Monday, July 29, 2013

East Asia Summer Project

How do I write a summary of 7 weeks of spiritual growth and the phases of emotional highs and lows that felt as long as seasons? How do you put into words the face of someone who has never seen a Bible before as they see it for the first time? Or explain the way that conversations about who God is arose from thin air? How do I even begin to explain how much I learned about God and how he works…. how he uses us in each other’s lives. How community is given to us freely if we are just vulnerable enough to accept it… and how through that vulnerability we find blessings. Or how after the blessings there may be times of pain and struggle because we are only human, not one of us is God, and even though he uses us to edify one another… only He satisfies. That’s it. That’s the main thought, or fact rather, that I learned that is continuing to change me. Nothing else satisfies.
I thought I knew it before. Before East Asia the Lord gave me a sweet season of life. A time of happy changes and a period of seeking Him and desiring Him alone. Then he blessed me with wonderful friendships and community in Auburn, and a desire to serve him. He cultivated that desire in me so that I found myself, 3 weeks before leaving, in Atlanta at a briefing for the East Asia Summer Project. I was terrified, but even then he was teaching me to give it all to him, all my anxieties and fears. He made Luke 12 my source of comfort, and that was all I felt like I had to cling to.
So I went into the East Asia trip thinking: “Alright Lord, you’re on my side, I’m following you and in turn you’re going to use me in huge ways." Sounds a little conceited, right? Well it was. God graciously revealed to me in those 7 weeks and even since how prideful I am. God doesn’t need me, he doesn’t need this selfish, conceited person to bring people into his kingdom… But he chose to use me. He used all of us that went. He gave us boldness to share the gospel over and over... even when we didn’t want to, and that was when he did the most... when we had no energy left, when no power was in our hands, when all the glory had to go directly to Him allowing us to take no credit.  But He was gracious and through using us, he taught us so much about ourselves…  For me, He revealed that I was presumptuous. Even though I thought I was “giving it all over to God", I had selfish motives, thinking of what I would get from “being obedient". The funny thing is that even in the midst of all that, he still pursued me, he showed me that faith is not a feeling (that cheesy quote that we hear all our lives, especially if you grow up in the Presbyterian church), but it’s true. He increased my faith, he taught me that I had more to learn.
And that’s the thing, I never want to stop learning. I want Him to continue to teach me and refine me and grow me… I want to be open and vulnerable and willing to be led, because that’s life, that is walking with God, allowing Him in, allowing Him to make a beautiful butterfly out of an ugly caterpillar, and it’s one of my life cravings. The Lord did amazing things in East Asia, but the biggest thing that is so evident now is how he changed each of our hearts. Talking to my teammates after being back, I see how all of your hearts are set towards one thing: Christ. We now know that nothing else matters. And through us realizing this, Christ looked upon 
 us and led us with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, He eased the yoke of our jaws, and bent down, fed us, and continues to feed us because we stopped running from Him and started running towards Him. (paraphrase of Hosea 11:4). 

-Caroline Russell, Senior

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Fall is Quickly Approaching...

Hey everyone!

I hope you are having a great summer. We are really excited that in 5 weeks from today we will be kicking off our first Weekly Meeting of the Fall in Langdon Hall (nice rhyme there). We will be studying the "I Am's" of Jesus throughout John. There are 7 "I Am's" and it should be a rich time diving deeper into the words of the Son of God.

We will also do a 3 week series on Evangelism as you hear from different staff and their heart / knowledge on that topic. We will begin the series on October 15th. We can't wait to start back in the Fall, we are praying for you all. See you very soon!

PS- Stay tuned for testimonies from the Summer from: Greek Summit, East Asia, Jackson Hole, and more...

-The Auburn Cru Staff Team

Thursday, April 18, 2013

5 Tips for Abiding in Christ

As the semester winds to a close, I got to thinking about the importance of abiding or remaining in Christ. This has historically been one of the areas of my Christian life that I struggle with, yet God is always so faithful to remind me of its importance. A lot of times, I find myself relying on my own strength, personality, and ability. Here are 5 practical ways that I have found helpful to remain in Christ throughout the day. This list isn't exhaustive but just a few thoughts...

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." 

John 15:5-7

1. Recognize your need for Jesus

This is where it all starts for me. If I wake up aware of my own sin, brokenness, imperfection and need for Jesus, my day is already off in the right direction. The days when I am unaware of my need for Jesus are the days when I struggle most with abiding in Him. How / why can we abide or remain in Someone we don't desperately need?

2. Pray

Prayer is so crucial in maintaining a vibrancy and intimacy in our relationship with the Lord. There is a really good chance that on the days when I have spent set aside time in prayer, abiding comes easier. Prayer helps merge and fuse together our hearts and desires with God's. It allows us to see the world not through our own eyes but with fresh eyes of faith as we commune with the Creator of the Universe. If we are abiding, our prayers will be for 'Your Kingdom to come, Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven' (Matthew 6:10).

3. Read the Bible!

'For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart' (Heb 4:12). Pretty simply, on any given day, my mind is either being influenced and shaped by the culture or by God's Word. Being immersed in the Scriptures is so critical to abide in Him. How do we know who this Jesus is that we follow until He reveals Himself to us through God's Word? I have been amazed in the past 2-3 years by certain passages of Scripture. It is shocking, profound, and we must see it for ourselves rather than have someone else constantly feed us from it.

4. Obey 

Sin breaks fellowship with God. If we read our Bibles and know them backward and forward that is great... but James makes it clear that we must, 'be doers of the word, and not hears only deceiving yourselves' (James 1:22).

5. Preach the Gospel to ourselves all the time

The reality is we will not be able to measure up to God's perfect standard. When we fail, we must continually remind ourselves of the truth of God's Word. Cling to some verses like, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom 5:8) or "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). In the words of John Bunyan:

Run, John, run, the law commands 
But gives us neither feet nor hands, 
Far better news the gospel brings:
It bids us fly and gives us wings
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." (John 15:9)

Stege Wheeler

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Believing the Gospel

How thankful I am that we have a God who doesn't leave us where we are and continually fights for us and for our sanctification (making us more into Christ's likeness). Recently, I have had the humbling but wonderful opportunity to be reminded of this the hard way. This past weekend, I was made very aware of sin in my life that I had become numb to and okay with. From my speech to my conduct to my thought life, I had let my flesh and thoughts from the enemy lead me instead of being filled with the Spirit. We so easily look to this world and even our Christian friends as a standard as to how we should live instead of our perfect standard, Christ. As believers we are called to live above reproach. This means how we should be speaking and acting is clear in God's Word. Correction from the Holy Spirit, along with my sweet husband, helped me realize how the past few months I have slowly let my relationship with The Lord become a lesser priority in my life. It's so easy to let other things, even good things like serving The Lord through leading small groups, or attending worship services, take precedence over spending time sitting at Jesus’ feet. He tells us what is better in the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-32): sitting at his feet. The God of the whole universe wants to know us personally and deeply before anything else! How amazing is that? Yet we can busy ourselves to the point where we don't even have to reflect on our spiritual status. 

Having my sin made blatantly aware to me made me realize how I had stopped seeing the Gospel as good news and more like old news. I had slowly let myself get distracted and Satan ran with any opportunity he could get to add to this. I gradually let intentional time with The Lord turn to reading some verses and saying a quick prayer to mark it off my to do list. As this sin had manifested, my heart broke seeing how I had strayed, and I came running back to my Father, repentant and incredibly thankful. The gospel is GREAT news. We must preach it to ourselves daily. Our Lord paid an incredible price so that we can live in freedom and without condemnation. It is only by His mercy and grace that we are forgiven. It's easy to let guilt and shame creep in, but I see my deep need to accept forgiveness, repent, and believe that Jesus has paid for it all. It humbles me to see myself stumble, but it points me continually back to my need for the Cross and the fact that I cannot do it on my own. 

So I pray this encourages you in times of stumbling, in times of apathy, and maybe even causes you to pray and look inward and ask The Lord to show you any offensive way in you (Psalm 139:23-24). I pray for you to experience the Gospel in a real and deep way today and everyday, and encourage you to pray daily for the Holy Spirit to fill you, to experience His grace anew each day, and to turn and run from sin. He will answer and always provide immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine.

-Allison Granger

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A few things the Lord has been teaching me lately...

             I hope this blog-post finds you doing well. We are full-swing into this fast-flying Spring semester, and I am humbled and excited to share with you some of what the Lord has been doing in my heart thus far. As I reflect on some of these things, I am continually reminded of the Lord’s continual faithfulness to his people in and out of season. Whether we sense it or feel it, or whether we don’t feel it or understand it at all, the Lord is faithful to all of his promises, and I have been continually reminded of that throughout the past few months.
This season the Lord has been teaching me through his Word and through many circumstances that his love for me is beyond my comprehension. As I read and study through the book of Joshua, I am continually reminded that God not only inspires us and protects us, but that he also provides for us and even fights for us. Seeing the story of Joshua and even into the story of the Judges, we see a continual cycle of God’s people sinning, worshiping idols, being punished, crying out to God for help, being rescued through a person sent by God, obeying for a while, then falling back into idolatry all over again. And in so many ways as I see this theme of God’s people’s faithlessness and God’s continual mercy and faithfulness, I am reminded of my own life. This is the story of my life. However, my prayer is that in continually seeing God’s faithfulness, I will continue to grow in my faith and trust in Him; that those idols and distractions would progressively lose their power and temptation in my life that I might experience the fullness of fellowship with God through Christ and His Holy Spirit. However, though, I am by no means where Christ longs for me to be, I am humbled and overjoyed at the growth I have experienced in my love for Him. It truly is a miracle to look back over the last 5-6 years of my life in college up until now and see what the Lord has done in my life.  And in all these things, I know and trust that God is at work in more ways than I can see not only in my life but also in the lives of the students that I am pursuing and discipling.
Also, in some new news… I am saddened but also very excited to share with you some things the Lord has been putting on my heart concerning my future. As I conclude my 2nd intern year with CRU, the Lord has been putting many desires/thoughts/feelings on my heart about where he is calling me for this next year. Through the Lord’s leading and much wise counsel, I have decided to pursue some work opportunities outside of full-time ministry in the business world. And in so many ways, this transition will not be that easy for me especially leaving Auburn and this amazing staff team community; however, the Lord, once again, is so faithful, and I know he has an amazing plan to use me in powerful ways in a new place as I continue to depend on him. I look forward to keeping you posted on specifically where I will be and what I will be doing as well as sharing more of my thoughts behind the vision I have for pursuing the Lord and having a ministry in the workplace!

In Him,
Jay Edwards

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nicaragua Spring Break '13

Well for starters, our God is sovereign over ALL things. Without the Holy Spirit working in us, transforming us, we would not have been able to share the Word and witness God’s miraculous work in action. Our group of 64 students from Auburn witnessed miracles, the Holy Spirit’s presence, and many MANY prayers answered… and that’s just the brief version of the story. We traveled to two barrios in Nicaragua “Paradise,” and “Marvin,” to evangelize door-to-door in the mornings and led vacation Bible school in the afternoons. In Marvin, we had a team of 6-8 students build a feeding station next to the church, which we later got to see in action! On day four of our time in Nicaragua, we visited a nursing home and orphanage in Leon. After such a busy schedule, you would guess that our team would be worn out by day two, but by day five I don’t think one person felt any less excited as we did when we arrived.

As we left the beautiful country of Nicaragua, I know my heart was not the only heart that sank. We all know that the magnificent work of the Lord did not finish there, and we had excitement to continue in it when we got home. But God’s Word comforts us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This week’s experience will be one that last a lifetime. We got the privilege to plant seeds of faith in the people of Nicaragua, and also felt the Lord work in us as His love encouraged us and transformed us more and more into His likeness. I think I can speak for each student on the trip when I say that this week was a week we will remember for the rest of our lives.

One other detail I noticed was that the Lord taught us to allow ourselves to be a tool for His work, stretch us to be obedient, and to not doubt His wonders. God answered our prayers and shattered the box that we put Him in, and I personally felt compelled to rest in the fact that our God is the maker of heaven and earth, and that He constantly reminds us that, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. The reality that the people we met hunger for the Word of God, regardless of their striking stories of hardship, is incredible and humbling. The joy we saw from people coming to faith in Christ and coming to learn about the glory of His name is miraculous and was so encouraging to us. This experience has opened a world of perspectives that we as followers of Christ should have been considering all along in our walk with Jesus.

Sometimes I catch myself in doubt of what the Lord can do in my life, but this week proved to me that these are only doubts in myself, feeling unworthy of His incredible love for His people. I have struggled to understand how God can use us as flawed beings to give His perfect and holy name glory. Well, I think that I can say now that not only did He work in me this week, but I’m starting to notice the way the Lord calls us to be an active tool for His glory here in Auburn. It’s almost as if He is saying something along the lines of “Mary Kate, do you really doubt the author of creation? Forget your sins, your imperfections, and make yourself available to me and my works. I will answer your prayers for a Christ-like life, if you pick up your cross and follow me.” So that’s just it. I know that I once was dead, and now I am a new creation. And honestly, I think I prefer to be dead to the world, full of material and temporary things, than to be dead to the everlasting love, joy and fulfillment of our almighty Father.

So clearly I could ramble on for days, but to sum up this amazing week in Nicaragua, I would have to say we were graciously blessed by the freedom to laugh, freedom from worldly matters, and just free to live in the joy of our God and the unconditional love that He pleasantly covers us in as we seek to find Him even in dark places. His light will always shine here in Auburn, in Nicaragua, and in our hearts as long as we are on this earth.

-Mary Kate McClendon (Sophomore)

Here is a link to a video summary of our week: