thoughts on love & relationships//Brian Barnett

This begins a week of hearing from Cru staff and student men. We are really excited about all the wisdom and encouragement they will share. Enjoy!
Men writing advice on a women’s blog!?!? 
Yuck! Cooties! Girls Rule, Boys Drool! Ew! (Jimmy Fallon’s “Ew” sketch is ringing in my ears).
I can hear the women screaming and running away while typing “:(:(:(”. All kidding aside, we have so much we can learn from each other. I’ve been married to Brooke for 7 ½ years and she has taught me so much about myself and about the Lord.
Here’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned/noticed/admired about Brooke:
She loves God & Christ passionately more than anything else. And not in just the romanticized version of following Jesus. (And not in the dogmatic law-abiding way of following God.) Her relationship with God is authentic, takes perseverance, is full of joy in the midst of heartache, and is full of a humble dependence on God in prayer. And her relationship with God naturally flows by faith into sacrificially serving and loving people.  
By being with her I’ve experienced an authentic follower of Christ. More importantly, I’ve experienced an authentic follower in Christ.

Note: (don’t miss this!) The point isn’t Brooke, the point is faith displaying itself in love and humility and authenticity. The point is to surround yourself with these types of people. To become that person yourself. To then bring love and life to people who aren’t like you, who don’t think like you, who don’t believe like you. The point is to become all that God has made you to be. To become the person that God already views you to be! To become who you are in Christ.

There are hundreds of promises in the Bible about those who are in Christ. For example, in Christ we are a new creation, in Christ there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of God, and that in Christ we have been given peace that surpasses understanding that will always guard our hearts and mind.

My favorite in Christ verse:For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6 NIV.  (Let’s read the Message Version for a little more insight.) “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is: faith expressed in love.”

When we are truly living our lives inChrist (dependent on Him, fixing our eyes on Him, letting His love live in and through us), than the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love.
Your religious laws don’t matter. 
The pressure you put on yourself to be a certain way or think a certain way, doesn’t matter. The importance of how this guy or that girl views you, doesn’t matter. 

The only thing that matters in Christ is a faith that loves God deeply and a faith that sacrificially and passionately loves people. This is what I admired the most in Brooke when I met here as a sophomore in college. This is what I love the most about her still today.

Being a follower of Christ is good. But being a follower in Christ is gooder (better!).
Check out a list of the promises of being inChrist here.

A Saturday Story//Genevieve//CNU

“I will trust in your unfailing love;
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.”
-Psalm 13:5
I mumbled the words over and over, willing my mind to make the connection between letters and meaning. My gut told me this verse was important, but my overly-fatigued mind couldn’t grasp it. I squeezed my eyes shut.

‘Rough week’ didn’t begin to cover the amount of stress currently entrenched between my shoulder blades. Earlier that morning, I’d been scurrying along the path between the library and Forbes, when I caught up to a group of girls walking shoulder-to-shoulder in front of me. They laughed as they made lunch plans, completely oblivious to the road block they posed to those behind them.

“Oh, to be so carefree,” I thought bitterly. I stepped onto the Great Lawn, sacrificing the comfort of my dry shoes, at the exact moment they stopped blocking the whole sidewalk.

I grunted in annoyance. Christianly? No. Proud of myself? Not particularly. 

You tell yourself to take one day at a time, that God won’t give you more than you can handle. But let’s face it, there’s a difference between saying God is in control and actually relinquishing your burdens to Him. And I’d been carrying the weight of my worries alone. The squeezing pressure of graduation 2 months away grew heavier every day, and I was no closer to discerning God’s will for the next step of my life. I’d never felt so directionless.

“But seek first his kingdom and his
 righteousness, and all these things will be given
 to you as well.” -Matthew 6:33
As I opened my eyes to refocus on scripture, I realized that Jesus IS my direction. When I feel lost, I need only to communicate with Him to regain my focal point. As I bowed my head to pray, I tried to focus on opening my heart to fully trusting the Lord- His word, His promises, His wisdom, and His unfailing love. Because God provides more support and resources than we could ever need.

So smile as you lean into him today. He has got you.

Callouses & Christ//Guest Post–Amy Webber

Hi, friends! I am SO happy to be joining you all today! My name is Amy. I’m a nanny to 4 kids by day and a calligrapher by night. I live with my husband of (almost!) 3 years, my aging Grandma, and our adorable little pup, Sugar. It’s a crazy life and we live it just outside of the Richmond area. I had the amazing opportunity to be on staff with Cru for 2 and a half years in the Tidewater area and I miss it every day.

While I never envisioned I’d be a nanny for 4 kids, it has been so interesting what they have taught me about God over the last 2 years. Today, I want to share with you what God showed me through a 6-year-old’s callouses. (Yes, you read that right…callouses. Buckle up, friends. It’s about to get good!) I walked into the house of where I nanny, feeling weary and worn down. Heavy burdens filled my heart. The moment I walked in, one of the girl’s, Abby, was so excited to tell me about how she got her first callous on her foot. Take a second to imagine the following being said with 6-year-old excitement (like a 6-year-old on Christmas morning excitement), “I’m my daddy’s girl!! I got my first callous last night!! Bring on the callousesssss!!!” as she ran to the back door to go outside, barefoot.  You should know this family spends a great deal of time at the beach and therefore, they often go barefoot. Her dad, especially, goes barefoot any chance he gets. I thought it was both hysterical that she was excited about callouses and adorable that she wanted to be like her daddy.

I later learned Abby’s dad had explained to her that in the beginning, it would hurt to go outside barefoot. He told her that she’d eventually build callouses on her feet, and after that, she’d be able to go outside barefoot, pain free. She trusted her daddy, even when he told her she’d experience pain. She believed him when he explained that what was on the other side of the pain was good. And she was joyful in being able to identify with her father through that experience. With her words stuck in my head, I began wondering if I felt that way about my Heavenly Father. Did I find joy in the opportunity to relate to Christ, even in the painful, burden-filled situations? Did I trust Him and His promise that there was good on the other side of those sufferings?

My Sunday school class is studying Philippians this summer and it.has.been.SO.good. Seriously, go read it. And reread it. (As a side note, I’ve been listening to Philippians in my car on the way to and from work, with an app on my phone and it’s been amazing how much I’m retaining through listening to it over and over again. It starts and ends my day with a mindset focused on God and has really helped me to hide His Word in my heart. I highly suggest giving it a try.) Paul, like Abby, wanted to identify with his Father. In Philippians 3, He says he wants to know Christ, in “the power of His resurrection and in the participation of His sufferings.” Paul felt joy (He uses the word ‘joy’ or ‘rejoice’ 16 times in the short book of Philippians WHILE in prison), counting everything else a loss, at the opportunity to relate to Christ, in both Christ’s power but also in Christ’s deep, hard, and painful sufferings.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11
It’s a crazy thing God promises us, that we could possibly find any kind of joy in relating to Him in our sufferings. But not only is there joy to be found, God also promises good to come from it. Again like Abby, Paul understood that what came from the pain was good. In Romans 8:28 Paul writes, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” When God says all things, He means ALL THINGS. There is not one wasted hurt, if you are a follower of Christ. Do you struggle to find joy in the midst of suffering? Have you ever had a hard time believing God would work out your tough situation for good? I think we struggle with these things because our definition of good and God’s definition of good are often very different. While we may desire happiness, safety, or riches, that’s not how God defines of good. If you read the verses following Romans 8:28, you’ll see that God’s idea of working things together for good means conforming us into the image of His Son, Jesus. We see that idea again in the verses above in Philippians. Paul talks about the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. He desires to gain Christ and be found in Him, even if that means he has to go through suffering to attain those things. We have a unique opportunity to relate to and identify with Christ when we go through hard times. Joy is found as we inch closer to knowing Christ more fully, by sharing in experiences that He himself also went through, and then by resting in the promise that God is at work, transforming us into the image of His Son.