From Doubts to Discipleship
High schoolers are intimidating! They are (much) cooler than me and speak a language that makes me feel ancient. (Speaking of feeling ancient - did y’all see American Girl released a doll from 1986?!?! When did 1986 become long enough ago for their line of historical dolls????) In any case, this year, God has placed two boisterous, fun-loving, and curious high school girls in my life. I see them twice a week for a marketing internship and was incredibly nervous at the start of this year in anticipation of how this would go. I was trying to delicately balance wanting to give them meaningful work while realizing this isn’t a graded class they’re taking so as to not overwhelm them.
Over the last five weeks, my nerves have turned into excitement. Our 90 minutes together on Monday and Wednesday have become one of the highlights of my week. While I love working with them, the best part is hearing about their lives and engaging in deep conversations peppered with humor and depth.
As we’ve been getting to know each other better I’ve been feeling the nudge to make this relationship more intentional but have been putting it off. Little voices in my head would deter me from asking because “well, we kind-of already do this” or “asking to ‘officially’ enter into a discipleship relationship would be ‘low-key’ awkward”. (They’re teaching me their slang…)
However, the feeling that I should ask persisted and I realized the doubts I had were lies Satan was using to keep me from going deeper with these young ladies. So I took the plunge. I’m excited to get to know them better and to make our times together this semester even more special. What started as an extracurricular activity for school has turned into much more. My daily interactions with these ladies range from late night texts about deep spiritual matters to sharing stories of the big and little things that have happened throughout the day. In many ways I feel ill-equipped to disciple these ladies, but God has knit us together and this friendship is driving me to pursue Him more each day.
It can seem very scary to take the first step and initiate a discipleship relationship with someone, but it is worth it! If there is someone that God has placed on your heart, I encourage you to step out in faith and explore a more intentional friendship with another sister in Christ. God will use these relationships to grow us and bring us closer to Him.
In Whom Do We Trust?
“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground, on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” -Psalm 146:3-5
During this highly politicized season, it becomes so easy to firmly believe that everything depends on the person who will soon occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Full disclosure – I am writing this blog to myself!
I have dear Christian friends on both sides of the political aisle. Rather than do a poor job of explaining what believers see in the Democratic or Republican party platforms, I am going to insert two links that are well-written defenses by long-time theologians. You may not agree with these men but remember that many of our brothers and sisters in Christ do. Please take the time to read both of them rather than just the one you naturally lean towards!
For a defense of Democrats: https://ronsiderblog.substack.com/p/does-abortion-trump-everything-else
For Republicans: https://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2020/08/08/letter-to-an-antitrump-christian-friend-n2573909
Four years ago, I chose to vote third party for a number of reasons. I have never regretted that choice but am also not sure that it will be my default for all time. I still have eight weeks to pray and seek a word from the Lord! For more information from someone who firmly believes that Christians will soon be driven out of both parties because of Godless extremism (progressives vs. reactionaries), just read anything written by Rod Dreher (The Benedict Option).
As someone who participates in the fascinating world of Facebook, I am struck by the ease with which we Christians judge and speak harshly to one another – the gift of rebuking is strong among us! My prayer is that we can all embrace the truth of Psalm 146:3-5. Our trust MUST not be in earthly princes but in God alone.
As Romans 13:1 reminds us, “…there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” We do not know what God's sovereign purposes are for our next president. Regardless, Christians should love each other through the chaos of election season, realizing that we can all be equally convicted and earnestly following what we believe to be true. Let’s keep our hearts focused on living like Jesus, and let’s extend grace to one another as we trust in the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
Thirst No More
The year was 1999 and I had just transferred from one North Carolina University to another. I transferred in part because I decided to change my major to one not offered where I was studying, but it was largely because I was searching...for what I didn’t really know but I was confident I had not found it. I was lost and lonely. Sure, I had some friends, but our relationships were mostly shallow, and I craved more. I grew up in a small town and had never needed to make new friendships, so the concept was new to me. I was used to the kind of friendships that just happened by years of proximity and shared memories on the playground that evolved to memories at middle school dances giving way to memories built at high school football games. They were not deep in the spiritual sense but long on shared experiences. The transition to college was difficult and I felt an aloneness that was new and crushing.
Now, as I sat in a new dorm room, hoping for a different experience, I sensed that I might just have the same problem with different people. Not being one to go down without a fight I decided to join a sorority and while that did add significantly to my social calendar it was like drinking salt water. Immediate gratification that only added to my thirst for something truly satisfying. As I look back, I am grateful for that thirsty season because it led me to The Living Water.
One of my sorority sisters had gotten involved with a ministry on campus and she invited me to go with her to a conference that they were hosting. I went, thirsty but largely unaware of what I committed to attend. It was there that he began to satisfy my thirst...primarily in Himself as he showed me my sin and his grace in tandem. I was overwhelmed by a love that was unlike anything I had known. God knew me and yet loved me. He redeemed me and would never leave me. I was undone in the best way imaginable. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts he gave me was the immediate understanding of how the community of believers would be a well of grace to me as I began this new journey in Christ. I knew I needed them. I knew it because I was lonely and I wanted friends but I also knew that I had no idea how to walk with God and that these people around me, many only a few months or few years ahead of me in their journey, could show me how to drink deeply of God’s Word, live in a way honoring to him and commit my life to His purposes.
One of these “just ahead of me” friends was Kristin. As I look back on our relationship, I see how those early days must have been hard for her. She gave me so much of her time. She walked beside me, modeled the Christian life before me, took me to church and put up with my ignorance and immaturity. She loved me with her prayers, her time, her words and her actions. She did it because she was pouring out what had been poured into her. Just a year earlier she had been the thirsty one, newly satisfied by the gospel of grace, and another woman sacrificially invested in her. That was my first experience with discipleship. In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul says this to Timothy, “and the things that you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will teach others also.” He did just that and a couple thousand years later the church is still doing that. There are many ways that the church grows their people into Christian maturity but one of the most foundational ways is through discipleship. The commitment of one believer to lead another to the Living Waters of God’s presence through bible study, prayer, accountability, encouragement and instruction. These relationships are not always easy but they are built on far more than shallow interactions and shared experiences. They are built on Christ, his Word and his Spirit working in and through us to bring drink to the thirsty one friendship at a time.
Now, some twenty years later I still get thirsty and I still find myself drinking salt water instead of going to The Living Water. Thanks be to God that he has given me people to lead me back to Him. I have not outgrown my need for discipleship. And I have not completed my task of making disciples. Life has not gotten easier, but I now know where to go to be satisfied and I know I need people to help me on that path. Let’s pray that God always gives us teachers and makes us willing to be one, for His glory and for our everlasting satisfaction in His presence.
The Cicada Chorus
One of our desires in WM is to serve every age of woman well in our body. Based on the scriptures below and the desire to be intentional in embracing this privileged gift of service we want to be practicing tangible ways of encouraging and supporting the “distance runners” (older women) in our church.
Psalms 71: 18-19: So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Your righteousness, O God reaches, the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?
2 Cor. 4:16: So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
1 Thess. 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Psalms 73:26: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
One might, with some imagination, call this new emphasis in ministry The Cicada Chorus. The Cicada begins its life in the dirt, it climbs through life above ground and at the right time sheds its exoskeleton and emerges with wings to soar and sing. A very simplified understanding. And this is the privilege and admonition we have- to walk together through this life, encouraging, supporting and helping each other to believe, hold onto the hope of the gospel, and proclaim the goodness of God to the next generations until the time we shed our “exoskeleton and soar and sing” when our faith becomes sight.
Now as we hear the cicadas in the trees singing their loud praises to God, may we remember the faithful service of those “distance runners” and may we now look to bless those who have spent their lives blessing others.
Chris Wissmann is a native Newport News-ian, Hymn lover, nature lover, foodie, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend. Currently adjusting to her new role as caregiver to her Mom and new life style as empty nester, still learning how to love her husband and confess her sins.
Here you can read perspectives on life, ministry and God's Word from a variety of PCC's female leaders.