ICYouth: The Beauty in Failure {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, 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 Trever Carter

When I look back at the past couple years of my life, I can see a general trend of ups and downs—a roller coaster of life, if you will; and I think it’s safe to say that we all experience the same thing to some degree.

Nobody’s life is perfect and easy and happy and fun and without struggles all the time, and I certainly don’t think that that is how God intended life to be. Instead, we look back at our lives and see the crests of the roller coaster, where we can really feel God and the fruits of the Spirit that He manifests within us. Other times, we are at the troughs, the low points of struggle and seemingly far from God. More often than not (for me, at least) those troughs and low points come hand in hand with one thing: failure.

Failure is imminent. That’s certainly part of being human, and I certainly believe that all of our lives can be characterized by bits of failure. For some of us, those are really big. For other, they come few and far in between, but certainly add up after a while. And for all of us, failure eventually starts to hurt. Failure makes us start to feel like we aren’t worth it. It makes us feel like we aren’t worthy. And more often than not, consistent failure instills in us apathy to stop trying all together.

But that is certainly not what God has intended for us.

There are numerous people in the Bible who have had failures: sinners, prostitutes, liars, people that ran in the opposite direction of God, people that didn’t trust him, doubters. Many of these people, however, are iconic for doing God’s work, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.

God lets our lives get messy. He lets us ride the highs of life, but he also lets us fail. What we do with our failures, however, is the most important part. We can be owned by our failures and overly concerned with a list of moral wrongs and rights that we need to uphold, or we can fall madly in love with Jesus, handing our failures over to Him and allowing Him to use us for His work.

Those who have tried and failed have much more to say than those who have failed to try. God says that he will take our failures and turn them into something beautiful. I’ve seen it in my life, a beautiful redemption story that allows me each day to fall more in love with God and encourages me to consistently seek after Him without fear of failure.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a senior 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.

Extra Strength: Love Does: Be Not Afraid {Hyacynth}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

Love Does: Be Not Afraid {Sunday, October 26, 2014}

By Hyacynth Worth

We are standing on the edge of yikes.

Truth be told we’ve been standing here for the past year as we’ve sought what God has in mind for our family and what He wants our family to look like.

Our first step out onto the ledge began when we committed to hosting a 12-year-old orphaned Eastern Europe girl into our home for a month last Christmas. Though my husband and I were both certain that hosting was, indeed, what God was inviting us to do, I found myself scared.

I was scared to open my heart. I was scared to open my home. I was scared to open my family, especially our young boys, up to a unknown child who carried hurts. I was scared to let someone into the very intimate places of our family. And I was scared that we would never be able to gather all of the money necessary for hosting.

Even though I knew God was inviting us onto this journey of orphan care and advocacy, fear inched its way from my stomach to my throat and it tempted me to question everything I felt the Spirit prompting inside my heart and everything the Spirit had been saying to us through the Word.

10577032_954544034559772_838081196621665371_nFear has a way of standing up real tall in front of us, like shadows climbing tall walls, threatening to wash over us with darkness.

Fear says, “What if we get in over our heads?” or “What if we fail?” or, worst of all, “What if we hurt someone we love in the process?”

Fear is a large, lurking giant, whispering lies and doubts and uncertainty — it is a darkness that threatens to paralyze us, freeze us dead in our tracks. Fear is a liar that says that God isn’t just and sovereign and fully over all the things that keep us trembling in the shadows.

But God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. Rather, He’s given us a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) God’s graciously given us the ability to choose faith, to choose to allow the Spirit to well inside of us; He’s given us the ability to choose faith in face of all the giants of life, faith in midst of all the shadows in life.

And do you know what faith does when we choose it? Faith tells fear to sit down and take its place where it belongs — on the floor alongside the lies and uncertainties that tempt us.

Faith says that we claim confidence in what we hope for and rest in assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

And faith — faith says we are free to live and move because there is a God who is bigger and covers all of our fears, all of our doubts, all of our uncertainties, all of our failures and all of the darkness.

Faith says we are free to love and love well.

Our edge of yikes right now again looks like hosting another preteen girl from Eastern Europe this Christmas.  And it may look like adopting her into our family along with her toddler sister, a child we’ve yet to meet. All of this, too, in the aftermath of our first host daughter denying our adoption requests, leaving us puzzled yet trusting in God’s handiwork.  While some of my fears were realized in this journey, I found God towering over them, still triumphant. And I don’t regret walking the path we’ve been invited to walk.

We still can’t see what’s over our edge of yikes; we still can’t see where the path will lead.

The old, familiar fears are still lurking, yes, climbing like shadows when we allow our minds to wander, but we’re asking God daily, sometimes moment by moment, to help us choose faith in the face of fear, in the face of darkness.

We’re asking God daily to help us turn our eyes toward the Light and let the Light within us shine so that the darkness becomes less and less and less. We’re asking God daily to paralyze the fears that paralyze us and move us with His great love so that we can dare to love greatly.

headshotHyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and author of Undercover Mother. She also works as the Online Communications Coordinator for Immanuel Church.


Be Challenged: 

  • Identify a fear that’s been holding you back from what God’s been inviting you into and give it to God in prayer.
  • Ask God if He wants you to move in spite of your fears. And then? Take the next step!

Go Deeper:

  • Answer the questions in our the Love Does Study Guide by yourself, with your small group or with a trusted friend.

Our Prayer for the Monday After: Love Does: Be Not Afraid

TheMondayAfterPrayerEach Monday we’ll be bringing Sunday into the work week by sharing a prayer for the week based on the Sunday sermon. You can now catch the sermon blogs written by our blogging team Wednesdays, where they’ll offer a mid-week shot of espresso to help re-energize, encourage and challenge us in the midst of our work weeks! 

 

The Monday After Sunday, October 26, 2014: Love Does: Be Not Afraid

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ICYouth: Resurrecting an Adventurous Spirit (Erianne)

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, 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 Erianne Thedorf

Life. It’s busy with family, work, school and more.

 

So busy, in fact, that we often let adventures slip away from us.

But no matter how busy we are, we must not let the adventurous side of us disappear. It’s so easy to use those small amounts of free time that we’re given in our busy lives to just take a break and relax, but what if we’re relaxing too much … or what if we’re busy too much? The problem with this is that when we lean toward either end of the spectrum — busy or too relaxed — and we then we fail to see the adventurous side of us slowly drifting away. I constantly have this problem of believing that I’m relaxing too much and need to take more chances in my life by going on some more adventures.

I look at how I’m living, and I have to see if I’m a plain cardboard box doing things like every other box, or if I’m the one who stands out, goes on adventures and is different from all the rest. I’ve come to the conclusion that some of us might have been adventurous at one point, but as time goes on, we tend to sand out the edges of our box back to the original boring state. We can’t let ourselves get to that point and allow our edges to be sanded down to the normal box; we must be adventurous. It’s okay to do crazy things and get out of your comfort zone every once in a while; it’s okay to try things that you aren’t used to. The chances that you take can lead you to wonderful, prosperous things throughout life. Think about a time when you went on an adventure. Did you profit from it in some way? Or have you never even had an experience of taking that risk?

I had the opportunity of going to Haiti this past summer with some of the other teens at iCYouth, and it was the greatest adventure I have ever taken in my life. It has changed who I am as a person and has given me a better perspective on life in general. I stepped out of my comfort zone and went on an adventure to a third world country, where God was right along side me, showing me the beautiful, little things in life. I now like to think that I have a little branding on my cardboard box in the shape of Haiti.

This is your time now to not be that plain cardboard box. Get some holes in your corners, paint the sides and rip the flaps off (maybe all that busyness? maybe it’s weighing you down?). I know it’s extremely hard to focus on being adventurous and thinking outside of the box. The busy lives that we live and the cookie-cutter routine that most of us are used to can become a habit, but sometimes we just need to let go of some of the busy and take that step toward adventure. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest.” (John 10:10)

So go do just that.

ErianneErianne is a Junior at Grayslake North High School. She enjoys books, movies, music and meeting new people!

If You’re Ready to Find Joy in Giving

Maybe you cringed at the thought of reading a post about giving. It’s understandable; giving is a spiritual practices that is often difficult to speak about for myriad reasons. God, however, has shown us in His word that He intends giving to be joyous and celebratory. And that’s how He’s moved Tim and Angie Hill to feel about giving. Maybe you want to feel that way, too? Read on!  

The Hills sat down to answer some questions about giving, a spiritual practice about which they are very passionate and in which they find much joy! We hope the following interview blesses you as you consider God’s view of giving and how He is inviting your heart to wade in or wade deeper into the waters of giving and generosity.

As always, thank you for your generosity and commitment to Accelerate, our one-fund that supports all ministry efforts at Immanuel. 

Immanuel Church: How do you feel giving has blessed your lives?

Tim and Angie Hill: Giving to Immanuel and other charitable causes blesses our family by helping to keep money in the proper prospective. As it says in Matthew, No one can serve two masters. By giving away a portion of the blessing that God has given us, we can break the bond of servitude to money.

Giving also blesses our family by allowing us to bless others. We believe in the work Immanuel is doing. We know that Immanuel has blessed our family in so many ways and we want to be a part of helping Immanuel bless others. We believe in the work done by the other charities we support and we want to help, if only in a small way. Perhaps it is an over-used cliche that it is better to give than to receive, but I am sure most people can think of a time where they gave their time or an item, or money to help someone-out and they left knowing that they were the ones truly blessed. That is how we feel about our giving.

IC: What role does your faith in God have in your giving practices?

Tim and Angie: Faith plays a critical role in our giving because we are 100% confident that God will use the money for the purpose he intends. Without this faith, we would be more likely to doubt how the money would be spent and thus would likely not feel as generous or would at least be less joyful about giving. A confidence that we are giving back a small portion of what God first gave to us and knowing that giving is part of God’s plan makes giving an expression of faith rather than a burden or something we are “supposed” to do.

IC: If you were part of a committee responsible for relaying the importance about the practice of giving in the Church, how would you express this message to others?

First, we would need a catchy slogan like Haggai 2:8, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the Lord Almighty.” Or how about Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Money and giving are often difficult for people and church communities to discuss. I believe that is because too many people give from a sense of guilt or duty. It says in 2 Corinthians 9:7 “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I believe this has to be the key to any promotion of giving. It has to be about giving because of a sense of gratitude rather than a sense of necessity.

Also, while monetary giving is important, it’s important to focus on giving time and talents in addition to treasures.

Lastly, I believe some see a Biblical tithe of 10 percent as unobtainable, and, thus, become frustrated. But we don’t need to be frustrated at the thought of giving a specific amount. Bob Goff said at the Loves Does summit, “Focus on who you are becoming.” Make a plan, set a goal and strive toward it. In the words of Goff, “Pitch, pick and point!”

IC: If there was a point at which you didn’t give, what are the differences in your lives now compared to then?

I can remember a time when giving at Church was an act of seeing what I had in my wallet, deciding what I could afford, and then needing to been seen putting something in the offering plate. It was something I probably should do because God and the people around me were watching.

We moved away from this by deciding to become more intentional in our giving just as we were becoming more intentional in our faith. This involved making a commitment in our giving and signing up for an automatic giving program. It also meant having a plan to move from the current level of giving we were at to a tithe over a number of years. As we did this, giving no longer felt like a burden. It felt like a blessing. It no longer was “paying” a portion of our hard earned money. It was expressing our gratitude for the abundance God has place in our care. It was no longer selfishness. It became stewardship.