Something Bigger // JESUS Film // Meg

Last month I was in Orlando & I had the chance to visit & tour Cru’s international headquarters.  Did you know that Cru is part of a larger missions organization praying, reaching every society in corner of the world? Outside of our local Cru movements & Bible studies & discipleship, we have thousands of Cru movements on campuses all over the US.  Then there are thousands of Cru movements at campuses around the world! And that’s just part of our campus ministry.  Add on to that the number of people involved with other Cru ministries reaching military, high schoolers, families, businesspeople, planting churches, even Olympic athletes… the list goes on and on.

I was reminded that we are part of something so much bigger.

The same week that I was touring our headquarters, I hopped onto Facebook & read two encouraging posts made by two girls who are in our Cru movement at VCU.  Both of them are traveling internationally this summer in different countries in Africa sharing the gospel, loving people, praying… it’s been beautiful to watch from afar [and their pictures are incredible… God is the best artist!].

As it so happens, both girls got to experience one branch of Cru called the JESUS film. It’s the story of Jesus through Luke – a film that has been shown for 35+ years, translated into 1200 languages, and one that has been used to share the gospel with hundreds of millions of people & on record, they know of at least 200 million people who have given their lives to Jesus as a result of this film.  Every word that Jesus speaks in the film is a direct quote from Scripture. It’s incredible.

JESUS Film

Photo from Sarah’s blog [linked below]

BOTH girls – on summer mission trips with two different organizations – had the opportunity to show the film to people who had [maybe] never heard the gospel before.  Both girls got to experience the story of Jesus in  the heart language of those who watched the film.  Both girls saw people come to Christ as a result.  Two different countries. Same gospel. Lives changed.

I wanted to share with you Kayla wrote in a blogpost reflecting on showing this film because it impacted me so greatly.  She writes:

During our last night there we had a showing of The Jesus Film. Quick side note about this connection- I’m a part of Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) at VCU and that film is a project of the ministry as a whole, all around the world. I had no idea [this organization] showed the film until we arrived in the community so I was pleasantly surprised to hear I would be able to experience it, even though I’m not directly a part of a Cru Summer Mission right now. The film is the story of Jesus, the greatest story ever told (imagine Passion of the Christ, but the PG version). The coolest thing about this film is its adaptation to the different cultures around the world. It has been translated into countless languages so the people of Maubone could experience the most incredible story ever told in their native language, Tswana.

Even though I had never seen the film, I knew the story. I’ve known the story for practically my whole life so I went into the viewing with the mindset of simply focusing on praying for the members of this community while they watched. It wasn’t until one of the first miracles was shown and the members began cheering and clapping that I realized- we should never become numb to this story. Making the blind see, raising the dead to life, being whipped for sins He never committed, nailed to a cross, and coming back from the dead to welcome us with open arms. Us, the very ones who nailed Him to the tree by our actions. As the film went on they didn’t stop reacting because to many of them, this was all new. And even to the ones who knew the story, they didn’t sit in silence. They felt the pain of their Savior. They felt the joy when He rose from the dead.

Beautiful. Yes.

This is the story that we’re part of. This is something bigger.

To see the behind the scenes area where the film is translated, prayed over, updated… and then to know that that same week, Sarah & Kayla both had the chance to put what I saw into practice & reach dozens of people with the message of the gospel… I’m reminded of the grace & sovereignty of God.

How cool is it that he allows us to join in on something so much greater with him. Sharing the gospel, here in the United States, overseas in a village that no one has ever heard of, it doesn’t matter.  We’re part of something bigger.

As you close out your summer & look ahead to this year, what might you trust God for? What’s your something bigger that you can be a part of? Maybe you’re looking ahead to next summer, thinking that this summer wasn’t exactly what you’re looking for. Consider [already] going on a summer mission trip, giving a few weeks to share the gospel [& have fun] – internationally. Maybe you’re looking ahead to after graduation. You can be a part of sharing the gospel for a few months, for a year. Cru has internships & you could introduce students to Jesus in the US, or you can go internationally… you can even give a year to travel the world with JESUS film & be a part of seeing the unreached come to know their Savior.

I’m praying for you as the summer winds down & life starts to gear up again. We get so lost & so narrow-focused on the here & now that we too often forget that God has called us to more.  What’s the more he has for you? Ask him & listen. 

The Illusion of a “Polished” Life//Megan

Most of us have radiant, Christ-centered ladies in our lives we admire for their unfading faith.  These might be our personal disciplers, close friends, missionaries, authors or even our own mother or sisters.  We are encouraged and edified by their life example of faith as we watch them follow Christ.  Paul encouraged this kind of relationship when he said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, as well as in verse 16 of Chapter 4, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  It is helpful and even healthly to look to other’s examples of Christ-centered lives as we seek to follow Christ’s pattern of godliness in this world.  This is a beautiful picture of biblical discipleship, but it easily can switch into an unhealthy relationship when we lose sight of the cross.  As women, our minds love to compare and by God’s design, it is good.  Nevertheless, when sin taints our thinking, comparisons can be painfully harmful to our lives, even dangerous when they cross into our faith.  The “polished” lives of these ladies can leave us feeling discouraged instead of encouraged when we compare it with ourselves.  When our minds tend to focus on loveliness of the lives of Christ-centered ladies, it distracts us from pursuing Jesus and leaves us lost in discontentment.  I want to urge you towards healthy relationships with some things that have been of encouragement to me and others in my life.

Let’s compare ourselves to Jesus.  When we shift our ideals off others, we see Jesus is the perfect picture of righteousness and we all fall short.  Every believer is on the same journey we are, just at different points, yet none of us have arrived.  When we compare ourselves to those further up the path, we see their spot as the finish line.  Suddenly, we forget Jesus and strive in our own efforts to reach the life they have obtained.  Twisted thinking like “that person got there, why can’t I?” takes over and squashes the gospel freedom of grace.  When we seek Jesus’s position as the rightful finish line, we see we can never reach the perfection of His life.  His sacrifice is required for each of us to make it.  Instead of bashing ourselves in the hopeless cycle of self-righteousness for not reaching the position of others, we accept grace and join others in pursuing Jesus together.

Every one battles with sin.  Paul clearly states in Romans 3:10: “None is righteous, no, not one.”  We all know this, but when look at the “polished” faith walks of these woman, we tend to minimize or are altogether blind to where they fall short.  From the outside, they shine more brightly and clearly Jesus as their lives are being transformed to become more like Christ over time.   However, don’t be sorely mistaken; their lives are a mess too because of their sin.  You may only see the pleasant outside life of many believers, but their hearts show they are sinners too.  Think, why do they so strongly keep after Jesus?  Because they know they are still a sinner in need of a savior.

The battle is ever increasing internally.  The outside life we aspire to in these women is the outcome, not the full story.  To those around them, ladies who have surrendered to the work of the Spirit in their lives, may seem put together externally, but inside their hearts, sin is still present and causing havoc.  The Spirit may have conquered some of the strongholds of sinful behavior, they often are struggling with heart sin that may never come out in their conduct.  As they are drawing closer to His heart, God is working internally on attitudes before those thoughts become external actions.  All of this is hidden to us unless these ladies choose to share glimpses of God’s grace to them as they encourage us.

Sin is magnified as Christ is glorified.  It is true as we allow the Spirit to transform our lives, we begin to sin less and less; however, as we understand more of God’s holiness, we grow in our understanding of how deeply God is grieved over even our littlest heart sins.  I love to encourage women with a little chart I once was taught.  It shows two arrows growing apart: one is our understanding of God and the other is our understanding of our sin.  As we grow in our knowledge and love for the Lord, more and more of our own broken condition is revealed to us.  Our debt of sin is deepened as we see more of Christ glorified.  Additionally, our awareness of our need for Christ is magnified as we see the gap between the arrows increase.  This is how Paul can say he is the chief of sinners because he saw the great extent of the majesty of Christ while he also saw the great extent of evil in his heart.  These ladies often shock us when they eagerly and strongly disagree when their “polishedness” is admired.  As I mentioned earlier, they see the mess of their hearts clearer because they see more of the beauty of cross.  No matter where you are in your walk, inwardly we each battle with sin and knowing how far we are from the example of Christ.
Recently, I came across another version of this arrow chart created by Paul E. Miller called the Cross Chart.  It shows the growth in the life of the believer, but it also highlights the feelings we become entangled with when we don’t grow in our understanding of the cross.  Particularly, it focuses on revealing the brokenness that is created when we use other’s examples to fill the growing gap of the arrows instead of Christ’s examples.  Consider this chart.  While I have a tendency towards comparing myself to those ahead of me on the path, others struggle with comparing themselves to those lower on the path.  As the chart shows, roots of pride grow in that situation.  Either way, we all need more Jesus.cross-chart-with-border
Dear sisters, let me encourage you.  The “polished” life you seek is only perfectly fulfilled in Jesus.  Turn your eyes to the Lord instead of the believers around you for your measuring tape.  Know that as you are seeing more sin in your life it is a reflection of the increasing holiness you see in Christ.  Behold the cross of Christ that is never too small to bridge that gap.  Let us all exhibit lives of example as we walk steadily on towards Jesus’s example no matter where we are on the path.

For further study:  1 Timothy 1:15,16; Romans 7:15-20; Romans 3:10-12; 1 Corinthians 4:14-16

 

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Hello ladies! My name is Megan[pictured second from the right] and I recently graduated from Virginia Wesleyan College & have been working part time with Cru here in Tidewater.  Cru has been an integral part of my walk with God since my freshman year.   It is an honor to be able to serve with this sweet ministry to our mighty King and be able to encourage each of you in your own walks through things like this blog post.  Some of favorite things are dates with Jesus, acoustic praise and worship songs, traveling, chilly morning walks, handwritten letters, discipleship, pumpkin dump cake, sunny Sundays, the laughter of children and fellowshipping with my dear sisters in Christ.  Thank you for being such faithful readers and making it to the end!

Yes Lord//Meg//Day Five

I’ve been so blessed by reading each of the blog posts on our “Awake & Free” blog this week… am I the only one?
On WednesdayNita pointed us to Mary and my heart said, “Yes, Lord,” as I read and rested in the truth of who Mary is and what she knew – something God has also taught me recently.  On MondayBrooke wrote about slowing down, and my heart said, “Yes, Lord,” as I found myself in agreement with the need to soak in time with the Lord this Christmas season. And I have. And it’s been beautiful.  On TuesdayLaura Kate wrote about how the story of Jesus is thread throughout all of Scripture and my heart said, “Yes, Lord,” as I rested in that knowledge and reflected on how seeing Jesus throughout Old & New Testament stories has been part of my Christmas season as well.  And then yesterday, Sarah wrote about how it’s okay to not be okay, and my heart, again, said, “Yes, Lord,” as I thought about the joys and the aches of my Christmas season – and those shared by many whom I love.
Yes.  Lord.
In Your Spirit’s sovereign plan, you have me here, being encouraged by so many women on what it looks like to walk with you, and you’re weaving together these stories and my stories to point to the same thing.  And it brings me to the point of just reading and saying, “Yes, Lord,” – because as I’ve thought about what I wanted to write today, I honestly have thought about writing – or could have easily written – on each topic that each woman presented.
And then I thought that maybe God would want me to share a little more deeply and a little more personally.  And so nervously, I respond, Yes, Lord.
You can catch up more on my story here.  It chronicles the story of my sweet son – one that’s still being written – as my husband & I have faced some of the most earth shattering news and walked one of the hardest journeys as we anticipate our son’s birthdays in just seven weeks.  Back in August, during the first two weeks of classes actually, we found out that the baby we are expecting in February has a neural tube defect that caused him to grow and develop without his skull or his brain forming fully.  This means that Jacob, our son, will have a very brief life on earth before He goes to Heaven to spend Eternity with his Maker.  His Maker who saw it fit to make him like this, and who has deemed him worthy of love, who has deemed him good
When September hit, I was unsure if we’d make it to the holidays with Jacob, still, or if he’d already be in Heaven.  And then October, and November, and now here we are in mid-December, Jacob has grown & developed in most other ways completely normally and is full of life inside me.  And my heart says, Yes, Lord.
What’s struck me the most this Christmas season is how much my mind & heart wander to considering Mary, and considering Jesus.  Mary in the sense that she carried a child – and not just any child, but our Savior – in pregnancy, and she gave birth to Him.  Jesus in the sense that He became a baby… that He – fully God & fully Man – entered into our brokenness and our world by means of “the least of these.”  And Jesus was born to die.  Both looked at what God was calling them to do and even though it seemed  c r a z y  in the eyes of the world, they looked to God, and said, Yes.  Lord.
God has shown me the grace & beauty of Mary’s response to Him as she learns that she, a young virgin, engaged to be married, is pregnant.  She says, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.  For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” {Luke 1:46-49}
Yes, Lord.
And then I consider how Jesus lived on this Earth, full of life & destined to die, and he performed miracles and he healed people and he fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament and he was full of grace and truth as he approached women and children and tax collectors and Pharisees and Jews and Samaritans alike.  And He was God. And He was perfect.  And He lived to die.  And He said as He was facing His own execution – an unjust one, and in a criminal’s death – “’Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” {Luke 22:42-44}
Yes, Lord.
And so I consider my own life.  I am carrying a child who has a greater purpose than the one I would have chosen for him.  We are doing something that seems crazy in the eyes of the world as we see value and dignity in our son’s life, no matter how old he is or how many breaths he will take on this earth.  I am carrying a son who is born “only” to die.   My son could be healed, if God so chooses, but in all reality, I face great pain and agony in losing him on his birthday. Some of the things I am facing seem impossible. I can almost feel those bloody sweat drops.
And I find myself saying Yes, Lord.
In the midst of the heartache, in the midst of the pain, God has sent His Spirit to strengthen me, much like He sent an angel to strengthen Jesus.  In the midst of the chaos and wondering of my son’s purpose, God has helped me to say “Holy is Your Name” even when the words cannot seem to even enter my heart.  In the midst of seeing that because Jesus was born to die, and therefore my son – born only to die – will live forever in Eternity with him, I see that Jesus is better.  And my heart can only cry, Yes, Lord.
This Christmas season, where is God leading you to say, Yes, Lord?  Where is He asking you to say, “Not my will but yours be done,” and then follow Him into the scary and into the unknown?  Where is He showing you in Scripture how He is near to you and to your story, and where you can see Jesus working out your story so you can in turn say, “Jesus is Better”?
My prayer is that we will be women this season who say, Yes, Lord.  Who look to the wonder and beauty and awe of the reality of the Christmas story and we say in agreement, Yes, Lord, because it is good.  And we look at the truth of who God is and we say, Yes, Lord, because even though we don’t understand, we long to.  And we face our heartaches and our grief and our disappointments – we face our triumphs and excitements and joys – and we say, Yes, Lord. And we follow Him.
Yes, Lord, my heart longs to cry in my grief.  Yes, Lord, He helps me say.  Yes, Lord.