Extra Strength: Something Greater in Mind

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 for Pressure Points: The Pressure of Trials 

Sometimes life is hard.

I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone. Sometimes, people go through things they would rather not. We cannot control our circumstances, but we can control how we react to them.

Blog 2.16.15Think back to the last time you dealt with a hard situation. Were you hurt? Angry? Depressed? On the surface, those are all justifiable reactions. But when was the last time you praised God in the midst of the storm?

Truthfully I couldn’t even think of a time. Pastor Josh spoke Sunday about trials. He reminded us that God doesn’t call us to throw ourselves a pity party; He calls us to rejoice! One way our faith can grow is when it’s being tested.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭2-4‬ NLT).

Did you catch that? James is challenging us to see our hardships as a time of rejoicing! I don’t know about you, but that does not sound ideal to me. If I’m struggling with something, no part of me wants to be thankful.

But then I think back to that passage. I remember that I’m going to go through hard times. I’m going to experience trials. And God is going to make me a stronger, wiser, more humble christian because of them. He’s going to do that for all of us! So even though the situation isn’t perfect, and sometimes it’s horrible, God has something greater in mind. And if nothing else, that is something that is worth joy.

Snapshot_20121212

Gracie Adamek attends school at College of Lake County. When she’s not at school, she can be found on the worship team at Immanuel, among other activities. 

 


 

Be Challenged:Bottom Line 2.15.15

  • Whenever you find yourself growing frustrated and upset about a trial, physically change your angle to remind yourself to change your perspective about the trial. Ask God to help you see the perspective He wants you to have!

Extra Strength: First Christmas: Elizabeth

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 for First Christmas: Elizabeth. 

Christmas.

It’s an entire season dedicated to warm fuzzy feelings and having fun in the great outdoors. The entire world gets nice all of the sudden and all troubles cease for the month of December.

Families come together and everybody just feels good all the time. Right? That is certainly how society portrays Christmas — it’s as though as soon as December 1  rolls around, we are supposed to feel happy every second of every day until December 26.

After Christmas, it’s like its okay to feel depressed and worried and sick again. But for the 25 days before, we aren’t supposed to feel that way. It is supposed to be peace on earth and good will to men 24/7.

But Christmas isn’t like that. As much as we would like it, things like cancer and debt and jobs and addiction and depression still exist just as much, maybe even more, during the holidays. A new month cannot bring you out of the place you are in. But God can.

Pastor Bryan spoke on Sunday about Elizabeth who prayed for a baby and God said “no” for a very long time. Elizabeth was barren. Although she was filled with shame, she never grew angry at God. She never cursed Him or ran away. God later showed Elizabeth mercy and blessed her in her old age with a child.

“God delights in bringing new life to barren places.”

That isn’t just true of Elizabeth. That’s true of us all. Whether you are in the same boat as Elizabeth, wondering where your baby is, or if you’re wondering when you’ll get a job or your sickness will go away or when a loved one will accept Jesus, we probably have one question in common: why. Why is God doing this? Why am I here? We may never know the answer.

But if we trust in God and in His plan, God will give us what we need. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Don’t worry bout the “why” right now. Worry about how you can praise while you’re in this place, even if it is one of hardship. This might not be a time where all problems are miraculously erased, but it can be one of celebration ; perhaps now’s the time to go make those gingerbread houses and roast chestnuts over an open fire and go caroling, praising God because we know He is a God who delights in taking our broken and turning it into beauty.


 

Be Challenged:

  • Consider your own struggles and ask God to help you see them from a bigger perspective.
  • Go through the Conversation Starter either alone, with your small group or a friend.

iCYouth: Notes from Haiti {Gracie}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! 

A team of 30 high school students and leaders traveled to Haiti July 15-22; this week our student bloggers are sharing their experiences with us.  

by Gracie Adamek

Day One

Today was hectic to say the least. After two planes, one bus (that broke down) and a van ride, we finally made it to Pastor Jephthe’s compound. We have been awake and traveling for about 24 hours. We’re all exhausted and sweaty, but I am so proud of this team! We were flexible and didn’t freak out when we were stuck on the side of the mountain in a school bus. We worshipped in a broken-down bus and kept our spirits high! We got to the compound around midnight, ate dinner and we are about to go to bed. Welcome to Haiti!

Day Two

GracieHait1Today was our first full day in Pignon, and I have loved every second. I mean, we have certainly had our fair share of hiccups already, but at the end of the day, everything that happens seems so worth it. While we’re hot, sweaty, thirsty and exhausted, there’s a Haitian child right next to us hearing about Jesus — possibly for the first time ever. Every complaint seems so silly when we look around and see these children smiling ear to ear, dancing and singing at the top of their lungs.

 

Day Three

Today we did our usual thing: breakfast, VBS, lunch, the park, and tonight we added going to Pastor Jephthe’s church. Seeing how they worship and just run a church service in general was super cool. It was such a blessing to be able to experience singing the same song as the Haitians but in different languages. It showed me that God is present no matter where you are.

Day Four

Gracie Hait2When we were getting ready to leave for this missions trip, we were told that everyone hits a wall at some point in the trip. You’re tired and you don’t think you can go on. Well, for me, that day was today. I woke up groggy and I just really missed air conditioning and pizza. But later in the morning, we met with our squads (squads are a group of three or four people who you stick with when traveling and they were also there for support and prayer) and we all prayed that God would renew our energy and that I could hurdle my wall. By the end of VBS, God had given me strength, and my wall was behind me! Ya know, God is really great that way. When we rely on Him, He gives us what we need.

Day Five

Today, we went to the market and we had the youth rally at night. The youth rally was basically iMPACT but we invited our new friends and the kids we made relationships with! Also, it was all created and run by the students (with just a little help from the adults). Two of my friends and I wrote and gave a sermon, which was an awesome experience and there was worship and games and other fun things. Also, there was an activity where we had glow sticks and everyone connected them to create one big circle of glow sticks to show that no matter where you’re from, you’re connected to The Worldwide Church.

Day Six

Gracie Haiti 3Well, here we are. Our very last day in Pignon. Tomorrow, we leave for Wahoo Bay. My hearts i heavy to say the least. But today was also a really good day because we visited families who have received micro loans! Micro loans are small sums of money given to members of the church so that they can start selling things from their home or the market and then they pay it back. Eventually they make enough money to really support themselves and their families. It was hard to see their living situations, though, because the houses held anywhere between 10 and 15 people and were about the size of my living room. Even though the living conditions were far from ideal, you could see that God has blessed these families and they are prospering.

Day Seven

Today we left Pignon and went to Wahoo Bay, a resort about an hour past Port Au Prince. It was a very sad and tearful goodbye as we drove away from the compound and all the relationships we just made. We all left a part of our hearts in Pignon and leaving that city was very painful, but we left with the reminder that God isn’t done. We have a mission field at home. Our schools, work, and families need us to do God’s work in America.

Day Eight

Right now, we’re on a plane back to America. I don’t have much to say today. It’s hard to find adequate words for my feelings this morning. Wahoo Bay was really nice. It was nice to be able to sit back and relax and sort out feelings as a group while we prepare to enter back into American life. I have loved my time in Haiti. I can’t wait to go back.

Snapshot_20121212Gracie Adamek is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100 percent through this!

iCYouth: Trusting God {Gracie}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Gracie Adamek

I think we can all agree that God does some amazing things in our lives, right?

Time and time again God proves His greatness and shows me a plan far beyond my imagination.

So why is it so hard for me to trust Him with my future and give Him control?

Recently, my English teacher told me about this super cool opportunity. When I go to college, I’m going to community college first, and if I do well enough there, I can go to a university to study special education, 100% for free.

But my dilemma is this: I would have to stay in Illinois and teach there for pretty much my whole life or I have to pay everything back. It’s a huge commitment, and I really don’t know where God is going to take me.

What if I marry a man whose job requires us to move? What if I decide I can’t handle winter anymore? (Actually I think that ship has sailed …) What if, what if, what if.

But I know that God is going to make it all work out for me. I just have to trust Him.

John 14:1 says, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.”

It’s going to work out. God says so.

Snapshot_20121212Gracie Adamek is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100 percent through this!

iCYouth: Forgiveness {Gracie}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Gracie Adamek

Forgiveness always seemed like the part of Christianity that I excelled at.

And I know this may sound silly, but I think that if we’re being honest with ourselves, we all like to think that there’s one aspect of our faith that we just do really well! And I always thought forgiveness just wasn’t a problem for me. But when we listened to a message about it at iMPACT last week, I think I’m not so sure anymore.

I think I realized that maybe forgiveness goes deeper than I thought. You know how people always say “forgive and forget!”? Well, for a long time I would always say “oh, I have forgiven. It’s just the forgetting that’s hard”. But that’s not really forgiveness. I had convinced myself that I forgave people.

And I really did think that I had, but deep down, there were still hard feelings. That is not forgiveness. If I shudder at the sound of someone’s name or get angry just at the sight of them, I’m only lying to myself. That’s not forgiveness.

And unforgiveness gets in the way of some amazing friendships.

Snapshot_20121212Gracie Adamek is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100 percent through this!