How the Winter Retreat Gave Me Another Family

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CHRISTEN SUMMERLIN // UGA ALUM

Hey there! It’s me, Christen Summerlin here to tell you why you should go to Winter Retreat.

First things first, who even am I? Well, I am a Watty College Grad who had her life so impacted by Watkinsville First Baptist Church that she decided to stick around after college. In all seriousness, I genuinely love WFBC and Watty College. Coming from a small town in South Georgia (229 represent), this church become my home away from home, and going on winter retreat my junior year solidified a bond that was growing between WFBC and myself.

So, why should you go on winter retreat? Here are four questions I think that will help you make the decision for yourself:

1. Are you searching for a home church?

If you haven’t already found a church home here in Athens, I highly recommend you do and that you choose WFBC. Yes, I know, this is supposed to be a blog post about Winter Retreat, but I believe that this retreat can be a stepping stone for you into the larger body of believers that is WFBC. Having this community around me over the past 6.5 years has been more impactful than any other involvement I had in college. Our church believes in generations impacting the world together through the gospel, and this is where you can begin that journey!

2. Are you searching for a community of believers who will help you in your walk with Christ?

Now, I will try to not get all sappy and sentimental here, but Watty College, and specifically the Winter Retreat, is where I have made my lifelong friends. But the thing is, these aren’t superficial friendships. These are friendships that help you in the sanctification process that we as believers are all going through. I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t have the amazing friends I have now without going on Winter Retreat!  

Me and Elizabeth Vice (aka my best friend) at my first Winter Retreat in 2014...

Me and Elizabeth Vice (aka my best friend) at my first Winter Retreat in 2014...

Me and Evice at the 2017 retreat! LOOK AT THE LOVE

Me and Evice at the 2017 retreat! LOOK AT THE LOVE

3. Are you searching for more knowledge and understanding of the Gospel of Christ and the Bible?

This has to be the most important question that you could ask about whether or not you want to go to Winter Retreat. Vic Doss is one of the best gospel teaching preachers that I know (mainly because I don’t know Matt Chandler personally). But Vic and the teaching team of Watty College LOVE the Bible. They don’t shy away from hard topics and will dive head first into rich texts. I can guarantee that if you go on this retreat, you will walk away with more knowledge of God and His holy Word.

4. Are you searching for some GOOD food?

Okay, so if all of the above hasn’t enticed you to go ahead and sign up for the retreat, this is my last attempt. Guys, you DO NOT want to miss out on “Fancy” John Gilliam’s food. The man has a gift. Some might call it a spiritual gift, I don’t know. All I know is the food is amazing and home-cooked. You know good and well you aren’t going to get good home-cooked meals in the dining halls, so go ahead and sign up.  

So, I hope that by now you’ve made your decision to sign up for the Winter Retreat. I promise you that you won’t regret it!

 

Posted on November 29, 2017 .

3 Reasons Why Insanely Busy College Students MUST Rest

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MCGEE NALL // SENIOR

Something Courtney posted on her blog the other day struck a chord with me (if you haven't read it yet, stop reading this right now and click here), and I think it's a great reflection of what we briefly discussed this past Sunday in Exodus 23. 

But first, let's pause and review, shall we? This is what God said about the Sabbath in Exodus 20 and 23 (a little long, but hey, it's the literal Word of God):

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy...

You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves. Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth.
— Exodus 20:8-11, 23:10-13

Remember what Vic and Chris Fitz said? We should work our TAILS off for six days, and then rest. I know. Rest is such a foreign concept for us college students, I get it.

But here are a few reasons why we as busy college students MUST understand the value of rest:

1. Rest keeps us from sinning.

We've all been exhausted, weary, and dare I say "hangry" before, right? Maybe you feel that right now (I do). What happens when we get that way? We become self-absorbed. We constantly think about how tired or frustrated we are, we don't serve our roommates, we snap at our parents over the phone, we become doubtful, irritable, bitter, and worrisome. Perhaps the worst of all is that we become prideful. Remember what the guys said: 

"When we reject rest, we're rejecting God's sovereignty because we feel like stuff can't happen without us." 

Which perfectly correlates to John Piper's "theology of sleep" that they mentioned on Sunday: 

Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God. “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). But Israel will. For we are not God. Once a day God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness. The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable. To cure us of this disease God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day...Sleep is like a broken record that comes around with the same message every day: Man is not sovereign. Man is not sovereign. Man is not sovereign. Don’t let the lesson be lost on you. God wants to be trusted as the great worker who never tires and never sleeps. He is not nearly so impressed with our late nights and early mornings as he is with the peaceful trust that casts all anxieties on him and sleeps.

When we rest, it's like wiping fog off of our glasses. It gives us new perspective to not just focus on ourselves, but on the world around us. Sleep is continual practice and rehearsal of saying, "I am not in control. I am not in control. I am not in control." Why do you think He created us to where we must sleep every night? Because we are a finite, forgetful people who need DAILY reminders that we are not God and must let Him do His work while we rest.

Does that mean we should snooze all the time? No. Let's not conform to our negative stereotype as being lazy millennials, okay? Let's work our butts off, but then turn around and take time to rest, spend time in the Word, and trust in Him. This attitude will look a lot different than our lost friends, won't it?

Speaking of attitude: 

2. Rest teaches us how to be more like God

Earlier this year I started rereading Mark Buchanan's The Rest of God (oh my word guys, you must read this) and it reminded me of a very important lesson: Sabbath is not just one day. It's an attitude. Sabbath is something that should consume you, even when craziness and busyness ensues. (Again long, but SORRY NOT SORRY.)

A Sabbath heart is restful even in the midst of unrest and upheaval. It is attentive to the presence of God and others even in the welter of much coming and going, rising and falling. It is still and knows God even when the mountains fall into the sea... (pg. 4)

”The Exodus command, with its call to imitation, plays on a hidden irony: we mimic God in order to remember we’re not God. In fact, that’s a good definition of Sabbath: imitating God so that we stop trying to be God. We mirror divine behavior only to freshly discover our human limitations. Sabbath-keeping involves a recognition of our own weakness and smallness, that we are made from dust, that we hold our treasure in clay jars, and that without proper care we break...

BUT WAIT, LET'S REMIND OURSELVES THAT THIS IS NOT ABOUT US *Cue Buchanan again*

This is not true of God. He neither sleeps nor slumbers. He runs no risk of breakdown, burnout, exhaustion, injury. God doesn’t need Sabbath or sabbatical. He doesn’t pine for vacation. He doesn’t require a good night’s sleep to clear His head or steady His hand. He doesn’t run ragged and run amok, pushing himself beyond his limits, patching himself together between bursts of striving and binges of workaholism. God is not waiting for the weekend. 

God is complete without rest. 

But not us...we think we’re the exception, the one for whom busyness will translate into fruitfulness...we think...we can also figure a way around our God-imposed need for stillness. We can’t. The need is not conjured away by medication, technology, discipline, cleverness, sheer willfulness. It always come back to take its due. 

So God, knowing both our need and our folly, took the lead. He set the example. Like a parent who coaxes a cranky toddler to lie down for an afternoon nap by lying down beside her, God woos us into rest by resting. ‘For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.’ God commands that we imitate Him in order to discover again that we’re not Him, and that we need Him. 

Sabbath is a return to Eden. That’s Exodus. (pg. 87-88)

BAM, RIGHT?? I mean dang, I sure needed that today. I'm still recovering from an exhausting week and was on the verge of serious panicking this morning as I was trying to figure out how to squeeze in a project before Thanksgiving break. Without even knowing I was slowly losing my sanity, my sweet mom (shoutout to Kim Nall) sent me an email. There were lots of words she said, sweet, life-giving words I'll remember for the rest of my life. But this is the message the Lord gave her one morning, and the message I want you to hear:

He told me that I have been looking on the head of a pin, when I should be looking at the expanse of the heavens – as in, ‘What are you doing, beloved? You are staring at the head of a pin, your vision of Me is so so so so small,. Your perspective of Me is so starved. QUIT LOOKING AS IF YOU ARE LOOKING AT THE HEAD OF A PIN! LOOK TO THE HEAVENS! Do you see how big enormous gargantuan indescribable undefinable I am? You are not asking anything of Me as if you really believe that I would, or that I would care for you enough to do beyond.

My glasses had been fogged up. In my exhaustion, because I had not properly rested, my weakness and doubt started to cloud my vision. I needed my mother's encouragement, the truth from the Lord, to breathe away the fog. I had prayed scared, fearful prayers, instead of doing what Vic and Joel have been teaching us all along through Exodus: "fear the right thing." 

Remember what Moses tells the Israelites after God gives them the 10 commandments? The former slaves are shaking in their boots (sandals, whatever) and Moses says: 

“Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.”
— Exodus 20:20

If there's one thing I've taken away from Exodus this semester, it's this: PUT YOUR FEAR IN THE RIGHT PLACE. You should not fear what the people of this world fear: rejection from friends, failure in the workplace, death, hopelessness, etc. Out of awe, reverence, and respect for Him, we should fear the Almighty God because the God of Exodus—of pillars of fire and raging seas and smoked-covered mountains—is OUR GOD, and the same power of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives within us, therefore, WE SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID. 

Anyways. My mother's note reminded me of another reason why we need rest: 

3. Rest helps us do the one necessary thing.

Now, FINALLY, I can talk about Courtney's post. She talked about Mary and Martha and how she felt convicted about being like Martha lately (I can relate on a deep level). But Jesus tells Martha to do something different—to stop, and remember the most important thing in the entire world. While Mary is "seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His Word," Jesus gives Martha a word just for her (and all of us like her):

Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
— Luke 10:41-42

Notice two things here: 

1. "ONLY ONE THING IS NECESSARY": when you sense the old flesh starting to dominate you, and you desperately need the truth, encouragement, and bluntness of Scripture, you better drop everything and RUN to the feet of Jesus, because: 

2. "WHICH SHALL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER": I don't think I've paid attention to that phrase until now, but spending time with Jesus and meditating on His Word is never, EVER a waste of time. Now, does that mean we should neglect all other responsibilities and just stay locked in our room for 9 hours studying the Bible and geeking over Blue Letter Bible cross references?? Of course not. But when the Lord is drawing us to Himself, or we sense the Holy Spirit stirring in our hearts, or we desperately crave the Word, then by golly, let's run after it and follow Courtney's advice:

So get up out the bed. Sit up. Drink that coffee. Do some jumping jacks. Whatever you need to do. COMMIT to sitting at the feet of Jesus in God’s Word. We make time for everything else under the sun—why wouldn’t we make time for the MOST necessary thing?

SO. After all that blabbing you're probably wondering what it looks like to rest practically, right? There obviously isn't a mathematical formula for this, but here's how we can start: 

1. Drop on your knees and pray. Remember what Mama Nall said? JUST ASK. Get in the posture of asking and straight up ask the Lord to teach you how to rest. 

2. Know what stirs your affections for Christ. I think somewhere we fell into this trap of believing all of our "quiet times" had to look the same. It has to be at 5:30 in the morning, or be cute with flowery, calligraphy-covered journals, or be on top of a literal mountain. What gets you PUMPED about Jesus?? For me, I LOVE singing worship music in the car on my way to school. I LOVE praying while running on trails. When I have extra time, I LOVE going through a book of the Bible and furiously taking notes like a nerd. You know yourself better than you think—what gets you excited about Jesus? Stop trying to be like your favorite Christian on Instagram and do what you need to do.

3. Turn off your dang phone, and give yourself at least a few hours one day this week to do whatever would feel great to you. Nap. Read Harry Potter. Catch up with your roommates. Journal. Sketch. Build something. WHATEVER. Just do it, and do it with a posture of praise and thanksgiving.

Speaking of thanksgiving, let's go into this break and actually, really, TRULY rest. Don't fill every second of every day doing something or meeting with someone. Give yourself time and space to sit with the Lord and reflect on who HE is. I leave you with words from an old hymn (that no one sings, why, I don't know) called "Father, I Know That All My Life":

I would not have the restless will
that hurries to and fro, 
seeking for some great thing to do,
or secret thing to know; 
I would be treated as a child, 
and guided where I go.
Posted on November 14, 2017 .

Necrosis in Our Hearts

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KAYLEE SHAVER // SENIOR

Webster’s dictionary defines "necrosis" as this: “death of living tissue; specifically, death of a portion of tissue differentially affected by local injury (as loss of blood supply, corrosion, burning, or the local lesion of a disease).”

As I was scrolling through social media this week, I came upon a medical case (cause ya girl follows a lot of medical accounts) where a man was bitten by a rattlesnake, a viper whose venom has necrotizing factors that causes destruction of human flesh. And as defined, his flesh began disintegrating as time progressed.

First, beneath the skin, then revealing the destruction when the skin melts away. Eventually, he had huge gaping holes on his hand and arm where there used to be skin and muscle. If he did not see a doctor soon, the venom would infiltrate his entire system, shut down his kidneys, and he could die.

Thankfully, once he finally arrived at the hospital, the doctors were able to control the necrosis, and over the course of 11 surgeries and the amazing work of the surgeons, this man received a skin graft and ultimately didn’t lose his life or limb. (Sorry if that was too much for you, I am not one to get squeamish. I like the gory details.)

This reminded me of the effects that sin has in our lives. Our God is good. He is perfect. He is strong. He is powerful. He deserves all the glory in Heaven and on Earth.

“There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.” Jeremiah 10:6

But sin is necrotic. It creeps in our lives. It destroys us from the inside out. At the beginning, there are no outward signs. We are just living our lives, not thinking of Christ, not thinking of the grace that has been bestowed upon us, forgetting that: 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.” Ephesians 2:8

But as time progresses, the sin becomes more and more apparent to our own awareness. We begin to notice its effects, but maybe, we choose to ignore it. “Oh, the pain will go away. This is just a trial. This is just a phase. I will make it through this.” But as these thoughts continue, the sin continues to decimate everything in its path; its path of destruction. One-by-one, the cells of our body break down and succumb to this sin and let it control our lives. It moves in a war path – taking everything as victim.

Eventually, this inward destruction comes to the surface. And it grows and grows and grows until you can no longer hide it. You have big gaping holes in your soul, your flesh. And, your soul decays and becomes unrecognizable. And if left untreated, this sin will kill you. It will result in forever separation from the Lord.

“For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23

But there is good news. There is a happy end to this story. Yes, the wages of sin is death, BUT,

“.. the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In the fashion of the snake bite case, we are given another chance. Jesus, the perfect, sinless, son of God, died the death that we deserved, took on all the sins of the world – past, present, and future – bore the wrath of the Father, was dead three days in a tomb, rose to life, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. This Jesus, died in our place and took on the necrosis of the sin we committed, so that we may have new life and give glory to the Father, the giver of life. We can be given the forgiveness of sins. And, we are made new in him, and given a new life in him.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

“If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:10-11

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Posted on November 7, 2017 .

Wyatt's Story & Sharing Yours

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MCGEE NALL // SENIOR 

HEY GANG welcome back from Fall Break!! Just in case you missed in all of the hullabaloo that comes with transitioning from vacation to misery (ehem, I mean school/work), we had an exciting new podcast come out this weekend!! 

Don't lie, you've seen this face before. If you can't find Wyatt Dyches, there's a good chance he is somewhere around Watty, singing Celine Dion, making people laugh, or just plain serving the church. He's the events intern and is always on the move, finding ways to making people happy. 

So we know you've probably met Wyatt, but do you know him? Do you know how he came to know the Lord? Well, here's your chance to find out. We're so proud of his courage to share both his struggles and his triumphs in coming to know Jesus. The work of the Holy Spirit is evident in his life and we'd love for you to hear more of where that came from. 

Wyatt's Testimony

If something has been laid on your heart to share—your testimony, a passage of Scripture, a cool gospel conversation with a classmate, etc.—please reach out! I know it probably feels weird to take the initiative of emailing someone you don't know a piece of your story, but here's the deal. When God teaches us things and does a mighty work in our life, what are we called to do? TELL. EVERYONE. If you look at the New Testament, when people are healed from lifelong diseases or hear the good news of Jesus Christ, what do they do? They REJOICE and SHOUT ABOUT IT to they know, which often leads to even MORE people coming to Christ! Even if you don't tell us, good grief, tell someone. I guarantee someone in your life could use encouragement and hear the faithfulness of the Lord. Also, it just gives Him glory, which is whole point anyway, isn't it? 

If you want to share something, send it to college@watkinsville.org. Even if you have absolutely nothing you want to tell us but just want to meet more of the college team and get involved, we want to meet you! 

Posted on October 30, 2017 .

5 Reasons Why You Should Come to Winter Retreat

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JAKE DONOVAN // SENIOR // COLLEGE INTERN

“Why should I go to Watty retreat?” That is probably a question some of you have contemplated these past few days. “Why in the world would I want to spend a weekend with a bunch of people I don’t know super well in Helen, Georgia?”

Well, I could probably give you about 100 reasons why you should come, but I’m just going to simplify it down to five:

1.  You can find and develop genuine community.

When I first got to Athens, I didn't know many people and, to be honest, I was pretty miserable.  That’s when Watkinsville came in. The people took me in like I had always been a part of their family, but it wasn't until retreat that those relationships started to grow and become more than just knowing someone's name. You will meet new people, make new friends, and develop a meaningful, life-giving, biblical community.

2. You will learn the value of the local church.

To say the Retreat helped me fall in love with the local church is a bit of an understatement. I went from just going on Sunday mornings to applying to be an intern in a matter of weeks. This weekend will help you see the value of the church and give you a desire to grow, serve, and learn as part of the church.

3. You will get Fancy John’s cooking.

I don’t think I really need to say anymore.

4. You will have an absolute blast!

Imagine a weekend where you are staying with some of the coolest people around! You can stay up all night playing spikeball, catchphrase, or just hanging out. Even the car ride is fun, and trust me, you can learn a lot about someone from just riding with them and listening to what music they play.

5.  You will grow in your relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

Let’s face it: seasons of life change. The communities we are in change, the people we spend time with change, the places we live change…but the God we worship never changes. College is a time to learn about who you are, but also time to learn who your Creator is. The Savior of the world wants to have a relationship with you! This weekend is a chance for you to grow in your knowledge of Him as well as your relationship with Him. Come worship the One true King who deserves our worship, and watch Him shape and mold you into the person he desires for you to be.

Sign up now! I know you’re free, because nobody makes plans that far in advance. Commit to joining us MLK weekend for a great time of growing your relationship with the Lord, building community, and just having fun! 

 

Posted on October 24, 2017 .

Fully Known

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CALEB BARNES // INTERN COORDINATOR

Everyone wants to be known in some shape form or fashion. The musician wants their music to be known: streaming on Spotify and the radio, downloaded on iTunes (do people still do this?), played live at venues across the country. The athlete wants their athleticism to be known: displayed on the highest levels in arenas and stadiums, broadcasted in every house across the globe, and their name worn on the back of every fan’s t-shirt. The celebrity wants their talents to be known: displayed in every blockbuster movie, their face plastered on every major product and billboard, and simply for attention they sometimes even want their private lives on all the tabloids.

The reality is they all want to be known, and can the same be said of us? Us “regular” people? Do we just want to be known by someone? By our friends, our families, our professors, our future employers? The answer is yes! I know for me it is. We all want them to see our hard work, our intelligence, our skills, our drive and ambition, our go-get ‘em attitude. This hunger to be known often leads us to put in long hours of studying to make the good grade, work long hours late into the night to impress the boss, put in extra hours at the gym to get faster and stronger for our coach (or maybe to impress the girl). All of these things are great ambitions to have! To achieve a goal, you have to put in the hard work. But here’s the next question: what happens when after all that hard work you still don’t feel known? You still don’t feel like anyone notices you? You still feel like no matter where you turn, there is no one to go to? Here is the best news you will ever hear (no exaggeration, I’m serious):

The God of the universe, the One who spoke the world into existence, knows YOU. In addition, He not only knows you, He knows everything about you. He knows the number of hairs on your head (Matt. 10:30, Luke 12:7), He knows the number of days you will live (Ps. 139:16), and He even knew you before the foundations of the world (Eph 1:4)! How cool is that?! The King of kings, and Lord of lords, knows you by name! Not only that, He loves us and accepts us, flaws and all (Rom. 5:8)! So when we are out here doing all these great things, instead of doing them FOR love and acceptance, do them FROM love and acceptance, knowing that God already loves and accepts you. And this news is liberating! We no longer have to do things for the attention of others, we can know that we already have the attention of Jesus! This then frees us to do what God has called us to do: fear Him, and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13-14).

We exist to glorify God, and we do that by knowing Him and making Him known. Therefore, it is imperative that we change our perspective. While it is nice to aspire to be known by people and do things for people, ultimately we are called to know God and do all things for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31)! We are called to do things for His name and renown (Isa 26:8), not our own glory and fame. As we have studied all throughout this semester in Revelation, the things of this world will be here today and be gone tomorrow! But the glory of God will be here FOREVER!

So, what are you aspiring to? Do you want to be known? Or, do you want your life to be used for the glory of God so that HE is known?

Posted on October 21, 2017 .

New Podcast & Reflection on Exodus 13-17

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MCGEE NALL // SENIOR

Hey gang! Our follow-up podcast is now live, so blast this in your car on your way to work or listen to it on walks to class! Click the link below:

4 Takeaways for an Impossible Situation

On this episode, you're going to hear from our rad teaching team, Vic and Joel, and also two guests. One of which is yours truly, and the other is Watty's communication intern, Sydney Roberson! Here the we give you four main takeaways from Exodus that might help you if you're currently in what seems like an impossible situation. Remember: "in between an impossible situation and an improbable answer, there is God." 

Something we touch on in the podcast and one of the key points that has stuck with me since Sunday is this: what am I afraid of? Is my fear in the right place?

Here are some quotes and ideas I snagged from the teaching:

  • "The right fear will motivate you to praise."
  • "The temptation is always ultimately putting fear in the wrong place."
  • "In the midst of temptation, immediately turn to the Lord and ask that He would display His glory in your life."
  • "When the Israelites lacked in something—when they needed to cross the sea, when they needed bread, when they needed water—those aren't the things they needed. They needed God."

I think most of our temptations don't come from "big and bad" sins like lust, lying, stealing, etc. While we may struggle with those things, I think the temptations that trip us up the most involve not trusting in who God says He is and has proven Himself to be. We fear things that have far less value and power. 

As a senior preparing for graduation in May, there are definitely things I fear, if I allow it. Where will I be seven months from now? What if I'm called to move and I hardly get to see my friends and family? What if I'm not doing enough now to get ready? What if I'm not qualified for the jobs for which I want to apply?

And then of course, there are somewhat less rational fears I have sometimes that has to do with how I relate with other people, my singleness, self-esteem, etc. 

Thankfully I'm in a season where these fears don't grip my heart like they did earlier in the semester, but I have to fight against the temptation every day, all the time. If we all circled up and got vulnerable with each other, I bet lots of us have a list of fears that motivate us away from trusting and fearing the Lord. 

But remember what Moses told the Israelites: 

"The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent."

That's step one: get out of your own head. Stand, be firm in your faith, and listen for the Lord's voice of truth.

And then remember how God replies:

"Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward."

That's step two: sometimes, after you've surrendered a temptation/fear/prayer/decision/trial to the Lord and asked for help, the next move is to move. The next move is to obey, to trust, to walk forward in whatever light He's given you.

What fears grip your heart? Maybe it's time we fear the Lord, which will do us more good and give Him more glory than we could ever imagine.

Posted on October 18, 2017 .

No Other Idol Can Stand

MCGEE NALL // SENIOR 

In response to October 1's Bible study.

I’m barely going to touch Vic and Joel’s sermon because they slayed and the phrase that’s still ringing in my ears (and should ring in yours, too) is “the Lamb of God.”

The LAMB of GOD. Ever since the beginning of time with Cain and Abel, the perfect sacrifice was a spotless lamb. It saved Isaac in Genesis 22. It saved a household during the Passover in Exodus 12, a nation on the Day of Atonement, and it saved all of us when Jesus died on the cross. How else could we respond other than how the elders and saints did it in Revelation 4-5, the same song we will sing when we see King Jesus, the Lamb of God, on the throne:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 4:8, 5:12-13)

It’s humbling, isn’t it? Seeing threads like this that tie our whole history, present, and future together while simultaneously pointing to the majesty, the grandeur, the power, and the glory of God…it’s overwhelming. It makes me want to fall to my knees.

If you will let it, this story should also stab you in the gut. This story should make us tremble before the Lord, not just in worship and awe, but in reverence and fear. Why? Because the same thing He did to Pharaoh, He will do to us, if need be.

“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD.” (Exodus 12:12)

“Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment…” Couldn’t that be said of the idols of our own hearts? We talked on Sunday about how each plague got progressively closer and closer to Pharaoh. The Lord continued cutting the sin, revealing the ugliness of Pharaoh’s heart, until he and the other Egyptians knew who He was. Fast forward for a sneak peek at chapter 14:

“Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after tem; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” (Exodus 14:4)

The same is true for us. The Lord will not stop until we know Him, which means pain. It means carving out the sin of our hearts and the idols that have stolen God’s throne in our hearts.

What are those idols for you? Being well-liked? Being the best at everything? Wanting a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse? Building your resumes or future careers? Your families? Your friends? Losing weight or getting the body you’ve always wanted?

What do you spend your time thinking about? Where do you run to? Where do you go for comfort and ease?

Every other idol will perish. Every other person/thing/job that sits on the throne of your heart will be knocked off, and you will be as well. The Lord will convict and discipline you until the only thing left before you is His glory. Follow Moses’ advice to the Israelites:

“Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today…” (Exodus 14:13)

But don’t be fickle like the Israelites were, as we will see in the coming weeks. Fickleness and faithlessness is in our blood, it’s our sinful nature—resist it. Open your eyes and see that the Lord is enough, and He is the Almighty God. That alone should be enough to bring us to our knees.

Posted on October 10, 2017 .

Meet Your New College Communications Director!

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HEY GUYS! 

I figured it's about time we met. If you've been wondering about this random chick who sings Prince of Egypt on the Watty college Instagram story and posts blog articles, well, it's me. 

To give you a quick, first-day-of-class-awkward-introduction, my name is McGee Nall, and I'm a senior (well, 5th year, but no one needs to know that except us) journalism major and theatre minor at UGA. I transferred halfway through my sophomore year and, I've gotta tell ya, it was one of the hardest but most rewarding decisions I've ever made. My life trajectory has taken a drastic turn since moving here, and I'm so grateful for all the opportunities the Lord has given me to befriend incredible people and do what I love. 

Speaking of doing what I love...I love words. I love communicating, telling stories, and sharing what the Lord has done in me and in others. While a career in travel/fitness/lifestyle/culture journalism is one of my main goals, I still want to use my talents for ministry and sharing the gospel. After talking with the college team and letting Vic see my work, he's been gracious enough to hand over the Watty college communications to me. Basically, if you see someone posting on social media or the blog a lot, there's a good possibility it's me.

But here's the thing: there's no way I'm doing this alone. The college ministry is more than one person, and I know there are students in our church who are KILLIN' the game for Jesus and spreading His good news to Athens and beyond. I want to know about it. WE want to know about it. We're a team, and I don't think that should change when it comes to our social media platforms.

So please do me a favor: tell me your story. I want this to be as collaborative as possible, and here are a few ways I think this can happen: 

1. If you have something you feel led by the Lord to share—your testimony, a word of encouragement, a response from college Bible study or Carlos' sermon, a verse you found, a discussion you had with an nonbeliever, whatever—hit me up. You can find me on social media or email me at college@watkinsville.org. We'd love to get some guest bloggers on here!!

2. I'm going to try to put more interactive things on our social media platforms—participate! Let's all get to know each other more through the tools God has given us. It's not just between me and you, it's between you and the rest of your peers and fellow believers.

3. When you're out representing us, I want to be able to hand the keys off to you. If you're talking with people at the Great Exchange, or playing for one of our Watty intramural teams, or attending a Watty event, we want to see YOUR face and hear YOUR voice. If you want to take over our Watty Instagram story for a day, we can talk about it. This opportunity will be more selective obviously, but we would love for the college ministry to know you if they don't already. 

Sound like a plan? Let's get to know each other and tell others about King Jesus. It's go time.

Posted on October 9, 2017 .

It's Not About You

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MCGEE NALL // SENIOR

In response to September 24’s college Bible study.

“It’s not about us.”

When I reread my notes from Sunday’s college Bible study, that’s the phrase that kept popping up in my mind. It’s not about us. It’s all so much bigger than us. If only we could remember that…

On Sunday we jumped into Exodus 7, which is the beginning of the plagues. Vic and Joel challenged us to think outside our childhood, Sunday school boxes and wonder, “What if the purpose of Exodus extends much, much further beyond just the plagues? What if there’s more?”

What is the point of the plagues? Why did God feel they were necessary? Vic and Joel showed us, like, a bajillion verses that explain not just the purpose of the plagues, but the purpose of life in general:

“The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.” (Exodus 7:5)

So [Moses] said, “May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God.” (Exodus 8:10)

“For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth…But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.” (Exodus 9:14,16)

Remember, God doesn’t go from plague to plague just trying to up His game so the Egyptians will listen. He knows exactly what He’s doing, and He could have wiped them out at the very beginning (Ex. 9:15). But like the guys said on Sunday: God means to refine us, mold us, and shape us until there is no sin left, because sin cannot stand before a holy God. Which means pain, right? Look at how God grows us:

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:10-11)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Do you see the connection? Part of sanctification (a fancy theological word that basically means the process of becoming more and more like Christ; Phil. 1:6) is dying to self, stripping away all of the ugliness in your heart and mind, and recognizing more and more fully that your. life. is. not. about. you.

We know this to be true. We know it in our heart of hearts, but let’s be honest, it’s hard to remember this as a college student/young adult, right? For these few years, everything revolves around us. We’re focused on what we want to do with our lives, with building our resumes, with earning extra cash, with narrowing down our friend groups to the people that truly matter and care about us, and with seizing every campus/abroad/vocational opportunity that comes our way to advance our young careers. Don’t get me wrong: we should focus on those things. That’s what this season of life is for…partially.

But it also the perfect time to fully surrender your life to Christ, to live in complete abandonment, learn more about who He is, and proclaim His name to everyone we meet. Let’s be set apart from most our peers and live our college years not focused on ourselves, but on the LORD, as in Yahweh, who has made His name great for thousands of years, just like He promised.

When we read Scripture, yes, we need to ask how it apply to us. If we’re not applying Biblical truths to our lives, then what are we doing? How can we grow? But we have to always see the greater picture: stop looking inward, and look heavenward (Col. 3:2). There comes a point where the head knowledge turns into heart knowledge, where the majesty and greatness of God transcends any earthly want or worry. There comes a point where He increases, and we decrease to the point all we see and care about is Him (John 3:30).

Part of the process of sanctification is letting the cleansing blood of Christ and the washing of the Holy Spirit refine and carve our hearts and minds until all sin and misperceptions of God are gone. And what’s left? A new creation that completely sees and KNOWS Jesus as Lord—just like He promised the Egyptians and Hebrews would KNOW Him. Do we understand the magnitude of that? We can know the majesty and power of His name now, but what we know now is only a taste of the reality:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12) 

The God you and I worship and talk about is a lot fiercer, wilder, and beautiful than we give Him credit for. We serve and worship the God of Exodus, the “Holy Wild” (as Mark Buchanan calls Him) who outstretches His arm to save and to rescue. Get to know that God, and remember that your life is not about you. It is always, now and forever, about Him.

 

Posted on October 8, 2017 .

Hope Deferred

MCGEE NALL // SENIOR

Sometimes as college students, our hope gets deferred. We’ve all been there, in both the small moments and those that feel really, really big. Maybe you didn’t get the position in the club or job you thought you were made for. You’ve received rejection letters for nursing school. Your hard work gets overlooked and the snob gets all the glory at work. Your closest friends betray you. The person you thought you were going to marry walks away. A family member suddenly passes away.

Your wide-eyed look at the world, filled with all the possibilities you were promised growing up, disappears from your face. The path ahead looks a lot darker and scarier than it did before. We’ve all been there. It’s hard to see the light in those times.

This past Sunday, Vic, Grady, & Joel walked us through Exodus 5 and 6. Let’s review, shall we?

When we pick up in chapter 5, Moses and Aaron are before Pharaoh, pleading for him to let the Israelites go, just as God told them to. Pharaoh basically gives God the finger and says, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?” As we saw on Sunday, this basically translates to, “Who is the Lord compared to me?”

Since Pharaoh is such a stellar guy, he decides to increase the Israelites’ burden. Any aid they received from their Egyptian bosses was taken away, and yet their daily quota remained the same. Didn’t make enough bricks for the day? You were beaten to shreds. “Make bricks!” the Egyptian slave masters spit in their ear.

Against Moses’ best efforts to be obedient and help his people, this is how they respond in verse 21:

They said to [Moses and Aaron], “May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

Ouch.

This isn’t some petty grievance your friends have against you. We’ve all tried to help our friends for it to only backfire, right? Maybe you were trying to be a good wingman for your roommate and, in your nervous excitement, you accidentally tell the guy this long, embarrassing tale about her instead.

Whatever experience you have, it probably wasn’t as extreme as Moses’ scenario: his people were literally being whipped and beaten before his eyes, no doubt some of their blood splattered right next to his sandals.

And what does Moses do? He turns to the only person he could, his only hope:

Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all.”

Let’s pause here. Moses came to the fork in the road that we all should face at some point or another amid hopelessness and doubt: you can either throw a tantrum, angry that your obedience and faithfulness backfired; or you can fall on your knees and turn to the only thing that will truly satisfy and heal: God.

Those are the two options: entitlement, pride, anger; or humility, heart-break, desperation, and thirst. I think we all know which camp God prefers and is better for our souls:

The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. (Psalm 24:18-19)

Like Vic said, the Lord takes this chance to speak hope into a hopeless man. Remember, the God who says these words, the God of our faith’s patriarchs (that sometime feel distant and fictional, though they were as real as your fingertips), speaks this truth to you and me today:

I am the LORD…

I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel…and I have remembered My covenant…

I will deliver you from their bondage…

I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm…

Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God… (Exodus 6:1-8; read all of it!)

And that passage makes us feel all good and fluffy inside, doesn’t it? It should. But here’s the part we can’t overlook:

So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage. (v. 9)

Obedience doesn’t always lead to ease. I know I’ve thought it before: obedience and faithfulness will lead to immediate success, immediate happiness, immediate simplicity…right? No. Not always.

So, we’re there. We are sitting with Moses in the pit, his hope deferred. A kick in the side when we’re already down. Discouraged, lost, desperate. Where do we go from there?

Here’s a summation of what was said, and, essentially what God tells Moses to do:

1.     Turn to the Lord. Always. He hears you. (1 John 5:14)

2.     Listen for His voice. His voice holds power, truth, and comfort. (John 8:47)

3.     Remember who He is, the promises He has laid out in His Word, and the promises He has told you personally in the past. You just need to remember. (Think of Mufasa’s pep talk in The Lion King. Which I just watched and it made me tear up, fun fact.)

4.     Be obedient to His call. Be faithful until the end. Remember the goal, the final prize for which we reach:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

As I was writing this, a lyric from Hamilton the Musical came to mind (you know it, don’t play):

Legacy. What is a legacy? / It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see

Despite all his faults and mistakes, we know the choice Moses made. He chose to plant the seeds. Without even meaning to, he left a legacy that directly affects us. He chose to “cultivate faithfulness” (Ps. 37:3) in his circumstances, no matter how dire they were and no matter who didn’t listen.

Do me a favor and read his section in Hebrews 11—it’s incredible. Moses followed verse 6:

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Moses was lost, confused, and frustrated in the wilderness for a huge chunk of his life. He could have thrown in the towel and said, “Look God, I tried,” and gone back to Midian. (Verse 16 says so!) BUT:

They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (v. 16)

It’s a lot easier to go back. It’s a lot easier to stay in the familiar, to backtrack into a simpler time. But more often than not, God doesn’t call us there. He moves us forward, into the uncomfortable and the unknown. Isn’t that part of what college is supposed to prepare us for, anyway? The unknown? Maybe there aren’t as many friendly or familiar faces where we’re going next, but the question is, will we remain faithful anyway? Will we follow the steps of Moses?

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. (v. 24-27)

Even though Moses’ hope was deferred, over and over again, he kept his eye on the reward: not just the Promised Land, but beyond. Upward. His prize was having a relationship with the Father, the King, and getting closer to Him, no matter the cost. What prize are you reaching for?

Posted on September 20, 2017 .

Ask a Pastor - Book Recommendations

Pastor Joel asked me if I would write a piece for this issue of "Life" and I immediately thought about books.  If you know anything about me, you know that outside of Jesus and my family I have two great passions, coffee and books (please don't make me chose between the two).  

Since summer is here and many of us have a little more time on our hands I want to suggest 6 books to you that you might consider reading at the pool, the beach or on the back porch swing. These are some of my favorites and I tried to include a little something for everyone (including genre).  If you do chose something from this list please let me know what you think. In fact I'd love to talk about it over a cup of coffee. 

-Vic


Desiring God

by John Piper (theology/devotion)

Outside of the Bible no book has had a more profound impact on my life and ministry than this one.  It helped me see that the desire to be deeply satisfied and God's glory are not at odds. 


A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

by Eugene Peterson (devotion)

We live in a world of microwaves, fast food and high speed internet and the pace is honestly killing us. Peterson walks through the 15 Psalms of Accent pointing out that the life of the Christian is one that can't be or shouldn't be rushed through but enjoyed.


 The Pilgrim's Progress

by John Bunyan (fiction)

Charles Spurgeon once said of this work: “Next to the Bible, the book I value most is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I believe I have read it through at least a hundred times. It is a volume of which I never seem to tire; and the secret of its freshness is that it is so largely compiled from the Scriptures.”  If you can only read one book from this list this should be it. 


Jonathan Edwards: A Life

by George Marsden (biography)

Jonathan Edwards is a giant in American Christianity.  His "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" has been reprinted and more widely read than almost any other sermon in history.  His influence echoes through the history of the church in America all the way to our modern day.  Marsden does a masterful job of showing Edwards andhis devotion to the God he loved and adored.


On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga)

by Andrew Peterson (fiction)

This is book one in the Wingfeather Saga.  If you have kids, do yourself and them a favor and read this out loud to them.  This is one of those stories that could only be written by someone who understands the deep truth of the gospel.  You will laugh out loud and have moments where your struggling to read because of the lump in your throat and the tears in your eyes.  This series is a Doss family favorite. 


The Old Man and the Sea

by Earnest Hemingway (fiction) 

This book is the reason I love books.  I read it almost every year (preferably on a beach).  Its Hemingway at his absolute brilliant best.  Sparse, short sentences and imagery that makes you feel like your miles out in the gulf.  It's a beautiful heartbreaking story that reaches far beyond a man and a fish into what it means to be aging in a world that values youth above everything. 

Posted on May 24, 2017 .

Faithful Forgetters

Brooke Davis // Sophomore // UGA

This Easter I came to understand the brutal death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus in a new and fresh way. This happens for a lot of people during this season but this year seemed to be different, mainly because I was reminded of how much I have so easily forgotten. You see, I remember the cross every Easter - yet I don’t think about it walking to class. On those powerful Sunday mornings I realize my command to share the gospel - yet I don’t think about it as I sit, studying on campus. I don’t think about eternity as a test grade is posted or a frustrating text is received. I don’t think about the unending love of God as my brain stresses, worries, and strives in areas that should not be my ultimate. I don’t meditate on the fact that Jesus defeated death and there is an empty tomb that posses all the hope, power, and peace I could ever need. I forget, far too quickly and far too consistently. As I am so profoundly overwhelmed by what God has done for me, I have realized how these very things that give us life, should not be what is so readily forgotten.                                             

School has seemed a little bit harder this semester. The mile-long list of end of semester due dates seems suffocating. Some new failures coming into view gives me a new and overwhelming understanding of my weakness. My longing to please everyone around me has become the driving force of my thoughts and actions, so much so that sometimes I wake up, spend time with Jesus, and by the time I have gotten in my car, I have forgotten the peace that flooded my heart ten minutes before. I often go hours without having one thought towards Christ or speaking one word to the God who is filling my lungs with air. I forget, over and over and over again.

Daily, the enemy tries everything he can to make a believer’s mind think of anything but Christ. The world is throwing things left and right to steal our affections from the one who loves us most. If we aren’t remembering, then we are ineffective, insecure, and in over our heads. When we forget the one who holds us together, we fall apart. The need to remember is obvious, but how do we do it? God has shown me that it takes discipline and grace.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man“  ~Proverbs 3:1-4

We as college students can really struggle in the department of discipline. We like to over- commit and fill our plates with as much as possible to look and feel good. But in reality, our worn out hearts and scattered obligations lead to our failure to serve God in a way that truly glorifies Him. God is more than aware of how weak and forgetful we are, which is why scripture uses the word “remember” somewhere around 166 times. You see, God designed His commands to be good for us. He designed them to help us to remember. The disciplines of reading and meditating on scripture, memorizing his words, fellowshipping in the body, communion, worship, prayer and many more, are all designed by an infinite God to allow his finite creation to remember Him.

Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth,” ~1 Chronicles 16:12

If Jesus has clearly laid out in His Word the means in which we will know Him, the ways in which we will learn to love him, and the avenues for which we will remember Him, wouldn’t we be crazy to not let these be the things we discipline ourselves in more than anything?

“These are the means God has given for drinking at the fountain of life. They do not earn the enjoyment, They receive it. They are not payments for pleasure; they are pipelines” -John Piper

 “But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children, To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them” ~Psalm 103: 17-18

We know where grace is found. We know from whom godliness is obtained. We know from where peace flows. We know how our identity is anchored., Let’s be a people that positions ourselves moment after moment under the pipelines of grace by disciplining our lives in all that the Word of God calls us to.

Let’s be college students that open our Bibles before our textbooks. Let’s be college students that gives up social media to spend time alone with talking with our Creator. Let’s be college students that seeks fellowship that might not be popular, but gives life to our souls. Let’s be college students that commit to the body of Christ above all else because God. Let’s be college students that learn when it’s appropriate to say no, choosing to rest and remember… we’re not God after all. Let’s be college students that have the Word of God resounding in our thoughts, instead of perverse song lyrics and mindlessness. Let’s be college students that fear God over man. Let’s bind the Word of God around our necks and write the truth of God on our hearts. Let’s be disciplined, not to earn the favor of God, but to enjoy the favor of God and all his affections for us.

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” - John 14:26

Discipline is required to remember God, but even more necessary is the requirement of grace. The reminder of how often we forget our Savior might be as convicting for you as it has been for me. My forgetfulness tempts to overwhelm me until I grasp the truth above in John 14:16. The power to remember does not lie in us. We will never have perfection in our disciplines. We will always remain weak, and we will find ourselves forgetting again and again. That is where the grace of God comes in. We were first given salvation through grace, we now we have the privilege to “work out our salvation” by grace, and one day we will never need another discipline because we will see the face of grace for all of time.

He remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever.” ~Psalms 136:23

Disciplines are imperative. Grace is necessary. As both of these things increase in our lives, we will remember Jesus more than we thought possible. Not simply for what he has done, but for the fact that He first remembered us. In our lowly estate, in our rebellion, in our sin, He remembered. In our rising, in our sitting, in our going out, and in our coming in, He remembers. In our darkest nights and at our brightest dawn, He remembers. His thoughts outnumber the sand. His mindfulness portrays his endless love. Before we existed and for all of eternity, he remembers us.

May we know no longer be titled as faithful forgetters. May we learn to seek Christ for the purpose of enjoying his affections, not earning them. May we never let lesser things occupy our thoughts and hearts from the One who satisfies both. Christ has given us everything we could ever need to remember Him. Let’s walk in obedience and spend all our days resting in remembrance of the One who first remembered us.

Posted on May 1, 2017 .

A Vision of the Lost

By William Booth (1829-1912)

On one of my recent journeys, as I gazed from the coach window, I was led into a train of thought concerning the condition of the multitudes around me. They were living carelessly in the most open and shameless rebellion against God, without a thought for their eternal welfare. As I looked out of the window, I seemed to see them all . . . millions of people all around me given up to their drink and their pleasure, their dancing and their music, their business and their anxieties, their politics and their troubles. Ignorant - willfully ignorant in many cases - and in other instances knowing all about the truth and not caring at all. But all of them, the whole mass of them, sweeping on and up in their blasphemies and devilries to the Throne of God. While my mind was thus engaged, I had a vision.

I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them every now and then vivid lightening flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam, tower and break again.

In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating, shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and screamed they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.

And I saw out of this dark angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with it’s summit towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around the base of this great rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the platform were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.

On looking more closely I found a number of those who had been rescued, industriously working and scheming by ladders, ropes, boats and other means more effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of the sea. Here and there were some who actually jumped into the water, regardless of the consequences in their passion to "rescue the perishing." And I hardly know which gladdened me the most - the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks reaching a place of safety, or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole being was wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance.

As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed company. That is, they were divided into different "sets" or classes, and they occupied themselves with different pleasures and employments. But only a very few of them seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.

But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have forgotten all about it. Anyway, it seemed the memory of its darkness and danger no longer troubled them at all. And what seemed equally strange and perplexing to me was that these people did not even seem to have any care - that is any agonizing care - about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes . . . many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and even their own children.

Now this astonishing unconcern could not have been the result of ignorance or lack of knowledge, because they lived right there in full sight of it all and even talked about it sometimes. Many even went regularly to hear lectures and sermons in which the awful state of these poor drowning creatures was described.

I have always said that the occupants of this platform were engaged in different pursuits and pastimes. Some of them were absorbed day and night in trading and business in order to make gain, storing up their savings in boxes, safes and the like.

Many spent their time in amusing themselves with growing flowers on the side of the rock, others in painting pieces of cloth or in playing music, or in dressing themselves up in different styles and walking about to be admired. Some occupied themselves chiefly in eating and drinking, others were taken up with arguing about the poor drowning creatures that had already been rescued.

But the thing to me that seemed the most amazing was that those on the platform to whom He called, who heard His voice and felt that they ought to obey it - at least they said they did - those who confessed to love Him much were in full sympathy with Him in the task He had undertaken - who worshipped Him or who professed to do so - were so taken up with their trades and professions, their money saving and pleasures, their families and circles, their religions and arguments about it, and their preparation for going to the mainland, that they did not listen to the cry that came to them from this Wonderful Being who had Himself gone down into the sea. Anyway, if they heard it they did not heed it. They did not care. And so the multitude went on right before them struggling and shrieking and drowning in the darkness.

And then I saw something that seemed to me even more strange than anything that had gone on before in this strange vision. I saw that some of these people on the platform whom this Wonderful Being had called to, wanting them to come and help Him in His difficult task of saving these perishing creatures, were always praying and crying out to Him to come to them!

Some wanted Him to come and stay with them, and spend His time and strength in making them happier. Others wanted Him to come and take away various doubts and misgivings they had concerning the truth of some letters He had written them. Some wanted Him to come and make them feel more secure on the rock - so secure that they would be quite sure that they should never slip off again into the ocean. Numbers of others wanted Him to make them feel quite certain that they would really get off the rock and onto the mainland someday: because as a matter of fact, it was well known that some had walked so carelessly as to loose their footing, and had fallen back again into the stormy waters.

So these people used to meet and get up as high on the rock as they could, and looking towards the mainland (where they thought the Great Being was) they would cry out, "Come to us! Come and help us!" And all the while He was down (by His Spirit) among the poor struggling, drowning creatures in the angry deep, with His arms around them trying to drag them out, and looking up - oh! so longingly but all in vain - to those on the rock, crying to them with His voice all hoarse from calling, "Come to Me! Come, and help Me!

And then I understood it all. It was plain enough. The sea was the ocean of life - the sea of real, actual human existence. That lightening was the gleaming of piercing truth coming from Jehovah’s Throne. That thunder was the distant echoing of the wrath of God. Those multitudes of people shrieking, struggling and agonizing in the stormy sea, was the thousands and thousands of poor harlots and harlot-makers, of drunkards and drunkard makers, of thieves, liars, blasphemers and ungodly people of every kindred, tongue and nation.

Oh what a black sea it was! And oh, what multitudes of rich and poor, ignorant and educated were there. They were all so unalike in their outward circumstances and conditions, yet all alike in one thing - all sinners before God - all held by, and holding onto, some iniquity, fascinated by some idol, the slaves of some devilish lust, and ruled by the foul fiend from the bottomless pit!

"All alike in one thing?" No, all alike in two things - not only the same in their wickedness but, unless rescued, the same in their sinking, sinking . . . down, down, down . . . to the same terrible doom. That great sheltering rock represented Calvary, the place where Jesus had died for them. And the people on it were those who had been rescued. The way they used their energies, gifts and time represented the occupations and amusements of those who professed to be saved from sin and hell - followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The handful of fierce, determined ones, who were risking their own lives in saving the perishing were true soldiers of the cross of Jesus. That Mighty Being who was calling to them from the midst of the angry waters was the Son of God, "the same yesterday, today and forever" who is still struggling and interceding to save the dying multitudes about us from this terrible doom of damnation, and whose voice can be heard above the music, machinery, and noise of life, calling on the rescued to come and help Him save the world.

My friends in Christ, you are rescued from the waters, you are on the rock, He is in the dark sea calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go?

My friends in Christ, you are rescued from the waters, you are on the rock, He is in the dark sea calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go? Look for yourselves. The surging sea of life, crowded with perishing multitudes rolls up to the very spot on which you stand. Leaving the vision, I now come to speak of the fact - a fact that is as real as the Bible, as real as the Christ who hung upon the cross, as real as the judgment day will be, and as real as the heaven and hell that will follow it.

Look! Don’t be deceived by appearances - men and things are not what they seem. All who are not on the rock are in the sea! Look at them from the standpoint of the great White Throne, and what a sight you have! Jesus Christ, the Son of God is, through His Spirit, in the midst of this dying multitude, struggling to save them. And He is calling on you to jump into the sea - to go right away to His side and help Him in the holy strife. Will you jump? That is, will you go to His feet and place yourself absolutely at His disposal?

A young Christian once came to me, and told me that for some time she had been giving the Lord her profession and prayers and money, but now she wanted to give Him her life. She wanted to go right into the fight. In other words, she wanted to go to His assistance in the sea. As when a man from the shore, seeing another struggling in the water, takes off those outer garments that would hinder his efforts and leaps to the rescue, so will you who still linger on the bank, thinking and singing and praying about the poor perishing souls, lay aside your shame, your pride, your cares about other people’s opinions, your love of ease and all the selfish loves that have kept you back for so long, and rush to the rescue of this multitude of dying men and women.

Does the surging sea look dark and dangerous? Unquestionably it is so. There is no doubt that the leap for you, as for everyone who takes it, means difficulty and scorn and suffering. For you it may mean more than this. It may mean death. He who beckons you from the sea however, knows what it will mean - and knowing, He still calls to you and bids to you to come.

You must do it! You cannot hold back. You have enjoyed yourself in Christianity long enough. You have had pleasant feelings, pleasant songs, pleasant meetings, pleasant prospects. There has been much of human happiness, much clapping of hands and shouting of praises - very much of heaven on earth.

Now then, go to God and tell Him you are prepared as much as necessary to turn your back upon it all, and that you are willing to spend the rest of your days struggling in the midst of these perishing multitudes, whatever it may cost you.

You must do it. With the light that is now broken in upon your mind and the call that is now sounding in your ears, and the beckoning hands that are now before your eyes, you have no alternative. To go down among the perishing crowds is your duty. Your happiness from now on will consist in sharing their misery, your ease in sharing their pain, your crown in helping them to bear their cross, and your heaven in going into the very jaws of hell to rescue them.

Posted on April 19, 2017 .

More than a College Ministry

Today we have a special blog post by one of our high schoolers, Zoe Gilliam. Her family has become a huge part of our college ministry and they are such a huge blessing to everyone they encounter. Whether they are inviting everyone over to their beautiful home in Watkinsville for some of fancy John's cooking (the best) or serving at the church, this family has blessed us immensely and so we wanted to feature Zoe's side of the story. As a college student, you have a special opportunity to get involved in the lives of the families at this church and experience the beauty of the church through its generations. With Second Sunday coming up on April 9th, keep in mind that that Sunday could turn into so much more than a free lunch - it could mean forming relationships that will have a greater impact than you could imagine on your life and others'.

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
— Acts 2: 44-47

Zoe Gilliam // Sophomore at Westminster Christian Academy

Okay, so when I was asked to write this post, I honestly had no idea where to start or what to start with, so this may be a little scrambled. I’m not sure where this will end up so just bear with me.

To start with some background info, I was raised at Watkinsville. My family members have always been very strong in their faith and there was never really a time during my childhood when I remember us not in the church or being in a dry spell of faith. My parents have always been very good at making sure that my siblings and I were taken care of if something happened or went wrong and I feel like that was due to their involvement in the church. All of my elementary school years went smoothly and we were great until about middle school.

Near the end of fifth grade a lot of things happened at the same time, most of them bad. This left my head spinning and it did the same to my parents. Because of this, our relationship was super strained and I began to feel more and more like I was on my own. I started lashing out because I had no one to go to about all of the things I was dealing with. This only continued to get worse as I transitioned into middle school, and it eventually got to the point where if I talked to my parents, I was yelling. Other than that I kept to myself. I became incredibly depressed and angry, mainly at myself and God. I didn’t know how to handle what I was feeling and thinking and so I just kept it in and went about my life. In seventh grade, all of these things came to a head and I just kind of shut down. My parents were concerned for my health and so were my friends. I was completely unaware of what I had done to myself, but I still didn’t know what to do. So, I continued to push everyone away out of anger at myself because I didn’t think I deserved to have anyone listen to what was going on.

Around this time is when my parents got really involved in college ministry. They had helped out on and off for a few years but this is when they became seriously invested in this specific part of the church. Once again, I didn’t really know how to deal with this change. All I knew was that it felt like these college kids were taking my family away from me even more (which was totally untrue). Literally Satan was feeding me so many lies throughout this time and I was completely oblivious. I wasn’t in my bible, I was only going to church because I felt forced, etc.

Then, my dad asked me if I was interested in going on a mission trip to New York that was being led by Vic Doss. I jumped at the opportunity to go to a new place and hardly even noticed that I was going to be with my dad for a straight week. The trip was incredible. The college girls on the trip took some serious time to invest in me and get to know me and asked what I was struggling with. For the first time in awhile it felt like someone was finally listening to me. This was the first time I came to really appreciate the college group and the fact that my parents worked with them. I met one of my former small group leaders through this trip and made really awesome friends in New York and I also became increasingly interested in missions through that trip.

As my middle school years went on, even though I still felt insanely lost and confused, I now had people investing in me and pouring into me almost every day. I wasn’t trying to handle everything on my own anymore, and it was pretty much all because of the college girls I met on the New York trip. There was a feeling of safety within those friendships, and I knew I would get godly advice from these people. I feel like being able to be open with people older than myself has been super important to how I’ve grown since middle school because I feel better knowing that I’m not the only one struggling anymore. The main source of impact on my life so far would have to be Courtney Lovingood, my small group leader of three-ish years. She came to our small group in eighth grade, I think, and she’s almost become the older sister I’ve never had. Instead of worrying about being an example to my siblings, now I can look up to her. I know that no matter how stupid of a thing I do, Courtney is going to do her best to give me advice from the bible. She has influenced me more than anyone else. She is the biggest way that college ministry has impacted me.

All in all, my main point is that even if you as a college student reading this think that you are insignificant and can’t impact anyone at this point in your life, you can and you probably already do. My faith has grown so much in the past three years simply because I have been surrounded by college students that honestly want to invest in me. So from a fifteen year old girl, thank you and please keep it up.

Posted on March 24, 2017 .

Beauty FOR ashes (ISAIAH 61:3)

Harrison Brown // UGA Sophomore

As someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD and OCD, it probably seems like I wouldn’t be the best follower of Christ. Well I’m not. As Justin Timberlake would say on living with the two, “It’s complicated.” and I would add, “especially if you are trying to get to know God.”

I cannot concentrate on a TV show let alone try to read through a book that was first written over a thousand years ago, and I definitely don’t desire to give up the control I obsess about to an invisible God. Early on in my life, once I learned more about my conditions and how they affected my thoughts, I began to let them characterize me. Falling in line with the negative stigma that surrounds psychiatric disorders, I feared that if anyone figured out I would be viewed as “crazy”. Later on in high school this changed as I started to use them as an excuse or a scapegoat for anything I did that went wrong. Why not get some pity from it right? After all it does suck. The problem is, in either case of how I saw my disorders, I began to let them define me and give me an identity in my lack of confidence. And of course, this resulted in a me growing further away from discovering my true identity as a child of God who is found blameless and victorious thanks to Jesus Christ.


I was someone who couldn’t be used by God because I didn’t want to be, not because I was too messed up. I didn’t know about all of the pathetic or evil people God used and transformed for His glory: from Abraham (a geezer) to Moses (couldn’t speak well) to Rahab (a prostitute) to Saul (essentially a terrorist) to thousands of years later even me (a distracted, doubting, anxious fool). What we all have in common is that we are called according to His purpose and every single situation in our lives is being used for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). His promises and divine track record prove that not only is our God close to us in times of trouble and willing to comfort us, but he has hand selected each trial, not omitting mental illnesses, to give us a divine strength in our times of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I’m definitely not here to tell you that mental illnesses are made up or all in your head, but I’m also not here to tell you that they are simply a neurologically defined abnormality that can only be addressed with medicine. For example, in recent discoveries researchers have observed a correlation between depression and the improper balance between serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. I would argue, however, that correlation does not imply causation. While there might be a pattern that characterizes depression, it is clear to see how something much more evil is at the root of it- Satan. Let me tell you what I mean- there is a specific type of depression called Postpartum Depression, mostly seen in new mothers, and it is marked by intrusive thoughts that can include infanticide. For example, while holding her beloved child, a mother with PPD could have an invasive, uncontrolled thought of slamming her baby against a wall. These thoughts are ego-dystonic, meaning they are totally contrary to what the patient actually desires to think.


More commonly there is OCD, where everyday ego-dystonic obsessions can include thoughts of abhorrent sexual acts such as pedophilia, thoughts about killing others and aggressive imagery, persistent doubt about sexual orientation, fear of contamination, and anti-religious thoughts. Even from a scientific standpoint, the whole idea of killing offspring or anti-religiousness is completely contrary or irrelevant to evolutionary cognition. Those of us who have suffered from these fearful, seemingly demonic, and anxiety-causing thoughts did not choose them yet they are deep within us. In Matthew 15:19, Jesus says, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts …these are what make a man unclean”. Because of the fall of man in Genesis we were born into an evil world. So whether a disorder is genetic, from an early traumatizing event, or had an acute onset halfway through your life, it is in your life not because you are particularly depraved as an individual, but because the whole world you live in is depraved. Our mind’s development is flawed and broken, thus making us broken people. Because of the uniqueness of these constant terrible thoughts and the debilitating nature of anxiety, it is easy to let it become an internal identity and your own personal inferiority complex. But, it doesn’t mean that you are uniquely crazy or alone in your state of mind. These thoughts are part of an attack from the fight with Satan, not with yourself. For me, being diagnosed by a professional allowed me to realize this and separate the evil thoughts out. Next, I tried keeping my mind on things above and choosing something else during each day’s spiritual battle- God.

Choosing God and resisting the personal identity of a disorder is a daily practice of being honest in prayer about the pain and fear you have to a God who already knows and is patiently waiting for you to “Cast all your anxiety on him” (1 Peter 5:6). It is saying no to the lie from Satan that you are worthless, dirty or any other deceitful identity that causes self hatred. God longs to take even the worst of situations and rob Satan of His victory. 

Last summer, I had one of my worst seasons of anxiety from my OCD and my doctor recommended that I get on antidepressants. One day while I was home alone, the anti-depressant reacted abnormally with my new ADD medicine and actually provoked the worst anxiety attack I have ever experienced. I laid on the floor of my room for 5 hours and the only time I had the energy to move was when I reached for a knife to cut myself. I am not telling this story to guilt anyone who is taking psychiatric medications because I believe that God allowed us to discover these medicines for a reason; however, they are not meant to be depended on as a savior. I was experiencing that reliance first hand and the anxiety attack was a wake up call to turn to the one true Healer. After I got off antidepressants, I was back to square one, yet, with each attack I realized the power of prayer and I finally started comprehending how good my Father is and has always been. The devil would try to trap me in my fear but God would seek me out as a lost sheep, and then we would rejoice together in each little daily victory.

Choosing God isn’t easy and He isn’t our personal genie in a bottle who gives us instant healing, however, God does heal. I learned that it is on His perfect timing, not ours, and all the while He is growing, maturing, and sharpening us through the fire (James 1:1-5), promising that no pain is wasted in the meantime. So even on the worst days, I want to encourage you to be thankful. I am thankful that God used my disorders to prevent me from being overtaken by the pride and selfishness in my life. I’m thankful that I can look forward to each day’s spiritual battle, knowing that God is keeping me in a state of weakness where I have no choice but to seek Him wholly or become lost in my thoughts. And recently, I am thankful for the fact that I am almost completely healed from the same anxiety and fear that almost cost me everything. When we hear that we were fearfully and wonderfully made, the fearfully part is meant to inspire awe and devotion, not dread and debilitation.


So I urge you, brother or sister, recognize that the sadness, hopelessness, or perversion from whatever affliction you face is from the devil and instead of letting him convince you that you are alone and no one cares, take on a new identity as a chosen child of God. When daily suffering is perceived as personal growth closer to a loving God, it allows you live with an unconditional joy despite it. I am proud to call myself a Christian because it is a religion of persecution, temptation, and trial, not of immediate personal reward, prosperity or complacency and ease of life. We aren’t on this earth to become as mentally flawless and independent as we can be. We are on this earth to be jars of clay who show not that we are powerful but that our God is. Since Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, God doesn’t want a burnt offering but instead, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17). Sacrifice all that you have left, even if it is just a desperate submission in the midst of tears and anxious thoughts. God is with you, and He always will be.

Posted on March 15, 2017 .