Extra Strength: Wanting to Be Wanted

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 Selfie: Wanted

About a year ago, I became overwhelmed with emotion as my past began to hit me.  All the sin, all the guilt, all the shame was overwhelming me. I tried praying it away but that didn’t help. I felt weaker and weaker. I began reflecting on the people who didn’t want me and who had tossed me aside. Then I wondered who would want me. Yes I am married but that doesn’t mean I get the “wanted” stamp of approval. Trying to fight back the tears I went to my husband and asked him, “Why did you want me when no one else did?”

I wanted to ask my husband this because prior to being married, I had been rejected by so many guys and I was not the one that was chosen. I poured out all of me but I remained empty. I looked for love in all of the wrong places and could not find it anywhere. Yet while I was pursuing all the wrong things and people, I was in fact being pursued.

God had his eye on me long before I knew Him. He was in pursuit of me and would not let me go. He looked for me even in my darkest places. At times when He found me I would pull away. because I didn’t feel worthy. But he wanted me. No matter what I did, He wanted me and He never stopped until He had me.

The challenge then came that I needed to live the life of a wanted woman. That means no more running away from Him but running to Him. No more trying to hide my sins but exposing them so that He can wash me in forgiveness and restoring me to wholeness. He needed to show me that I was enough and that I didn’t need to do anything hoping that someone would want me I could simply just be me.

When I asked my husband that day why did he want me when no one else did, I didn’t know what answer to expect.  Afterall there had to have been something missing that made them not want me.  My husband answered me with the answer I needed. He said that not being wanted by others did not mean that something was wrong with me, it meant that something was wrong with them.

Pastor Josh’s message confirmed that truth, and it made me realize how far I had come. I went from feeling unwanted to knowing that I am wanted by God. I was able to see how God is constantly making me whole in Him. I no longer feel like I need someone else to be complete because I have Christ; I never thought I’d be in this place because honestly I had desired my relationship with my husband more for so long. But each day God is moving my heart toward desiring Him more.

I can feel His tugs and His gentle nudges drawing me near, wanting me to spend time with Him.  It is His consistent pursiung of me, His wanting me, that makes me want Him more.  And that “wanted” stamp of approval is evident in the fact the He chose to die on the cross for ME, because He . . . wanted . . . ME.  It’s great to finally know I am wanted.

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:

  • The next time your past seeks to overwhelm you with thoughts of who you were remember that is not who you are. It never was. Look at people not for what is obvious but for what may be hidden.  Appreciate the beauty that lies with in and don’t add any new stains.

Extra Strength: I Am Not Who You Think I Am

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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Pressure Points: The Pressure of Partiality

As Pastor Joe was ending his sermon I was reminded of a scene in a movie.  The movie was “A Time to Kill” and the scene was of the closing argument by a lawyer in a courtroom. In order to help the jury see his point he had them walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

blog 3.4.15 sheryllHe had them close their eyes as he described for them the mile that the man on trial had just walked.  He left no detail undescribed and every experience was fully exposed.  He took them through the pain, the fears and all the tears.  He tugged at their hearts as their emotions took a ride it wouldn’t soon forget.  He brought them through the very heart of empathy and left them there to stay as they landed with their feet fully in another person’s shoes.

It was then that they could no longer deny that their actions and behaviors would match his if they were in that situation.

We see people as we walk past and we draw conclusions and make assumptions but we don’t truly know.  We see the superficial and choose not to see beyond.  But what would happen if for once we chose to look deeper?  What would happen if we took the time to go for a walk and try on their shoes?  I think we would be surprised at the fit.

Soon after the sermon ended, I was struck with these words:

Do you know what it’s like,
to be me?
To look through my eyes
and see what I see.
To know my pain
and experience my fears.
To know my joy
a midst my tears.

Do you know what it’s like,
to walk in my shoes?
To hear what I am told
and understand
how I am affected by what’s in the news.
To feel the stares,
as people look at me.
But even still, I’m not bound
I am free.

I serve a God
who does know what it’s like to be me.
He looks past daily
all that others think they see.
He looks deep within my heart
and into my soul.
He calms my fears
and makes me whole.
He holds my hand
through all the stares.
He loves me still
and I know he cares.

Do you want to know
what it’s like to be me?
All you have to do is ask
and then you will see.

 

It is my hope that the next time you see someone who looks different or behaves differently or speaks differently that you will not place them into a box, unless, of course,  you plan to join them.

 

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:

  • The next time you see someone and your initial human reaction is to create your own story for them, why not ask them to share their story instead.
  • We often come across people in customer service positions with a bad attitude.  Instead of assuming that it’s his or her personality, maybe consider that something may be wrong.  You could then increase your kindness and pray for that person instead of allowing the negativity to grow.

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.

Extra Strength: It’s Rejoice Always — Not Sometimes

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: Thanksgiving Sunday service.

In school I was taught not to use absolutes.  Words like “never” and “always” should not be used in a statement unless you are 100 percent sure that something always or never occurs.  Even then it is cautioned because there is always the possibility of change.  As a matter of fact, there is a phrase that says, “the only thing that is constant is change”.

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”  Here in scripture we find that rule being broken.  Maybe Paul didn’t learn the same lesson that I did about using those absolutes.  Here he uses the word always as he instructs us not once but twice to rejoice in the Lord.  Paul doesn’t say rejoice sometimes when the situation is good or on a day when no change has occurred.  He tells us to rejoice ALWAYS.  Paul can use that absolute because God never changes.

Thanksgiving ImmanuelI looked up the definition of rejoice and it was defined as “to show great joy”.  Notice it doesn’t say to show great happiness. Happiness is something you feel when things “happen.”  Joy on the other hand is what you feel not because of something but because of Someone.  Joy allows you to smile when you world is turned upside down because of a change.  Joy allows you to wake up in the morning in spite of the tears you cried last night because of a change.  Joy is found not in the physical but in the spiritual.  Do you have joy?

Next Paul tells us in verse 6 that we should “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

We are to bring all our anxieties to him, everything, but we are to do it with thanksgiving.  Don’t miss that part of the verse.  We are to tell God that we are anxious because our rent is due, and then we thank Him for giving us shelter.  We are to tell Him that we are anxious because our child is sick, and then we thank Him for blessing us with them in the first place.  We are to tell Him that we are anxious because we need a job, and then we thank Him for being our provider.  We rejoice always because we have Him and in Him we find joy in the midst of change.  Do you have joy?

Paul goes on to say in verse 7 that “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the midst of a change, when we rejoice anyway and cast our cares on Him, while thanking Him, He gives us peace.  This peace isn’t just a brief passing but it’s a lingering presence.  It’s the kind of peace you get that places a smile on your face and a warmth in your heart that not even you can understand at times.  The Bible tells us that it surpasses ALL understanding.  Not only does He give us peace but He allows it to guard our hearts AND our minds.  God knows that you are vulnerable in this state which leaves you open to the enemy but He protects you.  He guards your heart from being hardened and your mind from taking over.  It is in that peace and protection that we find joy in the midst of a change.  Do you have joy?

Lastly Paul doesn’t just preach it, but he shows us that he practices it too. In verses 10-13 he tells us that no matter what situation he has been in, he has learned to be content.  Don’t miss that.  Paul isn’t saying that he has been content since day one.  He tells us that he “learned” how to behave that way. He had an attitude adjustment.  In every situation he had another chance to learn. It was another chance to look not at his situation but at His Savior.  Even when he was successful he didn’t look at his rewards; he looked at his Redeemer.  It was in those times that Paul was able to find joy in the midst of a change.  Do you have joy?

In every testimony I heard on Sunday, there was joy. In spite of all they had been through they rejoiced.  In spite of what they were going through, they rejoiced.  In the midst of constant changes, they found joy.  Do you want joy?  Maybe it is time you adjusted your attitude and start having an attitude of gratitude. Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice.

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:

  • What can you give thanks for right now in this very moment? Thank God and then tell Him what you need. Rejoice in the fact that He is a God who hears us!
  • Make a “Thanksgiving Tree” during your Thanksgiving celebration; it doesn’t have to be fancy. Cut out leaves and pass them around to others, each writing something for which you’re thankful on your respective leaf. Shape the leaves into a tree on your dining room or living room wall. Rejoice and thank God for all He has done this year. If the tree is too much, take turns giving thanks to God around the dining room table.

Extra Strength: Love Does: Audacious Love

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. Miss the message? You can listen to Love Does: Audacious Love here!

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I have heard the story of the woman at the well so many times and still each time it tugs at me. I can relate to not wanting to be seen as I tried to hide from my secrets.  I figured that if I pretended they didn’t exist, then no one would ever find out.  I tried to resist living a life that deep down inside I knew I wasn’t meant to live but it was all that I knew so I kept going back.  In addition to that, I had walked away from God so many times, and I didn’t know how or why He would take me back.

Then there is the story of Gomer, which I had never heard before, but was one I found myself relating to just as much.  A woman whose desires for the world kept her so trapped and in bondage that she couldn’t break free.  She found comfort in the arms of one man after another when comfort wasn’t what she really sought.  I believe deep down inside of her there was a need to be loved and wanted and accepted, a need I could relate to all to well as I reflected on days long ago.

You search and search hoping to find something or someone to fill that hole, that void that you have but the filling is only temporary.  While at the same time you feel the tugging from God to come home.  He loves you too much to let you stay the way you are and too much to control you and make you obey.  So He sits and waits and watches at a distance.  He makes sure no harm comes your way and that your needs are met.  He remains patient and waits for that window where He can come in and rescue you from yourself and all the damage you cause.  He doesn’t give up on you.

When the time is right, He approaches you gently and without condemnation in hand because you have already been condemning yourself for years.  Instead he offers you shelter and arms in which to rest.

I am so grateful that God never gave up on me in spite of all the running I did in the opposite direction.  He loved me more than I ever loved myself, and I never knew why.  I realized not too long ago that it was because He saw something in me that I didn’t see.  Unlike me He was and is able to look past my mistakes and my flaws.  He sees what I am becoming and not what I was.  He looks past my mess and can see beauty unfolding.  It reminds me of the process that butterflies go through.

Someone gave my boys a butterfly kit years ago — the kind where you buy the caterpillars and wait for them to become butterflies.  I didn’t jump at the chance to do it mainly out of laziness but eventually we did.  What stands out to me most from that experience was that it required patience and gentleness.  It was not something I could rush.  It happened in its own time.  From the time the caterpillars were placed into the habitat until the chrysalis was formed it had to be protected.  The chrysalis itself required gentle hands to move it to where it could develop over time into a butterfly.  Once the butterfly emerged, it had to open and close its wings over and over again in order for it to be strong enough to fly.  There was even a little blood in the habitat that came from the wings as they would gain strength.  It was a messy process, but once it was ready it could be released into the world.

In the midst of my mess God waited for me and protected me.  He didn’t rush me; He just observed from a distance and allowed each experience to develop me.  Now that I have gained my strength, He is able to release me to be all that He has created me to be.

 

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:

  • How is God showing His love for you and the world today? Reflect and give thanks for His love!
  • Consider Psalm 89:15:”Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” Pause and receive God’s love several times during the course of the day and walk in the light of His presence.
  • Continue reading your Love Does study guide and processing through it with your small group.