OFF THE STAGE AND OUT OF THE SPOTLIGHT

I’m someone who naturally likes attention. I’m an extrovert. I love people. It’s in my brain! I also happen to serve in a number of roles in our church. Because of these two things, and the fact that I’m a human being, I love to soak up the compliments. While I believe that it’s fine to receive compliments and to be appreciative of them, I’m constantly reminded of the need for humility. Can you relate? Good. I’m glad I’m not alone.

On Sunday, Josh spoke about using our God-given gifts in the midst of the temptation to use those gifts selfishly. It’s so easy to look like we are using our gifts to give God glory when in reality, we’re really giving it to ourselves. I am so guilty of this. On a Sunday morning, for example, I often find myself worrying about how my voice sounds on stage or what the congregation thinks of me rather than actually worshipping – which is why I’m up there in the first place! Even when it comes to blogging I find myself trying to phrase things in a way that paints me in a smarter or more holy light. I want people to read my posts, to listen to me sing and think, “Wow! She’s so wise!” or, “How old is she again? That girl can sing!” But here’s the kicker: my relationship with God isn’t a show, and neither is yours.

This temptation isn’t just for people in leadership, though. Wanting the spotlight can take shape even behind a screen. Take social media, for example. What’s a quick way to get enough “likes” to make us feel good? Easy: post a picture of your Bible to Facebook. Not only do you get likes, but you build up that spiritual reputation while you’re at it. There are countless spotlights and stages in each of our lives where we stand for recognition; what’s yours? Regardless of the setting, when it all boils down, God calls us to dig deep and really look at our motives. Do we post on social media for the recognition? Do we get up on stage for a chance to stand in the spotlight? Or, are we letting those things be an outworking of what’s going on internally, behind closed doors?

Matthew 6:1 says, “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” Our relationship with God isn’t a show, and if we’ve started to make it that, maybe it’s time to get off the stage and out of the spotlight to get alone with Him. Josh reminded us this weekend that our faith will never magically be perfect, so we can’t walk around pretending like it is. Rather, when we spend time with God privately, letting him shape and form us, we see growth and feel a worth that no stage could every give us. So let’s get honest enough with ourselves to recognize where we’re needing practice, where we’re wanting to grow and start making time to pursue that. Let’s take some time this week to practice our faith with the Perfect One, to explore the spiritual disciplines, to look into new ways of reading Scripture or to form a prayer plan for the next few weeks. And, in the process, shine the spotlight on Him.


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

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: Eyes Open, Ears Focused — the Art of Giving Up Multi-tasking

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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Pastor Josh defined listening as “giving your attention to one sound.”  How often do we really do that? How often do we focus so intently on one thing that everything else is blocked out?  For me, it can occur when I am watching TV.  Depending on the show I am watching, I will not hear my kids talking to me when they walk in the room.  This doesn’t occur when I am home alone with them, though — only when my husband is there with me.  He’s the one who normally gets me to come out of my trance.

Let’s stop here for a moment and define that word: trance.  It is defined as, “a half-conscious state characterized by an absence of response to external stimuli.” When I am caught up in what is on TV I do not respond to external stimuli, especially when I know there is someone else there that can handle the situation for me.

I believe that God wants our focus on what He places before us to be so intense it is as if we are in a trance.  We are able to “zone out” and allow Him to take care of everything around us while we focus on that moment or that thing or that person.

In life there are so many distractions.  It seems the easier technology makes things for us the harder it is to get us to focus on a single thing.  We have become multi-taskers, but we are horrible at it.  We have so many things going on around us that nothing gets our full attention.  We are almost always distracted.

I watched the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie the other day.  At the beginning of the movie Splinter (the master or trainer of the turtles) said some things that stood out to me.  I took out some of the parts, but kept what I believed to be key and relevant.  Here is what he basically said:

You are extraordinary, unlike anything the world has ever seen. You are bound for greatness. Eyes focused.  Your training is not yet complete. As your father you must trust me.  You must have patience, patience.

Eyes focused.

If our eyes are not focused on Him, we get caught up in everything around us, all of the distractions. If our eyes are not focused on Him, we miss what He is trying to show us and tell us.

If we are going to truly seek God, not only must our eyes be focused but our ears must be open.

Pastor Josh mentioned that the Navy recruits were trained to have their ears open.  I was present for the “Very Navy Christmas” that Immanuel hosted so I knew exactly what he was talking about.  The commanding officer would yell out, “ears” and the recruits would respond with “open”.  Two simple words that means so much.

Ears open meant that I am no longer focused on what I was doing but I am now giving my full attention to the one speaking.  No matter what is going on around me, you have my undivided attention.  They do nothing until they hear the voice of their commanding officer telling them what to do next.  They don’t move and they don’t speak, they wait, in silence.

It is in the silence that we find our struggle.  It is in the waiting that we find our discomfort.  It is the now knowing when He will speak, but it is also in the not knowing what He will say that makes the silence awkward.  When it becomes too awkward we speak or we move, we become distracted.

I understand the challenge of sitting in the silence and not being distracted.  Often times for me I can tune out what is around me but I have a hard time getting my head to be quiet.  Pastor Josh encouraged us to just practice. He suggested spending three minutes a day being quiet before God.  When I attempted this early in the week my challenge was once again all the thoughts in my head. But I am not going to give up. I plan to keep practicing. So are you ready?

Eyes focused. Ears open.

We are extraordinary people, unlike any other and we will be great at where God places us.  But in order to get there we must trust Him. We must be silent.  We must be patient.  We must have our eyes focused on Him and our ears open to His voice.

 

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.

 

 


 

Be Challenged:

  • Practice sitting in silence for three minutes each day this week.