive his sins. Our need is not for our perceived needs to be met, our need is for a Savior! Jesus saved some students on the first day of classes – love it!
- Wednesday Evening – If Christ Makes the Difference, Why is This World in a Mess? – This was the message in which I preached through the entire Bible. I did this last week at Emerge, but I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to do this months ago at NGU. Using visuals, I walked through the entire Scripture and shared themes and recurring emphases. The tech team and band worked so well with me to make some extra effects as I told the story (ex. when there was darkness, they made it dark, and followed my lead and inflections in my voice so spot on you would have thought we had time to rehearse it). As we responded in worship, I thought the roof was going to fly off the building. After that, Jesus saved some more students. After some great conversations by the altar, I got to get in the Agnew minivan with the crew and head back home.
It was a powerful time and it had nothing to do with me! Jesus did some amazing things, and I just tried to stay out of the way. I learned so much about trusting the Spirit’s leading concerning messages (all of those except 2 I had ever preached before. Most guys in this type of situation pull the best ones out of the vault, but I just kept feeling led to go other directions. Besides, I would have to have a vault of good ones to get to in the first place!). While I can count the number of hands raised or cards turned in and rejoice at those number of salvations (10 that were full hands raised, and then there were others who did that kinda half hand raise quick thing that is hard to see and even harder to determine what is going on), God also did things that don’t fit neatly on a records sheet. It always amazes me to see Him change so many lives all in different places.
Honored. Humbled. And spent.