Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A GUY Guest Blogger: Chris Dotson! "Suffering Leads to Joy?? Whaaat?!"

Hello Girls! 
I always love having our interns guest blog from time to time and especially love having our guys write. What girl doesn't like to hear from a guys perspective from time to time? Chris Dotson joined our intern team this semester and has been a ball of energy from day one! Chris is from Tampa, FL and is in his sophomore year at Lee University. He is never at a loss for words, but lucky for us, some of those words bring some great ideas to our team and Student Ministry. If you haven't gotten a chance to meet Chris, be sure to on a Wednesday Night! Enjoy reading below one of the life lessons Chris has learned along the way! - Ms. Suzanne          


             Have you ever had those times when everything is just not going your way? I’m talking about nothing, nada, zilch. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to catch a break. In those times, it’s so hard to see the Lord. I remember a time last year where nothing was going right for me. You see, I’m currently a sophomore at Lee University. I came to Lee as a freshman with a scholarship to run cross country and track. It was not much, but it was helping me get through school. Well, as far as running goes, nothing went right. I was injured repeatedly. First it was a stress fracture, next a pulled muscle, next a torn ligament. “God, why are you doing this to me? I thought you brought me here to run?” that was my question over and over when I prayed. I did not understand why this kept happening to me. To make it even worse, I started to experience rejection from my friends who were on the team. Because I was constantly hurt my teammates, without meaning to, began to exclude me. I felt alone.

 It was at this time of aloneness, that I had one of the most spiritual experiences in my life. Now no, I’m not saying the Lord appeared to me and spoke audibly to me, but He did something I will never forget. During this season of my life, I was not consistently in the Word. There were days at a time where I did not say one thing to the Lord. One particular night though, I felt like I needed to read Romans 5…don’t ask me why; trust me it was a God thing. I opened my bible and read these 2 verses that changed my life forever:
 “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 3-5 ESV).
It finally hit me. I had missed it so bad; so, so, so bad. You see, my whole life I had built up my happiness in other things; running, school, popularity, acceptance, girls, companionship, etc. The thing is, we serve a jealous God who will not allow us to find complete joy and happiness in the things of this world. Our happiness should be found solely in the Lord. When I finally grasped this, I understood why all these “bad” things were happening to me. God was trying to teach me something. He was showing me that I was placing my happiness in the wrong things. Like the verse says, “suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character produces hope” I was only going to gain hope in Jesus by going through these trials; and it took Jesus allowing me to suffer, to teach me this.
So now, I look at life differently. There is a reason everything happens (sounds cliché, I know). But it’s true! God has you in your circumstance, at your school, at your job, on your sports team, for a reason. Though there may be trials that cause you to suffer, remember this: instead of asking God “why, why, why?” ask Him, “How? How can you use me to glorify and grow in you in the circumstance I’m in?” I promise you that if you do this, you will always find hope in the dark times of your life.

- Chris Dotson 




Monday, October 8, 2012

FOR THE STRONG AND THE WEAK

Thursdays are my favorite. It's my earliest start day which makes it my hardest morning, but the reward is so worth it! I get to help with a coaches Bible study at 6:45 am, greet students on their way in as I leave, and then hit up a local coffee shop to prep and study for other upcoming Bible studies, team devotions, and discipleship groups I have the privilege of leading each week! Last week I had some sweet time studying in Romans 15 and thought I would share with you...as iron sharpens iron, right! 
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Romans 15:1-7 (ESV)
Let's take this verse by verse and unpack its richness!


vs. 1 à Some of us are in seasons where we are strong and some of us are weak. There is always someone stronger than you and always someone weaker than you. It's your duty to come along side those that are weak and not just look out for yourself. 
vs. 2 à Focus on the other person and their needs. Learn their love language instead of loving them just how you receive love. This will build them up the most. 
vs. 3 à Christ did the most good for us, more than we could have ever imagined. He took on our sin - what could have been more selfless? He who knew no sin took on our sin, endured our sin and the conquered that ugly mess through His resurrection! 
vs. 4 à We weren't left alone to pursue this! We have the Scriptures to guide and direct, to encourage and testify and to give hope! But you can't have these without reading Scripture and knowing it. 
vs. 5 à With God we can have harmony. We can be "on pitch" and pleasing to one another and to God. We aren't alone, but many parts working together as planned in Christ. 
vs. 6 à Our objective always: to glorify God! Keyword though is "together". You have a part and you need other parts. Which means bearing one another's burdens and encouraging one another for greatness. 
vs. 7 à We were once (and still are) weak and Christ welcomed us for His glory. In response to His grace and mercy we too welcome and build up others so as a result He is glorified in us! May He be more and more glorified in us!!

For each of us, we will always go through seasons where our spiritual life is stronger or weaker at times. However, as we grow in our relationship with Christ the extremity of those spikes and pitfalls should decline greatly. The good news is there is always someone stronger than us that we can allow to pour into our lives, to encourage us exactly as we need encouraging, to speak truth (even when it hurts), and to challenge us to go deeper with Christ. At the same time, there is always someone weaker in our lives. Someone for us to encourage...and to encourage as they need it, now how we need it, to challenge, to speak truth to, and to be there for. When we allow strong people in our life and we seek out opportunities to pour into other, HARMONY takes place and God is GLORIFIED!


Who are you allowing to pour into you? Who are you pouring into?