Perfect Timing – Be You

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Almost two years ago, my wife and I put our condo up for sale. We didn’t know where we’d be moving—we’d figure it out—but we knew we were unhappy and just wanted out. Our building was in a prime location, and with the exploding housing market, we expected our home to sell within hours of listing it.

It didn’t.

But two other units in our building did, and so after four months, we took our home off the market. Our prayers had gone unanswered. We said we trusted God, but more often, we questioned him: “When are we going to sell this place?!” We felt confused and despondent. We felt hopeless.

I imagine the apostles felt the same. For generations, their people had been oppressed. They knew the prophecies of the coming Messiah who would establish his Kingdom. They met him. They followed him. They watched him be killed and then resurrected. They were ready to go!

Acts 1:6
So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

But Jesus didn’t give them the answers they were hoping for. Instead, he told them not to worry about the dates and times of God’s plan and shifted the conversation to the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:7-8). He tries to get the disciples to see that the what is more important than the when.

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder’s bottom line reminds us to “stop waiting for when, and start focusing on what.” If we can let go of our concern with when God will do something, we can instead focus on what he’s doing in our lives right now. That’s where the action is. The life-changing adventure with Jesus isn’t in the future: it’s right here, in this moment!

Months later, we tried to sell again and received two offers the first day. It sold for more than we were asking, and we found a great new place to live. To be honest, I’m disappointed I missed what God was doing in my life at that time, though looking back, I can see how he was working, and that has made my faith stronger.

We will never know, nor always understand God’s timing, but we can trust that it’s perfect. He is always working for us, even—or perhaps especially—in seasons of waiting. When we remember that, we can let God take care of the when, and instead, focus on what he is doing right now!

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Questions:
Do you find yourself focused more on the when or the what?

What next step is God calling you to right now?

Next Steps:
If you find yourself focusing on the when, ask God to open your eyes to what he’s doing in your life right now. You won’t want to miss it!

Pray intentionally about the next step God is inviting you to take. Be careful not to let your mind get wrapped up on steps two, three, and four. God will lead you one step at a time!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I’m so grateful for your love and your promises. Help me to remember them when I find myself waiting on your perfect timing. Help me to trust that you are working for my good, even though I may not see it. I trust you, Lord. In my seasons of waiting for when, open my eyes to what you’re doing in my life right now so that I don’t miss a second of the adventure with you. In your name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Ryan Leone. Ryan is grateful to help people experience Jesus through the written word. He and his wife Mia are Ohio natives who now live in Boulder, Colorado with their dog Bella. Ryan spends most of his time running trails through the Rocky Mountains, exploring God’s beautiful creation.


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The Powerful Name of Jesus – Be You

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I grew up going to church with my parents and brothers. We were very active in youth group, choir, and many other activities. I went through nine months of confirmation classes, and at age 12, I was confirmed after standing before the elders and answering their questions. Sadly, after all that, Jesus became less like our Savior’s name to me, and more like a swear word.

I still remember the day I was walking home from school when I used it for the first time. I waited for God to strike me dead. When that didn’t happen, I began using it more and more frequently as a swear word over the next 30 years of my life. I really felt like a split-personality regarding Jesus—I loved the music and the memories and the feelings of my time in church as a young girl, but I had no problem using his name as an obscenity.

He was not real to me.

It wasn’t until I fully yielded my life to Christ at age 43 that Jesus became a precious name to me. By the power of his Holy Spirit, God changed me.

Psalm 40:3
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

So after all those years, now that God had me back, what did he have planned for me? I certainly had regrets about the years I wasted, but life taught me a lot about living. I had kids. I had gotten divorced. I had an education. I had a job. In all those arenas, God had blessed me with many experiences—lessons that I needed—to fulfill the tasks he had for me as his child.

1 Peter 4:10 says:
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

God had given me gifts and talents that I, now, had opportunities to use in his service. It took me some time to realize that my gifts were unique to me, and special, not shared by everyone. That knowledge kept me from envying others’ gifts and disparaging mine—most of the time. (I sure wish I had the gift of singing, but I have a choir voice that does not stand well on its own. I do love to worship loudly, though, so don’t stand too close!)

Being a self-starter, I’ve never been too concerned about the when. More times than not, I have had to learn to wait on the Lord because I’m pretty sure I know the what! My impulsive need for movement does not always bring the best results, but God always uses what I offer up to him!

As Christians, we have the power by the Holy Spirit to accomplish all the tasks he sets before us.

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

It is a promise we can stand on! So as Pastor Ben often says, “Let’s get after it!” Bring your stuff—God will use it!

Questions:
Do you make time in your day to listen to God? Can you identify areas in which God might use the talents and experience you bring to the table?

Next Steps:
If you haven’t gone to GrowthTrack, go! You will learn all about how God has wired you, what your personality might be open to, what your purpose is. You will learn how God designed you to engage in the life changing adventure of following Jesus.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, how grateful I am that you have used all my experiences to impact your kingdom for your glory. Thank you for the power available to me through the Holy Spirit to accomplish the purpose you have for my life. Help me to become the person you created me to be, and to give all the glory to you! Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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Strength in Your Weakness – Be You

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Old habits die hard.

Now there is a truth! While many may dispute this fact, hopefully, followers of Christ know and understand that God has appropriated spiritual gifts within each of us. We literally have no say in the matter, except whether we choose to lean into those strengths.

It is almost funny to recall how I fought stepping into the giftedness within me. There was a time when everything within me longed to be like the soft-spoken, kind-hearted, easy-going females I admired from a short distance. Their lack of threatening words and their listening skills were (and are) so refreshing to me!

To be clear, the very reason those traits appealed to me so much is because, without huge amounts of intentionality, none of those traits resides within me.

Those old habits die hard.

Finally deciding to accept myself as God intended was not a quick process. I literally fought it—with no success, thankfully. As much as I admire and respect the tender, soft-spoken women I have met through The Clutter Project Group and other places, I am grateful God did not use a cookie cutter when creating us. (It would be a drag if we all were similar.) The strengths so easily identified in them are the very things that are undeniable weaknesses within me. And similarly, the sweet, soft-spoken women in my Group, no doubt, struggle to speak up when it would serve them and others well.

Indeed, old habits die hard.

I am well aware comparisons are cruel at best, if not downright damaging. Yet, it does serve a powerful purpose when we acknowledge everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses. Weaknesses are simply the flipside of strengths.

Paul says it best in 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I rejoice in the reality that as I allow God to show up in every area of my life—especially the weak, fragile ones—he is faithful. When I move my own words to the side and allow his words to be mine, everyone wins!     

The body of Christ functions in amazing ways, impacting countless lives when we lean into God and allow him to work through us. Only he has the power to use both our strengths and our weaknesses for his glory.

Questions:
What specific strengths has God gifted you with? What specific weaknesses regularly appear in your life? Do you have an accountability friend able to help you see the real you—both strengths and weaknesses? Have you attended GrowthTrack?

Next Steps:
Write down the strengths God has gifted you with and any weaknesses you can identify.

Next, meet with an accountability friend and ask those same questions. Write down and consider specific strengths and weaknesses your friend sees in you.

Attend GrowthTrack to help you learn to “Be You.”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, teach me to accept the weaknesses within myself. Help me to always remember that weaknesses serve as an undeniable reminder that no one, including me, should “do life” without you and your presence. Forgive me when I unwisely get in the way of your perfect plan. Empower me to trust you with every relationship in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen is extremely grateful retirement has afforded her several soul-fulfilling opportunities to engage in deeper, meaningful relationship with Him and others.


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The Gift That Keeps on Giving – Be You

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1 Peter 4:10
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

Read that verse one more time. It says, “God has given (or as I prefer blessed) each of (us with) a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”

What I love about this verse are the points I emphasized. We each are given a gift, not just a chosen few, or those from a special lineage—each, you, me, everyone. These gifts are not all the same; there is GREAT VARIETY, and each one is uniquely designed for each of us. What you may excel at may be my weakness and vice versa.

Use, a word of action, means we don’t just throw these gifts in a drawer and forget about them. Imagine it’s your birthday and you receive some very intriguing looking packages, all nice and brightly wrapped. How long could you let them just sit there before curiosity got the best of you? Until you had to rip them open to see what was inside? We need to look at our gifts from God in this way—we should be excited to actively use our gifts to discover the amazing adventures they could lead us on.

Well means we need to be responsible with our gifts. Don’t turn use into abuse; focus on using them to serve one another. This means we should humble ourselves, using our gifts to help our fellow man—not for our own gain. When we do this, everyone benefits.

Now, if you’re like I once was, you may think that you don’t have a spiritual gift, that you’re not important or special enough to have one. If so, you couldn’t be more wrong.

1 Corinthians 12:6-7
6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

Even though there are many different gifts, they are all blessings from the same source.

1 Corinthians 12:4
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.

These gifts, when used as intended, work together through all of us to strengthen the body of Christ followers—just as our human bodies have many parts, each with a unique ability. Eyes cannot hear; a nose cannot see. Could you imagine trying to walk if your body was built upside down? Each body part works together to make a complex but well-functioning unit.

1 Corinthians 12:27
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

It is easy to underestimate the importance of your gifts, but you must understand, no matter how small or insignificant you may feel your gifts are, they are integral in God’s overall plan. Think again of our human bodies. Are the eyes more important than the feet? Is the brain less significant than the heart? No! Every gift is equally important in God’s eyes.

There is one gift I feel we all share, though, and that is the ability to love. This is the most important gift of all.

1 Corinthians 13:8
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever.

These spiritual gifts from God are truly a blessing. When we, as Christians, put them to use as God intended, it is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Questions:
Do you know what your spiritual gifts are?

Are you making good use of what God has blessed you with?

Next Steps:
Attend GrowthTrack to discover what your gifts are.

Read 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12 to gain more insight into your gifts.

Get excited about the gifts you have, and put them to use as God intended. Consider joining a DreamTeam to serve others with them.

Prayer:
Awesome Father, I am so thankful for your great love for me. I am grateful and blessed to be given such amazing gifts I can use to serve and help others. Help me to always use them well, as you intended. Unlike earthly gifts that eventually fade away, help me to always stay excited about the great opportunities your gifts can bring and help me to always keep giving of mine to glorify your name. Amen!


This post was written by Ned Miller. Ned loves serving through writing on the LIO team, prayer team, group leader and as a greeter. He loves spending time with his family and working on his model railroad.


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What, Not When – Be You

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I always chuckle at one scene in the movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver are telling the Pevensie children they’re destined to fulfill a prophecy, and Peter, the eldest, blurts out, “We’re not heroes!” Susan, the eldest sister, adds, “We’re from Finchley.”

Hearing Susan’s exclamation brings to light their short-sightedness. Yet, if we’re honest, most of us are quick to downplay the significance of our ordinary, or maybe even messy, lives especially as we compare our lives and qualifications to others.

Perhaps you also feel like you don’t have anything significant that can be used by God, at least not right now. It’s easy to push the life-changing adventure of Jesus into the future—after you’ve earned that degree, landed that job, gotten your life together, or something else.

God, however, invites you and me to something different! This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder kicked off our new series, Be You, which is all about how everyday people can have extraordinary impact. Even though we all have fragile, messy areas in our lives, they don’t disqualify us from being used powerfully by God.

As we step into this journey, we need to realize that God has given us incredible gifts to use right where we are in order to spread the love of Jesus to those around us.  He will even use the messy parts of our lives for his glory if we allow him to. Through them, we have powerful opportunities to share our stories and how God has become more than just a name to us.

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

But this can only happen if we live out this week’s bottom line—stop waiting for when and start focusing on what. We can be encouraged that we won’t be alone; God promised to be with us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, what is God inviting you into today?

Questions
Have you been to GrowthTrack? If so, what are your spiritual gifts? How can you utilize them to bless others right where you are?

What are your passions?  How might God want to use these to make a difference in the lives of others?

Next Steps
If you haven’t been to GrowthTrack, make plans to attend. Check your campus for times.

Attend Group Leader Training to find out how to use your passions or interests to lead a Group this summer.

Prayer:
Lord, sometimes I hesitate to step into what you call me to, believing my weaknesses, difficulties, or past disqualify me.  Help me remember your grace is all I need, and your power works best in weakness so you may be glorified.  Thank you for your Son, Jesus, and the grace we receive from him through faith.  Amen.


This post was written by Kelly Pagel, the Director of the LivingItOut.


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