DIRTY > CLEAN

Though I’m the mom of three boys, I’m a girly-girl at heart. I’ve never liked climbing trees or playing with dirt; I mean, as an adult I don’t even like to deal with landscaping! When my husband asked me to help him pull weeds, however, I very reluctantly agreed. I grabbed my gloves, my knee pads, and was sure to put on long sleeves and jeans. I was going into battle, after all, and I was not about to get dirty! Then, something terrible happened: a bug appeared. (Did I mention I don’t like creepy, crawly little bugs?) I persisted though… until another came, and then another! It didn’t take long for me to jump up and tell my husband – let’s be real, I begged him – that I would do anything else but that! My husband needed my help, but because the situation was too uncomfortable for me, I couldn’t give it.  Eventually, he finished it on his own, but it took longer than it would’ve if he’d had some help.

As a mom, there are many times like this, where I want to just get up and run. I want to run from the attitudes and the responsibility of shaping and molding characters. I want to run from the bickering when what’s needed is a lesson in communication. I want to run from the yelling when my kids need to learn self control. Oh, and did I mention that I homeschool? Talk about God giving me nowhere to run and nowhere to hide! For those of you who can relate, there really is nowhere to hide – not even the bathroom is off limits! More often than not, I want to run away because helping each of my boys learn in a way that fits their personality and individual way of learning is tough and uncomfortable. If I’m honest, I’d much rather just make them think like me than go into battle and get dirty.

But God wants us to get our hands dirty, figuratively and literally. He wants us to jump in with both hands, lifting them up as we surrender our wills for His. It won’t be easy, and it sure won’t be comfortable, but it’ll be worth it. And starting that journey really entails just being prepared to get dirty.

God has made it clear that my family is my first ministry. It’s with this realization that I’ve gained a new perspective and have come to see that God has allowed me to go through so much in my life in order to prepare me to better shape and mold my boys. So to what, or where is God calling you to minister? It may be no further than your own front yard! No matter where He is taking you, remember that He has prepared you through your past experiences to help those around you. And He will continue to prepare you as you seek His guidance daily. So get ready, get set and all hands in!


Sheryll Belonga iwife to Jurrell and homeschooling mom to their three great boys. Her desire is to glorify God in all she says and does in spite of life’s daily happenings.

Extra Strength: How Are You Giving {Sheryll}

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

We Are Church: We Give  {Sunday, September 14, 2015}

By Sheryll Belonga

One thing that I have realized on more than one occasion is that I have been given kids to help me become a better person.

Sometimes God uses my attempt to discipline my boys as a way to discipline me or He uses them to help me change my attitude when I am grumpy by giving me the kind of hug that would make butter melt. During the message on Sunday Pastor Josh helped me to see that God was using them once again, to show me that every little bit counts.

I consider myself a very giving person. I am giving of my talents, my time and my finances. I often wish I had more money so that I could give more away.  But what I am not is a consistent giver. Let me explain.
On many occasions while going into Walmart, someone has been out in front asking for money. I rarely have cash on hand so I am not always able to donate. There have been times when the only cash I have had on hand was a few coins.  I would never donate my coins though because I felt they weren’t enough.
My boys however, are a different story. They will donate four pennies if they have it and they would do it with joy while I would do it with shame. Why is it that we feel as if the little we have is not enough even if that is all we have to give?
Pastor Josh talked about a widow, who gave all she had and I believe she didn’t hesitate. Could I be like her and just simply give what I have? According to Josh’s calculations in his sermon from a few weeks ago titled We Serve, God was able to feed roughly 20,000 people with a small amount of food. Couldn’t He take my offering and use it just the same to benefit those who need it? What do you have to offer?

Sheryll Belonga is wife to Jurrell and homeschooling mom to their three great boys. Her desire is to glorify God in all she says and does in spite of life’s daily happenings.

 

 

 

Be Challenged:

  • Do you give in church? If so, is it out of obligation or out of gratitude.
  • Do you give out of excess? If so, is God calling you to make a sacrifice.
  • If you don’t give because you feel like you don’t have anything to give try giving your coins. Pray that God will bless them so that you can give even more.

Extra Strength: WHEN DIFFERENT ISN’T BAD {Martha}

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

“It’s different,” my six-year-old said as he carefully chewed the cracker with a decidedly undecided look on his face.

In my head I was thinking, “It’s a cracker. How different can it be from all the other crackers that you know and like?”

What I’ve learned about his definition of “different” when it comes to food is that different = bad or I don’t like it. Rarely, if ever, has there been a food he has tried which he labeled as “different” that has made it into the regular repertoire of meals or snacks.

For me different in the food category has not been much of a struggle but if I’m being honest, different in almost any other area of my life is a struggle. If something is different than another thing or if a situation is different than it used to be it means there has been a change.

At Immanuel Church we have recently undergone some changes and there are some things that are different. There have been a lot of changes to the physical building itself and there have been changes to the staff, the most prominent change being that of Josh Petersen stepping into the role of Lead Pastor as Joe Boerman retired.

In my head, I know that the changes that have taken place with the building, programming and staff are good but it’s different.

Uh oh, those words again. It’s different.

Same is familiar, safe, easy. Different is scary.

Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way. Any risk takers out there are probably rolling their eyes about now. But if you’re like me and you’re feeling the effects of the changes at Immanuel, I want to encourage you that different does not have to be bad or scary, not when God is involved.

As I have become aware of these feelings about the changes at the church that I love I took my feelings to God in prayer and here’s what He has shown me.  It’s o.k.

It’s o.k. to feel this way, to mourn and miss what is no longer, to be unsure or even afraid of what is to come. I can trust God in this change. I can trust that He is working all things for the good of the people of Immanuel Church. This isn’t about me. It’s about God and what He is doing through this church, through us. I can trust that my leaders at Immanuel are being led by God in every decision they make and I need to pray for them.

Thank you, Father for the Church and how you’ve designed it to help accomplish your mission. Thank you for Immanuel and its leaders. Amen.

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Martha has been a wife for 17 years and is the mother of three children ages 10, 9 and 5.  When she’s not folding laundry, cooking meals, helping with homework, kissing boo-boos, grocery shopping, cleaning house and running errands; she loves to hold babies at Immanuel MOPS!

 

Be challenged:

Whether these changes have been easy or difficult for you, I invite you to pray with me for our church and its leaders as we begin a new leg of Immanuel’s journey.

Thursday: Pray for Pastor Josh, his marriage and his family
Friday: Pray that we will be united in our mission to “help people know Christ and grow to be like him.”
Saturday: Pray for the student and children’s ministries and their leaders
Sunday: Pray for Bryan Bicket as he leads the men’s and small group ministries as well as Anita Everly as she leads the women’s ministries
Monday: Pray for the Alpha and Recovery ministries
Tuesday: Pray for the World Outreach team and its leaders and those going on mission trips
Wednesday: Pray for all other staff and ministry leaders (a list can be found at immanuelhome.org/leadership-team)

Extra Strength: It Starts With an Invitation {Sheryll}

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

We Are Church: We Invite {Sunday, August 18, 2015}

By Sheryll Belonga

It started with an invitation.  But before that I believe it started with prayer, not a simple prayer but a pleading to God for my soul. The person praying this prayer was my Aunt Mary.  Mary.  That name alone means holy, right.  It’s like my grandmother knew that she would have a spiritual purpose in life.

Growing up I viewed her as religious. Anything that was not spiritual was evil and you always felt like you had to do right when you were around her. You watched what you said and did so that you would not offend her.  She wanted everyone in her family to be saved.

After I graduated from high school I accepted the invitation to go to youth camp with her kids and the other kids from their church. It sounded like fun and it was. It was my first real encounter with God.  Sure I prayed before bed and confessed my sins as part of my religion but the relationship aspect was missing.

At camp I accepted Christ for the second time (the first time was at the age of 13).  I was baptized upon returning from camp. That was when more invitations came.  I was invited to go to their church. I went. I was invited to go to Bible study. I went. I was invited into their religion and I went. My walk changed and my talk changed but my soul was still divided.  I soon left the church and went on my own but the invitations to come to church didn’t go away. I didn’t go back but she didn’t stop inviting.

Back then I saw pressure to be this spiritual person but for her it was more than that. She wanted to insure that I really knew Him and that she would see me one day in heaven. She never let the fear of rejection stand in her way.  She never cared about what people would say.  She was determined to not let an opportunity slip away.

I have a relationship with Jesus Christ because of her. I am whose I am because of her. It started with an invitation. But long before that I know it started with prayer.

 

Sheryll Belonga is wife to Jurrell and homeschooling mom to their three great boys. Her desire is to glorify God in all she says and does in spite of life’s daily happenings.

 

 

 

Be Challenged:

Who is God placing on your heart to invite to church?  Who is God placing on your heart to invite into a relationship with Him? They may not accept the invitation right away and when they do their lives may not initially turn out the way you hope, but it will turn out. It all starts with an invitation – but before you invite be sure to pray.

Extra Strength: GOING THROUGH LIFE WITH BLINDERS ON {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

We Are Church: We Focus {Sunday, August 9, 2015}

By Gracie Adamek

Over the past year and a half, I have been privileged to volunteer at a barn for horse therapy. Kids with all sorts of developmental disabilities would come ride the horses and learn to take care of them. I would walk next to the horse and assist the riders with their exercises. I would also make sure they were being safe. In my time there, I learned a lot about horses and so when Josh compared people to horses on Sunday, it made perfect sense to me.

Horses are huge creatures. They’re powerful and majestic. They’re also skittish and easily spooked. One of the first things they told me when I started volunteering was not to walk around the back of the horse because if you did, and it saw you, you would scare it and who knows what the horse would do. It could kick you, run off, jump, or even buck the rider off.

Horses are always aware of whatever they can see. Ever heard the term “out of sight, out of mind”? Well, that’s basically how it is for horses. That’s why blinders are so important. They don’t block horses’ vision all together, just the peripherals. If they can only see one direction, that’s all they’ll concentrate on. So set them a straight course, and they’ll go unafraid.

Bottom Line-2

God wants the same to be true of The Church. We have the Truth right at our fingertips and its our job to share it! Its on us to tell the world what The Lord has entrusted in us. But people scare pretty easily. We see everything going on around us and we try to back away. But God sets a straight path for us. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we say ‘come back to God!'”. God makes it so clear for us. This is our mission. Tell the world. Don’t be afraid, don’t get spooked. Just go.

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.

 

 

Be challenged:

Where is God telling you to go unafraid and draw people to Him?  Pray and ask God to remove your fear and to give you blinders so that the only thing you see is the path that He has placed before you.