Staff Thoughts on the 42 Days On Purpose Study:

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Day 42:

As we come to the end of the journey in our 42 Days on Purpose, I feel for many of us that the new journey is really beginning. It is a journey that is to be constantly seeking after Christ, and trying to please no one but him. As Rick said on the 42nd day, our life is constantly bombarded with the desire of approval and to please others. Working with youth I see this constantly, and I even see it in myself. I want to please others and I want people to accept me. I want to be known and not rejected. But that is just the point. You are known, you are loved,  you will never be rejected, and you are cherished child of God. Own those truths, and live purposefully as if you are living every single second of your life for the Lord. May you not be hindered by your faith, but may you be enhanced by the tremendous power of the Holy Spirit derived from your faith! Get our there and live knowing your purpose!
 
– Wes Jones (Student Ministries Leader)

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Day 41:

Pastor Warren hit the mark today with his thoughts on envy and the trouble it brings. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of envy as spiritual rebellion so directly, or a sign that I’m not truly trusting God, and it was eye opening to have that revealed. I agree that envy seems to be escalating in our culture due to the internet and social media, and it was such a great reminder today to be content with what God has planned for each of us uniquely. 
 
– Carrie Evans (Student Ministries Pastor)

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Day 40:

What is my life purpose statement? That is a tough one. To actually write it down. Put in on paper. To force myself to think specifically about the path of my life.
 
As I look back on 20 years of ministry, and as I look forward to what God has in store for the next 20 years, I want to make sure I’m aligned with God’s will for my life.
 
When I was young, I decided to follow Jesus’ leading in my life, and I am determined to do just that. It may not be the way I think I would like it to be, but If I am open to His leading, I will place my trust in where he places me.
 
I love the Proverb 29:18 from the Message version of the Bible, it says:
“If People can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”
 
This summer I will be taking a sabbatical. I have the privilege to work as a mountain guide in the Alps of Europe at an outdoor based Bible Leadership school in Schladming, Austria. I know that God has things for me to discover and rediscover as I take a break for Family in Christ and as I look forward to what He has in store for my future when I return back to my family here at this church.
 
This year at FIC we are trying to answer the question, “What would you like to Spiritually Rediscover this year?” Well, for me, I honestly don’t know. But I’ll tell you this; I am open to what God wants to teach me and where He might lead me. What I do know is that I was created to care for people, reach people who do not yet know Jesus, to offer my life in praise and worship, joining all creation and surrendering to His grace and mercy with ALL of my life. Not just the parts I want to give up, but ALL. To share God’s Word, and to serve with God’s love, so that I might become more like Christ.
 
– Tony N. Schenk (Worship & Technology Pastor)

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Day 39:

I read the title to today’s devotional, “Balancing Your Life,” and was immediately convicted. Both my spiritual journey and personal life could use more balance. Giving myself a spiritual checkup more regularly will help me achieve that balance. I loved the suggestion Rick Warren made about writing down your progress in a journal, especially since I’m an avid journaler. I’ve always kept a personal journal, and I have a prayer journal where I pour out my heart to God. I’ve never thought about keeping a journal of all the things God’s teaching me, until now! Journaling may not be the “traditional” way we are taught to pray, but God finds record keeping and journaling important because that’s how a lot of the Bible was written. Moses recorded Israel’s journey, and David poured out his heart and prayers to God – even sharing the tough stuff. It’s encouraging to know that there are helpful ways we can put these purposes for our lives into practice!
 
– Katie Barnhart (Web & Graphic Designer / Communications)

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Day 38

I guess I still have a lot of work to do. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to serve on many Walk to Emmaus (adults) and Chrysalis weekends (youth), sharing the Good News with those in the area who may or may not have a strong faith. As I ramp up to serve on another Kairos prison ministry team the end of this month, I pray that I can be His light in a dark place (Sterling Correctional Facility), ministering to men who may just be getting their first taste of Agape Love. The year I turned 50, I helped re-roof a house in Beaumont, Texas (in June – what was I thinking!?) following the aftermath of Hurricane Rita the previous fall. It was HOT and the work was hard, but such a blessing to be His hands and feet for a family with a wheelchair bound husband and father, all dealing with so much.
 
But overseas? In the past, I have considered some kind of international mission trip, but today’s reading made the need to follow through more imperative. I don’t know what that will look like yet, but I will pray for His leading. I don’t know what all I can offer, but am reminded of a Mother Theresa quote: “Not all of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love.” That should be our daily mantra, no matter where we are. I also don’t think we should beat ourselves up if an international mission trip does not happen for us personally. Supporting those we know who are going on such a trip with our money and prayers is also important. Sponsoring a Compassion Child has a huge ripple effect. There are many ways we can impact His work throughout the world without getting on an airplane. For me, becoming a “World-Class Christian” will take some more work, but God isn’t finished with me yet. Yes, I still have a lot of work to do… we ALL have a lot of work to do.
 
– Margie Bessler (Midweek Dinners Coordinator)

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Day 37:

Sharing Your Life Message – this gets easier after reading this devotional. We don’t have to be someone special to share our life with others. All we need to do is take inventory of our life experiences, realize what God has done for us and how He helped us through our life experiences. We all have such incredible stories to share that will show others how we cope and deal with life’s ups and downs. When others see how well you do this, they will want to know why you can stay calm, why you don’t let things overwhelm you. That is the opportunity to share your life message and how God partners with you to help you through life. Enjoy the reading!
 
– Jerry Chesser (Adult Ministries Pastor)
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Day 36:

This day made me think about those who in my life who wanted to share the Good News with me. I can say without a doubt that they were more of a stumbling block for me. God was pursuing me slowly and faithfully and even though I can understand the passion my neighbors had for Jesus now that my relationship with Him has grown, their attempt to share the Good News with me only freaked me out and I thought they were part of some kind of cult and only wanted to avoid them. Rick talks about how God holds us responsible for the unbelievers who live around us and then on the next page says that Jesus is the only one who can save people. All I know is only Jesus knows who are the unbelievers and I don’t want to be a stumbling block to those He is bringing into His kingdom. I do however agree when Rick said to pray for God to show me who He has put in my life that He wants me to tell about Jesus. I let them see my own brokenness so that they will understand why I need a Savior. I don’t trust people who never reveal their struggles and I want those who God puts in my life, to share His love with, to trust me because who is going to believe anything I share if they don’t trust me. Trust isn’t acquired overnight so my first job is to build a relationship with those I want to help establish their relationship with Jesus and I remember those behaviors that turned me off and use that experience as a reference on what not to do.
 
– Carmen Braaksma (Office Manager)
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Day 35:

I grew up in a classic patriarchal family with a strong father role model, so all of us were taught to strive for perfection. This didn’t leave a lot of time for having weakness, admitting weakness, and certainly not glorying in weakness, but as I have aged, I have come to recognize the times where my weaknesses keep me centered in my Christian life. I have many weaknesses and don’t have a problem talking about them to others, but I sure do wish I didn’t have so many. I do know for sure that my God does work through my weaknesses however. I just have to take a deep breath and let Him work through me in my weaknesses. So hard, but so right. 
 
– Julie Walden
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Day 34:

A true servant bases their identity in Christ and looks at ministry as an opportunity rather than an obligation, this comes from a shift in the mind rather than the heart. Servants focus on others rather than themselves. They let God use them and understand they are stewards rather than owners of any blessing God has provided. Humility is a daily struggle and self-denial is at the core of servant-hood.
 
– Tamra Osborn (Women’s Ministry Team)
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Day 33:

I would like to think that I have a servant’s heart — right up until I read today’s description. Then I feel like perhaps I have missed the mark a time or two (or three) in serving as Jesus would. I read about whether I am “standing by for duty” and have to confess that if it’s not convenient, it’s a challenge. Then I read that I am to “live for an audience of One” and I shudder at my approval-junky-addiction. Ack. Finally, I read “God has put me where I am for a purpose” and I experience relief. Because that includes learning how to serve more like Jesus as I step out at each opportunity to do my best with what I’ve got. He’ll help with the rest…phew!
 
– Morgan Kellum (Director of Life Group Ministries)
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Day 32:

I frequently struggle with feeling “not good enough.” Not a good enough wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, friend and on and on. Rick Warren’s words in this chapter are a good reminder that “God knows what’s best for me and I should gratefully accept the way He has fashioned me.”
 
Assessing (or over-thinking) my gifts and abilities is something I do regularly and rather than beating myself up for something I am not, I appreciate when my gifts and natural abilities are confirmed by others.
 
I am practicing with the earthly abilities God has given me in order to get ready for those eternal responsibilities and rewards.
 
– Char Campbell (Director of Women’s Ministries)
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Day 31:

Today’s reading is a good reminder of just how unique God created each of us. How He has given each of us a special gift to share with the church family and the world we live in. Each of us are called to recognize that gift and use it to the glory of God. If we look in the mirror and think about all the times and experiences that we know God has carried us through we will find the niche to become more fruitful for God and help others in the church and the world. 
 
– Randy Borden (Facilities Manager)
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Day 30:

Today’s devotion just brings a smile to my face when I am reminded that serving in the church should bring us and God great joy. I love how Rick Warren reminds us that when we think on our calling, our purpose within the church, it should be a moment filled with joy. Our unique emotional “heartbeat” or passion is something that should fill us with excitement. It brings me back to a day, many years ago when our sweet Mrs. Shea handed me my first Kindergarten Sunday school lesson. My heart skipped a beat with anxious excitement and my eyes welled up with the thought that this could be the first time some of these little ones hear about Jesus! Find comfort in the fact that God has your special service area already planned out, and your going to be great at it! Jump in and say yes to new things that spark your interest in the church, it’s the only way you will discover the joy that God has planned for you!
 
– Kelly Vath (PEAK Children’s Ministry Director)
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Day 29:

Every ministry matters, Rick Warren reminds us in today’s reading. Much of my life, my contribution to the Body of Christ has been visible, upfront, and public. But I have only been able to do my part because so many people, whose ministry is under the radar, have done theirs. Without fanfare. Outside the spotlight. And I am convinced those quiet and anonymous acts of service are the ones that please Jesus the most. I think of those who spend Saturday morning preparing breakfast burritos so the rest of us can chow down on them the following day, those who trim the bushes and trees around the church grounds, those who take each of those prayer requests and pray earnestly for them, one by one. Those ministries, often unseen, are the ones that bring the biggest smile to Jesus’ face. And one day, will bring his heartiest “Well done!” 
 
– Paul Jorden (Senior Pastor)
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Day 28:

Today’s devotional reminded me of some lyrics from one of my favorite songs – Hard Love by NEEDTOBREATHE, which is also featured in the new movie The Shack :
 
“There’s a reason that the road is long,
It takes some time to make your courage strong.
 
Hold on tight a little longer,
What don’t kill ya makes you stronger,
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love,
You can’t change without a fall out,
This gonna hurt, but don’t you slow down,
Get back up, ’cause it’s a hard love.”
 
When you set a goal for yourself (whether it’s a goal to get more organized, get in shape, or grow spiritually) it’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see immediate results or progress. This song, and today’s devotional, was a great reminder that growth, change, improvements, and becoming like Christ aren’t easy things – it’s a hard love. Coming from an impatient person (me) who is usually running late,  it’s nice to know that God is never in a hurry, and He’s always working in your life even when you can’t see or feel it. So set goals for yourself, and work on growth and change (even if you have to face some hard truths about yourself), but give yourself permission to not be in a hurry. Remind yourself daily that God is still doing good work in you.
 
– Katie Barnhart (Web & Graphic Designer / Communications)
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Day 27:

As I read this devotional, I considered all I have faced and all those around me have faced. There are a few steps in beating temptation that are outlined. The best one is refocusing our thoughts on something else. As the author states; “most diets don’t work because they keep you thinking about food!” if we fix our thoughts on Jesus, we have replaced the temptation with something else, our Lord and Savior! I did not quit smoking some 30 years ago by thinking about quitting. I beat the bad habit with focus on other things. I stayed busy and developed habits and hobbies to take the place of the bad habit. You can involve close friends for accountability or to call when you feel weak. Realize when you are tempted most and avoid that situation. A great lesson, challenging, and to the point, with great tools!! Enjoy!
 
– Jerry Chesser (Adult Ministries Pastor)
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Day 26:

Temptation comes from evil desires inside us, not from God. It begins with an evil thought and becomes sin when we dwell on the thought and allow it to become an action. Like a snowball rolling downhill, sin grows more destructive the more we let it have its way.
 
It’s easy to blame others and make excuses for evil thoughts and wrong actions. Some excuses include: It’s the other person’s fault; I couldn’t help it; It was just a simple mistake; Nobody’s perfect; The devil make me do it; I was pressured into it; I didn’t know it was wrong; God is tempting me.
 
A person who makes excuses it trying to shift the blame from himself or herself to something or someone else. But God wants us to accept responsibility for our wrongs, confess them, and ask God for forgiveness.
 
– Tony N. Schenk (Worship & Technology Pastor)
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Day 25:

Today’s reading was so affirming for those of us who have gone through difficulties (which I think is pretty much all of us)! I especially liked the part where he said, “Since God intends to make you like Jesus, he will take you through the same experiences Jesus went through” and then proceeded to explain. I also like the new perspectives of Romans 8:28-29 that so clearly outlined the real meaning of these words from a point of view many of us tend to forget. Praying whenever we are going through life’s troubles we can turn back to this chapter again and again. I know I will be!
 
– Carrie Evans (Student Ministries Pastor)
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Day 24:

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Are you transformed by the truth, and I mean truly transformed? Does the Bible have the first and last say in your life? As I reflect on those questions that Day 24 challenges us with, it is convicting thinking about if the Bible truly infiltrates every area in my life. I would like to say that it does, but that would inhibit my fallen nature. God’s truth is so evident and accessible everyday for each one of us, yet how often do we plug into it, make it our source of life, and apply its principles continually? Not enough is the answer. We can always plug into it more and be continually transformed by the power of the truth God has for us. One of my favorite artists NF has a lyric in a song that goes like this:
 
“I know the Bible says that I should always trust in you
But, I will never read that book enough
And when I have a question I don’t take the time to look it up
Or pick it up
It collects dust on my nightstand
I’m just being honest
Please take this outta my hands
I have no control, I am just a person
But thank the Lord that I serve a God that’s perfect”
 
We serve a God who is perfect and has given us infinite access to him. Don’t let the Bible or its principles collect dust on the literal and/or metaphorical nightstand of your life. Let us take advantage of that and each be transformed by its everlasting truth. 
 
– Wes Jones (Student Ministries Leader)
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Day 23:

This devotion felt like a burden to me, especially when I read “To change your life, you must change the way you think.” For someone who has struggled with anxiety as far back as I can remember that turned into daily panic attacks that made me ask God to take me to be with Him because I didn’t want to live like that anymore, this statement has been repeated to me over and over and over again. My response would be “Don’t you think that I would change my thoughts if I could.” I didn’t know how to change them then and still don’t know how to change them now. God has grown me through very difficult life experiences that have helped with my autopilot thoughts. Not from anything I have done but from experiencing God and his presence in all those difficult situations. I don’t have those panic attacks or daily anxiety anymore because all the fears I had about losing the ones I loved and being left behind alone has come true. I can relate to Job 3:25, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” I like what Day 22 said about transforming your character: “One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Remember, earth is not heaven!” I have definitely learned this lesson the hard way. But through it all, I have come to trust Jesus more! He will change you one way or another. It was also good for me to read in Day 22 (I should have had this day instead) that Spiritual maturity is neither instant nor automatic; it is a gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life. I am choosing to trust God with my Spiritual maturity because I am sure His way is better than mine. So today my peace comes from Matthew 11:30 because I need my burden to be light after today’s reading.
 
– Carmen Braaksma (Office Manager)
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Day 22:

We are called to become more Christ-like by following the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Holy Spirit teaches us right from wrong and changes us from inside out. Changing our character to become more like Jesus is a life long process. It also takes Christ’s community around us to help us change.
 
– Randy Borden (Facilities Manager)
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Day 21:

When I studied Genetics in college, we talked about the importance of diversity in the gene pool. Too much inbreeding creates insanity, hemophiliacs, and as we jokingly said, “people with two heads.” I think that applies to a church too. Family in Christ celebrates the fact that there is not too much “sameness” in our church. It keeps us healthy, exciting, and effective. I love that people at our church are different from me in their thinking process, passions, priorities, worship, etc. It need not create conflict. If I take time to have a conversation with them, I can understand how God works in people who are different from me.
 
– Judy Jorden (Director of Community Outreach)
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Day 20:

I like to think that I try to be right with my relationships and not hang onto things that divide. Life is too short to live any other way. Today’s reading hit home – that working for peace with one another isn’t just a nice thing to do, but an expectation of God’s people. What does our inability or refusal to work things out with our brothers and sisters say to the world? It certainly does not please God.
 
People are human and will disappoint us, make us angry, and hurt us. Rick Warren suggests when seeking to restore a relationship, begin with prayer. Talk to God about it first instead of gossiping to a friend. “Use prayer to ventilate vertically.” Once we’ve prayed, and maybe vented a bit, then it’s up to us to make the first move to restore fellowship, regardless of who may be at “fault.” Focus on really listening to the other person’s feelings. We all need to be heard. Then, hard as it may be, recognize your own role in the conflict. And remember to attack the problem, not the person. Think, choose your words wisely. Respond verses react.
 
Unforgiveness and broken fellowship are like spiritual baggage; they get heavy. Resolution may not always be possible, but God expects us to work toward reconciliation and restoration, to focus on the relationship. Because at the end of the day, isn’t the person, the relationship, really what matters?
 
– Margie Bessler (Midweek Dinners Coordinator)
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Day 19:

At the end of 2016, I was having a pity party for myself. I didn’t have any close friends at church. Oh, boo hoo—then I heard the words, “Well why don’t you do something about that.” In true junior high fashion, I messaged three women that I felt comfortable with and wanted to get to know better. The message went like this: “Hi! I have enjoyed getting to know you and am looking for a few women that might want to do life with me on a regular basis. Will you be my friend?”
 
After I hit send, I got really nervous and thoughts of, “Well, that was really dumb, what if they message back and actually tell me how dumb I am, or what if they don’t message back? Then I will know for sure they don’t want to be friends, actually I will know for sure no one wants to be my friend”……..and on and on and on.
 
Guess what? Within 10 minutes, yup 10 minutes…..ding, ding, ding my phone starting blowing up. “I would love to meet with you on a regular basis, this is what I have been looking for, when do we start?, I would LOVE to be your friend!”
 
Cultivating community takes honesty! I felt pretty dumb (and vulnerable) but I was honest with these gals. I wanted and needed some close confidants. I had to humble myself and realize I can’t do this thing called life all on my own.
 
At our first meeting, being the administrative type that I am, I asked “How do you want this to look?” The response was, we need to meet every week. Alrighty then, the commitment was set to meet every week and it went without saying our conversations are private and these friends are so courteous, they never tell me my house needs cleaning or I need a new hair style. We receive God’s grace by humbly admitting that we need it, think more of each other than we do of ourselves, know that it is safe to share our doubts and fears without being judged and laugh (I mean belly laugh) at our quirks and annoying traits.
 
I am so pleased that Family In Christ Church embraces venues like MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers, ladies bible studies, women’s retreats, and many girls only activities for we, the ladies of FIC, to find and cultivate a community that lives right with God and enjoys its results with the people God brings across our paths.
 
– Char Campbell (Director of Women’s Ministries)
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Day 18:

I had to chuckle when I read the title for today’s reading…which just so happens to be the motto of Life Groups here at FIC: Experiencing Life Together. It was refreshing to be reminded again of the value of authentic fellowship, meeting together intentionally and purposefully to be encouraged and to encourage others. I am so grateful for the different people I have in my life who are helping me to grow in my walk with Jesus. And I’m grateful to not be doing life alone!
 
– Morgan Kellum (Director of Life Group Ministries)
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Day 17:

Recently I have felt disconnected. Our Life Group is on hold for the church-wide study. I have not been with my support system for a few weeks. So, this day’s devotional explains why we need a church family. It identifies me, it moves me out of my self-centeredness, it builds my spiritual muscle, I need it and it will help me from backsliding. I AM called to belong, not just believe!! If you feel alone in a crowd, maybe, just maybe, you need to connect more with your church family! Try it, you may just like it!!
 
– Jerry Chesser (Adult Ministries Pastor)
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Day 16:

Today’s reading was a game changer for me. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the busyness of life, rather than making relationships a top priority. It’s also easy for me to fall into my own selfish wants and desires, rather than loving people the way God wants me to – the way God loves me. It changes my whole perspective learning that life without love is worthless, love is the only thing that lasts forever, and that I will someday be evaluated on how I loved other people. However, it’s not going to be easy. I’m so grateful God gives us a lifetime to learn how to love. I know God was convicting my heart today, because after I finished reading this devotional I got an unexpected text message from someone, someone in my life who is hard for me to love, who frustrates me, and who has really hurt me in the past. I realized that right at that very moment God was giving me an opportunity to love them. I don’t want today, or any other day of my life, to be wasted. I want to spend my days well by focusing on love, and remembering that the people in my life, my spiritual family, relationships, and love, are what matters most.
 
– Katie Barnhart (Web & Graphic Designer / Communications)
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Day 15:

“Because God is love, he treasures relationships. His very nature is relational and he identifies himself in family terms: Father, Son, and Spirit.”
 
Explaining the Trinity has been a challenge for the church from the beginning. The Eastern Orthodox tradition has had an easier time with it because they have always viewed the Godhead as a Holy Family: there is God the Father, the Spirit is God the Mother (indeed the word Spirit is in the feminine) and then there is God the Son.  Father, Mother(Spirit), Son. Indeed you can still see frescoes of this Holy Family of the Trinity on ancient Greek church walls.   
 
But you don’t need to visit Greece or Syria to realize that God’s very nature is relational. Just ask your kids. They know that Father, Son, and Spirit means that God is a Family. 
 
Years ago, our four year old daughter Courtney proudly brought to us her latest work of art: Four emoji-like happy faces. “Who are these four people?” we asked.
 
“This is God,” she said happily  
‘The first smiley face is God the Father.
The second is God the Mother(Spirit)
The third is God the Son.”
 
“But who’s that FOURTH person in your picture?” we asked.
“That’s the Holy GIRL!” she declared impatiently.
 
Our daughter wasn’t trying to redefine Christian orthodoxy that day. It’s just that she was pretty sure that  if God as Family was anything like HER family, there had to be room in this Divine Family for more than just Someone like her older brother. There has to be room for her TOO.   
 
And she was right. There IS room for ALL of us in God’s Family. No, we don’t share his divinity. We are adopted into his Family warts and all. But still, he WANTS us, more than we will ever know, to be WITH him.
 
– Paul Jorden (Senior Pastor)
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Day 14:

As we wrap up the week on our first purpose, Worship, I am challenged to choose worship regardless of my feelings, my circumstances, or my outlook on the day. Because of Jesus’ great sacrifice for me, my response must be gratitude and praise to God. And even if He feels distant, I can go back to what I know of Him and thank Him for His promises. I’m sure my heart will catch up with my head and before I know it, I’ll be feeling His love in addition to knowing how much He loves me.
 
– Morgan Kellum (Director of Life Group Ministries)
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Day 13:

All the heavens are telling of the glory of God: and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Why? Because that’s what they were created to do, day after day – to tell God (and anyone else who’s paying attention) that He is huge. All powerful. Glorious. Limitless. Beyond our wildest imagination.
 
And you know what’s really wild? This massive God, who has never known any shortage of worship, wants to be worshiped…by you. Right now.
 
It’s not that He needs any more worship to be worthy. No, God can’t be more worthy than He already is and always has been. It’s not that God needs our worship – but He wants it. He wants it because He deserves it. And He commands it because to do so is the most loving thing He can possibly do.
 
God knows who He is. He knows what He’s worth. And He knows that He has made us for His glory. You see, It’s not about you…all of this is God’s story, God’s glory.
 
– Tony N. Schenk (Worship & Technology Pastor)
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Day 12:

As I read through this devotional, I asked myself, “Do I consider God a friend, my best friend”? A usual, I fell short in answering. This devotional reminded me to look more closely at friendships. What does it take to be a friend and more importantly having God as my best friend? God wants what most friends want or need in a relationship; honesty and shared values. God wants the same AND He also wants obedience and our desire to be with Him more than anything else. Like most friendships, you are as close to each other as you choose to be…that includes your relationship with God.
 
– Jerry Chesser (Adult Ministries Pastor)
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Day 11:

Wow! We get to be best friends with God. I loved the reminder from Day 11 on spending time “practicing the presence of God” in the midst of our daily routine. One great idea was to practice short “breath prayers” throughout the day. Another helpful idea for building a friendship with God was through meditating on His word regularly.
 
– Carrie Evans (Student Ministries Pastor)
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Day 10:

A heart for Worship is giving all of yourself to Jesus our Lord and Savior on a daily basis. Praising Him for all the blessings in our lives. Trying to understand all the challenges we face. Knowing there is a reason for the challenges we face. Whether it is for us to grow or for someone we are connected to to grow in their relationship to God through us. We Praise God for everything in our lives.
 
– Randy Borden (Facilities Manager)
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Day 9:

Tough day for me. Especially when it said: “Why is obedience so pleasing to God? Because it proves you really love him. Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will obey my commandments.’” I thought, well I guess I don’t really love him because I don’t obey His commandments. But then I thought about my marriage and how we didn’t have to do anything to prove our love to each other. Even when we both did things that were displeasing, we never doubted our love for each other or that our displeasing actions made us love each other any less. So, I kept reading and came to where it said: “In the same way, God doesn’t wait for you to reach maturity before he starts liking you. He loves and enjoys you at every stage of your spiritual development. He knows you are incapable of being perfect or sinless.” What a big relief! God loves me anyway. So as a believer in Jesus Christ, I am the bride of Christ, and I wait with great anticipation for the day when I will be united with my Bridegroom (and Ron). Until then, I pray that I will remain faithful to Him and say with all the redeemed of the Lord, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
 
– Carmen Braaksma (Office Manager)
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Day 8:

I’ve retitled this: God enjoys me and I enjoy Him.
 
It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the concept that God created me just because there wasn’t a “Judy” in the world for him to love. But then, I realized that that is exactly why I wanted to have children – just so I had somebody else to love. You have no amazing expectations of your kids.  You don’t ask them to earn your love. You don’t have them just so they’ll take care of you when you’re old. You just want this child to love. And, hopefully, you love them unconditionally. My kids and grandkids don’t need to do ANYthing to earn my love. I love them because they are mine. So it seems to work the same way with God.
 
Bringing pleasure to God and enjoying Him is my response to that. I enjoy him in unconventional ways. I don’t sing very well in church and I admit my prayers are short and snappy (they are not elegant). But put me among flowers and boardwalks and sunshine and my heart sings!  My gifts to God are quite mundane: I pull my weeds, I dance to James Brown’s “I Feel Good,” I wave to my neighbors, I try to always be kind and authentic.  A lot of times I feel guilty for not doing loads of wonderfully spiritual things in the world. That’s why this day 8 felt so uplifting to me. I’m just Judy. And that’s okay.
 
– Judy Jorden (Director of Community Outreach)
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Day 7:

It’s been a week now that I have been musing over Rick Warren’s opening line: It’s not about you. That statement is not meant as a put-down or a way of thinking poorly of ourselves. It meant to remind us that we find life’s greatest joy by living self-forgetful lives. It’s all about him, is how Day 7’s reading begins. And during this 42 days journey I want to be more mindful of him in all the various activities that fill up my day.  For me, part of that involves slowing down and being more aware of his presence each moment. Listening for his wisdom when talking to a grieving husband, waiting for his guidance as I work on a message, pausing for his perspective when I begin writing that email.  I love what S. Irenaeus said way back in the 2nd century: “The glory of God is a man fully alive.” May the rhythm of  your life today allow you to hear him speak.
 
– Paul Jorden (Senior Pastor)
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Day 6:

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen , but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians
4:18 (NIV) While contemplating today’s reading I can’t help but to reflect on the life of a parent or any adult really. Its so easy lose sight of the eternal, of the everlasting hope of heaven. When family life, work-life, etc. come to its apex, all your left with is a messy house, a mile long to-do list and a desire for something better. When we get lost in the mundane daily tasks, the routine of it all, we eventually find ourselves searching for a release. Something tangible, that refreshes us, something that brings us back to our ultimate happiness. It could be a beauty makeover, a new wardrobe, or a midlife crisis Corvette purchase. All these things you find yourself grabbing a hold of, squeezing them for joy until they run dry;  and my friends, they will run dry! God is calling out to you in those moments of frenzy, of chaos, of unorganized mess. When all you are trying to find is a band-aid, a sense of calm and  peace for this chaotic life. That’s right where he is… God… he is waiting right there… telling you in that still small voice, “My beloved, this mess… it is all temporary and it will all pass away. But me, our relationship, my love for you, its forever!”
 
I don’t know about you, but I have noticed when I fill my day with the hustle and bustle of a routine, it seems to fly by even faster. Not only is my day gone, but as I hurry, I miss out on the random God conversations that just happen sometimes in the grocery store. When I put too much emphasis on the Earthly task, on the material stuff, I miss out on helping a friend through a hard time where God really wanted my attention to be. All this “stuff,” these things we dwell on, its not forever; its not even worth a second glance. If we pull our eyes away from the worldly mess, we get a chance to see our families, our children, our friends as God sees them, people with a purpose. We get a chance to build the life, and live in relationships that never pass away.
 
– Kelly Vath (Children’s Ministry Team Lead)
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Day 5:

Everything I have and will ever have are gifts from God. He has entrusted me with my family, home, friends and job. It’s up to me to show my faith, trust and belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by how I care for each of those. My tests are do I or do I not keep my focus on Jesus when times are challenging.
 
– Randy Borden (Facilities Manager)
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Day 4:

Reading Day 4 was very uplifting for me. It gave me a new perspective on death and eternity, which are topics I’ve struggled to understand. It’s easy to lose sight of eternal life in our culture today when we live in such a fast paced, instantaneous, here-and-now society. I was convicted that I often focus on small things that don’t matter in light of eternity. I loved where the book said, “The closer you live to God, the smaller everything else appears.” I pray that God would help me live out my life as practice and preparation before the real game begins.
 
– Katie Barnhart (Web & Graphic Designer / Communications)
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Day 3:

This lesson challenged me to look at what motivates me. On what basis do I make decisions? Do I try to please others? Make decisions based on guilt or anger? Fear? Materialism? Knowing my purpose allows me to focus, simplify my life, takes me to a different and better motivation. Allow this devotional to challenge you! Check to see what drives YOUR life!
 
– Jerry Chesser (Adult Ministries Pastor)
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Day 2:

Oh the power of the content in Day 2 of the “What on Earth Am I Here For” book!  So much of what we as youth leaders do is try to convince our students about the truths shared in this chapter such as the reality and depth of God’s love, the beauty and intentionality of every aspect of their lives, and that they are specially designed by God no matter the circumstances of their lives.. But of course, it doesn’t just apply to students.  If only we adults could remember the power behind this truth!  I know personally it would help me see my trials from a different perspective.  How about you?
 
– Carrie Evans (Student Ministries Pastor)
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Day 1:

As I reflect on the first day’s reading I am struck by the fact that everything in life and everyone’s purpose is found in one thing: God. I loved Warren’s analogy that God is the creator and we are his complex invention. For the invention to run smoothly and find purpose and fulfillment, we must ask God for our purpose and use his word (owner’s manual) to guide our lives. I eagerly look forward to discovering more of my purpose and what on earth I am here for as we begin this study.
 
 
– Wes Jones (Student Ministries Leader)
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