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: More than You Can Imagine

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: Serve {Sunday, August 23, 2015 }

By Hyacynth Worth

I don’t have enough to fill these people; this is my bathroom confessional.

I’m sitting on the edge of the bathtub behind locked bathroom doors praying for Jesus to help me because there is not enough of me for four children. 

Why did I ever think I could do this mothering thing in the first place let alone mothering four kids?

Just moments prior I’d run into brick wall after brick wall after brick wall with each of our children within moments of each other, and in those moments, as each situation spiraled deeper out of control, I spiraled further down the hole of doubt, fear and anger. 

I knew when the tears started welling, I needed a mommy time out, so I all but dove into the bathroom, intent on hiding from children who were hungry, and I’m not talking for popsicles, though they would disagree. 

They are, indeed, hungry for popsicles all of the time, any time .. and they also are hungry for time, for emotional regulation, for connection, for guidance, for help, for physical love, for a listening ear … If I said hungry, I meant ravenous. 

As I’m praying and gathering my patience, thoughts and resolve, four little fingers slip through the crack beneath the bottom of the door, a small but demanding voice following on repeat, “mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, MOMMY.”

My prayers turn from politely frustrated to desperately real and really desperate. 

“There’s not enough of me. I am not cut out for this. I don’t have enough to fill these people. There are four of them, and one of me, and there’s simply not enough of me to meet their needs. What made me think I could do this?! I’m failing all of the time!” 

I’m rapid-fire confessing this to Jesus like a kid spills his guts when he’s caught red-handed taking from the cookie jar, and I hear the Still-Small Voice say, “I know. But there’s enough of Me for all of you. And you have Me, so you do have enough.”

I remember in this moment of bathroom confession the prayer we’ve been praying throughout our whole adoption journey, throughout the time our family has grown from four to six, “Now to Him who is able to do abundantly more than we could ever hope or imagine, to Him be the glory,” and I remember all of the ways God has shown Himself bigger than all of the impossibilities, bigger than the challenges, bigger than governments and rules and policies and bigger than our own fears and inadequacies. 

It’s as though Jesus Himself is reminding me that He doesn’t call the equipped, but he equips the called. 

And I know that I know that I know I was called to this service — to mothering, to raising another generation of minds and hearts that will seek to love and live in God’s love and truth. 

I know that this is where my “deep passion meets the worlds great need.” (Vantage Point3) 

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This remembering of God’s faithfulness and God’s goodness and God’s love, fuels my mind enough to slowly will my body into taking a deep breath, inhaling the love of my Father, standing up, unlocking the bathroom door and scooping into my arms the small child on the other side. 

And because of His goodness, His Spirit living inside of me gives me enough for the moments that follow, multiplying my little and making it enough. 

I sit and ponder these moments in my own life, and I know that it’s true in my own life, what Pastor Josh Petersen said during his sermon on Sunday when he was talking about how Jesus and the disciples fed the multitudes of people with very little in Matthew 14: “There’s an interesting progression that happens. Jesus gives them a task, or an opportunity, and he says, ‘feed these people.’ Then they take what they have, Jesus blesses it and then He says, ‘go serve the people.’”

And how about you? Where is that place where your deep passion meets the world’s great need? Go there. Know that you’re bringing little. And know that He’ll make it more than you could ever ask or imagine. 

Now to Him be the glory as we serve in His likeness. 

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Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother. 

Be Challenged:  

This week pray about where you feel God may be leading you to serve. Ask God to reveal to you where your deep passion meets the world’s great need.

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.

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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.

 

Extra Strength: Pointed Persistent Prayers Prevail {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

Sit, Walk, Stand: Prayer That Changes Things {Sunday, July 26, 2015}

By Sheryll Belonga

Pointed Persistent Prayers Prevail

“God please let me get a dog.”

“God please let me get a dog.”

“God please let me get a dog.”

“God please let me get a dog.”

Ugh! If you think you are ready to stop reading that imagine how my husband and I felt years ago hearing it over and over.  Every night, for at least a year, our oldest son would pray this prayer. The kid really wanted a dog but we were just not ready.

When Pastor Joe mentioned the parable that God told of the persistently praying woman I immediately thought of my son’s prayer. It also made me relate to the judge in the story. Here are the key verses that I can relate totally to.

A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’

“God please let me get a dog.”

“God please let me get a dog.”

“God please let me get a dog.”

“God please let me get a dog.”

I know. Not that again. That was how I felt too but then something else happened.  Our hearts began to soften and soon I joined my son in that prayer.  My prayer was not let us get a dog but God prepare us for a dog and gives us the financial means needed to properly care for him.

We wanted him to have a dog but we knew that it needed to be at the right time.  We told our son this but that didn’t stop him from praying every night.  He never gave up.

Pastor Joe also mentioned how he doesn’t go to God in the little things but seeks Him with the things he feels he can’t handle.  I am the same way.  If I am truly honest though, if we all are, we can’t handle anything without Him.  I agree with Pastor Joe that it is in those seemingly easy times that I feel I may need Him the most.

It is in the day-to-day living and being a wife and mom that I need Him to help me be at my best and give my best.  My husband is happy not because of what I do but because I seek God before I do it.  When I don’t seek God first it never works out well.  It is in those times that I pray, “God please let my husband be patient.” “God please let my husband be patient.”

Pastor Joe gave us four ways we are to pray:

  1. Pray in the spirit. (see Ephesians 6:18) – He tells us that the more specific and pointed our prayers the more seriously God takes our concern.
  1. Pray always. – We are to live day to day with a God consciousness. We are to know that even the little things are important enough to pray about. (see Joshua 9:14)
  1. Pray with persistence.  (see Jurrell Jr, just kidding) – We are to pray when we feel like it, when we don’t and until we feel like it. Pastor Joe told us that God uses persistent prayers to change things. We are to always pray and never give up. (see Luke 18)
  1. Pray for all believers everywhere. (see 1st Timothy 2:1)

Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray.

What have you got to lose? You may also drive someone crazy in the process. Either way it’s a win.

 

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:

  • Is there something big that you took to God once and just left it there? You should keep taking it to Him until He moves.
  • Are there any small everyday things that you keep trying to handle on your own because you feel it doesn’t require prayer?  You should bring that to Him as well. If we would all come to Him like a child we would realize there is nothing to small or too big that we can’t take to Him.