All posts in “GUIDANCE”

jessica root 1

GUIDANCE -JESSICA ROOT

GUIDANCE

JESSICA ROOT

1 Corinthians 15:14

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

 We have all heard the stories about Jesus’ disciples doing amazing miracles in his name like casting out demons and healing the sick. We’ve even heard stories of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead; but that was 2000 years ago. We wish that we could’ve lived during Jesus’ time so we could see these miracles in person, or even perform them ourselves, but things like that don’t happen today. They all seem to have lived such epic lives and that’s something that we could never do now. Or is it?

The fact of the matter is that God is still using us right now just as much as he used people 2000 years ago. We’ve been so blinded by our lack of faith and how much junk we shovel into our minds on a daily basis that we have almost completely silenced the voice of God and our ability to see him work. God wants to invite us into his story. He wants our lives to be epic and full; we just need to learn to listen to His guidance.

You are alive right now for a very specific reason and, as long as you woke up today, God still has huge plans for your life. We just need to silence the endless squabbling of the television, the incessant updates of the Facebook newsfeed, and our horrible lack of faith in the power of God long enough so we can hear his voice again. Open your eyes to the world around you, ask God for guidance for every moment of every day and you’ll notice miracles happening all the time. Your life will be a story worth telling because Jesus will be at the center.

QUESTION 1. Do you believe God still works in our lives like he did for those in Bible times?
QUESTION 2. What in your life is closing your eyes to God’s story? Is it a lack of faith? A lack of relationship with Jesus? Too much media?
CHALLENGE: You are part of God’s story and you are alive today for a reason. Live with that at the forefront of your mind. Live an awesome story.
Josh Beaton 1

GUIDANCE -JOSH BEATON

GUIDANCE

JOSH BEATON

Luke 17:33

Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

The pleasure of this world is so enticing. It grabs a hold of you, promises a life of fun and acceptance, then throws you to the curb and you’re left broken and lonely. I’ve been there. When I got to college I sought after the superficial life of drinking and partying. Sure, I had fun sometimes, but in the end I was depressed, without direction, and so very alone. Why is it that we chase after the temporary pleasures of this life and put God into a corner? He is the only one who can give us the life, love and peace we’re looking for, but we think the soap operas of this world are so much more important.

In the Book of 1 John, Chapter 2, verse 17, it tells us that, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” So why do we place such a huge importance on the pleasures of this world? No amount of fun will ever be better than a true relationship with Jesus. Now I’m not saying it’s not okay to have a good time, I believe Jesus had lots of fun, but it becomes an issue when we chase after pleasure more than Jesus. And it definitely is an issue when it’s sinful. Jesus offers us an abundant and full life; he is the living water that, if we fully accept, will keep us from thirsting for temporary pleasures again (John 4:14).

QUESTION 1. What pleasures do you seek after in your life? Alcohol? Sex? Drugs? Relationships? Make a list.
QUESTION 2. Do you believe that Jesus is all you need in this life? Do you truly believe it? Take that list and give it all to God by telling him that he is more important than all those pleasures.
CHALLENGE: Keep Christ in the center of your life. Seek Him every day and you’ll notice the desires of this world growing dimmer and dimmer.
cody weston 4

GUIDANCE -CODY WESTON

GUIDANCE

CODY WESTON

Matthew 7:13-14
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

So many of us spend the majority of our lives walking the wide path; it’s a path of supposed safety, complacency, little to no adventure, the status quo. On this path we are one of the masses. What we don’t realize is that right next to the wide, boring path is a small, more dangerous one. Very few are on it, but you can see that those who are are filled with joy and peace as they walk the tougher road. You can see they’re walking with Jesus. Now, which road would you rather be on; the safe one that everyone else is walking or the more dangerous, uncomfortable one where Jesus walks beside you?

There is a poem by Robert Frost that goes like this, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” When you decide to live your life different from everyone else, yes, it will be harder at times, but it will be a life filled with God-given peace, joy, adventure and authenticity. It is the abundant life that Jesus has called you to. Why would you want to choose anything different?

QUESTION 1. Are you walking the wide path or the narrow one? Does life feel too safe and easy right now?
QUESTION 2. Are you scared of what Jesus has for you if you choose the narrow path? If so, that’s perfectly ok; talk to God about it.
CHALLENGE: Get off the wide path and start living out what God made you for. Be the difference and the change this world needs. Walk the narrow path.
consuelo hernandez 2

GUIDANCE -CONSUELO HERNANDEZ

GUIDANCE

CONSUELO HERNANDEZ

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

How often do we throw God in a box and take what we think his will is for our lives and throw it in there, too? Too often. Not much can happen in that box; it’s cramped, it’s stuffy, it’s restricted. It’s also incredibly hard to trust God and live an epic life when we’ve made him so small and limited. God’s actual plan for your life is much bigger than your tiny box. His plan for you is huge, exciting, and probably completely different from what you had in mind. His plan is so big that your box is bursting at the seams and can’t possibly hold it in anymore.

A few chapters later in Isaiah 55:8 God tell us that, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” You may think that you have it all figured out and you may even be seeking guidance from God, but you’re seeking the God that you’ve put in an itty-bitty little box. His ways and thoughts are so much better than ours. Let Him out, destroy those walls and limitations you’ve put on your life and God will use you to do mighty things for his kingdom.

QUESTION 1. Have you limited yourself and limited God by placing your life and him in a box? Be honest with yourself.
QUESTION 2. Is there something that you know the out-of-the-box God wants you to do, but you’re scared to pursue it for fear of failing? Give the worries about your future to Him.
CHALLENGE: Open your box. Allow the calling He’s placed on your life to blossom and set you free, and watch as He uses you as an effective tool in His kingdom.
hannah stowell 2

GUIDANCE -HANNAH STOWELL

GUIDANCE

HANNAH STOWELL

Psalm 139:13-14

For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well.

So many of us have such deflated views of ourselves and our abilities. We think because we aren’t popular enough we can’t do this or that, or because we don’t have enough experience we could never lead anyone. So we relegate ourselves to doing some half hearted job because that is all we’re good for. This is a lie of the enemy. Of course he doesn’t want you to live your full potential in Jesus Christ because then he’d lose.

God made you to be the absolute perfect you. He didn’t make you to be a Brad Pitt, or Tim Tebow, or Jennifer Aniston. You are uniquely you. God formed each of us special and says that each person is fearfully and wonderfully made. We aren’t accidents and God didn’t skip over you when he was handing out skills and abilities. He doesn’t make mistakes.

You have abilities that are unique and special to offer this world for God’s kingdom. Have you figured it out yet? If not, spend time asking God to show it to you and he will be happy to show his child the gifts he gave. Once you find those gifts, don’t hide them. Use them to spread God’s love to every corner of the earth.

QUESTION 1. Do you feel like God may have skipped over you when he made you?
QUESTION 2. What are you good at? What do you truly enjoy doing?
CHALLENGE: Find your passions and gifts that God has already given you and use them to serve him, not to earn his love but because he first loved us.
devin swank 1

GUIDANCE -DEVIN SWANK

GUIDANCE

DEVIN SWANK

Ephesians 2:20-21

Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.

When constructing a house the builders have to make sure the foundation is strong or the entire house will collapse into a pile of rubble when the first storm arrives. The foundation is the most important factor of a house, and the same is true in our own lives.

Most of us build on the foundation of money, power, or fame. For a time these may appear solid, but at the first sign of trouble these weak foundations will collapse. There is only one true and perfect foundation on which we should be building our lives and it’s Jesus Christ.

But how do we make sure we’re building our lives on Jesus? It’s simple: spend time with him. This is easier said than done for most of us because we allow our lives to become so busy we all but forget our Maker. But if you want a firm foundation you have to make time.

Read your Bible daily. Worship Him at the top of your lungs while driving to school or work. Talk with Him throughout your day; you don’t need to have some epic thirty minute prayer session in order to talk with God. A good relationship with a friend can’t be built that way, so how could it with God? I promise if you implement these suggestions into your life you will find your foundation is soon rock solid.

QUESTION 1. What are you building your life on?
QUESTION 2. What are you doing each day to spend quality time with Jesus? Are you doing anything at all or are you too busy?
CHALLENGE: Saturate your days with Jesus and your foundation will become immovable when tough times come.
chris morgan 1

GUIDANCE -CHRIS MORGAN

GUIDANCE

CHRIS MORGAN

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.

When we give our lives to Jesus something incredible happens; the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us. He gives us strength, guidance, peace, patience, and the list goes on and on. But after we give our lives to Jesus many of us insist on living the same way we did before we were Christians. We still say things, do things, and watch things that we certainly wouldn’t if Jesus were right there with us. But He is, and we quench His voice and power in our lives when we do things that grieve Him.

When we become Christians our lives are no longer ours. We belong to Jesus. Because of that there will be things from our past that we need to get rid of. There may be certain friends, movies, books, or images that we need to avoid. Ask God for guidance in showing you what to avoid and then actually avoid it, don’t just talk about it. By putting to death your old life you are raising Jesus to his rightful place and telling him and the world that he is the most important thing in your life.

QUESTION 1. Is there something distracting you or pulling you away from God?
QUESTION 2. How has your life changed since you gave your life to Jesus? If you can’t think of any way, you may have some work to do.
CHALLENGE: Ask God for guidance in getting rid of the things that may be distracting you from being the best possible witness you can be, as well as the best possible child of God.
jonathan fitzgerald 2

GUIDANCE -JONATHAN FITZGERALD

GUIDANCE

JONATHAN FITZGERALD

Luke 22:41-42

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and he knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

 As Christians, we so often buy into the belief that we need to have it all together. We feel like we have to stifle feelings of doubt about God, or push away feelings of uncertainty or fear because Christians aren’t supposed to feel those emotions. The more you push those feelings down and don’t talk about them to others or God the more they will build up until pretty soon you don’t even know if you believe in God anymore. So here is the good news: I am going to take you off the hook and tell you to let your emotions free.

Still having feelings of doubt or fear is okay? Trust me, it is. Jesus felt them too. When He was in the garden praying before He was arrested, He asked God, if it was his will, to remove the burden from Him. He felt emotions like we do, but He didn’t let them overwhelm Him and He still trusted His father would take care of Him. Also, if you look at the majority of the Psalms, you will find David, a man after God’s own heart, being afraid and voicing those fears to God.

The problem comes when we allow our doubts or fears to paralyze us or cause us to stop trusting in God. He made emotions and it is okay to feel them and share them with Him. If they do start to overwhelm you though, remember what you know to be true. God will always be there and he will always take care of you, just as he did David and his own Son. But remember, don’t allow these emotions to paralyze you; instead, let them make you stronger.

QUESTION 1. What do you do when you start to doubt God or feel like he isn’t there for you? Do you push those feelings down?
QUESTION 2. What are some ways you can remind yourself of the promises of God when you have feelings of doubt or fear?
CHALLENGE: I’ll reiterate again, it is okay to feel doubt, but the challenge is to not let doubt control you. Talk to others and God about it and remind yourself about his promises found in the Bible.
Maggie Seibert 2

GUIDANCE -MAGGIE SEIBERT

GUIDANCE

MAGGIE SEIBERT

1 Timothy 6:7-9

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

More. We always want more. More money, more clothes, more technology, more friends. It is a never ending cycle because as soon as we get something more, we want something else. Materialism is a soul killer because it pulls our focus away from God and onto the things of this world. And the things of this world won’t last. We were born with nothing and we leave with nothing. That shouldn’t be a depressing thought but a freeing one. The only things that truly matter in this life are God and loving others.

Our things can get such a hold on us that they become idols and then become even harder to eliminate from our lives. We need to ask God to show us what it is that is pulling us farther and farther from him; and he will show you. The trick then is to actually put steps in place that will make that material thing have less and less importance in your life. A good way of doing that is to keep pursuing a deep relationship with God. I’m reminded of the hymn that says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

QUESTION 1. What material thing has a tight grip on you? It could be many things. Make a list.
QUESTION 2. Have you given these things over to God and released them, or are you holding onto them too tightly?
CHALLENGE: Ask God what it is in your life that is distracting you from him, and when he shows you take steps to minimize or eliminate those distractions. Focus on Jesus.
ryan huber 3

GUIDANCE -RYAN HUBER

GUIDANCE

RYAN HUBER

Matthew 18:15-17

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church….”

I hate conflict. I have a really hard time when problems are left unresolved, especially those with people I care deeply about. When I was a kid and I got in a fight with my parents, I would get really mad and yell at them one minute and the next I was slipping apology notes under their door in hopes of resolving the conflict as soon as possible.

As I got older, I had to do more than write notes to apologize for my wrongdoings, but I still carried with me the sense of urgency to resolve issues. However, I started to notice a pattern in my conflict resolution skills. Whenever there was tension with someone I cared about, it was like I would play dead. I took all the blame for the conflict in hopes that doing so would resolve it sooner. I wasn’t putting it off, but I still wasn’t handling it in a healthy way.

Jesus gives us practical advice on how to deal with conflict. He wants us to resolve our conflict as soon as we can, but he wants us to do so with truth and love. By taking all the blame, I was not being honest in situations. Jesus says it is okay to honestly point out how someone has sinned against you or hurt you. Sometimes it is a difficult process; others may not always respond well. You are not responsible for the reaction of others, but you are responsible for how you handle every situation. As Paul puts it in Romans 12:18, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

QUESTION 1. How do you usually handle conflict with others?
QUESTION 2. Is there someone in your life that you need to seek peace with today? If so, what is keeping you from resolving that conflict?
CHALLENGE: If there is someone in your life that you are not at peace with, go talk to the person in love instead of gossiping to others about the problem. Strive to live at peace with everyone.
jessica dunn 7

GUIDANCE -JESSICA DUNN

GUIDANCE

JESSICA DUNN

Hebrews 5:12-14

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

 We are creatures of comfort and convenience. If there is a way in which to be more comfortable then we do it. We even have queen and king beds that allow you to change how soft or hard it is on your side; we don’t even have to agree on the same kind of mattress anymore! We avoid social situations where we might not know many people because we fear the awkward interactions with someone new because heaven forbid if there is a silent lull in conversation. The pursuit of comfort can end up ruling our lives where we sprint away from anything that might bring even an ounce of discomfort.

The thing about comfort is that the more you pursue it the farther you can be pulled from what God has for your life. When you allow God to push you out of your comfort zone you will experience growth and maturity like you haven’t experienced before. And no, there is nothing wrong with being comfortable but it does become an issue when you pursue your comfort more than God and stay only within your little bubble of safety. There is no trust, no stepping out in faith, no adventure, and very little life within that comfort bubble. Step outside of it though and you’ll notice that life will get a little harder, a little grittier, and a little more uncomfortable but you’ll also experience God’s provision and guidance in a whole new and exciting way.

QUESTION 1. What comforts do you pursue? If you start making a list of everything around you that brings comfort (including friends, nice clothes, a cushy job, a warm bed) you’ll be surprised at how exhaustive the list becomes.
QUESTION 2. What stops you from stepping out of your comfort zone? Do you believe that if you do step out that God will always be there to guide and provide?
CHALLENGE: Let go of your security and comfort this week and see how much you grow how much more exciting life becomes.
Ashley Cronen 1

GUIDANCE -ASHLEY CRONEN

GUIDANCE

ASHLEY CRONEN

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

All of us have been gifted in different ways. Some of us excel in athletics, some in music, some in the arts, and still others in academics. As many of us have experienced, being gifted comes with a great deal of praise and accolades. Who doesn’t like to be recognized for a job well done? Getting praise for a job well done is not a bad thing at all, but at the end of the day, whom are you reflecting that praise towards? Is it God, the one who has gifted you, or are you taking the praise all for yourself? No matter what we do in life, God is worthy of our praise. The only reason we exist at all is because God created us to exist. The reason we are gifted at anything at all is because God gifted us and uniquely fashioned us to reflect his love to the world through those gifts. All of God’s gifts are worthy of praise, and whether we are scoring points for an athletic team, pastoring a church, entertaining people through the arts, engaging in politics, or coming up with new cures for cancer, we must all remember one thing—that is, “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17).

QUESTION 1. In what way do you feel that God has gifted you (e.g. athletic, creative, intelligent, funny, etc.)?
QUESTION 2. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being every time) How well do you do at reflecting Jesus Christ and giving him the praise for your gifts? How can you find ways to use your gifts to glorify and reflect Jesus and his love to (toward?) others?
CHALLENGE: We challenge you to give God the praise for all that you do. Reflect the love of Jesus Christ with your gifts and never forget who gave you your gifts.
cody weston 3

GUIDANCE -CODY WESTON

GUIDANCE

CODY WESTON

Psalm 23:1-3
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.

Have you ever thought that your plan for your life was the best and only option? It could have been a new job you pursued, a relationship you knew you shouldn’t have been getting into, that prestigious college into which you desperately wanted to get accepted, and if you didn’t, it would have been the end of the world. It could have been anything, and we have all done it. But how often do we actually stop and listen for God’s plan for our lives? We think we can plan it all, but how much better can the Creator and Sustainer of the universe guide you? Think about it, He’s the one who made you in the first place. He is the grand architect.

We need to stop trying to live our lives without instructions and surrender our lives and plans to God. He never said His plan would be the easiest for us or the most fun, but He did say in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has plans to prosper us, not to harm us, and plans to give us hope and a future. Doesn’t this sound so much better than our fault-filled plans? When you live in God’s plan there will be adventure, joy, and peace like you have never experienced before (Psalm 23:1-3). His plan is perfect; ours is not.

QUESTION 1. What plans do you have in place for your life right now? Write them down.
QUESTION 2. Have you surrendered your plans to God? Are you scared of what God might call you to do if you actually give all your plans to Him?
CHALLENGE: Take the list of your plans and surrender each one completely to God, and then pray that He would reveal His perfect plan to you.
kyler malarae 2

GUIDANCE -KYLER MALARAE

GUIDANCE

KYLER MALARAE

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

We all have assumptions of what paths our lives should take. When I was fourteen I distinctly remember a mentor telling me that one day I would go on mission trips. I told him he was dead wrong and said no about twenty times. I thought I would become this crazy famous writer who would write scripts in Hollywood and who was sought after by Steven Spielberg. I even told others that pursuing a famous writing career was God’s plan. Well, His actual plan was vastly different.

Immediately after graduating college God placed missions in front of me and this time, instead of saying no, I said yes. I wasn’t headed off to Hollywood, all the big directors weren’t clamoring after me, but I was following God’s lead and he led me on bigger adventures than anything I could’ve come up with or done on my own. Instead of writing great stories about others, God was making my own story something worth writing about.

Are you in the same place? Do you have all these aspirations about what path you should pursue while neglecting the voice and leading of God? Don’t get me wrong; having dreams and passions is great; they are placed there by God and he will use them. Sometimes they just look different from what we think they should. While on the mission trip, I got to use my writing skills through blogging, and now I get to write for all of you to point you to Jesus. My original plan was to point everything back to me, but God said, “Let’s try this together and point everything to me.”

QUESTION 1. Where do you think God may be leading you? Are you trying to push God’s plan to the side because yours is “better?”
QUESTION 2. Are you scared of following God’s path because of where it may lead and how uncomfortable it may be?
CHALLENGE: Take God out of the box you’ve put him in; destroy all assumptions of what you think your life should look like, and listen for God’s will for you. Then, (Here comes the hard part.) let Him write you an epic story.
Natahan Whitmire 1

GUIDANCE -NATHAN WHITMIRE

GUIDANCE

NATHAN WHITMIRE

Ephesians 5:1-2

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I love spending time with little kids and asking them what they want to be when they grow up. I have heard kids say everything from a doctor to a horse. In the mind of a child, there is nothing impossible for them to become. As a kid, there was so much I wanted to be when I grew up.

As I got older, my perspective started to shift from asking “what do I want to be?” I began asking instead the question, “who do I want to be?” I realized that there was a lot I could strive to do, but if I was not being a person of upright character then everything I did was meaningless. So I started to figure out who it was that I wanted to be.

When you are aiming to go into a specific career, you learn from people who have gone before you and who are doing what you want to do. When you are aiming to be a person of certain character, you learn from people who are living that out. We, as humans, learn by seeing what is modeled for us.

There are some people in my life who follow Jesus with such beautiful faith and trust, some who love people so sacrificially and live generously, some who walk with humility and grace, and some who pray with power and walk with God so intimately. All of these people become models for me. Paul urged the Church in Corinth to follow him as he followed Christ. Jesus sets an example for us throughout our lives and we need to use him as our ultimate guide. However, we can also follow the example of those around us who are walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

QUESTION 1. Who stands out in your life to be a person of godly character? Why?
QUESTION 2. What qualities would others possess if they were modeling their life after the way you live your life?
CHALLENGE: Walk in the footsteps of Jesus and you will find others on the same path that you can also learn from.
Zak Stillwell

GUIDANCE -ZAK STILLWELL

GUIDANCE

ZAK STILLWELL

Proverbs 16:9

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

While we like to think that we don’t do this, many of us go through life holding on to God with one hand and the world with the other. We may say that we would follow God to the ends of the earth, but in reality there is a limit to what we would do. Would you still follow God if it meant being poor? If you were being threatened? If He asked you to travel to the other side of the world away from family and friends and every comfort you have ever known? The comforts and things of this world that we’re hanging on to keep us from fully serving and following our master.

We must start to let go of the things we love so that we can cling to someone that loves us infinitely more. We cannot serve two masters (Matt.6:24). I truly believe that the more we try to plan our own way the more we shove God to the side and the less effective we become in his kingdom. God tells us that the world and all its possessions, treasures and desires will someday pass away, but those of us who do the will of God will live forever (1 John 2:17). So release your grip on your plans, future, and possessions and give them to God who will take you to new heights and on a wild adventure.

QUESTION 1. What “master” do you serve? Money? Possessions? Comfort?
QUESTION 2. Do you believe that the things you are clinging to are keeping you from living an amazing story with Jesus at the forefront?
CHALLENGE: Whatever you are clinging to, lay it down at the feet of Jesus. Let it go and let Jesus take you on an adventure.
Zak Graves 1

GUIDANCE -ZAK GRAVES

GUIDANCE

ZAK GRAVES

Ephesians 2:8-10

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We have been created to do the good works that Jesus has prepared for us and to be Jesus to the world. Many of us think that the only way we can do these good works is if we are a missionary or work in ministry or volunteer at a soup kitchen. While these are all great, they’re not all there is. Sometimes we may even hide behind the fact that we are scared to be Jesus right where we are and instead say, “Oh well, someday when I can go on a mission trip then I can be Jesus to people.”

God has works for you to do right here and right now. That could even be flipping burgers, hanging out with a hurting friend, doing chores, or even homework. All of these seemingly menial tasks should be done for the glory of God. We need to stop separating our lives into two segments; first of ministry and then the rest. Every moment of every day is a chance to love someone and do the good work of God. Also, God says that of those who are given much, much will be demanded (Luke 12:48). He may be testing you to see how you handle the small moments before He hands you something huge. Don’t put it off any longer, start doing the works of God right where you are and in whatever circumstance you are.

QUESTION 1. What good works do you think God has placed in your path for this season of your life? Are you ignoring them?
QUESTION 2. Do you think you have been faithful with the little things? Can God trust you with something bigger?
CHALLENGE: No matter what you do, no matter how big or small, have a mindset of building God’s kingdom right where you are, using what God has already given you.
Melon Vinson 3

GUIDANCE -ME LON VINSON

GUIDANCE

ME LON VINSON

Proverbs 3:6

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Life can be ridiculously confusing. We may think we know which direction to take, but then a few days later everything changes and we’re going in a completely different direction. We seek “God’s will” for our lives but don’t actually listen when he reveals something to us. We end up carrying God around like a genie in a lamp that we take out only when we have a decision to make, and expect him to magically appear with an instant solution. But it has to be to our liking; otherwise, back in the lamp you go, genie!

How many times have you prayed and actually listened for God to respond? His response is most likely not going to be an audible response, though I’m not ruling that out. It could come in a sudden revelation, godly advice from parents or mentors, a verse from the Bible, or the whisper of God, which isn’t audible per se but you know it’s him—and, yes, this is a real thing. We need to put aside our ideas and plans for our future and seek God’s direction instead, because—I promise you—his way is infinitely better than any path we could ever wander alone.

QUESTION 1. Do you seek God’s will for your life? How do you go about doing this?
QUESTION 2. Has there ever been a time when you knew that God wanted you to do something but you did the exact opposite? What happened?
CHALLENGE: If you feel confused about your future, or any decision, just take it to God. Pray and actually expect to hear Him answer, meditate on truths in Scripture, and He will direct your path.
ryan huber 2

GUIDANCE -RYAN HUBER

GUIDANCE

RYAN HUBER

Romans 14:13

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

When I was little, my younger sister hated sharing anything with anyone. She always told us “I have pink germs and you have brown germs!” as her way of prohibiting us from using anything she had claimed as her own. We were limited in what we could do because, in her mind, we had nasty brown germs that could not be mixed with her pretty pink germs.

What still makes me laugh about her toddler logic was the fact that she still openly admitted the existence of her own germs…they were just much prettier! She tried to dictate what we could or could not do because of her own mindset.

As much as we might not want to admit it, sometimes we do the same thing with other people. We start a new diet, or read a book that changes our perspective, or learn a new life skill and suddenly we think everyone else should be doing the same thing. It is so easy to pass judgment on others simply based on the observation that they are not living how we are.

At the root of it, we want it to be easy to live out our own choices, opinions, or changes. It would be a lot easier to stick to our New Year’s Resolution to eat healthy if suddenly the whole world stopped selling ice cream and french fries, right?! This isn’t a new development in our culture. This mindset has been a part of human interaction for thousands of years…it just didn’t involve french fries or pink germs.

Paul speaks into the issues of division as he writes a letter to the Romans. There was tension among the Roman Church over trivial interpretations of Scripture. Paul doesn’t tell them to follow the beliefs of one side or the other. Instead, he tells them to aim for unity. Unity did not require them to believe the same thing, but simply respect one another in their differences. They were all trying to please God, they just did it differently. Paul instructs us not to expect those who don’t believe the same things we do to behave in the same way we are called to live. Instead, we must love others with respect. You cannot expect other people to change their mind simply because you tell them to. Try living out your beliefs with love so others will want to know what you believe!

QUESTION 1. Who in your life has different opinions or beliefs than you do? What are they and how do you communicate with them about these differences?
QUESTION 2. How can you love those who have varying beliefs from yours despite your differences?
CHALLENGE: Spend time with people who don’t think the same way you do and try to learn something from them! You don’t have to believe what you hear to listen and learn in a way that respects them.
tyler edwards

GUIDANCE -TYLER EDWARDS

GUIDANCE

TYLER EDWARDS

Proverbs 16:9

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

After I graduated college, I had all of these wonderful plans and ideas for my life. I had big plans for exciting adventures as I followed Jesus and sought His will for my life. I had been learning more and more about how adventurous God is, so I was excited for all that was in store. However, a few months into post-grad life, my plans started to change. Things were not playing out as I had expected. It seemed as though every time I would get to the threshold of a new open door, it would shut. I started to feel discouraged, disappointed, and hopeless. I did not want to settle–I wanted the glorious adventure-driven life I had been planning up until this point.

After a few long months in my hometown, with no bedroom, no job, and no plans, I decided to pack my bags and move half-way across the country to live with family friends. I just needed to do something. All the closed doors along the journey were causing me to wallow in self-pity. I needed to break out of this cycle. So, with every intention of moving, I hopped on a plane.

It wasn’t long before I started to notice God’s voice again. He was dropping all kinds of hints, inviting me back into His plan for me. I could have said no to His offer, but I remembered the story of Jonah in the Bible and decided against that. I knew there was something God wanted to do in and through me–life with Him was the adventure I had been longing for. I realized I had taken my eyes off wanting Him and had placed them on ideas of what He could do for me. He graciously invited me back into His arms and His plans.

I’m sure my story is not the only one that involves chasing my own plans rather than God’s. I also know that I am not the only person who has encountered a fair share of closed doors. However, if there is one thing I have been learning throughout this crazy journey called life, it is the fact that God really does know what He’s doing. He wants each of us to have an abundant life; however, that doesn’t always mean things will play out exactly like we want them to. It’s okay to make plans, but do not let yourself hold so tight to them that you stop holding on to the One who wants the very best for you and can make it happen!

QUESTION 1. How have you seen God’s faithfulness in both closed and opened doors throughout your lifetime?
QUESTION 2. What plans are you holding on to? Are you willing to surrender them to God if He asks you to?
CHALLENGE: Lean into God when your plans don’t seem to be playing out how you imagined.
tim czech 1

GUIDANCE -TIM CZECH

GUIDANCE

TIM CZECH

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith….

Growing up, I loved to dance! I was in at least one dance class almost every day of the week. My schedule was full of tap shoes, ballet buns, hip-hop beats, and new routines. No matter what style dance class I was in, there was almost always a guarantee that each class would involve some spinning.

From a very young age, I was taught the proper technique for spins and twirls. The key to being able to spin around and around without finding yourself too dizzy to stand is simple. You need a focal point! When you fix your eyes on a specific spot and move your body accordingly, it won’t matter how much you spin, you can still stand firm when you stop.

Daily life is a lot like those dance classes I took as a kid. We need a focal point or everything will seem to spiral out of control. The Book of Hebrews tells us of the freedom that is found when we fix our eyes on Jesus.

Sometimes life can seem a little out of control, like we are being tossed about and we can’t seem to keep our feet firm on the ground. Sometimes we find ourselves spinning in a whirlwind of to-do lists and distractions and we can’t seem to straighten it all out. In those times, find your focal point again. Things may still be spinning like crazy, but when your eyes are fixed on Jesus, you can continue on stronger in the race of life.

QUESTION 1. When you look at how you spend your day, what is it that your eyes and mind are fixed on most?
QUESTION 2. What is keeping you from fixing your eyes and mind firmly on Jesus?
CHALLENGE: Today, say no to a distraction in your life that is keeping you from being who God created you to be.
darell davis 1

GUIDANCE -DARELL DAVIS

GUIDANCE

DARELL DAVIS

1 Corinthians 9:19-20

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law.

Pride can kill your testimony. It’s that simple. Imagine that you have all this head knowledge about the Bible and theology. You’ve studied C.S. Lewis, you’ve read your Bible, you go to church every week and even sometimes listen to a sermon podcast during the week; you know your stuff. One day you get into a discussion with your friend, an atheist, about the Bible and you start spouting off your knowledge and don’t hear a word that your friend says. You’re right and he or she is wrong, and that’s the end of it.

Yes, you may be right, and good for you for studying, but it’s not being right that changes lives; it’s the gospel that changes lives. You can have all the head knowledge in the world but if you have no heart behind it no one will listen to you. Pride can mask how much you actually care about people. You want them to see that you truly love them and not just being right. Paul put all of himself aside. In the verse above he says that he is a slave to all in order that people may know Christ.

Begin to look at your heart. Do you study the Word so that you can grow spiritually and mentally, or do you study it so you can be right when a lively discussion happens? If it is the latter then it’s time you ask God for forgiveness and ask him to change your heart. And He will. If you truly want to do the work of God, it isn’t an ounce about you; it’s all about Jesus. Give your pride to Him and He will do amazing work through you.

QUESTION 1. Answer this truthfully: are you a prideful person? Do you study God’s word and theology in order to be right?
QUESTION 2. Do you have head knowledge and no heart? If so, ask God to break your heart for others. But be careful, He actually will; and it won’t be easy.
CHALLENGE: Read your Bible in order to develop the mindset and heart of Christ, not just to be right. Put your pride aside and watch as God transforms lives.
jackie turner 2

GUIDANCE -JACKIE TURNER

GUIDNACE

JACKIE TURNER

Ephesians 6:10-11

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

How many times have we rushed into our days or a tough situation without being prepared to face it? We have become so self-reliant we actually believe we can take on the enemy ourselves. This is a dangerous mindset because when we go into battle without following our leader, Jesus Christ, we will get knocked down every single time.

He has given us the armor of God to put on each day so we can properly take on the enemy who seeks to kill, steal and destroy. The armor is life and God is our leader who fights on our behalf. Isn’t it so much better to follow a God who is fighting for us? So why do we so often try to fight on our own?

Each morning before you even get out of bed, pray the armor of God over yourself. He gave us each specific piece of armor for a reason and we need all of them. For example, what is the use of the sword of the spirit (God’s word) to counteract the condemnations of the enemy if you don’t have the shield of faith to protect against them?

Don’t rush into battle anymore without your leader and your armor. Then when life starts to go bad for you or your family, or the world becomes unstable, you’ll remember that these issues are nothing compared to the power of Jesus. With Him, and only Him, will there ever be true victory over the world and our enemy.

QUESTION 1. How do you start your day? Do you prepare for the coming battle or do you check Facebook or think about all the tasks you have to do as you slowly get stressed out?
QUESTION 2. Do you try to take on the world and the enemy without your armor and without your leader going before you? It doesn’t work does it?
CHALLENGE: Seek God first and follow him into battle. He will give us victory; but we must be prepared with the full armor of God on at all times.
lauren ankenman 3

GUIDANCE -LAUREN ANKENMAN

GUIDANCE

LAUREN ANKENMAN

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

There is nothing more beautiful than the sounds of praises to God filling a room full of nothing but people who are full of his spirit. I remember sitting in silence on a hill overlooking a village in Mexico one summer. Out from the walls of a tiny home came the sound of more than a dozen voices singing praises to the Lord! Their songs echoed off the hills and I could sense the joy they found in the presence of their King! They were not worshipping Him with flashy stage lights or beautiful instruments; they simply wanted to praise Him because they were filled with joy and freedom from being in His presence.

I smile when I think about that moment because I am reminded of how joy is not found in earthly belongings or personal achievement. True, everlasting joy is found in the presence of the God who is able to set us free from all the darkness that tangles us up and holds us back. God desires for us to be able to walk in freedom; that is part of the reason why he tells us to come close to him. He knows how to get us out of our messes and provide all that we need. He is a good, good God!

When we experience His freedom, joy replaces whatever it is that was holding us back. The house full of people were singing praises to God because they were surrounded by His presence. They were not caught up in their temporary belongings or problems; they were free and they were joyful! No matter where you are or what you have, there is freedom that awaits you in the presence of the God of all joy!

QUESTION 1. What areas of your life do you need to let go of in order to experience true joy and freedom?
QUESTION 2. How are you seeking the presence of the Lord today? What is your response to time spent with Him?
CHALLENGE: Give God all the things in your life that are taking up room that God created to be occupied by joy and freedom. Thank Him for His presence that never leaves and offers you all that you need!
chris johnson guidence lg

GUIDANCE -CHRIS JOHNSON

GUIDANCE

CHRIS JOHNSON

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do…and he will show you which path to take.”

Have you ever made decisions in your life that you wished that you could take back? If only you could go back and change our past choices. If only you wouldn’t have chosen to sleep with that boyfriend or girlfriend. If only you chose not to drink and then drive that night. If only!

Proverbs chapter 3 talks about giving God everything. It talks about placing God at the forefront of your decisions. God doesn’t want you to have to look back and say, if only! Don’t get it twisted, He can use your past for His greater good, but He would rather you listen to Him in the first place as He loves you and calls you to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).

QUESTION 1. Where is Christ in your decisions? Is He a part of your life?
QUESTION 2. Are the decisions you’re making for you or for you and God?
CHALLENGE: The next time you have a decision to make, take a step back and think about placing God at the center of your decision. Ask yourself if your decision would be any different if you put God at the center. Don’t look back at your past and think, if only … let God lead you today!