FINAL DESTINATION

Have you ever started something and not finished?  Maybe it was improving at a sport or doing well on a project.  Have you had a vision of something you wanted but sold out short on? Maybe your vision was more difficult to attain than you realized, became too time consuming, or a number of other things. I know I have and I settled for less than best for reasons such as these. If I am being honest I think this is true of a lot of us in our walk with God.

I mess up so much and I can be really hard on myself. I also forget stuff like it’s nobody’s business.  (You can ask my friend Sarah, she is always reminding me of things we have going on).  But I’m the worst when it comes to God.  I forget so easily the things he’s done for me, his promises, and the things he teaches.  I lose my vision of him and as a result I lose sight of who I am in him.  Instead I become discouraged and distracted because somewhere along the way I got side tracked and am not where I want to be.

Like a road trip to Disney, I lose the bigger picture and become focused on the wrong things. Things like traffic, being cramped in a car, the many pits stops, detours we have to take because accidents happen, and so on keep getting in the way. I forget that going through the less-than-fun times is worth all the struggle because at the end I will finally be where I want to go.  What I am learning is this: the journey is just as important as the destination.  It’s in the journey process that we learn, grow, and bond with God and others riding with us.  Therefore, just keep swimming. At times you may only be moving inches but at least you are moving towards the goal, you aren’t alone, and that is huge.

I am currently doing a study on Colossians that reminded me of something  Josh talked about Sunday: the key is consistency.  The more I walk with God the more I find this to be true.  This thing called life is a journey.  We will mess up, maybe lose focus, and face road blocks.  But we cannot be lackadaisical in our walk.  We must continue, remain, abide, persist, and press on in the journey because where we end up is more than worth the challenges we face. I leave you with two verses from Colossians that have been a great encouragement to me and I hope for you too.

You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body.  As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.  But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it.  Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. -Colossians 1:21-23

“Let your roots grow down deep into him, and let your lives be built on him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” -Colossians 2:7


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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.

 

 

FEELING VS. TRUTH

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel like the daughter of the King, much less that the Holy Spirit lives within me.  I make a ton of mistakes.  I still get angry, frustrated, and depressed at times.  I know no one is perfect.  Even if you have been faithfully walking with Christ for years, I know the truth of humanity is that everyone messes up.  We all struggle with something regardless if you are Christian or not and no one gets it all right all the time (…unless you’re Jesus).  Yet knowing all this, at times I still struggle with feeling like a child of God, feeling the Holy Spirit living within me. Well, thank the Lord that our adoption to sonship, through the Holy Spirit, and our Christian faith is not based on feelings.

It is hard to be a Christian.  People are dying for the faith, facing persecution, and oppression.  While we do not face any of those harsh realities in America, it is nevertheless hard here too.  In the American culture we are taught to be independent, follow your heart, be happy, and do what feels right to you.  It’s literally reinforced everywhere: in schools, music, movies.  We are taught from a very young age that those are the honorary goals to strive for throughout life.  

The problem is that feelings are fleeting and ever changing.  So today I might feel on top of the world, but tomorrow I might suffer from feelings of condemnation because of a mistake.  Whatever the case, the Bible tells us feelings cannot be trusted.  We literally have to unlearn everything we have been taught. Thankfully, we have a God who is never changing and tells us truth through scripture to battle the ever raging war on feelings versus truth.   

“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool…”  -Proverbs 28:26

“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” – Jeremiah 17:9

 The human heart, both mine and yours, is deceitful and desperately sick.  But even during the times when you don’t feel like a child of God, or like the Holy Spirit is even there, when you feel condemned because you have made yet another mistake, rest assured that that is not the truth. We have hope. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.  In the battle of feeling and truth, truth always wins.  So choose to live, act, and believe based on what the Bible says, not on what your feelings tell you.      

Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.” – 1 John 3:20.


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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.

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.

A FISHER OF MEN

I’ve never been fishing but I don’t think I would be a fan. For starters, large bodies of water scare me because of what’s lurking in them. Second, fish are scaly and weird-looking and the thought of eating one grosses me out. Third, it requires a lot of waiting and doing nothing, which I am not so keen on. Even the thought of fishing with a net, which requires no waiting and almost assures that you’ll get something, is still not appealing.

I am obviously no fisherman, yet I am called to be a fisher of men. On Sunday Josh preached about how Jesus fished with a drag net which catches everything in its path. What fascinated me was that no one can fish with a drag net alone, as it requires two people to hold opposite ends.  Hearing that just reinforced the importance of being a part of a church community – not just sitting through Sundays, but to really be connected to other believers.

When I first started coming to Immanuel, I had a hunger for God.  Then I became a fish caught up in the net my friend had casted over me. Although for some time before that point I was a believer who tried to walk with God alone, it wasn’t until after I got connected with a small group and people actively seeking God that I realized what I was missing out on.  When you are connected with other believers you benefit from each other.  Small groups help keep each other accountable, support one another in our faith, and encourage and help each other to become more like Christ.  When one falls others are there to pick them up. In community we help each other to see more clearly who God is and what He’s doing in our lives. One of the greatest things I love about the church is seeing godly character lived out in others, seeing what it looks like to be a fisher of men.

I hate to admit it but I think it’s true of most of us – we’re most likely to sin when we are not walking with other believers.  Living for Christ is not easy and cannot be done alone.  When you are in fellowship with others trying to do the same, it makes life a little less heavy.   Because of the connections I’ve made, I am walking closer to God than ever before. I am not saying my walk is perfect because it’s certainly not.  I struggle and fall all the time and I know I need to work on being a net.  Thankfully God has provided in His Kingdom living, breathing examples of what being a net looks like so I can strive to do the same.


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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.

THOUGHTS ON “LOVE, SEX, & DATING”

Please bear with me as I express how much I’ve enjoyed our recent series on Love, Sex, and Dating.  I LOVED IT!  If you have been a Christ-follower for any amount of time,  you’re probably familiar with 1 Corinthians 13. I was asked difficult questions (my paraphrase):  “Are you the kind of person you’re looking for? ” “Are you someone you would want to marry?”  “Are you trying to become the ‘love list’ from 1 Corinthians 13?”  If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a lot of work and a long road ahead of you.

Those questions have been on repeat in my head ever since the first message. They hit me so hard because, as a Christ-follower who is single and hopes to get married one day, it was revealed to me that I am nowhere near ready.  It also occurred to me that whether I marry or not, I was reminded of the type of person I should be striving to become in Christ. This is the kind of person we are all called to be as Christians.   After the sermon I had a serious talk with God. I asked him to make me into that kind of person. I think He is answering my prayer, but I am learning that His answers require a bit of pruning!

For example, I think God has been trying to tell me that I need to change my spending habits. I have never been willing to deal with it because – news flash – that would mean not spending how I want. Right after I prayed I knew God was calling me to change in this area. This was confirmed when my small group called me out for having an addiction to shopping. It was hard to hear because I knew it was true. The next days were tough.  I felt angry, embarrassed, and condemned. Then… enter the grace of God.

As I sat in church the next Sunday, the message told me that it isn’t okay to stay immature in love, that our pasts will follow us into the future and the patterns we practice now will follow us into our marriages. As if a veil had been lifted, I was reminded what I asked God to start doing exactly one week ago. Money is one of the top reasons people divorce, and if I were to carry my spending habits into a marriage, well, it would be disastrous. If I remain single the rest of my life and continue to spend the way I do, it would ruin me. Tears came to my eyes as I saw what God had been doing in the past week. The next two sermons filled me with assurance that God was working in my heart. They sparked a lot of self-reflection, too, especially on my past relationships. I think what I’ve taken away most from this series is that it’s time to grow up and put the ways of childhood behind me. It’s time to for us to become the kind of people God is calling us to be. Are you ready?


(null).jpgKatrina 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.