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}

Archive for the category “The Church”

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.”

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.

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.

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