The Monday After: Chosen Garment {Andrew}

 You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling.

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} carries the Sunday message into Monday mornings by sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, February 24, 2014: Seeing What God Wants Me to See

by Andrew Kelley

I’ve always been a new-testament-kind-of guy.

I’ve loved the resemblance of the disciples and me as I walk with my Savior.

As I grow older and learn more and dive deeper into the old testament, though, I love it all the more. I’ve grown to love the old testament for its parallels of the people of Israel and our present nation of people. Plus the old testament is jam packed with awesome real-life events of romance and seduction, justice and revenge. If any of us paid any attention in Sunday school, we’d realized that if these events were turned into films, they would be R-rated and likely number one in the box office for weeks!

Much of Steven Mosley’s Chosen Garment performance gave us a glimpse into the powerful stories of the Bible, and he did so with the beautiful integration of many different garments. During the whole presentation, garments of praise kept coming to mind. So I searched and found Isaiah 61:3:

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”

Steven portrayed to us the importance of the garments, symbolic threads linking the old testament to the new testament and beyond, showing us a glimpse of God’s bigger picture. These garments were as a covering from God. The men that wore them used them wisely as well as foolishly. We then see the way the people followed their leadership while wearing the garments. It’s amazing to me that God has hand picked all of the leaders to this very present day. It makes me wonder about their spiritual garments and the level of stewardship they’ve been given, and it makes me even more thankful that Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, wears ALL of the garments perfectly.

So while I may be more of a new testament kind of guy, I’m happy to follow the thread into the old testament because it makes it all the more clear about the supremacy of the One who perfectly wears the garment that covers us.

Andrew and Dawn

Andrew Kelley is husband to Dawn and father to four wonderful children; he and his family currently call Immanuel and Zion home. 

The Monday After: The Authority of the Bible {Sheryll}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling.

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} carries the Sunday message into Monday mornings by sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, March 23, 2014 : The Authority of the Bible {click HERE to listen!}

By Sheryll Belonga

Original Sin Guido Nincheri, Saint-Léon de Wesmount - Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
Original Sin Guido Nincheri, Saint-Léon de Wesmount – Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

Imagine with me the first days on Earth as God brings forth all there is to be. The sun shines at the dawn of a new day.The birds are singing their morning song. In the distance clouds move ever so easily as the wind sways them; yet something is missing. Everything Adam could possibly want is at his finger tips so what else could there be?

He awakens again to the same beauty around that was there once before except now something is different. God, in His wisdom, has looked into the very depth of his soul and knew that he needed more. He met a need that Adam was unaware even existed. He saw into his heart and gave him Eve.

I wake in the morning, and I know — I am Adam.

And I am grateful that God can see into my heart and meet needs that I am not aware exist.

1st Samuel 16:7 says,

“For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

To a stranger passing by our life may look perfect at times — like we have everything we need and we have it all together. I myself have had many people tell me that they thought I had it all together, but I made sure I set pride aside to reveal to them the truth. I am a work in progress.  I am a piece of clay, and I need God to continually mold me. At times I may be hard, already set clay, and he needs a sharper instrument to make me into what he wants me to be. God looks into my heart, and He knows what I need and what I need to remove. He sees beyond what already is and knows what I need.

Spending time in His word helps with this process. It doesn’t make the process any easier but just like the warmth of your hands can soften clay,  the Bible softens my heart.  When my heart is softer He can work with me more easily. He can then make me into who HE wants me to be. I don’t always bend in the direction He wants me to go, there are times when I resist. It is in those times that I need to be broken so that He can remake me again.

As I go through this process over and over again with Him I learn to trust His guiding hand. I have learned to trust His word. Sure the process is still painful at times but I know that it is for my good. That is when being in His word gives me strength. I need to have His word in me so that I can lean on those scriptures that I know to be true.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”  I may not always understand but I still need to trust and acknowledge Him.

I follow my husband’s leading when it comes to making decisions — no, not all the time and not without kicking of heals. But when I reflect on his history with decision-making he has never steered me wrong. I’ve realized I need to trust him. God reminds me that my husband has my best interest at heart. God is like that, except perfect.

When I look back over my life I see God’s hand in the good and the bad. I see Him guiding me and looking into my heart and giving me what I need. I trust Him and I know that I can take Him at His word. He has my best interest at heart because He knows my heart.  He knows yours, too.

This week is to try setting aside time to strengthen your connection with Him. Start off simple with 5-10 minutes, and then increase as you feel led to. I heard someone say today that obedience will lead to desire and desire will lead to joy. If I am honest I have not quite gotten to the joy part consistently. I am barely at desire on some days, so my goal for now is just obedience. Ask God to look into your heart and allow Him, through His word, to meet your need.

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

Small Groups: Stories of Renewal, Service and Love through 40 Days in the Word

40 days

by Laura Forman

Rarely do we participate in something together, everyone as an entire church community. Sure, most of us come to services weekly. Outside of Sunday mornings, are we ever truly on the same page? The answer is yes — if you’re in an Immanuel small group!

40 Days in the Word, a devotional method of Bible Study by Rick Warren, has inspired new ways of reading, interpreting and applying God’s words.

We all come to the Bible with our needs, and Joan Boyce is no exception. She has two grandchildren, ages 4 and 7, battling Sanfilippo syndrome- a rare, progressive and fatal disease. The experience has focused Joan on the power of God’s word, prayer and Bible study.

“God has used my grandbabies to literally re-align my thinking of who God is through his word,” Joan explained. “I’ve been in the word for many years; I found for me this (40 Days) was a refresher course, helping reestablish new ways of looking at the word and how it can be applied. It’s like fresh, cool water I’m taking in.”

Joan describes her experience in 40 Days as “wonderful”.

As part of the study, each group must plan and complete a “Micah 6:8” service project.

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8 (NLT)

Immanuel staff member Hyacynth Worth and husband John are in the process of preparing to adopt an older orphaned child from Eastern Europe. Having hosted her over Christmas, with the help of New Horizons, they shared their adoption dream with their small group.

“They were so giddy when talking about it, like a young person talking about a first love,” group member Chesney Leafblad said.

When it came time to decide on a service project, the Worths were unable to attend.

“We were throwing around a couple of ideas, but they were uninspired. None of them were perfect. All of a sudden we started talking about them (the Worth family) and the journey they embarked on,” Chesney shared.

The group deliberated and asked, “Why don’t we have an event to help them fund their journey? Perfect, we thought, it was exactly what we wanted to do”.

Chesney believes, “It’s about seeking out opportunities to serve- instead of it falling into your path- sometimes you have to be proactive to find ways to serve. It may be totally different than anything you’ve ever done.”

Love Walks: Mile for Mile will take place in May. The walkathon and bake sale will be kid-friendly, as the group has a combined sixteen children. With a goal of raising  $10,000 toward adoption fees, the group believes in doing their best and “letting God take care of the rest.”

Trusting God means trusting his Word; loving God means loving his Word.

Bible Professor and Immanuel member Michael Vanlaningham, writing from Israel, sums it up well:

“We must be people of the Word. How can we hope to remain confident in God during hardships if we do not know His power and goodness? How can we avoid moral and spiritual mistakes and foolish, sinful decisions unless we know what they are? The Word of God is sufficient for us to know God and enjoy Him forever.”

Amen.

Hear more stories from our church-wide study of 40 Days in the Word during service on Celebration Sunday, March 23. If you missed it, learn about 40 Days in the Word here.

100_1824Laura Forman loves Jesus. She is married to David and they live in Gurnee with their five children. Working as both a personal trainer and a freelance writer, she can be found at church or www.lauralisaforman.com.

The Monday After: Integrating God’s Word into Our Lives {Anita}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling.

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} carries the Sunday message into Monday mornings by sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, March 16, 2013: Integrating God’s Word into Our Lives

By Anita Everly

Perhaps you’ve heard of a few little movies by the names of Braveheart, Pearl HarborThe Man in the Iron Mask and Secreatriat?
Randall Wallace is the screenwriter for the award winning Braveheart, the story of William Wallace and his struggle to lead Scotland to political freedom.
A friend of mine had the opportunity to hear Randall Wallace speak at a conference recently.  Do you know what his big secret was to becoming a great writer?
Doing it.
Yes, that’s it.
He mentioned that he prepares to write the night before. He lays out his clothes, gets his coffee ready to hit brew and prays for the morning ahead—the night before. And when morning comes, he slides into his clothes, brews the coffee, prays again and starts writing. And writes every single day. Even if there are no words, he writes: nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing over and over. Soon the words and captivating stories come alive again through his fingertips. He has learned the art of integrating writing into his everyday life by preparation and execution.
In 40 Days in the Word, Rick Warren suggests the same thing for Bible reading. Preparing the night before: getting to bed earlier, laying out our Bibles and whatever materials we need, and opening it all up to be ready to slip into our time with God. I think he even mentioned getting the coffee ready, too.  {Thank you, Rick and Randall.}
If you are struggling with getting into God’s Word, this is something that might help tremendously. My quiet times had been inconsistent and good attempts to get them done later in the day did not happen many days. Rick Warren mentioned this so I tried it the next day, and it’s worked wonderfully well since. It’s pretty hard to go all day ignoring, forgetting or being interrupted in our attempt to read the Bible when it’s all opened up and ready to go.
If your days are easily interrupted by events or even precious people in the hours before dawn or work begins, this might be of help. Or maybe it’s taking your Bible and devotionals to work to do at lunch. Or setting it up on your bed in the morning to do right before you go to sleep. Whatever suits your learning and lifestyle.
Whatever will work, we just need to do it.
And just like Randall Wallace with his writing, there may be days we read and don’t hear a lot from the Lord. But if we keep at it, it doesn’t take long for us to recognize what God wants for us right where we are and with exactly what we need. His Words to us come.
Even if you are a pro at consistent quiet times and the actual doing it is not an issue, perhaps going into deeper study, journaling more, praying more deeply, listening to God or memorizing scripture can be areas where preparing ahead can provide more fruitful accomplishment in integrating God and His Word into our lives.
As far as God’s Word goes, we cannot build our lives on it, feed on it, live by it, grow through it, act on it or trust in it if we don’t read it.
When we prepare and execute a plan for being in His Word, He is faithful and quick to permeate us with His truths.
And that is the ultimate freedom!

Anita Everly is the wife of David and mom to their three sons.  She can be found watching the lives of her men unfold, creating a home, and encouraging other women in life and motherhood.  She is striving to live life on purpose because she is crazy in love with the One who is crazy in love with her.

 

The Monday After: Interpreting a Text {Hyacynth}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, March 9, 2014 {Listen to the message HERE!}

By Hyacynth Worth

My husband and I are in the midst of undergoing a home study as part of the process for adopting a teen girl from overseas with whom we hosted in our home this past winter. A home study, if you are unfamiliar, is a thick document that’s created after a social worker essentially studies your life and digs in to find the most basic as well as the most intimate details of your home, your family.

One of the essential parts of the home study requires both parents to fill out an autobiography questionnaire, which includes myriad personal, detail-seeking questions that span about 22 pages. Each.

“The more you write down, the better,” our social worker said. “We’re trying to get a good understanding of your life and your family. We can’t do that with one sentence answers.”

We nodded, noting that in this case more information was better than less.

“The more we know about you, the easier it will be to understand who you are.”

John and I spent a good two weeks answering questions about our lives with intimate details, trying to help create as accurate a picture of our lives as possible.

We sent our autobiographies off to the social worker this week, and now we await the next part — an in-person visit in our home.

Because it’s not just enough to tell her about who we are — she needs to visit, too, spend time here exploring who we are, developing a context, if she’s going to be able to write a home study that accurately reflects our family and lives.

Is it easy work? No. Is is short and simple? Not in the loosest definition of either word. But it’s work that’s necessary to understand the whole story.

And so it goes with God’s Word.

It’s tempting, isn’t it, to pick up a devotional or read a verse a day from an app on our smart phones and call it Bible study. Often enough, we ingest these verses, quickly trying to digest them and discern God’s voice or find an answer to our prayers.

The daily nibbles method of Bible reading, pulling here and there for random verses to fit specific events in our lives, is dangerous because it leaves us with barely a glimpse of God’s bigger-picture story. It leaves us knowing only fragmented parts of God’s character rather than grasping Him in fuller way. And it often leaves us scrambling to making sense of verses on our own without the overarching truths that context offers.

“Every verse in the Bible has a central meaning. It’s our job to dig in and understand the true meaning. Any passage might have lots of application, but it only has one interpretation.” – Pastor Joe Boerman

And all of this is no more effective than John and I handing our social worker a paragraph summary of, say, our days and expecting her to accurately and effectively communicate who we are to people who are trying to understand us.

Context requires paying attention to the details and asking questions that matter — the who, what, when, where and whys give a bigger-picture understanding of our lives just as asking those same questions while reading Bible passages leave us with a greater, fuller, better understanding of God and His grand story.

Is it time-consuming? Yes.

But is knowing the full story worth it?

{I think I agree with our governing state when I say} yes, indeed; the time spent gathering context for the full story is worth the time.

Last island hurrah for the year. Say it ain't so.

Hyacynth Worth is grateful daughter to the Perfect Father, wife to John and mother to two little boys and three souls she will one day meet in Heaven. In between mothering and coordinating online communication for Immanuel, she writes about grace, motherhood and living a healthy lifestyle at Undercover Mother.