Extra Strength: Chosen by Love {John}

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

Listen to Sit, Walk, Stand: What’s So Good About the Good News from Sunday, May 17 2015

By John Worth, Immanuel attendee and blogger

God cared enough to choose us before the world began.

Have you been thinking on that? I have. As I’ve reflected on the message last Sunday, I have thought about how I am chosen. I am not just a number or a job title or even my name; I am an adopted Child of God.

I was an orphan with nothing to offer yet was chosen to become a co-heir of Jesus. But the part that stands out as most unbelievable is that it had nothing to do with how good I was (or was not), or how I may have worked hard for it. He chose me solely because of His grace through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and His great love for me. When I really let it sink in it all makes my head spin; there are lots of “why” questions and only one answer that stands: God has chosen me because of His great, His deep love.

This thought of being chosen brings to mind the adoption process our family is a part of right now. We are currently preparing to travel to Eastern Europe to adopt two girls into our family. We know that God providently brought these two sisters across our path and has given us the opportunity to choose for them to join our family.

Why did we choose them? Honestly, we chose them because of love. We chose them because we love them. We delight in them. They have been wonderfully and fearfully made by a God who is madly and clearly in love with us. We chose them because God chose and loved us first giving us the opportunity, in a very tangible way, to understand what love looks like, giving us the opportunity to extend that same kind of love to others.

We have been chosen because of love by love Himself.

I want my soon-to-be daughters to know God has chosen them, and he loved them enough to rescue them, to adopt them into His family just like he loved me enough to rescue me and adopt me into His family. God has used our adoption journey to teach me about what it means to be chosen and about what it means to be loved. He has shown me through this journey about His great love for me in His adoption of me.

Today I am choosing to live as one chosen and loved by God, adopted into His family and redeemed through His son.  Today I am choosing to be loved by Love. Will you?

IMG_8516John Worth is a lifelong attender of Immanuel and husband to Hyacynth. John’s two boys keep him and Hy on their toes most evenings. When he’s not nose deep in spreadsheets at work John enjoys helping others navigate the waters of life.


Be Challenged: 

  • Dwell in the deep truths of God’s love for you by sitting in His Word. Reread Ephesians 1 and ask the Spirit to overwhelm you with His love as you read.

Go Deeper:

  • Tell us about how God’s love changed your life after you said yes to Jesus! Email HyacynthWorth{at}gmail{dot}com if you would be willing to share your story.

Extra Strength: Don’t Buy the Lie {Hyacynth}

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

Pressure Points: Selfie: Whole {Sunday, April 12, 2015 }

By Hyacynth Worth

By all standards, my life feels pretty full.

Our family calendar, although now a more-tamed beast than in years past, lends evidence to its fullness.

I call much of what makes up the fullness of my life blessings.

The family I love. The hobbies I enjoy. The job at which I work. The friends with whom I commune. The home in which I live. The food we eat. The passions that burn brightly in my soul. Each is a gift, a blessing to me.

But there’s a problem when the blessings, the fullness of life is mistaken for a wholeness, a completeness in our souls.

Fullness doesn’t mean wholeness.

And I think we’re often deceived into thinking just the opposite — that the fullness of a life can complete us, that the fullness of a life can make us whole.

And when fullness leads into inevitable busyness? Well, I think we’re often left aching and limping our way through these lives chocked full of blessings.

Add to that the busyness of going from one thing to the next in the fullness of life, that often we don’t even realize that we’re trying to fill a hole … we often don’t even see depths and width of that hole.

“We never stop long enough to figure out what we are trying to fill.” Pastor Josh Petersen

But there are signs everywhere of that hole we’re trying to fill.

We fill the holes in our homes with more treasures than what our bank accounts can account for.

We fill the holes in our schedules with serving and helping and feel exhausted just looking at our packed calendars.

We struggle to make the button meet the hole of our jeans after too many handfuls of snacks.

When we finally recognize the holes, we stare at the gaping spaces in our lives, shake our heads and wonder why we can’t get it together … Wonder why there is so little within our easy reach to fill the holes that seem to only grow wider and wider. 

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Photo courtesy of Danny Lagunas

“It’s gotta come from someplace else — wholeness only comes from the outside, but you better choose wisely. You will have to add something, and it’s probably not what you think. You’ll have to add carefully.” Pastor Josh Petersen

We are full, yes and yet, we are aching for wholeness.

We look for it in the desserts we eat and the gadgets to which we upgrade and the drinks in which we drown our sorrows and the service we extend in the overextension of ourselves.   

And yet we still ache so we go back and do it all again, mistaking fullness for wholeness over and over. We buy the lie time after time. 

“That outside thing that’s worth your time and energy is Jesus.” Pastor Josh Petersen 

The first step in trying to remedy a problem is admitting there is, indeed, a problem, and my very problem is summed up quite easily in admitting that all of my attempts to make me whole haven’t ever completed that aching empty in the depths of my soul.

I can’t eat, shop, serve, create, perfect myself into wholeness.

And the second step? It’s replacing the lie with truth.

When I am tempted to try and eat myself into wholeness, I can choose instead to feast on truth: Jesus is the bread of life.

When I am lured into trying to perfect my way into wholeness, I can choose to recall that His grace is sufficient for me.

When I am desiring for someone to assign me worth with their words, I can choose to remember that God so loved *me* that He sent His only son to give me life.

As we walk into the fullness of a new day, let’s not buy the lie that fullness is wholeness. Let’s not fill the holes with more stuff. Let’s instead fill it with Truth.

Let’s choose wisely, friends.

headshotHyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and author of Undercover Mother. She also works as the Online Communications Coordinator for Immanuel Church.


Be Challenged:  This week, when you feel tempted to buy the lie …

  • Identify the lie

  • Replace it with God’s truth

  • Remember and declare that you are #wholeinone!

Extra Strength: Stop Living Like You’re Dead {John}

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

Listen to Vacancy from Sunday, April 5 2015

By John Worth, Immanuel attendee and blogger

“The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” Luke 24:5-6

“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” the angel asked, as if the women should have known better. I mean where else would have someone looked? I mean where would you have looked?

blog 4.6.15 John 1010The women and Jesus’ other followers watched his lifeless body be taken down from the cross. They probably even followed behind as his body was hastily wrapped in linen, put into a borrowed tomb and shut away from the world on that sad Friday.

I’ve been thinking about that question the angle asked the women a whole lot myself this week. Why do I sometimes find myself searching for live among things that are dead?

I have already emerged from that tomb with Jesus, crossing from the death that I’ve earned to life that has been gifted to me. Why then would I think that any sort of life could come from my selfishness, my pride and my stubbornness?

I know Jesus isn’t in that tomb anymore.he can’t taste death ever again; he’s alive, and so am I.

My desire is to walk in the light and the life we have through his death on the cross not to dwell in the darkness and death of the tomb. My prayer is for all of us to live lives reflective of Sunday, walking in the glory of Jesus’s resurrection on that Easter day.

We have been crucified with Christ and share in the new life he has given us.

It’s time to stop living like we’re dead. It’s time to really live.

IMG_8516John Worth is a lifelong attender of Immanuel and husband to Hyacynth. John’s two boys keep him and Hy on their toes most evenings. When he’s not nose deep in spreadsheets at work John enjoys helping others navigate the waters of life.


Be Challenged: 

  • Did you say yes to Jesus? Let’s live like Sunday people! Carry the hope of the life Christ gives in your heart daily and ask God to help your actions be an overflow of that hope.

Go Deeper:

  • Tell us about how it changed your life after you said yes to Jesus! Email HyacynthWorth{at}gmail{dot}com if you would be willing to share your story.

Extra Strength: Let’s All Get a Little More Beautiful in Our Lives {Hyacynth}

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

Pressure Points: The Pressure of Temptation {Sunday, February 22, 2015 }

By Hyacynth Worth

In the past, it’s been the pint of cream sitting in the freezer, the spiteful words sitting on the tip of my tongue and the promises of love sitting heavily in my ears.

Temptation has followed me all of my life, though the specifics are ever evolving and changing. While the tempters in my life have morphed the root of temptation remains the same: I’m consistently trying to satisfy an insatiable hunger.

If we’re going to get real about talking about temptation, though, I think we have to acknowledge and accept what Pastor Josh Petersen said this past Sunday about temptation:

“The key to dealing with temptation is understanding the desire of your heart. The key is grappling with what we have set our heart on by asking, ‘what have we allowed to fill us?'”

These are the kinds of questions that invite us to dig deeper. And you know what digging deep requires, right? Vulnerability.

Brene Brown says, “What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”

If what Brene Brown says is true and if we really want to get to the root of temptation, I think we all need to get comfortable with getting a little more beautiful in our lives. So here goes:

After thought and prayer and reflection, I’ve grappled at my very own marshmallow, my very own major temptation in my life right now and what He revealed took me by surprise. My marshmallow right now is perfectionism, and the desire at the bottom of it is security and love. I want to feel that I am deeply loved and that I am safely held, so I try to muscle my way into both.

Be it trying to eat a perfect enough diet to obtain stellar health and stave off disease or peacefully and perfectly parenting my children all the hours they are awake so they will turn out well or maintaining poise in front of friends when I feel like sobbing, I have consistently been trying to earn love and security in ways that cannot satisfy my deep desires for both. And it’s as exhausting as it is impossible.

Admittedly, none of those admissions feel very beautiful. But what is beautiful is that this vulnerability, this realization and acceptance of these deep needs of mine draw me closer to the only One who can really satisfy my deep hunger for deeply-rooted love and security.

So are you ready to get a little more beautiful in your own life?

headshotHyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and author of Undercover Mother. She also works as the Online Communications Coordinator for Immanuel Church.


Be Challenged:  This week, when you feel tempted:

  • Stop – identify the desire

  • Spot – place it appropriately and invest it wisely; temptation becomes an opportunity to express our desire for God.

  • Set – Set your eyes on God.

Extra Strength: The Wisest Decision You Could Make {Hyacynth}

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

Ask It: Based on Current Circumstances, What is the Wise Decision {Sunday, January 25, 2015}

By Hyacynth Worth

If it’s not one decision it’s another.

Maybe it’s the season of life we’re in, maybe it’s our special circumstances of international adoption or maybe it’s just  … life, but we have found ourselves in the midst of making rather important decisions on a weekly basis for the past few months especially.

See, we just keep getting these life curve balls thrown in our direction, and it keeps making us ponder the question — what on Earth is the wise thing to do here?

If I’m being honest, as I ponder this question, I have to say that sometimes the right thing actually seems unwise at first glance. Sometimes, at first look, it seems downright foolishness.

Take Abraham for example. God instructed him to take Issac, the son for whom he waited so very long, to the sacrificing table.

Or Moses. God told him to go to Pharaoh and ask Pharaoh to release the Israelites.

Or Gideon. God told Gideon he had to continually dwindle his number of fighting men to battle a rather large and rather ominous enemy army.

At first look, it all looks like foolishness.

Why would Abraham sacrifice Issac on an altar when Issac was the long-sought after heir?

Why would Moses, an alien who had been fled from Egypt many years prior, think he could walk up to the most powerful Pharaoh and ask for the Israelites to be freed?

And why would Gideon think that God dwindling his numbers to go fight a large army would work out for his people’s benefit?

Simple.

Because God was the One doing the orchestrating; God was the One behind these outrageous requests.

This morning after my normal quiet time, my oldest son requested I stay out of the kitchen for five more minutes. In my copious amount of free time, I went into another room and thought I’d check into Facebook. But then I saw my Bible sitting nearby, and for some reason I just felt the need to open the pages. I turned right to a verse in Psalm 9, specifically verse 10.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

And it made everything clear.

The decisions with which I’ve been wrestling, the whys behind Abraham, Moses and Gideon’s stories, the “wise” thing to do is all the same thing in every circumstance; it’s all clear: seek the Lord, and trust Him.

Pastor Bryan Bicket summed up this very idea Sunday during his message by suggesting that the most wise thing we can do in any circumstance is first submit our very lives to the Lord … and then submit to Him our every circumstance.

We can trust that God will “course correct us,” as my mentor says, if we are whole-heartedly following after Him.

We don’t have to make the perfect decisions if we’re intentionally seeking Him in what we do because seeking Him is the perfect decision. We don’t have to question if the very decision we’ve been lead to while seeking the Lord is wise because seeking the Lord first is the wisest decision.

He’ll continue to guide us if we continue to seek Him.

So this week, as I ponder the humanly “unwise” things I’ve been called to go forth do, I’m trying to remember I’m actually making the wisest decision of all — I’m trusting in the One who’s leading, the One I’m seeking and remembering it’s the wisest decision any of us could make.

headshotHyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and author of Undercover Mother. She also works as the Online Communications Coordinator for Immanuel Church.

 


 

Be Challenged: 

  • Seek the Lord in prayer this week and submit your circumstances to Him. Ask Him to help you do what He’d have you do.

Go Deeper:

  • Answer the questions in the Conversation Starter of your Immanuel Life with a friend, spouse or small group.