Discipline: So Hard, So Good//Victoria//CNU

The Lord has been so good to me this year, despite my good/tough circumstances…

  • He carried me though Junior year; a very discouraging year (relationally and academically)
  • I was blessed with making new and strong friendships
  • I finished my core classes, the hardest of them now over.
  • I was blessed to have a great discipler who was consistent in challenging, growing me, and encouraged me
  • I learned what it meant to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15)
  • I came home and found out that my GRE scores were solid (making grad school a little less daunting!)
  • While doing OT grad school research, I’ve found that I’ll be a competitive applicant.
  • My family has been incredibly blessed and has been guided and nurtured by the Lord.
  • My sister is graduating high school and going to VCU Arts
  • And most recently… I GOT ENGAGED.
    • This one deserved a sub-bullet because it’s so recent: I am so excited! I felt a little bit ambushed at first because I was clearly the last to know of this before it actually went down. But now oh so thankful to have been surprised and excited. It’s been a blessing to be able to walk alongside someone for so long. We’ve been blessed to be able to see one another grow and mature in more ways than one. Lots of prayer and preparation here. God has been so faithful and so generous; even as the initial wedding planning process begins.

And in all of this, it’s been hard for me to stay spiritually disciplined.  The hard time of ‘walking beside a close friend in pain’ and then the excitement of ‘being engaged to the man you love’ are twoIMG_4029 very different emotional states.

I am lucky enough to spend a total of 2 weeks by the ocean this summer. As every girl does at the beach…. I picked a book to delve into and apply. In view of this past year, I chose Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney. Lets just say I’m learning and being challenged quite a bit.

The purpose of spiritual disciplines is to become more like Christ (1 Tim 4:7). God is holy, and we are called to holiness (in fact, were commanded to in 1 Peter 1:15-16). Being spiritually disciplined ensures that we are growing to be more and more like Christ.

In reality, being spiritually disciplined is difficult. The greek word for discipline is gymnasia which means “to exercise” aka entailing sweat and effort. The desire of being spiritually disciplined is something the Holy Spirit gives and by the grace of God we can have that desire. However, that doesn’t give the Holy Spirit all the blame for not being disciplined. There is indeed a good amount of effort on our behalf. A great example of this “exercise and effort” that the book used was Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10…

Zacchaeus knew he was short, and he wanted to be able to see Jesus in the crowds. So to ensure that he’d be in Jesus’ presence, he ran and put “exercise and effort” into climbing the tree. By climbing the tree, Zacchaeus ensured that he’d be in Jesus’ presence. Jesus saw him, and called him by name.

Spiritual disciplines are a way that we intentionally place ourselves in the path of God to see his glory and grace.

Neglecting to exercise spiritual disciplines can be dangerous and hurtful. Without discipline, there will be no visible fruits in your life. If an athlete is disciplined in his training, he will run faster and his friends will see the metals hanging around his neck from all of his wins. The same applies to being spiritually disciplined. However, if we do not stay disciplined, our lives will not make much of a difference for the kingdom. Nobody will see fruits in our lives.

Living in these disciplines by making “exercise and effort” will allow us to see more of Him and His glory and greatness; not to mention it will also create bountiful fruits in our lives.

Join me this summer in disciplining yourself spiritually.  

Lord you are holy. You have called me to holiness. Please give me a desire to pursue holiness. Give me the discipline to walk with you faithfully.

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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!

 

 

 

 

To Help You Sleep…//Brooke

One of my dear dear friends has a two year old boy named Connor.  [I still remember the day he was born like it was yesterday– how do days turn into years so quick??] Anyway, if you ask Connor, “What does Daddy say?” He will quickly repeat…”Nooo cwyyyyy. Coseee youurrr eyessss.”  You see Connor has a “problem” with going to bed quickly but for some reason when his daddy comes in to tell him, “No need to Cry, close your eyes” it helps Connor calm down and eventually drift off to sleep!Margaret Berg Art: He is Our Peace Pink Blooms:

I was thinking about this scenario this morning and I wondering what are all the things that Jesus has told us through the Scriptures to bring comfort and put us at rest? A
nd, boy do we all need comfort and rest these days more than ever it seems.  And I feel we are called to carry comfort and rest and prayer to those that are hurting and fearful about the days we are living in.

Here are a few things Jesus says that surround us with Peace:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:10-11
Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33
“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matthew 11:30
But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
Good Shepherd.  Truth Teller.  Life Giver.  The Overcomer. The Burden Bearer.  The Power Giver.  The Impossible Provider.
What a God we serve.  What a God that cares. What Peace we know.

Pornography, God, and me/Lauren/CNU

We have a huge God, and when we are going through the motions of life, it can be so easy to forget that. I so easily attain this mindset that underestimates the absolute power that the Lord has, as well as forgets about the sovereignty He has over all of the situations I find myself in. However, over the course of the last few months God has allowed me to experience several different things to serve as reminders of who He is, how I ought to think of Him, and why He deserves to have number one priority in my heart as well as in my life.

Pornography is something that I have struggled with for the past three years of my life. It is still so hard to admit that even now, but the Lord has been teaching me so much recently about amazing things that can come out of being obedient to Him, and in this moment I really feel like this is what He wants me to share today.

My struggle with porn began with simple curiosity that soon turned into something that I suddenly could no longer handle or hide. Pornography is a sin that is so easy to keep a secret. It is also easy to slip into a mindset that says “I can stop whenever I want to,” or “I can handle this on my own.” Both of those beliefs that I had proved to be so wrong and I continued slipping deeper and deeper into sin. Guilt and shame were emotions that I felt constantly because I believed that I was alone in my struggle. As a whole, whenever pornography is talked about in a church setting it is almost always directed towards the guys. I had never heard of girls being addicted to porn and as a result of this I truly believed that I was abnormal or that something was seriously wrong with me. As a result of those feelings, it took almost two years before I finally came clean to someone about what was really going on in my life.  Not only did I feel alone, I also felt as though I was a failure of a Christian and that the Lord had surely given up on me. I couldn’t see how anything good could possibly come out of my seriously messed up life, and I believed that I could never amount to anything in the eyes of God. God, however, felt differently. The Lord provided me with a handful of people over the years who had struggled with the same thing and who were able to disciple me and hold me accountable in my struggle. He never once left me on my own or gave up on me.

This summer I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work at a Christian summer camp in Northern Virginia. This camp encourages it’s counselors to be real with their campers and to share their testimonies with them in order to let the campers know what the Lord has been doing in their lives. Last week, the second week of camp, I got placed with a Co-Ed group of middle schoolers, and I basically decided on day one that I wasn’t going to share my entire testimony with any of the kids. I didn’t want them to know about the specific sin that I had struggled with, so I decided to be pretty vague with them regarding specific details to my testimony. Don’t ask me why I believed that God would let this fly, just know that I thought it would work. Anyways, Thursday night rolls around, and on this night a gospel message is shared during worship and campers are able to receive prayer from staff members at the camp. After worship and having some s’mores with my unit, I decided to  have a girls devotion with all of the girls in my group. As I am in the middle of sharing a devotion on being “be-you-tiful,” to the girls,  I feel the Lord prompting me to share my testimony. At first I tried to ignore God, but after a moment I realized that if the Lord was really laying this on my heart and not letting up, it must be for a reason… so I shared everything with them. The majority of the reactions from my campers were appreciation for my willingness to share with them, however, one of my campers sat in her bed sobbing. I soon came to realize that she had been struggling with pornography and that just as I had been feeling alone and ashamed, she too was experiencing guilt and self-hatred. Her tears, however, were not of embarrassment or even shame, they were of joy. That night after worship, she had prayed to the Lord that He would send her a sign that He was there, that He was real, and that He loved her. Her tears were of joy because the Lord had answered her prayer, and He had done it through my testimony. That night I was able to pray with that camper as she accepted Jesus into her heart for the first time.

God is a m a z i n g. Who else could turn brokenness into beauty, shame into joy, or sin into salvation? That night God reminded me that He has everything in His hands and that He can use any person or situation to bring His children back to Him. Never again will I allow myself to believe that I am too broken to be used to bring glory to the name of Jesus. Never again will I forget about the power that God has or His sovereignty over all situations.

I challenge you to never forget as well.

 

 

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My name is Lauren Radcliff, and I’m a sophomore at CNU. I plan on majoring in Sociology as well as minoring in both Leadership and Communication Studies. I am involved with Cru on campus as well as Extreme Measures, which is a mixed acapella group. So basically, I love to sing and in my free time you could find me making cheese quesadillas or binge watching the Office.