“it will not be you speaking” {Maggie}

It’s summertime. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and I am sitting out on my back porch writing this blog. When I think of the idea of “summer”, it is filled with sunscreen, relaxation by the pool, and reunions with friends from home. But since coming off a year of being surrounded by such a strong Christian community at CNU, I realize that it’s different here…my community of believers has gone down to my family and me, and that two-mile radius of friends who love the Lord aren’t here. At first I felt homesick (home being Newport News with all of my friends), but then I realized most of them had gone home for the summer too. God has you and I at home for a reason. My two-mile radius of people up here in Northern VA, is full of broken people who don’t know the Lord. I realized while being here, God wants to use me to reach out to those people.
            A few nights ago, I was showing my parents small group the Cru Perspective cards. After everyone had left, I forgot to put the cards away, and left them sitting on the kitchen counter. Later that night my brother’s friend came over to hang out. It was around midnight when I decided to call it a night and we all were standing around the counter talking while I was trying to sneak away and go get in my comfy bed…when he asked, “what are those?”- referring the perspective cards. In my head I was like gosh I’m tired and I need to sleep…But God was tugging on my heart saying that this was literally an opportunity to share the gospel that was handed to me on a platter since he brought it up. So thankfully that got me super excited, and I proceeded to explain to him that this was a survey that I use to start spiritual convos on campus. After about a minute of just trying to explain what it was, I asked if I could just do the survey with him, and he agreed. This led to a really great conversation with him, my brother and me. If I was talking, Graham was praying, and if he and his friend were talking, I was praying. IT WAS SO COOL.
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
           

            Matthew 10: 16-20 speaks about persecution as Christians. Now, we won’t be handed over for flogging here, but the point I wanted to draw out is that as Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in us. God uses the spirit to speak through us. So don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who doesn’t know the Lord, a neighbor who has never been to church, or your grandma who you get to spend time with this summer. No matter where you are, or what you are doing this summer, you are on a mission to share Jesus with others. I challenge you to think of a couple people in that two-mile radius that you could start a spiritual conversation with. God wants to use you, and He will. The Holy Spirit will guide your speech, so you don’t need to worry about what to say. Don’t let fear keep you from sharing the gospel! We don’t have to be afraid because God is with us. Always.

Bringing the Gospel Home (Brooke) & GIVEAWAY!!!

I wonder if you are already feeling a little weary & a little bummed and it’s only a few weeks into the summer.  You had all these hopes of being a LIGHT to your family(or friends)–of serving and praying and sharing and all you feel like you’ve done is sleep, watch Netflix, and go get froyo(those are excellent things btw!)  Don’t worry- each day brings new mercies and new opportunities to love your family. Don’t believe the lie that you have “already blown your witness” or “you have already missed too many opportunities” or “you have already been too unloving.”  You can make a plan today to reach your family with the hope of Christ—no matter how difficult you feel it is to love those closest to you and no matter how unloving you feel you have been.

You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that can not be hidden.  Matthew 5:14

I found this list here—it offers 10 ways to continue to be a light to your family while you are home–I think it was written with Christmas break in mind but all the principles still apply.

ALSO, today is a GIVEAWAY day and 2 *lucky* winners will receive a copy of the book “Bringing the Gospel Home” by Randy Newman.  It’s an excellent book about how to love and share the gospel with your family.  Here is what Randy Newman says, Whenever I have spoken about evangelism, the number one question I get asked is, “How do I witness to my family.” Often the question is posed with tears and anguish. So I decided to tackle this emotionally charged topic by focusing on the goodness of the gospel, the high priority of family, and the complexity of communication. My goal in writing this book is to offer people hope by pointing them to scripture and telling a variety of stories of others who have witnessed to family.”

Also, just for fun both winners will receive 8 cute note cards with envelopes, a role of washi tape, and a journal!

To enter to WIN:
1. comment below by Sunday(6/8) at 5 pm with your favorite fro-yo topping and your email address.   Winners will be picked at random on Sunday night & emailed with the happy news! 
2.You must be a college student that goes to school in the Tidewater area(ODU,CNU, W&M, VWC, TCC, TNCC) or Richmond, VA area to enter to win.
3. Thanks and LOVE! xoxo

A Saturday Story- Jena, W&M

Intimacy with Abba
My eyes burst open at the sound and as they adjusted to the darkness, I glanced at my phone–it was 3:30am. Only one thought raced through my hyper-alert mind, “Your adventure awaits.” Before my eyes closed that very same day, I was in a new bed with a new family in a new city in a new country. Antigua, Guatemala—my new home for the 15 weeks which followed. Fifteen weeks that radically transformed me. I never would have learned as much as I did about who God is, who I am, or how the world is if I hadn’t studied abroad in Guatemala.
If you had asked me to pray to God using an intimate name like “Dad”, “Daddy”, or “Abba” I maybe would have done so but I would have felt like a hypocrite, I would have felt awkward and uncomfortable. I knew I desired to go deeper, to be closer, to draw nearer to God but didn’t exactly know how to. For the three months that I was in Guatemala I only had ONE believer with me—my roommate and best friend on the program, Katie Floyd. I only encountered two other believers in the 4 months that I was in Central America. One was Katie’s Spanish teacher and the other was the fuel tank trucker, Hugo, who drove me to the airport in Belize. Being ripped from community and from a family of believers back in the States knocked the breath out of me and I fell flat on my face. It took me a few weeks to understand how great of a blessing being devoid of Christian community was.
Before coming to Guatemala I knew God great in group settings. I could pray and really connect and feel His presence when I was with other believers whether in church, worshipping together, praying with someone else, or in Cru. I quickly realized that when it came to talking to God on a personal, individual level alone in my room I was incredibly uncomfortable and rarely prayed on my own. Yet while in Guatemala, I had no accountability for my actions. Katie didn’t consistently ask me if I had been reading my Bible, if I had been praying, or what I was learning from God.
And for the first time in my life, I understood something. We all know that relationships take work, but for some reason I never thought that my relationship with my Father needed any work. (Something wasn’t quite lining up, huh?) I needed discipline and I knew that the relationship that Christ died for was worth the effort. It was worth the time it took to read my Bible before breakfast every day at 6:30am and before I went to bed. It was worth the effort it took to pray in the midst of a day of severe doubt. I knew that intimacy was something I was missing and something I hadn’t realized I needed because I had been wrongfully using community as a replacement for intimacy with Abba. I was so uncomfortable with being intimate with my Father because I felt that if I admitted to Him some things (that he alreadyknew, of course) that I would be viewed lesser, I was ashamed. That if, somehow, I didn’t admit them to Him then I didn’t have to deal with them—that it was okay to just leave them sitting on the highest shelf of my mind, covered in piles of dust. I learned that shame is one of the Enemy’s best tactics from keeping us believers from walking in our full potential—realizing that we are genuinely free through Christ.  
For three months in Guatemala and then an additional three weeks in Belize, I really only had Jesus pouring into me. Katie was able to offer some guidance and we talked a few things out but God was really working on some things with Katie that I was able to talk through with her. We hear all the time that Jesus is all you need and it’s honestly so true. He was the ONLY thing that refueled, revived, and renewed me when I was encompassed in darkness—and Guatemala is shrouded in a veil of ancient lies that have permeated the vast expanses of culture. He poured into me through the pages of my Bible and through intimate times of prayer and worship. He is my Comforter, Best Friend, Teacher, Lover, and Father. I could write pages and pages on what my Dad has taught me the past four months and I am so grateful for His kindness and patience throughout my many ups and downs.
 I could talk about being painfully humbled or about the day where I doubted the literal existence of God. I could tell you how He built me up daily or how I endured my first real, pungent taste of persecution. I can declare to you now who Christ says I am and how I no longer want to plan my life away or schedule away all of my time but I’ll leave you with this…The most vital lesson to my faith walk and my life as a believer has been cultivating intimacy with my Father. And by no means am I close to where I would like to be, which of course is as close to the Father as possible. But that’s what is so great about our God—He’s all about the process because the process is where we draw near to Him and He draws near to us. The beauty of learning more about our God is that the more we know, the more we want to continue knowing about him. The magnificence of this is that there is alwaysmore to know, closer to be, and deeper insights into the God who never ends.
Here is one verse I love which encourages intimacy:
 “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” –Matthew 6:6 ESV
Take time and get to know your Dad in the raw and the real, just the two of you.

–Jena