Friendship

Love is a Pursuit

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Love is a pursuit. The ultimate example of love comes from our Heavenly Father and His daily pursuit of us. Christ never gives up on us, and He never stops loving us. His love is diligent, intentional, and eternal.

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Love is a pursuit. The ultimate example of love comes from our Heavenly Father and His daily pursuit of us. Christ never gives up on us, and He never stops loving us. His love is diligent, intentional, and eternal.

This story of love rings true to Dan Shafer and Katie Moore in more ways than one. Dan and Katie met at Wright State University in 2012 while taking accounting classes. Dan is from Cleveland and came to Wright State to run track. He was also involved in the Campus Crusade ministry on campus. Katie is originally from Dayton and was involved in Younglife throughout college. Today they are a part of the Brooklyn and Queens house church in Kettering.

Dan and Katie started studying together during their sophomore year at Wright State. Throughout the year Dan prayed intentionally about his feelings for Katie and what their relationship looked like to him. Dan knew how he felt about Katie, but deep down Katie struggled with trust. Dan continued to pursue her and love her as a  sister in Christ, and they finally started dating in the spring of 2013.

That summer Katie and Dan graduated from Wright State. Katie stayed in Dayton and Dan went home to Cleveland knowing that he would be back in the fall for graduate school. Dan and Katie struggled with distance and ultimately decided to break up. Through that summer Dan continued to trust God.

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When Dan came back to Dayton in the fall, the couple started talking again. One night after getting together to study, Katie finally opened up to Dan about her past and her struggle to trust in relationships. Dan came alongside Katie in some of her deepest pain and showed her that she could trust him and let him in.

Both Dan and Katie agree that God used the time they spent apart that summer to refine them and teach them about themselves before he brought them together again. They learned that God’s timing is always best. Even though Dan and Katie know they are different in certain ways, they have one important thing in common - their commitment to Christ, their vision for community, and their vision for their relationship.

After feeling God’s calling on their hearts leading them to take the next step in their relationship, Dan and Katie got engaged in the fall of 2014. Katie admits it took some time for her to get to the point where she was open and ready to think about marriage. She still struggled with trust, but she knew God had brought her and Dan together and that Dan was the perfect provision of a husband for her.

Since their engagement, Dan has continued to pursue Katie in new ways. In this new chapter of their lives, they have learned how to compromise, handle conflict, and be patient with one another, even with big decisions on the horizon. Katie says that Dan continues to point them back to Christ and that he loves her well, even in times of conflict.

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After meeting with Dan and Katie and hearing all about their story and how God brought them together in His perfect timing, I asked them a few additional questions. Here is what they said.

What does a healthy, godly pursuit of a relationship look like from a man’s perspective?

Dan: After experiencing a bad relationship freshman to sophomore year, I learned what it looked like to be genuinely intentional in a relationship. I knew the next time I dated I wanted to do things right - I wanted to pursue well and love like Christ loves. With Katie that meant being patient and trusting God’s timing. It also meant I had to continue pursuing her when she would try and push me away. I loved doing small things for her like bringing her Starbucks. Anything to make her day special!

What advice would you give single guys (and gals) who are thinking about dating?

Dan: You cannot be in a relationship for selfish reasons - it just won’t work. You need to love like God loves, be intentional, ask tough questions, invest in them and be patient with them. You need to love with grace and forgiveness. Katie and I took a love language test when we were dating so that we knew how to show each other love in the best way possible. You also need to be in the relationship with the intent of marrying at the end.

Katie: I think the most important thing to remember in a dating relationship is that the person you are dating should not be the one to make you happy. If that is how you go into a relationship you will have high expectations that will not be met. Also, I think it’s important to learn what it looks like to pursue a guy as a girl. With Dan I looked for areas where I could intentionally encourage and support him.

 

Author: Jacqueline Brown

Engagement photos taken by Sara Creason

Extravagant Love

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That promise of purity was long forgotten as I gave my one body to boys who whispered tight-lipped proclamations of love and who went out of their way to smile at me; boys and sex became the primary motivator behind everything I did.

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I was baptized in the 6th grade; I remember being immersed into the water - feet flailing and head resisting the going under. Looking back now I realize those seconds of baptism would come to define my relationship with God, or lack thereof, in the coming years. After being baptized I was given a promise ring by my parents; I promised to remain chaste until I was married. To say I was pure in the years to come would be an expansive understatement.

Shortly after being baptized and making a promise, I allowed a boy to go too far, too fast; but I was still technically a virgin - that's why I told myself over and over again. I got through Junior High and arrived on the front step of my freshman year with my technical virginity intact and a very passive belief of The Lord in my heart.

In January of 2003, the Lord caught my attention in a monumental way; He removed someone I loved deeply from this fragile life. My 15-year-old cousin was killed in a car accident. For a time, I threw myself into attending church and earnest prayer, convinced that the combination would remove the pain and questions.

Then not even a year later my handsome grandfather was called home and the fold of family strength still clinging by its hang nails crumbled beneath the weight of confusion, devastation and sorrow. I became enraged at a God who would step into the ring of my shaky existence and knock me off with these one, two punches. With the death of two of the finest men I will ever know, I flung myself at any man who would look my direction.

That promise of purity was long forgotten as I gave my one body to boys who whispered tight-lipped proclamations of love and who went out of their way to smile at me; boys and sex became the primary motivator behind everything I did; relationships with the only people who actually did love me, when the lights were up and the air wasn't thick with sweat, began to unravel. My early twenties were predominated by figuring out who wanted me, how much, and when.

I feel as if everything came to a really fine breaking point in September of 2012; I had just graduated and was online dating and, overall, feeling remarkably poor about myself.

Growing up in a farming town allows no room for encounters with strangers - just the boys starting varsity under the lights every Friday. But online dating brought a very new and very dangerous endeavor - the one night stand; I struggle to admit that far too many decorate my 25th year.

In the midst of my online dating escapades and then becoming serious with someone, I accepted a job. I began working at Ruskin Elementary and was quickly placed in an after school classroom with a beautiful woman named Emily - she was kind, gracious and smart. Shortly after we began teaching together, Em invited me to a night of prayer at Apex - I recall being emotional over the music, words spoken and the people I met – I could feel the pull of the Lord on my heart strings; He was showing me what a life could look like if I allowed Him back in. I left that Friday night feeling a new lightness.

But God needed my full attention. Saturday morning brought the realities of unfaithfulness from the man I was seeing and there is no chance of coincidence that Emily Riggs was the only phone call I could get to go through.

I know that Jesus Christ saved me - He died for my filthy sin and looks past the number of sheets I've allowed myself to get tangled in, but He worked through the Riggs’ that weekend, and continues to, to save me from myself.

Soon after the night of prayer and the subsequent breaking my spirit needed to cling to Jesus, I found out what being part of community truly meant. My house church and quad have come to be some of the best friends I could hope for and the Lord’s love, grace, and promises are clear and tangible through each of them in the ways they pray with, and for, me, love me, and remind me that He doesn’t change His mind about His children.

The idols of sex and male attention litter my past, along with loss, but my walk with the Lord has shown me that the beauty of this life is framed by grace, redemption, and accountability. So every day when I’m quick to forget that those moments don't define me, I try to remember that I'm not the author of this story - and the One who is doesn't require revision.

 

Author: Stephani Duff

 

Lives of Disciples

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Discipleship happened because Christ was the standard for the house church and the Word was their guide. They dared to love and wanted to serve.

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There is power in our stories. In living them, in sharing them, in letting them take root. There is growth in experience.  Bound together by struggle and cultivated in vulnerability. Unified in the unhindered celebration of grace and honest confrontation of sin, this is the life of a disciple. And this is the life Josh and Emily Radcliffe chose to embrace with their house church.

The first glimpses of discipleship appeared in their quads, the smaller groupings of people from their house church. Emily met with other women and Josh with other men. In this more intimate group people could stop hiding their baggage and allow themselves to be real and broken. Each person's quad was who they were responsible to know, love and care for. People shared their stories of transformation in Christ and struggles found in the grit of day to day life. They desired to truly know each other and allow themselves to be known. In choosing vulnerability, honesty and love discipleship took hold and began to change everything.

Discipleship, like change, didn't happen all at once though. It was a process. Josh and Emily's house church didn't form  trusting relationships in one day. They had to think outside the box. There was no one way to do things. Some quads texted while others meet over a cup of coffee. Each had to figure out what worked best for them to connect as a group. That was where the relationships were built, word by word. Life wasn't confined to a single night of the week nor discipleship to the span of a couple hours. They were learning to live like a family. Josh and Emily chose to live with an open door whether the floor was scattered with toys or the sink filled with dirty dishes. Their house church family was always welcome as were their neighbors and friends. They fought to be connected. They fought for community. Breakfast meetings before work or late night visits after the kids were asleep became a new normal. They went to bed tired, a good tired, because they loved with all their strength.

Discipleship happened because Christ was the standard for the house church and the Word was their guide. They dared to love and wanted to serve. Little things around the neighborhood like handing out burgers or water, talking to people, praying with them, loving them as they were, they fought to do these things together. Every year the house church organized a trip to Zambia to invest their time and gifts in the communities there. It transformed how and why they served at home. It transformed how they loved. Forged through shared hardships and joys they faced life side by side pointing to the great Author that brought them together. With dirt under their nails and grass stains on their knees they weren't afraid to get in too deep. They were made to be disciples.

 

Author: Robin Zastrow

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