THE DESIRES OF OUR HEART

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There are things in life that we all want. That one thing that we have desired to have since day one of hearing it was even a “thing”. We spend countless hours, days, weeks, months, and yes, even years, praying for these things to materialize in our lives. Maybe, just maybe, in our world of hope and desperation, we think that finally having this one thing would somehow make our lives better; that it would somehow make us content with our lives.

These things that we desire, the never-ending list of prayer-requests that we send each night to the Lord before bed… A promotion. A spouse. A new car. A family member to be saved. A loved one to be healed. A new house. A baby. To strike it rich. Safety. A good health report from the doctor…

All these things, these objects of our lives that have fueled an obsession of want, that have gripped and clung to our hearts, seem to be what determines how much faith we have. The prayer, “Lord, please give me this one thing, and I’ll never sin again,” or, “God, I promise if you just answer this one prayer I’ll follow your will for the rest of my life,” sound all too familiar don’t they? Or my personal favorite, only because it seems to be a consistent prayer for me in my life: “Holy Spirit, please give me divine wisdom and knowledge to get an A on this exam that I didn’t study for and I promise I’ll study for the next one”.

What happens when these prayer requests go unanswered? Do we choose to all of a sudden not follow the will and purpose God has set out for us? Will I choose to not study for the next exam, again? Sometimes we start to lose faith when these prayer requests aren’t being answered. Our faith can depend on these things. Our will to even believe that, when we ask our Sovereign God for these desires, says something about our faith. When things don’t happen the way we think they should, our world is shaken and we lose hope thinking, “these things will never happen”.

If I can just be vulnerable with you for a moment. I am a young adult with many desires of what I’d like to do in my lifetime. But there is one desire that always outweighs the rest. It’s the one that is always first on the list of my prayer requests. I have dreams of getting married and living in a small house (or apartment). I want to be able to go Black Friday shopping someday with my mom and grandma and see them throw something in the cart for MY HOUSE, not just my sister’s house or cousin’s house. And… I want this to all fit into my four-year college plan. I have one more year and I am still waiting for the prayer to be answered. But my faith is in the Lord!

Church, here’s the deal… If things don’t happen my way, and in my time frame, I cannot let it shake my faith. I can’t wake up one day after I graduate and think to myself: “Hmmm, there’s still no ring on my finger, I’m not sure if I can trust God with the rest of my future”. Why? Because I know there are better things still yet to come! There’s more to be done and different blessings the Lord has in store for me. I have to trust HIS TIMING.

This goes for all of us. This goes for anything we may desire to see happen in our lives that we pray about consistently. But we have to remember this: When God doesn’t give us what we asked for, no matter how many times we have asked for it, our faith cannot waiver. He still has a plan! His will for you is perfect and His timing couldn’t be better! Sometimes we just need to continue to press in through prayer!

We see this all throughout scripture. It happened to Abraham and Sarah when praying for a child. Job experienced it when he was being tormented by Satan’s Adversary; it seemed God wasn’t hearing his plea to be saved from what was happening to him.  God eventually answered them. The passage of scripture that Pastor Aaron will focus on this week is about the birth of John the Baptist and how Zachariah and Elizabeth encountered a similar situation: They were praying for something to happen (they wanted a child), but did not see their prayer answered until it appeared as if time had run out.

Elizabeth was barren, yet her heart longed to have a child. Her and her husband prayed for a child continually while remaining faithful to the work the Lord had put before them. You can listen to the full story of Zachariah and Elizabeth in our new sermon series: OUR COMING SAVIOUR, by clicking this link: http://painesvilleag.com/our-coming-saviour. Get ready to discover how steadfast faith results in the promise of God being fulfilled. Learn about the names of Zachariah and Elizabeth and how essential they are to this promise, as well as several lessons that we can each relate to in our own lives.

Church, we need to lay our desires at the feet of Jesus and delight ourselves in Him. He is sovereign and He is good. He wants what’s best for us and trust me, He has a plan! It may mean forgetting the four-year plan, praying fervently, and seeking God to fill the gap while you wait for your heart’s desire. When we are faithful in serving the Lord while we are living in our current circumstances, He will be faithful to us too. Trust Him!

Jenny Bushnell,
College Student, Writer, Blogger

MIND LIKE A STEEL TRAP

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Have you ever heard someone say, “I have a mind like a steel trap?”  I have heard that.  But when I think about it for a little while, I realize, “I have a mind like a steel trap except there’s one problem, my trap has lost all its teeth.”

Sometimes things just seem to slip my mind.  Our lives are so busy and we have so many things going on that we simply forget things.  I have a daily calendar on my phone.  I keep a daily calendar on my desk at work.  And I have a printed calendar hanging on our refrigerator just to keep track of upcoming plans.  I need the extra layers of protection to help me NOT forget.  Then I always have my wife, who realizes that the layers I’ve created didn’t help and she’ll remind me.  Thanks honey!

We have important events and dates that hopefully do not slip our minds.  Like birthdays, our wedding anniversary, and our daughter’s wedding anniversary.  But there is one other date that I will never forget and that was the day I submitted my life to the Lord Jesus and asked Him to forgive my sins and be the Lord of my life.

The Lord has been so incredibly good to me over my life.  Even the many years before I gave my life to Him.  I remember times when others had poured their wisdom and compassion into me when I didn’t make the best decisions.  I remember times when people supplied my daily needs when I had very little.  They never wanted any thanks.  They just gave.  These memories are forever stamped on my mind.  I can actually imagine the day like it was yesterday.  These are what I call precious memories.  Memories that we should be thankful for.

The Word of God talks about this in Psalm 103:1-2.  It says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits.” 

Sometimes we are not very good at remembering all that God has done in our lives.  We allow the world and being “busy” to take over our thoughts. We let the “precious memories” of God slip through our toothless steel trap.  We need to remind ourselves, like David did, to “bless the Lord and forget not His benefits.”

When I think of benefits in a worldly sense, it’s usually things we think belong to us.  We somehow feel we deserve these benefits because of something we have done, or because we are so wise and knowledgeable.  Our pride says that “you owe me”.

But David uses the word benefits to praise God for all the things He has done.  He blesses the Lord with his praise.  Bless is defined in this case as: “to kneel with the idea of adoration and praise.”  We’re sure good at telling the Lord what we expect Him to give us and do for us.  We need a good dose of Psalm 103 to wash out our complaining spirit and replace it with a heart of gratitude to the Lord.

When David says to “forget not all His benefits”, he is asking us to think about the Lord.  There’s a song written that says this:

When I Think about the Lord,
How He saved me, how He raised me,
How He filled me, with the Holy Ghost.
How He healed me, to the uttermost.

 When I Think about the Lord,
How He picked me up and turned me around,
How He placed my feet on solid ground

 It makes me wanna shout,
Hallelujah,
Thank you JESUS,
LORD, your worthy, of all the glory, and all the honor,
And all the praise. 

This song entitled, “When I Think About the Lord”, speaks of the “benefits” that the Lord has given to us.  When we take the time to ponder on these, and all the things the Lord has done, we seem very small.  But that’s a good thing because then we can place the Lord in the position of Wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Almighty God.  The place of honor due His name! If you would like to hear a very powerful message from Pastor Aaron Taylor on “Blessings the Soul Forgets”, click on this link to our podcast: http://painesvilleag.com/the-blessings-the-soul-forgets

Friend, I pray that you will remember the great and mighty things the Lord has done for you.  That you will ponder on them and praise Him for all His “benefits”.  What will be the result of your praising the Lord?  A closer and more intimate walk with Him.  Glory to God!

George Leonhardt,
Writer/Blogger

There’s Prayer… AND THEN THERE’S FERVENT PRAYER

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This past month or so Pastor has led us through a life-changing series about missions and living a life full of missions. This week we concluded that series with a focus on prayer. Pastor shared about the power of prayer, the importance of prayer, and how we need to battle in prayer because the battles we are fighting are spiritual battles, not physical.

Have you ever had an amazing opportunity jump out right before your eyes and you want to take it right away? Like a big-life decision that can affect more than one area of your life? Maybe a promotion that will require you to relocate your family, or maybe you’re deciding whether you should marry the person you’ve been dating for 5 years, or maybe you’re thinking about going back to school, buying a new car, buying a new house or a vacation house, the list could go on and on.

It’s like when you go to the store and you’re only expecting to buy one thing, but then you see that they have something on sale at a really good price and you end up walking out with two. It’s spontaneous life choices where we don’t always think about the middle or the end, just the amazing beginning and how awesome the experience will be.

This is something that has been troubling me for the past month. I had an amazing opportunity placed before me to study abroad in India next semester. I was so excited about it. I made sure that my college would accept the credits I would be taking overseas, as well as making sure that I would graduate on time; even if it meant dropping one of my secondary majors or minors. As I continued with the process and looked at the financial cost, how it would shape the rest of my undergraduate education, commitments I’ve already made for next semester, and even relationships with friends and family, I wasn’t really sure if it was the will of God to just hop on board a plane and fly across the world on a spontaneous trip to study in India.

Eventually, there came a point where I needed to make a decision. I weighed the pros and cons, talked to the program director to see if it would be possible for me to wait until next spring, and which outcome would be better. After hours and hours of prayer and crying out to God, I finally heard His voice, felt His peace, and knew the direction that He wanted me to go. But it wasn’t until I prayed fervently about it that I experienced that peace. The Lord showed me that if I waited, He would continue to fulfill the promises He has for my life and use me just as much here as He would there.

The same thing happened with the Apostles. Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He made the promise of sending His Holy Spirit to His followers so that He could be with us always. The apostles were ready to go and fulfill the Commission God called them to, but Jesus told them to wait on the promise of the Father. And then He says just before He is taken up that: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8).

But why did they have to wait on the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill the calling that Christ had given? Because that is where the power for their work would come from.

What they were excited to do wasn’t something they could accomplish on their own without the help of God’s Spirit. They were going to win souls and share the Gospel with the unreached peoples of the earth. Church, this isn’t a matter of how well you prepared your evangelism program. This isn’t a matter of how well you know scripture, although it is important. This isn’t a matter of the flesh and how good your people skills are. It’s something much more than that. Something much greater.

They needed the Holy Spirit because, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6.12). The “winning of souls” doesn’t have anything to do with someone’s physical being here on earth, but rather the battle that is being fought in the realm that we do not see. That is why we NEED the power of the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 4.4 says “In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Church, there are people who are spiritually blinded by the enemy and unable to see the beauty and glory of our Savior, the Risen One, King Jesus!

Remember when you were saved? Or a time when you just fell to your knees and threw your hands up to Jesus and acknowledged the beauty and wonder of Him? These unbelievers are blinded and cannot see that! They have not experienced that. The unbelieving soul is blinded from knowing Christ like you and I know Him! That is why we need to pray! We need to pray that the Glory of God would be revealed to them, that the blinded eyes would be opened, that chains would be broken, and that these unbelievers would be set free! That’s not going to happen if we just hand them a Bible tract and walk away. We need to be interceding for their souls! The spreading of the Gospel is ONLY effective when bathed in prayer.

We have been equipped for this battle. Christ has sent us His Holy Spirit. If we look further into 2 Corinthians 10.3-5, Paul states: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”.

Church, we have been given weapons so that we can effectively participate in this warfare. We have to remember, it’s not a physical battle, like we all too often make it. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit through prayer! Jesus sends us out with HIS authority, clothed in HIS power. Reaching the lost is a battle for the heart, not the mind, and we have to have a power greater than ourselves to win this battle. We have to have the power and person of the Holy Spirit.

Every Wednesday night we have a prayer meeting. Why? Because at PAG we believe when we pray together, it invites the power of the Holy Spirit into our gathering. When you pray together in one accord with other believers, things like Pentecost happen.  We believe in miracles and we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Church, there are many lost and hurting souls out there that are searching for something more, a greater love, a greater fulfillment, a purpose beyond themselves. A reason to live. Will you join me in praying for ONE? Who, in your life, do you want to see come to Christ?  Write down their name in your Bible, write their name on a post-it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror… somewhere! So that every time you see their name, you bombard Heaven with prayers for the salvation of their soul. Can you imagine what would happen if we all began to do this? Let’s stop imagining and let’s do it! Will you join me in utilizing the gift of the Holy Spirit to fight for them in spiritual warfare? Church, seek the promise and power of the Holy Spirit with me. We are soldiers in the battlefield of the spiritual realm. People are waiting to know Him, but they’re blinded. We must pray for these blinders to be removed!

Take the next several minutes and listen to Pastor Aaron’s closing sermon on the power and importance of prayer when living LIFE ON MISSION. http://painesvilleag.com/life-on-mission  Church, I do not know how to express the urgency and importance of this topic. We cannot sit and remain complacent any longer.

Christ has given us the power of His salvation, equipped us with prayer and His word, let’s join together as the Community of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission and bring Jesus to ALL nations!

Jenny Bushnell,
Writer, Blogger, College Student

A Story I Can Tell

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Everybody loves a good story.  I remember times when I was young sitting with my grandfather, Fred, listening to the old stories of our family’s history and how they grew up.  I heard about how they grew their own food and, how every now and then, they would get a chicken to fill their pot on the stove.  I remember hearing him talk about old cars with the crank in the front to get it started.

As a result of hearing all those stories, I grew up loving to read. I read all kinds of books; both fact and fiction, and would place myself into the story to make it real to me.  The stories I read about the Old West were my favorites.  I was always watching Roy Rogers on the black and white TV at home.  I would join Roy and Dale singing “Happy Trails” at the end of each episode.

But until the year 1999, I didn’t have a story of my own to tell.  I lived a life in the world where I tried to do the best I could.  I think I just blended in?  No particular story in my life existed.  I was enjoying the fruits of my labor but also finding myself in awful struggles and a lot of pain.

My story changed in July, 1999.  I now have a story that I can share with others… like my grandfather.  It isn’t about the times during the Great Depression, rather it’s about how my life changed in a single moment of time, during a single prayer.

My life story begins with depression over my divorce that occurred in 1998.  I was married 21 years and it was now over.  The depression grew and turned into rage, which turned into lost hope.  In July 1999 it became so real to me that I decided I would end my depression and take my life.  But “THEN”. But then a man of God, who was my boss, remained obedient and as a result my life changed forever.

Mark was a great man of God who I happened to work for.  When I asked him if I could go home from work early because I couldn’t concentrate on my work, he said, “How about if I pray for you instead.”  You see, going home early would mean that I could complete what I had planned and take my life.  What happened after that I have little recollection.  I know Mark invited me to attend his church and I felt that wasn’t going to happen.  I had never been to church since I was a child.  But all of a sudden I found myself getting ready on Sunday morning and driving to church.  That day I gave my life and my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ.  My story was being written right before my very eyes.

You see, Mark was prepared.  Mark made himself available.  Acts 8:4-6 (NIV) says this, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.  Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.  When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said.”  Philip, a disciple, made himself available.  He was available to go wherever the Lord sent him.

Mark was an effective witness by keeping the right attitude.  When Jesus talked to his disciples in Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “You’re to be my witnesses.”  The word witness in Scripture is almost always a noun. A witness is who you are.  A witness tells others about what is seen and what is heard.  A witness tells a story. The key to being a witness for Jesus is living a life that people want to know more about.  I always saw Mark’s faith in his life.  I was drawn to him and the life he led.  It was very apparent.

Finally, the last key to being a good witness is in our approach.  Mark was genuinely concerned for my well-being.  He saw I was hurting.  Instead of trying to force me to hear some preaching about my worldly lifestyle, he simply said, “How about if I pray for you instead.”  No man had ever said that to me before.  I was moved to tears as Mark prayed.  The power of a single prayer changed my life forever.

As I said before, this was the beginning of my story.  My story grows each and every day as I live a life in Christ.  God has called each of us to share our story, to be witnesses for Him and speak about God’s unfailing and everlasting love.  He is looking for people who are available and who have a humble and gentle attitude.

If you would, take the time to listen to our podcast, Life on Mission: Share by Pastor Aaron Taylor (http://painesvilleag.com/life-on-mission).  And may you be challenged to write your own story.

Friends, let’s be a people who live life on Mission and who are not afraid to share about the Jesus who rescued us.  That’s a story I want to hear!

George Leonhardt,
Blogger, Writer

Faith + Works = Powerful Synergism

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On Saturday, October 29, a few friends and I went to an area that is known as a big party area during Halloween. I went dressed as me, rocking my sweatshirt from the Heathrow, London airport, jeans, and of course, my Cordones by TOMS. My friends went dressed as themselves too.

We didn’t go there to party. We did not have any alcohol. We did not smoke anything. We simply went to pray over people. To love on a generation and show them the love of Christ. We didn’t do this to be prideful about our faith. We didn’t do it in hopes that those we prayed for would say “you guys are really good people, keep doing what you’re doing”. We didn’t even do it because we had the boldness and guts to do it.

We did it because we are commanded to GO by God. We are told to love on those that are lost, broken, and searching for something more. I mean, look at the story of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament. The father loved his son even after he had fallen away and then returned. They threw a celebration when he came back!

Look at the Good Samaritan.

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus, saying: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he (Jesus) replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”  –Luke 10.25-29–
Then Jesus shares the story of the Good Samaritan. How a priest walked by someone who was beaten, stripped of his clothing, and left for dead by robbers, and did not stop to help him. A Levite did the same thing. And then, a Samaritan walked by and what he did is the reason why we did what we did last night.

The Samaritan bandaged this man’s wounds. The Samaritan checked him into an inn and paid for his care and his stay. Without hesitation. He was just loving his neighbor.

That’s what we wanted to do. Love our neighbors. We didn’t go expecting to see some huge miracle of someone being healed, of someone accepting Jesus and being saved, or even to expect half the people we asked if we could pray for them to let us. We simply believed Jesus could use us to do those things.

The point of this blog isn’t to rant about how we are supposed to love our neighbor. It isn’t to tell you that you should have gone out and done the same thing. It’s not even to convict you in the least bit, or should I say, “allow the Holy Spirit to convict you?”

My point is to share with you what I saw. This was my first time ever experiencing a party scene like I did. I saw frat houses for the first time. I saw lines outside of bars on every corner. I saw fights starting to break out that we had the privilege to help stop. I saw girls walking around in promiscuous costumes trying to get attention from guys. I saw guys walking around with no shirts on (sometimes even less than that) trying to get attention from girls. I saw alcohol take hold of several generations.

But you know what else I saw? I saw humanity in the mere form of God’s creation. I saw people that just wanted to be loved, who desired to experience a love so deep that they could stop searching for it in the things of this world. I saw girls who thought that maybe if they just “fit in” to the party scene they would be liked, if they could just get that one guy’s attention, if they could just finally be good enough to live up to this generation’s standards, life would be good. I saw guys that just wanted to be a prince for that special girl they hoped to marry one day. I saw Christians doing the same thing we were.

I didn’t just see a bunch of partying.

I saw hope.

I saw potential.

I saw people that JESUS shed His blood for on the Cross.

You may ask me how I saw this in the midst of people who are indulging in the things of this world: alcohol, sex, and drugs. I saw it because these people are still people. They still talked to us when we talked to them. They could still respond to our request to pray for them. Because when we asked God to show us people to pray for, specific costumes, images, names… He did. And when we went out and saw those people that God put on our hearts, we asked them if we could pray for them and they let us. Sure, not all of them let us, but they still saw the light of Christ.

We had people ask us why we were “so good”. We had people tell us to pray for someone other than themselves, such as those without jobs, because they recognized that this world has many problems and their struggles did not measure up to being “great enough” to need prayer. But we prayed for both because God cares for all.

We had people reject us and tell us they aren’t “prayers”. We had people say that we could pray for them and walk away. We had hugs and smiles. We had conversations that one wouldn’t usually have where we were at.

The point is, there is hope in this world. The point is, Jesus loves each and every one of those people. The things I saw on October 29 were rough. They hit me hard. I woke up with the sting of oppression from seeing frat houses getting shut down, knowing that in those houses there are people, people that God loves and cares about, that God has a future for, hope for, and purpose for.

These are real people, with real problems, that are loved by our very real God.

So, what am I going to do about it? Friends, Church, Brother’s and Sister’s in Christ, the average blog reader, I want to ask you to pray with me. Pray with me that God will move on the party scenes. Pray that the Lord will raise His laborers to go out onto the battlefield and fight for the lives of lost generations. Pray that those we spoke to will continue to be ministered to in other ways and come to know Christ. Pray that God would use YOU to reach this generation.

We need to put our faith with works and fully strive to make disciples like we are commanded in Matthew 28. Check out Pastor Aaron’s message “Life on Mission: SERVE” http://painesvilleag.com/life-on-mission and see how faith and works are absolutely necessary for fulfilling the Great Commission! Take a step of faith and do the work that God has called us to do!

Jenny Bushnell,
Blogger, Writer, College Student

MOVING FROM COMPLACENT TO “CALLED”

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Lately, the Spirit has really convicted me in certain areas of my life. Those two areas are judgment and investment. What do I spend my spare time doing? That is the question the Lord placed upon my heart. Am I being a good steward of the things God has placed before me? Or am I too busy wasting it on the things of this world, like judging others in a poor way or investing my time and energy into the wrong things.

Judging is something we all fall into the habit of doing, believe it or not. We all tend to look at someone else’s life and compare it to our own too. Sometimes it will go like this: “Kaitlyn is so much prettier than me, of course she would get that promotion,” or, “Of course Joe would get that new car, he just thinks he’s better than everyone else”.  It could sound a little like this: “Wow, my wife found out that I was sneaking Cheetos behind her back while we were dieting together, at least it’s not like Bobby whose wife caught him cheating on her”.

Just the other day I found myself almost slipping into this judgmental trap. I had a mid-term exam in one of my classes about a week ago and this week my professor returned our tests. As he did, he announced who had the two top highest grades. I had the second highest grade with a low B. I was not happy with this grade, but as I was looking around there were really not a lot of good grades. I had to stop myself from thinking “I got a low B, well at least I didn’t fail it completely”.

This is the judgmental trap that we fall into. We look at the things going on in everyone else’s lives and get so caught up with them that we forget that we actually have our own lives happening and need to examine how we are living. First, as believers in Jesus, we are all seen as God’s children in His eyes. Secondly, there is no sin greater than another. We all sin. Romans 3.23 says: “We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, not just those that cheat on their wives instead of diets.

The second area that the Lord has convicted me in is investment. As a college student, you would think I don’t have that much free time, but ironically, this semester I have extra time oozing all over my schedule. I have a few hours here and a few hours there, a big gap of time now, maybe twenty minutes to spare later. My roommate wonders why I have so much free time. One day she asked me: “don’t you have homework to do?” My response: “Yes”, and then I curled up on my futon with my phone and took about an hour long nap before going to dinner and then socializing in the dining commons for another hour.

This is my conviction. I am a student, and yes that can be pretty tiring, but I have a lot of free time that I wouldn’t otherwise have if I invested it wisely in my studies, ministry, and growing relationships placed in my life.

Please tell me I am not the only one that struggles with using their time in an unwise manner, as opposed to investing more time into the Kingdom of God and making disciples? Church, that is what we are called to do – make disciples of Jesus. How can we do that if we are too busy getting caught in the judgmental trap and investing our time in things that are temporary? The only thing that is doing is blocking our growth with the Lord. And growth is essential to a relationship with the Lord.

In Matthew 28.19 we are told to go out into the nations and make disciples. How can we do that when we ourselves are stuck in the muck and cannot grow any further?

I know sometimes growing can be painful. It can be going through a difficult situation. It can mean change in an area of your life that has been the same forever. Sometimes we have high moments in our lives where it’s really easy to worship God, and other times not so much. The growing pains are what deepens our worship before the Lord, so we should never look for “easy street” – that’s when we miss out and our worship becomes empty and meaningless.

Church, in order to fulfill the call of missions on our lives, we must continue to grow closer to God in our relationship with Him, first and foremost, as well as others. We must return to our first love just like the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2. We must allow Him to mold us and shape us like clay in the potter’s hand.

This summer I heard this phrase: “I am a coin in my Father’s hand, willing to be spent at His demand”. How do we get to that point of being willing to be spent when God tells us to go? How do we get to the point of MOVING when the Spirit says MOVE? How do we get to that point of entrusting our lives to the Great I Am, the King of Kings, and Creator of the world?

It’s through growing. When we have a tight relationship with someone, we tend to trust them with more things, more of ourselves, more of our dreams, and more of our desires. That is the relationship Jesus wants with us. And even beyond that. Have you ever heard that the more you are around someone the more you start to act like them? Jesus wants us to be so close to Him that we start to act like Him. Just like Peter did in Acts 3.

And growing never stops! There is no limit on how much we can grow when it comes to our relationship with Jesus! Why? Because God is limitless! He is inexhaustible! There is no maximum placed on our God. We have to trust Him because of that. We have to trust that when He says “I want you to pray for the woman behind you in line at the grocery store” that we do it because there’s a kingdom purpose behind it. We have to trust that when He says “I’m sending you to the nations” that He’s going to provide and protect us when we obey and do it!

We can’t do that if we stay stagnant in our faith, if we allow complacency to overcome us.

Church, let’s be a Church ever-growing for the Lord. Let’s pursue Him with all we have, seek Him diligently in all our time, and look to Him as the mighty judge, rather than ourselves. Then, let’s be a Church who is about HIS MISSION; making disciples in our communities and the rest of the world.

Pastor Aaron talks about GROW this week in his sermon series: “Life On Mission”. He shares specific stories from the Bible that allowed people’s lives to be moved by the spirit so they could grow into the disciple He called them to be. Take some time and listen to this podcast http://painesvilleag.com/life-on-mission and see how you can relate to the stories and apply these truths to your own life.

Remember Church, if we are going to live LIFE ON MISSION, we have to allow ourselves to grow and never stop. Let’s go out and make disciples of Jesus!

Jenny Bushnell,
Writer, Blogger, College Student

Project Rescue & Speed the Light: India

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On an early morning in India, 15 little girls streamed out of one of the Project Rescue, India girls homes on their way to school. Their “Didis” (big sisters) corralled them into a beautiful, new 17-passenger van for the 30-minute ride to school. The van rang with the excited chatter of eager children ready for a new day.

Just a few months ago, they had to ride to school in taxis. Now, they ride in a safe, secure vehicle that was provided for them by Speed-the-Light. When they learned about what had been done for them, they began to pray blessing on the students across America who had made it possible for them to go to school, and everywhere else.

The new vehicle has made an incredible difference for these girls who previously lived in the red-light district. Every day, when they board that van, they are reminded how much Jesus loves them, how far they have come, and they thank God for the students who helped make it possible.

Thank you, Speed the Light!
*(Taken from http://stl.ag.org/)*

This is why we give to Speed the Light! During the month of October we have committed to partnering with the Ohio Ministry Network to help raise $10,000 of their $400,000 goal. We have 9 Ohio Missionaries awaiting reliable transportation to reach the unreached places around the globe with the good news of Jesus Christ! With just one week left to give, we have raised $3,831.00 towards this effort. We’re still a long ways off and need your help! Will you give so that we can speed the light of the gospel to a world in waiting?

Text “PAG” to 77977 or give online at http://www.painesvilleag.com and be sure and write “STL” in the memo so that all monies go to Speed the Light!!