LETTING GO OF OUR CROWNS

I am a control freak. I’ll admit it. I want to be in control of every aspect of my life and letting someone else have control is the most stressful thing for me – because what if something goes wrong? Or, what if things aren’t done the exact way I planned it? Do you ever feel like this?

I hear people say all the time that we need to take charge of our own lives and that our future depends on us and I think when we hear this it’s easy to agree, but I don’t think we should. I mean, have you ever thought about what it means to have our future totally in our hands? That is a ton of pressure! If we’re being honest, humans mess things up constantly. Just look at the world we live in. That is why we are not supposed to be the ones in control. God is supposed to be the one in the drivers seat. So why is it so hard to give God control? I honestly don’t know. Because ideally, God would be the one in charge. He would make all the decisions because He knows and wants what’s best for me. But I always get in the way. My pride and my fears always make me want to take control back. I want to wear the crown. This reminds me of King Hero’s response when Jesus was born. Matthew 2:1-12 tells us about when Herod learned that there was a new king in town, a baby named Jesus. Herod had been appointed to king, and this child was to inherit a kingdom. Herod, clinging to his crown, took drastic measures to make sure he wouldn’t lose his title to a child. We’re all like Herod sometimes. We fight and fight to maintain control and we don’t even deserve it. Herod’s crown wasn’t real. Neither is ours. God is the one with the kingdom. It’s time we let go of our crowns. They’re fake anyway.


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

NEED FOR SPEED

Today, we seem to have the overwhelming need for speed. We can have almost anything we want when we want it. Having to wait for things has become agonizing. We want our food fast and our internet faster. We skip through commercials and advertisements. We like our convenience. But the problem I’ve found with this emphasis on speed is that it’s made me less patient in other aspects of my life. For example, when I pray for things, I expect to get an answer or see results right away. Don’t we all? But, I’ve found that oftentimes God makes us wait for His answer. If I’m honest though, it’s easy for me to become frustrated with God when He doesn’t deliver on my schedule. Impatience and frustration with prayer is something I’ve been struggling with for a long time. It hit very close to home for me a few years ago when my grandma was battling cancer. I remember praying every day that God would take it from her. I prayed for months and eventually, she passed away. I had to wait for an answer only to find I didn’t even get what I had specifically asked for. In these moments, it’s easy for the doubts to creep in, and that’s when we need to hold strong. Though I couldn’t see it then, God’s answer was truly the best for her. My grandma got to go home. She gets to rest in the arms of our Creator. While all of that was going on, I found a passage from Psalms that has stuck with me ever since. Maybe this will be a comfort for you when you’re in the middle of something difficult.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14

I can only conclude one thing: that despite our constant need for speed, God is going to show up on his own time, that He is going to answer our prayers – and maybe even surprise us in the end.


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

OFF THE STAGE AND OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT

I’m someone who naturally likes attention. I’m an extrovert. I love people. It’s in my brain! I also happen to serve in a number of roles in our church. Because of these two things, and the fact that I’m a human being, I love to soak up the compliments. While I believe that it’s fine to receive compliments and to be appreciative of them, I’m constantly reminded of the need for humility. Can you relate? Good. I’m glad I’m not alone.

On Sunday, Josh spoke about using our God-given gifts in the midst of the temptation to use those gifts selfishly. It’s so easy to look like we are using our gifts to give God glory when in reality, we’re really giving it to ourselves. I am so guilty of this. On a Sunday morning, for example, I often find myself worrying about how my voice sounds on stage or what the congregation thinks of me rather than actually worshipping – which is why I’m up there in the first place! Even when it comes to blogging I find myself trying to phrase things in a way that paints me in a smarter or more holy light. I want people to read my posts, to listen to me sing and think, “Wow! She’s so wise!” or, “How old is she again? That girl can sing!” But here’s the kicker: my relationship with God isn’t a show, and neither is yours.

This temptation isn’t just for people in leadership, though. Wanting the spotlight can take shape even behind a screen. Take social media, for example. What’s a quick way to get enough “likes” to make us feel good? Easy: post a picture of your Bible to Facebook. Not only do you get likes, but you build up that spiritual reputation while you’re at it. There are countless spotlights and stages in each of our lives where we stand for recognition; what’s yours? Regardless of the setting, when it all boils down, God calls us to dig deep and really look at our motives. Do we post on social media for the recognition? Do we get up on stage for a chance to stand in the spotlight? Or, are we letting those things be an outworking of what’s going on internally, behind closed doors?

Matthew 6:1 says, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” Our relationship with God isn’t a show, and if we’ve started to make it that, maybe it’s time to get off the stage and out of the spotlight to get alone with Him. Josh reminded us this weekend that our faith will never magically be perfect, so we can’t walk around pretending like it is. Rather, when we spend time with God privately, letting him shape and form us, we see growth and feel a worth that no stage could every give us. So let’s get honest enough with ourselves to recognize where we’re needing practice, where we’re wanting to grow and start making time to pursue that. Let’s take some time this week to practice our faith with the Perfect One, to explore the spiritual disciplines, to look into new ways of reading Scripture or to form a prayer plan for the next few weeks. And, in the process, shine the spotlight on Him.


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

Extra Strength: How to Really Win an Argument (Gracie)

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 for Pressure Points: The Pressure of Conflict. (click to listen to the message)

I instantly felt a punch in my gut.

As I sat in church Sunday listening to Pastor Josh’s message, I realized we were talking about conflict. I immediately became uneasy because I am afraid of conflicts. Conflicts mean that something isn’t  right between me and another person, and it could also mean the scariest part of it all: confrontation.

 

True, we could just bury our feelings and never bring it up, but you know what happens then.

As author Joseph Grenny says, you either find a way to talk it out or you act it out.

Talking about it, though, requires effort and some discomfort, if we’re being honest.

We become vulnerable.

We share our innermost insecurities.

Honestly, a lot of times, if not every time,  it’s so much easier to place the blame on the person with whom you’re having the conflict. Can you think of the last time you were confronted or confronted someone and you willingly took all the blame? I can’t.

blog 3.18.15 win an argument

But one truth James tells us in chapter 4 is that it is on us. Conflict starts and ends with us. It’s the evil desires within us that wedge themselves into our relationships: jealousy, anger, pride. They all get in the way.

It’s only when we bring ourselves down from this pedestal and place Christ on it instead that we can see conflict is not about the other person and all the things they’ve done and said to us; it’s about what we have going on inside ourselves.

James 4:10 goes on to say “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” ‭

God wants us to build up other people. We can’t do that if we are all about ourselves. God also wants to mend the hurt places in our own hearts. When we bring to Him what’s going on inside ourselves, we open ourselves to His healing.

We win when the Spirit through us wins others over to Christ, when Christ’s mission wins inside of our hearts.

So come down on down from there, humble yourself and reap the blessings of submitting to the One who rules best from the throne.


Be Challenged:

  • Right now, in whatever situation you find yourself balling up your hands and getting ready to throw the next punch — be it in the form of words or actions or reaction — ask yourself this:”Right here, right now, Lord, in this situation, how can I best be an ambassador of grace and reconciliation?”

    Spend a few moments quietly sitting before the Lord as the Holy Spirit helps you form a response instead of a reaction.

  • Ask God to help you understand what’s inside of your heart causing the conflict. Ask the Father to heal the root of the conflict in your own heart.

Extra Strength: Something Greater in Mind

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 for Pressure Points: The Pressure of Trials 

Sometimes life is hard.

I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone. Sometimes, people go through things they would rather not. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control how we react to them.

Blog 2.16.15Think back to the last time you dealt with a hard situation. Were you hurt? Angry? Depressed? On the surface, those are all justifiable reactions. But when was the last time you praised God in the midst of the storm?

Truthfully I couldn’t even think of a time. Pastor Josh spoke Sunday about trials. He reminded us that God doesn’t call us to throw ourselves a pity party; He calls us to rejoice! One way our faith can grow is when it’s being tested.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭2-4‬ NLT).

Did you catch that? James is challenging us to see our hardships as a time of rejoicing! I don’t know about you, but that does not sound ideal to me. If I’m struggling with something, no part of me wants to be thankful.

But then I think back to that passage. I remember that I’m going to go through hard times. I’m going to experience trials. And God is going to make me a stronger, wiser, more humble christian because of them. He’s going to do that for all of us! So even though the situation isn’t perfect, and sometimes it’s horrible, God has something greater in mind. And if nothing else, that is something that is worth joy.

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Gracie Adamek attends school at College of Lake County. When she’s not at school, she can be found on the worship team at Immanuel, among other activities. 

 


 

Be Challenged:Bottom Line 2.15.15

  • Whenever you find yourself growing frustrated and upset about a trial, physically change your angle to remind yourself to change your perspective about the trial. Ask God to help you see the perspective He wants you to have!