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Being Still - Selah by Fiona Holland

Indeed! I graduated college, officially have a piece of paper stating I have a special skill set, and have the freedom to go anywhere in the world - no pressure. ☺ But the real question everyone asks and that I have to answer is, “What are your plans now”? It is a valid question and one I, above all others, wish I knew the answer to. Of course, finding out about the Nashville Fellows Program and being accepted into the program has helped direct my path at least for the next nine months. However, when it draws to an end, the question still remains – what am I going to do now? It is extremely difficult at times to soak in the moment and not be concerned with what is coming up next. Schedules, friends, family, homework, phone calls, appointments, work, exercising, eating right, following up, and more are all pressures that fuel us to go, go, go. All. The. Time. Like most, I enjoy being productive in everything I do; so to remain in one place in order to rest is no easy task. Honestly, I have begun to schedule time alone with the Lord to ensure it takes place; that I am able to listen to His voice and soak in His presence.

Resting is not something that comes naturally, especially in today’s society. Nevertheless, the importance of reserving a Sabbath day is vital to one’s mental, physical, and most significantly, spiritual well-being. From personal experience, I have learned that when my priorities are first focused on finishing homework, going to gatherings, cleaning, running errands, or even spending time with others, it is impossible to balance it all. Everything ends up falling apart, and people are let down. Failing is not something I intend to do, but despite knowing that I cannot not accomplish it all in my own strength, I still try and fail. Thankfully, this is not the end of the story since we serve a God who is our strength when we are weak; He does not turn away or stop pursuing us. Why? Because Jesus Christ desires a relationship with us. We are His inheritance from the Father – what a truly beautiful thing! In turn, we can respond out of the love He has bestowed upon us and spend quality time with our Creator. The concept that we can live out of a resting place with God instead of living for the rest is fascinating to me. It is the abundance of the Lord Jesus that flows out of us when we spend time in Him – seeking, asking, soaking, loving.

At the beginning of this semester, each Fellow spent some time inquiring of the Lord to reveal a verse from the Bible that He will use in his or her individual life this year. I believe God gave me Psalms 46:9-11 which states: “He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the chariots with fire. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress…Selah.” From this, I felt God explain to me that out of the chaos or busyness of this year, He wishes for me to give Him first priority; to be still and rest in Him. And Selah meaning to take time to ponder what He is saying, teaching, and where He is leading.

I am truly excited for this year and so thankful for all the astounding people I have met thus far and will continue to meet as the year progresses! My hope and prayer is that the Lord will use these words to encourage you as you walk out the path He has for you. Remember to take moments each day to breathe in God’s glorious presence and exhale His wonderful praise. Selah.


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Precarious Expectations by Clay Krout

I must concede that I arrived in Nashville with apathy regarding how this year would affect my career path and, by association, my life. I entered the Nashville Fellows program having been accepted into medical school, seemingly coasting on confidence in the notion that the medical field would be my niche for the rest of my life. My preconception about the nine months that lay before me included expectations of learning about how I could better implement the Gospel of Christ into medicine and, more generally, grow deeper in understanding and affection for the God that I call Savior and Father. So far, I am seeing both of those things come to fruition, but I am also being taught another important lesson: sometimes my expectations do not perfectly align with the sovereign plan of God. In such a short time I have learned how this applies to relationships with others, visions for the future, and even my assumptions about who God is and what it means to be a member of the Church. Through this blog, I hope to use my limited abilities to magnify the goodness of our wholly sufficient Father by highlighting how He has and is continuing to sanctify me in the manners to which I have alluded.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “Those who dream of this idolized community demand that it be fulfilled by God, by others and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their demands set up by their own law, and judge one another and God accordingly. It is not we who build. Christ builds the church.” God took no time in showing me that I had idolized my own idealized sense of what community should look like for me. I supposed that there would be little discrepancy between the friends I made in college and the friends I would make in Nashville. I was wrong. The people in the Fellows program are markedly different from my college friends. Furthermore, not only are many of these amazing people unlike me, but we share significantly dissimilar backgrounds. Despite these ostensible hindrances, we have an overarching, primary commonality in Christ Jesus our Lord. After being reluctantly and rapidly shown this preeminent fact by God, I have had the blessing of beginning to enter friendship with the other Fellows, despite our superficial differences. How beautiful it is when the Church, the body of Christ, strives to function and serve in harmony due to our shared devotion to Jesus Christ, regardless of any other preexisting conditions. God has been gracious to give me a taste of such desirable community as He has designed it. I pray to experience this more fully as the year progresses.

The second, and perhaps most drastic, way that God challenged my expectations was through examination of my personal vision for my life and career. Roughly a week into this Fellows program I experienced an existential crisis concerning my career path. I began to question my fervor for commitment to medical practice. I started to contemplate whether I would be more inclined to pursue a career in business or law. After prayer and further analysis of my own heart I was forced by God, through His Spirit, to address my idols of perceived success and wealth. I now feel that I can stand in confidence as I begin to pursue medicine, with a trust in God and understanding that if He opens doors in the realm of business or any other avenue, I intend to walk through them wholeheartedly, leaning on a faith that my Father provides and sustains.

Lastly, God has shown me more fully who He is, and what it means to serve as a small member of the much larger body of Christ, encompassing Christians around the world, despite denominational affiliation. It is by perceiving my sin not only through the lens of filth, although it is filthy, but further seeing it from a vantage point that reveals how inconceivably dissimilar I am to God that I have become exceedingly more penitent and reverent towards the God of the universe. The God who sent his Son, fully God and fully man, to die in my place, so that I may be deemed holy and without blemish, acceptable before the eyes of an infinitely righteous God. How beautiful is the name of Jesus? What a blessing to serve this Savior alongside brothers and sisters around the world. I pray that we fight for unity in the body of Christ despite the denomination (or non-denomination), so that the world may see more fully the beauty of Jesus Christ embodied by His Church.

In closing, I pray and hope you will pray with me, that God, in His infinite grace and mercy, would continue to rescue us from our own precarious expectations. May we abide in Him always, trusting that the plans He has for us are for His glory and our good.

Perhaps I should have inserted earlier the verses by which this blog was inspired, but alas, here we are. I hope still that this Word of God would permeate your heart and affect your soul as it has mine:

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”


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Embracing the Rainy Season by Alicia Dahlman

This season of life has been a season of stepping into unknowns. New city, new job, new friends, new church, and a new family to live with. Choosing to come to Nashville was a complete head-first dive into an unknown season for me. All I knew was that God had called me to be there. I had nothing familiar to cling to. I often run from these sort of situations, yet, I’ve already been able to see how much of a growing experience such seasons can be. When we fully dive into a season of unknowns, all we have left to trust is the Holy Spirit and honestly, praise God for the seasons when all we have left to cling to is Him.

As I prepared to come to Nashville, I kept hearing the Lord speaking to me that this season was going to be one of growth. On our opening retreat the Lord gave me a sweet reminder of what I had heard. On the first morning I woke up early to watch the sunrise, but came out onto the porch to pouring rain. I decided to make the most of it and listen to the rain as I sat on the porch and sipped my coffee. The Lord spoke a word to me as I sat and listened to the rain hitting the ground. He said “The rain comes and makes dead things new. It goes into the cracks of dry and depleted places and brings life. It fuels strength and growth for the season to come. This season is a season of rain for you, of growth and newness, but, growth can’t come unless a plant soaks up the rain given. Soak up the rain and press into a season of being poured into.”

I think we can often see seasons of growth as these exciting times when in all reality they’re hard too. True growth means allowing the cracks to be exposed so they can be filled; soaking up the truth and letting it sink in so growth can happen. I’m learning that it's okay to slow down and listen. To be Mary and sit at the feet of Jesus and choose what is better. To soak up the rain and press into the season of being poured into.

1 Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

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A Picture is worth a thousand words by Theresa Wilson

Wow - what an incredible year we have had together as a Fellows program! I am humbled and honored to have spent the last nine months with 15 God-focused, intentional, teachable young adults who are beginning their life post-college with a focus on how their faith impacts all of their life. We've approached the year with what my Fellows call a "ride or die" attitude (I had to look that up in the urban dictionary... it means we decided to be committed to each other through thick and thin... a biblical concept contextualized, right?!). I'm so proud of the growth I've seen in these 15 Fellows; here's to many more years of growth together!

I'd like to take you on a journey through our year via pictures... enjoy some of the highlights of our year with us!

  Opening Retreat - we even got to experience the eclipse together!

Opening Retreat - we even got to experience the eclipse together!

  Roundtables became a favorite each week - eating dinner together and spending time in worship and sharing.

Roundtables became a favorite each week - eating dinner together and spending time in worship and sharing.

  Classes were another highlight! We studied the meta narrative of Scripture (we can explain "creation, fall, redemption, restoration" like bosses!) and how it applies to our lives and the culture within which we live.

Classes were another highlight! We studied the meta narrative of Scripture (we can explain "creation, fall, redemption, restoration" like bosses!) and how it applies to our lives and the culture within which we live.

  Our first retreat together focused on understanding one another better through the MBTI and Enneagram... gotta love those numbers!

Our first retreat together focused on understanding one another better through the MBTI and Enneagram... gotta love those numbers!

  Our second retreat we headed to Memphis for a retreat focused on Biblical justice - what a treat to hear from Tim Johnson who is doing great racial reconciliation work in Memphis!

Our second retreat we headed to Memphis for a retreat focused on Biblical justice - what a treat to hear from Tim Johnson who is doing great racial reconciliation work in Memphis!

  Thanks to Nashville Institute for Faith and Work for some wonderful events this year focused on faith and work!

Thanks to Nashville Institute for Faith and Work for some wonderful events this year focused on faith and work!

  Our community Christmas party downtown focused on thanking the multitude of people who invest in our Fellows!

Our community Christmas party downtown focused on thanking the multitude of people who invest in our Fellows!

  We participated in the MLK Jr March downtown and are blessed to have learned much from his example.

We participated in the MLK Jr March downtown and are blessed to have learned much from his example.

  We learned the importance of mentors - may this be a practice we continue for years to come!

We learned the importance of mentors - may this be a practice we continue for years to come!

  On our Vocation and Calling Retreat we looked at how God has made us and what that means for our lives... here's to being emotionally self-aware - thanks EQi!

On our Vocation and Calling Retreat we looked at how God has made us and what that means for our lives... here's to being emotionally self-aware - thanks EQi!

  We got to meet Governor Haslam and hear from a few of our legislators!

We got to meet Governor Haslam and hear from a few of our legislators!

  We hosted our first annual benefit event - what a great night together!

We hosted our first annual benefit event - what a great night together!

  In March we went on a retreat focused on ending the program well together.

In March we went on a retreat focused on ending the program well together.

  Leadership Lunches were filled with incredible local leaders like Council Lady Brenda Haywood!

Leadership Lunches were filled with incredible local leaders like Council Lady Brenda Haywood!

  We went to a national conference (with 275 other Fellows!) in DC in April.

We went to a national conference (with 275 other Fellows!) in DC in April.

  Closing Retreat - much "heart water" (a Scotty Smith-ism) flowed as we reflected together.

Closing Retreat - much "heart water" (a Scotty Smith-ism) flowed as we reflected together.

  Our last class with the wise and humble Scotty Smith - thanks for teaching us each week!

Our last class with the wise and humble Scotty Smith - thanks for teaching us each week!

  We pulled everything we learned together about redeeming work and culture through Capstone Projects and presentations!

We pulled everything we learned together about redeeming work and culture through Capstone Projects and presentations!

And that's a wrap! Now on to graduation and ALL that God has in store afterward. Amen.

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From the Garden to the City by Olivia McLean

I spent this past weekend visiting friends in New York City. Before my year in Nashville cities intimidated me. I’d like the hustle and bustle for about twelve hours and then be yearning for green grass and rolling hills. It was like a switch flipped or I would hit a wall and be ready to go home. Therefore, when I first heard Scotty introduce urban eschatology I was unsettled. The idea that paradise may be a city was something I had never truly considered. Is a city where I wanted to spend eternity? No, not really. Oftentimes (even in Nashville) I feel like a country mouse. But as per usual, God’s plan has rhyme and reason that is not dependent on my own desires.

Cities, dynamic and interesting places throbbing with their own pulse, have begun to fascinate me. In the case of Manhattan people from every background are living in harmony on a tiny island. The area becomes a pressure cooker for the melding and expansion of cultures, and the epicenter for innovation and art. Almost each race, tongue, tribe and people group can claim part of New York as their own and feel at home. One city, many people. It’s a beautiful shadow of God’s kingdom where there is unfathomable variety and difference between people, yet harmony still.

The most remarkable facet of this eschatology is that God is using human innovation in a proactive rather than reactive way. God will not raze the earth and start anew, abandoning all human creation. He will build on what humans have created because what we have built and what we consider beautiful echos what He builds and considers beautiful.

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. Revelation 21:10-11

In many ways it is fitting to be focusing on this city image for one of the last fellow-written blog post from the class of ‘17-’18. Scripture tells us that although Genesis began in the garden, Revelation ends in a city. For me, there is poetry and symmetry in that promise. It is forward-thinking and challenging. It reflects growth and adventure. Although I see many, many flaws in society, this theology emphasizes that not all of it is completely evil. The fact that God deems some of it worthy to be redeemed and made into the building blocks of His future kingdom is noteworthy and remarkable.

As the Fellows are about to part ways, I find comfort in the fact that God will use what we have built this year and continue building on it. These relationships and this community will grow and I feel confident that we will feel the effects of being Nashville Fellows for many years to come. He will use the good that is here in His future kingdom in the same way that He uses existing infrastructure to build His everlasting kingdom. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to create something that may be worthy of adding to paradise one day. Hallelujah!

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