News Articles

CrossSeekers events fun, but hard decisions to follow

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Hip Christian music, fashionable “Jesus clothing” and heavenly Cajun food translated into a pretty cool weekend for college students attending the national CrossSeekers celebration in New Orleans, Sept. 4-5.
But when the spirited Christian fun folded into bus trips back to school, more than 3,000 students who attended the “CrossSeekers: Celebration of the Covenant” were going to have to make some pretty tough decisions about how to serve God.
Students were challenged during three energy-charged general sessions to become better witnesses for Jesus, and they were advised during Scripture-filled master conferences how to accept the challenge.
Living a Christian lifestyle will be as difficult as it is satisfying, Richard Blackaby, president of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, Cochrane, Alberta, and author of the first in a series of CrossSeekers discipleship books, “Discipleship Covenant for a New Generation,” told students during one of eight master conferences.
“But you only have one life, and you don’t want your tombstone to read, ‘Here lived a mediocre Christian,'” he said. “You don’t want to waste the one life God has given you.”
Blackaby, who wrote the CrossSeekers resource with his father, Henry Blackaby, told the students living outside of the will of God is a love problem, not an obedience problem.
“There is a relationship between how much you love God and what you are doing for him,” Blackaby said. “You say you love God, but you can’t obey him. If you don’t witness, pray or read your Bible the way you should, how can you go any further with God?”
Blackaby offered the students two solutions for loving God as they should, but he cautioned they would not be easy to live out.
“Number one, God must come first in your life,” he said. “If you decide to have a relationship with God, he will be very protective of that relationship. God can tell immediately if something in your life is more important than he is.”
Blackaby used Abraham as an example of a man who loved God before all else — even his own son, Isaac. Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac’s life at God’s request.
“If you want to continue to grow with God, what are you going to have to put on the altar to get closer to God?” Blackaby asked the students. “Your relationships with others? Lust? Ambition?”
Secondly, Blackaby told the students they would have to “deny themselves, take up the cross and follow God.”
“When you became a Christian, you gave up your rights. God says, ‘I am the Lord, and I have the rights to your life now.'” Blackaby said. “I don’t know what you will have to deny yourself, but if you’re not willing to do it, you will never be all the person God wants you to be.”
Oklahoma City-based Christian speaker and author David Edwards said one area where young adults might have to deny themselves is in their friendships.
In his Sept. 5 master conference, Edwards said committed Christians “have to re-evaluate our friendships if they are keeping us from doing the will of God. … Some of us have given our lives and our futures to Jesus Christ, and he has given us a new direction, but we’ve never made any adjustments in our social life.”
How do you know when it’s time to distance yourself from a potentially harmful friendship? Edwards listed several indicators, including:
— When you become the victim of “negative shaping” — taking on the characteristics of those making sinful choices. “If they were really your friends, they wouldn’t hold you back spiritually,” he said.
— When you are suffering needlessly. “When rebellious people are in the inner loop of your life, you will catch the shrapnel of their rebellion,” he said. “… But you are only called to suffer for the name of Christ and his righteousness.”
— When the Spirit needs to move in the friend’s life. “The reason you push people away who are pulling you away from God is so that they can see the love of God. Many times, we are the ones standing in the way of God working in their lives. … Salvation for your friends doesn’t rest on you alone. Some plant. Some water. But it is God who produces the harvest. Maybe you’re in the way.”
When believers move away from harmful relationships, Edwards said they’ll find peace of mind and opportunities to build stronger, healthier friendships with people of shared values.
One barrier to such friendships, though, is an unwillingness to sacrifice for another person.
“So few of us are willing to do that,” he said. “We’re selfish; we get into friendships because of what we think we can get out of them. But the way friendships grow ‘covenantaly’ is through sacrifice. If we don’t learn how to do it, we’ll live life alone.”
A true friend, Edwards said, “delights in what you are, believes in what you can be and isn’t shaken by the negative things in your life.”
Kevin Singleton, a motivational speaker from Nashville, Tenn., asked students who attended his master conference to pay special attention to the third of the CrossSeeker Covenant’s six points, “I will speak and live a relevant, authentic and consistent witness.”
“God loves humans and he wants to save them. My job is to teach you how to get your friends saved,” he said. “The Christian life is difficult, so many of us say, ‘I ain’t going to live that way.'”
However, those who choose to follow Jesus and lead others to him should learn how to convince non-believers that God is real, Singleton said. Christians can do that in several ways:
— being nicer to people. “If we just got nice, we might get half our campus saved. Non-Christians are suppose to be mean as snakes, not us.”
— sharing faith. “If you never share your faith, you will never get to see God use you to help transform another person’s life. And that’s one of the most powerful experiences a person can have.”
— discipling others who can also become witnesses. “Share your testimony. Get a one-minute version, a five-minute version and a 30-minute version. Learn to articulate what God has done in your heart.”
Singleton told the students God would use them if they would only give him the chance.
“You are important. You are created for a purpose. God is going to use you, and history will be different because you lived.”
CrossSeekers is sponsored by National Student Ministry, part of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

    About the Author

  • Terri Lackey & Chip Alford