The Monday After: Finding God in Failure {Sheryll}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the day, pieces of the message tend to fade; somewhere along the way, 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. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; And thank you for your generosity. When you give lives are being changed!

The Monday After Sunday, February 24, 2013: Finding God in Failure

By Sheryll Belonga

In Pastor Joe’s message he spoke from Isaiah 33:1-24.  In those verses came three points: trust (v 1-6), brokenness (v7-12) and renewal (v 13-24).  As I reflected on the message he gave along with those verses, a line from a song came to mind which says, “I am nothing if I don’t have you”.

That one line reminded me that life without Christ is like that.  We are nothing if we don’t have Him. In John 15:5, the Bible tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing.  So why do we continue trying to live life on our own?  Oh, you may say that you don’t, but is there an area of your life where you don’t seek His guidance?  Is there an area of your life where He has not been invited in?  Is there an area of your life that you have not turned over to Him and trusted Him to handle it for your good?

It all begins with trust.  In order to get to what God has for us we must believe that He can do all that He says He will do.  In Isaiah 33:6 we read that He will be our foundation and provide us with all that we need to succeed.  With God, failure is not an option.  With God, we can be victorious.

Once we trust Him with our lives, it is easy to humble ourselves before Him and allow Him to handle each situation we face.  When we allow ourselves to be broken before God, He will honor that.  It is only when we become less that He can become more.  It is when we stop trying to do for ourselves what only He can do that His power can truly be seen.

Lastly, we can reach a place of renewal.  When I think of being renewed I think of having a full night’s sleep and feeling refreshed and at peace.  I feel like I can tackle the day.  Turning over our lives to God is like that.  We feel like there is nothing we can’t do.

In Isaiah 33:17 we are told that all we will see is His splendor verses the things that we normally feared as in verse 19.  We will no longer feel incapable of what stands before us but we will feel empowered.  In order to get to this place it all starts with trust.

Will you trust Him today?

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.

The Monday After: The Supremacy of God Over the Nations {Anita}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the day and week, 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. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. Because of your generosity, lives are being changed by God’s grace, and we’re able to share these stories with you here!

The Monday After Sunday, February 17, 2013: The Supremacy of God Over the Nations

By Anita Everly

So, what’s your scarlet letter?

 Maybe we don’t know each other well enough yet for me to ask that of you.  Probably true.  That’s okay.  You don’t need to tell me.

 The One who matters most already knows.  He loves you anyway–with an everlasting love.

 But He does want you to have some straight talk with Him regarding those sins so He can do something for you.  Yes, there will be consequences, but there is more.

 Where sin exists is the very place where God enters in with His redeeming grace.

 I would be quick to dismiss such an unlikely thought were it not written on the pages of our history books throughout the centuries and explained in the God-breathed pages of our Bible.  Time and again, individuals and nations alike have sinned against God. Honestly, God’s patience with us foolish people is beyond my understanding.

 I would never put up with me.

 But He does!  And His history with people over the ages should give us hope.

So, back to the question again.  What are your sins?

It’s not a fun place to sit, but if we are not willing to give it some thought and confess what they are, not to mention lay them down, what point is there to Christ?

With Lent beginning this week, I’ve had it on my mind.  I didn’t grow up observing Lent, but the older I get the more this practice intrigues me.  I’ve prayed that in preparation for the cross and Resurrection, God would grow me closer to Him and show me how to love Him more than anything else.  Beyond that I asked Him to make clear to me the sins in my life, those selfish desires that stand in the way of me knowing and loving Him more.  And He did—again and again.

Then without fail, as I became aware of some sin or personal flaw, God gave me a Bible verse, a devotional, a speaker, a song or a word from a friend that spoke specifically to that issue in my life! I began to get excited about my sins!  Not really about my sins, of course, but of the grace and redemption with which I knew God had already covered many of these sins and was in the process of working with me on in other areas.  The more I confessed my sins and confronted my failures in making Him Lord of my life, the more He entered right into that area with His grace and unconditional love.

And the words of Pastor Joe ring so true after a week of getting real with the shameful parts of my life:  The past is unchangeable by fact, but the future is beautiful with potential because of my Redeemer.

He can consecrate, or make holy, all the messes I’ve made—everyday.

But I have to do my part.  I have to surrender and lay it all down at His feet so that He can make something beautiful out of my mess.

Lord, Forgive me.

I’ve sought my will. {He’s shown me His.}

I’ve squandered my time. {He’s given me more for Him.}

I’ve judged. {He’s extended mercy.}

I’ve been anxious. {He’s given peace.}

I’ve listened to lies.  {He’s spoken Truth.}

I lay it all down.

This is encountering the Holy and being redeemed by our Sovereign Lord, a God who meets us right in the thick of our deep sins and makes an unlikely and beautiful exchange.

So, what’s your scarlet letter?

“Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.”

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: In Whom Do You Trust? {Marcus}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the day, after the music fades and our cars leave the parking lot, pieces of the message tend to fade, too; somewhere along the way, 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. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; leave your thoughts in the comments below so we can create conversation and encouragement! 

Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to partner with God in His work of transforming lives and have stories, like this one, to share. Thank you!

The Monday After: Sunday, February 10, 2013: In Whom Do You Trust?

By Marcus Wolfe

On the way to church I was listening to Erwin Lutzer of Moody Church present a message centered around Hebrews 11.  Then Joe presented his message on Isaiah 7.  These two messages dovetailed nicely, complementing each other as my soul was challenged about living by faith.  From Hebrews 11:13-15, I was reminded of the great heroes of the faith; but not all received in their lifetime what was promised to them.  Then in verses 35-38 I was reminded that some heroes died not having been rescued, and it is believed one of them was Isaiah; yet they each had tremendous faith.

In Joe’s message he asked:  “What impossible things are going on in your life?” and “Are you trying to get out of them on your own or are you trusting in God?”  In Isaiah 7, Ahaz was determined to do his own thing even after Isaiah had told him of God’s deliverance.  Part of that deliverance was the prophecy of the coming Immanuel from a virgin birth — God’s ultimate deliverance.

So today I am reminded of two important things about faith.  First, just because I have faith does not mean things will turn out rosy, at least from my Earthly “I-don’t-want-pain” perspective. And conversely what I may consider an undesirable outcome is not necessarily a sign of poor faith.

Second, am I trusting in myself, or am I trusting in God?  As I think about it and am reminded from Scripture, even if I do try and handle life and its challenges myself, will my efforts make any difference to the outcome?  The answer seems to be NO, as shown from Isaiah 7.  I am left then realizing I can struggle with issues on my own or I can trust God.  My efforts won’t change the outcome so why not rest in God since He does know the outcome. Even if the outcome isn’t what I want or hope for, isn’t it better to be with God in this than not?

Hasn’t He promised to be with me no matter what and isn’t being with Him the best thing for me?  After this past year, I can say YES!  Being with God in the hard stuff is definitely better than not being with Him.  Several years ago when I lost my job I was not resting in God and, in hindsight, handled the situation rather poorly — dynamite and bridges comes to mind.

This year, as we lost our home, I found myself much more at peace as we moved through the process and trusted God.  The resulting move has even turned out to be a blessing   No, things may not end as we want and we may experience pain and suffering, but even those are far better done with God than without Him.

So what are your impossible things and who are you looking to be your savior?  How will you respond to your impossible situation?

By Matt Redman

“Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name”

Easier said than done, I know, but it’s worth striving for.

Marcus is married to Jessica and is currently a substitute teacher at Zion Benton Township High School.  They care for any number of guinea pigs (currently two).  In his spare time, Marcus enjoys reading, computer games and shooting.  His ministry passions include working with senior adults and the sick, and growing with other men, as well as helping Jessica with whatever ministries she is involved with at the time.   

The Monday After: Intimacy with God {Ted}

Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to partner with God in His work of transforming lives and share the stories here! Thank you!

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with  Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere during the the day, after the music fades and our cars leave the parking lot, pieces of the message tend to fade, too; somewhere along the way, 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. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

The Monday After: Sunday, Jan. 3, 2013: Intimacy with God

By Ted Brooks

Intimacy is a beautiful word that is at once both very appealing and incredibly frightening.  As humans we are wired with a deep need for intimacy.  Each of us truly wants to know and be known by others.  We see this in children as they run to their parents with arms wide open.  They look with wide-eyed wonder at the world around them and share their unfiltered thoughts and dreams. God almost always refers to us as His children, and I believe it is because it is exactly that type of relationship He seeks with us.

Unfortunately, the world quickly teaches us that this sort of openness is not acceptable.  While part of being an adult is to learn appropriate interactions and to know when something is “TMI” (too much information), it is sad that this often results in us burying that need for intimacy.  We learn that intimacy can be dangerous and can lead to deep emotional pain when we are rejected or even ridiculed by others.  In time we bury the need for intimacy behind a protective mask, rarely letting others see our true selves.

While this may be a necessary mechanism in our social interactions, it is very harmful to us spiritually.  We often treat God in the same way, putting on a mask to hide our true nature.  We delude ourselves into thinking that our mask of religious piety somehow fools God.  We are like Adam and Eve in the garden, hiding from God because we are afraid to be naked before Him.  How foolish of us to think we can hide from our Creator, the God who knows every cell in our body and every thought in our mind.

As Joe spoke of our feelings of worthlessness a picture came into my mind of some children we worked with in Mexico.  They lived in extreme poverty, were abused and neglected.  Their clothes and bodies were filthy, caked with dirt and literally crawling with bugs.  As we played games and did crafts with the other children, they sat huddled off to the side.  We tried to engage them in a game of partner tag, but when we reached out to them they flinched and pulled away as if our touch was painful.  It took almost the entire week before they could get past their fear and feelings of shame enough to participate with us.

Each of us knows that behind our mask we are filthy before God.  When we finally realize that God sees behind the mask, our next reaction is often to hide in shame.  But God already knows who we are and still wants to know us.  This is contrary to everything that experience teaches us and the vast majority of people are never willing to accept that God truly wants to have an intimate relationship with them. Instead they hide behind their masks, pretending to be something we all know to be false, or they hide in shame, unwilling to accept His touch.

The irony is that, if we accept God’s offer of intimacy, we will become clean in His eyes.  Not only does God see through our mask, but He also sees through our dirt and shame.   As Christians, when God looks at us, He sees the beautiful children He created and has called to be a part of His family.  He truly desires for us to run into His arms and tell Him all our thoughts and hopes and dreams and fears.  How incredibly freeing to have someone see all of our faults and still desire to be with us.

If we are fortunate, we get a glimpse of this intimacy in our relations with a spouse or a very close friend.  If you have experienced that type of relationship you know how much you value that person and how good it feels to be with them.  Yet even in the closest most intimate relationships, there are still moments when we put on the mask, afraid to tell that person our true thoughts or reveal our true nature.   It is only with God that we can experience a relationship of complete intimacy.

As much as we desire this, it is even more frightening to think that we might have this relationship with the God of the universe.  This is the part that is hardest for me to comprehend and accept.  I have only the slightest inkling of the true nature and power of God but, even with my finite understanding, I am truly terrified at the idea that God reaches out and wants to know me.  The more I know of God the more I am cognizant of my complete unworthiness.  Like those children in Mexico, I, too, cower in fear when He reaches out to touch me.  My mind simply cannot accept that God would want anything to do with me, and yet, over and over again, God reaches out and tells us in His word that He does desire a deep intimate relationship with us.

This is the struggle of the Christian life.  To be willing to put aside our mask, to know that we stand naked and filthy and ashamed before a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient God and yet to be willing to accept His embrace.  To allow God to wrap us in His comforting arms, to allow Him to clean away all the dirt of our lives and reveal to us the beautiful creation that He has made.  How wonderful it would be to look at our image mirrored in God’s eyes and see ourselves as He does, holy and perfect through Christ’s sacrifice.

That is the deepest desire of all our hearts, but it is impossible for us to accept that this could be true.  I do not believe that we can ever achieve that level of intimacy here on earth.  We cannot achieve what we cannot even begin to imagine.  God knows this too, yet He continues to reach out to us, to wrap His arms around us every day.  Each day He gives us new opportunities to grow in Him, knowing that we will fail, yet still reaching out to us and loving us.  This is the greatest mystery of God, that, while we are yet sinners, He desires an intimate relationship with us so much that He sacrificed His only Son.  I believe that it took a sacrifice of this magnitude for us to even begin to see how much God desires a relationship with Him.  It is only by accepting Christ’s death on the cross that we have the power to begin to open ourselves to God.  It is that thought, that belief, that allows us to even dare to hope that God would desire to be with us.  Satan tells us that God could never want to be with someone like us, but God allowed His son to hang on a cross as the ultimate proof of His love for us, that even in agonizing death His arms are wide open to us.

Satan is right, we are unworthy of an intimate relationship with God.  But it is equally true that God has reached out to us and we must not reject His sacrifice.  I pray that God will give me the courage to continue to seek intimacy with Him.  That I will have the strength to accept that I will fail Him every day, but the faith to believe that each day He will open His arms again.

Ted Brooks is husband to Gretchen and dad to some wonderful kids. He works as a tech director for a local school district.

The Monday After: Encountering the Holy: The Transforming Power of Hope and Humility {Dawn}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave church inspired by and filled with Truth, encouragement and passion on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the day, after the music fades and our cars leave the parking lot, pieces of the message tend to fade, too; somewhere along the way, 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. Each Monday, a voice from the pews will give personal perspective to the words we soaked in on Sunday. 

So follow along each Monday as we seek to integrate that Truth into our daily lives; leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

The Monday After Sunday, January 27, 2013: Encountering the Holy: The Transforming Power of Hope and Humility 

By Dawn Kelley

Reading through Isaiah has been like looking at the mirror of our nation.

What a fallen nation we are!

In the New Testament, the church is described as being one body with many different parts; it’s likewise for our nation. We are one nation with many different parts, but sadly many of those parts of our nation have turned from God. We have forgotten who our God is! We have forgotten how awesome our God is! We have forgotten that our need for Him is far greater than what we can imagine! We can do nothing on our own.

Our pride serves as a powerful reminder that we are a fallen nation just like Judah in Isaiah’s time. We are a spoiled nation that has that has decided that we don’t need our Father; and sadly, like with Judah, it only leads to a fall.

Nations don’t fail on a whole alone; we fail when the various parts neglect to recognize their need for a Head. Imagine the chaos of a body without a Head! I am one of those parts, and I must take responsibility for my role in this falling nation. I am very often easily impressed with myself … I don’t always rejecting following people, instead of submitting myself to God, our Head.

I have to remember not to put my trust in everything else or anyone else because that keeps me from knowing God more deeply. My challenge this week is to reject following people and rather submit to God, the Head of our body — to boast in who He is and remember I was made to love and worship Him!

May you, in humility, do the same.

Because of your generosity to Accelerate, Immanuel is able to partner with God in His work of transforming lives! Thank you!

Dawn Kelley is the wife of Andrew and the homeschooling mother of four, Jaden, Niya, Makayla and Aiden. She loves to read and write in her spare time, and she currently uses a personal blog to share her adventures in motherhood and womanhood.