The Monday After: Getting onto God’s Agenda in the New Year {Ted}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere during the the day, after the music fades and our cars leave the parking lot, pieces of the message tend to fade, too; somewhere along the way, we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

The Monday After: Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012: Getting onto God’s Agenda in the New Year

By Ted Brooks

I feel like I should title my blog post “1,001 Ways My Wife And I Are Totally Different But Still Love Each Other”.

When Pastor Brian Bicket began his message Sunday, he asked if we were “planners”.

Both Gretchen and I raised our hands, and that was when the fight broke out.  Gretchen is a “doer” and I am a “thinker” and this leads to very different ideas of what it means to be a “planner”.  For her, planning means that she knows what is happening every minute of the day today and has a pretty good idea about the rest of the week.  It is a source of great frustration for her that I don’t always pay much attention to the immediate future (and I’m just guessing that a few other wives share this frustration).  I have a rough idea of what has to get done today, but tomorrow is pretty fuzzy and a week from now is a complete blank. Recently we went to a shared calendar on our smart phones and that has slightly decreased my wife’s desire to commit homicide, but it is not a perfect solution (mostly because I forget to put events in the calendar).

Being a planner for me means looking ahead at least a year, and often more like 5-10 years out. I am conceptual thinker.  I love exploring new ideas and figuring out how something could work.  Whether or not it actually happens exactly that way isn’t really important to me.  I think planning is about having a long-range vision and making constant adjustments as new contingencies come up.

Gretchen is a linear thinker. For her adjustments mean you either screwed up in the planning or the execution.  I love the challenge that change (good or bad) brings.  She hates it.  Once she sets her plan in place she will knock down mountains to make it happen.  The reality is that we are both right and need each other; as long as we can appreciate each other’s skills, we make a good team.

This left me wondering what kind of a planner God is.  On one hand, He is clearly a conceptual thinker who is able to visualize an entire universe, and at the same time He is able to work at a level of incredibly minute detail so that every cell in our body has a purpose in harmony with every other cell.  He is able to see infinitely far into the future, but He cares for our immediate needs.  I marvel at His planning that laid out the plan of salvation from the first sin in the Garden of Eden. Gretchen appreciates that He doesn’t mess around and created the entire universe in six days.

Many of us are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” However, Brian gave us a great new perspective Sunday when he gave us the background of this verse.  God’s plan wasn’t going to happen tomorrow, or even two years from now as the false prophet, Shemaiah had predicted, but would happen in 70 years.  While that was very discouraging to the Jews, it encourages me that God does plan far into the future and this verse applies to me today just as much as it did to the Jews in Jeremiah’s day.

I also appreciated Brian’s point that if God isn’t in it, it isn’t going to happen.  We all have our ideas of how the universe should be run and often wonder why God does things the way He does. Consciously or unconsciously we are always trying to make things happen that are not a part of God’s plan and are frustrated when our plans don’t succeed. It would be so much easier if we just sought out God and made sure our plans aligned to His plans.

Of course this is easier said than done. God rarely lays out his plans for us. Both Gretchen and I wish we could get Him to join our shared calendar and that we could just open up our phone app and it would tell us what we’re supposed to do today.

Unfortunately I don’t think our coverage area extends that far so, like the Jews in Jeremiah’s day, we are simply going to have to rely on prayer and the belief that if, as Jeremiah 29:12 tells us, we call on Him He will listen to us and does have a plan for us and that we do have hope and a future.

It may not come as quickly as we want it to, or happen the way that we expect it to, but we can take comfort that God is the ultimate planner and that His plans and his timing is perfect for us.

Ted Brooks is husband to Gretchen and dad to some wonderful kids. He works as a tech director for a local school district.

ICYouth: The Meaning of Christmas {Grant}

Every Friday, we’re taking a peek at how God is working in the lives of our iCYOUTH students. These servants of Jesus are walking daily by faith as they navigate the hallways and relationships inside their school walls and beyond. Our weekly series highlights what God is up to in their lives in their voices. Leave them some encouragement by commenting!

by Grant Everly

As Christians we’re always quick to make sure that we don’t forget about the true meaning of Christmas, but sometimes it seems as though we don’t actually think about what the meaning of Christmas is. We recognize that Christmas is about the birth of Christ, but sometimes we really don’t make an attempt to try and grasp the importance of what that means.

Have you ever taken the time to think about what it means that a baby was in a manger over 2,000 years ago? It seems like a no brainer that we would have to consciously make an attempt to think about the meaning of the birth of Jesus, but when I look at my life, and perhaps you can relate, I begin to realize that often times I reduce the coming of our Savior to a nativity scene, and I never really stop to consider what that means. That is not to say that thinking of a nativity scene in regard to Christmas is in any way bad; in fact it’s quite the opposite. It’s just that sometimes, as crazy as it may sound, I feel like we don’t really think about what it means that the eternal Creator and almighty God of the universe stepped out of time so that we might be able to experience a personal and intimate relationship with Him.

It’s certainly astounding when you think about it. Philippians 2:6-8 displays the remarkable nature of Jesus Christ coming into our world when Paul explains that Christ

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

When we take time to dwell on the reality that Paul presents: Christmas becomes much more than a nativity scene made up of plastic figurines. We begin to grasp the truth that Christmas is one of the most significant days in the history of the world, and that through the birth of Christ, we have been given a hope and a way to an intimate relationship with our all powerful Creator.

So as this Christmas season wraps up, and as we look forward to future Christmases, let’s always make sure that we take the time to consider the significance of a baby lying in a manger 2,000 years ago. May we always take the time to recognize that through the baby lying in the manger, we’ve been given the hope of being able to start a personal relationship with our heavenly Father.

Grant Everly is a sophomore at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

World Outreach: Give This Christmas Away – Part One

Once upon a time there were lands where people had not heard about the gift that God had sent.  That through his son Jesus Christ, people could have LIFE and HOPE.

Thousands of miles away there was a group of people who knew about this gift and decided not to keep it to themselves.  They realized that God wanted them to ENGAGE in sharing this gift of hope, love and salvation with everyone.  So they sent people to share this gift. This group of people promised to ENGAGE by praying, giving and caring for their friends that they were sending.

Over time, the people in other lands accepted this gift and an amazing thing happened. Their lives were completely changed and they began ENGAGING and sharing it with others…and more and more began accepting this gift. The friendships grew between these groups of people…regardless of distance, race  or culture.  In working together they saw that God began changing communities!

YOU are the group of people who have engaged in these partnerships! YOU are the ones who are praying, giving and caring for those in far away lands. YOU are the ones who have seen God at work in your own lives and have not kept it to yourself. YOU have ENGAGED and have been giving CHRISTmas away!!

Philippines

Through your financial gifts World Outreach sent $4,000 for scholarships for the students at the Learning Resource Center in the Philippines.  These students have graduated from the Bible School and are missionaries to unreached Muslim villages.  $7,000 was sent to help with flood relief (water, food and rebuilding homes) after the devastating mud slides and flooding surrounding Iligan City, Philippines.  We continue to support Tom & Michele Obrien there!

Nigeria

rose:bulusThrough your financial gifts, World Outreach sent $11,000 to help with scholarships for students at JETS seminary!  You can read those stories in previous blogs.  We continue to support Bulus & Rose Galadima in their ministry!

Mexico

We celebrated with Chris & Kathy Gouzoules as the church in Tenancingo was given over to godly leadership, Pastor Richarte and his wife Isela and keeps on growing.  We continue to support Chris & Kathy Gouzoules!

GOD is multiplying our gifts (time, finances, prayer) and using it to expand His Kingdom! What a JOY to work alongside Him and keep sharing the gift of LIFE and HOPE. Thank you for Engaging!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS

Serving together with you,

Christy Davis, Alison Knoll, Beth Marshall, Michael Matteoni, John & Kat Tierney and many others!!

The Monday After: Christmas Wrappings: Wrapped in Humanity {Dawn}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the day, after the music fades and our cars leave the parking lot, pieces of the message tend to fade, too; somewhere along the way, we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

The Monday After Sunday, December, 23 2012: Christmas Wrappings: Wrapped in Humanity

By Dawn Kelley

Have you ever been in your personal prayer time and you are connecting with God on a completely different level? Almost as if you are sitting right there on His lap talking to Him and hearing His voice respond  … and then it was time to go.

Now can you imagine sitting in the presence of God enjoying His Company, listening to the angels sing His praises? All of a sudden God turns to you and says, “I have a plan.” “You are leaving my side tonight and you are going to go and save the world. Here’s the catch, you will go into the world as a helpless little baby.”

I cannot begin to comprehend that conversation.  Jesus was there in the beginning, when the darkness loomed over the world — when God spoke light into a dark world. He formed it all and the whole time Jesus was there with God.  Now I’m sure that God had this plan in motion from the beginning; he knew that humanity, His creation made in His image, would turn from the light He offered and run into the uncertainty of darkness.

Jesus was leaving a glorious place to live among sinners in a dark and uncertain world.  He was wrapped in humanity — fully human and fully God — for me, for you!

My plea is the same as Pastor Joe’s: “Don’t let Christmas pass without knowing why He came and what that has to do with you! He was wrapped in humanity so we wouldn’t have to live in darkness.”

Ye,s living in light reveals some ugly things, but I would rather walk in a light and uncertain world than stumble around in a dark and uncertain world.

I cannot neglect to voice a reminder of the amazing “invitation” God has sent us in a beautiful baby boy. He was born in a manger because there was no room in the inn. As He grew older He was rejected and not reconized by many.

Let’s make some room in the inn of our lives for Jesus. We have not been forgotten; let’s not forget Him this Christmas season.

Dawn Kelley is the wife of Andrew and the homeschooling mother of four, Jaden, Niya, Makayla and Aiden. She loves to read and write in her spare time, and she currently uses a personal blog to share her adventures in motherhood and womanhood.