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.

WHO IS THIS SON OF MAN?

John 12: 31-36 reads:

“The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”  He said this to indicate how he was going to die.  The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah would live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?”


Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?  That’s such a heavy question with a loaded answer!  It’s a question that many, including myself, have asked and still wrestle with.  It’s a question the crowd asked when Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem. As he entered the city a large number of people gathered and made way for his coming; they praised him and cheered joyfully, quoting prophecies about the coming Messiah. The people spread branches and cloaks on the ground so Jesus could walk over them. By doing this, the crowd was giving Jesus royal treatment, fully acknowledging that he was their long awaited Messiah.

  Thinking about the crowd cheering him on, knowing who he was, and then days later demanding his crucifixion makes me cringe. It is scary to think how quickly their allegiance turned because he was not the Messiah they wanted. Everyone expected Jesus to liberate them from the Roman government and set up his kingdom in that moment. He certainly came to liberate them, but from something far worse than the Romans. He came to liberate them – and us – from something they could not see or understand: their captivity to sin. They were so blinded by what they felt would make things right that they missed the bigger picture.  If I am being honest, when I look at that crowd, I see myself in them.

How many times have I rebelled against God because he’s shown up in ways I did not really want or expect? My answer is selfish but true: too many to count. Can you relate? The crowd thought they needed to be freed from the Roman Empire, from their immediate circumstances. What they didn’t see was the war being fought for their souls and what the cross of Jesus would accomplish, the true reason he came to them. Looking back, when I accepted Christ it was because my world had been shaken, revealing deeper issues and my need for a Savior. The circumstance was unwanted, but if it hadn’t happened I would not have searched for God and found the truth.

So, just who is this Son of Man? Honestly, I still have a lot to learn about Jesus’ character.  One thing I do know is this: we serve a God that does not always give us what we want, but always gives what we need. I am so thankful for that truth. Not everything I’ve ever wanted in life was necessarily good for me. Even if fulfilling those desires was fun for a time, God knew it would lead me to death in the end.  If the crowd received what they had wanted (their earthly King) then Jesus’ blood would not be covering the world’s sins. Thank goodness we serve a God who always has our best interest in mind, a God who loves us enough to give us what we need, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense at the time.

Take a moment this week as we approach Easter and think about who the Son of Man really is. What does he want for you, where is he showing up in your life, and how will you respond? What he has in mind for us might be something we don’t expect or feel entirely comfortable with. But we know he will never lead us down the wrong path, even when we can’t see the end result. We can be certain His way is the best, most fulfilling, rewarding, and the only way that leads to life.


(null).jpgKatrina McElvain is the daughter of Trisha, and eldest 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.

YOUR LEGACY

Have you ever thought about your funeral, or what people will be saying about you on that day?  It may seem like a morbid and depressing thought.  Maybe for some, it feels like something far off that needn’t be worried about now.  But it was a thought many of us were challenged to think about this past Sunday.

I have to be honest, at twenty-three, my funeral (let alone my eulogy!) is not something I’ve often thought about.  Yet we’re faced with an eye opening truth: our eulogies are in fact being written right now.  So what kind of legacy are you leaving behind?  I think it’s safe to say that most people want to be remembered for good things like being kind, caring, and loving.  I know those are all things I want!   Some more specific answers popped into my head pretty quickly, too.  There are many things I strive for, but one in particular is to be a person of godly character. This is especially tough to live out; for example, when I was driving home from a sermon and reacted to another driver in a not so Christ-like way.  (And ironically Josh had even talked about reacting nicely to people while driving!  Epic Fail on my part!)  So the question we would do well to contemplate is, “What am I doing now to ensure how I am remembered when I am gone?”

The past two months we have been looking at the life of Joseph and we finally got to see him at the end of his life; as God’s finished work of art.  And what we found is nothing short of  one of God’s glorious masterpieces. Joseph’s life is a shining example of what it looks like to be living in the “now” but also for the future.

We can clearly see this in a choice he made after his father died.  Joseph was the second most powerful man in all Egypt.  He could have gone unchecked and taken justifiable revenge on his brothers without the worry of what his father would think.  That was exactly what his brothers thought and they were afraid.   But as we know that is not how it happened.  His response was amazing:

‘But Joseph replied, ‘Don’t be afraid of me.  Am I God, that I should punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.  He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.  No, don’t be afraid.  I will continue to take care of you and your children.’  So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.’ (Genesis 50: 19-21).

How amazing is that? Talk about Godly character and wanting to leave a great legacy, even after he had been wronged in such horrific ways.  I genuinely hope that one day I can have even an ounce of that kind of mercy and compassion.  I sit here and think of how many times have I mistreated someone just because I took offense to something they said.  Or waited until it suited me to show forgiveness to someone.  The list can go on and on.    The point is: it’s not enough to say how you want to be remembered.   You have to put it into action and live it out because how you live now is how you will be remembered.  You eulogy is bring written now; don’t wait until the last couple days of your life.

When I think about the legacy I want to leave it’s not so different from Joseph’s. However when I look at how I live life, I can get discouraged.  I would much rather be God’s finished work than take all the steps to get there.  But like every legacy, it does not happen overnight.  The person Joseph was when he spoke so kindly and reassuringly to his brothers did not happen in just a couple years; but several!  The person God molded him into was a lifelong process.  Joseph saw that and we should too.  Being aware of that process can give us comfort in knowing that we are all a work in progress and will continue to be until the day we die.  But we also need to see how our behavior and choices in this moment can greatly affect the legacy we leave behind.

So thinking about your eulogy can be depressing, but only if you let it.  The same God who had his hand over Joseph is the same God who has his hand over you and me. No matter your age or how bad you’ve messed up, God can wipe our slates completely clean and make us new.  It’s a long process, but one worthwhile.

‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ (Ephesians 2:10)

Remember, your legacy and eulogy is being written right now!


(null).jpgKatrina McElvain is the daughter of Trisha, and eldest 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.