Growing in Faith

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Faith is believing in what we cannot directly observe. Faith is trusting in God instead of our own nature. In Hebrews 11:1, Paul encourages the Hebrews by describing faith and later goes on to provide multiple examples of people who showed tremendous faith throughout the bible. A common theme in these examples is that each person was able to do great things by putting their faith in God instead of putting their faith in their own abilities and circumstances.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

Get Uncomfortable

Our faith grows when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones in his name, into an area where we are not in control. That is where God can take over in our lives. 

God has called us to do great things, but these things require having faith in him as they did for those described in Hebrews 11. This means pushing ourselves to get to know other believers through Connect Groups or maybe to start our own Connect Group. This means sharing our faith with others around the world so that they too may come to know Jesus. This means finding our place to serve within the church even though it is easy to just be served by the church. 

Each time I have made myself uncomfortable by obeying what I understood to be God's will in my life, it has been an awesome experience that has grown my faith. I have been terrified to put myself out there, being an intovert by nature, but I consistently felt God speaking to me so I said yes to him even though my nature pushed back. 

God has always given me the strength and the voice when I take the first step, just as Proverbs 3:5-6 suggests, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

Jesus tells Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, from this we should understand that it will be uncomfortable when we push our human nature out and have faith in God. This is necessary so that when others see us doing the “impossible,” there can be no doubt that the glory belongs to God and it belongs to him alone. We too will know that it is only through God that we are able to accomplish these things, and this is how we grow our faith.

 

Posted by Zach Baum with

Serving at Winter Relief as a Family

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At the end of last October, I took my family to serve for one evening of the Winter Relief program. It was a very remarkable experience and as I reflect back on it, there are three main takeaways that made a huge impact on my family. 

First and foremost, there is power in serving Jesus together as a family.

The world has a way of sucking me into believing that I am the center of the universe—that it’s all about me. Often I end up translating that into my family too! My world begins to revolve around my family and my priorities become my wife’s needs, my kid’s needs, schoolwork, soccer practice, family dinner and girl scouts. These are all wonderful and important activities. But serving as a family is different.

We prepared two large honey baked hams, then brought them to church and helped serve the homeless people who had gathered there. Doing tangible service as a family together meant that everything else had to be put on hold and serving other people took priority. It was a challenge and each person had to sacrifice something they’d rather be doing in order to serve. That’s what being a follower of Jesus is all about, choosing to follow him instead of my own desires.

Second, my children got to see me model service.

The reality is that my family is always watching me. They take notice of everything; what I do, what I say, what I like, what excites me, and my attitude towards something. Sadly, I often fall short in the example I want to set for my children and my wife. But this was one night where I felt confident in saying, watch me and do what I do. As I began to truly enjoy serving and interacting with the people at Winter Relief, my family followed suite. Soon I looked over at a table and saw my daughters (aged 9 & 6) taking seats next to a lonely young girl sitting by herself, offering to get her a drink. My son (aged 16) was doing a wonderful job serving everyone who came through his line. My wife was bringing people anything they might have missed like utensils or napkins. 

Third, my family was able to encounter real world brokenness and offer the love of Jesus in response.

Before we went to serve for the evening, my wife and I had to have some meaningful conversations with our children about the homeless. They don’t encounter homeless people very often. While all humans experience disappointment and brokenness, homelessness is a very upfront and external brokenness. I wanted to teach my children that it doesn’t matter if the brokenness is internal and hidden well or external and visible to all, the answer is the same. When people are in need, Jesus calls us to serve them in whatever way we can to reveal him.

 

Serving at Winter Relief was undoubtedly a meaningful and positive experience for my family. Even though we had to step outside our comfort zone and make some small sacrifices to get everyone there. In the end, we were able to do something to tangibly serve others and we had some wonderful and very meaningful conversations along the way.

At that moment, when my whole family was serving together, I couldn’t have been more content.

 


 

Winter Relief will be here again soon! There is a big need for Severn Runners to fill—bringing food, cooking, serving, and most of all connecting with our guests. This is an amazing opportunity for our church community to Love Well and Live Jesus! Get more information and sign up to fill a need when you follow this link:

YES!
I’M HELPING WITH
WINTER RELIEF!

 

If You Want Christ's Life, You Get Christ's Death

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1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 

It's like Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

To us who believe in Jesus, this message is life -it is the power of God! It's the way we live forward and the truth is that the centerpiece, the whole meaning of Jesus' life, is in a cross and a resurrection --a dying and a living!   

The centerpiece to Jesus' whole message is the invitation to a cross so that you may experience your invitation to a resurrection. A whole new life that is impossible apart from the power of God --the dead don't come to life apart from the power God!

"For even the son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." -Mark 10:45

If you want Christ's life, you get Christ's death -you can't have one without the other! The death of Christ has got to be not just something that you and I admire merely from a distance, but that we enter into in a very real and personal way on another level! 

Part of what we suffer is the loss of living self centered and self serving and of looking out for our own interests. We trust that Jesus has our back and that He will serve our interests. Jesus has served your interest in the cross and in the resurrection that he's offering you.

You will be blessed forever and your life on earth will be radically different and better than you imagined! The difference is all in the dying! 

Some of it can be seen, much of it can't, but in the end Jesus will reveal what was true and what was not. What was a fraud and what was authentic. What was a genuine struggle and what was an illusion. And so we die to a dying world that we might live to a new Kingdom that has come!

In Matthew 16:26 Jesus said, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the son of man is going to come in His Father's glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done."

This life is not all there is --it is quickly passing. The Jesus who came as the bookend of one part of human history is going to come again as the second bookend in human history...and to gain an eternal life, we have to give up a world! 

What part of your world are you struggling to give up? What part of your world is fighting to stay alive and be in charge? I think we would all agree that Jesus' willingness to die made all the difference in the world, but do you understand --so will yours? -Dr. Drew Shofner

5 Reasons to Serve

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Serving is not about waiting tables at church. But it is about sharing food, handing out coffee, giving a smile, and using your skills and gifts to help, encourage, and support the people around you.

Serving is about volunteering your time and talents to fill a need. If you are an extrovert you can do this in a visible way like being a greeter, working in the nursery, or leading a group or class. If you prefer to work “behind the scenes” you can volunteer in the office, use your skills for the creative team or in the office, or by working in other non-public ways. You can volunteer for Impact Projects or help with ministries…there is always a need to fill using the gifts God gave you. 

Beyond knowing that there is a need, why volunteer for the church?

  1. God has Gifted You
    As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace. (1 Peter 4:10 ESV)

    You were created by God on purpose, for a special purpose. You are where you need to be, you are who you need to be. God has designed work for you to do so you can be his hands, his feet, his love, to a hurting and needy world. Whatever it is that you know how to do is exactly what your community needs you to share with them.

  1. Service Demonstrates your Faith
    In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17 NIV)

    Taking action by choosing to share your gifts to encourage and help others demonstrates that you have been changed by Jesus. Before we realize God’s love, we are self-centered and self-serving. But Jesus isn’t like that. Jesus cared for and served others—even as he died on the cross. If we have truly been touched by the love of Jesus, we will also want to be like him in service to others.

  1. Serving Blesses - Both You and the Recipient
    He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT)

    Encouragement and healing go hand in hand. As we encourage others they find healing, and we see God working so we are encouraged. This is why people who go on mission trips say they came home feeling like they went to be a blessing and came home blessed beyond measure.


  2. Serving Helps us Share the Love of Jesus
    Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. (Isaiah 58:10 NIV)

    We are called to share the love of Jesus with the world around us. But the fact is, it’s hard to reach a heart when someone has a physical or emotional need. You can’t cure physical thirst with only a testimony of Jesus’ love. If someone is thirsty, it’s better to give them a cup of water to quench their thirst first. Then they will be able to hear the message of God’s love. This is serving which leads to sharing the love of Jesus.


  3. Serving is Good for You
    Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38)

    Volunteering is so good for the mind and body that it can ease symptoms of stress and depression. It gets you out of your own head and doing something to better the world around you. Tapping into your gifts and passions builds self-confidence, energy, and strength. Serving others can also be the best distraction from our own worries.


There are so many places where you can use your gifts at Severn Run!

If you aren’t serving, maybe it’s time to start. Volunteer an hour, a day, a week. Help out a need. Do a project. You can even volunteer from home!

Here’s how to find a place to serve at Severn Run:

  1. Pray and ask God how he wants you to serve
  2. Go to severnrun.com/serve
    --Read through the serving opportunities and choose one that fits your skill set
    --Or click the Categories arrow and choose a place to serve by ministry
  3. Click the blue title of the serving opportunity
  4. Learn more about the need
  5. Sign up by filling out the form at the bottom of the page

 

Posted by Alane Pearce with

Dime Store Dream Come True

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A Winter Relief Story

As Pam wandered around the Dollar Tree looking for Bingo prizes, she never imagined how God would use one of the items to bring a smile to Nan’s face.

No Bingo this year.

That was the word passed down from who-knows-where. The Winter Relief guests and volunteers alike were crestfallen. Playing Bingo for a chance to win prizes is the highlight of the week for many of the Winter Relief participants.

Pam and a few other volunteers decided that everyone NEEDED some Bingo in their lives. Pam climbed into her car and headed to the Dollar Tree to pick up some prizes. Right away a decorative sign with a saying about friendship caught her eye. She passed it by thinking that a decorative sign was probably the last thing a person without a home would want.

She continued to pick up more practical items. Fun socks, pretty headbands, scented lotion…   But her heart kept going back to the sign. She finally added it to the pile in her basket thinking that surely no one would want it.

Later, as Pam set up the prize table for Bingo Nan, a Winter Relief guest, was immediately interested in the sign. Pam recalls, “How I just wanted to say ‘go ahead, and take it’ but it wasn't my place to give away the bingo prizes and so I just prayed that she would win it. “

Pam didn’t stick around for Bingo as she had to run some errands, but upon her arrival back at church she noticed that the sign was absent from among the prizes. “I asked around as to who had won” Pam said, “and when I heard that Nan was one of the winners and that she picked the decoration, the one thing that I was for sure nobody would want, my heart was filled with joy.”

Such a simple thing.

Pam adds, “Now I know that it was God who was leading me to select that item for Nan and I'm so glad I listened.  She was so very happy.  When you consider the hardships that our guests go through on a day to day basis, and that something so simple as an item from the dollar store could bring such joy - well, that is what serving at winter relief is all about - seeing that joy.”


 

You never know how God is going to use you to bless others, or how this serving opportunity can bless you. 

Learn More About Winter Relief

 

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