Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Overwhelmed !

I haven't written anything in over a year but today I feel led by the spirit to put some of my thoughts down on this page...
From the title of this post you might be thinking I am worn down, stressed out or even burned out.  Well let me assure you that couldn't be further than the truth.  Today I write this blog feeling overwhelmed by both the love and joy in my life and the love and support  I have witnessed around me in the past few days. 

First and foremost the love of my wife and children is truly a gift from God.  That He would have given me the opportunity to meet and marry my unbelievable wife still blows me away.  He could of stopped there but he also blessed us with two incredible children that He created and knitted personally to do amazing things in this world.  I am truly overwhelmed by His effort and love for me and my family!  That he never gives up on me and is always beside me even in those times when I am not very good company.  Thank you God for your overwhelming love and gift of grace.

Next let me tell you about what I have bee a part of this week in our town of Mahomet.  It has been incredible seeing God work through so many people the last few day,  it has truly been humbling.  Watching people letting God's love shine through them and witnessing the power of God's love in action never gets old and never ceases to amaze me (Thank you Jesus!).   All around me I have seen an outpouring of love and support in the midst of tragedy in this community. Starting with the volunteers who fought the apartment fire in terribly cold and windy conditions.  The local emergency response team who got to the site so quickly and the tireless efforts of the people working with the American Red Cross. The amount of community members I have talked with this week who are just wanting to help the families who lost all their possessions in the  fire continues to make my heart smile.  Mahomet and its public leaders, school leaders, church leaders have put all things aside to focus on one thing...helping those affected, those who are hurting, scared and unsure of what to do next.  The amount of phone calls, emails, and people just stopping by the church to drop things off to give to these families blows me away.  All of these factors added together is why I love living in Mahomet.  Now don't misunderstand me, we're not "Pleasantville"  and we have our issues but they are FAR outweighed by the sense of community I continue to witness day end and day out.  Mahomet is truly the best "little" BIG town around!

Finally, the love and support I receive from the congregation and leaders of Mahomet Christian Church is second to none.  I have always been thankful for this extended family in my life especially for their teaching and guidance as I grew up in this church.  Now I am even more thankful as a youth minister that they support all of the craziness that comes along with having me as a staff member.  They have such a desire to be Jesus to our community I didn't even have to hesitate with my answer of YES! when the Red Cross asked me if they could use the church as a shelter.  I know the leaders and congregation felt as I do that the church building belongs to God and if someone is in need that's what the church is therefore not to just be a building for Sunday Worship.  Its great to be a part of this family.  Oh we are not the only church that would have done this and that is another great part of our community of Mahomet.  And we are not a family of perfect and sinless people but we are a family and we truly desire to work together to reach the people of our community with the LOVE of Jesus.  That's a great church to be apart of and that's the type of church I believe God expects us all to be!

So maybe now you can see why my heart is feeling OVERWHLEMED...overwhelmed with love and joy!  So let me say in closing for this feeling of wonderful overwhelmness (my word)THANK YOU, to the community of Mahomet, Thank YOU to the family of Mahomet Christian Church, THANK YOU to my beautiful wife and wonderful children and most importantly THANK YOU God !

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Long OVERDUE apology to me Wife!

Around 18 years ago a beautiful young lady came in to the education course I was taking and sat down a row in front of me just as the class was beginning.  This wonderful woman sat down without even noticing me and I thought should I say Hi.  I had met her the semester prior in a political science class but to my dismay hadn't seen her since before the Christmas break.  Well I finally tugged on her coat that she had laid across the back of her seat and she turned around, realized she knew who I was and smiled.  That smile was burned into my heart from that moment on and that was the beginning of the Polly and Jeff story. 

I want the world to know that on that day in a classroom at Southern Illinois University God bestowed on me an incredible gift.  My wife Polly is an amazing woman who first and foremost is a wonderful mother to our 2 children.  Her heart beats for our kids and her passion to give them her unconditional love never ceases to amaze me.  Secondly she is more than I could of ever dreamed of as a wife.  Oh shes not perfect, who among us is, but she is pretty darn close.  She loves me more than I deserve. She puts up with my mistakes and imperfections. She holds me accountable as a christian, as a husband and as a father.  Polly keeps me on my toes and strives to make our family one in Christ and one in love.  Yes we do have our disagreements and not so friendly moments like most married couples, but those only seem to make me love her more and our marriage stronger. Polly is a woman who God created with a heart made, for love, for serving, for children, for family.  What an amazing blessing having her in my life and I love her more than I ever thought possible and I thank God for putting her in my life.

There are 2 reasons why I have chosen to write this blog, which is long OVERDUE!

First I need to publicly apologize to my wife for not always being the man, father and husband God has called me and expected me to be.  Polly this is one area of my christian walk I have not put as much emphasis on and that ends today.  If I am going to be the man God expects me to be than I must make this part of who I am, a christian man who always appreciates and loves his wife. I need to apologize to you for ever saying anything that has hurt you or tore you down.  I am sorry that I ever gave anyone the impression that you were anything other than a wonderful woman whom I am blessed with to share my life.  I am sorry for ever making you feel like you were less important than anything else going on in my life.  I am learning everyday what God expects from me and one piece of that is to be a husband that loves his wife unconditionally and strives to appreciate her as God's wonderful gift and blessing.  From now and till the end of our time together on this earth you have my word that I will love and respect you the way God attended.

Secondly I am writing this blog just so the whole world knows that God created a wonderful, amazing, incredible, sweet, loving, beautiful woman named Polly.  She is a blessing to me and my children and I can't imagine my life without her in it.  I plan on cherishing her the way God attended for men to cherish their wives.

Polly I love you.  Please forgive this man and know that I am completely committed to being the husband God wants me to be and the husband you deserve.

Monday, July 4, 2011

God Bless America!

I just wanted to take a quick moment on this day on which we celebrate our country's independence to say Thank You!  First Thank You to God for all of the blessings you have bestowed on us and our country.  We may not be perfect but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.  We have the freedom to speak our minds, freedom to worship you, and countless other freedoms that many times we take for granted.  Dear Lord I ask for your continued guidance of our country, our servicemen and women, and our political leaders.  Be with your churches that they continue to complete the mission your son set before us in the great commission.  All I can say is Thank You God for your grace and your unwavering love for us.  Secondly I want to take the time on this day to thank all those who have sacrificed and served our country.  May we all fight as Americans to never forget you sacrifice or forget what you were fighting for...our freedoms.  We don't all get along in this country but the fact we can all have our opinions and we can all have our beliefs is what makes this country great and what makes all those who have sacrificed for country truly heroes.  Happy 4th of July America.  In closing I want to quote Lee Greenwood and say "I am PROUD to be an American were at least I know I am free and I won't forget the men (and women) who've died and gave that right to me."  Thank You God and Thank You Soldiers past and present!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Miss My Time With You!

This particular post is not about the youth or a Scripture, this is just a simple realization from this humbled Christ follower who got a wake up call and thankfully I had my listening ears on at that moment in time.

On Palm Sunday this year I put together a prayer journey for the students and also invited the congregation to join us. The theme of this prayer journey was simply to Get Real with God. The main point of this prayer journey was for each individual to to focus on their personal relationship with God. The journey took each person through 7 prayer stations with the last one being a communion station and a chance to thank God for his love and for the sacrifice Jesus made. It was amazing evening a great way to start the week of Easter. However there is one station during this journey that has stuck with me and been on my mind ever since I set it up. The station was number 5 and it was titled Conversation with God. This station was set up in the old sanctuary which is now the fellowship hall. I set up 10 pairs of chairs facing each other through out the room. I lit one lamp in the room and the cross was lit above the old baptismal. Participants were to sit in one chair and to imagine God Himself sitting in the chair directly opposite of them and to have a conversation with God. They were suppose to ask questions, tell Him their thoughts and also to be patient open up their hearts and listen to what God wanted to say to them. This was a pretty powerful and enlightening room for a majority of the attendees. After I got done setting up the room I realized that I used to talk to God that way once a week in that very same room. I used to sit in a pew, late at night, with some christian music playing over the sound system, I'd have the very same cross lit and I would just talk and listen to God, sometimes for hours. There were times I listened, there were times I worshipped, there were times I yelled, and there were times I argued with him (funny thing is I always lost). No matter what happened in those conversations I always got so much from that dedicated time to talk with my friend. As I looked into that dimly lit old sanctuary I realized I was missing that in my life. Sure I pray and sure I spend time in my bible, but I missed my one on one conversations with my friend, my Lord, my Savior. The funny thing is I think He was telling me the same thing, "Jeff I miss my time with you."

So if your feeling the tug on your heart saying talk to me it might be God saying something similar to the words from the old Larnelle Harris song "I Miss my Time with You"

"I miss my time with you
Those moments together
I need to be with you each day
And it hurts me when you say
You're too busy
Busy trying to serve me
But how can you serve me
When your spirit's empty
There's a longing in my heart
Wanting more than just a part of you
It's true
I miss my time with you"

Don't wait any longer MAKE time to Get Real with God.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Take Ownership

If you want to "go deeper" then "go deeper" (what's stopping YOU) and if you want to get to know the Bible better then you have to read it. These simple words were spoken by a minister in Virginia at the church that Polly and I attended. Those words have stuck with me ever since I first heard them. I have heard from people over the years that they wished Sunday School or Preachers would go deeper into the word on Sundays. I have come to the conclusion that it is my responsibility as a Christian to take ownership of my Bible Study and Bible knowledge. I shouldn't count on a sermon, blog, teacher, etc. to help me go deep and truly learn the Bible. I have to say "I OWN THIS" and put my best foot forward and study the word daily and I don't mean a casual glance but a real "deep" study of God's Word. So I challenge you as I have challenged myself to "GO DEEP". I am attempting to make the Bible not just something I read because I should but because I desire a DEEPER relationship with God. No preaching and/or teaching could ever Deepen your relationship with Him more,than you spending quality time in His word.

I close with one of my favorite sayings and I hope it encourages you to take ownership and go deeper in your study of God's word...

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”

Go Deep, the only thing truly standing in your way is YOU !

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Why don't we hear him?

One of the best moments for me is when I walk into the house and my 2 year old son comes running to me as soon as he hears my voice yelling "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy's home!" My daughter used to do the same thing when she was younger, there is no greater feeling than to have your own child so excited just because you are home. This got me thinking, God must feel the same way about his children when they recognize his voice. The problem is, how many of us are truly listening and ready to hear him?

My bible reading this morning took me to Luke 1. I had forgotten about Mary's visit to Elizabeth after the angel gave her the news that she would be giving birth to the Son of God. What was awesome about this meeting was that Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant and when Mary greeted Elizabeth the baby (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb. The baby in the womb recognized the voice of the woman who would give Birth to Jesus. Is that not powerful what the Holy Spirit can accomplish and alert a person too, can even put you in tune with what God is trying to say to you.

So if an unborn baby can recognize the voice of a woman who would eventually give birth to Jesus, why dont we hear what God is saying directly to us? Are we not listening? Are we afraid of what he is trying to tell us? Is our own faith not strong enough? Or does the world simply overtake our desire to truly follow God? The question becomes if we are not listening how can we possibly help the students in our church hear the voice of God?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

God is in CONTROL !

This is just a quick thought and reminder about what a Great and Wonderful God I serve.
I was reminded this week that God knows what he is doing and I must remember to trust him. As I have put goals together and laid plans to accomplish those goals with Grasp Student Ministries I began to sweat the small stuff. God in all most a humorous manner gave me a couple of gentle reminders this week that he would take care of the small stuff I just needed to continue to follow his plan and count on him to give me the resources needed to pull off HIS plans. I serve an amazing God who has put some incredible people in my life who will help us accomplish HIS goals for the students at MCC and in Mahomet. I just wanted to say Thanks God, first for you amazing grace and second for the reality check this week.

"I Know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted"
Job 42:2 (NIV)

"I'm convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans.
Job 42:2 (Message)