Jars of wonderful.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God & not to us.” {2 Corinthians 4:7}

Five Favorite Finds.

This is my updated version of “Friday Finds” (don’t worry, I still have something in store for Friday, don’t fret : )
…also, I realize it is quite a feat to have five “favorites”, since the word “favorite” insinuates one.
Just go with it.
Here are my top five favorite articles that I found this week!

1) Jesus Also Had Unbelieving Family Members
via Desiring God

Jon Bloom

“Don’t give up praying for unbelieving family members.  Don’t take their resistance as the final word.  They may yet believe…”

2)  What Does it Mean to be Biblically Balanced?
Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

“…to be ‘Biblically balanced’ is NOT to allot equal airtime to every Biblical theme.”

via Desiring God
Rachel Pieh Jones

“No, brave is not the right word for parents. Dependent is.”

4)  Today Was Supposed to be My Wedding Day
via The Gospel Coalition
M. Conner

“He promises much more, and I wasn’t going to find it in a marriage with an unbeliever.”

5)  Rob Bell and the Judgmentless “Gospel”: Holy Love Wins
via The Gospel Coalition 
Trevin Wax
(I apologize for the extremely old post–but the ideas that he dismisses are unfortunately still present in the church.)

“…the judgmentless gospel is not gospel at all.  It leaves us with a diminished God and no need for grace.”

Friday Finds.

Happy Friday!

 Later this afternoon, Trey and I are driving to Raleigh to volunteer at the Matt Papa/Lecrae concert that the Summit is hosting!  

…aaaand we’re driving back tonight.  It’s gonna be a late one, folks.

But it’s summer…well, not for him. Oops. 

 

Here’s the list of five of my favorite articles I’ve read this week!

 

by my pastor, JD Greear, of The Summit Church

“We are to lead in being good neighbors to all in our community, especially our gay community.”

by Larissa Murchy, via Desiring God

Fortunately, our hope is that we’ve also wathed all of these alongside Jesus, who is our own man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).  So we have not walked it alone.”

Jen Wilkin of The Village Church

“If our exposure to it fails to result in transformation, particularly over the course of years, there are surely only two possible reasons why: either our Bible studies lack true converts, or our converts lack true Bible study.”

Trisha Wilkerson, via The Resurgence 

“Before long, we’ve created an alternate world for our ‘best self,’ an ideal we’ll never live up to.”

5)    Where Are All the Women Apologists?

Jonalyn Fincher, via Hermenutics

“‘Christian apologetics…will need women skilled in Islamic apologetics to speak with Muslim women, to go where Christian men cannot.'”

What are some insightful articles you’ve read recently?

Gospel Summit

Last Thursday and Friday (yes, in the middle of final exams…our church is just way more fun than school), Bradley and I attended The Gospel Summit.

Our church put on a conference for church leaders about how to let the Gospel permeate every ministry, every heart, and the church as a whole.

It was warm outside.

PTL for AC.

I learned a lot about college ministry, being a wife, church planting, church organization, and the weighty role of a pastor.

I came away from the conference edified, blessed, and challenged–about my future and about my present.

Here are some of my notes from the talks I went to:

THURSDAY

Our pastor opened the conference:

“Marks of a Gospel-Centered Church”

  • The mission of the church–> (Acts 1:8) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
  • We are witnesses.
  • When people stand in awe of God’s grace to them, this is what happens:
    • Evangelistic Effectives AND Doctrinal Depth
    • The Presence of God
    • Fervent, Faith-filled [believing] Prayer
    • Empowered Members
    • Extravagant Generosity–“Generosity is the best apologetic for the veracity of the Gospel.”

First Breakout Session:

“College Ministry: Turning Atheists into Church Planters”

  •  Pursue them on their turf–then they see that Christianity is not something you turn on & turn off.
  • Community of believers is one of your most powerful evangelistic tools.
  • Once a Christian, bring them along in ministry immediately.
  • Disciple them.

Extremely convicting and motivating for me as a college student.  Am I seeking lost people?

Tony Merida, Pastor of Imago Dei Church

“Christ-Centered Preaching”


  • Make the hero of the Bible (Jesus) the hero of your message.
  • Satan is not concerned with moralism, he just doesn’t want us to preach Jesus.
  • [Your preaching must be] Wider; deeper; more responsible.
  • People may say that hearing about the Cross every week will get old–I say, does hearing your wife say she loves you ever get old?
  • Proclaim the facts: Jesus rose; He is alive; the tomb is empty; the throne is occupied.
  • Preach Christ until you die, and then worship Him forever.

FRIDAY

Second Breakout Session:

Veronica Greear & Jen Thompson

“For Pastor’s Wives: Balancing Family & Ministry”

These cute signs were one every table 🙂

  • When you say ‘yes’ to something, you are saying ‘no’ to something else.
  • There should be white space in your calendar–you need margin.
  • Have wise, godly council to talk about your marriage.
  • You will never regret honoring and choosing your husband.
  • Until your children are saved, you have pagans living in your home. Your primary ministry is in your home.
  • Figure out what your husband wants, and do it well.
  • Make ministry fun for your family.

Third Breakout Session:

Tony Merida & Nathan Akin

“The Nuts & Bolts of How to Plant a Gospel-Centered Church”

  • Plant with a team
  • Invest in the core team
  • Set clear expectations for potential members
  • Plant the church you’ve always wanted to go to
  • Don’t give leadership away too quickly
  • Start small groups soon and invest in small group leaders
  • Teach your people to be missionaries
  • Expect support from unlikely partners
  • Lead from the pulpit
  • Be sensitive to the unchurched
  • Don’t be surprised when people leave

JD Greear

“Creating a Sending Culture in Your Church”

  •  God builds the church.
  • The Great Commission is not a calling for some but a mandate for all.
  • The church is not an audience but an army.
  • The best pastors are those who build up other leaders.
  • Be courageous on God’s grace.
  • Once a Christian is soaked from the blood of Jesus & the stench of Hell is in his nostrils, you don’t need to preach evangelism.
  • Rest on God’s great compassion for His church. It is bigger than you, it didn’t start with you, and it will not end with you.
  • Focus more on what Jesus has done for you and less on what you are to do for Him.

Needless to say, I walked away more worshipful of Jesus and more charged to make Him known.

After the conclusion of the conference Bradley and I hung out with a couple we hope to emulate.  What a blessing to spend time with older, wiser council to help us see how we can see Jesus as bigger and thus surrender more and more of us for His mission.

I am anxious to see how God will love, challenge, test, and use us this summer, throughout the duration of our time as college students, and for the rest of our lives.

Jesus, You are on the throne.  All the universe pants for You.  You allow me to join in Your deserved praise.

You are worth it all.  You are better.

Crying in Public & a Heart for Lost People

I went to the library earlier this afternoon to write a paper, and instead ended up praying and dwelling on Scripture (common occurrence)—but so is reading other blogs, blogging, pinteresting, excessively writing in my planner, and making lists.  Type A, I know.
I was sitting at a table by myself in a small common area.  There was minimal chatter and lots of goose bumps.  Our library is freezing.
A group of students convened to work on a group project at a larger table to my forefront; one student was blind and had a guide dog accompanying him.
Once about half an hour passed, I finally collected myself after shedding several tears over God’s heart for a group of people I love—I’m accustomed to crying in public; I do it so often it’s hardly embarrassing anymore.
The group disassembled and the student who was blind stood up and began to leave the table.  The walkway was short before he had to turn right to descend the stairs and exit the library.  However, as he made his way down the walkway, his guide dog didn’t make him turn right, and the student walked directly into another student who was working at another table.  The collision was audible and my heart broke for the blind student’s embarrassment.
The student quickly found his way around the corner, down the stairs, and practically ran out of the double doors—only heightening the number of eyes on him.
Since I had been crying only a couple of minutes beforehand, I proceeded to march myself to the bathroom, as I was a basket case.  I wanted to glare at every person that was staring at the student, as if that would alleviate his humiliation and make me feel better.  I’m glad that I didn’t.  I’m half as bold as I think myself to be—even if it’s about chastisement.
Here comes the analogy…

Does my heart break for spiritually blind people?  Do I weep at the sight of a person who does not know and love Jesus Christ as Lord?  Am I filled with sorrow when I see a nonbeliever “collide” with their sin and disappointments and their lack of a God to seek for security and atonement?
The funny thing is, I was dwelling on Psalm 126 when I was praying a few moments before the incident (and had even shared it with a friend this morning!).
“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’  The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.  Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb!  Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (v. 1-6, ESV).

Jesus has graciously granted me undeserved salvation, so I am joyful and glad and tell others that “The Lord has done great things” for me.  But I also go “out weeping” because others do not know Jesus, and I bear “the seed for sowing.”  Because I know of God’s goodness to me displayed on the Cross, where He stood in my place and paid my punishment for my sin, there is a internal, produced desire to share the Gospel with people who do not know/believe it.
I don’t just want people to know about Jesus—I want them to experience the joy of being freely forgiven.
The Psalm concludes with the coolest assurance—those who desire and labor for the salvation of nonbelievers “shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”  If my heart is joyful at Jesus’ sacrifice on my behalf and breaking for people who do not believe the Truth of His message, He is faithful to use me in the salvation of others.

Wonderful Wednesday.

I GET TO GO HOME TODAY!!!!!

After my last class today that dismisses at 2:45, Bradley and I are headed home for Easter!  I miss my family so much.  It feels like we’re going on a vacation every time we pack up the car and head down I-40 East.

More on the wonderful-ness of this week, posted on Wednesday!

Wonderful Song:
Ben Rector, “Loving You is Easy”
Such a cute song, and then someone from the audience gave him the subject of “cats” on which to improv for the third verse.  Just watch.
Wonderful Scripture: 
Revelation 21:1-8

Wonderful Friend: 
I have a new roommate, Rebekah! We are both very thankful she is now living with me : ) I found this sweet note on my desk on Tuesday, the afternoon of the day she moved in:

Wonderful Picture:
I found honeysuckles on campus last Thursday and enjoyed a snack:

Wonderful Pin:

but for real…I would not stop talking.

Wonderful Food:
Monday afternoon I walked to Cup-a-Jo to work and enjoyed black coffee, hummus on a wheat bagel (why hasn’t this been a part of my life until now?), and silly conversation with the stranger that sat at the table with me.

Bradley/City Project

READ THIS.
This is my sweet boyfriend. He is indeed sweet, but he is also fervently passionate, wonderfully patient (especially with me), and absolutely sinful–but the best thing about him is that Jesus gave up His righteousness for Bradley.  All Brad did was become aware of it and desire it.
The Lord has, in the past 9 months, taken Brad’s life, plans, and mindset, and turned it on its head (and is doing the same thing in me currently).  Watching God move in him has been one of the most humbling things I’ve experienced, and has made me worship Jesus vastly more than I did before this happened.  How the Lord will use Brad’s career is unknown.  Thankfully, he is an example to me of how to relinquish control in this area of life–read: I love to control my life.  
Brad, while he has much to grow in and learn and refine, has been given passions and skills that align with pastoral ministry.  He is seeking counsel and discipleship from older and wiser pastors and laymen that speak truth and wisdom into his life.  He did not experience an epiphany-like “calling” from the Lord to enter ministry, but instead his heart has been, and is, rejoicing at his own salvation and breaking for those who do not know the One for whom they were created.  Jesus is constantly tearing at Brad’s and my notions of what ministry is and how that will play out in our lives.  Brad is zealous for the hearts and lives of college students and loves big cities–where a lot of young people congregate.  He is taking steps to prepare to be a part of a church plant/plant a church and be a college pastor/pastor.
I first ask that you be praying for him–that Jesus would continually become bigger to him so that his humility would increase and his sin would become more and more distasteful.  Pray that the extent of his trust in Jesus and his hatred of sin would increase in light of the grace lavished on him by the Gospel.
Secondly, he is going to be spending his summer participating in a discipleship program for college students, The City Project, through our church, The Summit. He will ministering to Muslims (mostly) in Queens, NY, living in downtown Durham, NC, being discipled by pastors, ministering to Durham locals, doing two internships (one in the church, one with a nonprofit organization–both currently unknown), taking a seminary class, and carrying the message and mission of Jesus to Taiwan.
Participating in any one of these opportunities would be wonderful, but to be able to get a taste of multiple types of ministry in one summer, especially for a man who is seeking full-time ministry, is a phenomenal blessing.
In order to participate in The City Project, Brad needs to raise $4,500 by the end of May.  That is a lot of money.  But 5 dollars, 25 dollars, 100 dollars goes a long way, even just emotionally.  If you would like to financially support him, simply write a check, addressed to The Summit Church, and send it to the church office:
The Summit Church
2335-114 Presidential Dr.
Durham, NC 27703
Also make sure you write in the subject line:  City Project: Brad Johnson
He would also love to talk to you more about it.  If you’re interested, you can email him at: bdjohns6@ncsu.edu
Or you and I can chat! Email me at: kjwilliford@gmail.com
Prayer is most powerful tool we possess.  I am believing God on behalf of Brad’s support-raising process.

Sunshine Blog Award!

NanaDoll nominated me for the Sunshine Award!  I don’t know anything about blog awards, but here are the rules:

      • Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog
      • Answer 10 questions about yourself
      • Nominate 10-12 other fabulous bloggers
      • Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated
      • Share the love and link the person who nominated you!
I am extremely flattered that she nominated me–thank you so much!  Check out her precious blog: http://momtoldmetowriteabook.wordpress.com/ 
So let’s get to it:
  1. The more godly I become, the more I realize how wickedly sinful I am.
  2. Next year I am going to live with the three sweetest girls I know: Laura, Morgan and Haley (the twins!).
  3. This past summer, through The City Project, a discipleship summer program through The Summit Church, I had not other choice but to was awakened to the magnitude and intimacy of the Gospel–and how that changes the way I live, serve, and think about Jesus.
  4. Last summer I learned the vitality of being willing to “go” missionally, and now I am learning the vitality of being willing to give missionally.
  5. I decided last semester that I want to serve Jesus with a career as a biblical counselor.
  6. Bradley and I met freshman year of high school, started dating December 19th of our junior year of until this past August, we broke up, and he started courting me for marriage on November 11th–redemption is a recurring theme in our hearts, lives, and relationship.
  7. Bradley and I, once we are married, want to plant a church, go to seminary, and adopt.
  8. Coffee dates do wonders for relationships.
  9. I love healthy food–I just eat a lot of it.
  10. I am a horrendous singer, yet both of my parents have beautiful voices.
Fabulous bloggers you should know:

Fun Friday!

Yesterday was so fun!! It was MUCH prettier outside than it is right now…

Morgan, Haley, 3mma (not a misspelling), Christian (Bradley’s roommate), and I all went to a farm that’s down the street from M & H’s house!  The farm is owned by NC State and it’s open to the public once a year.

Driving up to the farm, we immediately saw cows!
Walking up to the farm…we are the only people here who are neither under the age of ten nor parents.
The girls.
We (the girls) LOVED this bright red barn door. Perfect for pictures…Thanks Christian.
First thing I saw when we entered: a turkey.
Then we headed straight for the baby chicks!
3mma holding it! There’s a (sort of) picture of Christian!
It was so tiny!
Probably my favorite picture of the day…just look at that poor chick with its feet in the air. I was dying.
There was a gorgeous, friendly horse.
And cute little girls trying to reach him.

Beef Cattle.
No, I’m serious.  Good thing I don’t eat red meat.
There were some cows off in the distance…
And this Chick-fil-a cow was staring them down hard.
Then he turned around and said hey to the kids.

The pigs were so awkward.
And they’re names weren’t a joke.
Actually, this might be my favorite picture–because of the ridiculous child leash, of course.
There was a one-month-old goat. Cutest thing ever.
Bradley’s favorite animal is a goat, and the baby goat tried to kiss me on the cheek…watch out.
Sweet Morg & me.
NC State produces their own Howling Cow ice cream. They were handing it out for FREE.
Silliness in the back seat.
Sad to leave 😦 …and we can thank the disgusting pollen everywhere for the dirty windshield and funny-looking picture.
After the farm, I went to lunch with a friend–a three-hour lunch. Those are the best.
This is what I found on my desk:
I have the sweetest friends.
The twins and I went to Whole Foods for dinner, yay!
I always get way too much food. This is what I took home:
Did you do something fun yesterday?

Something to Chew On: “Trust Issues”

“I have trust issues…”

How often have girls said or heard this phrase?  What does this reveal about the heart of the person who stated it?

I think it’s a cover-up; a wall.  Girls use it all the time to create spiritual and/or emotional distance.

Essentially, we don’t want people to know us.  We know us, and we know it’s not pretty.  It’s much easier and more enjoyable for people to think we aren’t struggling; we don’t doubt; we don’t really sin.

Before I continue, I am not just talking about girls not wanting to scream, “I LOVE YOU!” to their first boyfriend a week after dating–that’s called common sense.  I’m talking about girls, specifically, who only want to vacuum and never lint roll.

They run at the sound of any question about their relationship with their boyfriend–especially any question about the physicality of their relationship. What is behind this defense-mechanism is shame.

Of course they know that they are in sin, so they’re ashamed–but they don’t see Jesus as the ultimate rescuer, and so they refuse to let anyone in who might help them come to the throne empty-handed yet totally righteous.

And how do I know about all these defense-mechanisms?  Because I used them too.  Although I’ve never used the exact term “trust issues”, I have absolutely been guilty of making excuses for withholding truth about my relationships, my struggles, my doubts, and my heart–and it was stifling to my walk with Jesus and to my sanctification.  In fact, becuase I was consistently unopened, it made crawling out of my habitual sin much more difficult.

By the grace of God alone, that period of time in my life did not last long–but it was certainly painful (so much so, that it nearly brings me to tears every time I think about how much I distanced myself from Jesus…not that tearing up is an uncommon thing for me). And I am so thankful that my sin was brought to light, addressed, and redeemed.

“‘…do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him.  For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.’  It is for discipline that you have to endure.  God is treating you as sons.  For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”

{Hebrews 12:5-7}

I know several girls who deal with “trust issues” in conjunction with seeing their fathers as lacking.  Absence, rejection, and sin of fathers often correlates with girls who cling to their boyfriends (and hurry to find another one after a break-up), and ferociously push away any accountability or honesty from other women/girls.

As we all know, correlation does not equal causality. And as Jesus tells us, sin done to us does not equal the right to sin–just look at the Cross for that one.  Was/Is Jesus sinned against?  Constantly by every person who ever lived, is living, and will live.  Did he sin?  Not at all.  Did he even go so far as to pay the price for all that wickedness?  It was His joy.

“Jesus…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.”

{Hebrews 12:2}

So let me be clear:  No girl has an excuse to desire a boyfriend/husband more than Jesus; no girl has the right to blame their father for their “trust issues”.

However…

Thank you, Daddy, for staying in our home, for never rejecting me, for being absolutely sinful and humbly  repentant (and forgiving).  You always used to tell me that you loved me but loved Mommie the most.  My pride was always a little crushed and I honestly was confused by it–but now (I think) I understand.

You show me how my husband is supposed to think about me.  You show me how my husband is supposed to love his children.  You show me how my husband is supposed to labor arduously for our family (parents, in-laws, nieces, nephews, siblings, wife, and children).  You show me how to seek Jesus after death has, very literally, stared you in the face.

I am grateful to witness your sin, experience your love and sacrifice, and be a product of your marriage.  Thank you for not giving me a reason to withhold my heart from honest accountability.  Thank you for not giving me “trust issues” with which to struggle.

You give me reasons to look to Jesus for complete satisfaction, and I wouldn’t trade you for the world.  I am so glad God gave me to you.

Take Note: Tim Keller

My pastor often refers to Dr. Keller as “Yoda”. I wouldn’t disagree.

Tim’s points:

– All religions cannot be equally right–Christianity is either false and irrelvant or true.

– All religions cannot be equally wrong–there is a single truth.  Stating that no religion has all the “parts” of “truth” is a claim of truth in and of itself.

“A fact isn’t narrow…it’s a fact that you’re going to wither and die if you don’t eat.  It’s not narrow, it’s just a fact.  And if Jesus Christ is the Son of God, your soul will shrivel without Him, and you’ll die.  And that’s not narrow, it’s just a fact.”

“What you really need in this world is people who’ve got an exclusive truth that humbles them.”

Yoda, I tell ya.

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