This one’s for the girls

This entry is about my girls. It’s for my girls. I call them “my girls” because I think they’re mine, but God always reminds me that really they’re His. This entry is about Stephanie, Ceci, Margot, Janelle, Talli, Janelle T., Karen, Megan, and Becca, and it’s about all the other girls that I’ve ever had the privilege and blessing to have in my small group.

Just like the girls are HIS girls, this vision I have for college ministry and for the Gathering, and for my life… it’s HIS vision. He’s the one who fulfills His own purposes and I am shocked and awed, amazed and astounded that He uses me and that I get to be a part of what He’s doing in my generation. Leading and loving in this ministry is never a burden or a sacrifice. It’s a joy. I feel incredibly blessed just to be used by God and to watch the Holy Spirit work in the lives of the people around me.

Tonight we celebrated community. We took the time to talk about and embrace what God’s done in our lives this last semester and year. We talked about our growth and the fruit we see in each others lives. We talked about how to run from sin and stay pure when we’re away from community while home for the summer. We talked about what the Church should really look like and what Christian community means to our lives. We took time out of our busy lives and away from the demands of finals to meet for three and  a half hours. I know… crazy, right? I didn’t plan on spending that much time there, but God definitely had different plans for us tonight. If I could put our meeting into words, if I were to use just a single word, all I can say is that it was beautiful.

Tonight we did what we call “affirmations.” Basically, we went around the room and talked about (and to) each girl – told what they have meant to us and to our community, how they have grown, and the character attributes that we see in them that make them the women God has called them to be. We laugh and we cry and we have to really be careful about giving each person time to talk because I think we all could have gone on and on for hours longer about each girl, if we had the time. Our group doubled in size this semester but never lost the vulnerability and transparency that we developed at the beginning of the year and I’m so very grateful.

So this is for the girls:

Girls, what a year! We walked through all sorts of difficult trials together. We walked through breakups, talked through theological differences, sent friends abroad, weathered economic hardship, prayed and interceded for salvations, and delved straight into talking about tough topics like brokenness and healing, marriage and relationships, sex and sin. Thank you for that. I can’t even begin to tell you what you have meant to me. You have grown SO much. And I’ve enjoyed walking with you each step of the way.

Christ, and what He  does in our lives, makes us beautiful and makes our time together extraordinary. It’s not every day that you put seven girls in a tiny room and watch as they affirm one another in Christ. It’s almost as though tonight we could watch the growth take place in front of our eyes as we strengthened and sharpened one another. The last meeting of the group is always a little bittersweet for me because I’m sad that you’re heading home or abroad for the summer, but oh so sweet, because I get to hear you talk about all of the revelation that’s come to your hearts, all that you’ve learned, all of the places where you have grown spiritually and emotionally, and how your need for community and mentorship was met by our group. And in that moment, I get to watch all of my dreams come true. For my life and for yours.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for being faithful. Thank you for truly loving one another and abstaining from all drama. And thank you for all of the many ways you have loved and supported me this year. Finish finals well, and remember this – community is at the heart of the Church and it’s vital to our relationships with Christ. Take this community we’ve built and recreate it where you are this summer. Embrace and search the Word. Make knowing Christ your pursuit and make Him your heart’s first affection. And run from sin – flee from whatever is evil and remember that compromise is made an inch at a time until you’re a mile from the truth.

This community isn’t dissolving. It’s merely moving. It remains and is here for you always. Like I said tonight, I pray you will all still be friends as you walk through the next seasons of life – graduation and entering the workforce, relationships and marriage, and mortgages and children… lean on and continue to learn from each other. Hold each other accountable. This community is an investment from which you will reap massive dividends.

I love you,

Whitney

He, and He alone, changes times and seasons

“He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” Daniel 2:21

Beth Moore’s study of Daniel that I’m doing right now is absolutely incredible. Completing one day’s work is never enough – I always want to work through the next few days (and I often do so). I’m learning so much and at the perfect time. Beth says “the highest theme of the Book of Daniel is undoubtedly the sovereignty of God.”

Wow. I love that. I think, if you step back far enough, that’s the highest theme of the Bible and I hope that someday when people look back at my life, they make the same remark.

Beth also says “God’s sovereignty also means that He has supremacy over all things and does whatever He desires with whomever or whatever He pleases. To miss God’s sovereignty in the book of Daniel is to miss the point.” I’m intrigued by Daniel 2:21 – “He [God] changes times and seasons…” Ecclesiastes says “to everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1) and Daniel is telling us that it’s God Himself who ordains, and changes these times and seasons.

So what about what I’m walking through right now? Yep, it’s God-ordained. He’ll change it when He’s ready or when He pleases. And this knowledge is beautiful and frustrating, calming and confusing. But it brings clarity. “God’s providence is intentional and purposeful” (Moore).

I love Daniel 2:22. It’s such a good follow up to verse 21:

“He reveals deep and hidden things;

He knows what is in the darkness,

and the light dwells with Him.”

The fact that He knows all and is in total control is such a blessing… because I know that I certainly can’t see more than a step ahead, if even that, on a regular basis. I have trouble maintaining perspective, even when searching for the big picture. I falter and hesitate and find myself angry at the lack of information and insight I’ve been given. But I have to remember the promise above – God Himself knows and reveals these things and the light is with Him! Several years ago I found Stormie Omartian’s book Just Enough Light to be very helpful in understanding the state of my heart and it’s just as revealing now.

In her introduction she says, “More and more, God is teaching me to trust Him for every step I take. He constantly calls me to stretch beyond what’s comfortable. To walk through new territory when I would rather stay with the familiar. To face difficult physical, mental, and emotional challenges. To do things I know I can’t achieve by myself without His power. Each time something is required of me that I’m certain I am unable to accomplish in my own strength, I see a picture of just one or two steps being illuminated, while those before and after are engulfed in darkness and cannot be seen. This describes my walk with God. I trust Him for each day of life, grateful for every breath, determined to look for the blessing in the moment, no matter what the circumstances. I follow His lead – even when I can’t see where I’m going, even when it scares me to do so – because deep within my spirit I know that these simple steps of faith are preparing me for eternity.”

His sovereignty must be my focus and His leading my sole desire. These situations that are so troubling may merely be distractions from the big picture, but regardless, according to Daniel, they are ordained by God. My job is to embrace His plan and follow the path that is illuminated as it is illuminated.

Life is not about being protected, it’s about living for His fame

I love studying Scripture because it changes me moment by moment as it echoes through my heart. Sanctification, while hard, is worth it. I’m increasingly learning that life is not about being protected, it’s about living for Christ’s fame.

I’m currently studying the book of Daniel with my Frontline small group and it’s amazing. I was excited to have the opportunity to study Daniel, and as part of a Beth Moore study, nonetheless (after just a week of participating, I HIGHLY recommend her studies)! I’ve read through Daniel several times while reading through the Bible but I’m also learning that there’s a huge difference between just reading the Bible and actually tearing it apart verse by verse, looking up the meanings of the individual words in the original language, understanding the culture to which it was written, and finally, applying it to my own life.

On Sunday we studied Daniel chapter 3. The Old Testament is incredible and it’s relevance to  my life never ceases to amaze me. The book of Daniel emphasizes that a.) even the bad things that happen to us are filled with purpose, b.) following God requires that we do not follow the crowd, c.) our lives are not our own, d.) God does great things with us when we resolve in our hearts to live a life that is pleasing to Him, and e.) if it’s God’s will to rescue, He WILL rescue, regardless of what we need to be rescued from.

The story in Daniel 3 really spoke to my heart this week. Why? Because there is so much promise in these verses. I’ve been going through a rough time spiritually and emotionally and this story really helped me to fix my eyes on Christ and motivated me to set my heart and resolve to not be moved by my circumstances and to live a life pleasing to God.

I encourage you to read all of Daniel 3, but to catch you up, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold idol. As a result of their stand and their allegiance to God, they were thrown into a fiery furnace… and here’s what happened next:

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (some translations say “like the Son of God”)

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.” (emphasis my own)

I love specifically verse 27 – the fire “had not had any power” and only their bonds were burned – they were bound when they went into the fire and then were walking around in the fire – it consumed what bound them. And when they were delivered from the fire, they didn’t even SMELL like smoke. So amazing. What an incredible God we serve.

I’ve loved Isaiah 43:1-2 for a long time now:
“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.'”

He doesn’t say “if” you walk through fire, He says “when.” I’m learning more and more that life isn’t about God protecting us – our life should be all about living for His fame. Just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we need to resolve to throw our whole lives into the call of God and into following His Word.

So do we pray for protection? Sure, but first and foremost we pray that He’ll use us for His glory! The end result of these men being thrown into the fire was that the name of God was proclaimed throughout the entire Babylonian empire! What an incredible thing.The name of God was raised higher than any other god served in the land and I’m sure that the story of the deliverance of these men spread far and wide. How amazing would it be if God were to use a situation in your life or in my life to make His name great? It’s His desire each and every single day.

I’m praying that I’ll see the purpose in this season. It’s felt hot. It’s been smokey and confusing most days. But I know that God is with me and I know that He’s leading me through the fire (even though it’s nothing like what these men walked through). I’m so thankful for the encouragement found in Scripture and so very thankful for the process of sanctification.

Communication and being known

I’m a such a verbal processor – whether it’s by chatting, venting, journaling, or blogging – I seem to learn and grow and understand life and myself and God better by talking or writing everything out. Many times when I’m stuck and don’t even know what to pray or how I really feel, I find that if I grab a pen, the prayer just begins to flow out of my heart as my pen flies across the page.

There’s just something about having a blank piece of paper or a friend willing to listen and help process that seems to fulfill one of my deepest needs as someone who craves quality communication and to be known. I think that’s what secretly I’m the most afraid of – that one day I’ll wake up and I’ll find again that no one really knows who I am. I promised myself several years ago that I would never wake up to that realization again, but I think that the lesson I’m learning now is that there’s a flip side to that coin.

Knowing and being known is one of the most precious experiences we can have as human beings. There’s so much comfort and emotion just wrapped up in that idea and I think it fuels me to live life transparently – the way I have for so long now… only there are times like this week when all I want is to be somewhere quiet… somewhere where I can be alone… somewhere where I can listen to only a single voice.

Tomorrow’s going to be one of those days. A retreat of sorts. I’ve been planning and looking forward to it all week. Usually the very last thing I want is alone time or an adventure by myself. But tomorrow I’m setting out to find a beach and I don’t know exactly where I’m going. I’m just going to set out to find a little bit of sand, a lot of water, and God Himself.

The beach is my favorite place to go because it reminds me of how small I am and how big my God is. There’s nothing outside of His control. He’s sovereign and He’s good and I’m His. Communication with Him is all I need and there’s nothing about me or my future that He doesn’t know. It’s been a rough week and only God Himself can bring some order, some sense, and some peace to my world. Only communication with Him really matters.

I’m taking comfort in this today:

Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…”

Psalm 139:1-18 – “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”

12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.”

I’m looking forward to journaling, painting, and listening.

I remember when

So, my little sister is getting married in June. She’s not so little anymore… I’m thrilled that she’s found someone who her heart loves and who loves her immensely in return. Dustin’s an incredible guy (and a very lucky one).

I got a notice about her bridal shower yesterday and ever since I’ve been flooded with memories of growing up with Courtlandt. She’s always been my very best friend and my partner in crime. I brought the crime, the mischief, and the ideas, and she was always my partner, regardless of our mission. She always believed in me and trusted me, even if I was leading an escapade out through our two story window. There is no more faithful friend or follower.

My very first memory of her, I think, is not of meeting her at the hospital, or of bringing her home, though I do remember being thrilled to have been given a sister. My first clear memory is of Court when she was about six or seven months old. She fit perfectly in my hot pink retro flower baby carriage. I remember pushing her around our living room and I remember being so proud that she was my sister. She wore a jumper and a big floppy straw hat and I thought she was the cutest thing ever.

And there are thousands of memories, thousands of moments just like that. I remember talking her into so much. And I remember taking her punishment as well as my own on so many occasions because I “was the one who talked her into” whatever mischief she had been part of. She was always content to be with me and to do whatever I was doing. There are memories of countless tea parties; dance parties with our Minnie Mouse dolls; dressing up in pearls, heels, and veils; rollerblading on the front porch; blackberry picking; learning to ride our bikes without training wheels on that horrid gravel driveway; horseback riding; long days at our desks in the school room; escaping through our bedroom window when Mom thought we were napping; picnics in the woods; and of lots of time in trees in the back yard. We cut holes in our frilly socks to make dresses for our barbies, dreamed up a million scenarios to pretend we were part of, made a home of the little house in the backyard, stood on stools to learn to cook, and we wore matching clothes for so long that I think it amounts to almost half of our lives thus far.

There were times that we argued, I’m sure, but I don’t remember them. And I think we both remember the two single times that she got into trouble that didn’t involve me. I hate to out her publicly, but I think she lied only twice as a child and was caught both times. Once she thought it would be really fun to pull all of the cotton swabs off of the Q-tips but wouldn’t admit to Dad that she had done it (I think she blamed Taylor), and the other time she ate peppermints without permission. I know… truly evil, right? I used to think she was perfect in every way, and then she confirmed it when she surpassed my graduating GPA with her perfect score of 4.0. She’s literally a genius.

I could never capture completely all that Courtney has meant to me. She’s loved me through life’s rough times, rejoiced with me in my successes, and prayed like crazy every time I’ve ever needed prayer. We attended Lee College together and studied abroad in England together in 2005. We followed that trip to England with another trip to England, France, and Italy following my college graduation and I know we’ll never forget our three weeks alone together in Europe. These are the memories that make a lifetime. Sisterhood is definitely one of the most precious things we’ve ever been given. All of these memories make up a woven existence, a shared life, that can’t be broken even by distance and infrequent phone calls.

Now I get to serve as her maid of honor and I’m thrilled to watch her enter this new stage of her life and experience the incredible gift of marriage. I have to admit that it’s strange to think that she’ll enter a stage of life ahead of me but I’m so excited to have the opportunity to watch her grow and learn from her experiences. One day we’ll switch places and I’ll have her standing with me as I become one with someone as well and I can’t even begin to express the joy that knowledge brings to my heart.

My mom was always right. My sister is the best friend I’ll ever have.

“Life is hard and life is good.”

“Life is hard and life is good. ‘That he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end’ (Deuteronomy 8:16).” John Piper

I love how God is constantly walking me through situations in life that redirect my focus from my circumstances to the Gospel and to Christ. Especially recently.

The season of life that I’m walking through currently leaves me feeling anxious, excited, and simultaneously both nervous and confident. Sometimes seasons feel drawn out and slow and other seasons feel like time merely flies past and there’s nothing you can do to slow it down. Last night I realized that somehow our hearts understand these different seasons, even when we can’t analytically understand them. At this point, this season feels like even time is as divided as my heart. It’s like I can feel time rushing forward in slow motion and I’m held in between the extremes. Crazy, I know. The only thing I can liken it to is watching an egg timer. The sand seems to rush as it drains from one end to another, but that three minutes always feels like an hour.

I have learned over the course of the last several years to never waste a season. I always want to look for the lesson, learn from any mistakes I have made, and enter the new season looking more like Christ. I’ve personally experienced what Deuteronomy 8:16 says – that we are humbled and tested by God for our own good. It’s remarkable, really. It’s hard and it’s good. It’s beautiful and painful. It brings both joy and tears.

Truthfully, seasons are never about circumstances. Seasons are always about the heart. Life is all about the Gospel. Circumstances are a tool God uses to redirect our hearts back to the Gospel.

This season has been about illuminating and breaking my pride, developing humility, submission, waiting, trusting, and learning to simply be still and let God be God. More than anything, it’s been about faith in God’s promises and confidence in His Word. I’ve continually looked to Habakkuk 2:3 for assurance:

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”

Recently I’ve blogged a lot about Romans and Abraham. I’ve been totally overwhelmed by Abraham’s response to God and by his faith:

“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:20-22).

I want faith like that. So today my prayer is this: “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; Guide me in your truth and teach me, For you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 24:4-5).

A heart fully submitted and devoted comes from a heart that has endured seasons, it would seem. Seasons are always about the heart. “To do you good in the end.”

Growing, Sharing, Becoming

Last night I was fascinated by the action words I saw in Philippians 3 and blogged about in A More Worthy Pursuit.

Growing, sharing, and becoming…

I’ve been editing resumes recently for a lot of college grads who are looking for jobs and one piece of advice that I never fail to give is this: “Change your job descriptions and use words that convey action… strong action and strong leadership ability.” Words like “coordinated,” “managed,” and “organized,” all play well in the corporate setting, as well as in the political world.

At first glance these words… “growing,” “sharing,” and “becoming,” found in Philippians 3 seem to convey A LOT of action. I can almost imagine the early believers scurrying around in the pursuit of growth, community, and Christ-likeness. Or wait… is that me?

Don’t get me wrong – these are action words. But they’re action words that push the believer toward BEING and not just DOING. And after realizing that, I realized that I carry much of my environment, culture, and my profession  with me in my relationship with Christ and the way I interpret Scripture. I see where I place a lot of emphasis and whose strength I rely on.

Let’s refresh: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10-11

I asked these questions yesterday (and I’ll continue to ask them of myself for a long time to come):

“Am I growing in my knowledge of Christ and the power of His resurrection? The fellowship of sharing in His sufferings? Becoming like Him in His death?

How do we know Christ and become like Him? How do we learn to cherish our salvation and understand the power of the resurrection? Through time with Him in His Word… so that requires action, but it’s Christ who reveals Himself to us (John 17:3, Ephesians 4:14-15), and it’s Christ who sanctifies and makes us into His image (John 17:17, Psalm 119:11). It’s also Christ who allows us to share in His sufferings and depending on what that looks like for you, that may require more or less action on your part. However, in all these things, if it’s not Christ DOING, all of our efforts are in vain. Our primary job is to pursue godliness, but it is a pursuit empowered by the living God – not a race powered by our own legs or breath.

Paul uses lots of action words in 1 Timothy 4:7-10

Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

Action words are good. I like them because I’m very type-A, high output, and a classic overachiever. However, the important lesson that God continues to teach me is that my relationship with Him is not about me. It’s all about Him and it’s by Him and for Him and through Him. The actions then, must start with Him and I have to do them IN Him or I’ll meet with failure yet again. It’s hard, especially when you hate passivity… but God delights in requesting action, but then requiring that that action be completed by us WITH His help.

That way He gets all the glory. So grow and share and become, but in all your growing, sharing, and becoming, never forget who empowers you or that your purpose is Christ Himself.

A More Worthy Pursuit

A goal of mine used to be to read all of the U.S. Presidents and First Ladies’ autobiographies and any books they have authored (and it’s quite an extensive list). I love history and politics. I’ve always loved reading and I have many lists of books that I’d love to add to my library. Today I decided that a more important goal is reading all of these: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/OnlineBooks/ByTitle/

I waste too much time. I find that I talk a lot about valuing the eternal more than I value the here and now. But sometimes that’s a bit more difficult to actually live out. It means we have to really take a magnifying glass to our choices. We have to recognize that where we spend our limited time and energy highlights what we truly value. I want to value my relationship with God more than I value music, novels, shopping, academic pursuits, friends, and even ministry. I want to be constantly ingesting and absorbing books, sermons, and Scripture that bring me closer to Christ.

I want to really value Christ and live my life in constant pursuit of Him. I don’t want there to be a day that goes by that I’m not made more like Him. He, and He alone, is a worthy pursuit.

So does that mean I need to stop watching shows on Hulu, stop frequenting Ann Taylor and Forever21, and sell all my books on politics? Not exactly. What it does mean is that I need to more closely monitor how I spend my time and realign my priorities when I realize that the things of this world are crowding out my pursuit of Christ.

Something God  has been speaking to me about throughout this last week is how easily distracted I am by life. And not just by the hard things of life, but by the pleasures of life as well. The primary take away from this Easter season was I don’t love my Lord as I should because I don’t give Him the time that I should. He’s also reminded me that all the things of this life are worthless compared to knowing Him. The Apostle Paul learned this lesson as well:

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11

Would we say that a man loved a woman (or a woman loved a man) if they infrequently or sporadically spent time together, talked, or shared their lives? Unless there are extenuating circumstances that prevented communication for a time, most would consider that to be an incredibly unhealthy relationship. Couples in love delight to sacrifice other things to spend time with the one they love. After all, my boyfriend Josh is correct in his frequent assertion that “time spent is relationship built.”

So what relationship am I building? Am I growing in my knowledge of Christ and the power of his resurrection? The fellowship of sharing in his sufferings? Becoming like him in his death? Does everything I do reflect my love for him and time spent with him in his Word?

Wow. These are the things (growing, sharing, becoming) that are a worthy pursuit.

Relationships, Marriage, and Christ

I’m currently developing several weeks worth of discussion points and questions for my small group. We’re in the middle of a series this semester called “Tough Topics” and the goal is to really tackle the topics that hold us back from being the women that God created us to be.

Our culture is a tough one to grow up in. The media has done much to confuse us about our proper roles and has clouded and distorted God’s idea of relationships and marriage.

I love this quote by John Piper from This Momentary Marriage:

“I mention this cultural distortion of marriage in the hopes that it might wake you up to consider a vision of marriage higher and deeper and stronger and more glorious than anything this culture—or perhaps you yourself—ever imagined. The greatness and glory of marriage is beyond our ability to think or feel without divine revelation and without the illumining and awakening work of the Holy Spirit. The world cannot know what marriage is without learning it from God. The natural man does not have the capacities to see or receive or feel the wonder of what God has designed for marriage to be. I pray that this book might be used by God to help set you free from small, worldly, culturally contaminated, self-centered, Christ-ignoring, God-neglecting, romance-intoxicated, unbiblical views of marriage.The most foundational thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is God’s doing. And the ultimate thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is for God’s glory. Those are the two points I have to make. Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God.”

Just wanted to share these online resources (both books are available in their entirety by clicking the links below) in case you’re interested in tackling this and aligning your perspective of relationships and marriage with Scripture, as well as getting some practical advice in relationships:

This Momentary Marriage by John Piper

A Girl’s Guide to Marrying Well by Boundless (multiple authors)