Wednesday, February 23, 2011

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him

Yay for Wednesday! I love Wednesdays because it’s the middle of the work week and we meet with our small group from church for bible study. Patrick and I started to attend The Church at Brook Hills in the fall of 2009. We’d been visiting different churches together trying to find one that both of us liked and wanted join permanently. I was finishing my senior year at Ole Miss while Patrick was finishing his second degree at Auburn. Therefore, we could only visit a couple weekends per month throughout 2009. The pastor, David Platt, is an amazing teacher and gifted speaker! He’s smart, driven, incredibly knowledgeable of the Bible, and has the greatest, deepest passion for God than anyone I’ve ever seen or heard preach.

If you want to check out the church and what we’re learning go here If you want to know more about David, including his recent book called “Radical” you can check here

Once we both graduated and got settled here, we felt it was time to become members of Brook Hills and join its faith family. We got engaged in August while we were going through the membership process. Shortly after that, we started going to a small group that met on Wednesday nights at the church intended for engaged and newlywed couples. Its topic was on marriage and led by a sweet older couple who could teach all of us what was in the Word using real-life experiences as examples. It was great! Patrick and I felt, once again, that’d we had found a place and group that we wanted to be a part of. It was also helpful in preparing us for marriage, in addition to the pre-marital counseling we were doing at the church where we were to be married. We had been longing to meet other couples who were in their twenties and going through the same season of life we were- to be able to support and encourage each other, study God’s Word together, have fun and hangout with each other, find areas of service to volunteer together. The marriage study ended after the holidays, but we all decided to keep meeting and start our own study. It was wonderful to have all of them attend our wedding in November! Two of the couples were newlyweds when we started meeting, now we’re married, and the other two couples are engaged! So we’ve recently started going through The Blazing Center study by John Piper based on his book “Desiring God.” I’ve only read a few chapters of the book, but I’d like to eventually read all of it. It was recommended to me by my discipler in college.

You can check out his website here

The Blazing Center is a 10-week dvd series and study guide. Its primary message is that God should be the center of our lives. When He’s not, then every other aspect of our life is out of balance. If He is our first priority- at the center of our day, the center of our marriage, the center of our heart, soul, and mind- then everything else will fall into place. Also, he teaches that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. These two things don’t have to be at odds the way most of us assume that they are. My happiness doesn’t have to be sacrificed in order to obey and glorify God. My joy and God’s glory don’t have to be at odds if God is my greatest joy and source of satisfaction in life (he calls this Christian Hedonism). 

Besides the study, what I also love about our weekly Wednesday meeting is that we rotate whose house it’s held at and the host couple cooks dinner for everyone. We both love food and love to cook so we enjoy it! It’s nice to get off work, share a meal with friends, then spend a couple of hours discussing the material, and finally end the night with 45 min or so (depending on what’s going on in our lives that week) discussing our struggles and praying for one another. The guys and girls separate into different rooms and talk about the hardships, blessings, tough decisions, desires and temptations, just about anything you can think of, with each other then we all pray for each other and lift the requests up to God. This is where it gets really good! The fellowship before is nice, but this is where the concept of the church gets put into action. The church is meant to be a body of believers coming together to worship God and love one another, spurring each other on to do good and be a source of support (Unfortunately, this isn't always what the church looks like, especially today. But it's not perfect because people aren't perfect and the church is made up of people). We are able to share our burdens and blessings with each other- the good and bad news- then offer advice, support and encouragement. We are able to confess our sins and temptations to each other so that we’re not overwhelmed by them or hiding in secrecy. By sharing them, we’re able to feel like we’re not alone in these struggles and we have a sense of accountability to keep fighting against them. There’s no judgment for our weaknesses, for we all have them and know the forgiveness of God washes us clean as snow. Then, we pray for one another. (Every person picks another person and prays for them specifically. This is a great strategy actually because everyone gets the chance to pray and we're not always praying for the same person. At first this made me nervous because I'm not a good speaker. Don't get me wrong, i'm always thinking something and can seem to put it into words through writing pretty well, but it doesn't come so easy to me to speak it. But over the past few weeks, i'm thankful i've gotten to practice praying out loud in front of others. I'm improving! That, and I get practice with my husband who has been encouraging me to pray half of the time over our meals ever since we got married.)

Have you ever had someone pray for you or over you out loud? It’s unlike any other feeling.. I don’t know what to compare it to. Someone may say they’re going to pray for you and that offers you some comfort, but you don’t know if and when they really do or what they say. But to be in person and hear another praying for your struggles and bringing a request to God on your behalf is so comforting. It’s like receiving a big, warm hug from your mom or dad when you’re a little kid and they say “It’s going to be alright.” It’s also a wonderful feeling to pray for someone else. It takes your mind and focus off of just you and what you’re going through. You’re reminded of how big the world is and how other people are going through similar or greater struggles. It’s also been amazing to see over the weeks how many prayers are answered! When you’ve participated in someone else’s prayer request unfolding, you feel like you really did something truly helpful and meaningful. As it says in the Bible, when two or more people come together in prayer and worship, God’s presence is there. I've definitely felt God's presence in the room with us and the time with these girls has become something I look forward to every week. We’ve seen many prayers already answered and it’s so cool to see God working in other peoples’ lives, not just our own (or when you feel like He isn’t and you need to see the evidence that He’s still there and in control and cares about all of us).

Anyway, if you want to find out more about The Blazing Center study, you can here Happy Wednesday everyone!

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