Heart over Sacrifice//Emma//VCU

This summer has been one of refinement and learning God’s true heart and character. I am a do-er and since becoming a Christian a little over a year ago I get caught up in works. Constantly feeling like I must repay God for what he has done for me and proving that I am worthy of his love and attention by what I do. After “giving my summer to the Lord” I expected to be in a state of spiritual bliss all summer – sitting in Jesus’s lap and enjoying his presence because “look at me God, I chose to serve you this summer.”

I did not realize this was my mindset until about half way through my summer mission with Cru[in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire] when I was plagued by spiritual dryness and just feeling burnt out. I was envious of the girls I was with as they shared how their intimacy with the Lord was growing and growing. “Lord, why? My quiet times have been extra long, I spent extra time on the beach for outreach, I prepared extra for Bible study, I don’t give in to (insert sin struggle here), etc” I thought.  Then I remembered  Luke 10:41 “Martha, Martha…” I immediately blocked that out because I didn’t want to hear it, and Martha might as well be my middle name.

As the summer progressed God continually brought me to a place where I had no choice but walk by the Spirit. After continually trying to earn his love and constantly failing he taught me to press into his grace. He taught me that he wants my heart over my sacrifices. He wants surrender not perfection. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing”. I can give all away and do all that I can but God cares about my heart. Not only that but he blesses me according to his grace not according to my performance. He loves me because that’s who he is and he loves me despite my prideful attitude this summer. Falling in love with Jesus feels like actual falling sometimes but this summer has taught me to love freely and rest in his grace.

 


emma

 

Hey all! My name is Emma and I am currently a second-semester “super” junior. Meaning I am old and should be a senior by now but life happened so here we are. I am an Exercise Science Major at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. I am a lover of Jesus, fitness and anything that has to do with peanut butter. I am currently training for my next powerlifting competition and I absolutely love how the Lord has used it so powerfully to teach me perseverance through set backs. I also spend most of my time discovering the endless quirks of Richmond with my best friend Roxy, who just happens to be a Doberman.

Something Bigger // JESUS Film // Meg

Last month I was in Orlando & I had the chance to visit & tour Cru’s international headquarters.  Did you know that Cru is part of a larger missions organization praying, reaching every society in corner of the world? Outside of our local Cru movements & Bible studies & discipleship, we have thousands of Cru movements on campuses all over the US.  Then there are thousands of Cru movements at campuses around the world! And that’s just part of our campus ministry.  Add on to that the number of people involved with other Cru ministries reaching military, high schoolers, families, businesspeople, planting churches, even Olympic athletes… the list goes on and on.

I was reminded that we are part of something so much bigger.

The same week that I was touring our headquarters, I hopped onto Facebook & read two encouraging posts made by two girls who are in our Cru movement at VCU.  Both of them are traveling internationally this summer in different countries in Africa sharing the gospel, loving people, praying… it’s been beautiful to watch from afar [and their pictures are incredible… God is the best artist!].

As it so happens, both girls got to experience one branch of Cru called the JESUS film. It’s the story of Jesus through Luke – a film that has been shown for 35+ years, translated into 1200 languages, and one that has been used to share the gospel with hundreds of millions of people & on record, they know of at least 200 million people who have given their lives to Jesus as a result of this film.  Every word that Jesus speaks in the film is a direct quote from Scripture. It’s incredible.

JESUS Film

Photo from Sarah’s blog [linked below]

BOTH girls – on summer mission trips with two different organizations – had the opportunity to show the film to people who had [maybe] never heard the gospel before.  Both girls got to experience the story of Jesus in  the heart language of those who watched the film.  Both girls saw people come to Christ as a result.  Two different countries. Same gospel. Lives changed.

I wanted to share with you Kayla wrote in a blogpost reflecting on showing this film because it impacted me so greatly.  She writes:

During our last night there we had a showing of The Jesus Film. Quick side note about this connection- I’m a part of Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) at VCU and that film is a project of the ministry as a whole, all around the world. I had no idea [this organization] showed the film until we arrived in the community so I was pleasantly surprised to hear I would be able to experience it, even though I’m not directly a part of a Cru Summer Mission right now. The film is the story of Jesus, the greatest story ever told (imagine Passion of the Christ, but the PG version). The coolest thing about this film is its adaptation to the different cultures around the world. It has been translated into countless languages so the people of Maubone could experience the most incredible story ever told in their native language, Tswana.

Even though I had never seen the film, I knew the story. I’ve known the story for practically my whole life so I went into the viewing with the mindset of simply focusing on praying for the members of this community while they watched. It wasn’t until one of the first miracles was shown and the members began cheering and clapping that I realized- we should never become numb to this story. Making the blind see, raising the dead to life, being whipped for sins He never committed, nailed to a cross, and coming back from the dead to welcome us with open arms. Us, the very ones who nailed Him to the tree by our actions. As the film went on they didn’t stop reacting because to many of them, this was all new. And even to the ones who knew the story, they didn’t sit in silence. They felt the pain of their Savior. They felt the joy when He rose from the dead.

Beautiful. Yes.

This is the story that we’re part of. This is something bigger.

To see the behind the scenes area where the film is translated, prayed over, updated… and then to know that that same week, Sarah & Kayla both had the chance to put what I saw into practice & reach dozens of people with the message of the gospel… I’m reminded of the grace & sovereignty of God.

How cool is it that he allows us to join in on something so much greater with him. Sharing the gospel, here in the United States, overseas in a village that no one has ever heard of, it doesn’t matter.  We’re part of something bigger.

As you close out your summer & look ahead to this year, what might you trust God for? What’s your something bigger that you can be a part of? Maybe you’re looking ahead to next summer, thinking that this summer wasn’t exactly what you’re looking for. Consider [already] going on a summer mission trip, giving a few weeks to share the gospel [& have fun] – internationally. Maybe you’re looking ahead to after graduation. You can be a part of sharing the gospel for a few months, for a year. Cru has internships & you could introduce students to Jesus in the US, or you can go internationally… you can even give a year to travel the world with JESUS film & be a part of seeing the unreached come to know their Savior.

I’m praying for you as the summer winds down & life starts to gear up again. We get so lost & so narrow-focused on the here & now that we too often forget that God has called us to more.  What’s the more he has for you? Ask him & listen. 

We are all Willow//Maggie

Ever since I adopted my wonderful puppy, Willow, last November, God has been using her to teach me a lot about myself and my relationship with Him. I’ll give my roommate Jocelyn the credit for coining the phrase that we say daily in our house: “we are all Willow”. Her (Willow) relationship to me has helped me put myself in her shoes…bear with me here. Willow and I have a child to master/mom relationship. I am not at all relating myself to God, because I am not perfect or even close to being like God, but it’s more that I’ve been able to look at Willow and her behaviors, and see aspects of myself in her. There are three big things that I notice about my dear pup, that I can apply to me walking with Jesus.

  1. She thinks she knows what’s best for her.

Something that I tried so hard to avoid when rescuing a dog was getting a young puppy. I wanted it to be easy, coming to me perfectly trained. I realized how selfish and unrealistic that was especially with rescue because I had no idea the life they had before they got to the shelter. The first thing Willow did when I met her was jumped and nipped me in the face. It has been a long yet rewarding process watching her learn and respond to me. Even still, she knows better when not to do things. Whenever I leave the house for a while, she will try to find anything she can eat or chew on. She knows that she shouldn’t be counter surfing, but she wants to do it, so she does, and then I come home and she is so ashamed. In my relationship with Christ, I think I know what’s best. I try to control my time and the plan for my life. I go back to things that I know is going to hurt me in the long run because it’s what I want, and then I come to God ashamed of messing up. He doesn’t want us to feel shame when we mess up. He loves us. He’s taken care of our sin on the cross. He knows what’s best for us, and we have been set free from the bondange of sin. It doesn’t have a hold over us, God still has us.

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the fruit you reap leads to holiness, and the outcome is eternal life.” Romans 6:22

We are living in the now and not yet, the process of sanctification is that, a process. When I come home and Willow can’t look at me and cowers in the corner, first, I laugh because she looks ridiculous, but then I call her into my arms and I pet her and tell her it’s ok. We think we know better, but God is the one who we can trust with our lives. God has what’s best for us. Even when it doesn’t make sense, God knows what we need that will bring us closer to Him, and help us to grow. He loves us.

  1. She lets fear consume her.

Most of these past 8 months with Willow, she freaks out if I leave her presence. When I would go get ready for the day and she’d sit out in the family room with Nayra last year, she would whine at my door just laying there wondering why in the world I left and thinking I was never returning. She couldn’t see me, so to her I was gone for good. I abandoned her in her time of need (which is always). This past year has been a really tough one emotionally. My team had experienced unimaginable loss, and it just seemed like bad things kept happening. I started to live more in fear than in peace and trust of God. As I headed to Ocean City for summer mission (which will have to be a whole other blog post), I lived in fear of the next bad thing happening. I wondered if I would experience something horrible, and I sat in that for the first couple weeks. Thankfully God was using the Word and people in my life to speak truth and encourage me so my perception of “waiting for the next shoe to drop” was removed and God gave me peace in my heart.

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’.” Romans 8:15

  1. But, she knows the sound of my voice and listens to it (mostly) because we spend so much time together.

I chose Willow to be mine, and that gave me the responsibility of loving her and raising her well. The only way she was going to listen to me and trust me was if we spent time together and I showed her how much I cared for her. She had trust issues when I first got her because the shelter picked her up after living on the street for a while. Because of the time I’ve invested in her, and because she loves me so much, she can differentiate the sound of my voice from anyone else. She recognizes me as her dog-mom. She chooses to be with me rather than other people sometimes because of who I am to her. She comes running to me when I call her.

With God, spending time in His Word is so important because that is how we get to know His voice. We have the Holy Spirit in us to guide us and teach us, but lies can get into our heart too. We can get truth and lies jumbled up if we aren’t spending time knowing God and knowing his truth. That was a theme for our women’s time in OCMD. Truths and Lies. Being able to believe truths deep down in your heart, not just as head knowledge, is key to combatting the lies we hear every day. We need to spend time with Jesus to know His voice. By knowing His voice we can cling that much harder to the truths he speaks to us in our heart when everything around us is cutting us down, telling us we are worthless and no good for anyone.

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.…”John 10:27-28

We are all Willow. We think we know what’s best for us, and we turn to fear. Thankfully God is in control. He loves us and knows what’s best. He gives us peace. We can know his voice by spending time in His Word and sitting at his feet.
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This is Willow trying to be a part of the blog writing process yesterday. What a goof. <3