The Monday After: Fully Devoted: Serving Others, part one {Anita}

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, September 30, 2013: Fully Devoted: Serving Others, part one

By Anita Everly

There is a book on my reading list called Love Does.  The title alone swirls around in my head and reminds me that God is love and He was the truest servant.
He “did” love–a lot.  And we are to “do love” also.
But serving others in the world can seem like a daunting assignment, can’t it?
God, however, promises that He has equipped us for the task.
I Peter 4:10-11 commands and promises this:  “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone serves, he should do it with all the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”
Each one of us is designed with gifts that suit Kingdom work in service to others.  This passage assures that we can serve “with all the strength God provides.”  He’s already provided all we need to be a servant.
Jesus Christ himself was our ultimate example of a servant.  Our Messiah who washed the disciples’ feet, fed the hungry and healed the sick said, “’For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.’” Mark 10:45.
Sometimes in our independent culture we assume that no one wants or needs help.  We tend to say, “I’m good” or “I’ve got it.”  However, we might need to press into that second greatest commandment from Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourselves.”  Most people gain much from having people who will walk alongside them, invest in a relationship.  As Tom O’Brien echoed from Scripture, we must first pray everyday.  God will lead us to the people and ways we are to serve.  There will be no shortage.
And then we “do” love.
Loving others in action can be as simple as asking how someone is doing and really listening.  Taking over a meal for no reason at all.  Sharing a garden bounty.  Offering to help with a home project.
photo-14These acts of service done with an authentic love may seem so counter-cultural that some may wonder why.  But, they also will provide us opportunities to share Jesus and to explain it is because of the overflowing love of Christ in us that it pours out onto others.
How does this walking alongside others and “doing love” relate to serving the world?  You never know when someone close to home that you have invested in may go to lands beyond, or you may go when called short-term or long-term, or even in retirement like Colin Carroll.
In other ways we can be part of serving the world by supporting missionaries.  I love how Tom O’Brien encouraged us in each of our homes to make world missions close to our family.  We can all choose a missionary family or a people group to pray for, support, learn more about and even possibly visit. There are so many missionaries in our Immanuel family alone to be praying for and supporting.
There are also Christian organizations that support the lives and ministries of Christians abroad.  Immanuel’s World Outreach Team actively supports both the anti-human trafficking in India and Haute-Savanette church/school in Haiti through Bright Hope.  In addition, Operation Christmas Child is happening now, preparing to pack boxes of love and the hope of Christ to send to children around the world.  Again, anyone can pray for these ministries and there are numerous ways to physically help as well.
There really are no limits to our abilities in Christ to serve in love those close to home and out into the world.  He has already set the example and promised us the strength and equipping to do so.  We have a big God who can help us serve a big world.

Anita Everly is the wife of David and mom to their three sons.  She can be found watching the lives of her men unfold, creating a home, and encouraging other women in life and motherhood.  She is striving to live life on purpose because she is crazy in love with the One who is crazy in love with her.

 

ICYouth: A Beautiful Mess {Alexus}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Alexus Jones

Hello, friends.

It’s been a bit of time, hasn’t it? I have missed writing to my fellow churchgoers over the summer, and though my keyboard has gotten a bit of a rest, God certainly has not been at rest during the past few months. If you’ve read my previous contributions to this lovely little blog, then you’ll know that busy-ness and I are no strangers to each other. These days, my calendar has been packed with two jobs, two youth groups, two (soon to be three) worship bands, three music projects (two bands and a solo project, all of which are in various stages of recording), a volunteer position backstage at Immanuel, co-managing an event for iMPACT, senior year of high school and all of the other joys and sorrows of being a part of the awkward time period we call “the teenage years.”

As difficult as this has all become, I must admit that I actually feel quite invigorated with the challenge of my everyday life. There is something wonderful about living in the eye of a hurricane. As complexity threatens to overcome my existence, I have been given the privilege to view the world through a different lens—one of simplicity. As things have begun to swirl out of my control, I have been forced to remind myself of my basic necessities, some of which I had never realized before now. Without a doubt, life has gotten hard, but the things that I have learned through this interesting journey have been absolutely priceless.

As a lover and writer of music, I have never quite understood the concept of the grandmotherly phrase, “Silence is golden.” No. Silence is boring. Silence is plain. Silence is awkward. Silence is nothing but a blank canvas. It was not until recent days that I discovered my desire for a universal mute button on life. Everything has become noise. School is noise. Work is noise. Church is noise. Music (obviously) is noise.

I imagine that my life sounds the way that Jackson Pollock’s painting “No. 5” appears.

Pollock_no-5

And so, in an attempt to make sense of the smears, splatters and splotches, I use a wonderful method that my band director (concert band being another activity that I forgot to include in my previous laundry list) likes to call “compartmentalization.” This is the process by which a person takes a subject that is seemingly too complex for comprehension (in this situation, my entire existence) and breaks it up into less complicated pieces (days, hours and sometimes even minutes). This process is usually fairly successful, allowing for a less overwhelming view on life, but it also allows for the opportunity to get caught up in the little—usually insignificant—facets of day-to-day living.

In art, details have the ability to make or break a piece. However, the amount of time spent on these details must be chosen wisely. There are many works of art that require more time than an artist’s life can allow, resulting in unfinished pieces that can never be cherished to their full potential—pieces that are essentially worthless, or at the very least, extremely undervalued. Then, there are pieces like Pollock’s aforementioned “No. 5.” I imagine that the amount of effort put into this piece’s detail work is equally reflected in the amount of work put into the creativity of its name.

Now, I want you to guess how much money was spent purchasing this painting.

Actually, no, I don’t want you to guess. I’ll just tell you. It was more than $140 million.

Now, assuming that the purchaser of this lovely smattering of goo wasn’t blind—though, that’s very possible—one could assume that this person probably had some sentimental investment in this painting. I also imagine that they had some major plans in mind. I would think that $140 million wouldn’t be something that anyone would fling around willy-nilly. Now, even though I see a piece of art that could have been pulled off equally as artfully by a rabid squirrel, this strange mixture of chaos and mess was very important to someone. It reminds that even when our lives feels like a strange mixture of chaos and mess, there is someone that paid a lot more that $140 million for you. In fact, He paid with His life. Regardless of how worthless you may feel, nothing is defined by what most people will not pay for it, but by what one person will sacrifice for it.

More often than not, we need to look at the big picture. Sometimes, we need to stop and take a second to reflect. The brilliance of life is revealed in reflection. And so, I invite you to take a moment this week. God has taken you through a set of circumstances completely unique to you. You are living out a beautifully crafted story every day.  Consider where you began, and thank God for where He’s brought you. I pray that God will allow you to see your journey through His eyes.

God bless you.

Alexus Jones is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She plays in the high school youth group worship band and works backstage on Sunday mornings at Immanuel Church. She is a singer/songwriter who desires to glorify God with the abilities that He’s entrusted to her.

The Monday After: Fully Devoted: Community, part two {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, September 23, 2013: Fully Devoted: Living in Community, part two {LISTEN HERE!}

by Andrew Kelley

“If we want to show a watching world the love of Christ, we must love each other well.”

Pastor Bryan’s words stood out most from yesterday’s message and have stood out to me for almost a year. But they didn’t hit me today like they did almost a year ago.

God had shown me that what I thought was participation in community actually was me faking my current status. I was hiding behind the “everything is good, I’m just here to worship” facade. I was hiding the fact that my family was struggling financially. I finally gave in and called a couple brothers from Immanuel to meet with them — brothers who I could bare it all to and know they would say what needed to be said.

One of them did correct me in a loving way, and I am so fortunate to call him a friend as well as a brother. I felt better afterward. God had to show me through His community that I had support. I then felt clipped in, like those mountain climbers.climb It’s funny how we think we can do things by ourselves. In Genesis 2:18, God saw that Adam, perfect in his character and his relationship with Him, should not be alone . God knew Adam and every human being would need another human for support.

During these past several months, God has shown me specific reasons for the community He has called me and my whole family to at this time in our lives. The body of Immanuel has been there for us over and over and over. We have praised God for these blessings in front of other family and friends who don’t attend church, and these people have responded in ways that only make us even more grateful for our community.

Back to my first sentence, focus on the beginning of the quote, “If we want to …” But what if we don’t? What if we don’t want to or what if we don’t care? Perhaps a good deal of believers really don’t want to live in community, don’t want to to show a watching world the love of Christ in that way? I think we then must ask ourselves one important question: “What is our commission in life as Christ followers?”

Jesus said to go into all the world and make disciples. How would we do this without community? How would we do this without love? I strongly believe that just our love for each other will draw people to Christ. I don’t know about you, but I want to be clipped into a group of people who will love me and support me when I am going journeying uphill through the mountains of life.

Because sometimes it gets pretty steep. We can’t climb alone.

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: Clothing Ourselves with Christ {Grant}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Grant Everly

Recently God has been convicting me greatly in regard to the way that I act. It’s not that I’ve been acting outrageously un-Christlike, it’s just that He’s reminded of my shortcomings in living up to the standard of perfection Jesus displayed with His life.

It’s quite frustrating when we realize we aren’t living up to this standard. I was sharing this frustration with a friend this past Sunday. I knew I was living my life for Christ, but I still felt like I was falling short. On the whole, I was positive I was living for God, but I was concerned by the subtle nuances of the way I act. I constantly had been finding myself questioning the things that I laugh at and the ways that I mess around with my friends. Like I said, I knew that on the whole I had been living all out, but I also realized God wants to permeate every area of our being, and I was positive I wasn’t allowing God to do this; I wasn’t allowing Him to permeate every single area of my life, specifically, every area of the way that I act.

My friend referred me to Romans 13:14, which says: “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of your sinful nature.”

Not so ironically, this exact same passage came up later that night at youth group while talking about our friendships and the idea that we should bring Jesus into the equation.

God was most definitely pounding this verse, specifically the first part, into my head. My frustration was stemming from the reality that I wasn’t allowing myself to be fully clothed by Christ. Although living a Christ-like life, and striving toward the example Christ has set, I was still trying to resist having myself fully clothed in Christ.

When my friends look at me, they should see Christ blanketing me, but when I begin to stray away from living up to the standard that God has set, no matter how minor the straying, I begin to cover myself in me, not God. No matter how miniscule something may appear, if it’s something Christ wouldn’t be doing, I’m covering myself in me, and the insufficiency of myself makes this pattern of living seem absolutely absurd.

As Christians we can’t tolerate clothing ourselves with anything other than Christ. Although achieving a status of being entirely clothed in Christ is impossible, I’ve found that simply being aware of what I’m called to is half the battle. Through simply meditating on the fact God asks I be clothed by Him, I’ve found it becomes a little easier to pursue the standard of perfection He’s set.

Too often we become all too content with only allowing God to partially transform the way we act. We need to recognize how the things we watch and listen to, and the way we act toward others sends a message to the world. They can either see us as hypocrites who claim to love God, or a follower of Christ whose utmost goal is to run hard after God despite imperfection.

Let’s vow to make the message we send the latter. Let’s run hard after God and fully clothe ourselves with Christ.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Grant Everly is a junior 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 – Missionary Updates

Prayer Request

Recently we received an urgent prayer request from our missionaries Tom and Michele O’Brien about airstrikes that were happening in Zamboanga City in the Philippines. The military had been launching airstrikes to flush out rebels of the Nur Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNNLF) in the embattled zone of the city. Thankfully soldiers were able to rescue 26 civilian hostages that were being used as human shield in the city. The rescued hostages included men, women and children are recovering.

zamboanga-hostage-300x225We also received news that one of their coworkers in the Philippines, Pastor David, was freed over the weekend. he was held for eight days but is now back with his family.

Please continue to pray for the other hostages, the safety of the city and for those that are still there ministering amoung the Tausug Muslims.

Good News

We also received news from Chris and Kathy Gouzoules.  They were happy to share good news after a church retreat they hosted in June. Here is a peak at the great things God is doing in Tenancingo:

Many pastors and church planters were challenged to plant churches that transform communities during a retreat in Tenancingo (June 2013) organized by Pastor Richarte.

This retreat was one answer to our prayers that a vision to reach and transform our region be led by Mexican pastors and church planters.

Remond and his wife, Conchi, (along with their two daughters) are potential church planters with passion and vision to plant churches with us in this region. They feel called to relocate to one of the 70 unreached cities. Please pray for them and us as we visit and pray over various cities together, asking God for his direction.

Please keep praying that God would raise up church planters and City of Refuge workers for each abandoned city.
Thank you for your continued love, support and prayers for our missionaries as they spread God’s word to those who need it most!