Extra Strength: Selfie: Free

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

Selfie: Free {Sunday, April 26, 2015 }

By Hyacynth Worth

Sometimes it comes up in casual conversation with strangers that we are getting ready to add two extra children to our family by means of adoption.

Almost always, when we mention this, people offer unsolicited questions, opinions and observations. And normally we are in the grocery store and it’s the end of the day and our boys resemble something closer to wild animals than human children.

We often hear:

“You are really going to have your hands full!” and “Wow, four kids! You may never get another date night again!” and “How will you ever get away?”

Yes, our lives are going from full to overflowing.

Our schedules are going to go from steady to booked.

And my personal time is probably going to go from slim to slimmer.

It’s true. Having four children, two of whom may need some extra special care and attention, doesn’t scream freedom in way, shape or form to most people who are looking from outside into our lives.

If I’m being honest, I have wrestled HARD with this, too.

I like date nights. I like weekend getaways. I like going to conferences. I like going to Starbucks alone. And I also enjoy going to the bathroom alone, which seems like it might get a little sketchy again with adding a three year old to the house, as we’ve found that three year olds don’t see doors as privacy enforcers but rather suggestions that can be bulldozed in order to get to the person they want, which is always mommy in my house.

bottom line 4.26.15So, yes, as we went from planning to adopt no children in this season, to adopting one teen, to adopting a teen and a toddler together, I have had quite a few conversations about me losing my freedom again after only having regained just slices of it during the past few years as our boys have grown more independent.

But I have to tell you, God has used this experience to set me free in ways I never knew I was captive.

Before we began our unintentional adoption journey, I didn’t realize how enslaved I was to anxiety, worry, fear and selfishness.

God has used so many of the peaks and valleys on this adoption road to reveal them to me, and He’s graciously been leading me and wooing me to find my freedom in Him.

As I’ve become more of the person I feel like God has meant for me to become, even with losing much of my freedom to do more of what I wish, I feel like I am becoming more alive than I ever had been before when I was more enslaved in the tangles of ways I didn’t even fully understand and when I wasn’t doing what I have been made to do: and that’s mother four lovely, beautiful, bright worthy people and advocate for other children who need families.

If we are to live truly free lives, we cannot be slaves to all that seeks to keep us captive: fear, worry, anxiety, jealousy, anger, selfishness. All of these keep us in chains and keep us from becoming the people God has created us to be. God, in His goodness, seeks to free us from these bondages so we can freely be the people He meant for us to be — each of us a beautiful reflection of Himself.

This week, as we seek to entrust God with the thoughts that keep us captive and in bondage, simply acknowledge these thoughts to God and ask Him to help you take each thought captive. Measure each one against His truth and if it doesn’t fit, kick it out and replace it with truth.

Maybe that looks like not buying the lie that you are not good enough and instead replacing it with the truth that you are loved and wanted. (John 3:16)

Maybe it means rejecting a worry you have and acknowledging that God says He will care for us and meet our needs. (Matthew 10:31)

Or maybe it means replacing envy with gratitude and being thankful in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Whatever is keeping you bound in chains, give it to the Lord, replace it with His truth and keep moving in His grace toward being the person He created you to be and doing what He has made you to do! It’s there that we find our fulfillment and freedom.

IMG_2528Hyacynth 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, acknowledge the fact that freedom doesn’t mean calling all of the shots but rather in means surrendering to God.

  • Ask: “What would it look like if I willfully gave up my sense of freedom to live accordingly to God’s purposes?”

Our Prayer for the Monday After: Selfie: Free

TheMondayAfterPrayerEach Monday we’ll be bringing Sunday into the work week by sharing a prayer for the week based on the Sunday sermon. You can now catch the sermon blogs written by our blogging team Wednesdays, where they’ll offer a mid-week shot of espresso to help re-energize, encourage and challenge us in the midst of our work weeks! 

The Monday After Sunday, April 26, 2015: Selfie: Free (Listen by clicking!)

Yesterday, Pastor Josh Petersen continued the Selfie series with the message, Free.

We looked at John 8:31-35

4.26.15 blog“31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35 A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.”

Pastor Josh highlighted a few things:

1. “We have defined freedom as how much we are in charge. True freedom has nothing to do with you calling the shots.”

2. “True freedom has nothing to do with me calling the shots. It’s about me being free up to do what You, God, want me to do. We find true freedom in that.” -Pastor Josh Petersen #icselfie #freedom

For the next seven days:

Ask yourself: What would it look like if I willfully gave up my sense of freedom to live accordingly to God’s purposes?

The Monday After: The Gospel {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, August 3, 2014: The Gospel {click HERE to listen!}

By Sheryll Belonga

The Gospel message was first presented to me at age 13. I had attended church through going to catholic school and with my family on Sundays, but I never felt it the way I did that day. On that day there was a tugging at my heart and I know that it was God. I asked Him to come into my heart that day and be a part of my life and He did.  I didn’t have anyone to guide me and help to nourish that relationship until I graduated high school. It was then that I encountered God like never before.  But like some college students I became tempted by the things of the world and left my faith in pursuit of pleasing my flesh. That little party lasted until I became so full of regret and remorse, battles raging inside of me. I could no longer resist God calling me back to Him.

When I answered the call, there was a weight that lifted off of me. I realized that by letting go and relinquishing control I could relax knowing that someone who had my best interest at heart would be caring for me. That doesn’t mean it was easy, but my biggest struggles came when I wanted to be outside of His will. My freedom came when I began to seek His will and His agenda above mine. Pastor Bryan reminded me of the freedom in that.

I feel free because I know my heart is in the right place and my focus is on God.

I feel free because of His grace and mercy He gives me daily.

I feel free because this life is a journey which includes my mistakes, and I won’t stop being transformed until death.

I feel free because He loves me unconditionally and He chose me in spite of my mess and my mistakes.

He loves me, He really loves ME.  I don’t have to do anything to get Him to love me or to keep His love, He just gives it freely.  I make mistakes but His love never goes away.

When I became pregnant with our first child I had no idea what he would do or how he would behave but he had my heart. Before I laid eyes on him he had captured me soul. Every part of me was touched by him and that would never change. I now have three boys, and I tell them often that there is nothing they could ever do to make me stop loving them. There isn’t anything they have to do to get my love, I give it freely.

Each day I try to live as God wants me to do; some days are better than other, but there isn’t a day I don’t apologize for something. When I say I am sorry,  I am forgiven. It is that simple, and there is freedom in that.

God, if I am honest,  I don’t always feel free but today I do. Help me to get past the feeling and operate out of the knowing.  When I forget, God, please remind me.  Help me also to learn to forgive myself as quickly as you for give me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

sheryll headshotSheryll 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.

The Monday After: The Resurrection Changes Everything {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, April 20, 2014: The Resurrection Changes Everything. {Listen HERE)

By Anita Everly

My aisle seat in the solemn sanctuary was stilled in pitch black when the spotlight burst on, not on stage, but beside me.  Eyes blinked, adjusting to the harsh brightness from behind.

My 15-year-old ears could barely take in the accompanying auditory overload. Whips snapping against the floor, following seconds behind by the screams of the young men in Roman garb. They were relentless giants and my body flinched at every crack of the whip and shout of their callous mouths.

My head sternly forward, I was strengthening for the moment they passed by my peripheral, but they were not the first thing I saw.

The tip of the old rugged cross slowly came into sight with Jesus heaving underneath the weight, his crown of thorns jolting back with each strike on his already bloodied and bruised back. The exhale of his breath met the tears that flowed hot from my eyes and the rear Roman soldier’s sash hit my shoulder as he lifted his arm towering above my head to bring down another blow.

That was the day the crucifixion became more than a cross for me. The day His love for me penetrated my life with the gravity of what He endured because of me.

I realized just this holy week that while I have lived as if my sins were forgiven and Christ died to pay the price, I have continued to carry around the consequences, my guilt and shame.

While the Word and preachers have made it clear that Jesus took away my sins, the guilt and shame associated with these, I have compartmentalized and allowed them to linger in my heart. Though I’ve sung “Jesus paid it all,” I fail to live in the truth of “all.”

We are all plagued by the sins of our humanness daily. More than likely, just like Lisa who shared her beautiful story, you have tried to “get clean” too. Whether we battle addiction, deception, pride, laziness, self-sufficiency or unashamedly revel in our sins, we all need to get clean.

And I couldn’t have loved Lisa’s words more: “I had stopped using drugs, but I had not allowed myself to start healing because I was trying to heal myself. And that’s not the way it works.  It works by accepting that Jesus Christ died not just for all of us, but for me.  And I felt all the stains washed from me.”

girl-field-of-yellow-flowersWhether it’s our fresh belief or a seasoned faith that needs to take hold and run full into His freedom and grace, we need to yield to His resurrection power and let him do the work we were never intended to do.

We were never meant to carry these sins or their guilt and shame. They were crucified on the cross and buried with Him.   And on the third day He arose. The words of the Scriptures and prophets were fulfilled as all darkness of Friday was defeated by the King of kings, our Sunday King.

None before or since has unleashed such power.

When we move toward being Sunday’s child, we live in a hope that is eternal and rest in His power, instead of fight in our own.

It is in Sunday that we can truly know the truth that by His stripes we are healed—of all.

It’s the Monday after.

Are you living in Friday or Sunday today?

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.