Extra Strength: Selfie: Free

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

Selfie: Free {Sunday, April 26, 2015 }

By Hyacynth Worth

Sometimes it comes up in casual conversation with strangers that we are getting ready to add two extra children to our family by means of adoption.

Almost always, when we mention this, people offer unsolicited questions, opinions and observations. And normally we are in the grocery store and it’s the end of the day and our boys resemble something closer to wild animals than human children.

We often hear:

“You are really going to have your hands full!” and “Wow, four kids! You may never get another date night again!” and “How will you ever get away?”

Yes, our lives are going from full to overflowing.

Our schedules are going to go from steady to booked.

And my personal time is probably going to go from slim to slimmer.

It’s true. Having four children, two of whom may need some extra special care and attention, doesn’t scream freedom in way, shape or form to most people who are looking from outside into our lives.

If I’m being honest, I have wrestled HARD with this, too.

I like date nights. I like weekend getaways. I like going to conferences. I like going to Starbucks alone. And I also enjoy going to the bathroom alone, which seems like it might get a little sketchy again with adding a three year old to the house, as we’ve found that three year olds don’t see doors as privacy enforcers but rather suggestions that can be bulldozed in order to get to the person they want, which is always mommy in my house.

bottom line 4.26.15So, yes, as we went from planning to adopt no children in this season, to adopting one teen, to adopting a teen and a toddler together, I have had quite a few conversations about me losing my freedom again after only having regained just slices of it during the past few years as our boys have grown more independent.

But I have to tell you, God has used this experience to set me free in ways I never knew I was captive.

Before we began our unintentional adoption journey, I didn’t realize how enslaved I was to anxiety, worry, fear and selfishness.

God has used so many of the peaks and valleys on this adoption road to reveal them to me, and He’s graciously been leading me and wooing me to find my freedom in Him.

As I’ve become more of the person I feel like God has meant for me to become, even with losing much of my freedom to do more of what I wish, I feel like I am becoming more alive than I ever had been before when I was more enslaved in the tangles of ways I didn’t even fully understand and when I wasn’t doing what I have been made to do: and that’s mother four lovely, beautiful, bright worthy people and advocate for other children who need families.

If we are to live truly free lives, we cannot be slaves to all that seeks to keep us captive: fear, worry, anxiety, jealousy, anger, selfishness. All of these keep us in chains and keep us from becoming the people God has created us to be. God, in His goodness, seeks to free us from these bondages so we can freely be the people He meant for us to be — each of us a beautiful reflection of Himself.

This week, as we seek to entrust God with the thoughts that keep us captive and in bondage, simply acknowledge these thoughts to God and ask Him to help you take each thought captive. Measure each one against His truth and if it doesn’t fit, kick it out and replace it with truth.

Maybe that looks like not buying the lie that you are not good enough and instead replacing it with the truth that you are loved and wanted. (John 3:16)

Maybe it means rejecting a worry you have and acknowledging that God says He will care for us and meet our needs. (Matthew 10:31)

Or maybe it means replacing envy with gratitude and being thankful in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Whatever is keeping you bound in chains, give it to the Lord, replace it with His truth and keep moving in His grace toward being the person He created you to be and doing what He has made you to do! It’s there that we find our fulfillment and freedom.

IMG_2528Hyacynth 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:  This week, acknowledge the fact that freedom doesn’t mean calling all of the shots but rather in means surrendering to God.

  • Ask: “What would it look like if I willfully gave up my sense of freedom to live accordingly to God’s purposes?”

Our Prayer for the Monday After: Selfie: Free

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, April 26, 2015: Selfie: Free (Listen by clicking!)

Yesterday, Pastor Josh Petersen continued the Selfie series with the message, Free.

We looked at John 8:31-35

4.26.15 blog“31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.”

Pastor Josh highlighted a few things:

1. “We have defined freedom as how much we are in charge. True freedom has nothing to do with you calling the shots.”

2. “True freedom has nothing to do with me calling the shots. It’s about me being free up to do what You, God, want me to do. We find true freedom in that.” -Pastor Josh Petersen #icselfie #freedom

For the next seven days:

Ask yourself: What would it look like if I willfully gave up my sense of freedom to live accordingly to God’s purposes?

iCYouth: God Chose You! (Erianne)

Thank you for your generosity to Immanuel. 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

This week at iMPACT we started a new series called “Unlikely Person.” In the message, Steve started off by talking about certain people in his life that he has met and would have never guessed would do certain things—that they were the most unlikely person to serve Christ, make a professional soccer team, etc.

Along with looking at someone else and assuming that they are an “unlikely person” to do a particular act, we can also look at God and think, “Why would you pick me? Why would God choose me to do this? Why would you use me to spread this message to someone else?”

I personally can relate to this week’s message because before I accepted Christ, three of my family members passed away in three short years and I had a hard time understanding why God chose me of all people to have to put up with the pain. But now I understand why God picked me to go through that experience because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to feel the change inside of me as God has drawn me closer to Him, I would not have found Immanuel and I would not have experienced all that I have in these past years.

It’s reassuring to look back on life and your blessings and understand that most of your life has happened because God has chosen you. He chose you to be a teacher, parent or preacher, but most importantly a follower of Christ! I challenge you to look back on your life and blessings and see how God has chosen for the good or the bad, and realize that He chose YOU!

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

Extra Strength: Wanting to Be Wanted

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. 

ExtraStrengthEdit

Extra Strength for Selfie: Wanted

About a year ago, I became overwhelmed with emotion as my past began to hit me.  All the sin, all the guilt, all the shame was overwhelming me. I tried praying it away but that didn’t help. I felt weaker and weaker. I began reflecting on the people who didn’t want me and who had tossed me aside. Then I wondered who would want me. Yes I am married but that doesn’t mean I get the “wanted” stamp of approval. Trying to fight back the tears I went to my husband and asked him, “Why did you want me when no one else did?”

I wanted to ask my husband this because prior to being married, I had been rejected by so many guys and I was not the one that was chosen. I poured out all of me but I remained empty. I looked for love in all of the wrong places and could not find it anywhere. Yet while I was pursuing all the wrong things and people, I was in fact being pursued.

God had his eye on me long before I knew Him. He was in pursuit of me and would not let me go. He looked for me even in my darkest places. At times when He found me I would pull away. because I didn’t feel worthy. But he wanted me. No matter what I did, He wanted me and He never stopped until He had me.

The challenge then came that I needed to live the life of a wanted woman. That means no more running away from Him but running to Him. No more trying to hide my sins but exposing them so that He can wash me in forgiveness and restoring me to wholeness. He needed to show me that I was enough and that I didn’t need to do anything hoping that someone would want me I could simply just be me.

When I asked my husband that day why did he want me when no one else did, I didn’t know what answer to expect.  Afterall there had to have been something missing that made them not want me.  My husband answered me with the answer I needed. He said that not being wanted by others did not mean that something was wrong with me, it meant that something was wrong with them.

Pastor Josh’s message confirmed that truth, and it made me realize how far I had come. I went from feeling unwanted to knowing that I am wanted by God. I was able to see how God is constantly making me whole in Him. I no longer feel like I need someone else to be complete because I have Christ; I never thought I’d be in this place because honestly I had desired my relationship with my husband more for so long. But each day God is moving my heart toward desiring Him more.

I can feel His tugs and His gentle nudges drawing me near, wanting me to spend time with Him.  It is His consistent pursiung of me, His wanting me, that makes me want Him more.  And that “wanted” stamp of approval is evident in the fact the He chose to die on the cross for ME, because He . . . wanted . . . ME.  It’s great to finally know I am wanted.

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.


Be Challenged:

  • The next time your past seeks to overwhelm you with thoughts of who you were remember that is not who you are. It never was. Look at people not for what is obvious but for what may be hidden.  Appreciate the beauty that lies with in and don’t add any new stains.

Our Prayer for the Monday After: Selfie: Wanted

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, April 19, 2015: Selfie: Wanted (Click to listen!)

Yesterday, Pastor Josh Petersen shared with us the most important message we could ever hear: we are wanted children of God!

Pastor Josh looked at Romans 8:14-16

“14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children] of God.

15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”

Pastor Josh highlighted a few key points:

  • “While we were still orphans, with nothing to offer, God decided He wanted you and came after you. You are SO adopted, you are SO wanted by God you become an heir of Jesus. You can’t ever get unadopted.”
  • “Not only does God want you, He made you. God wants what He makes, and He makes what He wants.”
  • “To be God’s heirs means we carry on the legacy of being wanted. We go into the margins, and we want the people He wants.”
  • “The most important thing we can understand about God is that He wants us, and He loves us.”

Listen to the entire Selfie: Whole message.

blog 4.19.15

For the next seven days:

Live like an heir of Christ! Loved people love people. Wanted people want people. Invite a neighbor over for dinner (and remember your neighbor can be anyone who comes across your path!) and just extend them a wholehearted welcome.