The Monday After: Fully Devoted: Generosity in Our DNA {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. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, October 28, 2013: Fully Devoted: Generosity in Our DNA, part one {Listen to the message HERE!}

By Hyacynth Worth

It seemed like they brought everything but the kitchen sink.

One by one, bag by bag, tool by tool, my mom, step dad and step brothers carried everything we’d need for a weekend of replacing our kitchen and laundry room floors into our home late Friday evening.

No detail was spared in the project — from the perfect-colored matching grout to the precisely placed porcelain tiles that took hours lay out. Nor was anything overlooked for the caring of the people — my mother came prepared with enough food to feed an army via crockpot and skillet, disposable plates and buckets for washing utensils. And all of it — the materials for the floor, the time and talent of laying the floor, the food — gifted to us in a loving act of generosity. This just days after John’s dad and our contractor friend offered to take out a wall to help the floor-laying process go more smoothly.

By Sunday morning before I left for church, I looked around my house and at the people who orchestrated the details of this weekend, grateful. And I looked around and thought about how completely excessive their gift to us was. It wasn’t just the beautiful floor, though, that left me so overwhelmed with gratitude. It was the combination of their treasures, their time, their talents given selflessly and joyfully and out of their own humble resources.

Selflessly and joyfully — there was no grumbling from my mom or step dad about how they would go from a hard-working week straight into a hard-working weekend and back into a hard-working week. Or of the two-hour drive it took to get them all here. Also, my parents are not people of great financial means. They are just hard-working people — the kind who pray to make ends meet and then bless someone else amid the hardest of times.

The lesson, though, didn’t fully sink in until I sat in the Sunday morning service and Pastor Joe defined the meaning of generosity: being excessively giving of your time, treasure and talent.

As I looked at the real-life example of true generosity unfolding in my home as I listened to a message about generosity where I normally would have considered myself in the good zone, I realized God still had a long way to go in transforming my heart.

Though I’m a willing, happy and generous giver of my treasures and often talent, I am still admittedly stingy and grumpy with certain other things Pastor Joe’s “Easy Test” — defining what we easily spend our time, talent and treasure on because they often are the hardest to give away — revealed to me: sharing my family and giving our time both joyfully and generously.

I thanked God for revealing that stronghold in my heart and asked Him to free me from it because I need freedom from it, especially as we embark on a mission this Christmas: hosting a 12-year-old orphan girl from Eastern Europe in our home for five weeks and supporting her emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically and mentally, all of which will be time consuming and demanding of my family.

As I ponder this challenge to my heart, I thank God for the real-life example that unfolded in my kitchen this weekend and for what it did to my heart. While having a beautiful new floor that isn’t falling apart is a lovely gift, the loveliest gift of all was seeing how true generosity — the giving of it all selflessly — can help heal a hurting world {this time my own struggling heart} and free us from the chains of that which wrongfully bound us in our own desires.

How can we emulate Christ’s generous way of “giving it all” this week?

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 Heaven. In between mothering and coordinating online communication for Immanuel, she writes about grace, motherhood and living a healthy lifestyle at Undercover Mother.

ICYouth: Get Out of the Fetal Position {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,

At iMPACT this past Sunday night, Josh addressed the subject of stress. It was the very message I’d needed to hear. I hadn’t realized it at the moment, but I was about to have a very stressful week. It’s been so stressful, in fact, that I am writing this blog post a day late because of my complete lack of time. I am now attempting to squeeze in a few words between school and work, so I apologize for my lack of eloquence.

In my time on Earth, I have found that God has a way of changing the way you think before changing your circumstances.  I like this … but, I also hate this. There are times when I pray for something, and frankly, I don’t want a life lesson before I get it.

My prayer as of late has been a simple cry of, “Lord, help me get through it all!” More than anything, I honestly just want to be done. I want to be done with college applications. I want to be done with school. I never want to look work in the face again. I want to fast forward through this last, awkward year before I embark on my collegiate endeavors in Chicago.

Unfortunately, God seems to value life experience too much to adhere to my childish whims. And so I’ve marched on. As I came to this week, I had the sudden realization that my Priority Deadlines for college applications are November 1st – next Friday. This means that I have to write and perfect four college essays in less than seven days, while also balancing the rest of my life.

Stress.

Bits and pieces Josh’s message from Sunday night have been running through my head all week. He described two kinds of people – the “skeptics” and the “expectants.”  The skeptics are those “the-glass-is-half-empty” kinds of people, while the expectants are just the opposite. Each deals with stress differently. I, along with 80 percent of my fellow humans, am a skeptic, through and through. When a stressful situation comes about, I immediately turn into a negative, irritable wallow-er in self-pity. I don’t always show this, but my thoughts generally reflect this sort of attitude: Everything sucks. My life is ruined. Wah wah wah.

As you can probably imagine, this isn’t a particularly healthy way of living my life. Josh offered a new perspective. He pointed out that you could take a skeptic and an expectant, place them in the same exact scenario, and each would react completely differently from the other simply because of their focus. Too often, we focus on the negative, and this affects every aspect of our lives. As much as I sometimes wish I could, curling up in a ball in a corner every time I experience some sort of stress probably wouldn’t be terribly productive, as 7/8 of my time would be spent in the fetal position.

I am finding that my prayers have changed form “Lord, change my circumstances,” to, “Lord, change the way I see my circumstances.” God changes our lives through our actions and reactions – our minds.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.

There is always a brighter side. Do not worry.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25 – 34.

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, October 20, 2013: Fully Devoted: Knowing and Obeying Scripture, part two {LISTEN HERE!}

by Andrew Kelley

I’ve applied pressure to my gas and brake pedal to go and stop. I’ve added weights to my dumb bell bars to grow my muscles. I’ve deposited money into a checking account to increase funds.

If you stop and think about it, we are always applying something in the most physical sense. We even apply things emotionally and mentally. But do we apply the Word of God to our lives? Do we pick it up and carry it with us. Do we carry our Sword of defense into battle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms …”? (Ephesians 6:12)

Without application, without the picking up of the Sword, the Word of God becomes a book on our shelf. It becomes ordinary — just like one of the aforementioned things. Instead of adding to our armor, we remain defenseless against that which opposes the truth of God.

About 11 or so years ago, my mentor challenged me to focus on reading the Bible every day. Already being taught to pray before reading and meditate on scripture, I dove in. Let’s just say God did something truly astounding in a year and a bit; every time i opened my Bible, which happened to be at least once a day, I got something new and life changing from Him Word.

Every single day God showed me Himself through His Word!

Psalms 119:11 is one of my favorite Psalms, and I am reminded to pray that I would apply scripture to my heart so no one or nothing can ever strip it from me. Someone once told of a guy — a friend of a friend — who could only speak the Scripture. He mumbled and could not be understood when asked a specific question, but when he quoted scripture, he spoke clearly so everyone could understand. Now that’s incredible and shows me God is serious about this book we so many times take for granted.

I completely agree with Pastor Joe’s encouragement to memorize scripture because we never know when we can’t pull out our Bibles or Bible apps. And I believe there will come a day when we or a generation to come will be stripped of our freedom here in this nation.

Yes, we have each other, and even better we have the Holy Spirit, but how do we go to battle without the Sword? What would we do with the sword that was given to us to do so many things.

Application of the Word of God is just as serious — it’s a defibrillator to a heartbeat-less person. I can honestly say when I miss my daily reading and meditation and then happen to get my Bible out, I think to myself, “why have I left you on my shelf for so long?”

Then I begin to read and dig and ponder, feeling like I’ve missed out. I don’t want to be missing my Sword in this battle we call life. Let’s pick up our Swords, soldiers! Let’s apply His Word to our lives!

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.