Vulnerability. It’s Beautiful.//Rachel//ODU

 

The Lord’s timing is always the best. Before the time I spent in NYC this summer, I had come across references to John 3:30 multiple times. The book of John was the first book  I read right after I started walking with the Lord, I have seen the “HE>I” bumper stickers all around, and have even heard of people wanting to get “HE>I” as a tattoo. Yet, I never asked much about it and never had a desire to know what Bible verse it referred to. Each time I started to want to know more about John 3:30, I could tell that the Lord was telling me, “Not yet.” IMG_4115

A key thing I have struggled with in the past is being open and being vulnerable. However, this summer the Lord was able to use and grow me in the midst of my vulnerability. During my 6 weeks in NYC with Cru for summer missions we started to go through the book of John. One day I sat down and started reading and was determined to focus more on what the Scripture was saying and what the Lord was trying to teach me. That’s when I came across John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.” As you are born again in your walk with the Lord, you start to become less of your old self and grow more in your new identity with Christ. This verse gave me comfort during my time in New York because I was constantly being placed out of my comfort zone.

I have never felt comfortable praying in front of people, singing in front of more than one person, or even just getting up and making a speech. Every single one of those things made me feel extremely uncomfortable and vulnerable. In society’s eyes, vulnerability is a way of becoming less of who you are. If you are vulnerable, then you can not be the strong and guarded individual that you have tried countless years to create. All the walls I have built were quickly torn down and the Lord met me where I was at. I started jumping at the chance to pray first or close the group in prayer; I was one of three who helped lead worship every week during our trainings, for a church service one Sunday morning, and for singing in the subway every week on our free day; finally, during our High School Week I had to give a training on how to prepare a personal testimony in front of everyone. All of that pushed me out of my comfort zone, it made me vulnerable. I started to become less of who I thought I was. While all of that was happening, God became glorified, he was becoming greater, and I was becoming more of who the Lord knows I am.

 

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Hello friends! I am currently going into my fourth year at ODU. I just recently switched my major from Biology to Criminal Justice while I was in NYC as I started to listen more to the Lord’s plan for me. I plan to graduate in two years after this big switch! A couple things I enjoy are being outdoors, rock climbing, playing guitar, and finding any little bit of free time to watch Netflix. Thank you for taking the time to read what the Lord has taught me this summer!

The Seen from the Unseen/Laura

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  2For by it the people of old received their commendation.  3By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3

The first verse here is ingrained in my brain. I’ve heard it multiple times, read it, seen it in pretty prints and had it quoted to me in times of doubt. It is familiar and something that I know.

This summer, I have been studying the book of Hebrews with friends and using Jen Wilkin’s study book. (Which I highly recommend!) In her questions for the week she asks this simple question that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about for weeks now:

“How does verse 3 relate to verse 1?”

A simple question but it is a connection that I 8c82247e402cbec6896a85512a45b9fahad not looked at any other time.

“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” Seriously? Have you taken a minute to realize how miraculous and beautiful it is that God created this world? He brought the world into being from His word. He brought it to be from things that are not visi
ble. He made everythin
g from nothing. We, as humans, are completely incapable of creating things from nothing. But God…He created the most beautiful creation out of the unseen. He is the Creator. And He is the Sustainer. He is God!

So why did that bring new clarity to my understanding of verse 1? Not that God needs to prove Himself to us, but it gave me even more confidence in the character of God and His ability to create and provide. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen and that is trustworthy because from the beginning of time, God created from the unseen things.

Too often I find myself trying to figure out how God will work things out—as if I were God and could know all things.  I can become discouraged if I can’t see the solution. But now I remind myself, God created this whole universe out the things unseen. Surely, he can create a solution and a way for His will to be done from things that I am blind to now.

After all, He took my calloused, prideful heart and replaced it with a new one that beats for Him—all from things that were unseen and unknown to me.

So for the last few weeks, when things seem impossible or crazy, I repeat to myself, “God can make something from nothing.” God has eyes to see the unseen. He can make a way from what seems like nothing to me.

Plants & Growth & You // Kathleen, RVA Intern

Kathleen1“Just some rocks, a layer of soil, throw the li’l guy in there, and some water and sunshine and he’ll grow just fine! Plants want to grow, you see. They are resilient and do what they have to to survive.” This is what John, the #PlantHustler, explains to everyone who asks him about the cool succulent terrariums we build.

This summer I am support raising to join the Cru movement in Richmond as an intern in the fall. Alongside that, I am working super part time with a cool guy named John who runs a local pop-up shop called “Glass Gardens.” John loves plants a whole lot and has learned so much about them in the last 5 years. He has been a source of laughter and lots of conversation these last few weeks as I’ve been going through this wonderful/draining/incredible/painful/challenging/exciting process of support raising. While I’ve been a #PlantAngel, as he calls us helpers, I have seen a lot of correlation between plants growing and our spiritual lives growing.

Rocks– Plants need a layer of rocks, something sturdy to hold them up and to help filter the water that comes through. Jesus is our Rock (Matthew 21:42). He provides the sturdiness and consistency in our lives that we so desperately need. He helps us filter the bad (thoughts, emotions, experiences, etc). He is unrelenting and never changing (Hebrews 13:8). When we try to run away or when we become distant, it’s not Him that moved, it was us. You can always go right back to Him!

­Soil– The soil provides the nutrients for the plant and provides the home for them. It holds them to the rocks. This is similar to your close community of Christian friends. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, please please find a small group this summer. It is crucial for us to have those that hold us to Jesus (like the soil keeps the plants to the rocks). Without accountability from community and strong friends to lean on, we may begin to wither. I know for me, this would often happen during the summer when I moved home and didn’t have a weekly Bible study meeting to grow in. The Lord commands us to stay in community (Hebrews 10:25, Acts 2:46). Not only does He command us to do this, but it just feels good. When you have friends to go to about your struggles or your successes, you feel that you are being bolstered by those around you.

Water– Water gives the plant life and health and sustenance. If you do not give the plant enough water, the soil gets dry and, again, he begins to wither. Water can represent our reading the Word. We often think we are fine without it. “Oh, I read the daily verse on my app, I’m good,” or “Yeah, we went through a passage in church on Sunday, really solid stuff,” or even “nahh, I don’t really have time for that.” Whatever our excuse, it’s just not worth it. One daily verse?? What if the plant got one drop of water? Or was just watered every once in a while? Or if the caretaker of the plant was like “nahh, I don’t really have time for that.” The plant would not thrive. Reading the Bible daily, asking questions, and truly desiring to understand and love God’s Word for us is crucial in our walk. Look to Joshua 1:8 and John 15:7 about the necessity and benefits of remaining in the Word.

Sunshine– Different plants need different amounts of sunshine. Some like direct light, some are okay without. Some need to be outside for LOTS of sunshine, others are okay inside. Nonetheless, the environment for the plant is key. The same is for our environment. Are you choosing to be around those that will encourage you and strengthen your Christian walk? I don’t mean during the school year, I mean right here, right now. It’s the summer time and who are some friends you can meet with during the week to encourage each other in the Word? This may seem similar to the soil aspect, as it is. But more importantly, if you surround yourself with negative people, not filled with the Light, what do you expect to happen to your soul? 1 John talks about how Jesus is the Light and how we are to walk in it. If those that you choose to be around are not adding to that light, then what are they doing? Are you shining light in their direction? Matthew 5:16 tells us to shine our light wherever we are and this is done by actions but also in simply telling people what we believe and the HOPE that we have in the Gospel!

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That was a whole lot. But, plants are really cool and your spiritual life is incredibly important. It needs to be nourished and taken care of. What steps can you actively take this week to freshen up and nourish your soul? Is it going to take some MiracleGro? Or maybe a rainy day of scripture reading? Call a friend and meet up for coffee and just ask each other how you guys are really doing? Whatever it takes, do that. Do that right now. Don’t let your summer be dry. Don’t return to school in the Fall wishing you had read your Bible more. Just like the #PlantHustler says, “Plants make people feel good!” Well, so does reading the Bible and being in good community.


 

blog post picHello friends! My name is Kathleen and I am a very recent graduate of Christopher Newport University. I enjoy sweet & salty snacks, listening to podcasts (Relevant & 99 Percent Invisible are two great ones!) napping, and driving with the windows down. As for post-grad plans, I am currently in the process of raising support to intern with Cru in Richmond! During this summer I am also, as I mentioned earlier, working part time with Glass Gardens which has been such a joy. More things I enjoy: Arrested Development, cozy blankets, and Justin Timberlake’s newest song!