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Greetings from Palo Alto!

“Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them” (Hebrews 13:9).

Students in our Bible courses meditated on this verse recently as we concluded our Bible course on the book of Hebrews. The author’s teaching certainly includes the temple sacrifices which, after the sacrifice of Christ, had become obsolete.

Merry Christmas from Palo Alto!

As I write this, our students are in the final stretch of their fall quarter, laboring over exams and papers, counting the minutes until they can walk away from all of it for a few weeks. For busy students (as well as the rest of us) exerting so much energy and focus on finishing the task during this time of year can certainly take them out of the season of Advent—a season of expectation, waiting, and reflection. In light of this, how refreshing it was recently when one of our students led a prayer time on campus using the words of a great old Christmas hymn to focus our devotion and prayer:

Hello from Palo Alto!

Today is a big day for students at Stanford, especially for our new freshmen. As I write this, today (Monday) is the first day of the fall quarter. I think about these students stepping into a classroom for the first time, a launch of a four-year journey that started years prior for most of them as they strove hard to enter their top choice schools. As we have prayed and prepared to meet these new students, I also think of the spiritual opportunities ahead of them. For some, unfortunately, their faith will be shaken and they will exit Stanford not walking with Jesus and out of fellowship with His Church. But for some (and we pray for many!) this will be the season they will look back on the rest of their lives and say, “This is where God met me.”

Warm greetings from Palo Alto,

As a novice parent trying to figure out how to raise three young children (and making many more mistakes than I thought I would!), I often find myself saying inside my head, “What matters most in my relationship with my kids is that I love them, and that they know it.” Until recently, I found myself focusing on that first element: that I love my kids. After all, that’s the element in my control, right?

Grace and peace from Palo Alto!

As we settle into different rhythms for the summer, I reflect on our students spread around the world: New York City, Dominican Republic, Kenya, India, among other locales. It is encouraging to think of these students being challenged in so many ways, exploring their faith in new contexts, sharing the hope of Jesus with others. Yet we also miss the daily interaction with our Christian Union students and look forward to reconnecting in a couple of months.

Greetings from Palo Alto!

Students at Stanford have just finished their spring quarter exams and are beginning their summer adventures of internships, volunteering, travel, time with friends and family and more. Please pray for these more than 18,000 students, that God would make himself known to them through his word, through the world he has made, and through the body of Christ!

Grace and peace from Palo Alto!

In what has become his classic work, The Reason for God, Tim Keller offers a compelling picture of the nature of faith: “It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch.”

Warm greetings from Palo Alto!

“You are what you love.” Or so claims Christian philosopher James K. A. Smith (in his book by that title), which we recently considered together as a community.

I don’t mean you are the things that you love, but you are the sum of your loves—your actions of loving and desiring. You are not primarily a “thinking thing” (a res cogitans, in the language of Decartes), but a loving and desiring thing. Our thinking is no doubt crucial to who we are, but it is subservient to our loving. Our thoughts are means to the end of—and culminate in—our loving.

Greetings from Palo Alto!

I was recently rereading a book chapter that God used to get me through a very tough semester when I was a freshman in college. In the last chapter of The Normal Christian Life, Watchman Nee reflects on the story in the Gospels (only a few days before Jesus dies on the cross) when Mary comes to a dinner uninvited, breaks an alabaster jar of ointment—worth a staggering amount—and anoints Jesus with the jar’s entire contents (Mark 14:3–9). Even the disciples were indignant and cried out, “Why this waste!” Judas’s voice may have been the loudest among the disciples (John 12:4–6), but he was not alone (Matt 26:8–9). Nee remarks, “Human reasoning said this was really too much; it was giving the Lord more than His due.”

Nothing is yet in its true form.
            C. S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

This short, but loaded statement from Lewis’ reimagining of the Cupid and Psyche myth contains a good measure of hope, but also a fair amount of challenge. We are creatures in process, striving toward Christlikeness, often stumbling along the way. As our students endure the midpoint of the winter quarter (and the school year!), they have a keen sense that their lives are yet not in a true and final form. God has begun a good work in many lives on this campus, and He will carry it to completion through His Son.