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God’s Calling, Have you answered?

by Ben Silk 0 Comments

I believe God calls all of us to do something great with our lives.

The problem is some of us put him on hold, or give him the busy signal; we tell him:

“Not right now God, can’t you see I’m busy having fun drinking/partying my life away, forgetting my problems and not fixing them…”

Or we answer and hang up once we realize who’s calling or just don’t even bother to answer…so agitated He’s even calling…thinking jeez you’ve called me 100 times don’t you get it that I don’t want to talk to you?

Most of us act as if it’s a telemarketer calling us at dinner time; this nuisance…not our Father calling to tell us how much he loves and cares about us, desperately wanting to hear from us and encourage us and share in our challenges and victories.

Or we think He’s calling us to judge us, and tell us how poorly we have done…and since we know we aren’t living up to our full potential we are afraid to answer…not realizing that in His Kingdom, the currency is Grace…God loves you for you…He created you to be unique just like each snowflake is unique.

Too often we only choose to listen once we’ve become broken or hopeless and realized what all our friends have told us, what the world has told us isn’t true and isn’t working that we finally say… alright what is it that you wanted to tell me God?

Francis Chan said, “The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.”

I know that I wish I had picked up sooner, however I am so grateful He never stopped calling, that our Father is persistent and unwavering with His unconditional love. That He protects us and is there for us when we need Him the most. I pray that one day you’ll pick up the phone when He calls and learn to have a conversation with Him. For I know that your life will be changed forever.

So the LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the LORD is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. (Isaiah 30:18 NLT)

My Journey to Elevate

by Ben Silk 1 Comment
My Journey to Elevate
Elevate Youth Camp

I remember in high school being told in order to graduate we would have to do 40 hours of volunteer work. At this point I didn’t have a job (other than babysitting), and could care less about serving. I loved the thought of helping others, but was just too shy to do anything about it. I wasn’t involved in anything outside of school to attach volunteer status to. As a lot of us can be, I was selfish with my time. I didn’t see the point in doing something that didn’t benefit me directly.

On my journey to becoming a Christian I started to see the value in serving others, especially with no direct benefit to myself. When Ayanda and I made the decision to join the church, we knew we were either going all in or nothing. That meant going every weekend to service, going to Wednesday night prayer – even when the thought of praying together as a group for an hour was uncomfortable, taking the T1 classes, going to C group and most importantly tithing money and time. I say most importantly, because every other activity is giving something to us, whereas the last two allow us to give back to the church community.

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)

I looked at all the areas I could serve in the church and saw that positions for the café were open, so I stepped in to the café to serve. I never worked in the fast food industry so for myself it was actually fun doing stock, and learning all the little cogs in the wheel that make the café such a great place to build relationships. I knew I had to have the mindset of doing any small thing that was needed and find joy in it. I knew that if I was booked to volunteer to make sure I wouldn’t allow my social life to interfere with the commitment I made. I wouldn’t even try and find out what others were doing when I would help because I didn’t want to let it soil my attitude wishing I was somewhere else.

Once we had our daughter, Olivia, I knew it would be time to step down in the café. I loved the opportunity to grow friendships with the others in the café and see peoples’ reactions to the café and our quality as a first time visitor. Although the time commitment wouldn’t work out for Saturday nights with our little one in tow, I didn’t want to stop volunteering altogether. So I took some time to really think about where I could make the best investment of my time, where I could help others grow and do something I can see myself doing long term with passion.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

I’d pray about it and my heart would always lead me to youth. Perhaps because I look much younger than I am, I have always felt that I would end up helping youth in someway. I used to think of this anti-aging process as annoying, but now I choose to look at it as a gift. So I approached Ryan about how I could help out and learned how Elevate worked and the vision for it moving forward. After having our conversation I knew it would be somewhere I would enjoy and could make a commitment to. Growing up, having a mentor or someone to speak into my life was sometimes lacking. When it was there, I always valued it. Becoming a father, I see the value even more for others to speak into our childrens’ lives.

Even though it’s only been a couple months and one amazing Youth Camp,  I have loved getting to know the kids and the opportunity to slowly build relationships with them. I can see that all the other crew leaders along with Ryan and Jayme are heavily invested in our youth and that’s what makes Elevate special. No one is there because they are being forced to be there, or that a position was needed to be filled. They are all there because they want to be there, to see our youth anchored and growing in their relationship with Jesus.

I don’t know about you but I love it when God uses multiple platforms to share a message. I’ve often read a book and received a word, only to go to church and have the message be on the same topic, and then find an example in my life or someone else close to me to apply it to. To me that’s God telling me, He knows my situation and cares enough to orchestrate everything as if it is speaking directly to me.

Lately for me that has been the Lord’s Prayer. I listened to a message of it recently being broken down, read about it in a book and listened to a ton of Elevation Church’s song Here as in Heaven. So I was super excited to find out that song was the main song for our worship at youth camp!

The whole weekend was based around learning what it means to be anchored in Christ, finding a promise from God, and understanding that we can trust God to keep that promise. So when I woke up in the morning on the Sunday to my Bible app verse, it blew me away.

God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. (Psalm 18:30 NIV)

Over the Youth Camp weekend, we saw 8 kids commit to Jesus! A group of them also received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues! They prayed prayers of forgiveness and unchecked sin in their lives and best of all, each and every one of them received a promise from God for their lives.

 

 

 

NKJV Word Study Bible

NKJV Word Study Bible Book Cover NKJV Word Study Bible
Thomas Nelson
Thomas Nelson
September 27, 2016
1760

I have been looking for a Word Study Bible for a while. It contains over 1700 word studies in Aramaic,  Hebrew and Greek. It also contains a concordance, full color maps, book introductions, Words of Christ in red and indexes. One of the best things I liked about this Bible is the font size! The other Bibles that I own tend to have a much smaller font size so this was a welcome change and made it very easy to read.

The version I have is hard cover and feels very durable, I believe it also comes in a leather-bound edition as well. One cool feature I really enjoyed; any word that is part of the word study is underlined. When you look at the word it also gives you all the other places the word is used in the Bible. I chose to read the books of Acts to get a feel for how the word studies work in this Bible, and found the background information very helpful. It brought a new perspective to a bunch of different scriptures for me. In addition, having the maps of the Bible in the back made it easy to follow along the journey that Paul and the other disciples take in Acts.

If you are looking for a Word Study Bible this NKJV is definitely one I would go with, great font size and easy to read and a bunch of useful features makes this a Bible I will be using a lot.

This Bible was given to me by BookLook Bloggers for an honest review.

I hate Mondays…

by Ayanda Silk 0 Comments

Happy thanksgiving!! Thanksgiving is SUCH a wonderful time of the year. Getting together with family and eating ALL THAT DELICIOUS FOOD is a blessing. I could go on but today I wanted to ask you when is the last time you’ve been thankful for a Monday?

You might be thinking, “Girl bye Mondays are wickity wickity wack”. And why is that? Maybe it’s because Monday is a reminder that the fun that weekends bring is basically over and that nothing but work, errands, exhaustion and endless tasks loom ahead.

I used to DREAD Mondays…Sunday night would roll around and I would go to bed almost depressed like “here we go again, the week hasn’t even begun and I’m already tired and ready for Friday to come around”. And even more so now as a mom, I love having my husband home on the weekends so Mondays remind me that I’m starting another week of “no relief till 6pm comes around” (I know I am working on it).

Psalm 118:24English Standard Version (ESV)

24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it

A couple of months ago though, I felt convicted to start my week off with a bang. To make Mondays like my Fridays and be just as excited for them to come around. A day to look forward to instead of a day I dread. So naturally I laughed because almost everyone hates Mondays…but God wanted me to change that thinking.

Equipped with that verse, I set off to make Mondays my BEST day of the week. And being a baby stepper I wanted to do something small and practical. Set myself up for success if you will.

My Mondays now begin with tea while I worship and read my devotional for the day. Something as simple as adding a ‘cuppa’ to my morning routine has drastically changed things for me. Another thing I do is write out an encouraging word or verse in my agenda each day of the week (which also helps me memorize it at the same time).

Monday is a day the Lord has made, let us REJOICE and BE GLAD in it. I challenge you to find one practical thing you can do to make your Mondays awesomer. It could be having your morning coffee while watching the sunrise, going for a walk outside, painting your nails or declaring some affirmations in front of the mirror to yourself  (i.e. Good morning beautiful/handsome, I am loved, I am called, I am wanted, Today is a Good day to have a Great day).

Commit to doing ONE fun thing to spice up your Mondays and watch them go from drab to fab *insert finger snap here*.

Ayandaxo


My FIRST pair of jeans!!

Let me explain, this was not my first pair of jeans in life…but rather my first pair of jeans in a LONG time. A friend of mine, a fashion connoisseur, blessed me with a new outfit for my 25th birthday. And she challenged me to get some jeans. You might be thinking, wearing jeans was a challenge for you? Yes, yes it was.

It goes back to growing up feeling insecure about the way that I looked because 1) My mom passed away years ago and never got to teach me how to love myself and 2) The pressures of this world to be perfect were very real (they still are). As silly as it sounds, I struggled with seeing myself as beautiful enough to rock a pair jeans. I believed that skinny jeans were only made for skinny people. I thought that if I was a size above 10 in jeans then I shouldn’t even bother and of course I just happened to be two sizes over that number.

I figured though (and so did my friend) that it was time to move on and begin breaking down the lies I was believing about myself and step out of my comfort zone. My comfort zone, by the way, consisted of sweat pants, leggings and very baggy shirts. So there we were at Old Navy and she insisted I try on the clothes  and come out to show her (my worst nightmare as I never ever tried on clothes at the store. I figured I fit into XL so I will only buy that no need to waste time trying stuff on). Wanting to be bold, I obliged of course. And an hour or so later I came out with 2 pairs of jeans using a simple concept of picking out jeans that fit my body type and style.

And so this is only the beginning for me. I’m still struggling stretching in that area. I often catch myself avoiding the mirror or speaking negatively about myself but I am taking those baby steps to better myself. I don’t want to look back a year from now and see the same person. I want to grow in the way I see myself and speak to myself. Because the truth is we ARE beautiful and beauty comes in ALL shapes and sizes. The word itself says it all, Be YOU Tiful.

So I want to encourage you, if there is something in your life, your “pair of jeans” that you have been avoiding, be BOLD. Whether it’s going to the gym by yourself or trying on that bold lip colour, do it! Take that first step. You’ve got the POWER!!

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” 1 Timothy 1:7

Sure I missed out on a couple years of rocking skinnies but to everything there is a season. And now is my time to shine and so is yours!!