Dear Freshman Year Me | Engage

Dear Freshman Year Me | Engage

Dear freshman Sarah,

I know this year has been hard. I know it has not been what you wanted, and I know that you aren’t where you thought you would be. I wish I could tell you just how wonderful your college experience is going to shape up to be. You can’t see it now, but you’re on an uphill climb that is taking you to some pretty great places and people. Don’t get discouraged just yet.

If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be to engage. I know that it’s easy for you to check out or to numb out the feelings that you’re having. I know that it seems like it’s making things better for you, because it’s self-protecting in a way. I’m here to tell you that it’s incredibly important to check IN to what is going on around you. You are surrounded by people who love you and want to know you. They value your friendship, and they are trustworthy. Your life will be more fun when you decide to show up with your friends. I challenge you to engage with the feelings you have when things are hard too. Contrary to what you know, it’s actually not good to sweep all your feelings under the rug. I know that it is hard to break that habit, but the sooner you do the sooner your life will move from being muted to being really colorful. Talk to people about what’s going on, because they’re more willing to listen than you think. I can also tell you with absolute certainty that the best thing you could do right now would be to engage with God. If I was sitting next to you, I might give you a loving shake and tell you that. He is so kind and loving, and He longs for you to talk to Him. He is not intimidated by all the stuff you have hidden under the rug. He will meet you where you are. He will cry with you and laugh with you and take you by the hand and lead you to better places. You can trust Him.

You’re gonna figure most of this stuff out on your own, because you’re smart and scrappy, but that doesn’t mean that you have to do it on your own. You’re about to spend your first full summer working at Glisson. It will be the best, and you will make lifelong friends. They’re the real deal, so invest in those relationships. You will meet the most amazing children. They will show you what it looks like to be hungry for God, to ask questions, and to encounter the Holy Spirit in the funniest things. Take it all in. You’re equipped to care for them and to lead them. You don’t know it yet, but next spring you’ll be at UGA. It will be very different from UNG and CSU. You’re gonna go to this thing called Wesley. It’s weird at first, because it’s loud and crowded and not like camp in the slightest. Give it a chance, because God isn’t confined to campfires and mountains (although he shows up there for sure). You’re about to get rocked - it’s gonna be wild, it’s gonna be great.

Alexa, play Farther Along by Josh Garrels.

Love,

Sarah, age 24



Dear Freshman Year Me | You are Valuable

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Dear Freshman Year Me | You are Valuable

If I could I tell my freshman self one thing it would be that you are valuable because God says you are. For most of my life, under the surface I never really believed this. It would be hard to notice, but if you really got a close look at my heart, much of what I did was influenced by this deep fear of not being good enough. I placed pressure on myself to make sure people liked me and wanted to be around me. I needed it because I wanted to feel validated by others. At times it would create an intense feeling of anxiety because normal situations had such high stakes when it felt like my worth was on the line.

There was such an intense fear of rejection and fear of man that can from the lie that my worth and value was up for grabs. But truly, God is the only one who has the authority to determine my value. He decided that to Him I was worth the cross of Jesus. Over time, I have discovered and am still discovering areas of my life where I look to find value in people or things other than Jesus. It never works, and it is certainly an unstable source of validation. I am humbled and so deeply transformed by the truth that God actually values me. It seems simple because it is. But it has had the most profound effect on my life.

For you, my prayer is that you know you are valuable because God says you are. Not because of what you do. Or what you didn’t do. Or because of your influence. Or because people like you or don’t like you. Or because of anything else. You are valuable because God says you are. And nothing in this world gets the authority to tell you otherwise. You don’t have to earn God’s love. You don’t have to prove yourself to Him. In fact, in reality He is trying to prove you to you. He wants you to know what He really thinks about you. I pray that you sit in silence and allow God to uncover who you truly are piece by piece. You are so valuable to Him.

-Tim

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Dear Freshman Year Me | Don't Settle

Dear Freshman Year Me | Don't Settle

When I initially thought about writing this, I asked some people what they would say to their freshmen selves so I could get some ideas to brainstorm. Some wished they could go back to freshmen year and do it all over again. Others are thankful that they got to learn through the process of not knowing exactly how to “do freshmen year well.” Here are a few thoughts I got from just a few people during a short road trip:

  • Do things because you want to, not because other people want to.

  • Trust your gut (aka the holy spirit).

  • Stop trying to be cool.

  • You don’t know everything.

  • Anxiety will end.

  • Figure out where you wanna invest your time and then do that.

  • Stop trying to impress people.

  • Go to class.

  • Carry an umbrella in your bookbag...make sure it works.

I realized later that night that I asked that question with the intention of the audience being incoming freshmen. What would I have wanted to know going INTO freshman year of college? Y’all aren’t incoming freshmen. You’ve done this thing. So while most of these are tips that I honestly could give to any person at any stage of life, I’m now thinking about what I would want to tell freshman me, nine months into the adventure.

So summer’s quickly approaching (seriously, it will be here it like 4 minutes...you’ll know what I’m talking about once you experience it). While some of you are pumped ‘cause you got amazing summer plans, others of you might be nervous ‘cause you’re not quite sure what the summer will look like for you. You heard Daniel talk about this at last Freshley of the semester. He asked y’all to think about what God has started in you this year, what you’ve learned about God, and what you’ve learned about yourself. All this to say, y’all got plenty to think about and reflect on about this past year.

But enough about you guys!! What would want to tell myself in April of 2015?

;)

Hey freshman KB,

Don’t settle.

This year was really good for you. God gave you a new name. He restored hope and spoke identity over you. You prayed for Christian community and He gave you it. You learned a lot, that’s for sure. But please, don’t settle for any of that. Praise God and grow your heart of gratitude every single day, but don’t for a minute think that God was confined to encountering you in athens this year.  He hasn’t left you to carry on with your life running off of the fuel that you gained throughout these last nine months.

The scriptures and truths that God revealed to you this year? Declare them every single day this summer.

The identity that you’ve stepped into of being a daughter of a loving Father? Show off that new self to your family and high school friends. They’ll be weirded out for like 2 seconds (maybe a little longer), then they’ll get used to it. It’s worth it.

The friends you’ve made through freshley and your sorority? Be super intentional with them. FaceTime them, road trip to them, tell them you’re praying for them and then actually do it.

And ask for more. Ask God to not only help you maintain your desire to pursue Him, but to actually increase your hunger and thirst for Him. He’s more than willing to show up over and over and over again. While it’s easy to believe that you gotta put your pursuit of God on hold for a couple months, God really wants to encounter you this summer. This time away from people that you’ve grown to know and love will be difficult. They won’t be in the dorm next door, or the house down the road, and it’s gonna suck. But it’s really really good at the same time. Take this opportunity take initiative to pursue God because you want to pursue God, not because you’re being encouraged by the people around you to do it.

Don’t settle for what you’ve experienced this year. God has so much more for you. Ask Him to show up for you, to move in your family, to provide for you and to teach you. Expect for Him to be good.

Don’t settle.

Don’t settle.


Don’t settle.


It’s not worth it.

I’m proud of you. And don’t worry about the future, dude. I’m doing great.

Love,

Me, at 23



Dear Freshman Year Me | No Regrets

Dear Freshman Year Me | No Regrets

Dear Freshmen Adam,

You don’t know everything. You never will. You can’t see the full picture right now. That’s not the point. You look at life as if it’s something you have to figure out so that you don’t get hurt or left behind, but really you were created to live out the things that scare you the most. You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that the most important thing in life is to exchange love with your Maker and the people He made, but I’m not worried because you’ll find out soon enough.

I don’t think it’d do you any good for me to just give you all the do’s and don’ts because that’s what you get hung up on already. “I should do this.” “I shouldn’t do that.” You’re living life afraid, Adam. Trying to figure things out from afar. Expecting yourself to be perfect at things before you ever even try them. There’s this heavy yoke around your neck because you put it there. Nobody else did. I give you permission to look like an idiot. I give you permission to fail at things multiple times without every succeeding. I give you permission to step into a group of strangers and trust that they want you there. People want to know who you are, because you’re already good and amazing. Let them know you. They’ll be better for it. They don’t expect you to have all the answers to stop expecting that of yourself.

You’re about to enter into one of the most difficult times of your life. But again, I’m not going to tell you what to do. Let God show you how to be fully human. Let Him Shepherd your soul and comfort your heart. You’ll learn to lean on Him. You’ll learn that He speaks. Show yourself grace. God has given you grace in place of grace. It’s your life’s aim to receive that grace every day. You cannot live without it. God’s grace is to you as bread and water is to your body. Your life will be marked and sustained by the grace of God. Don’t trick yourself into living self-sufficiently. Thinking you don’t need something as lowly as grace. You’re in constant need of it. Receive it.

You’ve been set apart. Not to do great things though. You’ve been set apart to become a part of a family. You’ve been set apart to know your Father. You’ve been set apart to bring other people into your family. Make it your life aim to exchange love with your family and to make it bigger and more unified. Your calling isn’t tied up in your major, your job or your future wife. Choose to be with people more than you choose to get things done or do school work. Go have some fun and make some messes. Learn as much as you can but don’t think for a second that your intellect is your identity. So be willing to admit when you’re wrong and when you’re in over your head. Last of all, don’t be afraid. God is closer than you think.

I love you. God loves you. People love you. Love yourself. Love God. Love People.

Love,

Adam



Dear Freshman Year Me | You have big things to come!

Dear Freshman Year Me | You have big things to come!

Dear freshmen year me:

I know that right now things seem weird. You’re in that in between of letting go of your old life but also not yet fully understanding what this new life with God is going to look like. Let me tell you: this life with God is going to be incredible and soooo worth it.


I know that you are SO excited about God right now and everything He is doing in your life. Hold onto that excitement. You don’t have to strive, but also let that fire burn within you. There’s no need to put it out.

In the excitement of these new beginnings with God, I know that you keep thinking: How can it get better than this? What more could I want?

To that I say: You’re just dipping your toe in the water. You’re experiencing the full reality of the water, and you’re so aware of how it feels on your feet, and you can see its beauty, but dang there’s so much to come. You’re going to keep wading into that water and experiencing more and more and more and more and more and more of God. And it’s going to be good.

I don’t want to tell you every single way it’s going to be good because I want you to experience the surprise. I want you to know the absolute joy it is to seek God out. But I’ll tell you a few things:

  • Freshley Prayer is absolutely going to rock your world next year. It will be one of the very best things that has ever happened to you. God will meet you there, and you will be forever changed by His presence and His goodness.

  • Those journal entries where you pray and pray and pray to God for those friendships that you really long for… those prayers will be answered. And it’ll be in the best, most unexpected ways.

  • I know that there have been some hard things in your life. It’s going to be so cool, and so sweet, but God is going to redeem those situations and mindsets. You won’t even be looking for it, but He’s going to do it.

Also, here’s a little advice:

  • DO NOT SETTLE. When the people around you tell you to settle for less than the good things that God has for you, don’t listen to them. Look at the crown of worthiness that God has placed upon your head, and KNOW that that is for you.

  • Do the hard things. Have the hard conversations. Hard conversations are good for everyone. And best yet, they’re full of love.

  • Do not give up. When every direction points to giving up, just don’t do it. Give it up to God, but do not give up your hope.

  • God will answer His promises to you. He just will :)

  • Continue to show up. Even when it’s hard. Even when you feel like your presence doesn’t matter. Show up. You being there matters.

  • I am giving you permission now to know that God loves you. People love you. You bring value to the table. Be confident. Go up to people. Talk to the people you know and those you don’t. Don’t short people of who you are. Be brave. And love yourself. You’re fun, and you’re a good friend :)

I want you to know that if you just keep saying yes to God, it’s going to be good. Just because it’s hard, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And just because it’s hard, it doesn’t mean it’s not good. He’s going to meet you there. God is all sorts of wrapped up in your story. It’s really fun. He’s really fun. I’m proud of where you began. God is waaaayyy more proud of you than I could ever be. Your life is going to be reeealll fun. I love you a lot. And God loves you infinitely more.

I’m excited for you to find out the adventures that are ahead of you. But you’ll know what they are in due time.

Love you.

Love,

Hannah, age 23



Dear Freshman Year Me | You Can Trust God

Dear Freshman Year Me | You Can Trust God

Dear Freshmen Natalie,

God loves you so much. He has seen every part of your story. He has been with you when you have felt alone, when you have felt rejected, and when you felt like no one really knew or understood you. He is the most loving Father and the most accepting Friend. You can trust him with every single part of you; the parts you aren’t proud of, the parts you are scared to show, and the parts that need His love.

You will find your people. You will find your place. You will find your voice. You will not live silenced much longer. More importantly than all of that, you will find God. You will know Him deeply. HIs voice will be your guide. You will believe Him for crazy, impossible things. You will learn How to trust Him deeply. The biggest thing I can tell you is to trust that God is writing your story. I know you have heard this before but looking back over the last six years I know that it is true. All you have to do is be faithful and seek him with all of your heart. I firmly believe and know that He will take care of all the rest.

God will heal you and He will do it in the most crazy unexpected of ways. He will give you people who believe better both for you and about you. He will go to the greatest of lengths to prove His love for you. You are so incredibly worth it.

Love,

Present Day Natalie



He is worth it. Just be faithful and seek Him.

The biggest thing I have learned both throughout college and then the couple of years after here at Wesley is that God is always, always worth it. As a freshmen, I had so much fear as to what my future would actually look like. I struggled with the need to control and a lot of striving, but God has been faithful to show my over and over again that He writes my story and that He has so many good things for me. I know that this is something that we hear often. I know as a freshman I heard it all the time. Trust God! He is good! It took me a while to reconcile this truth with all of the decisions I had to make and everything in front of me that felt so overwhelming, but the truth is just that you don’t have to build your future. All God requires of you is that you be faithful and seek Him. That is literally it. He will absolutely take care of the rest. I promise and so does He.

He sees. He knows.

One story in the bible that speaks so deeply to me is the story of Hagar. While I am not a cast out servant stranded in the wilderness expecting a child, there is something so deeply pure about this story. Hagar cried out to God and he showed up for her. In Genesis 16, Hagar says, “I have seen the one who sees me.” Here she gives God the name, El Roi, or the God who sees. How powerful is that statement? If I could tell my freshman self anything, It would be that God sees you. He has seen your past. He sees what you are currently facing and He sees the future. He will not leave your side. He is the most understanding God and He will take care of you.

-Natalie

Dear Freshman Year Me | Don't Waste Your Time

Dear Freshman Year Me | Don't Waste Your Time

Dear Freshmen Year Avery,

Don’t waste the opportunity you have. Look around. You are at a university campus surrounded by an incredibly diverse group of people who have a wide spectrum of ideas and beliefs. You have a unique potential for relationships with people very unlike you. More than likely, you will never be so surrounded by this amount of agnostics, atheists, muslims, buddhists, and many others who are all curious, inquisitive, and open to discussion. All these students are trying to find out who they are and who they want to be. You will likely never have this situation again. So I ask, what type of people are you around? Is it only Christians involved with Wesley and maybe Young Life or Cru? Do you have a “token non-Christian friend”? Don’t get me wrong, Christian community is of HUGE importance and we need to be poured into. But for what? We are to be poured into so that we can pour out to others. We receive so that we can give it away. Get out of your comfort zone and share the gospel. Jesus commanded us to share the gospel with those around us. This is why we live. This is our mission, and you are currently in an extremely fertile field of people looking for truth. Commit to Christian community. If that’s at Wesley, commit to Wesley. At the same time, do not neglect those who are spiritually dead around you. God has so much more for you than a worship service twice a week. Live with your eyes open, and notice the people around you!

Sincerely,

Modern Day Avery

So I’m pretty harsh on freshman year me, but this is because I was so hard headed. I was scared but would never admit it. The world around me could be burning, but I would still just keep smiling like nothing was wrong. The reality that people around me did not know Jesus didn’t hit me in the way it should. What was I doing about it? I got caught up for about two years, completely ensnared by the Wesley-bubble. God lifted my head up one day and I saw the reality of a wasted platform. God had given me influence, but I was not stewarding it well. I want to encourage you to plug into strong Christian community. Simultaneously, seek ways to pursue those who don’t know Jesus. This way, you will be walking in obedience and truly loving this campus! Please ask God for opportunities for you to share the gospel.

PS.- If you think you’re not ready to share the gospel, or dont think you're equipped, I disagree. You have a story, and also God lives in you (if you are a Christian). This is enough equipping in my book. Yes, pursue more knowledge and growth. But do not let the fear of being incapable hold you back from the life God has called you to live.

-Avery



Dear Freshman Year Me | People Matter

Dear Freshman Year Me | People Matter

Freshman year Nick,

Open yourself up and never stop being vulnerable with people. There isn’t a certain level of vulnerability that you reach and then you can stop being honest with people. Never stop processing with people and surrounding yourself with people who genuinely listen and respond to you. There is always more of God to be had. At no point in your life, but especially as a college student, will you have “made it” fully. God always has more to give you. He has more for you in the way you live your life. He has more for you in the way you understand and experience Him. Make complacency an enemy in your life and fight it with everything you have. Keep moving forward.

Don’t replace having friends with getting to know God as friend. Let your friendships be an addition to your relationship with Jesus, not a replacement. Take time to be alone with God and process what you are thinking and feeling with Him. It is in the context of community that your life will continue to be changed, but if your community isn’t leading you to be more personal with Jesus, there has been a disconnect somewhere. Don’t forget that community isn’t only for the purpose of your fulfillment, but also for you to pour yourself out into. Don’t overlook the needs of the people you are close to. Don’t overlook the needs of the people you pass on an everyday basis. The Christians around you are hungry for more of God, whether they know it or not. The people you pass on a daily basis are hungry for more of God, whether they know it or not. You have the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit inside of you. Let that come out in the way you talk to people and treat people.

If you ever feel like you are stuck, or don’t know what to do next, do whatever you think would be a good means to know God more. Meet with people to sing and worship. Continue to be taught be people older than you. Ask for prayer. Get real with people you trust. Read a book that challenges you. Go through a book of the Bible. Take the things that most people know Christians do, and instead of doing it for the sake of religion, do it in the name of Jesus so that the Holy Spirit can empower you more.


-Nick of today



Values | Excellence in Everything

Values | Excellence in Everything

When you are working, what is your motivation? Is it fear or praise of man? Wanting to impress the people around you? Wanting to earn favor from God?

I get that. Often when I am doing work, I am tempted to do it for reasons that are ultimately fruitless. However, I believe that when we do things out of a love for God and out of a place of honor, then things shift.

When we do things out of fear or for praise from man, even if we do our best, we can end of disappointed. Because if we do what we know is good or our best and someone is disappointed in it, we still fall short.

When we do things wanting to earn favor or love from God, we are totally missing the mark. Because 1) God is so great and powerful and big, that we could never actually do something that would earn His love. It will always fall short. 2) God is SO good and SO kind though, that we have full and complete access to His love and admiration. So, there is never a reason for us to have to earn His love.

HONOR

However, we can do things out of love and honor. Whenever I’m doing pretty much anything, I tend to do my best work when I remember God. When I simply remember that the things that I am doing are marked by God, I want to do them well because I love Him. I want to bring honor and glory to His name because He is so worth it. But then when I also realize that I don’t have to earn His affection, I am able to work hard without fear of failure. I can work in excellence without fear of not reaching it.

When we operate in love, it’s easy to operate out of honor. When I am working in any context, I want to honor God. Because I love Him and I know that He loves the people around me, I want to live a life that honors the people around me. I want to love them without fear of failure.

WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE?

It means knowing that if my parents are supporting me in school, I want to honor them by studying hard for my test. But it also looks like know that if I don’t get an A or B on every assignment, it’s okay because I know that God is greater.

It looks like going above and beyond to love my friends because they are worth it, but not because I want to earn their love or operate out of fear of rejection.

It looks like cleaning up doing your designated work in the group project (maybe even a little extra) because you want to do things well and without complaining because you want to honor your professors and classmates.

When we work out of love and honor, things shift. Failure doesn’t matter as much. And we are relieved of pressure. It’s crazy how simple it can be. God is cool like that. :)

-Hannah

Pray

God, thank You that you call me into excellence. Thank You that You are also okay with mess and failure. I acknowledge and celebrate that You are bigger than it all. I love You. Amen.


Values | Every Student Matters

Values | Every Student Matters

At Wesley, something that we are passionate about is that every single student matters. We believe that each student matters deeply to God and plays in an important role at Wesley, on this campus, and in the Kingdom.

So, we want you to know that you matter to us. However, we can know all day long that you matter. What we want more than anything is for you to have a deep-rooted knowledge and understanding of how much you matter. Because when you actually know much you matter, you begin to walk into the more that God has for you. More confidence. More boldness. More freedom. More truth. Something shifts when you have a realization of how much you matter.

I think sometimes in such a big world and in such a big campus, it can be easy to maybe feel a little overlooked or that you specifically don’t matter. If this is you, I just want to speak a few pieces of truth as to why you specifically matter.


God places the lonely in families;

he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

[Psalm 68:6]


God wants you to have people. We were designed to live in community and joy. If you feel lonely or unseen, know that God has more for you. He will place you where you need to be.


“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”

You matter SO MUCH to God. Jesus Himself spoke about how God literally cares about flowers and birds. And y’all, we are made in the image of God, so we know He cares soo much more about us than birds and nature. So, if He really does take care of these little things, He wants to take care of the little and the big things in your life because you matter that much to Him.

There are tons of other verses in the Bible and truths that can be spoken over you about how much you matter. God speaks that over you. And you have full permission to believe it.

DO THIS

If you’re ever having a moment where you’re having trouble believing your worth, speak these truths over yourself. And I mean that!! Say them out loud. Something shifts when we are brave enough to whisper or shout against the lies that we have believed in our head. Say them to yourself. Scream them with a friend. Step into belief of the truth that God has over your life.


I am chosen.

God sees me.

God loves me.

I have purpose.

I matter.

God has promises for me that He is excited to fulfill.

I am a child of God.

I belong in the Kingdom.

My presence matters.

Who I am has influence.

I matter.

-Hannah

PRAY

God, thank You that You love me. I repent for believing the lie that I am less than You say I am. God, I want to believe that I matter. I want to walk and operate in that truth. I know You love me, and I want to know more of what that means. Please show me. Amen.


Values | Break the Silence

Values | Break the Silence

“A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.” [Margaret Atwood]


Words carry power. Talking to people carries the potential to unlock things that were previously unreachable in their life. A simple conversation might unlock a future friendship. A simple conversation might uncover a hidden commonality between two people, and lead to growth and healing. As people, we were created to be in relationship with one another. A product of being in relationship with people is being willing to break the silence to begin a conversation.

One of our core values at Wesley is “Break the Silence.” At its simplest, the truth behind that value is that breaking silence with other people is one of the best things we can do to show them the love of God. Most people would say there is a some fear associated with breaking the silence with people, especially with those they don’t know. There is always that resistance we feel before we strike up a conversation with someone. Our culture times tells us that best thing we can do is keep to ourselves and don’t disrupt others. But this is one area in which through being counter cultural we can love people really well.

I love the words of Margaret Atwood. “Powerlessness and silence go together.” God puts people in our everyday life so that we can show them the love of Jesus. Sometimes that might be through doing something nice for them, but most times it will look like you having conversations with people. It is through breaking the silence that we extend ourselves to actually be used by the Holy Spirit in the words we say. When you break the silence with someone, you communicate that you care about them. That is powerful. The conversation doesn’t have to be you presenting the gospel directly to every person you meet (not bashing that at all though). It can be simple.

“Hey, I’m Nick. What’s your name? I don’t know anyone else in this class.”

“Hey I pass by your room a lot and was wondering if you’d like to go get lunch with me at Bolton.”

“Hey I’ve never seen you at Freshley before. Do you have anyone to sit with?”

“Hey I really like those shoes. Where’d you get them?”

It really is crazy what happens when we are simply open to having conversations with people we don’t know. Success isn’t determined upon if you think the conversation went well, or if it was awkward or not (most likely it will be a little). Success is determined on if you are simply willing to break that initial silence.

As you go about today, ask God to make you aware of people around you. Open yourself up to take a risk and strike up a conversation with someone. Amen!

-NIck

Values | Pray Big

Values | Pray Big

The Bible says a lot about prayer. There are verses upon verses about how to pray, when to pray, why we pray, etc. This is why one of our core values at Wesley is to pray big. We’re called to ask for things. We’re expected to pray and believe that our prayers will come to pass. But what I really want to focus on today is the truth in James 5:16b. Among all the other scriptures about prayer, this one is has been the loudest.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

I recently asked my Freshley small group leaders what God taught them this year. One of them shared about her experience with prayer, and how praying is much more enjoyable and fun because of the shift in perspective that God gave her. Throughout the year, she began to believe more in the power of prayer, and that her prayers really do make a difference. She shared a testimony of her and her co-leader saying a simple prayer one Monday afternoon, and God showing up that same night in small group the exact way that they asked Him to. These small group leaders didn’t HAVE to say that prayer. They didn’t HAVE to ask God for anything. God is good regardless of whether or not we press into that truth. But their prayer and partnership with God and His heart increased their awareness of His goodness and increased their faith because they saw Him come through. God responded to their prayer. He chose to honor their request because it was for the good of the Kingdom.  

Yes, God is sovereign, and He is omnipotent. Yes, He knows all. He knows the outcome of situations before we do. But He’s also omnipresent. Being everywhere, all the time, means He’s ready and eager to listen to our prayers.

Praying big means trusting big. Praying big means you believe that God is powerful and that He wants to hear from you. There is a relationship that is built between you and God when you pray big. John Mark Comer, an author and pastor of a church in Oregon, said this in his book, God Has a Name:

“We are not merely passive set pieces in a prearranged cosmic drama, but we are active participants with God in the writing, directing, design, and act that unfolds. Prayer, therefore, is much more than asking God for this or that outcome. It is drawing into communion with him and therefore taking up our privileged role as his people.”

If we are God’s children, we are righteous. And if we’re righteous, our prayers are powerful and effective. James 5:16 says so. Prayer is much more about our heart than it is about the result of our prayer. When we pray, we are communicating with the most beautiful and good thing in all of existence. I should want to draw into communion with Him and pursue a relationship with Him.

Now, praying big also means that you are willing to risk disappointment if the answer to your prayer is no. Praying big means that you have the hope and expectancy that God will honor your requests because you are a righteous son or daughter of Him. We should be praying the biggest prayers if we believe God is good. While there is risk in asking for big things, I think it honors God so much when we actually believe He will do something that would line up with His heart. I was reading of my friend’s blog posts about disappointment, and she said this:

“I think telling us to lower our expectations is unfair, because we serve a big God who has the power to not only meet, but exceed those expectations. So you can expect but you must then also understand that we are simply not in control.”


She is validating disappointment, here. It’s okay to be disappointed if God’s answers to our prayers are not what we hoped for. This simply means that He has something better. When we understand that the Lord’s way are always better, we will welcome disappointment amidst our big prayers. Ephesians 3:20 says,

“To him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

God’s inviting us to pray big, and to press into our desires with a hopeful expectancy. He wants to give us immeasurable more. Let’s believe that our prayers are powerful. Let’s risk disappointment. Let’s ask God to align our desires with His heart. Let’s pray big, people.

-KB

Pray (big!)

Hey God, thank you for always being present and for always listening. Thank you for making me righteous and for giving me authority when I pray. Lord, I ask for the courage to pray big prayers, and for strength and encouragement in the waiting. Thank you for wanting relationship with me. Love you! Amen.

Psalms | God Cares

Psalms | God Cares

Cast your cares on the Lord

and he will sustain you;

he will never let

the righteous be shaken. [Psalm 55:22]

This verse out of context is powerful, but if you take Psalm 55 as a whole, this verse is one of the craziest expressions of faith that we could read. David writes that anguish, fear and trembling have overtaken his heart. His circumstances weigh him down, yet he still writes that God will sustain him and that he will not be shaken. This is faith in the middle of trial.

One of my favorite verses is 1 Peter 5:7 which says “Cast all your cares upon him, for he cares for you.” Most people have a view of God as one who is distant or if He is even involved it would be for only the big things in life. However, when we think this way about God, we miss his heart for us. We limit His involvement in our lives. The truth is that God cares for every single part of you. The “little” things that you think about throughout your day, He cares about those. The desires you have for your future, He cares about those. The hobbies and silly activities you love, He cares about those. There’s not a part of you He is uninterested in. He wants to be involved.

I’ve discovered in my life that when I try to find my solution in other people, I will eventually be disappointed and in need again. When I take my insecurities and worries and desires and ask other people to handle them for me, they will feel burdened and i will always feel unfulfilled. This concept can be pretty extensive in each of us, so I challenge you to ask yourself: Who carries the weight of your cares? Is it you? Is it someone else? Is it God? Ultimately, He alone is the only one who can sustain you. And He will be faithful to never let you down.

-Tim


Pray

God, I pray that i know you more than ever as the God who is close and intimately involved in my life. I give you every care, I give you every worry, I give you every desire. I pray that you sustain me and fulfill me. You are the source of my life. I Love you, in Jesus’ name. Amen



Psalms | Delight in the Lord

Psalms | Delight in the Lord

“Delight yourself in the Lord,

  and he will give you the desires of your heart.” [Psalms 37:4]

“Delight yourself in the Lord.” I feel like we may read this and feel like we have to force joy into our relationships with God. Or if we are looking at the entire verse, we may think we have to create delight in order to reach an end goal of receiving the desires of our hearts. But I don’t think that it’s like this at all.

I want you to think about the closest people in your life: a parent, a best friend, a mentor. Don’t you delight in them? You know them, and you love to learn more about them. You enjoy spending time with them. Even if it’s hard, you trust them to know the deepest parts of you. I think that this is what it means to “delight yourself in the Lord”. By spending time with Him and knowing Him and allowing Him to know you, you’ll grow deeper in relationship with Him. And when you grow in closeness with someone, you begin to delight in them! So, when we delight in the Lord, it’s really just growing in friendship and intimacy with Him. The delight will flow from that.


But what about that second part of the verse? When you spend time with someone, you begin to be more like them. Whenever I spend a lot of time with my mom, I’ll pick up on her little sayings that she says. I’ll spend time with my best friends, and I’ll try to learn more about the things that interest them because I want to connect with them in a way that is relatable to them. And it’s not that I lose myself in the process, but I just learn to relate to the people around me.

I think it’s the same with God. When we spend more and more time with God, we begin to love Him more. And when we love Him more, we begin to delight in the same things that He delights in. And the desires on our hearts match His. And I think this is true for the big and small things. Either way, I think that when we grow in relationship with Him, we want to match His desires and He wants to match ours, so they begin to draw closer together. And since God is God, we can trust that this is good.

So, in short, know God, trust God, and go after the desires on your heart hand in hand with a God, a friend, a Father who loves you a lot.

-Hannah

Pray

God, I want to know you more. Will You show me the desires of Your heart? Will You show me where You want to meet me in the midst of the desires of my heart? I just want to know You. Help me allow myself to open up myself to You so that You may know me. Thank You for being patient, gentle and kind. I love You! Amen.



Psalms | Be Still

Psalms | Be Still

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

   I will be exalted among the nations,

   I will be exalted in the earth.” [Psalm 46:10]

We live in a very fast world. Everything is on a schedule. We are always connected to other people to technology. There is always something to be done. There is always more studying you could be doing. There is always someone you could hang out with. There is always another episode or movie to watch. There is always another picture to look at or post to read.

What if I sometimes chose to do nothing?

That might sound crazy, but what if we sometimes took time to simply be in our thoughts? What if we took intentional time to evaluate ourselves? What if we regularly reflected and turned inward, instead of always doing something outward?

Here is the problem that so many of us have: we don’t like what happens when we stay in our heads for an extended amount of time.

When we are quiet and still too long, we get anxious. When we are quiet and still too long, we get insecure. When we are quiet and still too long, we feel like we are losing control. But this Psalm says that when we are still, we should know that God is God. That is what should be on our mind when we are still, and turn inward.

Here’s the truth: if you love Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit inside of you. Whenever you turn inward into your thoughts and feelings, you have the opportunity to experience the living God within you. Instead of turning inward and feeling anxiety, you have the opportunity to tell God that you trust His faithfulness and not give yourself over to that anxiety. Instead of turning inward and feeling like you are wasting time, you can know that God loves you and wants to know you deeply. Everytime you choose to say no to DOING something, and say yes to REFLECTING inward, you give your soul the food that it needs to sustain.

To end you can pray the prayer below, but I also challenge you to at some point today bring yourself back to a similar prayer. At some point today you will have the opportunity to do something, and don’t get me wrong, doing things aren’t bad. But I want you to sacrifice doing something, at least for a few minutes, and let yourself turn inward towards your thoughts and feelings. Evaluate where you are and speak over yourself that God is God. He loves you deeply. He knows you deeply. He wants you to love Him deeply. He wants you to know him deeply. He has you.

-Nick


Pray

Father, thank you for being God so I no longer need to have everything figured out. Thank you for knowing me intimately. I give you the things in my life that give me anxiety. I give you the things in my life that make me fearful. Thank you for being safe. I trust you. Amen.



Psalms | God's Forgiveness

Psalms | God's Forgiveness

“As far as the east is from the west,

  so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” [Psalm 103:12]

What can we know about God’s forgiveness?

God’s forgiveness covers everything.

Yes, everything. When we choose to accept and believe Jesus for who the Bible says He is, we receive the fullness of what He did on the cross. The cross covers everything we have ever done. If you have been a Christian for a while, this can seem like old news. However, I think that many of us don’t live from that place of believing we are truly forgiven and pure in the eyes of God. How many of us profess to be Christians but live daily under the heavy hand of condemnation? The voice inside your head that says you haven’t done enough, that you aren’t enough, that you’re brokenness and sin is enough to keep you from God is not God. That is the enemy. The enemy would love to keep you from entering into intimacy with the Father. The biggest thing condemnation steals from us is an intimate relationship with Jesus. However, the truth is that Jesus is the only one who can convince us that the voice that says all of those things is a lie. His word and His truth through the Bible have the power to break the chains of condemnation.


If you are feeling the weight of condemnation today, I would encourage you to read through Romans 8 and declare some of the truths of that chapter over yourself today. I will start you with the first verse because it is so good.

“1 So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”

I love the way that The Passion Translation states this verse. The case against you is closed! It was finished on the cross. You are forgiven and nothing you do can change that.

Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, We can extend God’s forgiveness to those who wrong us.

Sometimes this truth can be a hard pill for us to follow. When wronged or faced with injustice, our flesh screams vengeance. I think though that if we really believe and know the heart of God it becomes so easy to forgive. We can believe that no matter how deeply someone wounds us or hurts us, God will not do that to us. He sees all of our hurts and He meets us in those. He is comforter and He is redeemer. He is the only one who can empower us to forgive.

It’s also important to remember that If we want and desire mercy for ourselves then we should also want that for the people around us. We cannot truly ask God to forgive us but then hold others to an impossible standard that even God does not hold them to. We can not cry out mercy when it comes to ourselves and then turn around and shout justice for everyone else. We can not be the only one who does not get what we truly deserve. It is in the goodness and kindness of God that none of get what we deserve but what God desired for us, which is relationship with Him. I am not saying that there is not consequences for missteps and bad behavior. There is and there are boundaries, but ultimately when we live in unforgiveness we are imprisoning ourselves.

If you are struggling to forgive or believe that you are forgiven, that is okay. Forgiveness often times looks like a process over time of surrendering a person, relationship, or situation to God. Ask Him to come meet you. Ask Him to keep your heart soft and help you. I believe as we seek His help and comfort He empowers us to do the impossible.

-Natalie

Let’s Pray.

God, thank you that I am forgiven. I am yours and you see me as pure and clean. I am always allowed to come into your presence no matter what I have done. Thank you that with you I can forgive the people who have hurt me most. I pray that you would keep my heart soft and open to your voice. Empower me to forgive the way that you have forgiven. Amen.



Psalms | God's Protection

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Psalms | God's Protection

Let the sunrise of your love end our dark night.

Break through our clouded dawn again!

Only you can satisfy our hearts,

filling us with songs of joy to the end of our days.

We’ve been overwhelmed with grief;

come now and overwhelm us with gladness.

Replace our years of trouble with decades of delight. [Psalm 90:14-15]

Psalm 40, as a whole, exists to uplift Christians during their lives on Earth. You can read the whole psalm here. Leading up to the verses above, the psalm is kind of drawing a line between life on earth and the fullness of heaven. It contrasts the nature of the world with the nature of God. The Psalmist is recounting the difficulties and the challenges that come along with being human.

At first glance, this entire Psalm is interesting to read because it almost seems discouraging at first because it talks about the brevity of life, the harshness of Earth, and all of that stuff. When you read it over again and apply some context, it becomes something really encouraging!

A lot of super smart scholars believe that this Psalm is shadowing the story of Moses in Exodus 32. In fact, some scholars believe Moses is the author of Psalm 90. Exodus 32 is one of the first examples of intercession in the Bible. Intercession is basically a fancy way to describe prayer that is on behalf of someone/something else. It’s really important in Exodus because God was angry with His people because they were worshipping false idols. Even after He had faithfully led them through the desert, they lost faith when they were waiting for Moses to come down from Mount Sinai. When God became angry, Moses interceded for the Israelites and asked God to have mercy on them. And guess what? The Lord did have mercy on them. Moses’ prayers were impactful.

So when this Psalm says things like “Break through our clouded dawn again!” it is actually a form of intercession. Why is that important?

Because God Listens and Responds

The Psalmist here is petitioning for God to make our lives on Earth look more like Heaven. He is asking for God to make his reality our reality. This is sweet because God, by nature, wants good things for us. He desires for us to live in abundance (read John 10 if you wanna know more about that). The Psalmist also recognizes that the pathway from our grief and suffering to fullness and joy is God. This Psalm illustrates that one of the best ways we can experience the things of God is to ask for them.

When your prayer life develops, your intimacy and friendship with God grows exponentially. As you are reading through this series, a good exercise would be to pray through the Psalms. Taking the time to talk to God and process through what you read is one really beneficial way to deepen your relationship with God.

-Sarah S.


Pray


Hey God! God, I thank you for the way you have been speaking and responding to your people. Help Psalm 90 to mark my life and my prayers. Increase my faith in you and your faithfulness. Amen.


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Psalms | God's Strength

Psalms | God's Strength

“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, through the earth should change And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” [Psalm 46:1-3]


Every one of us have gone through difficult struggles or situations. I have heard it said that we’re all either going into a storm, currently in a storm, or coming out of a storm. Difficulties are a part of life. In the above verses, we learn that we don't have to fear our problems, but we can trust God throughout them.


SO WHAT?

Verse one calls God a refuge and strength. It says that He is a present help. He is close to us when we are going through tough times. Be encouraged by this! Whenever I go through trouble, I find it easy to focus more on my problems than on God. I think it can be very easy (as bad as it may sound) to forget about God and try to solve my problems without His support. God is very present. He is close by and wants to give us strength. Because of this, we don't have to fear anything. Times may be difficult, but the God of the universe is on our side. He loves you and me, and He died for us. How much more will He support us in discomfort? Even though things happen that may be out of our control, we can trust God because He is unchanging. Our circumstances change, but He never does. He is good, He loves you, and He is never going to lead you astray. We can trust Him.


RESPOND

  1. What sort of “trials” are you facing right now?

  2. Where is God in these “trials”?

  3. How can you increase your trust in God?

-Avery

PRAY

Father, thank You for who You are. Thank You that I can trust You. You are my refuge and strength in times of trouble. Show me where You are in my situation. May I recognize and seek You in both good times and bad. I love You. I trust You. Amen.


Psalms | God's Lantern

Psalms | God's Lantern

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” [Psalm 119:105]

Think of Jesus the Good Shepherd. How does He lead His sheep? It says in John 10:4, “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” Jesus leads us by His words. So how else will you follow God’s path for you life unless you know His voice and His words? Well, you can’t. That’s why the Psalmist describes here God’s word as a lamp and a light. Because without it, it’s like stumbling in the dark. If we don’t know what God’s words are, if we don’t know the Gospel, then we are no better than a blind man trying to cross a 5 lane highway.

You will never walk the path in life God has laid out for you unless you know His word. Now when I say His word I don’t mean just knowing the Bible. I’m talking about knowing His character. What are the things that only God would say to us? There are so many counterfeit voices out there that we have to learn what the real thing is. Do you know how cashiers are trained to detect counterfeit money? It’s not by studying counterfeits, it’s by studying the real dollar bill. It’s only when you know the real thing that you can tell what’s fake.

So know God’s word isn’t just knowing the Bible, but it absolutely does start with knowing the Bible. The Bible is the only book in the world that’s stood the test of 1,000’s of years, kingdoms and countries rising and falling, yet it still proves true. The Bible isn’t fake. God’s voice isn’t fake. How are we to navigate this life without knowing the one Bible that God has given to His Church so that we might still be able to read His stories and testimonies? We do not make the Bible an idol. We hold it in reverence, yes. But it’s not about knowing the Bible just for the sake of knowing a book. We seek the Author of the book rather than the book itself. The Bible is the Author’s gift to us. An entry point to knowing Him. I only want to know the Bible to the extent that I want to know God. I want to know my Creator. That’s why I read the Bible.

And as you read the stories of Jesus and understand the kind of man He was and the kind of God He is, you ask Him to speak to you personally. Heck, wherever you are right now, ask Him to speak to you. He might speak to you through your thoughts, another person, a crazy coincidence or maybe even the Bible… but the point is that He is faithful to speak to you if you seek Him. In fact, He is speaking to you. We’re just hard of hearing. He is the light leading us on. We just have to train our eyes to see Him and our ears to hear Him. Ask Him to light the way and He will. No caveats. Ask Him to show you the well-lit path and He will do it.

-Adam


Psalms | Waiting on the Lord

Psalms | Waiting on the Lord

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord,” [Psalm 27:13-14]


Waiting on the Lord

Even though David was anointed king at age 16, he waited to officially step into that role at age 30.  In the process of waiting over 15 years, he encountered numerous trials that were probably discouraging, disheartening, and disappointing.  Yet David didn’t lose his courage, his heart, or his appointing. Reread that verse. David knew that despite his sufferings at the time, God would show up and come through. He had an unwavering confidence that was not shaken or destroyed by life’s difficulties. David was determined to see the Lord’s goodness in his life here on this earth. The land of the living isn’t in some fantasy world; it’s right here, right now.

Why are we asked to wait?

Lamentations 3:24-25 says, “I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”  


Lamentations, written by Jeremiah, is know as the book of tears. Throughout the whole book, Jeremiah is basically weeping over the destruction of Jerusalem. He was convinced that the Lord would make Himself known him, because he sought him. Both David and Jeremiah went through seasons of waiting. The most important thing to understand about waiting, though, is that is doesn’t have to be in vain. These two men developed an amazing relationship with the Lord in their waiting. They talked with Him about what they were experiencing. They were vulnerable and real with the Lord, expressing how they truly felt about their current situations. This type of relationship with God creates an intimacy that doesn’t always come with life is all rainbows and unicorns. If we chose to emulate David’s confidence in the Lord, our waiting would turn into abundant blessings.  

We learn in the waiting.

We depend in the waiting.

We surrender control in the waiting.

We discover in the waiting.

The Lord’s goodness shows up in our waiting. When we wait, we have the opportunity to entrust more of ourselves to the Lord. We learn more about God’s character when we seek Him out.  He teaches us patience and gratitude. Our dependence on Him increases as we begin to understand that we are not called to be self-sufficient or self-reliant. As difficult as it is, we sacrifice our need to control our circumstances when we wait. We find that it’s actually better to partner with God and let Him do His thing than try to run our own lives. And we discover a lot about ourselves in the waiting. We become more aware of our intentions and beliefs when we don’t see immediate answers.

So be strong and take heart. Be confident that the Lord is good and that you will see His goodness play out. Continually invite God into your waiting. He’s willing and eager to show up.


-KB

Pray

God, thank you for who You are. Thank you for being good all the time, for Your consistency and Your steadfastness. Thank you for never changing your character, or for changing your mind about me. When I am in a season of waiting, God, I ask that you increase my dependency upon you. Give me strength and hope to trust you more and more each moment. God I praise You in the waiting. Amen.