Birthdays & Best Friends

Yesterday was my 23rd birthday. I got to go home and spend sunday morning with my Oaks church family. That was the best birthday present ever. It’s amazing how I can walk in that sanctuary and immediately feel loved, cared for, and known (for better AND worse) by everyone. It’s like being welcomed into the kingdom of God every time I am with you all. You guys are truly blessed and I missed you.

And to top it all off, all of Kevin and my closest friends went to Chipotle after to celebrate with me! Many even came with cards and gifts! I can’t believe how blessed I feel to have women such as these in my life. They make me laugh, share life with me, and challenge me to keep following Jesus and growing in my knowledge and love for him…all the way from OHIO! It feels like every time I come home, they gather together to remind me how much they love me. You guys make it way too hard for someone to live in another state!!

So to everyone who I saw last week, this sunday, and will see me next weekend– You have blessed me more than you know on what could have been a particularly homesick birthday. I am thankful for every second I get with each of you.

witnessing life.

Sunday I got the privilege to watch four baptisms at The Oaks Community Church. I cried during each one, as they were all people who have been in my life in some way or another during the past 8 years and whom I have witnessed come from death to life!

Laura was the upperclassmen I looked up to my freshman year on the varsity cross-country team. “Thornie” and I were close as we ran together everyday for two years, but I lost touch with her when she moved to OSU. There she was introduced to Christ through some college friends. By God’s grace, she entered the doors of the Oaks one Sunday last fall and the change in her was evident. Today she got to profess her salvation!

Courtney was the cute freshman who came around to YL and ran on track relays with me my senior year. When I came to college, I had heard stories of her from a distance: how she met Jesus, how she was building into so many of her friends…and then this year, she ends up coming to Miami, to the Oaks, and is in my bible study! What a blessing to walk beside her. I am seeing her die to idols and live to Christ’s righteousness alone. What a blessing to watch her declaration of faith today!

I remember sitting at Java Johnnys with Jackie when she was a freshman- the cool, artsy girl Abbie was building into. She sat there amongst our friends as we talked about biblical dating and the Gospel…now almost 2 years later, she is a member at the Oaks and is a woman of the Lord whom I greatly respect and admire for her faith and reckless abandonment from her old life. Her baptism Sunday was such an awesome example of God’s grace.

I’ve known Jen for the past four years and her transformation is incredible. I remember Meg talking about her class friend at MUM and how she was asking lots of questions about the Lord. On spring break we stayed at her home in Georgia on our way to Florida. Seeing the brokenness in her heart and her attraction to the our lives, it was evident that she would soon put her hope in Jesus. Sure enough, the beginning of her sophomore year, Jesus saved her and the past 3 years I’ve witnessed her sanctification in the midst of community and within the church. What an awesome day to reflect on what God has done in her life!

All that to say, Sunday was bitter-sweet. I realized what a blessing being in community is. I have seen God move in and transform countless lives around me. Each friend I witness come to know Jesus or be sanctified by his grace pushes me closer to the God that is alive and moving all around us! Kevin and I realized how we will be entering into a new community where we don’t know people and haven’t witnessed the grace God has had on that church. It is exciting and scary, but I know it is God pushing us to sacrifice immediate community here for eternal community in Louisville (and wherever he takes us)! God give us eyes to see your kingdom being ushered in!

Thank you Church

Yesterday some of my close friends and I made the drive to Nashville to see Dave Barnes play with Steve Moakler and Ben Rector.  It was great. We stayed at Danielle’s, who is a good friend of Meg’s, and has been an encouragement to many of us this past year.  She loves Jesus. Plain and simple. Danielle moved to Nashville in January, after having graduated from OU and spending some time in Springboro, figuring out what God wanted for her.  Danielle didn’t really have a lot of roots anywhere- her experience at OU left her without a ton of community, and she was starting to get plugged in with Apex (a church in Centerville), but other than that, wasn’t really part of a body.  When God called her to go to Nashville, she went.  She now is a part of a body. She belongs to Immanuel Church, pastored by Ray Ortlund of Acts 29.  She is part of a community group, works in the city, and does ministry in the city.  It was really cool to hear about her life this weekend.

But it caused some anxiousness in my sinful heart.  While we were talking, I couldn’t help but daydream of moving.  It’s been on my mind a lot, especially since circumstances around me are hard.  I think about how easy it would be to not have to face each day the things that tempt me to despair.  This semester I have had a lot of things taken away that I once found security in.  Somedays I can’t bear the pain of not having those things.  Somedays community is hard and I feel lonely.  I think about how it would be easy to move, clean myself up, build new community, and start over. It would be easy to have my idols and try to hide from people, and essentially, hope that God doesn’t see me either.

Here’s the thing though: I am part of a body here.  I am known here.  I have a community that knows my sin and idols so well that they can see my motives and call me to repentance…even when it is the last thing I want to hear.  I have community that wants me to deal with my idols and find healing in them through Jesus, instead of letting me run away to somewhere new where the sin can be hidden until provoked once more.  I have a community that pleads with me to not enslave myself to my desires.  I had a community that has seen my sin, but defines me by Christ’s righteousness instead.  I have community that wants me to know the surpassing worth of Jesus and place my hope and joy in him.  They will not let me settle.

I am thankful today. I have people who don’t let me put my hope in them, but rather point me to Him who is worthy of my praise and wants to fill me with the glory of Himself.

Danielle is jealous for what I have at the Oaks.  She wants to be deeply known by her new community (which is happening) and is amazed that I would fear that.  I guess it is scary being known because it means I have people who won’t let me turn to sin and will know the most sinful desires of my heart.  But it is comforting because these women commit to walk beside me toward holiness–even when it is painful.  Thank you church.  Your patience and love makes me want to love Jesus more and desire sin less.

The Oaks Members

“all of our need to hide comes from being afraid to be naked before God, but we are supposed to be letting him cover us with the righteousness of his son. We tend to go back to the old coverings and old righteousness which will never help us. Only as we begin to rely on Jesus’ righteousness, and repent of our false righteousness, will we become undefensive and great of heart and will become loving and become the kind of people that will provide covering for others.” -Tim Keller

http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/nakedness-holiness-god