Extra Strength: Do the Word (Ivan)

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. 

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Extra Strength for: Q&A with The Two Michaels, Dr. Michael Rydelnik and Dr. Michael Vanlaningham

by Ivan Soto 

The Bible

The inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. No other book is it’s equal. No other book has stood the test of time. The very revelation of God’s purpose and plan for all humanity, and above all, the very revelation of His Son (John 5:39).

This past Sunday we had the special privilege to have “The Two Michaels,” Dr. Michael Rydelnik and Dr. Michael Vanlaningham with us. What an amazing time it was to have these very well educated, equipped, men of God share with us what God has shown them through their many years of study, and we were all granted with the great opportunity to “Ask It.” They tackled all sorts of topics from the authenticity of Scripture, the crisis in the Middle East, the sovereignty of God and His goodness, our security in salvation, all the way to the glorious doctrine of the trinity.

Of all the things discussed on Sunday, nothing stood out to me more than Dr. Rydelnik’s response to the question: “what is the best way to study and unlock the mysteries of the Bible?” As he held up the Bible in his hand and with a short pause he replied, “Read it”. So many times we wonder about some of the deeper teachings of the Bible, or we witness men like “The Two Michaels” share their great knowledge of the Bible and we wonder if we can ever begin to learn what the Bible teaches. The answer is yes. All it takes is for us to “read it”.

Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” God has revealed Himself to us through His Word, and all it takes for us to gain knowledge about Him and His statues is for us to be intentional about reading it; the Holy Spirit empowers understanding, revelation and conviction and is faithful to this job.

Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth”. In those days a land owner would go to the market place, which was the gathering place for day laborers. A man who wanted work would go there first thing in the morning with his tools and wait for someone to hire him. The land owner would choose his day laborer and if he found the man worthy, they would agree to a price and the land owner would send him to work (See parable of the workers in Matthew 20). In essence what Paul is encouraging us to do in this verse is to study, so that we can show ourselves before God as approved workers, unashamed and fit to take His Word and proclaim it with boldness and proper care to those we encounter in our everyday lives. Many times we are afraid or hesitant to speak about God because we haven’t taken the time to study about Him. This verse assures us that the more time we take to “read it”, the more boldly we can proclaim its truths as we “rightly handle the Word of truth” proving to be approved workers for God.

So, is knowing enough? Does reading and gaining knowledge produce everything we need for Christian maturity? Absolutely not. 1 Corinthians 8:1 reminds us that knowledge “puffs up, but love builds up.” All the knowledge in the world is meaningless unless it causes us to take the knowledge that we have gained and act upon it with love. Knowledge is great for equipping us and preparing us to know what God’s plan is for us, but if there is anything that we have learned last fall was that “Love Does.” In speaking about the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, at the end of that chapter Paul tells us to “desire the gifts of the Spirit”, but that he will still “show us a more excellent way” (vs 31). Then he breaks into 1 Corinthians 13, the famous chapter of love.

So, as we grab our Bibles this week, let us make sure that we take the time to “read it,” and as we allow its words to penetrate our hearts and minds, may the Spirit cause us to act upon what the Word says. Perhaps the best way to put it is the way James 1:22 does: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”.

Ivan Soto is the husband of Milly and the father of two beautiful daughters, Emily (6), and Kaylee (3) Soto. He currently works full time at Health Care Services Corp in the IT department. In the past, Ivan has served as Worship Director and Elder at his former Church and currently holds Bible studies in his home at River Grove every Thursday. When he is not at work or serving in ministry, Ivan enjoys studying the Word of God, Church history and spending time with his loving family.

Be Challenged:

  • Before you read your Bible, ask the Spirit to increase your understanding and convict you to put into practice what you’ve read.

The Monday After: Remember to Say Thanks {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, June 29, 2014: Remember to Say Thanks: Listen HERE.

by Andrew Kelley

I’ve never been in a jail cell.

Maybe you haven’t either.

That said, I’m having a hard time understanding having a heart of thankfulness from a jail cell the way Paul had a heart of thankfulness from his when he wrote his letter to the Philippians.

Say Thanks.001Paul must have been happy and filled with joy even while in jail; look at the display of his gratitude!

Paul speaks of in Philippians 4 rejoicing over their concern for him and praises God for how they have come to his aid.

From a jail cell. That’s some pretty intense gratitude right there; Paul’s letter seems to brim with real joy.

Is thankfulness part of the recipe for happiness even when we’re locked away in our own respective “jails”? If we look at Paul’s life I think we know the answer.

We can only imagine how Paul’s gratitude made the Philippians feel, made God feel and made Paul himself feel.

I know how I feel when I show my gratitude and receive a joyous response; I feel really good deep down.

Pastor Josh issued us a challenge this week challenge to send a thank you card to someone each day this week. I don’t know about you, but I have quite a few thank you notes to send.

I am not only going to accept this challenge but I am going to purposefully try to say thank you.

And now it’ll be a different kind of thank you. It will be a different kind of thank you than I said when I was a kid, and I was told by my parents to say thank you all the time.

I’m also going to go beyond just saying thank you and move beyond those words by telling others why and how they have helped me.

That is where I truly think this whole “thank-you revolution” could take off.

It’s time to get thankful … and show it!

I’ll kick it off; thank you for reading this blog. May it encourage you and spur you on toward a life of gratitude no matter where you find yourself in life today.

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 {on a Tuesday} After: Sharing Jesus with Your Friends {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 Tuesday After Sunday, June 1, 2014: Sharing Jesus with Your Friends: Listen HERE.

by Andrew Kelley

I pulled up to my best friend’s farm just to say hi and maybe talk a bit about things we were both very much into like cars and grown-boy stuff. We were both about the same age of 18 at this particular time. He spotted me pull up in my red Dodge ram and walked up to greet me. We talked about grown boy stuff for a few minutes, but then I recognized the Holy Spirit turning the conversation toward sharing my faith. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to; I was at a time in my spiritual walk with God where I was growing and really into what God wanted. However, at the same time I was very shy and not bold at all with my faith. He was my best friend, though, and God was an even greater best friend.

“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:11-12 NKJV

This verse had already been on my heart, and I was waiting for that God-given moment when what He said would happen. That day I didn’t speak; rather, it was the Holy Spirit speaking through me, and we talked for almost an hour while my truck was running. In the end, I felt as though I was on top of the world. And — I looked at my gas gauge and saw it did not even move!

Throughout the last 16 or so years, I have come to realize I have a specific gift when it comes to witnessing to those who don’t know Christ, and I’ve found my groove. While I am still learning, I am definitely using my testimony and my own personal experiences when I share my faith, just like the testimonial style Pastor Bryan mentioned this past Sunday.

I have recently been a little more theological and have been seeking out hardcore evidence that backs up our faith. It strengthens my personal faith, and l love details. I love sharing details as well. Our testimonies are so powerful, demonstrated  as we listened to Charles Best; we can surely see God’s mighty hand and His grace!

I used to think my own testimony lacked the awesome redemptive climax that some testimonies had. I thought because I have never done drugs, never gotten drunk or never been in jail, my testimony was not good enough. God taught me, though, that my own story was perfect for other people like me — ones who had never done drugs, never gotten drunk or had never been in jail. And also a person like me who was young age, and who has struggled with pornography for the majority of his life.

How about you?

Who can you reach through the way God has made you?

When we realize our own testimony has power, when we realize God has wired us to share his good news in ways unique to how He created us and fitting for how He created others, we gain some boldness!

And then we can say with courage and boldness, “God let me see Luke 12:12 come to life!”

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 Supremacy of Christ {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, May 4, 2014: The Supremacy of Christ. Listen HERE.

by Andrew Kelley

The first to die, rise from the dead and live forever. The best part is Jesus presents us to His Father so that we may follow after Him to live forever!

Feeling like an outcast pretty much all of my childhood and even into my young adult years did not make me feel supreme. You’ll see in a few minutes why I just used the word supreme. I grew up in the lower middle class bracket, and I had the “not cool” clothes, as my classmates would often tell me. The shoes, too. Plus being sheltered in a relatively strict Christian home put me way out in left field, or more like on the bench because I hated doing anything I thought would result in me failing — ports, talking to cute girls and sticking up for myself. I hid in suclusion except with my closest friends. Fast forward to midway through high school where I got serious about a relationship with Jesus and the laws of religion started falling to the wayside. Jesus quickly became supreme to me because He was changing me from the inside out. He was showing me His unconditional love. He was teaching me that He was my Sustainer and wanted to be the Head of my life. Of course He still is. He is now showing me how supreme He has made me because He first was supreme!
Of the eight points Pastor Joe presented, the eighth one stood out the most to me: Jesus reconciles all things to God. Reconcile is one of those big words in my simple mind, and we had an excellent example on Sunday but I still had to look up the definition.
Reconcile-verb. 1. to cause (a person) to accept or be resigned to something not desired: He was reconciled to his fate. 2. to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable: to reconcile hostile persons. 3. to compose or settle (a quarrel, dispute, etc.). 4. to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent. 5. to reconsecrate (a desecrated church, cemetery, etc.). 6. to restore (an excommunicate or penitent) to communion in a church.
It’s necessary to include that whole definition because there are things in there we all can relate to. Colossians 1:19-20 was the reference for point eight.
“For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
But as we continue to read after verse 20, we see why we were or are meant to be reconciled. I love verses 21-23.
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”
Jesus presents us to His Father. He presents us perfected and not the way we see ourselves. He presents us Holy and blameless. He can because He took our unholiness and every thing that we should have been blamed for, the wrong things that we have done.
This, my friends, is, in fact, unconditional love, and this is why we should celebrate Jesus like it is His birthday and every day! More than we celebrated our own birthdays! More than we celebrate our kids’ birthdays! More than we celebrate our spouse’s birthday! He is worthy of the most supreme celebration because of what He has done, and we are on the winning side!

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: 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.