The Monday After: Giving Thanks for ALL that is Given {Sheryll}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building 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, November 18, 2013 : Giving Thanks for ALL that is Given {click HERE to listen!}

By Sheryll Belonga

“And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'” Matthew 14:28-31

I heard Him speak to me before the message even began.

I’ve heard the song “Oceans” many times, but never have I been effected by it like I was yesterday. While singing, I kept feeling the Spirit telling me to listen to the words. As I listened, I wondered whether I could continue to keep my eyes of Him in the midst of pain and suffering.

In all of my 37 years, I don’t feel as though I have encountered any pain and suffering that felt like it was more than I could bear, so I feel like I’ve been sheltered from life’s major storms. As I lookat the lives of those around me, ones who have suffered greatly, I feel like I can’t complain. While I feel blessed to have been shielded from the storms, I also feel like it leaves me less than qualified to come alongside other people in their trials.

During the sermon, I felt the Spirit whispering to me that I can’t compare my life experiences to others, that I needed to let go of my tendency to compare. In fact, my tendency to compare tempted me to give up writing this today.

Still after listening to Pastor Bryan’s story and recalling the stories of others who have suffered, I wondered to myself — who am I to encourage anyone else during their hardship when I feel like I’ve
suffered so little. This thought led me to seek out those who normally come to me for encouragement.

I have a friend who lives back home in New Orleans; last week I offered to meet with her each week for prayer. She is struggling right now, and she shared that she seems to be hanging on by a thread.

I called her yesterday and asked why she sought me during her hardship. Why would she call someone to guide her who couldn’t relate to what she was going through?

She explained that she called me because she saw me in a place where she wanted to be. God is using me to care for her when she can’t emotionally care for herself.

She said that she watched how I responded during my first year of marriage, which can often be the hardest and recognized how we made it through.

Not only did we make it through the first year of marriage, but we’ve now been married for 11 years, while she is on her second marriage. Her hope was that by talking to me, I can encourage her to succeed in this one by sharing with her what God has taught me along the way.

As I think back on the sermon, the song and the scripture from Matthew, I feel blessed for the tests and trials I’ve faced, no matter how seemingly small I consider them, because I know God uses them to
help others.

During these times of trial, when I’ve stepped out to walk in faith and faced fears, God has been there to reach out His hand — be it weathering the storms of marriage and motherhood or finding the courage to walk with a friend despite my own feelings of inadequacy.

The second verse of “Oceans” says:

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now.

It is in the words of this song that I find comfort in knowing that God doesn’t expect me to never encounter fear, but He does want me to remember. 

Sheryll Belonga is wife to Jurrell and homeschooling mom to their three great boys. Her hearts desire is to glorify God in all she says and does in spite of life’s daily happenings.

ICYouth: On Insecurity and Building on Solid Ground {Gracie}

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 Gracie Adamek

As a senior in high school, I’ve seen a whole lot of insecurities in my days. Not just in myself, but in everyone around me.

Some people hide their insecurities well and some people, not so much. For some, they are so insecure about themselves that it’s crippling. They just can’t get past the thing that they so desperately don’t want anyone to notice, whatever that may be, that it consumes their minds and that’s all they think people see when they look at them.

For others, and this was me for a very long time, they think that they can hide all flaws and all feelings of self doubt by having a big, loud personality that masks who they really are. The problem with both of these ways of living is that this gets very tiring. When we are always so concerned with what others think that we go to extremes to hide it, we become angry and sad and exhausted.

When I was in the 6th grade, I was daily ridiculed for basically just existing. To a certain group of people, I was annoying. I was stupid. I was fat. Even things like my hair being big was mocked! It seemed like there was nothing I could do, nothing I could say that would get them to stop.

So I changed. I went into middle school with the though that I didn’t want that to happen anymore. I was going to start over. I got loud and put on an “I don’t care” mask. But I DID care. I cared a lot about what people thought, actually! But I became someone I didn’t like to please others.

I secretly began to hate who I was becoming more and more every day. My personality at home was so different from my personality at school. I was living this awful double life, and I was exhausted.

The thing we all need to realize sooner or later, for me it was freshman year, is that God loves you for the person that each of us really are way deep down. He loves the flaws that we hide. He sees them and still craves a relationship with us!

One of my favorite poems by Emily Joy says this, “So tell me WHY, before I was even thought of or desired, You saw every day of every moment of my life. And as my sins passed before your eyes, You sighed and said ‘Yes! I will USE THIS!'”

“So tell me WHY, before I was even thought of or desired, You saw every day of every moment of my life. And as my sins passed before your eyes, You sighed and said ‘Yes! I will USE THIS!'”

God sees it all. He won’t leave. He won’t make fun. He wraps his arms around us and and says “you’re mine. There’s nothing you can do to change that.” At iMPACT, Josh’s “phrase of the night” was “you aren’t insecure — your foundations are.”

So we need to build ourselves on the firmest foundation possible: God.

Gracie Adamek is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100% through this!

Accelerate: What $3K Can do for a Girl Who Has Been S*x Trafficked

On Sunday, November 24, Immanuel will be taking a special offering with the hope that $75,000 will be given. This amount has never been given on one Sunday during Immanuel’s history.  None of the money collected that week will go toward operating expenses; all will go toward mortgage reduction, global ministry (India anti-human trafficking) and local ministry (micro Alpha).

Eighty percent of the money collected will go toward reducing our mortgage so as to more quickly free up ministry money. Read more about that here. Ten percent of the money given will go toward global ministry — specifically toward anti-human trafficking initiatives in India through our partnership with Bright Hope. Read more about our involvement with Anti-Human Trafficking below. 

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Beyond Numbers: A Real Face of Human Trafficking

Heena had been s*xually trafficked since age seven. She learned that if she helped to traffic girls, she could keep some money for herself. Last January, while the anti-human trafficking team was eating lunch, they witnessed a girl being beaten by a group of boys. They called the police, and she was given the option to go to the safe house. She chose not to and went back out on the streets.

One month later, our team rescued Heena for the second time. She again chose not to go to the safe house because life in s*x trafficking was what she knew. A short time later, our team saw Heena in the news. Her body was lying in the road, beaten and bruised. The police called our team a third time to come get her. She was on heavy drugs. She was taken to the safe house and within three days, she jumped off the second story balcony and ran away.

Jan 2013 Rescued Girls PUBLICIn July, the police called a fourth time, and our team went to rescue Heena … again. They explained to her that she could leave if she wanted to, but this time, she has chosen to stay.

She is 15 years old and has been in the program for three months. She is amazed that people cared for her so much that they rescued her four times and love her in spite of her past. She cannot believe that she is wanted and cries often. But Heena is beginning to dream about what she wants to do with her life. She wants to start a safe house for girls.

Our Partnership with Bright Hope:

Human trafficking, or the sale of humans, is the fastest growing business in the world, grossing $32 billion dollars a year. India ranks fourth in the list of countries with the most trafficking. In two large cities in northern India, this is what has happened over the last year:

  • Churches have united to make a dent in sex trafficking
  • Two safe souses have been established with teams that include house parents, counselors, investigators, security guards and teachers
  • The anti-human trafficking teams have worked closely with local police and government officials
  • Thirty-seven young girls have been rescued
  • Twenty-two are in the healing and restoration programs of the safe house
  • Five girls have come to know Christ!
  • It has been said that until we act in Northern India to stop s*x trafficking, we will not be able to make a dent in it anywhere else in the world

God is ALIVE and active! He pursues and restores. He heals and upholds the broken hearted. Immanuel has played a part in this effort, and we would like to continue!  God is reaching into the darkest places and using His followers to bring Hope to the hopeless. Pray without ceasing for the anti-human trafficking teams and for the girls in India.

Here’s where the special Accelerate offering comes in: it takes $3,000 to rescue a girl and care for her for one year.  If $75,000 is given during the special offering, we could provide care for two rescued girls for an entire year and there would be a little money left to help sponsor the care and rescue of another girl. 

Three lives.

Three lives could be rescued and cared for as a result of what God does through our generosity! Together we can partner with Him to make a difference.

The Monday After: Giving Thanks for All that is Given {Dawn}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building 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 15, 2013: Fully Devoted: Serving Others, part two

By Dawn Kelley

Her name was Ms. Dorothy.

As kids, my nephews and I attended Awana at a church in Waukegan, and she was the lady who would pick us up weekly and take us there.

On March 6th 1992, two days before my 12th birthday, my family suffered the loss of my 3-year-old nephew in a house fire. The fire started upstairs, and we lost pretty much everything.

In the aftermath of this tragedy, Ms. Dorothy showed up and our hotel room to pick me up one day bearing gifts of blankets, clothing and toys. She, in the leading of the Holy Spirit, collected all these things for my family. She wasn’t just a person that didn’t know us who decided to bless us; she was someone who had invested in my life and in doing so invested in the lives of my family members. I will never forget what she did for our family in those very dark days but this much I know, I am so grateful that God chose to use her in this way.

I heard Pastor Joe’s words loud and clear when he said, “Your gratitude is only as sincere as the effort you make to express it.”

After Sunday’s message I am now left with this lingering question: “How sincere is my gratitude?” God has blessed my family and me time and time again if for no other reason, because He loves me — emphasis on Him, not me.

I am constantly thanking God for things daily, but i don’t usually think to truly thank the people He uses to bless me. I am taking Pastor Joe up on his challenge to go out of my way to show gratitude to someone who has done something.

That’s when I thought of Ms. Dorothy. Had I ever really expressed my gratitude to her?

And it doesn’t end with Ms. Dorothy.

There are some others I will seek out this week. I am also challenged to pay attention to those around me and express the many ways I m grateful for them.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

For some of us it is easy to be thankful and show gratitude when things are going great. For me it is easier to be thankful and show gratitude When my world is in chaos.

My prayer is that God helps me to be filled with gratitude in every circumstance and to go out of my way to show it — to the Ms. Dorothys of the world and even further.

 

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.

 

ICYouth: Selfishness versus Selflessness (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

By nature, we are all selfish people. In such a self-absorbed society, it’s quite difficult to constantly be considerate, helpful and self-sacrificing. I know that for me personally, my battle against selfishness starts with an almost intrinsic arrogance. I continually find that I place myself on some sort of self-righteous pedestal on which I feel comfortable when I lack in consideration for others simply because I feel that I’m somehow more important than they are. I know this is extremely far from the truth, but this self-obsessed mentality is something I really struggle to rid myself of.

This past week at iMPACT we talked about selfishness and how to conquer it. The bottom line from Josh’s message is that “the key to being selfless is thinking of yourself less.”

“The key to being selfless is thinking of yourself less.” -Josh Petersen

This seems rather obvious, but the reality is that it’s a truth we rarely seem to put into practice. Even when we diagnose and look to weed out the selfishness in our lives, it becomes easy to do so selfishly. Or in other words, even when we take measures to get rid of selfishness, we can easily slip into a place in which we truly aren’t concerned about others, but more so about making ourselves look like better, more selfless people.

In order for us to begin to apply this principle of focusing on others more, we must first humble ourselves. As I mentioned before, for me, one of my biggest obstacles in being selfless is the fact that I’m entirely too prideful and often don’t assume a very humble, servant-like position. This may not be the case for you, but for me it totally is. When I begin to think of how I can “think of myself less,” I immediately come to the conclusion that I must first be humble. I’m positive that once I can take the position of a servant, the floodgates will be open with selflessness. The only problem, however, is that it’s much easier to talk about being like a servant, than it is to actually be one.

I’m positive that once I can take the position of a servant, the floodgates will be open with selflessness. The only problem, however, is that it’s much easier to talk about being like a servant, than it is to actually be one.

Josh referenced Philippians in which it talks about Christ humbling himself and being selfless. I love this passage because it shows how interdependent humility and selflessness are.

Philippians 2:3-8 says:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

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!”

Our first step in defeating the unavoidable plague of selfishness, is humbling ourselves by thinking of Christ. For when we rest in a place of humility, we are able to truly think less about ourselves and more about others; when we stop prizing ourselves as much as we do, and instead view ourselves as humble servants of Christ, the fullness of selflessness is able to be realized and we can begin to more fully live the life that Jesus has called us to. So as we look to weed out the selfishness in our lives, let us do so humbly and with the demeanor of a servant.

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.