The Monday After: Chosen Garment {Andrew}

 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, February 24, 2014: Seeing What God Wants Me to See

by Andrew Kelley

I’ve always been a new-testament-kind-of guy.

I’ve loved the resemblance of the disciples and me as I walk with my Savior.

As I grow older and learn more and dive deeper into the old testament, though, I love it all the more. I’ve grown to love the old testament for its parallels of the people of Israel and our present nation of people. Plus the old testament is jam packed with awesome real-life events of romance and seduction, justice and revenge. If any of us paid any attention in Sunday school, we’d realized that if these events were turned into films, they would be R-rated and likely number one in the box office for weeks!

Much of Steven Mosley’s Chosen Garment performance gave us a glimpse into the powerful stories of the Bible, and he did so with the beautiful integration of many different garments. During the whole presentation, garments of praise kept coming to mind. So I searched and found Isaiah 61:3:

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”

Steven portrayed to us the importance of the garments, symbolic threads linking the old testament to the new testament and beyond, showing us a glimpse of God’s bigger picture. These garments were as a covering from God. The men that wore them used them wisely as well as foolishly. We then see the way the people followed their leadership while wearing the garments. It’s amazing to me that God has hand picked all of the leaders to this very present day. It makes me wonder about their spiritual garments and the level of stewardship they’ve been given, and it makes me even more thankful that Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, wears ALL of the garments perfectly.

So while I may be more of a new testament kind of guy, I’m happy to follow the thread into the old testament because it makes it all the more clear about the supremacy of the One who perfectly wears the garment that covers us.

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: When Life Begins {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

This week, 30 students and 5 leaders from iMPACT braved the cold and took the train down to Chicago to hand out blankets and other warm things to the homeless.

I loved this trip so much is because it’s always so humbling to step out of my comfort zone to pray with a stranger, ask their name, ask their story and to give them something that I think we all take for granted too often. I’ll admit that I really wanted something to happen to me that would break me down or change my life or something like that.

So as the day is almost half over, I started to think that maybe that wasn’t gonna happen this year. Maybe God just wanted me to be humbled by seeing that I really am blessed with so much. But then again, God does big things when we least expect them.

A few of my friends and I had just finished eating lunch and we just wanted to stop by the Starbucks next door before returning to our mission. As we were crossing the street, my eye was caught by a man who looked worn, tired and, well, cold! So we decided to stop and talk and see if we had something he needed.

We found out that his name was David, and he had a 47-year-old daughter named Michelle who was living with him on the streets. We gave them the blankets, hats and socks that we had and they were so grateful. But what they were even more grateful for was the fact that we stopped and talked. We learned that they had been evicted from many apartments in the projects and that Michelle really missed her daughter who died from a seizure when she was twelve.

Michelle told us that we had just missed her daughter’s birthday and that she would have been twenty-one. As our hearts broke, we asked if we could pray with her and we gathered around. David yelled, “Wait!! I wanna pray too! I need Jesus too!” We all agreed, so right there, in front of a busy Starbucks, we grasped hands and prayed to our beautiful Savior. Michelle cried her eyes out the whole time because she just couldn’t believe we would do something so simple for her.

When it was all over, none of us could even speak. Humbled is an understatement. There were so many other memories made on that trip, ones I will cherish forever! But the thing that really sticks out to me is the reminder that real life begins at the end of our comfort zones. God can only do so much with a sedentary heart. So let’s step out, and let God take us to places we’ve never even dreamed of!

Snapshot_20121212Gracie 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 percent through this!

Local Outreach: ICU Project, Safe Families

Thank you so much for your generosity to Accelerate, our one-fund generosity initiative! Because of God’s goodness and His people’s generosity, we are able to share stories of how He is at work at Immanuel, in our community and around the world.

by Jaci Scheidemantle, Immanuel attendee

I was born and raised in Indonesia, a Muslim country on the equator halfway across the world from Gurnee. I’m not really American or Indonesian; I’m a third-culture kid who assimilated some of both cultures to make an “other,” a third culture. This means I speak English and look American, but I often still think and feel Asian. And that I’d still pick chicken sate over pizza and fried bananas over potato chips any day of the week.

As a missionary kid, I had the privilege of helping my parents plant a church. I witnessed my dad speaking the words “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” for the first time to the Gerai people. And I saw the joy of new believers reading scripture translated into their mother tongue. I learned to watch carefully for cultural cues, sit straight legged in church on the floor, wrap diaper-less babies in sarongs, winnow rice and cut grass with a machete (although, admittedly, not very well).

Since becoming a mom, I have felt a profound tension between wanting my daughter to experience the same joy I had in interacting with another culture, while still dealing with the cost of that lifestyle, which, for me, was feeling abandoned when sent to boarding school at age seven. For eleven years, I spent three months at school followed by two or three months at home, and this constant change, always leaving and being left, marked me deeply.

DoforoneThis is one reason my husband and I are getting involved with Safe Families. Safe Families for Children is coordinating with churches in the Gurnee area to offer a temporary safe haven for children whose parents are in crisis situations. Their goal is to minimize the risk of abuse and neglect to the children, while giving time for the parents to get the tools they need to be more successful so that ultimately the family can stay in tact.

We want to open our home to these kids, and in the process, we hope to teach our daughter how to love the “other” and to experience the challenges and joys of difference. God has showered us with grace and now invites us to love the ”other” too. And I trust God will help me love enough. I know it won’t be perfectly, but sometimes just being available is enough.

You don’t have to have a big house or extra income to be a part of this movement. We need prayer warriors, meals and hand-me-downs, too, as we launch the Immanuel Church Unleashed Safe Families project!

Find out how you can be part of this growing network of support for families in crisis by joining us on April 7 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Immanuel Church as we make fleece blankets for the Safe Family kids. Bring the whole family! We’ll have snacks and a short presentation.

Please RSVP at scheids1@gmail.com or 847-809-9400.

The Monday After: The Authority of the Bible {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, March 23, 2014 : The Authority of the Bible {click HERE to listen!}

By Sheryll Belonga

Original Sin Guido Nincheri, Saint-Léon de Wesmount - Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
Original Sin Guido Nincheri, Saint-Léon de Wesmount – Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Imagine with me the first days on Earth as God brings forth all there is to be. The sun shines at the dawn of a new day.The birds are singing their morning song. In the distance clouds move ever so easily as the wind sways them; yet something is missing. Everything Adam could possibly want is at his finger tips so what else could there be?

He awakens again to the same beauty around that was there once before except now something is different. God, in His wisdom, has looked into the very depth of his soul and knew that he needed more. He met a need that Adam was unaware even existed. He saw into his heart and gave him Eve.

I wake in the morning, and I know — I am Adam.

And I am grateful that God can see into my heart and meet needs that I am not aware exist.

1st Samuel 16:7 says,

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

To a stranger passing by our life may look perfect at times — like we have everything we need and we have it all together. I myself have had many people tell me that they thought I had it all together, but I made sure I set pride aside to reveal to them the truth. I am a work in progress.  I am a piece of clay, and I need God to continually mold me. At times I may be hard, already set clay, and he needs a sharper instrument to make me into what he wants me to be. God looks into my heart, and He knows what I need and what I need to remove. He sees beyond what already is and knows what I need.

Spending time in His word helps with this process. It doesn’t make the process any easier but just like the warmth of your hands can soften clay,  the Bible softens my heart.  When my heart is softer He can work with me more easily. He can then make me into who HE wants me to be. I don’t always bend in the direction He wants me to go, there are times when I resist. It is in those times that I need to be broken so that He can remake me again.

As I go through this process over and over again with Him I learn to trust His guiding hand. I have learned to trust His word. Sure the process is still painful at times but I know that it is for my good. That is when being in His word gives me strength. I need to have His word in me so that I can lean on those scriptures that I know to be true.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”  I may not always understand but I still need to trust and acknowledge Him.

I follow my husband’s leading when it comes to making decisions — no, not all the time and not without kicking of heals. But when I reflect on his history with decision-making he has never steered me wrong. I’ve realized I need to trust him. God reminds me that my husband has my best interest at heart. God is like that, except perfect.

When I look back over my life I see God’s hand in the good and the bad. I see Him guiding me and looking into my heart and giving me what I need. I trust Him and I know that I can take Him at His word. He has my best interest at heart because He knows my heart.  He knows yours, too.

This week is to try setting aside time to strengthen your connection with Him. Start off simple with 5-10 minutes, and then increase as you feel led to. I heard someone say today that obedience will lead to desire and desire will lead to joy. If I am honest I have not quite gotten to the joy part consistently. I am barely at desire on some days, so my goal for now is just obedience. Ask God to look into your heart and allow Him, through His word, to meet your need.

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.