Far Better//Victoria//CNU

I’m engaged. Jesus is still better.

(fill in the blank)

13 days ago I got engaged to a man that I’ve known for 8 years now. His proposal was completely unexpected. He was so diligent in preparing and settinPicTapGo-Image (11)g everything up, and the whole thing went down flawlessly. I felt so loved and special in that moment. This was something I knew would happen this summer, but I was not expecting it so soon! It was probably the most exciting day of my life thus far. I’ve also never seen my dad so excited or teary-eyed (which for a daddy’s little girl, that’s a big deal). Daniel and I have gotten the privilege to know each other for so long, and therefore we’ve been allowed us to see so many neat things and experience great things together. He is faithful, dependable, honest, kind, gentle, and very intelligent. Our relationship has had many trials and many joys. However, we’re only human. We’re broken. We’re sinful. There is only 1 aspect of our relationship that’s perfect; God.

God is holy. Therefore, His will for our lives is good, pleasing, and perfect (Rom 12:2). Lately, His plan for me has been good, really pleasing, and I’d agree it’s perfect! But earlier this year while I tried to walk with my best friends through much deep pain, they would have still said His will was good, pleasing, and perfect.

No matter your individual circumstances, no matter how discontent you are, God is the same. He is the same in the past, present, and future tense. He is still good and so is His will for your life. So where you are right now, it is good, pleasing, and perfect because He is good, pleasing, and perfect.

My relationship with the Lord is better than my relationship with Daniel. The Lord is more faithful. The Lord is more dependable. The Lord is more honest. The Lord is more kind. The Lord is gentler. The Lord is more intelligent. The Lord loves me more. He is always going to be more. He will always exceed our expectations, our desires, and our needs. He is Lord.

Lord, you are holy. You are more than I can comprehend. Thank you for giving me the opportunity of a relationship with you.

Please continually remind me of your will; your good, pleasing, perfect will.

Please show me how to be content in you.

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Hello! My name it’s Victoria Taylor and I wrote the blog above while I sat here on the beach! This week I’m enjoying some rest and relaxation!  It’s been a crazy month of May. I attend Christopher Newport University and plan on graduating in the spring in Psychology, minoring in Biology and Leadership. This summer, I am preparing to marry my (now recent) fiancé, working, and applying to Occupational Therapy graduate schools. I love being outside.  I enjoy hiking. I am a coffee addict. I absolutely love my border collie boys (featured in photo). I love Jesus and am amazed by the way He loves. This semester I learned a lot about grace, and now I’m learning about spiritual disciplines and some theology. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and getting to know me!

THE GREAT I AM//Cynthia//Day Nine

I was in elementary school when I first learned the story of God speaking to Moses from a burning bush. The fact that the bush was on fire, but not consumed, or that God was talking to Moses out of the bush was not what I remember puzzling over. After all, I had already learned and believed that God had created the world in 6 days, He had orchestrated Joseph’s life and used him to save God’s people from extinction and had used powerful plagues against the Egyptian people to free His people, the Hebrews, from slavery (including that cool trick of opening up the sea for His people to cross on dry ground!). All of that was amazing, of course, but I remember being hung up on something that God said in His conversation with Moses when Moses asked God who he should say had sent him to tell Pharaoh to let his people go; specifically, Moses asks God what name he should give. God’s answer is in Exodus — “God said to Moses, ‘I AM who I AM.’ 

And He said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.'” What a crazy answer!!   I mean, who refers to him or herself that way; it’s an incomplete sentence. We say, “I am tired” or “I am hungry” or “I am Peter” or “I am confused”, but none of us can just say, “I AM” to explain who we are to anyone. I clearly remember thinking that this made no sense whatsoever and I don’t recall my Sunday School teacher giving us much of an explanation (although, it’s possible he did and I just didn’t get it). The emphasis of the story was on the burning bush from what I remember. I suppose I mulled over it for a bit, but quickly moved on and didn’t give it much thought again until about 20 or so years later when I was teaching a 4th-5th grade Vacation Bible School class on Moses. While preparing to teach the lesson about the burning bush, I was again struck by this odd name of God, “I AM” and felt compelled to study it and ask God to reveal to me what it meant so that I could give the kids in my class an important concept for their own spiritual growth. It was as if the more mysterious it seemed to me, the more important it was to find out what it meant because I thought that it must be very relevant. I started by looking up other places in scripture where the phrase “I AM” is used and most interesting to me is how it is used in the gospel of John: seven times, Jesus refers to Himself as “I AM” but there is always something that follows the “I AM” (such as, “the way”, “the bread of life”, etc.) with one exception in chapter 8 of the Gospel of John — Jesus calls Himself, “I AM”,  just as God the Father had done. In the context of the Jews  accusing him of lying and having a demon when Jesus told them that anyone who kept His Word would not see death (John 8:51). Their response was that the father Abraham had died and Jesus was claiming to be greater than Abraham. This was a huge deal because He is telling the people that He is God, that He and the Father are One. 
That, in itself, is incredibly significant, but what God revealed to me through this is that there are no words that can be added to the “I AM” statement about God that could come close to describing Him. John uses earthly things to describe Jesus in order to make the point that Jesus is the only way to God, the only One who can satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness, and He is Life and Truth. But that is not all that He is and words don’t exist that could give us a full description of God, so when God told Moses to tell the Pharaoh that “I AM” sent Him, He was showing Moses and the Pharaoh that He was not of this world and that He was supreme, all-powerful, all-knowing, and sovereign over all. It’s overwhelming to realize that this God who cannot be described fully came down to earth in the form of a man as the Son of the Father, Jesus; He lived, worked, served, rejoiced and suffered among us, all while perfectly fulfilling the Law of God. Philippians 2 describes how Jesus “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus is God, but He willingly gave up all of the rights He had as God in order to live the perfect, sinless life and die the death that we deserved so that He could give us the gift of His righteousness. And just as we read in John, there is no other way to receive this righteousness that gives us eternal life with God, the Great I AM. I have struggles, just as all of you do, but I have found great comfort and strength in the knowledge that the Great I AM dwells within me and provides me with all that I need to not only “get through” this life, but to live a life that points others to Him and glorifies Him.

This song has ministered to me and I hope that you can revel in the truths here and praise the One who is to be highly exalted as the Great I AM.
Meet Cynthia: I am a 52 year old wife and mother of four, mother-in-law of one and oma (grandma:) of one and a half! I love theology because I love learning about God; I get especially excited when I discover a truth that I have been missing and love how God reveals truths in His Word to us progressively and uses His Word, the Holy Spirit and other believers to correct false beliefs we’ve all had at some time or another. And I love college students! Having been one myself. in four different locations(!) I think it’s a wonderful phase of life in which God does great work in the hearts of His children and He is constantly seeking the hearts of those who have yet to turn to Him. He uses Cru for all of this and I feel so blessed to be associated with this wonderful and amazing group of people! Over the past year, I’ve been in awe of how God has given me peace throughout my ongoing treatments for stage IV breast cancer, which has spread into my bones and brain. He is truly sovereign and loving and I am so grateful that I belong to Him!

Oh Night Divine//Jena//Day Eight

In church yesterday, we all sang “O Holy Night” and for the first time, my eyes were opened to the beauty of the lyrics. Listen to Danny Gokey’s version below and follow along with the lyrics listed below.
O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name

I’m sorry I don’t have more for you. Quite honestly, it feels as though I’m standing in the middle of a major intersection in a heavily populated shopping district during the holidays – where things, voices, people, fears, uncertainty, and transition all seem to zoom past me and all around me without quite colliding with me. Perhaps you all can relate. Perhaps not. Regardless, the Lord remains the same. Gosh, praise His name right now that He doesn’t change. When everything around seems unstable, He remains – and because He remains, we can stand firm. So, let us lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Let us look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hallelujah, thank you Father God for sending your Son on this day in whose name all oppression will cease. Despite any circumstance in our lives, God you are worthy. God you are so kind to us. Thank you, Lord. Turn my heart and turn our hearts toward thanksgiving and praise. 

//Jena Gray, senior majoring in Anthropology & Latin American Studies at the College of William & Mary.//