Do you believe that university life is about more than classes, assignments, studying and weekends? Are you interested in finding more meaning and purpose in your life? Do you enjoy listening to and sharing ideas with others? Then, please join our weekly Bible discussion group.

Campus Bible Talk meets every Monday during the school year (except during holidays and during Reading Week Breaks) at Athabasca Hall, Heritage Lounge, at 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

You may also email us anytime at

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Time and the Bible

When people first start university, time-management becomes a frequent and (often?) dreaded thought. Students often struggle to organize their time so that they can accomplish everything they need to in order to receive a favorable grade in each of their classes. At the start of each person’s “university career” it almost seems that learning when to study is just as important as what you’re studying!

But you are not alone! There are hundreds, if not thousands of books that have been written for the purpose of helping manage their time. A quick Google search will quickly reveal page after page of results all related to managing your time better. And, as the popular Apple slogan goes, “There’s an app for that”. Apple and Android have what seems an endless list of applications that are designed to help people manage their time. Whatever the case may be in your particular circumstance, it is undeniable that people in this world feel a great need to manage their time well.

Has it ever occurred to you, however, that the Bible has something to say about managing your time? Believe it or not, God has a very specific time-management plan laid out in His Word if people would just take the time to look at it! But before we look at the time-management plan that God has prescribed for each person on earth, we need to change our perspective.

Perspective can be a powerful thing. Not long ago, there was a lot of hype and publicity generated by the greatly anticipated Disney movie, "Frozen." Now I, having younger brothers that fall into the age category of less than 10, had the privilege of watching Frozen not once, not twice in a relatively short amount of time (and yes, I had the song “Let it Go!” stuck in my head for the next six months). But if you have seen this movie, you know what a powerful thing perspective can be.

CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD! I remember first being introduced to Prince Hans when he met Princess Anna. He seemed like a nice guy. Further into the movie, I was impressed with his dependability, willingness to sacrifice his time and resources in order to make a terrible situation easer to deal with. He was clearly in love with Anna, but he understood that she needed to deal with the complicated issue that she was facing before she could think about marriage. He was not only understanding of this fact, but he also tried to assist in any way that Anna felt he could. He made a perilous journey through the mountains, kept thinks orderly back at the castle, and many other things that we may not know about.

Now if you have seen the movie, you already know that everything I wrote is almost all a lie. Hans was not in love with Anna, he was only using her to gain control of her kingdom. He never tried to help Elsa, he actually tried to kill her! In other words, Hans was nothing like he first appeared. You can imagine then, how I felt during the second time I watched the movie. My initial thoughts of “Aw, that’s kind of sweet.” and “Wow, that is really admirable” quickly turned into internal shouts of frustration such as “Don’t trust him!” and “He’s a fake!” You see, my perspective had been altered so that I saw things in a completely different way. SPOILERS END HERE.

What I want you to do is change your perspective with me for a moment. I want you to imagine a piece of string. This piece of string is not like other string though, because this is the longest piece of string in the entire world. Imagine for a moment that you are holding one end of this string and the other end reaches all the way to moon and is securely fastened to the moon’s surface.  Now, in your mind’s eye, look down at the hand holding the one end of the string. The portion of the string that this enclosed in your hand represents your life on this earth. The rest of the string represents your life after your time on this earth.  Look at what the book of Psalms and 1 Peter have to say about a person’s life on this earth:

“As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.” – Psalms 103:15-16

“Because ‘All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away.’” – 1 Peter 1:24

These verses do not reflect what we typically think of when we consider “time-management." When we think of managing our time, we think of that little portion of the string that we hold with our hand and often times neglect to consider the vast amount of time that we will live for after our time on this earth.

When put in its proper perspective, a very different picture of time-management appears. Consider that Peter compares all the glory of man to a flower. What is the greatest achievement of mankind on this planet? Perhaps you think of the Great Pyramids in Egypt. Or maybe the Great Wall of China? What about setting foot on the moon? Even if you could not choose one, think of all the great events in history. All of mankind’s glory is like a flower - budding one day, lasting for a few more, and then withering away the next. Are you getting a different perspective?

When you are in university, it can be hard to look at things from a different angle. You have classes, assignments, labs, tests and studying! Somewhere in there you have to find time to eat and sleep, and sometimes that sleep part falls by the way-side. But once again, in your mind’s eye, look back down at that piece of string that you are holding. Your time in university hardly even spans the length of one finger! God is far more concerned about how you prepare for the rest of your life after earth than the grade you receive in your economics course.

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” –Matthew 16:26

If you ace every course, get a high paying job, marry the man or woman of your dreams, take the best vacations, drive the fastest cars, buy the biggest house, take the longest retirement, and have the biggest bank account in the entire world… what will it profit you if you neglect to prepare for your life after this earth? Nothing. You see, your soul is far more valuable than anything this world has to offer, God tells us that we need to ensure that it has a promising future. There is nothing wrong with going to university and getting an education. There is nothing wrong with getting a job or falling in love and marrying somebody. There is nothing wrong with earning money or retiring. But when these things become the focus of our lives, then we lose the proper perspective and that can be detrimental to our life after this earth.

So, what is God’s time-management plan? Look ahead to your future after your life on earth is done. Because after you die in this life, there is no going back (Heb. 9:27). Everyone who ever lived will live forever. You and I, after we die, we live forever after this life. How are you managing your time?

Aaron Johnson

Friday, September 18, 2015

"God Wants Me to be Happy"

It’s a common expression in our culture today: “God wants me to be happy.” Maybe a group of friends invites you to a party where you know God would not approve of. Perhaps there is drunkenness involved, course language or some other like practice. You know that it will be a good time, all your friends are going and you think you would have a good time as well. You think to yourself, “Well, doesn’t God want me to be happy?” You knock the idea around in your brain, “If God wants me to be happy, and this party makes me happy, then God must be alright with me going to this party!” And so you attend an activity because it makes you happy and, after all, God is very concerned about your personal happiness.

Is this really the case? Is it a priority of God’s to make you happy? You might be surprised to know that no verse in the Bible ever says that God’s priority is for you to be happy. In other words, God is not all that concerned about your personal happiness. On the contrary, God would not hesitate to make you unhappy if that is what it takes to get your life in order! Consider, Amos (an Old Testament book) chapter 4 starting in verse 6:

“‘I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,’ declares the Lord.”

Here, God is interacting directly with the nation of Israel, trying to persuade them to change their lives and start obeying God again. But look at the means which God uses! He withheld food from their mouths, causing great hunger, in an effort to bring the people back to Himself. From what we see in this passage, God is not all that concerned about these people’s happiness. We keep reading in Amos 4:9:

“’Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,destroying them with blight and mildew.  Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me,’declares the Lord.”

Here the Lord destroys the people’s gardens and orchards in order to persuade the people to recognize the evil things that they had done. God still does not seem very concerned about their happiness! Amos 4:10:

“‘I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt.  I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me,’ declares the Lord.”

God is much more interested in having the people return to Him than He is interested in the people being happy. I want to suggest an alteration to this whole idea of God wanting us to be happy.  God doesn’t want you to be "happy."  God wants you. Period.

Jump over to the New Testament for a moment. The third book of the New Testament is Luke, and we want to read from chapter 15. Luke 15:3-7:  “Then Jesus told them this parable: Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Think about that sheep for a moment. That sheep might have been having a pretty good time. No one was there to tell him to stop or go, to come or stay. He could roam free! But the shepherd, who represents God, did not want the sheep to be happy. He wanted the sheep. Period. The shepherd knew that there was great danger outside of the sheep-fold. Perhaps a wolf would eat the sheep, maybe the sheep would wall off a ledge (as sheep are prone to do from time to time!). And so the shepherd was willing to sacrifice the sheep’s happiness for the sheep’s well-being. Is God any different today?

In the parable of the lost sheep, where are you? Have you been too concerned about your happiness and not concerned enough about what God wants for your life? Although God wants you to have a good life full of joy on this earth, that is not the reason for your existence. He doesn’t really want you to just be happy in this life. God wants you. Will you let Him take you back to the fold?

If you have any questions or comments, or just want to learn more, feel free to stop by at Athabasca Hall, Heritage Lounge Monday nights at 6:00. Or shoot us an email; we would love to hear from you!

Aaron Johnson