Week Three, Day Five: Where Is God Calling You To Invest?

Week Three, Day Five: Where Is God Calling You To Invest?

Disclaimer: I don’t have the full answer to this question, I only have part. AND, this answer lived out will and should look different for every follower of Jesus.

Places the Bible says you should invest:

  1. The Secret Place- Matthew 6:6 says “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Not only did Jesus say to do this, He did it in Luke 6:12 (except it was on the mountainside). The Secret Place always is and always will be your life source. It will be your place of refuge and your fountain of joy. It will be where God speaks revelation unto your heart and where you behold His glory while being transformed into His likeness (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). It will be your home within your home. It will be your meeting place with the God of the universe. When all else fails, and it will, heeding the call of Jesus in John 15 to abide and remain in Him will be your all. But only if you sow into it. You have to visit your meeting place with God time and time again. He will show up.

  2. The Church (aka other Christians)- I’m going to lump family and friends who are believers into this one. Jesus says in John 13:35 that the world will know we are His disciples by the love Christians have for one another. And not that fake “I love you” stuff that is only expressed by the Instagram post that says how cool they are on their birthday. That’s good and all, but I’m talking about that love that bears one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). I’m talking about the love that still honors a person even when they have excluded you and made you feel ashamed. I’m talking about the love that sticks around even in hard times. I’m talking about a love that is emptied of selfishness (Phillipians 2:4). I’m talking about a love that is explosive with joy and thanksgiving. I’m talking about a love that believes in, accepts and celebrates a person exactly for who they are. No more, no less. A love that sees a person and says, “You’re worthy.” I encourage you to go find a group of believers that might call itself a church or fellowship that you can live this out with. It’s our highest calling and command alongside loving God Himself (Matthew 22:37-39).

  3. People who don’t know Jesus- I pretty much should just copy and paste what I said for investing in the Church into this section. Because it’s THE EXACT SAME… nearly. The only difference is that when you choose to selflessly love people who don’t know Jesus, you shouldn’t be surprised when they throw it back in your face or simply don’t understand it. We have Jesus’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), but we also have His promise that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33). So as a follower of Jesus, you’re called to unconditionally love everyone, but understand that it won’t always be easy or comfortable. That’s why investing in the Secret Place and the Church is so vital. Those things won’t always be the easiest either, but they give you life and build you up in love. I encourage you to make a concerted effort to invite people who don’t know the Lord into your life. Not to love them with an agenda, but to simply love them.

 

 

I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I can’t tell you exactly where and how to do these things, but here’s the advice I can give on how to go about figuring that out.

 

  1. Pray and ask for discernment. Many times God will give you a sign or a feeling that you’re supposed to be somewhere or with someone, but that most often comes by discernment through the Holy Spirit. Ask for help with making a decision and God will come to assist.

  2. Commit. Once you find a place or people/person that you think is worth investing in, simply give it or them a fair shot. It takes some degree of giving yourself to a place/people in order to truly understand if you are supposed to be there.

  3. Serve. The best way to grow roots in a place or in a group is by serving. You’re at your best when you’re giving yourself away and people are giving themselves to you. You just gotta take that first step.

- Adam

Week Three, Day Four: It Starts With Believing You Matter

Week Three, Day Four: It Starts With Believing You Matter

I matter?

“You Matter” we say it all the time at Wesley. It’s true, you do. God died for you so you must matter to him quite a lot actually. But for the large majority of us that is not a hard idea to buy into. We look at our friends, our classmates and we say with conviction, “yeah!, you matter!!, they matter!!!”. But often times the inverse is said much quieter with some different punctuation, “... i matter?” and is quickly followed with some look for validation, “do I?”. It is honestly very sad and way too common. We so easily believe this about other people but have a hard time seeing value in the ones looking back at us in the mirror.

Too often this belief is rooted in a wrong understanding of value in the first place. We frequently measure with a measuring stick not measured by inches, but rather by man’s approval/talent/ability/you name it, and we always fall short. But what we are failing to realize is that our value is not based on our ability -  that would always fluctuate. People matter because God has given them infinite value. You, too have been given infinite value.

God chose to step into time, to take on all the sufferings of being human to pursue relationship with you. Because you matter to him. Even more you were “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). When Paul is talking to the church of Corinth, he encourages them in their different roles in the church and body of Christ. He tells them that there are many different roles but that without everyone owning their roles, the body wouldn’t work properly. For example, if the mouth wished it was a hand, there would be no speaking. You were created on purpose for a purpose. You were fearfully and wonderfully made to be who God has created you to be. When you begin to understand who God has made you to be and why your heart beats for certain things and then chase them- when you believe that you matter -you empower those around you to also be who they were created to be. That is the kingdom of God working from a place of truth.

pray

“Father, teach me to love who you have created me to be. God teach me that I matter, that the things that I say matter to the people around me, that my actions have power. God I ask that you would awaken me to who you have created me to be and lead me there. Awaken me to purpose. I love you, help me love you more.

Week Three, Day Four: Challenge - Serve Those Around You Today

Week Three, Day Four: Challenge - Serve Those Around You Today

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
— John 13: 12-17

Just because you’ve been at home for awhile now doesn’t mean it’s too late to make an impact on the ones around you. As we look back at the previous weeks of this guide, we are reminded that we are called to spur one another on in love and through good works. This can be done in Athens and wherever we have been this break. God has loved us so fully and so deeply that he gave his only son for us. Every day we choose to serve him because we love him, but he tells us to do the same for those around us.

This passage in John reveals the true meaning behind having a servant’s heart and choosing to do things beyond yourself. Each of us is no greater than our brothers and sisters, so we should choose to love them in the same way that God has loved us. There are many ways to do this while you are at home. We want to challenge you to serve others in new ways today. The small things can be big things to the ones you choose to engage with today! This can be done in so many ways:

 

  • Ask your mom\dad how their day was, engage in intentional conversation
  • Do the dishes
  • Cook a meal
  • Run errands
  • Take your sibling to something they enjoy doing
  • Clean the house
  • Pray over someone you live with  
  • Write your family members encouraging notes/ tell them you are thankful for them
  • Just ask “What can I do to help out today?”
  • Leave a surprise nice note somewhere in the house for a family member to find later :)

If you have already made your way back to Athens and are looking for a way to serve others, you can:

  • Host a movie night for all your friends that are also back
  • Ask your roommate(s) if there is anything you can do for him/her before they get back

  • Clean your shared bathroom/kitchen/living space

  • Leave kind notes for your people to read when they get back

As we begin to move forward in a new semester, begin to ask God what it could like for you to serve others more. Surrendering our hearts to Jesus, allows us to walk more fully in his love and presence. Serving others is an incredible way to lay down our own lives and carry out our mission to love others like we have first been loved.

pray

Father,

Show me how to serve and love like you have done for me. I surrender my own life to you as a servant of the true King. Help me set aside my own needs to follow our and serve others more fully. You are good, and I trust that everything you have for me is good. I love you. Amen.

 

- Kelly

Week Three, Day Two: The Key Is Love

Week Three, Day Two: The Key Is Love

Because God loves you, you are made with purpose. Because you are made with purpose, you can live out of a place of being outrageously loved.  When I encountered God for the first time as a real, loving Father it wrecked my world. Nothing else I was struggling with mattered as much because I knew I was loved, sought after, and fought for by Him. He paved a way for me and that was what I could trust and lean on. The more I began seeing myself the way God saw me, the more I believed in myself to be worth knowing. That feeling of being loved, fought for, and known by God isn’t meant for just me or just you. It’s meant for everyone. God has empowered you to make an impact and the key to impacting the people around you is to first love them. Experiencing God’s love should make you want to love others because He not only calls you His child but He also calls them His children as well.

god's plan for you

In Matthew 22:37-38, Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” At home it can be hard to love those around you but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It’s easy to live in the thoughts of “they didn’t do this for me so why should I do this for them” but God doesn’t compare us on a scale of love and importance. He forgives abundantly and serves humbly. Though you might not always feel like you’re in a position to love, God’s plan for you includes choosing to freely receive and freely give His abundance to the people He’s placed in your life.

If you want to see God drastically improve the relationships around you, learn what people need in order to feel valued. Whether that includes washing the dishes for your family, putting down your phone when your mom is talking to you, or encouraging your friend that you haven’t seen in a while, there is so much God can do in the people around you if you meet those people where they are at. That may look like understanding their love language better or just asking God what He has for those people. Either way, there is always more with Him. The pure in heart shall see God; so take heart and know He is eager to show you all that He has to offer. The break may almost be over, but there is still time for God to use you for His kingdom. His work isn’t finished yet.   

pray

Prayer: Thank you. Thank you, Jesus, for embracing me and meeting me where I’m at every time. I ask that you would give me eyes to see the people around me the way you see them, and that loving these people would be easy because I am actively living out your will. You fill me with purpose. Give me the strength to live for more than just myself.

- Sarah C.

Week Three, Day One: God Has Empowered You To Make An Impact

Week Three, Day One: God Has Empowered You To Make An Impact

The past two weeks, we have gone into the importance of a personal relationship with God and we’ve talked about living a life of pursuing God while also living in relationship and community with other people. To finish out the Winter Break Survival Guide, we want to spend time in the truth that God has called us to show other people who He is.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus says to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven”. Jesus loves us so much so that he longs for relationship with us in which we can talk with him and continue to learn about Him. He was even thoughtful enough to surround us with other people to encourage us and love us and remind of who we are in Him. It’s undeniable that we are loved by God, but that’s not the end of the story. That’s not the whole reason we are here. As followers of God, he has empowered us to impact others. We are his lights here on Earth. As we follow Him, we reflect him. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says “and we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the spirit”. All of the aspects of a relationship with God fit perfectly together. As we behold who He is and walk with him, we are transformed to look more like Him. When He is transforming us from the inside out, impacting others comes naturally.

a practical step

Today, spend some time reflecting on the love God has for you and what that means. Think about the ways he has shown you his goodness and mercy. How do these affect the way you behave and the way you treat people? How do you let your light shine before others? Are you letting your light shine before others?

pray

God, thank you for the unique and careful ways you make yourself known to me and to the world. Show me how I have been empowered to make an impact. Where I feel discouraged or unsure about making an impact, come and speak truth about how you have created me. Amen.

 

- Sarah T.

 

Week Two, Day Five: If You're Still Waiting on Community

Week Two, Day Five: If You're Still Waiting on Community

God has community for you

All week we have been talking about community. Why it matters, how to be intentional and vulnerable, what it means to break the silence, and how to be friends with people not moving in the same direction as you. But what if you feel like you still don't have community in Athens? While it may be difficult to imagine, God has community for you.

If you are looking for community, be sure that you are praying about it. Maybe even let people you trust back home know how you are feeling so they can be praying for you. Maybe let your small group leaders know so they can help as well. As much as possible, let people you trust know what you are feeling so they can be praying for you and supporting you.

taking risks

Also, don't lose hope. It's not too late, and just because you don't have community currently doesn't mean that it isn't on the way. Along with prayer, also try putting yourself out there more. What I mean by that is try things that you normally aren't inclined to try. As you take risks, God will honor those risks with fruitful relationships.

I remember my sophomore year I had just transferred to UGA and had some people who I had made friends with but didn't consider them my "people". Long story short, they all were really into soccer, but I could barely get by in kickball. I knew I wanted to bond with them more, so I started to very poorly attempt to play soccer with them as much as possible. While that's by no means the riskiest thing I've ever done, it was outside of what I was used to. Being able to play soccer with them more often led to deeper conversation, better relationship, and healthy community, but it all started with something very simple.

Just a reminder to those who would say they are satisfied with their community: never grow complacent and never close yourself off. Don't let your community become watered down, and always be open to people who you can invite into your friend group. You never know what a simple invite can do.

- Nick

Week Two, Day Four: How To Be Friends With Someone Who isn't Moving In The Same Direction

Week Two, Day Four: How To Be Friends With Someone Who isn't Moving In The Same Direction

I remember I loved making new friends my freshman year but I was also always excited to see my friends at home. And the first couple of breaks were awesome—we would catch up and just talk about our college experiences for hours. And then the more breaks we had, I just started to notice that we started to drift: in the things we talked about, the things we were interested in and the ways honestly that we were just living our lives. And it was hard—because it wasn’t what it used to be. We were two (or three or four) people that used to be inseparable and now I just wasn't relating/ not interested in the things that they were doing. And I don’t think I did it perfectly but here is what I learned from my experience of balancing friends who were and weren’t moving in the same direction as me:

 

  1. You still get to be their friends. 2 Timothy 2:24 says “And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.” No where in the bible does Jesus say that we can only be friends with people who look like us or talk like us or are walking in the same ways. We are called to be kind to everyone.

  2. Continue to surround yourself by people who are following the ways of Jesus. We get to be friends with people who aren't moving in the same direction as us or may be on the other side of the planet than us. But those friendships will look different from the ones who are moving in the same direction as you. We need community that are going to call us higher. We need community that will encourage and uplift us. We need community that is going to show us more of who Jesus is.

  3. Who you are in college doesn't have to change when you go home. The ways that God has moved in you in and through you in Athens still holds true wherever you are from. The ways that you have changed in your “college home” isn't disqualified as soon as you leave the city limits. The way that He has moved and the ways you have changed are meant to be carried everywhere you go. The way you love, the way you walk, and the choices you make in Athens should look the same at home.

  4. Like I said, you can do both! You can continue to live the way God has called you to while being a friend to people who have not had the same transformation! Be wise - don’t put yourself in a situation where you are going to be influenced away from God’s best for you! Have lunch with your high school friends, have intentional conversation, invest in them personally & hear about the path they have chosen to walk on - ask good questions & beyond that share what you have experienced at school openly & honestly!

pray

God, I thank you for the new friendships that have been made in college and I thank you for the friendships that have withheld through a lot of transition. I ask that you would come and be the center of our break. That we would be focused on You and the things above —whether break is easy or hard that we would look for You in it all.

- Gibs

Week Two, Day Three: Challenge - Break The Silence

Week Two, Day Three: Challenge - Break The Silence

We’re going to take the concepts of community/relationships and make them practical. Communication is the core of relationship building. There is something tangibly powerful about speaking up. Choosing to start a conversation forms new friendships. Talking about personal issues leads to progress and healing. Asking about other peoples’ lives shows that they matter. We cannot ignore the benefits of breaking the silence and speaking up.

Yet, too frequently, we make excuses for why we shouldn’t —it’ll make them uncomfortable, they don’t want to talk right now, it’s not the perfect timing… So often we talk ourselves out of talking, and we lose opportunities to connect. Even if starting a conversation would be outside your comfort zone, God always uses our risks to develop our growth.

With all this being said, the challenge for you today is to break the silence. It doesn’t have to be super complicated; we’re just going to take advantage of today to have meaningful conversations. Here’s some options for you guys:

  • Ask your home friends how college has actually been for them. Are they content? Do they have community? Are they pursuing God?
  • Share with someone how college has been for you—be honest and vulnerable. It’ll probably lead to other peoples’ vulnerability.
  • Ask your family how they are doing. The more specific, the better.
  • Ask your college friends how they have been doing spiritually over break.
  • Contact a friend from small group just to check in.
  • Share your appreciation for a friend/family member, telling them what you like about them or what you’re grateful for.

This might be one of the most natural things you do, but for some people it might be a little awkward. If it’s awkward, that’s okay. The more you choose to speak up, the more normal it becomes. We were never made to live in silence. We were never made to keep our souls quiet. Make a choice today to break the silence.

- Tim

Week Two, Day Two: Intentionality & Vulnerability

Week Two, Day Two: Intentionality & Vulnerability

“…though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
— Phillipians 2:6-8

You’re going to want to keep the definitions below in mind:

Intentionality- to live on purpose; to make decisions based on a motivation to achieve a larger goal

Vulnerability- open to being attacked or harmed; liable to experiencing losses but also gains

Now, let me throw some research at you from a scholar known as Brene Brown. She specializes in understanding very human elements such as shame and empathy. As part of studying shame, she has also studied vulnerability. (I would suggest watching her Ted Talk which is where part of what I’m about to say comes from) She noticed that the people who don’t struggle with shame have one thing in common: they believe they belong and are worthy of being loved. That’s it. She saw 4 things wrapped up in that core belief:

  1. Courage- to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart

  2. Compassion- being kind to yourself and allowing yourself to be imperfect in order to be kind to others

  3. Connection- comes as a result of authenticity; letting go of who you think you ought to be in order to be who you actually are

  4. Vulnerability- allowing yourself to be seen by others; loving with your whole heart even it’s risky

She realized that being vulnerable was the key to all of these and the only way to let someone into your mess called life. And letting someone into your life is the only way to experience true love. It’s the only way for someone to see every part of you, even the bad, and then say, “I still choose you.” Intentionality is simply the mechanism to being vulnerable. You have to be vulnerable on purpose. It won’t just happen by chance. At the end of the day why does all this matter? Because Jesus showed us it’s only way you will ever be free and truly live.

a vulnerable Jesus?

Jesus on the Cross was God being intentionally vulnerable. Let me explain why. Part of Jesus’ purpose was to walk Earth revealing the Kingdom of God, be tempted as we were and ultimately open Himself up to attack. The God of the Universe not only came to dwell among us, He let the very beings He created crucify Him on a tree. There was always purpose in His vulnerability (Isaiah 53). Jesus loved the disciples so fiercely, so gently, so truthfully, yet they were the ones who ultimately betrayed Him and abandoned Him. He loved them in a way where He washed their feet instead of commanding them to wash His because He didn’t count equality with God something to be grasped (Philippians 2:6-8).

Jesus knows what it’s like to put yourself out there and then to be completely let down, reviled and stabbed in the back. He’s been tempted in that way. He knows the depths of your sorrows and loneliness. He loved His disciples selflessly even knowing that they would leave Him hanging when it mattered most. In John 16: 31-32, Jesus says that even though His disciples recognized Him as the Messiah that they would scatter when He was being crucified. And He spent 3 years loving them and walking with them anyways. Imagine meeting your best friend for the first time and God told you that one day your best friend would let you down and reject you when you needed him or her most. Not a single one of us would be friends with that person. Jesus made 12 of those friends. So how was Jesus able to do that? If you read Matthew 3:17 Jesus says “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus knew He belonged and He knew He was loved.

    The beauty of it all is that Jesus forgave them. He forgave them so much that He made breakfast for them on the beach the morning He first reappeared to them after His Resurrection (John 21:9-19). Imagine how healing that must have been for Peter, who knowingly denied Jesus three times. To have your best friend forgive you for contributing to their death and then to have them call you to change the world on their behalf by starting the Church. What’s even MORE healing is that Jesus gave Himself to those same disciples AGAIN by sending His Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:2-4). The Holy Spirit is the fullness of God, so Jesus sending His Holy Spirit to dwell INSIDE of the very people who put Him to death on a tree is why it’s so utterly insane. That’s why life in Jesus is so devastatingly beautiful. He has always been the one who is vulnerable first. And that’s why forgiveness HAS to be a part of being vulnerable, because you will be hurt. But life is so much better when you give yourself away to those whom you love.

    Remember, Jesus didn’t just reveal everything to everyone, He had his close group of disciples to do life with. You need that. So get vulnerable with the God who was vulnerable first and go find those few select people you can open up to and start there. Your life will never be the same.

 

 

Week Two, Day One: Why Community Matters

Week Two, Day One: Why Community Matters

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
— Hebrews 10:24-25

people need people

Community is a word thrown around a lot, especially within the Christian culture. Although it can seem like a simple concept, it can also intimidate others. Healthy community is one of the most important aspects of being a believer in Jesus. People need people, because we were not created to live this life alone.

In Hebrews 10, we are given instructions on how to persevere for the Kingdom. We can do that by “stir[ring] up one another to love.” This can be as simple as keeping commitments to meet with the people you invest in and the ones who invest in you. Honoring those simple words to one another can begin to build incredible relationships that grow us further into love with Jesus. Through these meetings, we build one another up. Because we are not completely surrounded by the people we have gotten so used to doing life with over the last semester, it can be easy to slip back into old habits or feeling like we are alone. The enemy can easily identify these feelings and will attach himself to these places in our lives that can draw us further into loneliness and emptiness. We are given an entire book on how to combat this and fight for love, where we are meant to dwell. God created us for community, to do life with one another. We would have no purpose without others, because we are called to “stir up one another to love and good works,” “meet together,” and “encourage one another.”

In Hebrews 10, we are given instructions on how to persevere for the Kingdom. We can do that by “stir[ring] up one another to love.” This can be as simple as keeping commitments to meet with the people you invest in and the ones who invest in you. Honoring those simple words to one another can begin to build incredible relationships that grow us further into love with Jesus. Through these meetings, we build one another up. Because we are not completely surrounded by the people we have gotten so used to doing life with over the last semester, it can be easy to slip back into old habits or feeling like we are alone. The enemy can easily identify these feelings and will attach himself to these places in our lives that can draw us further into loneliness and emptiness. We are given an entire book on how to combat this and fight for love, where we are meant to dwell. God created us for community, to do life with one another. We would have no purpose without others, because we are called to “stir up one another to love and good works,” “meet together,” and “encourage one another.”

This week we will be diving deeper into what is means to live in community and how you can engage in true, life-giving community while you are home for winter break. It can be intimidating to reach out to people, life gets busy, and we can get so deep into loneliness that we forget we have people or tell ourselves that they don’t care (which isn’t true!!!). This week we want to encourage you to draw near to God by reaching into your community and stirring one another on through love and good works.

pray

Father,

I give this time to you. You are calling me into more by encouraging and loving me. Show me how to do the same in my own community. God, use me to love others well. Use my life as a testimony to others for what true love is. Don’t let me get caught up in my own feelings of loneliness and judgement. Teach me to walk more fully with you. I trust you. I love you. Amen.

 

Week One, Day Five: The Importance Of Prayer

Week One, Day Five: The Importance Of Prayer

what's the big deal about prayer?

When you are wanting to be in relationship with someone, communication is pretty important. It’s really hard to be friends with someone, to know and be known by them, if you have never actually talked to them. A relationship with God is pretty similar. He knows you because he created you, but as far as your own vulnerability and honesty go, you control that. God wants to know you, desperately, but he gives you the option of whether or not to pursue relationship with him.

This is, among many other things, what prayer does. It allows our hearts and minds a way to invite God in. Jesus teaches us how to pray in Matthew 6. It begins with modeling our approach to God as “Abba”. That translated is a name for Dad that a young child would say, similar to “daddy or dadda”. It begins with intimacy, it begins with closeness, throwing all rules and formalities out the door, highlighting relationship. Also included is the desire for the ways of heaven to invade earth by asking aloud for them. It is awesome that God encourages us to ask for the things of heaven, like freedom, healing, peace, joy, and intimacy, because he wants to do those things in our life. This prayer includes asking for forgiveness and for help. It encompasses just about everything; that we get to come to God from a place of intimacy, that we can ask him for things, that he will help us, and that He is where we find forgiveness.

what should you pray about

So you can talk to God about literally anything. For some, that is incredibly freeing, for most that is intimidating. But the best place to start is honesty, even if that means saying, “Hey God, I don’t know where to start.” This week I want to challenge you to talk to God and be honest. If you have had a hard semester, if you are nervous about the break, let him into that place in your heart. If you are thrilled about how awesome things are going, rejoice with him! Whatever it looks like for you, talk to God regularly, and invite him into the deep spaces in your heart.

pray

“Father, I want to know you, and I want you to know me. I want to live in all the things you died for me to live in. I ask that over this break you would take me deeper into intimacy with you God. Honestly I’m feeling (tell him how you are honestly feeling) and I really want you to (tell him what you want him to do). I love you, teach me how to love you more.

- Merrick

Week One, Day Four: The Importance Of Scripture

Week One, Day Four: The Importance Of Scripture

You should read the bible every day.


Those are words that you have probably heard or been told at one point in your life, and with those words comes a lot of pressure. With those words comes the thought, "I haven't read my Bible in four months, so why should I start now? I'm not gonna be able to understand anyways." But guess what? You can let go of that pressure! From the moment you are reading this right now, start fresh. As best as you can, forget about your prior experience trying to read the Bible on your own (unless you are already successfully doing it of course). Are you ready to start reading the Bible for yourself like never before? Let's do it.

why should you read the bible?

A good place to start in reading and understanding the Bible for yourself is first answering the question "why"? Why read the Bible? The main reason for reading the Bible is because it is the main way that God has chosen to communicate with us. One of the most important things that you are going to have the opportunity to do in this life is know God. Despite which major you choose, internship you take, or where you move after college, there will always be different things that you continue to learn about God. Knowing the God that created you and died for you is made possible mostly by the Bible. Yes, you can get taught the Bible by a pastor, teacher, or small group leader, but I would consider those things second hand knowledge. It's kind of like the knowledge that I have about UGA football. I can tell you where every recruit is from, where we rank nationally in red zone efficiency, and even where Kirby takes his kids to the doctor (that's honestly a little weird). But I have learned all of that through other people, through journalists, and through ESPN. I can't claim that I learned any of that from actually being a part of UGA football. In the same way, a lot of times we live off of the second hand knowledge of other people when it comes to God. While that isn't bad, God has so much more to teach us about himself that we often don't get because we aren't willing to dig in ourselves.


As you pursue a firsthand knowledge of God, a cool transition also begins to happen. The more you know about God, the more you will begin to experience the things He is teaching you. The more you will be able to experience who He is. So why read the Bible? Because when we read about God, we know God better. And when we know God better, we experience more of His power in our lives.

some practical steps

So what about some practicals when it comes to reading the Bible? Like I said earlier, take the pressure off of yourself to understand the whole Bible in one sitting. Take it easy and slowly. Pick a book of the Bible (maybe the Gospels or Psalms) and really give yourself to reading it. Maybe grab a devotional book or save the Freshley Blog on your bookmarks so you can read it regularly. Maybe think of a question or topic that interests you and looking up some reading plans that deal with that. No matter what you choose to do, just try to take a step. God will honor that step that you take.


Lastly, don't forget to talk to God. Ask him to teach you and speak to you before you read. Like I said, the purpose of reading the Bible is to know God. The purpose is to have a relationship with Him. That's what it’s all about.


Reading the BIble isn't something you HAVE to do. It is something that you GET to do!

Week One, Day Three: Challenge - Get Creative With You Time With God Today

Week One, Day Three: Challenge - Get Creative With You Time With God Today

There are many ways that the enemy can discourage us in our faith when we go home, and one of the ways he does that is by decreasing the time we spend with God. Whether that looks like becoming lazy in our pursuit of Him or being surrounded by people who aren’t pursuing Him, it’s easy to get in the habit of old routines. The lie that I most often believe when I’m at home is that I deserve to rest. That I did all that I could do throughout the semester to better myself, and now it’s my time to do what I want. However, choosing to believe that lie has actually never made me feel well rested. Instead, I felt drained, stuck, and more importantly not myself. It is important to not let the comfortability of home prevent you from taking a chance on all that God has for you.

create some space

When I decided that me & my relationship with God was worth the fight, that’s when things started to change. Creating space for God to move over break has revealed to me how He sees my friends that aren’t Christians, the promises of restoration God has for my family, and that He has prepared a way for me to receive His love. Because I didn’t have the routine of going to Freshley, I had to start making my own routines. I would lock myself in my room and write letters to myself from God’s point of view. I would go on drives listening to worship music and praying to Him along the way. I have even gone on a walk in my neighborhood or to a coffee shop to just process with God about what I was going through, inviting His truth to speak into my situation.

Spending time with Him doesn’t have to look structured or the same thing every time. God can move through those classic quiet time devotionals, but He can also move in a lot of other ways too. Jesus literally went up on a mountain, into the wilderness, and away from distractions because everything the Father had to say to him was worth hearing. The point of spending time with God isn’t to check it off your list but to actually retreat so that you’re in the best place to receive. The more I saw the value in this and got creative in my time with Him, the more I began to understand why I even chose a life with Him in the first place.

Winter break is not supposed to be a break from God! God can & wants to move in your life & the lives of those around you just as much on break as He does in Athens during the school year. Our challenge to you today is to not fall into the trap of laziness\disconnect from God by getting creative in your personal time with God today! Try something new & see how God shows up!

Ways You Can Retreat:    

 

  • Write a letter to yourself from God OR a letter to God from you
  • Listen to scripture rather than reading it
  • Do your version of “Go on a mountainside and pray”
  • Eat a sandwich with God - make yourself lunch & sit & talk to God
  • Go to a coffee shop & spend time praying\journaling\reading your bible
  • Write a spoken word/poem about a verse or word God has for you   
  • Go for a drive and talk to God
  • Do something you love and add God to it. If you love to paint, paint and talk to God. If you love to play basketball, shoot hoops and talk to God. He created you uniquely -he wants to speak to you in unique ways!
  • Turn off the music during your quiet time and put your phone in a different room - TOTALLY disconnect. Sit in silence & ask God to speak into what is going on in your life!
  • Go on a prayer walk with God

- Sarah C

Week One, Day Two: What Does it Mean to Spend Time with God?

Week One, Day Two: What Does it Mean to Spend Time with God?

picking up where we left off

So, if we know that a relationship with God is important and is supposed to be a dynamic, intimate friendship, that leaves a question that I think a lot of us have or have had before – what does it mean to spend time with God?

connection is the goal

There is no “correct” way to spend time with God. There is no formula or path or secret answer that God wants to reveal to us after months and years of trying to figure it out. Quite simply, time with God is being near to him. Connecting with him. Quality time. Quiet time. Talking, praying, listening. It can be called or look a million different ways - that’s part of the beauty of God. He created us differently, so of course he wants to spend time with us in different ways.

Jesus teaches us one aspect of spending time with God in Matthew 6:6 – “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”. We’ll talk more about prayer later this week, but the big thing to note about this verse today is the one-on-one, private, just you and God kind of time Jesus is talking about. God wants all of you when you spend time with Him, all of your focus, no distractions. The bottom line is – God just wants to be close to you. Everything flows from intimacy with him. If nothing else – spend some time with Him this winter break. It takes time to figure out how you love to spend time with God, just like it takes time to get to know a friend. You can’t mess it up, either. It’s foolproof – He’s not going anywhere.

pray 

God, thank you that you want to spend time with us. Thank you that you are a God that is personal and knows just what we need, even more than we do. Today and this winter break, teach me what it means to spend time with you. Show me what a life of being close to you looks like. Amen.

-Sarah T

Week One, Day One: Why Your Personal Relationship With God Matters

Week One, Day One: Why Your Personal Relationship With God Matters

the purpose of the cross

Your relationship with God is the most important thing to Him. Throughout the Bible, you see God’s relentless pursuit to love and restore humanity back to himself. Think about it… Relationship with you is the whole purpose of the cross!

When I take a step back, I realize that God didn’t have to step into our lives. He didn’t have to help us. He didn’t have to pay the penalty for our own sin. Yet He did. He did because He loves us. He did because He is a Father who purely desires connection with His kids. It’s put this way in 1 John 3, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 

you get to choose him

Relationship with God functions like every other relationship—it takes effort and time. Think about you and your best friend. You share memories. You have history. You have gone through hardships together. You enjoy each other. You communicate and spend time together. All of this happens because you have chosen one another. Honestly, this is exactly like relationship with God. He has chosen you, and you now get to choose Him. He’s the best choice you can make. 

Sometimes putting in effort to be close with God is difficult, but He’s worth it. He is the author of life, and when you are in relationship with the giver of life, you actually begin to truly live. He says that the fullness of joy is in His presence and eternal pleasure at His right hand. He gives abundantly to those in relationship with Him. He gives so many reasons to want to be close to Him, yet the greatest reason is Himself. He is the most faithful friend, the most generous person, the most loving Father. 

This week on the blog, we are focusing on our relationship with God, and I pray that you join me in choosing to give Him our time, attention, and effort. I’m really excited!!!!

- Tim