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Devotions

What Does Standing Up for Truth Look Like?

Whether you are a student or in the workplace, it is generally expected that as a Christian, you will stand up for the truth. This takes a variety of forms for countless topics. Whether or not you are a very vocal and outgoing person you have no doubt identified what the hot-button topics are. It might be transgenderism, abortion, COVID, or any number of things. No matter what it is, these kinds of issues come to the forefront and become “controversial” which really means they are the most important questions to answer.

They are issues of significance, and the responses to them are more than just answers to questions; they impact life in meaningful ways.

Sometimes people love getting into discussions about controversial issues. It may be the thrill of the argument, of going back and forth with other people like some sort of game. But there are many of us, perhaps most of us, who are not like this at all. There is nothing fun about arguments, and we are not certain that if we did engage over these issues we would not end up looking ignorant. But this fear will never do, not if Christians are to be salt and light.

Standing Up For Truth

What Should We Do?

What, then? Are we all supposed to become extroverts, reveling in discussion and chasing down people for debate? I certainly hope not!

But at the same time we cannot really avoid such issues because whether we realize it or not, we are already fighting in the arena of truth, whether we open our mouths or not. Because when you get right down to it, a debate is raging.

It is a debate in the heart and mind—yours and mine. If we fail to realize this, then not only will we be unable to articulate the truth to someone who challenges it. We will lose the argument, lose the truth in the place it matters most: ourselves.

We are all called to be salt and light, but we must have flavor and we must have illumination in ourselves if it is to work. First Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready to give a defense, an argument, a reason, an explanation for the hope that is in us. This is a part of being salt and light: having a hope that bubbles up and out of the heart, to be ready to explain that hope, and speak the truth. But what is important to note is how this verse starts. Peter says, “Sanctify [set apart] Christ as Lord in your hearts.” This is the vial requirement.

Your success in the arena of ideas, the arena of life, depends on what you hold in your heart as truth.

Peter says that Christ is to be set up and set apart from all others as Lord in our hearts. We must be very careful here because there is a difference between Christ as Lord in our hearts versus Christ as Lord of our hearts. The latter is a very personal matter, and it is certainly true that He should be Lord of our hearts, but this is not what Peter is saying. He is saying that in our hearts, in the deepest most central part of our worldview we are to hold as the most important truth that Jesus is Lord.

What I am talking about is how we see the world around us. In the ancient Roman Empire, Caesar was considered the ultimate authority. He had the power over life and death and was lord of the world.

It is this central reality that would bring order to the Roman world, and it is this kind of thing that Peter is talking about.

We must recognize and accept Christ as the giver of meaning and direction in life.


All of what Christ has revealed Himself to be must be the compass of life. This is not just that He died and rose again, but that He rules and has authority over all authorities. His law is the measure of all conduct and truth. The fullness of His Lordship is what we are supposed to make the holiest truth in our hearts.

So what does this look like and how do we set about it? I would suggest you read the four gospels. Don’t just read them chapter by chapter, but try reading them in large swaths, finding natural breaks. Read them like books, and not some choppy religious book.

Understand the message the authors are trying to convey. Whenever an Old Testament passage is quoted go back and look at the context of that passage. There is a deeper meaning being conveyed than the New Testament author trying to get credit for quoting Old Testament passages.

Our hearts and minds are where the battle for truth begins.

Fill your mind with truth, and really think about what the word of God says. Do the hard work of studying and digesting. Devotion to God is more than checking off your daily prayer and daily reading. Real knowledge of who He is, the knowledge that affects life, requires effort. And let me encourage you that the reward is worth the effort.

Suggested Reading

  • Five Views on Law and Gospel (Zondervan Counterpoints series)
  • I Peter 3:8-22
  • Mark (and every time you come across an Old Testament quotation, look up the reference and read the quotation and the chapters before and after it).

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the difference between having answers given to you by your parents and teachers and having your own convictions about the truth?
  2. The Bible does not address every situation directly. For instance, it doesn’t mention smartphones or social media. Does the word of God still provide instruction so that the disciple of Christ can be equipped for every good work? If so, how does it do so for situations not directly addressed?
  3. What will it take to develop a biblical world? What steps can you practically take?

How to Go Back to School With the Proper Perspective

What We Wished Going Back to School Was Like

I have been listening to the Harry Potter books recently, and one of the interesting things about the stories is that Harry always looks forward to school starting. Even the reader (or, in my case, the listener) cannot help but look forward to when he and his friends finally pass the great doors into the school and the term begins. And what is there to not be excited about! If I was going to get to spend several months working with potions, charms, transfiguring, and flying then of course it would be exciting to start school each year.

Unfortunately, I did not attend such an amazing school, and I’m guessing you aren’t either. While there may be the occasional interesting occurrence or terrifying moment (especially when test time comes!) it is all rather boring and mundane because it is every day and uninteresting.

What is more, our time at school can seem almost a waste because while sitting, scribbling notes, or trying not to fall asleep, it seems as though we are doing nothing for God.

Do the best things of God Have to Be Exciting?

Usually, we think the best times of service, the best times for growth and devotion take place in special settings. That might be a Bible college where hour after hour is spent studying the things of God. It might be on a missions trip where you get to share the gospel with people completely different than yourself when you are way, way out of your comfort zone. It might be while participating in local ministry: leading a Bible study, leading worship music, or participating in some act of service for the community.

Whenever we think of things that really matter for God, it’s stuff like this that comes to mind, but this is really an incredibly narrow perspective. The important things of the Christian life are much bigger than what we imagine because they take up more of our lives and time. Missions trips, specific ministries, and Bible college only last so long.

Back to School

Are the Boring Things Important Too?

Even the regularity of daily devotions only is a small portion of our days—after all, you probably will spend more time in class than in reading your Bible. But this is just how God designed it. While not diminishing the importance of preaching the gospel, going on mission trips, singing, or reading and prayer, we do diminish the importance of the ordinary things, the mundane things when we fail to realize just how important they are.

Let me try to prove this to you. Take a look at one of Paul’s letters: Colossians, for instance. After describing what God has done in reconciling them to Himself, Paul says,

“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving,” (Col. 2:8).

To remain rooted and established, he warns them against being deceived by wise-sounding words and the traditions of men and calls them to follow the first principles of Christ. He goes on to tell them not to let any of their adversaries judge them whether they keep particular holidays (Col. 2:16)

Because of what Christ has done in His victory over the principalities and powers. The apostle draws them to a particular lifestyle: one where they are rejecting certain things. He lists fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness which is idolatry.

When am I Tempted Most?

Now right there we should ask ourselves a question: when do such things appear? When am I most likely to be tempted to lust, wrongful passions, or covetousness? Is it when I am leading music? Perhaps it’s when in a strange place trying to preach the gospel to someone of a different ethnicity? Or maybe while leading a Bible study or in Bible college?

The answer could be yes to all of these, but more likely such temptations enter in during the ordinary times when you are not actively engaged in trying to do something spectacular for God. When are you more likely to let your mind wander: while trying to remember the words to a song in front of the whole church, or while sitting at a desk listening to a boring lecture? When are you more likely to covet: when you are in the middle of a dirt-poor village while walking down the hallway of the school, or while driving home?

It’s Not All About Avoiding Sin

But it is not all about avoiding sin. Consider what is to come from when we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, that is when we do our studying of God’s word—reading and thinking about it deeply (Col. 3:16).

It is to bubble over in teaching and singing to one another. This sounds like worship. But then Paul goes on to talk about things that are every day, things based on our situation in life. He talks to wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, and masters. He is addressing people in their ordinary lives based on their situations and stations. In parallel teaching in Titus, Paul says the conduct of slaves was to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things,” (Titus 2:9-10).

The Everday, “Boring Stuff” Matters

What all of this indicates is that the conduct of our everyday lives matters a great deal. It is so important, that when we have the opportunity to demonstrate goodness in these things it makes the sharing of our faith more effectively. Just consider the letter to Philemon. Paul sends a letter and a runaway slave back to his Christian master. Instead of ordering Philemon to free the slave Onesimus, he appeals to Philemon in love to receive Onesimus the slave back: to receive him not just as a slave, but now as a beloved brother. Such a thing would cause the sharing of his (Philemon’s) faith to be more effective (Phile. 6).

The returning of Onesimus the slave strikes us as barbaric and backward, but we must understand what Paul was doing. He was giving Onesimus the chance to glorify God by living properly in the lot that had been given him. Likewise, Paul was giving Philemon the opportunity to be a good master, to show to the entire Roman world—one where the threat of slave revolt was perpetually feared—that Christ had torn down the diving wall between master and slave, allowing them to live in peace.

This is not to diminish the goodness of the abolition of slavery or to say slavery is a good thing. What it does argue, and forcibly, is that God wants us to realize that our situations—whether slave or free, old or young, employee or student—give us the opportunity to glorify God in important ways. He is not interested in just having us read our Bibles or pray. God wants our lives and gives us our lives as opportunities to do good. He has imbued every setting with deep spiritual significance.

Every Moment is Spiritual

So in returning to school, realize that the mundane does matter. It matters more than all the special occasions because the every-day is every day. The ordinary is more frequent than the extraordinary. Set your mind on this truth. Do you want to do something incredibly spiritual? You do not have to wait for the right moment to tell someone about Jesus; you don’t have to have the right prayer for the right moment. To make every moment spiritual, then what you need to do is realize that every moment is spiritual.

Acting wisely, and conducting yourself in the right way no matter how mundane it is makes each moment spiritual and devotional. And if you want to be an encouragement, tell your teachers or parents that if they do their ordinary work to the Lord, then they have done something incredibly important and glorious.

Suggested Reading:

  • Mark 12:28-34
  • I Corinthians 7:17-24
  • Isaiah 1:10-20
  • I Samuel 15:22-23

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think we so often think of really important “spiritual” things as serving in some form of ministry (like evangelizing, missionary work, leading Bible studies, etc.)? what problems might arise from having this attitude?
  2. Why is it important to understand that our everyday situations are filled with spiritual meaning?

About the Author:

Sam Andersen is a member of the Evangelical Free Church of Oelwein, Iowa where he has the opportunity to teach in different capacities. He holds a MA degree in History from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Ministry degree from the Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development. He is the author of The Trinity Mystery a book that explores the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications, and the children’s book Falling Through the Creek. Email Sam at: writesamandersen@gmail.com.

The Holy Spirit’s Leading – From IT to Fashion for God (the story of G.L.O.W.)

I always wanted to be a fashion designer. Ever since I was young I would always draw people with unique looks. I would have stacks of drawings of different looks. It ranged from dresses to tops and even denim jeans. I drew all throughout my years in elementary school to the end of middle school. When I got to high school, I took Fashion Marketing courses. The reason I took it was to help me expand my knowledge and to have a better understanding of what the fashion world was all about. To assess if this was something I truly wanted to pursue. As I was taking the classes, I noticed the class focused on one type of theme look as seen in “Devil Wears Prada” and the “America’s Next Top Model”. Don’t get me wrong, they were very interesting to learn about and were sort of similar to what I was drawing originally when I was younger. But as I learned more, I realized that those types of looks weren’t for me. At the time I felt that in order to be in the fashion world one had to really get into “High Fashion” and also dress the part daily. I was the complete opposite! Growing up I was somewhat a tomboy.  I loved to wear comfortable, and sporty clothes. I would occasionally switch up my looks when I got dolled up for my away games when I was on the basketball team. I would then wear my Sunday best. My thought process at the time was that if I did not wear those looks on an everyday basis, then a career in fashion was not for me. After HS I then buried my dream of being a fashion designer and focused on an IT career. 

Fast forward to after college, in 2018, I finally got my “big girl” job as a Junior Cloud Engineer. Even though I was blessed to have this position, I still felt like IT was not my passion. I felt as if it wasn’t my heart’s desire to be in IT for the rest of my life. I had been seeking God on what my purpose was. I then began to feel the Holy Spirit giving me guidance. He directed me back into fashion. He began to reveal ideas through a different lens. I saw that I didn’t have to be a part of the high fashion look, as I always thought fashion had to be back in high school. The Holy Spirit dropped in my spirit to create something that I would normally wear. I love to wear joggers, hoodies, and pretty much anything that is comfortable. Even though I love to wear comfortable clothes, I made it to be fashionable to my liking. So I had the idea to create a brand that represents me on the daily, inside and out.  I wanted others to know what I represented when they saw me on the outside. Showing others the God that is on the inside of me as a believer. 

     As a Christian, I wanted to create a brand that would attract believers. Providing them with unique pieces, where they know they can rock something all believers would be proud to wear. Christians don’t have to be labeled as the “boring or basic”. Instead, they can be labeled as a “fashionable and dope” Christian. Not only did I want to attract Christians but also appeal to unbelievers. One of our mission as Christians is to win souls to Christ and one way to lead them is by being a light. To show the love of Christ. With this said, this is what led me to name my brand, G.L.O.W. – [God’s Love Over the World].  
The Mission behind G.L.O.W. is to uplift confidence and self-love through positive sayings and to show love as Christ loves us. God made us to stand out and GLOW! Currently designing fashion is my side hustle. But my goal is, within 5-10 years, to go full-time. For “GLOW” to be known worldwide. With God, all things are possible for HIS GLORY!


           

A big thanks to Charmaine Price for inspiring us with today’s article on how the Holy Spirit led her to get started.

If you are interested in some awesome apparel, check out her site glowtheofficial.com. Use the discount code “GLOW10” at checkout to receive 10% off on your first order! Follow GLOW on Instagram @glowtheofficial 

Majestic in Holiness

Majestic in Holiness

Why love God? The simple answer is that He commands it (Deut. 6:4-5 and Mark 12:28-34).

A reason for love is given in 1 John 4:19: “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Our love for God is based upon what He has done for us in Christ, and because He has poured out His Holy Spirit on us. But what is interesting about the command to love God is that it came before Christ. So what is it that should cause God to say, “Love Me”? What is it that should have caused there to be such awe of God?

I would like to suggest that there is something absolutely wonderful about God Himself, something so awesome and terrible that it makes people long to see Him and yet makes those same people quake in fear when they get but a glimpse. There is something about Yahweh that prompts people to love Him with all that they have and yet tremble in fear because of Him (Provb. 1:7 and Acts 9:31). There is something that we should value—not just because there is punishment if we don’t, or that we should value it because we can use it. It is better than any gold, silver, or money. It is more precious than beauty because beauty receives its quality from this reality about God.

What is it? It is the holiness of God.

Of course when “holiness” is brought up some people cringe—even Christians cringe or at the very least hesitate when the idea of “holy” or “holiness” is applied to anything but the Holy Spirit. But the fact that we cringe or hesitate demonstrates that we have no idea what holiness really is. For if we truly understood God’s holiness we would not cringe; we would tremble.

Holiness is the most frighteningly wonderful and beautiful thing about God. It is what made Moses want to see Him. It is the thing that causes the seraphim, those four living creatures circling the throne of God, to cry out, “Holy, holy, holy!” (Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8). This statement, this constant cry of these beings who are always in the presence of God should cause us to want to know what they know, to see what they see. This thing about God, this holiness that should fill these creatures with wonder is that thing that is supposed to grab hold of our hearts. It is what makes the love of Jesus so spectacular. It is what makes God’s adoption of us so astonishing and astounding.

Think of it! These exalted creatures that get to hover above God’s throne, that get to be in His presence night and day, don’t have something that we have. They cry, “Holy, holy, holy!” and the whole world shakes. If we saw what they see, if we were in His presence then we would shake and tremble and be like Isaiah the prophet who, when he stood in this holy presence, cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah. 6:5). We would fall on our knees and implore the Lord even as Peter did, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8). The holiness of God is so majestic, so beautiful, so awesome that because of our sin we want God to go away. Because of our sin we look with awe at the seraphim and think that is as close to God as any creature can get.

But the awesome work of God lifts us up.

He lifts us up, washes us clean by the blood of Christ, and fills us with His Spirit so that the seraphim look at us in amazement, and envy our place. While they circle the throne and cry out holy, we get to draw near. We get to cry holy too, but we get to approach closer and closer. We move past the ranks of angels, past lofty seats of ancient creatures, through the circling seraphim to the very throne of God. We come, not as mere creatures, but as sons and daughters. This one, who is so holy and awesome, we get to call, “Daddy,” (Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6).

Want a more detailed discussion of monotheism and its implications for truth? Check out chapter 3 of The Trinity Mystery.

Suggested Readings:

  • Leviticus 10:1-7
  • II Samuel 6
  • Isaiah 6:1-7
  • Revelation 4:1-11
  • The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul

Discussion Questions

  1. What is “holiness?” What does it mean that God is holy? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
  2. Why do you think the reaction of Isaiah was “Woe is me!” and Peter’s reaction was, “Go away from me!” when they were in the presence of God? How does this relate to the holiness of God?
  3. How can we keep God’s holiness in mind? What benefit is there to us, and how would it affect our lives and witness?

About the Author:

Sam Andersen is a member of the Evangelical Free Church of Oelwein, Iowa where he has the opportunity to teach in different capacities. He holds a MA degree in History from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Ministry degree from the Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development. He is the author of The Trinity Mystery a book that explores the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications, and the children’s book Falling Through the Creek. Email Sam at: writesamandersen@gmail.com.

One God the Definer of Truth

Why Monotheism?

In an article entitled “Foundations for Christian Students – Part 1” Patricia Engler briefly describes her experience in a secular college, and then suggests ways of building up solid spiritual foundations. In this description, she mentions that the college she was at had a particular worldview that could be summed up in this way: “God did not create people; people created God.”

This worldview can be stated another way: there is no God. Ms. Engler is quite correct that this worldview, this way of perceiving reality, defining truth, and establishing morality is in conflict with the Christian worldview. The only way to truly stand against it is to have an understanding of what your own worldview is.

The Foundation of a Christian Worldview

The foundation of a Christian worldview starts with the idea I discussed in my previous article: that deity exists and is active in the world around us. But it is not enough to say there is a deity. There have been and still are many people who believe that divine hands are at work in the universe, but these people have a fundamentally different worldview than a Christian. So as soon as we say that God is active in the universe the natural question that comes after this is: God who? The simplest answer is found in Deuteronomy 6:4 which says,

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (NKJV).

Whenever you see LORD in all capital letters this is an indication that in the original Hebrew the divine name was written. This name is Yahweh, and it is very important to recognize that the confession of the Hebrews and the Christians is that we don’t just believe in one God; we believe in a specific God, and His name is Yahweh.

As soon as we have a name and specific God, then immediately our worldview comes into conflict with others. Why? Because the Bible reveals that Yahweh does more than receive worship. He establishes what is true and what is false, what is good and what is evil.

This can be seen as early on as Genesis 9:6 where it says,

“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.”

This tells us not only that is murder wrong, but why it is wrong, and what the consequences for murder should be. And there are numerous other passages where God makes His will clear. He sets bounds for human conduct: whether it is in sexuality, in economic transactions, family conduct—all of life really.

You see, when we say that the one God does exist we are really saying that one truth exists.

Yahweh is the one who sets the bound for everything because He created everything. It is like the author of a book getting to set the bounds for what is acceptable for the characters in His book. And since we specify that Yahweh is that God, then our worldview should be made up of what He is like and what His commands are.

Conflicting Worldviews

It is because of this that the Christian worldview is immediately brought into conflict with the secular one. Because the statement, “God did not create people; people created God” is just another way of saying people are gods. We determine reality, we determine truth, and we determine right and wrong. Ms. Engler’s professors may not agree with this statement, but that doesn’t make the statement untrue.

For when there is no God, then why should I not be my own determiner of reality, my own ground of truth, my own moral compass? Why should I not be God?

When asked like that it is pretty easy for the Christian to reject this perspective. The difficulty comes in the daily expression of what it actually means. It is one thing to reject it when a professor spouts it from the front of a classroom, but it is quite another when it confronts you on social media. It is easy to reject on the debate floor, but it is quite another to reject it in your own room. It is easy to say in your head, “That professor is wrong,” but it is more to say it out loud, and be able to explain why he is wrong. But it is even more difficult to criticize yourself, to remind yourself that God is God when you want something—something you know doesn’t conform to His truth.

Recognizing who is God is a decision that must be made in every situation and in every setting—everything from how you act in public to the most intimate setting of your sexuality. Do you recognize Yahweh as the God of your life in every area?

Each of us is faced with a simple choice. Do I seek out and embrace the wisdom of Yahweh? Do I accept the truth God has revealed in His word, or will I try to make God in my own image?

Want a more detailed discussion of monotheism and its implications for truth? Check out chapter 2 of The Trinity Mystery.

Suggested Reading:

  1. Isaiah 41-45
  2. Deuteronomy 6
  3. Leviticus 18-20
  4. Titus 2
  5. The Universe Next Door by James Sire
  6. The God Who is There by Francis Schaffer

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some of the implications of Yahweh being the one God who exists? How does this impact our understanding of reality, truth, and morality? Try to give some specific examples.
  2. How would you go about finding the truth of Yahweh? How can you make sure that you are accurately doing this?
  3. What can make it difficult to acknowledge or follow the will of the one God in life?
  4. What are some areas of life in which you know you struggle against the will of God? How can you go about addressing these?

About the Author:

Sam Andersen is a member of the Evangelical Free Church of Oelwein, Iowa where he has the opportunity to teach in different capacities. He holds a MA degree in History from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Ministry degree from the Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development. He is the author of The Trinity Mystery a book that explores the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications, and the children’s book Falling Through the Creek. Email Sam at: writesamandersen@gmail.com.

A World Moved By God

A World Moved By God Graphic

Is your world sterile and dead? Is it something that works of its own accord like a clock or a computer program? Or is your world full of personality and power?

Does the storm come because high and low-pressure areas collide, or because someone orders it? When the sun rises, is it because of the eternal revolutions of the Earth, or because someone said to the sun and Earth, “Do it again!”? How does the world work?

You might be surprised that throughout history the answer to this question has not been the one that might come to mind today. People in the past did not think storms were the result of high and low-pressure systems colliding. No, a storm was caused by gods like Thor, before their thrones were bought by Disney. When the citizens of an ancient city looked at the sky and saw the signs of a storm, they were far more likely to begin a special ritual to placate the storm god rather than merely praying that the storm wouldn’t be too bad.

Which are we more likely to do?

Obviously, we pray to God and ask that there would not be too much damage caused by the storm, as though God needed to ride to the rescue in order to reign in nature. We ask God to do this or that, and what we are really asking is for God to poke His finger into the world, to interfere in it when He usually sits back and lets it move.

In this way, God is like a computer programmer. He’s created the machine and it is running, and every once in a while He has to interfere because the program has a bug, or because one of His children in the program asks for Him to change something.

When we think about deity, of God generally, this is probably what most of us think. We do not deny His existence, not at all.

We look around us and see the signs of His creative hand, but only in a forensic kind of way. We are like Sherlock Holmes, or a member of NCIS, or of any number of other investigators. We see evidence of something that occurred in the past. We look at the world around us, examine how it works, and conclude that someone designed it.

But we make a mistake after this discovery. It is an assumption even if it is not a conscious choice. In looking at the design of the universe we cannot help but think that everything is moving on its own, rather like a wind-up monkey that has been wound by God and is marching away clanging its cymbals. God is a little ways away, watching, and every once in a while adjusts the course of the monkey. The world works because God designed it to work, and He only has to interfere every now again.

I think many of us see the world this way, and see God’s relationship to the world in this way, but is it what is revealed in the Bible? Not at all! God is much more intimately involved than this. He is far nearer than this perspective hopes or imagines. Just consider what God says in Job 38:25-26.

“Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water, or a path for the thunderbolt, to cause it to rain on a land where there is no one, a wilderness in which there is no man?”

The answer to the question is, of course, that God has done this, but notice the specificity. It is not just that God turns the water faucet on, but He directs the water to fall somewhere in particular. He creates a channel for it to move down. He commands it to rain upon an area that no human has visited. And just consider what He says about the thunderbolt! He doesn’t just turn on the electric machine to watch where the lightning might strike. No, he directs the path of the thunderbolt, telling the electrons to flow exactly from one place to another—and He does it every time.

When we talk about God existing this is what we mean. He is living and active, giving you every beat of your heart, and moving the nations of the world. He is the grand mover of history, and the one writing the story of each individual life.

Suggested Reading:

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why might it be important to know that God is always at work and not just interfering in the world every once in a while?
  2. How might this bring hope to a person?

About the Author:

Sam Andersen is a member of the Evangelical Free Church of Oelwein, Iowa where he has the opportunity to teach in different capacities. He holds a MA degree in History from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Ministry degree from the Antioch School of Church Planting and Leadership Development. He is the author of The Trinity Mystery a book that explores the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications, and the children’s book Falling Through the Creek. Email Sam at: writesamandersen@gmail.com.

Foundations for Students – Part 3

Foundations for Students - Part 3

“I can’t hold on much longer,” I admitted, trying not to look down. 

Hiking with a friend had seemed like a great idea until we became stranded on a cliff. While my friend managed to pass the danger zone, I remained stuck with no further footholds—and time running out.

“Don’t you have a rope in your backpack?” my friend asked.

Right! I fished out the cord and tossed one end to my friend, who had a firmer grip on the cliff. Together, we worked our way to safety.

I share the rest of this story in my book for Christian students, Prepare to Thrive, explaining how, like I needed a rope connected to a grounded friend, Christian students need connections with others who are securely gripping the Rock, Jesus. A support system of these connections makes up a student’s interpersonal foundations—one of three foundations Christians need to keep their faith strong at college. (You can learn about the other two in my previous articles. Part 2

Students I’ve met around the world weave their interpersonal foundations from communities including campus ministries, biblical churches, and godly mentors. Let’s look at practical tips for getting involved with each.

Campus Ministry

The benefits of joining a campus ministry can include friendship, encouragement, prayer support, accountability, opportunities to serve, and—importantly—regular reminders that you’re not alone in your biblical beliefs. However, some students I’ve spoken with said they couldn’t find solid Christian groups. The leaders didn’t teach the Bible, or the members didn’t act like they knew Jesus. 

Joining a group with compromised doctrines or lifestyles can do your spirit more harm than good. To recognize an unhealthy group, ask:

  • Are there doctrinal issues within the leadership? 
  • How will spending time with this group impact my spiritual health? 
  • Will these relationships more likely lead me closer to God or closer to compromise

Your personal boundaries will be far easier to overstep if professing Christians around you overstep them too. The point of steering clear of such relationships isn’t to be self-righteous, but to guard your heart and relationship with God (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). 

Local Church

As awesome as campus ministries can be, peer groups alone aren’t enough. Students also need connections with the wider Body of Christ. That’s where the local church comes in. As a retired professor once told me, “Not attending church is the biggest mistake students make.”

Research suggests that students who move away to college are most likely to stay plugged into church if they find a new home church within two months. So, it’s essential to find a solid church early. What should students look for in a church? The most important must-have is solid biblical teaching. Ask, “Does this church believe, teach, and live out God’s Word?” 

Older Mentors

Churches are prime places to connect with potential mentors. A mentor is simply anyone willing to personally share valuable wisdom, knowledge, and insights to benefit someone less experienced. From what I’ve seen, students can benefit from at least three types of mentors:

  • Sages—seasoned individuals you might meet for regular discipleship. 
  • Allies—older Christians who offer informal support, whether by inviting you for lunch, chatting with you after church, or praying for your exams. 
  • Responders—people who you may not see often, but who are always available to answer questions or offer advice. 

What are some practical ways to find mentors? Here are seven ideas:

  1. Ask God to connect you with the right people. 
  2. Look for trusted Christians who you want to be like and ask if they’d be willing to meet. 
  3. Consistently attend a biblical, intergenerational church. 
  4. Intentionally get to know older adults who walk closely with God. 
  5. Find ways to serve or volunteer alongside mature Christians. 
  6. Be open to asking older Christians for prayer.
  7. Remember that books and media work like mentors too. Through (auto)biographies especially, we can be mentored by extraordinary men and women of God throughout history! On the flip side, beware of negative media influences, because we become like those we spend time with.

Solidly Connected

Ultimately, connecting with godly mentors, biblical churches, and campus ministries are three ways to build interpersonal foundations for surviving university. And the number one trait to seek in all three community types is a commitment to God’s word. By surrounding ourselves with others who seek to learn, understand, and follow Scripture—and by being such people ourselves—we can stay grounded for life on the Rock. 

There’s much more to say—enough to fill a book! Find practical tips for building strong spiritual, intellectual, and interpersonal foundations in the book, Prepare to Thrive: A Survival Guide for Christian Students. 


Patricia Engler Bio Photo

Patricia Engler is a Christian apologetics speaker, writer, and Youth Outreach Coordinator for Answers in Genesis. After 12 years of homeschool and a B.Sc. degree, she backpacked 360°around the world documenting how Christian students keep their faith at university. The top takeaways from this research are available in Patricia’s book, Prepare to Thrive: A Survival Guide for Christian Students. You can follow her stories and get connected through FacebookInstagram, and AnswersinGenesis.org

Foundations For Christian Students – Part 2

Foundations for Students Part 2

Picture this: you’re sitting in class when the lecturer says something that contradicts Scripture—something you’ve never heard before. As everyone else nods and takes notes, you notice your heart is beating faster. What if you’re wrong about your biblical beliefs?

This scenario isn’t just imaginary. It’s what I’ve experienced firsthand as a Christian student at secular college. But we don’t only hear unbiblical messages in classrooms. Whether online, in conversations, or even at church, persuasive—but unbiblical—messages may pop up anywhere. How can we respond?

Enter, Intellectual Foundations

The answer lies in having what I’d call strong intellectual foundations—one of three personal foundations Christian students need to keep their faith strong at college, as my last article explained. 

Building intellectual foundations involves learning some basic apologetics. As the field of study which looks at why Christianity makes rational sense, apologetics helps us answer questions like, “How do we know the Bible is true? Does science contradict Scripture? How does Christianity compare to other beliefs?” (A great place to dig into these topics is AnswersinGenesis.org.) 

But no matter how many apologetics answers we learn, we’re always bound to have new questions. So, we must also be able to think like apologists—to process new faith-challenging messages and arrive at biblical, logical answers ourselves. That’s where the other side of intellectual foundations comes in: biblical critical thinking skills. 

Critical thinking is all about evaluating messages to see if they’re worth believing. To give you a head start building strong intellectual foundations, let me share the critical thinking system that helped me process new messages in college. 

How I Learned to Think About ‘Facts’ That Challenged My Faith:

First, when I heard information that seemed to contradict my beliefs, I resolved not to panic. I knew God’s word is true; therefore, any message that conflicts with Scripture must be a lie. And every lie must ultimately fall apart.

With that in mind, I’d put faith-challenging information in quotation marks when writing notes in class. This reminded me that the information was just my professor’s explanation—not an absolute fact. Next, I’d flip to the back of my notebook and write down my questions about the information. This record of my questions let me follow up on finding answers later without feeling like a weight of vague uncertainties was accumulating against my beliefs.

When I had the chance, I would then filter the information through a series of mental checkpoints I call the Seven Checks of Critical Thinking:

Check Scripture: What does the Bible have to say about this topic?

Check the challenge: Does this message contradict clear teaching from Scripture?

Check the source: Who’s sharing this message? What is the source’s credibility and worldview? How did they arrive at their information? Is the information being reported accurately?

Check the definitions: How are keywords being defined? Do their meanings change?

Check for propaganda: Why does this message sound true? Is it trying to persuade by appealing to logic, or to something else like emotion, appearances, or humans’ desire for acceptance?

Check the interpretations: Which parts of this message are facts we can observe in the present, and which parts are assumptions, interpretations, or speculations about the past? What’s another way to explain the same observations from a biblical perspective?

Check the logic: Are there any other errors in reasoning that should make me think twice before believing this message?

This seven-step framework helped me respond biblically to almost all the faith-challenging information I encountered in college. But sometimes, I still had unresolved questions. That’s when I’d have to give God my remaining questions, to remember that He held the answer, and to trust Him even if He never revealed that answer to me.

Unanswered questions can be fiendish faith destroyers. But faith crises don’t start when Christians begin asking questions. They start when we give up on finding answers. And three great places to find answers include Scripture, solid apologetics resources, and godly mentors. (More on that next time!)

Thinking Biblically

With these tools for evaluating new information, and with apologetics knowledge for answering common questions, you’ll be well set to build strong intellectual foundations. Then you’ll be prepared to defend your hope in Christ with gentleness (1 Peter 3:15) whenever you hear new a faith-challenging message—in college and beyond.  

There’s much more to say—enough to fill a book! Find practical tips for building strong spiritual, intellectual, and interpersonal foundations in the book, Prepare to Thrive: A Survival Guide for Christian Students. 


Patricia Engler Bio Photo

Patricia Engler is a Christian apologetics speaker, writer, and Youth Outreach Coordinator for Answers in Genesis. After 12 years of homeschool and a B.Sc. degree, she backpacked 360°around the world documenting how Christian students keep their faith at university. The top takeaways from this research are available in Patricia’s book, Prepare to Thrive: A Survival Guide for Christian Students. You can follow her stories and get connected through FacebookInstagram, and AnswersinGenesis.org

Foundations for Christian Students – Part 1

Foundations for Students Article

Walking through the classroom door, I could only imagine what I might be getting myself into. Secular college, I’d heard, would be a spiritual battlefield like none I’d experienced before. Would my faith survive?

As the semester unfolded, I constantly heard messages which contradicted God’s word—like the idea that humans evolved from apelike ancestors over millions of years. This idea lies at the heart of a worldview—a system of thinking about everything in the world—known as secular humanism. A quote from one of my professors summed up this worldview by claiming, “God did not create people; people created God.” 

Although I realized these ideas were false, hearing them taught as fact every day wore on me. What helped me survive with my biblical beliefs intact? The answer comes down to three personal foundations that God had helped me prepare as a teenager:

  • Spiritual foundations: Keeping a close personal walk with God.
  • Intellectual foundations: Being able to logically defend biblical beliefs and answer messages that oppose God’s Word.
  • Interpersonal foundations: Staying surrounded by strong Christian community, including godly family, friends, church, and older mentors. 

After I graduated, I backpacked 360° around the world asking other Christian students about their university experiences. These conversations revealed that, although Christian students face diverse challenges worldwide, the solutions for overcoming those challenges look incredibly similar. They all trace back to having those three foundations I’d needed as a student. 

What are some of the top practical steps that Christian young people can take to develop these foundations? Answering this for all three foundations will take a couple more articles. But for now, let’s start with Spiritual Foundations. 

Walking with God

No student can keep their faith during university unless they have their own faith to begin with. The point isn’t for us to masquerade behind our families’ faith, but to cultivate vibrant personal relationships with God that color our moment-to-moment lives. As a result, we ground our identities in this relationship with Jesus rather than in anything temporary.  

During my own teen years, nothing kindled my desire to pursue God this way more than reading missionary biographies. Stories of ordinary people who witnessed God’s extraordinary faithfulness made me want to know God like that myself, and to approach every aspect of life—even schoolwork and summer jobs—as part of a greater mission with Jesus. With this mindset, I could view challenges in university as opportunities to draw closer to God by giving him my concerns (1 Peter 5:7). 

How to Build Spiritual Foundations

If spiritual foundations involve walking closely with God, how can we build those foundations now—and keep them strong throughout university? Here are three ways: 

  1. Pray

Talking to our heavenly Father is one of the best ways to draw close to God and impact our world. A vibrant prayer life includes not only setting apart daily time to meet with God, but also practicing an ongoing attitude of prayer by transforming whatever we’re doing, thinking, and feeling into opportunities to pray throughout the day. 

  1. Worship

After hearing a tough lecture full of unbiblical messages in college, I remember heading outside to detox my mind by listening to worship. Playing instrumental worship while we work, taking study breaks to sing or listen to worship, and checking the songs in our heads throughout the day are all great ways to stay “in tune” with our Creator. 

  1. Soak in Scripture

Reading God’s Word every day, memorizing verses, and even listening to audio Bibles while going about our day helps us stay filled with Scripture. This, in turn, equips us to spot lies, counter temptation, and live the lives for which we were created. 

Along the way, we can keep our foundations strong by prioritizing daily time with God, being aware of little compromises which could hinder our relationship with God, and drawing biblical boundaries ahead of time—before we face pressure to compromise our convictions.  

Pursuing God

Ultimately, building strong spiritual foundations prepares us not only to thrive as Christians in college but also to live the life we were created for: a life of relationship with God. Then, whichever doors God leads us through—whether into a college classroom or out to the world beyond—we’ll be confident that we’re going there with our Creator. 

There’s much more to say—enough to fill a book! Find practical tips for building strong spiritual, intellectual, and interpersonal foundations in the book, Prepare to Thrive: A Survival Guide for Christian Students.


Patricia Engler is a Christian apologetics speaker, writer, and Youth Outreach Coordinator for Answers in Genesis. After 12 years of homeschool and a B.Sc. degree, she backpacked 360°around the world documenting how Christian students keep their faith at university. The top takeaways from this research are available in Patricia’s book, Prepare to Thrive: A Survival Guide for Christian Students. You can follow her stories and get connected through FacebookInstagram, and AnswersinGenesis.org


Every Teenager’s Guide to Greater Confidence

We all would like to be more confident, wouldn’t we? What would it feel like to know you knew the right answers to the quiz at school? How would you feel if you knew what to say to your crush?

If we’re honest, confidence for many of us can feel like it’s lacking. Maybe you want to try out for the basketball team, but you wonder if you’ll crack under the pressure of the crowd watching you, so you don’t try out at all. How many times has a lack of confidence stopped you from doing something?

Where does confidence come from?

Where do you go to get confidence when you lack it? Does your confidence come from having the right clothes or the right friends? Is it from likes or followers? What determines how confident you feel on a day-to-day basis?

The Bible describes the person who builds their life or confidence on anything other than God’s word as someone who builds their life on the sand.

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:26-27 (NIV)

When we build our confidence on superficial things such as the number of followers we have, or how popular we are, we are building our lives on the sand. When those followers follow someone else more interesting or funny, where will you go to get your confidence?

Instead, the Bible encourages us to build our confidence in Jesus.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. – Matthew 7:24-25 (NIV)

When we build confidence in Jesus, we won’t be shaken by the things of life. When followers leave, you can remain confident because Jesus is the foundation for your confidence. When friends are fickle, you can know that you’re still loved because your confidence is in Jesus.

Jesus is a firm foundation, and when you build your confidence in Him, you are going to stand when the storms of life come your way.

Lasting Confidence is Found in Jesus

If you want confidence that will stand the test of time, then choose to root your confidence in Jesus. Go to your Bible and build confidence in who Jesus says you are. Building confidence through who Jesus says you are will stand the test of time.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Jesus isn’t finished with you yet. He’s got good things in store for you, and wants to help you develop the confidence to step out and do those things.

Followers will come and go. Friends will leave you and clothes will change. However, one thing doesn’t change and that’s God’s word. So get to know the Jesus of the Bible and build confidence in Him. He is the one thing that won’t change or give up on you!


Go Deeper

Icon for Teen Devotion

If feelings of doubt or low self-esteem have plagued you, we’ve developed a 5-day devotion to help. God wants you free from doubt, free from low self-esteem so that you can go out and do the things He has called you to do. This 5-day devotion is full of scripture to help you begin to see yourself the way God sees you.