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Multiplication of Workers!

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 1.32.52 PMGod is good!  I spoke with a guy named Shaul, a volunteer that works with me at UAlbany, and he said that God was giving him the idea that whatever will happen this semester will be done by the STUDENTS, not by us.  We will be there to help and direct, but they will step up!  Two Days before, I received a text from Kevin, one of our student leaders, telling me that God has been teaching him and pressing something on his heart that he wants to share with the group!  Immediately you can see part of God’s plan coming together!

He led us through Ephesians 5 on the tough topic of relationships, “wives, submit to your husbands…”

KEVIN KNOCKED IT OUT OF THE PARK!  

He spoke for around 35 minutes and covered not only the wives submitting part, but went on to talk about the rest of the chapter where it points out the job of the husband!  The husband should live as Christ lived and when he does that, submitting shouldn’t be a problem!  It was inspiring to see one of our students wanting to teach the whole group!

That was just the beginning!

Kevin also wanted Impact to hold extra Bible studies over Lent.  So this past weekend, he started a men’s study digging into James.  Sarah and Liza also stepped up to lead a women’s Bible study!  It is exciting that only 3 weeks into the semester the students are taking control and becoming workers of this plentiful harvest at UAlbany!

It is exciting to see what else this semester will bring!

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This past Wednesday at UAlbany, classes were suspended so everyone could study for finals starting the next day, it is what they call Reading Day.  BEST TIME TO CELEBRATE THE END OF THE YEAR!  Every Reading Day we host a party and this semester we had a student decided to follow Christ in Baptism!

Where ever you are in the world, it is exciting that we can share this with you!  This is just a trailer to a bigger video coming soon!

 

That’s a nice Valley!

The other day I was talking with Peter, our upcoming President of Impact at UAlbany, and we started to discuss Psalm 23.  An interesting Psalm and possibly the most famous Psalm.  Just by me typing Psalm 23, you probably have already said “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil for you (maybe you’d say thou) are with me…”  Upon reflection we both thought of funerals… this psalm can fit well at a funeral.

I asked Peter why he liked it and he gave a few points.  We then went through it line by line.

First though, here is Psalm 23 in it entirety:

1     The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, 
    he restores my soul. 
He guides me in paths of righteousness 
    for his name’s sake. 
Even though I walk
    through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, 
    for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; 
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

So V1

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

Ok so the shepherd makes sure that the sheep have everything they need.  Food.  Water.  Safety.  Similarly, God is our shepherd taking care of us, providing for our needs.  I get stuck on the second part though.  “I shall not be in want”.  You know the 10 commandments?

You SHALL not….

You SHALL not….

You SHALL not….

You SHALL not….

I don’t know about you but I have always read those as ‘You should not.’

So when I read this is Psalm 23:1, I read ‘I should not be in want’.

How well do I do with the 10 commandments?

You shall not commit murder.  Jesus compares murder to anger… well I mess that one up…

You shall not commit Adultery… Jesus compares this action to be the same as thinking about it… have you messed that one up?

You shall not steal… I don’t think all the music on my computer has been paid for… how about you?

So I find myself struggling to follow these ‘Shall Not’s, hopefully you do better.  So I see this ‘Shall Not’ and it seems to be a struggle to follow.  It seems to be a struggle to not be in want, as much as I desire to be content.

Lets go to V2:

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

When I look at this verse the word that sticks out to me is “makes”.

It seems I’d be happy to lay down in this nice green pasture.  The idea the comes to mind is of having a picnic with the family and the dog.  It’d be nice to have the picnic blanket laid out and the family enjoying a lush green area, maybe in some shade on a summer day.  Everyone is relaxing but the dog. The dog wants to run around and do things and sniff things and eat things and probably chase things as well.  I also imagine the dad trying to calm the dog down and get it to relax with the family.  You have to make this dog lie down.

I so much see US in this verse.  How much do we desire to go here and there and be busy all the time.  God helps those who help themselves right? ummm… not really…

God has to make us sit down and relax.  He says to relax, to look around at the beauty that is around you.  Great green fields, calm beautiful water, maybe… maybe a mountain with a jagged rock face in the distance.  That seems like an area I could enjoy, how about you?

The thing is, a dog doesn’t care much about how beautiful an area is when there is something to do…

V3

he restores my soul. 
He guides me in paths of righteousness 
    for his name’s sake. 

Thank God.  We run ourselves ragged and then fall apart, but God will restore our souls.  He guides me.  In all the choices I have to make through the hours, days, weeks, and months, God will help guide me in the path of righteousness.

Why?

For His Name’s sake!

What is in a name?  Today, a name might not mean much, but back then a name carried with it the weight of the person.  So when you spoke of God, it wasn’t a vague idea of a powerful guy in the heavens, it was the God who delivered your people from Egypt.  It was the one who brought water out of a stone, who provided food each day.  It was the one who routed entire armies when your people only had 300 warriors.  So this idea of the name of God is a huge idea!  What could be bigger than the creator of everything!

V4:

Even though I walk
    through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, 
    for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

wait…um… WHAT?  I thought I was in a nice lush field by calm waters enjoying a picnic… I thought I was walking this path of righteousness by still waters…

‘you are, but that shadow isn’t from the Maple trees’

I see now why I had to be MADE to lie down!

I am in the Valley of the Shadow of Death!  This dangerous place seems so nice!  Sin often seems good at first too…

If I feared no evil, He wouldn’t have to MAKE me lie down, but I’m working on it!  I verbalize my trust because in my heart I trust Him and I want my actions to follow my heart.  If I think back to who God is and what He has done in the past, this trust thing becomes easier.  Ok… your power… your rod and staff, they comfort me.

V5:

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; 
    my cup overflows.

So we’re really doing this?  We are surrounded by people who want nothing but bad for me and you want me to relax and have a meal?

ok.  Trust in the heart.  Check

Trust in action… che… umm…. check…

V6:

Surely goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

This is good news!  Even though I am in a bad spot, goodness and love will be there with me.  No matter what happens, I will be with the Lord!

So what do we learn out of this?

What is a message?

Why can God be trusted?

He doesn’t do this for you.  He does what He does for Him!  For His name’s sake!  What will bring more glory to Him, having you die, or protecting you so much that you can have a feast in front of your enemies?

Even though we are nervous and unsure, we can put our trust in the one who guides us because He can see a better, bigger picture than what we see.  He will guide us through the nice looking valley of the shadow of death and show us where the path of righteousness lies.  All of the people who wish to harm us will not be able to if we keep your trust and our eyes on Him.

And should His better, bigger plan lead to death for you but Life for others, fear not, “I (you) will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

-Zack

Upcoming Impact Events*!

Summer is almost over and as it winds down, the ministry at UAlbany is shifting into high gear!  Classes start in less than 2 weeks and Freshmen start to move in in less than 1 week!

If we take a look at the numbers, there are 4,000 new freshmen coming on to campus this year (and every year!).  On average, 600 of them self identify as born again/evangelical Christians.  Statistics show that 70-80% of Christians who go to college fall away from the faith, that means, of the 600 who consider themselves followers of Jesus, 480 of them will not be in 4 years.  

480 students out of the incoming 600 who identify as Christ Followers will leave Christianity.

That leaves a class of 4,000 students with only 120 Christians.  

How can we make a difference?

As students come to campus, we will have fliers on every entrance and exit of the dorms, by every elevator to read as you are waiting, by all the dinning halls and on each pillar that we can staple a sign on to.  If you are new and you are looking for something to be a part of, we are as visible as we can be!

On Aug 29th we have our first fellowship meeting!  It is going to be superb!  God has been leading in ways that will bring this night together in ways that I couldn’t have hoped to do last year.  The whole night will revolve around “Do you love your neighbor“.  There is a game of the same title, we will look at Luke 10, and it will end with an invitation to NYC on Sept 8th to help serve those in need with a ministry to the homeless and those less fortunate called Hope For The Future.

All of our new friends that we get to know over this first day are invited to join us for a movie night on Friday the 31st!  We will show everyone how to make the trip to the local mall and we plan to see a movie or something.  A good activity that will bond and also give us something to do and relate about afterwards.

The following day, Sept 1st, we have a Welcome Picnic planned!  We head to a local park and play games, walk the trails and feast on BBQ!  With good weather, this is a great time!  With bad weather, we feast inside and watch a movie and play games.  Still good!

As the semester goes on, we have many other things in the works!  We are planning trips through Albany, hikes in Thatcher Park, spelunking, battle ship tour, apple picking and laser tag!

Also sprinkled through the semester are outreach programs of all sizes.  I would like to highlight a few of the bigger events we have planned!

Starting back in the spring of 2011, we held a series of talks on intellectual topics in Christianity. We called it our March Monday Meetings! We had special speakers come in and speak on topics in which they were knowledgeable.

We had a muslim physics professor speak on Creation and how his study of physics has made him believe in it more.

We connected with a nationwide group Reasons to Believe and their local branch here in Albany and they came out to discuss Stephen Hawkings book “The Grand Design”.

We hosted discussion on multiple topics:

Judaism&Christianity,

Islam&Christianity,

depression&suicide,

and ended by bringing in a nation wide speaker, tv host, radio host, and author named Dr. Frank Turek.  Dr. Turek has a presentation called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.  In this discussion (with an open Q&A at the end) he covers 4 points in two nights.  Does Truth Exist?  Does God Exist?  Are Miracles Possible?  Is the New Testament reliable?

All of these have been great events with the biggest number of people showing up for Dr. Turek’s talk (107 people)

These discussion from 2 school years ago continued this past year.  We brought back a few of the bigger draw speakers.  Frank spoke again this past April for two nights and 163 people showed up to hear his message.  From that night, we made a connection with a Jewish group on campus, Aish Torah.

In the coming year, we will join with them in bringing back Dr. Frank Turek to once again present “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” on the campus.   

Something new that we are planning is to bring a concert to the campus!!!  I am really excited about this one!

 We have contacted the band SANCTUS REAL about coming to UAlbany and playing a concert on the big field in front of the campus, Collins Circle.

     I remember during my Junior year at UAlbany, I remember being on the 18th floor of the Colonial tower and hearing a band playing on Collins Circle, it was all a buzz on AIM (who remembers AIM? This was before Facebook!!!).

WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY TO BRING A CHRISTIAN BAND TO THE CAMPUS TO PLAY AND PREACH WHERE YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO ESCAPE THE MESSAGE!

Like all of these events, we want this to be free and open to the college and the community!  God is opening up so much to make this possible.  We have made contacts at multiple Christian radio stations who put on concerts, I have been told of a Christian Concert Promoter in the area that I will get in contact with and I have recently been a part of a prayer meeting with a group of pastors who want to make a difference on the campus!

Wow!

I sit back and look at all of these things that are coming together and this concert looks to be very much doable as long as people are faithful to their callings!

     Finally, we are looking to partner with other groups on campus to bring in this next discussion.  One of our leaders for next year, Shelly, is also going to be the president of another group, Heart of Justice.  Heart of Justice is a student group that partners with the world wide organization Love 146 to fight human trafficking with a focus on child sex slavery.

Working with HOJ and some Greek Houses that support the same cause, we hope to bring in Pastor Craig Gross from the XXXChurch and Ron Jeremy, Adult Film Star in a discussion called the Great Porn Debate.

They will be debating pros (Jeremy)  and cons (Gross) of the pornography business.  This is a great opportunity to draw people in who might want to see Ron Jeremy and give them this other side of the issue.

     These are the big events that are being put on by a handful (hopefully more) of students.  Please be praying how you can join and help!

We have big dreams to make a big impact for a big God!

-Zack

*Impact Event
Psychiatric Term;
-An event or time in one’s life that had such an affect that it can be recalled clearly at a moments notice.
i.e. 9/11/2001, 11/22/1963

A Church Sermon

This past Sunday, I had a chance to speak at a church and share the ministry of Impact with a whole group of people. It was a fun morning and my first time speaking in the pulpit. I was able to record it and I wanted to share it with you. I edited the service down to the sermon and the benediction. It is about 35 minutes, a little longer than what the good people at New Covenant Presbyterian Church (NCPC) are used to but I hope they enjoyed the message and the introduction to Impact. People invited me back so hopefully this is the beginning of a good relationship between Impact and NCPC!

The Kingdom Divided

This past semester we have spoken on evangelism and we have been going over the Gospel of Luke during our Monday bible study with the intention of understanding it so that we can teach it instead of just consuming it for ourselves.

In Luke 11 Jesus is casting out a demon that was mute and he was accused of being from the Devil.

By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.”  -Luke 11:15

     So a guy has been unable to speak for who knows how long and Jesus comes by and casts out the demon that was torturing him.  How crazy must that be for the mute guy?  How great must that be for his family and friends and people around him?  Most people are excited, but some in the crowd don’t seem like they can be pleased by anything Jesus does.

     Whispered words start moving through the crowd telling people that this guy who seems impressive actually isn’t that great.  In fact, he isn’t only not impressive but he is dangerous because his power comes from Satan.

He is working for the bad guy!

Jesus, however, knows where His power comes from and He knows what is being discreetly discussed among the dissidents.

Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.  If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub.  Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.  But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.      -Luke 11:17-20

He goes on to talk about how if a strong man is protecting his house, the only way to overpower him is to be stronger than he is.

and then V23

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.

 Maybe you’ve read this before.  I know I have but I think I have come victim to the Bible!  What?  Our bibles are split up into books and chapters and verses and those chapters are broken up into section and I know for me, I have grown to see these sections as stand alone teachings.  Of course, that isn’t the case.  These teachings tie together.

People have some grudge against Jesus for healing and say His power is from Satan.  Jesus tells them that Satan wouldn’t give power to drive out himself but that He drives them out by the finger of God.  The next story is talking about a man in a strong hold that can only be overtaken by someone who is stronger.

Jesus here is talking about Himself being stronger than Satan!  He can drive out Satan’s demons because He is more powerful.  Jesus is making a claim that He has the power of God!

He then makes this comment that if you aren’t with Him, you are against Him.

Jesus just made the case that He has the power of God, that He is on the side of God, and that He is overpowering Satan.  So the people who are speaking against Him are on whose side?

THEY ARE NOW ON THE SIDE OF THE DEVIL!

Jesus has made some huge statements here about His power and what He is doing and the people against Him.

So what can we learn from this to share with those around us?

This chapter has a claim of divinity of Jesus.  He has the power to overthrow he who has a strong hold (Satan) and take his possessions (us) and give them as He sees fit and the people who want to fight Him want to stay true to Beelzebub.

I think this was a pretty good day reading chapter 11.

Your Thoughts?

-Zack

Looking Forward

     The Spring semester is almost over!  We have finished up our weekly Wednesday fellowship meetings and with summer right around the corner, we will be transitioning into our weekly Wednesday bible study for the summer session students!

There is more transition than just the season.  We now have a new executive board!  I am excited for the people who have stepped up to the leadership roles.  Peter Huynh, who is our current VP, will be stepping into the role of President.  New to the Eboard next year will be Kevin Luo as our treasurer and Shelly Zhou as our secretary.  We are still on the hunt for a VP for next year.

On Saturday, our current eboard along with our new additions will be joining together for a picnic and planning meeting to work through the first few months of the next school year.  Please be in prayer for us as we gather and seek how we can be a part of what God is doing on this campus.  We will be planning activities to bond our new students and help us grow as a ministry to this campus of 17,000+ students!

Hikes

Pizza Parties

Special Speakers

Howe Caverns

Corning Tower Observation Deck

USS Slater

Apple Picking

Movies

Bowling

Dinners

Retreats

Hope For The Future

Trash Takedowns

and the list goes on!

This past year has been good and I look forward to the possibilities of what God can and will do next semester!

-Zack