The Monday After: Everyday Heroes: Gideon {Andrew}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling.

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} carries the Sunday message into Monday mornings by sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, August 18, 2013:Everyday Heroes: Gideon {LISTEN HERE!}

by Andrew Kelley

This was one of those messages I knew was for me before pastor Joe even started speaking, though its full effect hasn’t sunken in yet.

The reason I knew it was for me is because I am a person that deals with fear a lot. I fear the feeling of falling so I don’t do roller coasters or bungee jumping. I also fear being rejected.

Mark Twain’s quote is almost as inspiring as the story of Gideon: “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is sure.” I thought of a couple things that I have feared in the past and never did or faced.

Maybe that’s why I still fear so much.

The story of Gideon is so cool because it gives us a narrative of a man that seemed like a nobody who in the end could take on the world. God showed Gideon who he really was even in his fear. I especially love how even God says to Gideon in Judges 7:10, “but if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant.”

This shows us even more how God doesn’t expect perfection.

And He doesn’t want us to walk in fear. Earlier in Judges 6:23-24 the Lord said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.”

So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord , and called it The- Lord -Is -Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. The personal story that came to my mind first was when a friend and I were watching the demolition derby awaiting our turn. A car with two guys got hit on both sides almost at the same time. They stopped the derby and paramedics rushed out to the car. One guy got out right away seemingly unscathed while the other guy didn’t move much.

Eventually the second guy got out and walked slowly away; my friend and I looked at each other as we walked towards our car. As we sat in fear in the car we prayed. And the cool part — l felt the peace of God rush over me. We went into the arena boldly.

This was 14 years ago, and I still remember it because of the peace that I felt.

God knows our fears, and He knows who we are in His Spirit. We know who we are in our fears and failures and most of the time we can’t see past all that junk but God sees so much more in us.

He sees the finished product.

Andrew and Dawn

Andrew Kelley is husband to Dawn and father to four wonderful children; he and his family currently call Immanuel and Zion home. 

ICYouth: San Diego Recap {Trever}

Our iMPACT San Diego team arrived home from a week-long mission trip a few weeks ago; some of the students are sharing their stories about the trip each Friday through the end of summer break. Leave some encouragement for them and be encouraged by the way God was at work with the San Diego team!

by Trever Carter

My time in San Diego was truly one to remember. From the laughs, smiles and giggles to the tears and the prayer and everything in between, out week was very fruitful. My service site was like the rest: we served at a soup kitchen, preparing and serving meals to around a thousand of San Diego’s homeless. We also served at an assisted living center, coloring and doing crafts with the older generation. Or days were ended at the San Diego food bank — a large facility that supplies food to over 300 non profit organizations in the San Diego area.

One of the coolest moments of the trip for me was at the end of our time at Youthworks. By the end of the week I was tired, worn out and sad to see our trip coming to an end. One of the Youthworks staff ended the night by preaching on empowerment, describing the scene in the Bible where Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. While I thought he was only going to reference this area of the Bible, he took it to the next level. The Youthworks staff physically proceeded to wash our leader’s feet, pray over them and have them wash our feet, and so on. The visual representation of actually lowering yourself to someone else in order to serve them moved me in a big way. As Jesus served his disciples, we are to serve others as well. A physical representation of not only the cleansing power Jesus offers but the demonstration of serving was one I will remember forever.

My big take away from the trip if I was only allowed to have once sentence would be this: a person’s value is not determined by what they can or cannot give you; a person’s value is determined by God. This means that society’s labels, my labels and your labels are void in the eyes of God. God sees a person as lovable, important and desirable, and we should therefore have that mentality. The least of these is just as desirable as the most of us, and that has made all the difference in how I will view people.

565825_494718303883308_1511035050_nTrever Carter is a sophomore at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

The Monday After: Everyday Heroes: A Widow’s Faith {Hyacynth}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and 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. 

The Monday After Sunday, August 11, 2013: Everyday Heroes: A Widow’s Faith {Listen to the message HERE!}

By Hyacynth Worth

I thought I could pray it away.
I thought I could fill the newly hollow space of my unexpectedly achingly empty womb during the weeks after losing our baby with thanksgiving .
I thought I could take note and count all of our blessings — slowly fill the expansive void with every bit of goodness I could count.
But I kept coming up short.
And it wasn’t for lack of blessing.
Rather, it was for lack of understanding that which really fills the open spaces: love.
Not the kind of love that sings you a song or puts a ring on a finger amid the profession of forever. And not the kind of love that walks the hallways at 3 a.m. with a wailing baby in arms so the other can sleep. Not even the kind of love that weathers the storms of three miscarriages in 14 months and then a mysterious illness that leaves the already achingly empty shell of the woman you once knew unable to even stand without reaching out for something to steady her.
It wasn’t for lack of that kind of love; that kind of love is strong and steady and beautiful in my life.
But, rather, the kind of love that knows the container it’s trying to fill so perfectly and so intimately that it first goes in and begins sealing with grace and truth the hairline cracks  where everything is seeping out before it begins filling the emptiness with a kind of perfect love that stems only from being knowing and being known by the One who breathed life into your body with a soul.
I didn’t know how empty I was until I began to realize what fullness meant.
And fullness doesn’t mean being full solely of blessing.
It means being full of the Blesser.
In that space of being filled with the Blesser, I found a Cup Filler who pours into the achingly empty.
In that space of being filled with the Blesser, I found truth in Pastor Joe’s words:
“Emptiness can be a really good thing when God is about to do something miraculous.”
The miraculous in my life has been extraordinarily ordinary.
It is known and being known by the One who made me and loved as thoroughly as possible by the ones with which He’s surrounded me.
It has been being filled with hope even while my womb is still empty.
And it has been being physically restored almost completely to balance by the Spirit immediately after other believers at our church have circled around me and prayed.
In the stories that flood the pages of the Bible
and in the stories that flood our ears and Facebook news feeds
and in the story of my life
the gaping spaces of need almost always proceed the miraculous.
Like the widow who had faith enough in God to gather the jars and go about the task of filling each with a small flask of oil, I’m learning to gather mine in the midst of the seemingly emptiness, too.
Because with God filling, we always have more than what we think we have.
And with God filling, we only run out when there’s no more emptiness left to fill.

Last island hurrah for the year. Say it ain't so.

Hyacynth Worth is grateful daughter to the Perfect Father, wife to John and mother to two little boys and three souls she will one day meet. In between mothering and coordinating social media for Immanuel, she writes about grace, motherhood and living a healthy lifestyle at Undercover Mother.

ICYouth: San Diego Recap part 1 {Grant}

Our iCYOUTH students arrived home after serving for a week in San Diego. This is the first in a three-part series highlighting their time spent there. 

by Grant Everly

San Diego was definitely a fruitful time for me as well as the rest of the team. Going in to the trip I was definitely a little nervous; with lots of cool things to do in San Diego, I knew it would be all too easy to get caught up in the touristy things that San Diego has to offer. So with that said, I think I, and the rest of the group, knew that we had to come in to San Diego with our hearts prepared and focused. I would definitely say that we accomplished this, and as a result God was glorified greatly.

Each day looked more or less the same for me while at Youthworks, the organization with which we were partnered. The mornings were spent at a food bank where the rest of the people on my work team and I compiled and gave out food. This was followed with time at an adult day center in the afternoon. The time at the adult day center was definitely my favorite part of each day with Youthworks. I really enjoyed getting to spend time playing games, and talking with the people there, and not surprisingly, one of the highlights from the trip came from Tuesday afternoon at the day center.

That Tuesday afternoon, I got to talking with a man named Ronny. Ronny was one of the younger people at the day center. If I were guessing, I would say he was in his early 60s. I started off the conversation like you would with any other person you had never met. Just had some small talk and slowly we started to warm up to each other. As we talked, I learned Ronny was a Christian. He shared about some of his life before he met Christ, a life that was cluttered with a history of alcohol and drug abuse, and as we continued to talk, I could tell that Ronny truly knew Christ in a very deep and relational way.

In a setting where I wasn’t expecting to necessarily find a Christian, it was quite exciting and cool to find a fellow brother/sister in Christ. When you’re at church you expect to talk to other Christians and sometimes we take the unity that comes through Christ for granted, but when you’re in a setting like an adult day center and you encounter another Christian you really get to see how special the brother in Christ bond is. This is one of the things I really enjoyed about talking with Ronny; once I found out he was a Christian, we instantaneously had this connection and understanding that we were both working toward the same goal. So not only was it cool to sit and talk spiritual things with Ronny, it was also quite encouraging to see how unifying Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is.

So in looking for a highlight of the trip, I would definitely say that my time with Ronny was one of my most favorite moments. Getting to talk spiritual stuff with a stranger is cool by itself, but adding on the element of being able to see the unifying nature of the Holy Spirit at work definitely made my time with Ronny something that I will remember for a long time to come.

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.