Rev. Tom Tunnicliff, a pastor at Elmbrook Church in Michigan, spoke at our chapel service on Tuesday, May 6th. He spoke about the difference in beliefs and convictions. These are some of his thoughts:
“What happens in the lives of students that helps them develop as a leader? Something happens before they get to college; God uses people and Scriptures and experiences to shape them. A student develops beliefs and convictions. Convictions are much stronger: They drive your behavior, your choices, and your dreams.
Why do missionaries go across cultures? Because of their convictions that lost people need Jesus. Convictions govern your behavior. One man, Cam Townsend, had a deep conviction to reach the lost in Central America. In order to reach the people he began to sell Spanish Bibles. One day he met a man who said, ‘If your God is so smart, why doesn’t he speak Cakchiquel (the language of his community)? Why do I have to read the Scriptures in Spanish?’ Over the next 14 years, Cam learned the language so he could translate the Scriptures into the Cakchiquel language. This began the mission and ministry of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Because of his conviction to bring the Gospel to all people, the Bible has been translated into thousands of languages. Cam Townsend’s core conviction was that of living a Christ-centered life. In Galatians 2:20, the Apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me . . .” The old you is dead; the new you is living in Christ. This is the Christ-centered life.
He challenged us to think of a compliment you may have received; it could have been from a family member or a friend. Maybe they complimented you on a characteristic or a quality they see in you. However, it wasn’t you they complimented. It’s Jesus in you that they see. That is the Christ-centered life.
On Jesus’ last night with his disciples He told them, “I am the vine and you are the branches . . . apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. This is about living a daily, conscious, dependent friendship with Jesus. In his classic work, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer writes: “God wills that we push into his presence and live our whole lives there.”
Rev. Tunnicliff remembered a man from his youth named Phil Fischer who was 6’ 4” and a student in med school. ‘But every Sunday morning he was my Sunday school teacher when I was in high school. Week after week he taught about Jesus. And he practiced a Christ-centered life. He even came to my high school graduation. Then he met Julie – a new romance began. And even in their courtship, Christ was the center. After they were married, they went to Zaire, Africa. Phil could have been a doctor anywhere and made lots of money, but he chose to go where God was leading him.’
Tunnicliff concluded by saying that, “I am grateful for Phil Fischer’s conviction – Phil had the conviction that Christ had to be at the center of his life.” He challenged the students to have not just strong beliefs, but strong convictions that will keep Christ at the center of their lives.