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 tag “Jesus”

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.”

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.

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:

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.

Dorm Life

Living in a dorm, as we all know, has its drawbacks, but it really can be a wonderful place to temporarily reside.  Case in point: NC State University.

Sitting on trash cans with the twins…

this re-enactment is WAY cuter than the original.

Discovering sweet, surprising notes from precious suitemates : )

After M borrowed my hair dryer

Discovering sweet, surprising notes from precious Bradley : )

And oatmeal, no less…he’s good.

Eating Oatmeal.

Heaven on earth.

Eating Junior Mints from my Educational Psychology professor for perfect attendance.

Oh happy day.

…I promise I do more than eat.

Being reminded…

I made this for Bradley for Christmas!

Returning to school after Christmas break to find Lean Pockets literally frozen over…

Oh, Laura.

Playing Mario Cart in Bradley and Christian’s room.

Reading good books.

Figuring out how to use cheap vacuums (speaking of cheap vacuums…)

Studying/struggling to apply Jesus’ Word.

Finishing journals.

Discovering just how disgusting the water is…

Lord knows what those black things are…PTL for my Brita.

Losing toenails…

Still looking for that thing, Laura.

Making/receiving Valentines!

all 36!

When did conversation hearts become so hip, self-centered, and aggressive?

Early morning runs.

emphasis on the "run"--not on the "early".

Intense studying.

except when the font on our self-made study guides is too small to read...

Not pictured:  So. Much. Laughter. It’s great. Small group meetings (by far my favorite thing about my dorm room), March Madness, movie nights, letting my artistic suitemates do whatever they want with my hair (& loving it), actually studying, dancing (& lots of it), delirium, sleepovers, light-hearted conversations, deep discussions, agreements and disagreements, encouragement, tears, hurt, forgiveness and grace.

Grateful for the place God has me. He is in all and through all—I pray I continually let Him into all corners.

I am excited about NOT living in a dorm next year, however, to live with these three wonderfully fun, humbly gifted, absolutely beautiful girls who love Jesus:

taken yesterday : )

Something to Chew On: Lint Rollers

It is easy to just let people vacuum over my life.  Yes I am involved in my local church, yes I am making good grades, yes I have awesome friends and a wonderful godly man in my life…blah blah blah.

But in reality, I fail constantly at being an effective and equipping small group leader; I am not making straight A’s this semester; my friendships are encouraging and edifying, but we often do a terrible job at loving each other; my relationship with Bradley is certainly blissful and sanctifying, but it is also a cycle of loving, failing to love, repenting, apologizing, and looking to Jesus for complete satisfaction.

In reality, I am chock-full of shortcomings and sin.  I can be “sweet” or even sacrificial, but in the depths of my sinful heart, I am prideful, self-centered, and controlling of myself and other people.

There is always something to be redeemed. 

I’m doing “well” because the grace of Jesus covers all my crap—anything I do that’s “good” is because He who is good lives in me, not because I have conjured up goodness by myself.

All this was collected AFTER I vacuumed my floor...

Lint rollers are great inventions.  Not only do they get nearly every grimy, nasty hair and piece of whatevers off my dorm room floor, they also show me exactly what has been hiding—as it is contrasted to the white sticky substance.

Discipleship, accountability, coffee—call it what you like.  We, as followers of Jesus, need to be sharing our lives and hearts—our WHOLE lives and hearts—with older, godlier people (of the same gender) and believing peers.  We are weak and need other people to speak truth into our lives.

I am incredibly grateful for God-fearing girlfriends…

sweet Bradley…

and a wise woman with whom I engage in these conversations.

And we MUST be completely honest.  Otherwise we’re just chatting and flaring our personalities.

Real brokenness, conviction, confession, repentance, and healing is FAR sweeter when it is shared and urged by people around me that love me.  I need people consistently in my life with whom to share my life—thoughts, actions, passions, and situations—openly and honestly.  Those people need to love me enough to not tell me what I want to hear.  They need to be obedient in their own walk with Christ, so that they can be honest, discerning, and wise in their assessment of me and my walk with the Lord.

That’s why accountability, or even just raw honesty, is so hard—not only do you realize there’s a lot more sin there than you previously thought, but you also realize your old method wasn’t working like you thought it was.  Or you’re already aware that your method isn’t working and you’re simply refusing to walk in complete repentance/struggling obedience—which is a much scarier place to be.

Vacuums are great for giving the illusion that my floor is clean; lint rollers are great for ensuring that my floor is not completely pure.

Bubbly conversations about surface-level struggles diminish the toxicity and presence of sin and suppress the Holy Spirit’s sanctification in my life and others’ lives.

Lint rolling over my life/my heart—raw openness, humility, and awareness of sin—leads me to a deeper love for and obedience to the God of the Gospel.  When my eyes are opened to my wickedness, which is always more depraved than I think it is, it is easier to see how insanely gracious Jesus was to come and die for my depravity.

And I remember His resurrection and victorious cry: “It is finished.”

I can share my sin and shortcomings because I know how much I am loved by the all-holy God—because He loves me despite my failure.  I want to share my sin because I love Him and want to reflect Him instead of myself.

Chip the vacuum. Bring on the lint roller.

Take Note: A. W. Tozer

This past Christmas break, Bradley and I drove up to RDU early on Sunday morning to go to our church.  That particular morning, Matt Papa, a worship leader at the Summit preached. He preached Jesus–and that is what I most recall.

In the conclusion of his sermon, he quoted A. W. Tozer when he said:

“I think it would be a wonderful thing if every preacher in America would begin to preach about God and nothing else for one solid year.  Just one solid year to preach about God.  Who He is, His attributes, His perfections, His being, the kind of God He is, why we dare to trust Him, why we can trust Him, why we should trust Him, why we can love Him, why we should love Him, why we dare not fall short.  And keep on preaching on God, the triune God, and keep on until God fills the whole horizon and the whole world.  Faith would spring up like grass by the watercourses.  Then let a man get up and preach a promise and the whole congregation would say, ‘I can trust that promise; look who made it.’”

I pray that all church leaders and believers would be filled with the Holy Spirit enough so that Jesus and our desperate need for Him would be proclaimed and received–over and over again.

May “faith spring up like grass by the watercourses”; may you use us, Lord.

Something to Chew On: “Therefore”

Bradley and I were running errands last week (something that is done at our leisure over spring break), and talking in the car about verses in the Bible. Our conversations aren’t always that spiritual, it was just something that was on his mind.

I was blessed this past summer to be a part of The City Project, in which I was able to take a Christian Philosophy course through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I gained biblical and relevant wisdom and knowledge–read: It was humbling.  I distinctly remember my professor telling us that the best and worst thing we [believers] ever did was insert verses in the Bible.

Short verses are good for memorization; bad for comprehension. The large majority of Scripture are letters or stories.  They are not to be read sporatically or inadvertenly.  They are to be read and studied completely.

It would not make sense to pick up a novel and read one sentence on page 328…so why do we do this with Scripture?

Bradley joked that he loves when people–(we have both been very guilty of this in the past; we do not want to be condemning, but sanctified and wise)–quote a verse that begins with “Therefore…” Obviously that word refers to something that was previously said. We should probably read what was previously read in order to better comprehend what is about to be said.

For example: The Great Commission.

The widely accepted first word of The Great Commission is “Therefore”.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20)

However, Jesus’ first words were: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (v. 18).

By saying that “all authority” is His, Jesus exercised His authority post-resurrection.  He proved His compassion by His death on our behalf and His ultimate Lordship by His raising Himself from the dead.  I hope I never get over that.

His command for us to make disciples, to make them of all nations, and His promise that He will always be with us are legitimized by His resurrection.  This is why He has the authority to command us and the power to fulfill His promise.

Don’t quote verses that begin with “Therefore.”  Read your Bible…and see Jesus for who He is.

Spring Break Photo Recap!

Here’s a photo recap of my Spring Break:

I went home this week for a wonderful time at home.

Organizing my parents’ mail, and found my dad’s copy of the Carolina Alumni Review…sporting his favorite phrase 🙂

I drove Bradley to Whiteville to meet a friend and his dad to drive him to Durham, where he spent Thursday – Sunday doing inner-city ministry and learning from incredibly wise people. I can’t wait to read his notes!

He didn’t want to leave Gertie, his dog/first love.

She didn’t want him to leave either…

Unrestricted, unhurried time with Jesus.

One of my favorite things about coming home. Good food.

I also took Allie on a walk everyday. I called it Project: Make the Dog Not Fat.

Not pictured: Coffee dates and car rides with girlfriends.  It is so cool to see how Christ is using each of our situations to draw us further into Himself and to grow our heart for His Gospel and His mission. I am so thankful for our church in RDU, and the implications of being told again and again of our need for Jesus.

Mostly not pictured: Lots of time with my parents, grandparents, Trey and Ashley. The difficulty of loving when it is hard. (When is it easy?) And my humbled heart.

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