A Testimony of the Beauty of the Gospel filled with Analogies =)

I’ve always known God loves me; I’ve been surrounded by it always.  I grew up going to church and praying every night before I fell asleep.  He was my best friend in school when I didn’t seem to have many others.  When I was thirteen and diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, he told me he’d always be here for me.  God has been pursing me ever since I can remember.  Even after I put my faith in him and accepted him as my savior when I was a child, he’s been going after me!

I was a sinner, “control” and “worry” being my most common offenses that often overtook.  When one gets too many tickets for speeding, they get their license taken away.  No matter how good of a driver or even a person you are when you get a ticket, it is still there until you pay it.  Even after, it stays on your record.  But Jesus took all my tickets and took them upon the cross.  I have no record of them.  There are tickets for all sorts of my sins on Jesus’s cross.  So many tickets stacked up and walled together that it makes the cross made of wood.  (I just made that up, but it makes sense, right? =))  I cast off my old self and followed Jesus.  Even though I had accepted Christ as a child, I was still acting of the world.  I was following the motions of a ghost.  When you are tied up, you are restricted.  So why, when the ropes are cut off, are you still acting like you’re restricted?  I was acting like a criminal, restricted for her crimes.  “But Anna,” the Lord told me, “you have been freed!”  At first, nothing changed on the outside, but on the inside I was becoming a different person.  God’s grace has been changing me from the inside out.  I am continually growing, and I realize the beauty of the cross.  Because God wanted me his daughter, he sent his most priceless possession: Christ.  Think of the most special person in your life and imaging them suffering of the worst kind and then being taken away from you.  Take that feeling and multiply it times a hundred, and that is only part of God’s devastation.  He did that for YOU.

God’s been pursuing you since before you can remember.  Did you know that?  It’s like a guy who comes up to a girl and says, “I love you SO much!  I want to spend the rest of my life with you and take care of you and try to show you how much I love you!”  Too often, the response isn’t a “yes” or “no.”  When the guy proclaims his love for the girl, she responds, “I understand” and goes on with her business. People, the gospel is the proposal!  Do you UNDERSTAND the gospel?  Or do you accept the gospel and let it TRANSFORM you?

The gospel is beautiful, and I’ve fallen in love with God, who proclaimed his love to each and every one of us. He is my passion, and I live for him!  I am passionate about the gospel and desire for all the world to hear it.  I encourage you to go forth and share it, as well!

Grace and peace to every person who reads this post,

Anna Olson =)^2

Saturday Smiley: Cru

So, I was trying to think of a smiley for this week and was having trouble.  Jesus has just been showing me some amazing stuff lately.  And then, when I thought a bit deeper, I realized that Cru has been the tool he has used a ton to speak into my life during the past few years.  At the end of last summer, I wrote this post about Cru, formerly Campus Crusade for Christ (it was officially renamed this past year).  That post is pretty cool, so you should check it out.  But here and today, let me share a bit why Cru is my smiley this week.  (These are numbered, but they are in no particular order.  Just the order I thought of them, I guess.)

1. Friends.  Some of my best friends, I met in Cru or are also involved in it.  There is something more genuine and authentic when Christ is the center of a friendship.  Even if he is all you have in common, you have way more in common than if you root for the same NASCAR driver or share a major.  Also, Lifegroups (a Bible Study that does life together) have a pretty good atmosphere and authenticity because Christ is talked about most when we meet!  It’s great!

2. Speakers.  Some of the speakers I have heard at Cru or at conferences have spoken directly to my heart.  I think it is so awesome that the Lord speaks through other people, be it speakers (which could be anybody, but Cru has gotten mostly local pastors or staff, which are great.  Most of the speakers are adults who have way more knowledge than any of us), peers, or “disciplers” (mentors that meet with you one-on-one and talk about the Word or life or whatever).

3. Opportunities.  Cru gives many opportunities for growth.  There are three-ish life-altering conferences throughout a school year: Fall Getaway (which meets during October during a weekend), TCX (a Christmas Conference that meets over Christmas Break), and PCB’s “Big Break” (a spring break trip that goes to Panama City Beach).  During the summer, though, is when the biggest life-transforming opportunities are given through something called Summer Project.  Summer Projects are located all over the world, but my campus mostly sends students to North Myrtle Beach, SC; Ocean City, NJ; or overseas to East Asia, France, Australia, “4th Journey,” or Uruguay (that’s where our partnerships are).  Last summer, I went on a summer project to Inner-City Milwaukee, WI for 8 weeks with 16 other students.  God did some pretty amazing things in me, and the summer was only the take-off point for the way my faith has been growing since.

4. Resources.  Cru has some websites with awesome material to help you out if you are leading a Lifegroup, meeting for Discipleship (for the discipler), or just want to read some Christian topics on your own.  My two favorites are CruPress Green and EveryStudent.com.

5. Growth!  Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade  for Christ, was really on to something.  The idea is to get freshmen involved, so that the next year, they could become leaders and pursue freshmen.  “Win, build, send.”  No matter how long one is involved in Cru, be it one year or four, they become part of the “build.”  The Cru leaders are trained to be in charge of a Lifegroup or some other aspect.  Another part of the “build” for leaders and non-leaders alike can be achieved through conferences or summer projects.  One learns how to share their faith.  Then when a student graduates, he or she is ready and equipped to share their faith in the workforce, wherever it will be. (“Send”)

God has done so much through Cru in the lives of millions of college students, and not just in the US, either.  Cru is just a tool, but it is my smiley this week!  I praise God for all that he has done through it and all of the lives that have been changed from encountering God through it!

All You Need is Love: Lyric-Prompted-Discussion

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.

Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game

It’s easy.

There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made.

No one you can save that can’t be saved.

Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you

in time – It’s easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,

All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.

All you need is love, all you need is love,

All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.

Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.

Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.

It’s easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,

All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

All you need is love (all together now)

All you need is love (everybody)

All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

1 Corinthians 13:1-7,13: 1If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

I had never read the lyrics of “All You Need Is Love” before.  Kinda…not that comforting.  It’s like saying that you can’t do anything to make you unique.  Well, I suppose the saying is “you’re one in a million,” but there are many, many millions—billions—in the world.  Which makes you just like all those other statistically ones in a million (which is a lot and isn’t comforting.  Unless you feel like nobody understands.  Then those ones in a million (which, in themselves, could be millions) feel just like you do, so you’re not alone there).  The Beatles at least try to comfort, saying that all you need is love.  That’s nice and everything, but I don’t know if they knew the real kind of love that is all you need—agape love.  Now, “agape” means “God love” or something like that.  It is the kind of love that God has for us!  Which just happens to be the love talked about in 1 Corinthians 13.

Love.  The word is mentioned 763 times in the NLT translation of the Bible.  As Christians, we possess this love toward each other, because God first loved us.  There are so many passages in the Bible which speak about love!  God loved us so much that he sent his only son, so that whoever believes in him, will not die, but have eternal life!  Now, I’m not trying to shut down the Beatles or their songs—but this is one sacrifice that can be sacrificed by no other!  Because God loved us so much, we can love each other in agape love.  What would be different, if all of us lived according to verses 4-7?

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

How would the world be different?  How would our campuses or workplaces be different?  How would our relationships be different?   I can tell you only about as much as I know—they would be transformed by God and his steadfast love!  Things would change for the better!  Because—and the Beatles got this part right—all you really need is love!

God’s Transformation!

Written 8-24, Anna Olson

 

You changed the Beast into a Prince,

Right before the eyes of Belle.

You brought the dead back to life,

After he’d been through hell.

 

You transformed the lies into the truth,

Showing brokenness and superficiality.

You set us free from Satan’s noose,

Renewing living from fatality.

 

You renewed me when I saw your face,

And above all else I desire you.

You taught me how to cling to faith;

You make things work no matter what I do.

 

You transform people every day,

By showing us your story.

When surrounded by light we see your way,

And lift up praise and glory.