In less than a year, God has completely turned my life upside down. My family and I began attending the Church at Severn Run about two and a half years ago. Though I missed my old church, I tried to get in the swing of things, participating in the college-age Connect Group, SMASH, and working...
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After your child has been dedicated (like we do at our church periodically), you might be thinking about your next steps and guiding them until they meet the age when they are ready to commit their lives to Christ and be baptized. We’ll talk about what to do, things to look...
Anthony Lyle is originally from Pittsburgh and moved to Maryland with a company for work. We asked him about his experiences with his connect group. Here's what he had to say... What is your occupation? I move furniture and perform sound system installations. I do a lot of sound work for...
I walked to the table and there he was. Amanuel Habtamu. Not smiling exactly, but looking expectant. Or maybe that’s just how I perceived his expression. I felt he looked expectant of me, of anybody, to follow the leading of their heart. His face seemed to say, “I am...
It’s easy to think that some people are “immune” to sin, or at least more resistant to it, based on outward appearances. Some people just seem to have it all together, and it feels like they couldn’t ever do anything wrong. The truth is that this is as far from the truth...
I guess I first should say that before I was ever a part of a small group I used to think that these groups were for “weird” or “religious” people. Even being an outgoing person by nature, I didn’t think it would be something I was comfortable participating...
As she walked around the corner at the train station, a man who appeared to be homeless, made eye contact and began moving toward her. He seemed to be inebriated. As he mumbled to her she heard, “I wan’t to be delivered from my addition today.” Walking to him, she placed her...
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.(1 Peter 3:15 ESV) Most of us claiming the resurrection of Christ act like we...
All my life I’ve been told what to do. I grew up as a PK (Pastor’s Kid), so I’ve known what tithing is and why we do it for as long as I can remember. The problem is, the humanity in me has told me that I had a million logical reasons not to. I’m also not afraid...
So you are a new believer! Welcome to the family! You're excited to begin your walk and wondering… What's next? You may also be asking things like… How do I become a part of the church? How do I grow in my prayer life? Should I get baptized? Here's a good place to...
We all experience pain in one form or another—if we live long enough life usually brings us something emotionally or physically difficult. Throughout these hard times we wish that things were better. We might blame others, ourselves, or perhaps even God for what has befallen us. We might be angry, or despondent, or overwhelmed. But there is also something else that is happening in tandem with the pain.
If you look back on what you’ve been through; on all the hard times that you’ve made it through so far, one thing is always true--you’ve changed.
You may not always change as much as you’d like, and you may not always change for the better, but no matter what it is, something has changed. Perhaps it’s just a different outlook on something, or perhaps our entire attitude towards life completely changes.
We know that life is not always easy. So why do we question why something hard is happening to us?
Although it isn’t a common profession, most people understand what a blacksmith does. Essentially a blacksmith’s job is to take a chunk of metal, and through a lot of hard work and sweat, mold it into something useful. The process is not simple. The metal must be heated and cooled constantly, and the blacksmith must pound it over and over until it finally resembles a weapon or tool that’s usable for some specific purpose. In its original state, the metal was basically useless for such a purpose, but through the blacksmith’s hard work over a long period of time, it finally becomes something that can be effectively used.
We are the same way. God uses our life experiences, both good and bad, to mold us into something that he can use for his purpose. We may not always understand what that purpose is, but God always has a plan.
Some of us may reject him for putting us through the hard times, and we often fight to meet our own vision of what purpose we think we should fulfill for ourselves. We don’t mold easily, and it’s especially tough during the hard times. It’s hard for us to see what purpose we’re being shaped for. But, if we allow ourselves to learn and grow from the hard times, then it will be easier for us, in the long run, to understand and fulfill the purpose that God has for our lives. If we accept his purpose, we will discover a world opened up to us that we could have never imagined before.
A sword used as a nail would be a frightful waste of craftsmanship. But, when a sword is used in the way that it was created, it can be a powerful weapon. And the great thing is, we’re not all crafted to be swords. We’re each uniquely crafted, with different capabilities and purposes. Unlike a giant pile of spoons, which only have one purpose, the body of Christ is like a chest full of various tools that could build an empire.
God has a big plan for you, and for the people around you. If we would all allow him to mold us into the people that we’re meant to be, there’s no telling what kinds of “impossible” things might become reality.
As you go through the hard times that life brings you, remember that God has a plan for your life. You may not see it in that moment, but trust in him, pray, and listen for his guidance. He will pull you through and bring you into a world that’s brighter than anything you’ve ever known.
As a child, I never worried about living without my family. My parents were always around, I had my sister, and we would visit our extended family every year. I have so many fond memories as a child, playing with my cousins at my grandma’s house, going fishing with my dad, or baking cookies with my mom. I realize that not everyone may have these exact same memories, but I do believe that they are fairly similar to memories that many others share.
As I grew older, these kinds of experiences occurred less and less often. I became more and more independent, and family became something that I simply took for granted. They were still there, but I wasn’t. That is to say, I was absent in the sense that I wasn’t as interested in doing all the things that I had done as a kid. When I joined the military when I was 20, this was confounded even more because I literally wasn’t around anymore. I shipped off to Texas for several months for training, and then I moved to Germany right after. I took my wife Rachel with me to Germany, so luckily I had someone, but besides her, there was no one else. We spent three years there and then we moved to Guam for another three years.
Suffice it to say, being halfway around the world from your family takes its toll on you. The things that I took for granted in my late teens became the things that I missed most in my mid-twenties and now into my thirties. I miss just hanging out with my dad watching football games, or going to the movies. I miss grabbing a coffee and talking about life with my mom. I miss spending time with my grandparents, who also live where my parents do. My wife and I have missed so many life events because we’ve been geographically separated from our families for so long – the deaths of close relatives, family vacations, and holiday gatherings just to name a few. Family has also been absent for the births of all of our three children.
I’ve found myself missing all of that, especially the small things, a whole lot more in the past few years. It’s been so much so that I applied to get out of the military early so that we could move back home and be closer to family. I was very hopeful that things would work out, trusting God and praying that whatever happened was where he wanted me to be. Though I was expecting a ‘yes’ to my application, that was not what I received. I was sorely disappointed, but luckily for me I’ve grown a lot over the past 5-6 years, and was able to accept the fact that this was where God wanted us for the time being.
This was around the beginning of October, and about a month and a half later God showed me something that I hadn’t seen before…
My little family was prepared to spend another holiday together, just the five of us. Sometimes for Thanksgiving we hang out with friends, and on several occasions, we’ve had friends over at our house. I think for most military families this is common, though we do know quite a few people around here who have family close by, which has made it a bit more difficult for us.
This year we were invited over to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving, and there were several other church families who we knew well who were also going. When we got there, there were about twenty or so people, with a mix of our friends, and a mix of the host’s family as well. By the time everyone had shown up, there must have been around fifty people including kids. To be frank it was chaos – a beautiful, turkey and stuffing-smelling, love without limits kind of chaos. After we prayed and everyone started getting their food, I just had to stand back and soak it in for a minute.
This was when it hit me…
Even though we didn’t have ‘blood’ family around to celebrate the holidays with, we still had family. I took a picture and shared the post on Facebook because I wanted to capture the moment, and I wanted others to see that the family of God can make a big difference when you’re feeling lonely and separated from your own kin.
As a military family, being separated from relatives is something that we’re quite used to, though the feeling of missing them never really goes away. As we’ve allowed God in our lives more, he’s given us good friends to help fill the void of missing our families. Of course, it’s not an exact replacement – no one can ever do that. But, it’s about as close as you can get to the real thing. And for many people out there who may not share a strong bond with their families, perhaps it could even feel like a suitable replacement altogether. When you have God in your heart, and when you allow others into your life, then God will bring people to you to build you up and be there for you when you need them. And the great part is, no matter where you go, there will always be someone there as long as you’re open and paying attention.
Another great thing about the family of God is that it’s always growing, and we can always add more brothers and sisters! This family crosses boundaries that blood typically does not – race, skin color, culture, as well as many other things! You will meet people you probably wouldn’t have normally, and it will make you a better for it. You will grow as a person, and you will grow in your faith.
With God as our Father, and countless brothers and sisters surround us everywhere we go, there’s no need to ever feel alone. If you do feel lonely, perhaps you only need to look around and realize, as I did, that you are surrounded by more family than you think you are.
If you don’t know about the joys of a family shared through Christ, then we invite you to attend Severn Run (if you live in the Baltimore-D.C. area), or otherwise look for a local church to get connected to. Wherever you go, if they make you feel like family, then you know you’re probably home.
And if that’s the case, then…
…welcome to the family!
This post was originally published on the Collide Youth Blog but is a good reminder about how Scripture can help encourage us when we are tempted or fall short of our goals.
Happy New Year!
As 2018 approaches, the whole world celebrates the coming of a new year, and with that, comes New Year’s resolutions. The whole point of making resolutions is to become a better person in some way, which might mean losing a bad habit, or making better habits, or anything along those lines. And man is that difficult!
We face challenges every day from outside sources that are mostly beyond our control like schoolwork, jobs, relationships with family and friends, sicknesses, annoying people, and busy schedules. And then there are the challenges that we find within ourselves, like having a habit of lying, being tempted to sin, not holding your tongue, or feeling hatred towards someone. And those inner challenges can be the hardest to change. But what better time to deal with them than at the start of a new chapter in our lives? Hence, New Year’s resolutions.
So, what’s your resolution? Do you want to be a better Christian, sibling, student, daughter or son? Have you resolved to stop cursing, eating junk food, watching so much TV, or practicing some sin? Have you resolved to exercise more, share the Gospel more, be kinder to your little brother, be on time for things, READ more (because reading is great), or strive to do your very best in everything you do?
You may be wondering if the Bible actually says anything about this kind of stuff. Of course, it does! I thought I would share some Scriptures for you to consider when you experience moments that challenge your New Year’s resolution; moments of weakness, or temptation, or when you feel like giving up (because you will feel like giving up).
Choose the ones that fit your needs, and then to help remember them, write them on a sticky note, save them as notes to your phone, make them your screensaver, or even simply commit them to memory!
When you are tempted to flip out on someone
James 2:19 “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.”
When others are not supportive of your resolution
1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”
When you think negative thoughts about others
Colossians 3:12 “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Philippians 2:3-5 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
When you feel your mouth (cursing, eating, lying) your body, or your desires (alcohol, shopping, violence, drugs, sex, food, etc.) are out of control
Colossians 3:5:10 “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world. But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
Note: It’s important to remember that TEMPTATION IS NOT A SIN. Even Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4. But it’s also important to remember that temptation is what leads to sin, and has to be resisted. James 4:7, “So humble ourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
When you think negative thoughts about yourself
Philippians 4:8 “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
When you fail or feel defeated and you want to give up on your resolution
Galatians 6:9 “So, let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
When you feel too timid to share your faith
2 Timothy 1:7-8 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.”
When you are doubting God because of bad life experiences
Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me”
When you are not sure that God will help you
Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I can’t say it any better than this from the book of Ephesians:
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we[d] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17
Week after week, year after year, people come and go here at the Church at Severn Run. Every Sunday more than a thousand people come to visit us, and we absolutely love it, but as we all know, people bring with them a certain measure of messiness, and that messiness needs someone to clean up after it. Have you ever thought about who cleans up after your mess when you spill coffee in the sanctuary, or when your child draws beautiful booger art all over the kids’ room walls? Well, here at Severn Run we have a team of dedicated people who aren’t afraid of grime or germs. Week after week they make sure that we have a clean environment so that you don’t have to worry about where you sit, and that your kids have a clean slate each week, so their creative juices can flow…
Sean DeLair is Severn Run’s Facilities Leader, and we got some information from him about the ministry and what he does, along with some of the teams that you could serve on.
I manage and implement all church projects, make repairs, and perform preventive maintenance on all facility equipment. I also lead the Campus Care Teams. These teams keeps the building and grounds free from any distractions that may hinder the ability to worship and/or connect with the Lord. They also ensure that all areas are clean and disinfected to maintain a healthy place to worship. We also have Blake Kramer who fills a custodial position. He is co-lead for the care teams, focusing mainly on the Sunday Prep and Ready teams.
Here are the Campus Care Teams where volunteers can serve:
- Sunday Prep Team - This team meets every Saturday to touch all areas throughout the church building so it’s ready for Sunday. Preferably we have 4-6 team members.
- Environmental Team - This team serves 15-20 mins on Sundays during the 3 services doing lite campus clean-up inside. We’d like to have 3-6 members each Sunday.
- Grounds Team – This team will kick off in the spring, and will maintain grounds from mowing, weeding, mulching, and grounds care. We’re still determining how many team members we’ll need on a weekly basis.
- Maintenance and Repair Team - This team meets at different times to perform maintenance on various building equipment, and/or to perform minor repair or construction projects. The number of members depends on the project size, so it can vary between 2 to 20 members.
- Ready Team – This team is on call to help with setup and teardown for church wide events, as well as weekly meetings and services. We have 2-3 members on call during various timeframes.
The Care Teams are all critical resources for The Church at Severn Run and its staff, members, guests, community and beyond. They ensure that everything is clean and working properly, and they also play a big part in reducing the church’s operating costs so that church funds can be used more for outreach and support.
If you’re good with your hands, or not afraid of a few germs (or probably both), then we’d love to put you to work helping out around the Severn Run campus. The more people we have, the less time it takes to do the cleaning, and the safer and cleaner it is for our guests each week. If you’re still stuck on the word ‘germs’, don’t worry – we have plenty of gloves to keep your paws clean. We certainly don’t expect you to work around booger sculptures without latex armor and germ-vanquishing gear.
So, who’s ready to suit up? Let us know you’re interested by heading over to severnrunner.info, and checking the box that you want to keep the campus looking spotless, and/or do repair work.
I am often surprised and challenged by what I find when reading scripture. God can be subtle in how he reveals himself to us through his word. It is my nature to start asking questions.
“What does the speaker think I need to hear?”
“Does this make sense to me?”
“Is what I'm reading consistent with my beliefs and how I understand other parts of the bible?”
“How do I change my heart and mind so that it is?”
I have also wondered,
“Is it okay for me to feel the need to ask so many questions?”
“Why don't I just get it?”
It is okay! Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus,
...I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3:17-19
God's love is so deep and covers so much that we can not expect to ever fully comprehend it. Don't be discouraged when you have questions and things aren't as clear as you would like for them to be. God made us curious so that we would seek him, and when we seek him he promises that we will find him.