Fall 2013 Preview (we’re PUMPED!)

Hey friends! Can you believe it’s almost fall? We are so eager to have you guys back around. As we’ve been planning for fall there’s a ton of great stuff coming up that we want you guys to know about!

Our purpose in UMIN is to make disciples of Jesus who make disciples for the rest of their lives. The main way we do this is through Discipleship Groups. These groups are made up of a few of your friends, walking through life with a mentor who is a life-phase (or more) ahead of you, who will challenge you to look more like Christ during your time in college. If you’re interested in joining a DGroup, we’ll have two interest meetings when you get back – Sunday, September 15th after Sunday School in the Loft, or Wednesday, September 18th after Worship & Study in the Loft.  Plan to be at one of those meetings to find out more and sign up for this central piece of our ministry! We kick off new groups the week of September 29th.

Speaking of Sunday School and Worship & Study, we’re really eager to walk through Scripture with you guys this fall. Sunday School kicks off August 25th at 11am in the Student Building. Each fall we offer four different classes in Sunday school that you can be a part of for the entire semester, and you don’t want to miss it! In Worship & Study we will be walking through the book of Hebrews, beginning August 28th at 8:30pm. Bring your friends and come worship with us!

Every year we look forward to sharing some free, warm, buttery goodness – this year our Pancake Kickoff will be Tuesday, August 27th from 9pm to midnight. We love to welcome you guys back to school, and what better way than with free pancakes in the Student Building!?

This year we’re planning another great Fall Retreat on October 4th and 5th! We’ll be heading to Camp Hargis – it’s the perfect chance for you guys to get away from the crazy start of school and enjoy time together in community, complete with a campfire, s’mores, worship and Bible study with some great friends to lead us. You’ll hear more from us about how to signup in August, but mark it on your calendars – it’s going to be awesome!

We’re praying for you guys as summer winds down and you start to think about school again. We cannot wait to see how the Lord works in the upcoming semester, and we really can’t wait to see your smiling faces again soon!

Fall Sunday School Preview

We are super excited over here at UMin about our fall Sunday School plan.  Starting August 26, we are returning to our learning environments format where you get to choose which class you want to participate in this semester.  Here are some previews of the four classes we will be offering:

“Freshman 101” with Rachael Milner and Jason Spires

So you’re a freshman, right? You’re about to make a LOT of decisions in college, some good… some bad (hopefully less of these). We want to walk through Scripture and learn what wisdom looks like as a freshman in college. We will talk about friends, dating, serving, church, and everything in between. Join us on Sundays to have fun and fellowship together, to study wise words from the Bible and to avoid gaining the freshman 15. Just kidding on that last part.

“The Journey” with Jason & Aren Williams and Amy & Adam Oliver

For the past year, the whole Shades family has begun a journey through the Biblical story, starting in Genesis and heading toward Revelation.  This semester, we will be taking a romp through the Old Testament prophets.  What was Isaiah talking about?  What was God really doing through folks like Micah and Amos?  What does their word have to say for us now?  This class would be especially good for d-group leaders in preparation for your Sunday night meeting with your youth students.

“Finding God’s Will” with Matt Kerlin and Ryan Colley

What is “God’s will”?  How can I know God’s will?  Who should I date and marry?  What should I major in and what career should I pursue?  And what if we’ve been trained to think about all of these questions in the wrong ways?  Our class will examine these issues in an effort to understand better what it means to live according to “God’s will.”

“Spiritual Disciplines” with the Chuck & Emily Hooten

Sometimes we approach Spiritual disciplines with an attitude of, “I need to do these things, so that God likes me more…” or “I feel bad/guilty, I better do these things to make myself feel better.”  This kind of attitude leads to death.  But together this semester, we want to explore the true richness of life in Christ to be found in Spiritual discipline.  A man once found a treasure in a field, and because of the value of that treasure, he sacrificed everything to obtain it.

What’s God doing with you this summer, Becca Lafferty?

This summer we are posting a series of blogs looking in on various UMin students as they spend their summers studying, living at home, traveling, working, and just experiencing life.  This post comes from rising junior, english major at Samford, Becca Lafferty:

When, in June, I was asked to write a blog post for August 12 about my summer, I thought to myself, “Maybe by then I’ll actually have something to write about.” You see, my summer was not exactly going according to plan. I had planned to live in Birmingham and work somewhere—the problem was, nothing was working out. All of the jobs I thought were a sure thing kept falling through. And then, that fateful day arrived—I got a call from the Walmart in Decatur, AL. My parents had forced me, while on my exciting spring break in Decatur, to apply for approximately 15 jobs around town. Walmart called, I went in for an interview, and they offered me the job of cashier on the spot. I was devastated. Mom and Dad called it God’s provision. I called it God’s version of a practical joke. Me? Working at Walmart in DECATUR, ALABAMA? Don’t get me wrong—Decatur is a lovely town. There are some wonderful people that live there (trust me, I got to meet what seems like every last one of them this summer). However, it just wasn’t my idea of a great summer job in a great summer location. I suppose that was exactly the point.

I started working at Walmart and I’ll admit that my attitude wasn’t the best. Sure, I smiled, and trained, and laughed at all the customers’ “jokes.” “Did you find everything okay, today?” “Oh yeah, I actually think I found TOO much.” HAHAHAHAHAHA. NEVER HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE. I dealt with creeps who called me “baby” and asked for my number. My purity ring saved me from guys that thought I was married, “The best ones are always married.” I dealt with a kid that peed on the floor by my register and whose lovely mother merely paid for her items and left without saying a word to me. I manned the 20-items-or-less register while a woman came through with 335 items (no exaggeration, you can ask my manager) and claimed, “Oh, I didn’t see it was 20 items or less!” Okay, sure you didn’t. LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE.

Slowly but surely I started to realize the theme of this summer—humility. Oddly enough, I had been wearing it on my feet every day to work without even realizing it. You see, I had a pair of TOMS that have painted in large black letters “WALK HUMBLY” on the toes—right where I can see it on a daily basis. After a few weeks of working at Walmart it hit me upside the head—God DID have a purpose for this summer. As my wonderful discipleship group leader, Amy Oliver, had told me at the beginning of the summer—God doesn’t give bad gifts, he doesn’t hand us snakes. This summer that I saw as a disaster was actually a time for me to grow in humility. People treated me like dirt. People treated me like I was uneducated. I wanted to scream on multiple occasions, “ I GO TO SAMFORD UNIVERSITY, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.” People acted like I wasn’t a person that was due the same respect as any other human being on the planet. I was forced to bite my tongue and smile time and time again—to serve those I didn’t feel like serving and to love those I didn’t feel like loving. God reminded me of his love and his plan daily. There were those that were encouragements to me at work as well. Such as the elderly man that came through my line at least once a week to tell me that my smile was worth a million bucks and that he was glad someone showed “an ounce of personality around this place.” Or there was the lady that told me, “I had a niece named Rebecca that we lost at an early age to cancer. She was very, very special and I can tell that you’re very, very special as well. I hope you have a blessed day.”

This summer taught me so much. There were days when all I could do was cling to the thought that surely God had some sort of plan for this summer and there were days that I basked in the good gift that I was sure (without a doubt) that God had given me. God is good. All the time. We are called to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him—even if we are doing so behind the register of Walmart. I never, ever thought I’d say that I was grateful for this summer—but here I am, eating my words. Wouldn’t be the first time and won’t be the last.

Life in Discipleship: with Evan Musgraves

Over the past several weeks, we have been posting a blog series featuring student ruminations on their experiences of “Life in Discipleship” here with UMin. The fall is going to be an important time for new folks to get involved in mentoring discipleship relationships. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will challenge you to take advantage of this opportunity for real and deep growth during your time in college.

This post comes to us from Evan Musgraves, a senior History and Religion major at Samford.

Much of my summer has been spent in solitude as I work in Nashville at the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. The job itself is awfully quiet (it is a library after all) and I have had the house to myself for 7 weeks. This time to myself has opened up wonderful opportunities to grow in Christ as I have had time to read and reflect in quietness. I have been studying Hebrews and reading Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, a wonderful book by Paul Tripp. As fruitful as this time has been, it has also brought me to the realization that most growth in the Christian life occurs in the context of community.

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands is a wonderfully gospel-centered book on ministering to others. Tripp notes that Christians will often take great pains to prepare to teach the Word but scramble to find something to say whenever a friend encounters a tough spot in life or a difficult struggle with sin. We end up offering out of place Bible verses and meaningless platitudes. In one of his most compelling paragraphs, Tripp implores Christians to make the God the center of personal ministry rather than ourselves:

What we think of as ministering the Word is little more than a spiritual cut-and-paste system. This kind of ministry rarely leads to lasting change because it does not bring the power of the Word to the places where change is really needed. In this kind of ministry, self is still at the center, personal need is the focus, and personal happiness remains the goal. But a truly effective ministry of the Word must confront our self-focus and self-absorption at its roots, opening us up to the vastness of a God-defined, God-centered world. Unless this happens, we will use the promises, principles, and commands to the Word to serve the thing we really love: ourselves. This may be why many people read and hear God’s Word and remain unchanged. Only when the rain of the Word penetrates the roots of the problem does lasting change occur.

With this in mind, Tripp addresses the need for discipleship in community. He responds to the notion that Christians can live life on their own, thinking that they can perceive their need for God without the help of other Christians. To this, Tripp says

I need you in order to really see and know myself. Otherwise, I will listen to my own arguments, believe my own lies, and buy into my own delusions. My self-perception is as accurate as a carnival mirror. If I am going to see myself clearly, I need you to hold the mirror of God’s Word in front of me.

This is what happens in discipleship. This is why discipleship is so important. I have seen this in my own life through SMBC. Discipleship certainly brings personal change and transformation based upon the Word but it does much more than that. It forces me to think of spiritual growth as extending beyond myself. If the goal of Christianity is to think of myself less and about God and others more, as Tripp says, then discipleship in community is critical to becoming who God desires me to be. It is community based sanctification. In a discipleship group, it is harder to keep “self at the center, personal need the focus, and personal happiness the goal.” I can read the Bible on my own, pray on my own, read spiritual books on my own but I can still be self-centered in all of that—thinking only about my spiritual health, my relationship with God, and how spiritual I will look to others. Discipleship addresses this deepest problem: self-centeredness. I am forced to not only think about others, but actively love them. We see that God’s work extends well beyond ourselves. In my discipleship group we read the Bible together, we pray together, we share in the Christian life together.

In my discipleship group, we have focused especially on prayer. This focus on prayer leads us to lift our eyes up to God and outward to each other. We share our own struggles of course, but the focus is on bearing each other’s burdens whether they are burdens of suffering or personal sin. One practice that has been particularly helpful is taking turns writing out prayers. There is something special about sitting down and writing on paper what is in my heart.

But as great as the accountability and prayer is, sometimes it is just nice to have friends who you can eat barbecue, watch Hot Rod and True Grit, and build blanket forts with. But in all these things, God is molding us more into his image as we hold the mirror of God’s Word up to each other in accountability, prayer, and fellowship.

Life in Discipleship: with Amy Atkinson

Over the next several weeks, we will be posting a new blog series featuring student ruminations on their experiences of “Life in Discipleship” here with UMin. The fall is going to be an important time for new folks to get involved in mentoring discipleship relationships. Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will challenge you to take advantage of this opportunity for real and deep growth during your time in college.

This post comes to us from Amy Atkinson, a junior at UAB.

At first, I did not actually sign up for the discipleship group.  Instead, I was asked by my roommate at the time if I could give her a ride to where they were meeting that night. I happened to stay for their D-group meeting and by the end of the night, I knew that God was telling me to be a part of this group of women. As Christians, God calls us to fellowship and community with fellow believers. It’s not just going to big church, Sunday school, and Wednesday night worship. It is being a part of a close knit group of people and growing in holiness towards Christ with them. Discipleship group has helped me get to know some amazing Samford girls, our group helps bridge the gaps between UAB and Samford students. We started in February and now it is already July, it is truly amazing to look back and see how far our group has come since then.

When I hear the word Discipleship I think of a group of people who are not perfect, but love one another for it.  Together, we work to grow closer to Christ and to fight the battle that sin wages against each one of us every day. I have formed relationships with these girls and them with me. This includes our fabulous d-group leaders, who have poured so much into us, and I think we have poured into them in some ways as well. I have come to look up to my Discipleship leaders as I look to the way they follow Christ. We all understand that we are flawed as humans and problems come up in our life (as we call them, “onions”). Being a part of a discipleship group encourages me that I am not alone and that there are women who have the same battles against sin as I do.