Seventeen Years of Ministering at Stanford

Some thoughts from seventeen years of ministry at Stanford. HUGE THANKS to everyone who has been part of this wonderful journey. Let’s see where the next seventeen take us!

Seventeen years ago today my wife and I drove into Palo Alto in a rented yellow Penske truck. God had called us to minister to Stanford University and we were reporting for duty.

The years since then haven’t always been easy, but they have been extremely rewarding. Here are some thoughts running through my mind on this anniversary:

  1. God does the work. I remember sitting down with a student a few months ago. She had sought me out after coming to faith through reading. She had never been to a Chi Alpha worship service. She had never heard me preach. She had just spent time thinking and reading. Eventually she was convinced and her life was changed. So many of the best things we’ve seen happen in ministry have happened independently of any plan or effort of ours. God does the work and graciously invites us to tag along.
  2. University ministry really does touch the world. Last year, Paula hung a map on our wall and we began putting a dot on the map whenever an international student ate a meal in our home. In one year we had over 50 international students from over 25 nations sit down to eat with us. In Acts 19:9–10 we read that because Paul spent two years ministering daily at an educational institution “all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” That strategy still works today.
  3. University ministry really does build godly leaders. By my count, we have alumni working in the governments of three nations, we’ve got alumni serving as professors at five universities (including three professors at Stanford), we’ve had two alumni make the Forbes “30 Under 30” list, one make the MIT Technology Review’s “35 Innovators Under 35” list, several serving as pastors and missionaries, and many more doing amazing things all over the world. Some of these alumni came to Christ through our ministry while others were discipled in their existing faith. We are thrilled at all God has done in them and in awe of what He is doing through them.
  4. We couldn’t have done it alone. I’ve got to extend a huge thank YOU to everyone who has supported us in our ministry. We are so grateful to everyone who has prayed for us, to all the staff who have worked alongside us, to the generous people who have given to help make this ministry possible, and to the students who have participated in our ministry. None of this could have happened without your partnership. We are grateful to you and also grateful to God for you.

So anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about after seventeen years of ministry on the Farm. I’m excited to see what God does over the next seventeen!

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Yikes — New Students Arrive Today!

In which I describe in great detail my panicked yet joyous feelings as the school year begins.

these are random freshmen from some other school... but you get the ideaNew students arrive on campus today. Yikes!

To Do:

  • Brush my teeth really well, including my tongue so my breath doesn’t stink.
  • Shave head. Carefully. We don’t want a repeat of that incident when I missed a patch and looked like a Who from Whoville.
  • Trim edges of beard. The difference between an epic prophet beard and a crazy cult leader beard is surprisingly hard to define, but raggedy beard edges have something to do with it. That, and neck hair. Say no to the throat beard.
  • Print literature for tabling: new student devotional guide, Why Jesus? essay, The Jesus FAQ.
  • Practice smiling in the mirror.
  • Double check on throat hair.

P.S. I don’t think I’ve publicized it here, but I put a new writing online. I mention it above in the “print literature” bullet point — it’s a ten‐day devotional guide for new students called Thrive. It, along with all my other writings, is indexed here.

Change The University, Change The World

Aerial Shot of Stanford CampusI just added a new PDF to my growing list of essays and Bible studies: Change the University, Change the World. I wrote it for my seminary’s alumni magazine, Rapport, in 2008.

It looks so much more professional than all my other stuff — it’s amazing what an editor and some graphic design can do to make content sparkle. 🙂

I’ll be putting some more essays up soon. Thanks to all who have taken the time to give me feedback in the comments section of my blog, on Facebook notes, and on Google Buzz. I appreciate it very much.

An Unofficial Response to Westboro Baptist Church

The notorious Westboro Baptist Church is holding a protest at Stanford this Friday (see a good summary at Fiat Lux: why here, their identity, their beliefs, their legal history). In response, the Stanford community is planning a counter‐rally at the same time and place as Westboro’s protest.

A group of Christian ministries signed a joint statement opposing Westboro, but the Stanford Daily has apparently declined to publish it (at least, I can’t find it in the online paper). Perhaps it will appear soon (UPDATE: it was published in the op‐ed section the day after I put this post up). But in case it does not, I would like to give my own personal response to them here. The official statement was designed to garner support from several different ministries, but what follows is language that no one else but me has signed off on. Consequently, it is considerably more direct.

I think Westboro Baptist Church is crazy. I also think it is unwise to hold a rally opposing a group which thrives on conflict. Attention is the drug they crave. They have become a recurring national news story merely because of their ability to draw crowds and media.

I refuse to protest them, and I also refuse to ignore them. I am in no way ambivalent about their presence on campus: what they are doing is wrong. It heaps shame upon Christ and it causes people made in God’s image to experience an alienating anguish. I believe that prayer is the most effective possible response to this situation. I, my ministry, and several other Christian groups at Stanford will hold a prayer meeting while the protest is going on at which we will ask God to convict Westboro members of their sin and lead them to repentance.

So yeah. That’s what one preacher thinks about their presence.

Chi Alpha Favorably Profiled In The Stanford Daily

Halls of Learning - Stanford QuadThe Stanford Daily published an article titled Testimonies On Stanford Faith about people in our ministry (Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship).

The website the article focuses on is testimonies.stanford.edu.

Reading this article was very encouraging to me because I always fear that Chi Alpha will wind up in the Daily because of some boneheaded thing I said in a sermon… this was a much better experience. 😉

Baptism on Campus

January 29th I had a great privilege. I was able to baptize my friend Kelly in the Claw Fountain in between the Bookstore and Old Union.

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The water was cold. In fact, I saw Kelly’s eyes shoot open when she went under the water and I could practically read the thoughts running through her brain, “I want to gasp. But if I gasp, I’ll drown. Drowning is bad at a baptism. But I want to gasp so badly.”

Fortunately, the warm California sun brought her back from the brink of hypothermia right after I pulled her up. I’m just glad I told her to bring a change of clothes and a towel!

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watch slaughter online If having a baptism out in public strikes you as a little odd I’d like to point out that it has ample Biblical and historical precedent. The most famous Biblical example is from Acts 8:36–38:

As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

Yeah. So we did that.

And I hope we get to do it again soon. 🙂

Stanford Rocks It Again

The 2008 world ranking of universities has just been released, and yet again Stanford occupies the #2 spot in the whole world

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It really is an amazing place to do ministry. Big thanks to all of you who pray for and support us. bergen county breast augmentation

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Evil Raccoons and Mendacious Students

wounded-whitneyA few weeks ago, Whitney showed up to Chi Alpha’s weekly meeting with a large bandage wrapped around her hand. I asked her what had happened, and she told me of a ferocious raccoon attack while walking along Lake Lagunita.

This was not surprising to me. Raccoons are evil. All right‐thinking people know this in their marrow.

Sure, they look cute with their little paws and their masked face, but even Satan seems to be a beautiful angel

. No — raccoons are as evil as a subhuman mammal can be. And given that raccoons roam freely

across campus, something like this was inevitable.

Realizing that I was sitting on entertainment gold, I asked Whitney to keep silent until the announcement time, when I would interview her and allow her to regale the entire group with her story.

After worship, I called her to the front and asked her what had happened. As she held her bandaged hand high and said, “I was bitten by a raccoon,” Desirae cried out, “I knew those things were dangerous!” A hush fell over the room as she began to tell her tale.

She and her roommate had been walking around Lake Lag when Whitney noticed a raccoon moving about in the bushes. She turned to her roommate to point it out and saw a flurry of motion out of the corner of her eye. The next thing she knew, she was being lunged at by an apparently carnivorous raccoon. She fended it off, suffering a grievous hand wound in the process.

Her roommate, a pre‐med student, gave her some quick treatment and then she headed over to Vaden health center for further medication.

At this point, you could have heard a pin drop in the Chi Alpha meeting. Every student there was thinking of the many times they had seen raccoons rambling across campus, looking at Whitney’s bandaged hand, and thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

At least until Whitney burst out laughing and said, “And you believe me?”

I said, “Bwah?”

Whitney said, “I was making that up. I tripped and hurt my hand. My roommate said that was too boring and that I should make up a better story. So far everyone I’ve told has believed me.”

The room erupted in laughter.

For those keeping score:
Whitney: 1
Glen: 0
Raccoons: negative infinity

And that’s why people should always come to Chi Alpha in person rather than just watching our meetings online — you never know what’s going to happen when the camera’s not running.

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