Showing items filed under “Christian Living”

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

When they saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. “It's a ghost!” they said, and screamed with fear. Jesus spoke to them at once. “Courage!” he said. “It is I. Don't be afraid!” (Matthew 14:26-27)

How are you dealing with your fears so far this week?

Are you letting them overcome you, or have you found the strength in Christ to press through them? No matter where you are on that spectrum, there is hope.

When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he was able to overcome his fear. But once he lost sight of Jesus and began to doubt, that is the moment he started to sink.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. He has set the example for us, and he has the strength that we all lack. He is stretching out his hand to us, and all you have to do is grab hold, never let go, and never look back.

 If you find yourself struggling, remember the words to the song “Oceans” (Hillsong United): 

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me



You've never failed me and You won't start now

His grace abounds, no matter where you are. It’s never too late. There is no fear too great nor sorrow too deep where he cannot find you. Reach out your hand and call on him. He will lift you up.

Even David, oftentimes considered to be one of the greatest kings of all time, knew fear. Time and again he called out to God because he knew that with him, even a small boy could face a giant.

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me; he freed me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)


Receive devotionals like this one in your inbox each week when you sign up to receive Life Lifters from Severn Run. Sign Up Now!

Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes Impact Lives

main image

We are the Fishers - Steve, Carolyn, Ellie & Micah. Our family has participated in the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Collection for many years. We have packed shoeboxes for so long that the kids don't remember a time when we didn't pack them. Ellie & Micah love to shop for special and specific items for each shoebox. They always add a note with a picture in hopes that someday we might hear back from a child who received one of our shoeboxes. We also track our shoeboxes and learn about the countries where our shoeboxes are distributed.

For the last few years, we have volunteered at Severn Run during Collection Week, accepting shoeboxes from groups bringing them in and then packing them into shipping boxes that go to the Processing Center. The kids enjoy helping and it's great for them to be involved in another step in the process.

Last year was special for us. Ellie is in a Christian character development program called American Heritage Girls. As a sixth grader last year, Ellie was eligible to earn an award by fulfilling certain requirements, one of which was helping to plan, organize, and run a special event for the Troop. Since Operation Christmas Child is so special to her, she wanted to have a packing party and shoebox collection for her Troop.

Her goal for the Troop was to pack and collect 100 shoeboxes. With the support of Pastor Steve and Elaine at Severn Run, she planned and ran a very successful packing party and collection, even being recognized as the youngest Project Leader at an OCC Project Leaders’ Workshop.

After more than 20 hours of planning, packing, and delivering shoeboxes to drop off locations, our Troop exceeded its goal and collected 120 shoeboxes! We also took some of the girls from our Troop on a tour of the OCC Processing Center and met a young lady who received a box when she was a child.

Ellie is hoping to either run the packing party and shoebox collection again this year, or have the opportunity to mentor a younger girl as that girl leads the project. We are also excited that Ellie will be old enough to volunteer at the Processing Center this year, and may even spend part of her birthday there.

We are thankful to American Heritage Girls for the opportunity for Ellie to develop her leadership skills and to Severn Run for all the encouragement and support they have provided for Ellie and our family.

We are looking forward to a great year with Operation Christmas Child and praying for everyone here as they are packing shoeboxes, and the children and families around the world who will receive a shoebox this year!


There is still time to fill a shoebox, sponsor mailing, or volunteer for our distribution center! Contact the church today to learn more.

Posted by Carolyn Fisher with

Operation Christmas Child – The Power of a Shoebox

main image

The Operation Christmas Child (OCC) Shoebox Program is amazing, but if you think it is only about giving gifts at Christmas to needy children in the far reaches of the world you are greatly underestimating the power of a Shoebox. My family wasn’t going to church when we were first introduced to the shoebox. In fact, we were a little fed up with church at the time perceiving it mostly as a self-serving overly righteous entity. Harsh I know, but that’s exactly what happens when hearts get hardened.

My son was in Cub Scouts at the time, and the Den Mother presented an idea for a service project. She talked about this program that she had been doing with her sons for a number of years. The premise was to pack a shoebox with supplies for a child who essentially had nothing. We were immediately on board. We could use this program to teach our son about giving to others, how there are children in the world who live with so much less (not even electricity for video games), as well as the practical nuances of budgeting. We were invited to fill a shoebox on our own, or bring a couple of things from the list that the boys could all pool together to pack a couple of boxes collectively. After hitting up Target for supplies, we made it back to the follow-up meeting where we had a “Packing Party,” and the boys put together the boxes. They had a blast pulling all the stuff together for these kids who were their age and less fortunate than them. The Den Mother shared pictures and stories from some of the brochures of children who had received boxes in the past and showed us how we were going to track our boxes to see where in the world they went.

We met up later that week, full of excitement, to drop our box off at a Distribution Center at a nearby church. The people at the church were kind, not pushy, and genuinely passionate about giving to these kids, which I confess was a bit of a shock to our cynical selves at the time. There were no telemarketing fundraiser types to be seen, and we felt a genuine sense that God was doing something. An enthusiastic gentleman showed the boys around and let them gape at the piles of boxes ready to be shipped to South America. The gracious woman who volunteered at the make-shift front desk offered to pray with us that the box would get to the right child and bless the family who received it.

Keep in mind, this was the first time my family had prayed together in a way that was not just part of a cultural pre-meal routine, or obligatory bowing of heads when prompted by others. We didn’t know it at the time, but before that winter was over we would find our hearts opened again. We landed in a new church home fully aware of God’s blessing…and it all started with a simple shoebox.



The Church at Severn Run has begun collecting OCC Shoeboxes for 2016! Contact the church for more information.

Posted by Katey Pearson with

Turning Points After Life Goes Bad - Life Lifter

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4



“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” John 15:9


Four times Jesus says remain in this passage of scripture. As a verb, remain is a word used to described an action. Jesus wants us to take action.

Remain is defined as, “To continue to exist, especially after other similar or related people or things have ceased to exist.” Synonyms include endure, last, abide, carry on, persist, stay, stay around, prevail, survive, live on.

Clearly the intended message Jesus’s is communicating is not to be taken lightly.

We are to take action.

Have you ever noticed how many loyal animal post are on Facebook? Do a search to find story after story such as these:

  • A dog named Zanders who followed his master to the hospital some two miles from his home.
  • Cleo the cat who tracked down her elderly owner after she was sent to live in a nursing home.
  • A German Shepard that ran away from home to find his deceased master’s grave – and has stayed by its side for six years.

You can be sure the goal of each animal is to remain in the presence of their “person”. That person who has come to mean everything to them.

This is what Jesus’s asks of us. If he is to mean everything to us, we are to follow him and remain with him. Through the good, the bad, and at all times.

Jesus’s showed us how to respond to challenging chapters of life. He also showed us how to choose to respond. The disciples demonstrated how to turn their self-centered inadequacy over to God. This then allowed them be a blessing showing the glory of God to this around them.

We too can be a blessing showing God’s glory. Soak him in. Take the 15/15/15 challenge - 15 days; 15 minutes of talking to him; 15 minutes of reading God’s word.

Plan out a time each day. Get it done all at once or break it up over the day. Whatever it takes, whatever works for you!!

Jesus is asking.

Jesus has shown us.

Leave self-centeredness.

Be a blessing.

Remain in him!


Are you interested in receiving devotions like these in your inbox each week? Sign up to receive the Life Lifters here.

Check Life Lifters for the weekly devotional, and/or Discussion Questions to dig deeper into the weekly Message from Sundays.

My 15-minute Challenge

main image

Full disclosure: I do not always have time set aside in my day to read the Bible and have a concentrated amount of prayer. It’s actually one of the main things I’m often convicted of. It is an area that I’m repeatedly asking forgiveness for and repeatedly committing to do better. Then I’m failing again and I’m back to asking forgiveness.

So a 15-minute challenge…Surely I can do 15 minutes for 15 days, right? I’m on day 2 and going strong! 

Day 1.

I had to sneak in 15 minutes of Bible reading and 15 minutes of prayer right before bed.

I wondered where I should start. When I’m on a Bible-reading roll, I’m usually involved in a group study so without having a book to guide me, I pondered where I should begin. My mind went to James. It’s my favorite book. It’s short (you’ll find out how short momentarily), and God has some great stuff in there.

I started the 15-minute timer on my phone, turned my phone face down and thumbed through the feathery pages to the book of James.

About half way into the book of James I thought, “Man, has it been 15 minutes yet? Did I set my timer right? Is it on silent?” Then I told myself, “You’re half way done anyway. Just go ahead and read the whole book.”

Somewhere during the last chapter of James I thought, “Yeah, I definitely forgot to hit start on my timer, but I’ll go ahead and finish anyway.” 

I read the last word of the last chapter of James, turned my phone face up and the timer went off. Reading (and re-reading a few parts—probably the parts when I was distracted as I contemplated the accuracy of my phone timer) the book of James, took me exactly 15 minutes.

Earlier that day I had a conversation with my son about the phrase, “I swear to God.” He was relaying it in a story as something his friend had said. I took the opportunity to talk about the word “swear” in terms of it meaning a promise, or an oath, OR being an inappropriate word. I said, “There’s verse in the Bible that says, ‘Let your yes be yes, and let your no, be no.’ If you just say what you mean and are truthful, you really don’t have to promise or swear to anything—least of all God, because he knows your heart anyway.” I wanted to tell him where that verse was, but I couldn’t remember and he scampered off to play.

So any guesses as to where that verse IS in the Bible? Yep. That’s right. James. James 5:12.

Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no, or you will be condemned.

I was thankful that God led me to read James. He knew exactly how long it would take me to get to that verse and exactly why I needed to read it.

God is real and present in my life, in my parenting, and in my marriage. The truth of his Word is always right at my fingertips anytime I can take 15 minutes to meet him there.

For real, I’m committing to the 15-minute Challenge for 15 days. I’m excited about what else God will show me! Join me and see what He reveals to you!


Do you have a story about how God is speaking to you through the 15-minute Challenge? Log in and share your story as a comment, or share your story here and we will use it to help encourage others!


Read Severn Run Stories, be inspired, and stay up to date with what's happening here!