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By Becca Jackson

When was the last time it felt like being “all-in” for God was truly being lived out? Maybe it was a time when you didn’t care how many people were staring at you while you were worshipping Him freely, a time where you spoke the truth of His word without worrying about what your friend was going to say, or maybe it was even a time where you didn’t worry about if you were “qualified” for what you were about to say or do in the Kingdom. As a college student, even at Northwestern, I find myself constantly battling my inner self over what I want to do to worship and glorify God versus what society has deemed “normal.”  

It was about 6 months ago when I realized that I was unhappy with my life. I felt constricted because even though I felt Jesus’ presence and felt his movement in my life during that time I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, but I also struggled with my image and if I was portraying myself correctly. I started to take a deep look at my life and realized I was hiding my faith in a lot of ways and masking almost all my spiritual battles–the exact opposite of what we are called to do as Christians. Talk about a hard pill to swallow. I still decided not to reach out to anybody but decided this was a private situation for me and God to work through.  

I started reading through many different chapters of the Bible about living out our faith, but what really caught me was a sermon I heard by Michael Todd. It’s entitled, “Worship Starts with Love” in his 24Ever, 7-part sermon series. There were so many good parts, but one thing that rocked the deepest part of my soul was when he said, “Our worship is the only gift we can give God.” and then continued to say, “So many people rob God every day of the only thing you could ever give Him.” The conviction kept coming when he said, “The one thing that we can do for Him we won’t, because we think somebody might look at us funny.”  I can’t compare the feeling of this conviction to anything earthly, all I can do is try to process what those words mean to me.   

After hearing that I began to change and although it wasn’t instantaneous, I’ve made a lot of progress. I’m letting myself worship more freely than I ever have before and I feel closer to God. However, I’m not perfect and there are certainly still times I hold back, but CenterPoint this past Sunday was not one of those times, especially when we got to the last song. Whenever I sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” I can’t stand on my feet because that’s our eternal song of praise to God. I will not be worthy enough to stand before Him in heaven, I will kneel before my Heavenly Father in a state of eternal praise. May I continue offering my one and only gift to Him every day.  

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By Kit Fynaardt

Before continuing, watch this video. It
s only six minutes long. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ds9y3lJGig 

Goosebumps, right? The burning bush is certainly one of Gods most dramatic miracles, and there is much to analyze and discuss about how the film Prince of Egypt handled the scene. But Id like to draw your attention to a single detail, a detail that represents one of my most important steps as a Christian. Open the video again, and skip ahead to when God says, I have seen the oppression of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry…” Listen closely. 

Did you hear it? After this line, a cry of pain can be heard from an old man beneath a slave drivers whip. However, you can also hear Moses. You can hear Moses saying Stop it! Leave that man alone!This is more than a vain attempt to ease a mans suffering. Moses is saying to himself: No. No, this is not good enough. This is not what the world is supposed to look like. This pain is not okay, and I am going to raise my voice in a cry so that it will stop.Moseswords were a prayer, and God heard them. I have heard my peoples cry.God says. Moses, I have heard your cry. I heard your prayer that this is not right. I heard you crying out for things to be better. 

Every year we hold a service at ARC where we allow the high school and middle school youth groups to design and run the service. It’s a chance for the adults take a step back and hear a message from the youth, and it was a chance for me to hear my little brother Gideon, a sophomore in high school at the time, say something profound. What he said was this: Humanity’s greatest ability is the ability to be discontent. To say, ‘No. No, this is not good enough.’ To fight for something so that tomorrow can be better than today.” 

The words brought me to tears. Words from my own little brother, whos knowledge and wisdom surpass my own. That day, God showed me my prayer. This is my prayer. This is our prayer: No. This is not what Gods creation is supposed to look like. Our leaders use hateful and discriminatory rhetoric. Toxic masculinity is rampant among young people. Political issues divide family and friends.  Until there is peace and goodness we will cry out to God in prayer until the Lord comes again. God calls us to be discontent. God called me to use my greatest ability to work toward a future that is brighter and more Christlike than the present, and no matter how hopeless it may seem, I know God is with me.  

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By Schuyler Sterk

Last spring, after a hard conversation with a friend, I found myself sitting on the floor of a practice room in the music building, in the dark, with tears streaming down my face as I listened to my worship music playlist. I had suddenly come face to face with the reality that my relationship with Jesus was not as tight-knit as I believed it to be, and I was terrified.
 

I felt as though I was slowly falling and at the time, it didn’t feel like there was anything to catch me. I had allowed myself to become crushed beneath the weight of stress and busyness, the pain of broken relationships, the fear and uncertainty of the future, and the loss of my grandmother. This was what I would describe as my stormiest season. It was a time filled with so much rain so many tears, so many fears, and so many prayerful pleas for healing that I began to wonder if I would ever feel anything else.  

Yet God was with me in the midst of all my worry and pain. I am learning, during the process of healing from all my pain and heartache, that just because a season feels stormy does not mean there aren’t still blessings to be found. In fact, I think there is a reason why we describe sorrowful, pain-filled seasons as rainy, and why we also say God rains his blessings down on us from Heaven. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the same word is used to describe these two contrasting pictures. Rain can cause devasting floods and catastrophic storms, but rain also brings about new life and beautiful growth. 

I think sometimes, our biggest blessings come during our rainiest seasons. In the middle of my storminess God gave me so much. He blessed me with new relationships, a deeper desire to pursue my relationship with Him, a renewed feeling of joy, and a sense of peace. 

This summer, as I leaned into God, read His word, worshipped Him, and learned to listen for His voice and His promises, I ended up finding blessing after blessing carefully and mercifully placed in the corners of my life. I found new friends who spoke wisdom and light into my darkest moments. I found myself experiencing joy in all the small moments of my life again. I found myself waking up each morning excited to meet with Jesus and dive deeper into my relationship with Him. And I found Peace in my wonderful Savior. But experiencing that healing and finding that peace sure did not come easily. Because growth hurts, healing takes a lot of time and patience, and staying in pursuit of my relationship with Jesus during all of this was the hardest thing I’ve done. 

But during this stormiest of seasons, God was in the midst of the rain, and he was showing me how beautiful life is when it is lived with Him. He was there in the midst of my brokenness and loneliness; He was there in the midst of the painful, challenging healing process; and He is here in the midst of a new season of wholeness and joy.  

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Describe a turning point in your spiritual journey while here at NWC.
 

As I embarked on my first summer as a camp counselor, I was confident in my ability to reason Christ into the hearts of all my future campers. I knew my stuff, but I discovered, as I was bombarded with question after question, challenge after challenge, from these young middle school girls, I did not have all the answers. And it was the most uncomfortable thing I had ever experienced. Not knowing. Doubting. Wondering for the first time if I might, in fact, be wrong about this Bible I’ve centered my life around. Did my faith conflict with history, science, reason? What about all the apologetics I had spent years studying? It wasn’t supposed to crumble in the face of sassy adolescent girls. I came back to school my sophomore year, confused and doubting my faith. Everything I knew was being shaken, so I concluded it was time to start back at square one. And square one, for me, was the Bible. How are we supposed to read and interpret this cultural document that is frequently questioned by scientists and historians? 

After many books and many papers and many conversations, I concluded that it’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s not my job to “defend” the Bible. In fact, that mindset may prevent me from appreciating the Bible in the way it was meant to be understood. Being “fired” from the job of protecting and defending the Bible brought so much relief to my life. I no longer calculated ways to construct the best apologetic argument, but understood the best apologetic to be a faith that acts fearlessly well toward the other–regardless of who that other is. I could explore truth freely, without worrying about breaking the rules. Instead of being a “defender,” I got to be an “explorer,” continually searching for understanding. 

What advice would you give to underclassmen regarding their personal faith walk while here at NWC? 

Be curious. Ask questions. Even those really hard ones. The ones people are scared to ask. Curiosity is totally allowed, and even justified, by the Christian faith. We don’t have to agree with everything we hear in church. In fact, as a psychology major, it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with some of the seeming contradictions between evangelical faith and science. However, I’ve been able to stumble upon ideas that seem to make sense. It just takes a lot of reading and a lot of deconstruction. While the first “phase” of questioning was extremely painful for me, I’ve come to semi-enjoy the process. As older and wiser Christians have shown me, it’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to disagree with things, even if, for example, you’ve believed these things to be true for a long time. It’s okay to let ideas go and allow your beliefs to change. It doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian. In fact, it may be a demonstration of a living, growing faith. 

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n your time at NWC, who (past or present) has shown you a bit of God’s love?  

One person that always comes to mind is Rik Dahl.  He has been my wrestling coach the past four years here at Northwestern.  I have seen a bit of God’s love in him in that he has always shown an interest and investment in me as a young man.  Our relationship has not just been in the wrestling room, but I have seen his care and support for me in all aspects of my life while at Northwestern.  I have been so inspired by the love he has shown me in this way 

How has your view of God changed or been strengthened since coming to NWC?  

Since I have been at Northwestern, I have been consistently and constantly surrounded by a faith based community.  In this I have also been encouraged to continually be cultivating my own relationship with Christ, which has strengthened my faith.  I have also been challenged in a lot of my beliefs through different courses, chapel speakers, D group conversations and discussions with other people.  This has encouraged me to dig into the word and develop strong convictions and understandings around my beliefs.  

What advice would you give to underclassmen regarding their personal faith walk while here at NWC?  

Don’t be so stubborn in your beliefs and convictions, that it inhibits your ability to have meaningful and respectful conversations with people who have different views or opinions.  Sometimes the best growth and conversation come from a connection with someone who has contrasting beliefs from your own. I would encourage younger students to use this time to develop strong convictions, and to let your roots grow deep in the word and in a relationship with Christ.  However, that doesn’t mean to be closed off to others who might have different understandings than you. Have an open mind and an open heart to others.  

In what ways is God challenging you to grow now?  

Last summer I began a new stage of life as I became a married man.  This has been a huge challenge for me to grow in my faith and my rootedness in Christ.  I understand that I am called to be a leader in my marriage and in my household, and in order to do that effectively, I need to first have a solid faith and trust in Christ, that is continually growing.  I have experienced shortcoming in these aspects of my marriage, and have been challenged by God time and time again to continue to strive to grow in this way. This will be a never ending challenge for me, but I am thankful for the marriage I have been blessed with, and the leadership position that God has called me to through my marriage.