AIRPORT SANCTUARY

I love airports. If you ask me, they’re the most entertaining places on the planet. Here’s why: they have more food options than the food court at a mall, they have stores filled with trinkets you’ll never use but somehow feel you need, and they have people from all over the world passing through their corridors—and that’s the best part. I’m fascinated by the different ways people move through life, because no one is the same. Have you ever thought about that for very long? There are no two people that are exactly the same. It’s amazing how much diversity there is in this world. And for me, that speaks to one thing: the creativity of our Creator. God doesn’t know how to be boring, does He?

I recently found myself sitting around a baggage claim carousel with roughly 100 or so people in Orlando. In that crowd was a family from England, one from India, a couple from South Carolina, and one man from eastern Europe. The differences between them culturally was stark enough, but then I noticed their personalities; the way they engaged with each other; their patience or lack there of; all the way down to the kind of cell phone they were using. The differences were exponential. It was stunning.

My wife’s career takes her all over the country working with companies on how to connect with people in the office every day. I love the way her company defines diversity: any difference that makes a difference. Because the truth is, you can have a room full of 100 people from the same town, same socio-economic level, same gender, and same race and STILL have differences between them. Again, that’s creativity. God’s amazing in that way. Seven billion people are walking around right now and no two are alike. Just try to sit down and draw 25 distinct flowers from memory, good luck trying to make them unique from one another.

Isaiah 64:8 says “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” Psalm 104:24 states, “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” I know some people really connect with God by getting out in nature and beholding His creation. I get that, it does my spirit good too. But for me, thinking about the massive number of people and the countless unique qualities they each carry with them, reminds me that God is huge. Because he not only wove them each together but He knows, loves, and cares for each of them every minute of every day—even if they don’t acknowledge Him. Just listen to what Jesus said, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” (Luke 12:7). Like I said, God is huge. Need a reminder? Go to a busy place, sit down, turn your phone off and watch His handiwork. It might turn your next long wait in the airport security line into a time of worship!


JP

After serving as the Student Ministries Pastor for 10 years, Josh Petersen is now the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church. He’s married to Heidi and together they live with Jake, Logan, Cole and Sawyer at the circus they call home.

WHO VS. WHAT

I just started reading a phenomenal book called “Good To Great” by Jim Collins. It’s one of the most popular tomes in the business sector, ever. It’s guaranteed to be on the “must read” list for anyone working in the marketplace. Two chapters in, I see why. Don’t worry, this isn’t a book review or a commentary on what the church can learn from the business world. Instead, I want to share with you how one concept from the book is deeply spiritual and true to the way God works. Ready? Here we go.

Collins talks a lot about a bus in his book. The bus is the team that’s going to take a company to it’s desired destination. He emphasizes that the people on the bus are the first thing to worry about when creating an effective organization. In fact, the individuals on board should be considered before it’s even determined where the bus is going! The right people need to be in the right seats and the wrong people need to be off the bus altogether. The best leaders focus on who before they concern themselves with what or where.

Have you ever considered the fact that God has invited you onto His bus? Yes, you are part of the “team” that God’s put together for accomplishing His mission in the world. Crazy thought, I know, but God created leadership and gets it right every single time. Jesus initiated this thing called the Church that is full of individuals uniquely gifted and positioned to participate in His reconciling the world to the Father. He invited fishermen, tax collectors, garbage collectors, lawyers, school teachers, stay-at-home moms, CEOs, cashiers, landscapers, scientists and literally countless others to be on the team.

I love the way Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 5: All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (18-20)

You might not feel like you have much to offer. Too many people think they need to be an eloquent public speaker, theological scholar, or an exceptional leader in order to be used by God for God’s goals. No, you just need to sit in your seat. God has you here because He knew you had a particular role to play. Part of Jim Collins’ findings was that the right people had to be in the right seat. You are called to be all that God’s made you to be right where you’re at. Remember, the church isn’t a place, it’s a people. So participating does NOT mean you need to work at a church—you need to be the church wherever you are. That means in your cubicle, your classroom, or your living room. That’s your seat. If you aren’t sitting there, no one else will.

God called you to follow Him because He had something for you to do, and you’re the right person for the job. He knows your history, your mistakes, and all your shortcomings (mine too). And yet, He invites you on board. So have a seat—let’s do this.


JP

After serving as the Student Ministries Pastor for 10 years, Josh Petersen is now the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church. He’s married to Heidi and together they live with Jake, Logan, Cole and Sawyer at the circus they call home.

THE GRAND CONDUCTOR

Last Sunday couldn’t have gone any better.  To start off, there were baptisms in service, which is always a highlight.  To make it even more special, my little brother was among those getting baptized!  Afterwards, I rushed over to College of Lake County for the big day my dance studio had been anticipating all year long… The Recital.  Unless something goes terribly wrong, I’ve always thought recitals to be a ton of fun.  You get to dress up, wear fabulous costumes and makeup, perform on a big stage for an audience, and there is glitter everywhere!  Basically, I feel like it’s a little slice of heaven.  

As I sat backstage watching my dancers perform, I couldn’t help but be in awe.  They did such a good job, had come such a long ways, and danced so beautifully.  One of the other instructors came up to me and told me how impressed she was across the board with everyone’s performance and all the teachers’ hard work. She felt inspired to be even better next year. She literally took the words right out of my mouth. 

I focused on stage again as another group of girls took the floor, wished each other good luck as the music started and the lights came up.  A bazillion thoughts started to flood my head, like how cool it is that the God of the universe, who created all things, created these girls and boys to move their bodies the way they do, that God created all the lighting and tech people to be so good at what they do, how lucky I am to be a part of such a fun and loving studio – all orchestrated by God.

I got to thinking about how each of our lives is like one big recital, and was reminded of a famous Shakespeare quote I’ll put in my own words: we enter the stage, play our very small and short part, and then exit.  Yet, we are allowed to be a part of the greatest production, one in which God is the grand conductor and star. (I told you I was flooded with a ton of thoughts!)

Sunday was a beautiful day and a reminder of how God has had a hand over my life from the start.  I am certain that if you spend five minutes thinking about where you are now and where you have been, you will see God’s awesome conducting skills in your life too.


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Katrina McElvain is the daughter of Trisha, and oldest of her siblings, Grace and JP.  She loves spending time with family and friends, watching movies, dancing, and writing. She teaches dance at night and is a teacher’s aide by day. She also loves Immanuel and listening to the sermons every Sunday morning.

RHYTHM WITH REASONS

Sunday was a huge day at Immanuel Church. Well, we tend to think of every Sunday as a huge day, but there was an extra buzz in the air last weekend. We launched a brand-new issue of WAIC Magazine, baptized 10 people, and held our first ever WAIC Feast, complete with food trucks and face-painting on our front lawn. Our campus was full of energy and excitement. It was a great day that hopefully made God look good.

But here’s what’s crazy: I went home feeling depressed. Honestly? Most weeks I leave incredible Sunday services feeling blue and incompetent to be leading a church like Immanuel.

I know, that seems stupid. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but have you ever been there? Have you ever had a great victory at work, or an awesome night with your family, or managed to navigate a really difficult conversation well, only to feel deflated later on? How do we avoid that feeling? The answer isn’t that we need a rousing pep talk. It’s not that we need more pats on the back. It’s not even that we need greater victories going forward. In fact, I’m not sure we can avoid the feeling at all. Because that feeling brings us to an important place – a quiet place.

If you were to open the Scriptures to 1 Kings 18 and 19, you’d hear about this unbelievable contest between God and the prophets of Baal. Seriously, read it – it’ll blow your mind. In it, Elijah sees God utterly mop the floor with Baal’s prophets. It’s a contest that’s no contest. But right after this great victory, Elijah runs for his life and asks God to end his life. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died” (1 Kings 19:4, NLT).

How could Elijah, the great prophet of God, after witnessing what he just had, be at this low of a place? I don’t know that there’s any rhyme or reason to the way our brains and emotions work. I’ve tried to figure out my own and that’s as daunting as detangling the Christmas lights. What’s clear though, is how God responds to Elijah’s feelings. Verses 5-9 tell us that Elijah slept and God sent angels to essentially be his nurses. Later in the chapter God wakes him up and speaks to him—not in a mighty wind storm, not in an earthquake, not even in a great fire—a whisper. God speaks to Elijah with a whisper. And the first thing God says is in the form of a question. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (19:13b). He allows Elijah to respond and only then gives him directions for what’s next.

Here’s how things seem to progress:

1) hard work

2) fatigue

3) rest

4) assessment

5) direction.

I love this passage because Elijah’s a great man of God who displays real humanity. Why do you and I think we’re better than that? Why do we think we don’t need breaks and rest and honest assessment of how we’re doing? No one ever said Christians were supposed to be super-humans. One of the greatest forms of worship is dependency. Dependency on God to lead us to victory and dependency on God to bring us the energy for the next one. We simply cannot sustain a God-sized pace, only He can. So don’t apologize for rest. Don’t be sorry you need a vacation. Just be purposed in it; be conscious in it. Allow God to whisper to you and care for you. Be honest with Him about how you’re feeling and wait for Him to pick you up and move you forward.

Sunday was awesome because God was moving in great ways. And for me, Monday was awesome because God was whispering in great ways to my spirit through rest. Fatigue is real, so don’t pretend it isn’t. Find a few minutes today to allow God to care for you. His ability to nurse Elijah back to health was as equally great as his ability to devour a water-soaked altar and all the rocks around it with fire.


JP

After serving as the Student Ministries Pastor for 10 years, Josh Petersen is now the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church. He’s married to Heidi and together they live with Jake, Logan, Cole and Sawyer at the circus they call home.

THROUGH TRAGEDY AND HEARTBREAK

For just a moment, picture your Facebook feed. There’s likely some political argument going on, you might scroll past an album labeled Summer 2016!! 🙂, Chewbacca Mom is probably mid-belly laugh, and I bet someone shared something that’s supposed to make you emotional.

Over the past few days, though, I have been seeing heartbreaking event after event. News of a Stanford rape case is trending on Facebook. I learned about another family that is grieving the loss of their daughter after a tragic accident. Young people are losing their battles with cancer. It’s right there, in black and white. But if there’s anything I feel we can take away from all of this it’s this: we serve a mighty God. No really, we do.

Through tragedy and through heartbreak, we can hold tight to the promise that God never moves. He never gets weak. We might get shaky, but God never will. He can, and will, turn our anger and fear and despair into glory and goodness. Lamentations 3:22-23 says “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” God doesn’t promise that life is going to be easy, but He does promise to give us new strength. He promises to be there for the weak and the weary. He promises to hear us when we call out to him. When the going gets tough, rest in The Lord’s promises. Cling tight to Him. Cherish your moments on earth and love fiercely.

“The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.”


Gracie Adamek attends the College of Lake County and hopes to one day be a special education teacher. She likes to sing, act, knit, and write. She hopes you enjoy your time here, reading these blogs, and is very grateful for the opportunity to glorify God through her words