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

Advertisements

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.

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)