Finding Friends

Written by Aafke Garlock

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district[a] of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.-– Acts 16:6-15


In January of 2020, yes that 2020, Wesley Chapel began a study of Francis Chan’s book, Forgotten God. We were all encouraged to join a small group and work through the book together. I made a half-hearted resolution to get into a Bible study, but my children were five and two– bedtime was sacred and I worked full-time as a teacher. My availability was almost nil.

I was giving these reasons to my friend Ahnya, true excuses why I just couldn’t uphold my resolution, and she simply texted me “When could you meet?” I responded, half jokingly, “5 pm on a weekday.” Her response, “Let’s do it.” She literally scheduled a small group for the two of us, meeting from 5-6 pm at the church. The next week, our group grew by a few, then a few more. By March, we were at five and flourishing, watching the videos together and having amazing conversations.

Then the shutdown hit. Everything was closed. Zoom became a thing. Would the group like to continue our study via Zoom? Sure, we said– let’s do it. We continued to meet weekly as the world fell apart. These meetings suddenly became a lifeline for us; we poured out our true selves as we came face to face with a vast unknown. Panic attacks, Covid scares, isolation, fear for our families, lack of toilet paper, it all came out in our weekly meetings. When we finished Forgotten God in May, Covid had taken away our summer as well. Would we like to do another study? Heck yes. Let’s keep meeting virtually. Eventually, groups came back to the physical church and started a new version of normalcy, but the bonds made in that group are still solid. We told each other everything, so there’s no small talk now– we deal with real life together. We might not talk for a few weeks, but one text or call is all it takes and my friends are in my corner.

In Acts 16, we see Paul and his companions doing the work of God. They think they are supposed to go to one town, Bithynia, but God’s spirit says no. Paul receives a dream in which someone is begging him to go to Macedonia, so they change plans. Ahnya was doing the work of God by creating a small group to fulfill my need. We thought our small group was supposed to flourish in person, the way it had always been done, but God (and the health department) said no. We changed plans and switched to virtual. When Paul and his companions are receptive to the new plan, God brings Lydia to him and a new group of believers is born through this obedience. We were receptive to the new plan and together, were able to form a new group of friends.

I am so thankful that Ahnya did God’s work that fateful day in January of 2020. I am even more thankful that we as a group didn’t quit when our initial plan was taken away, that we listened and changed course. In doing so, I now have a group of women who I am blessed to count as not just sisters in Christ, but true friends. 

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Written by Courtney Siefring


Describe how a song has inspired you towards a greater faith.
In my case, maybe the question is more of how has my faith has inspired a song and in turn it has inspired me to a closer relationship with God. All my life I have lived with a faith that was more shame based. I thought that I was saved because of what I did. Always trying to earn God’s love and earn other people’s approval. I have lived with this false idea that if I could somehow earn God’s love that it in turn would mean that I was good enough. Well, after decades of trying to be “good enough’ I wore tired, drained, and felt like no matter what I did…that I would never be good enough for God.


So I fell away from him. My faith wore thin and before I knew it I was living deep in sin. I had lost sight of God and started living only for myself. It took a huge fall and the threat of losing everything for God to finally reach me. I was completely broken and at the brink of losing all I held dear. God got my attention and I had to be at the brink of loosing everything to turn around and let God take over. This void inside of me was gapping even more and I felt empty. Like I was worthless. Like I wasn’t even worthy to be loved by God.


It was around that time that Pastor Tony said something that changed my faith forever. He said, that repentance is like a huge gap between you and God. Then when you turn around and ask for forgiveness and ask God to take you back he doesn’t ask you to even meet him half way, he runs to where you are and takes you back in his arms eagerly. He said “Sounds like you’ve been living with shame based faith. I would encourage you to live with grace based faith.” When he said this, everything I had believed up to that point shifted.


I was finally starting to understand, I can’t EARN God’s love. Nothing I do, nothing I say, or think will ever make God love me more or less. I started  shifting my thinking to knowing that I am enough just because God says I am. I am a child of God and regardless of how “good” or “broken” I am we are all sinners. I don’t need anyone else to tell me that I am enough. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone or to God.


So a song was written…the words flowed out of me like a rushing river. This was a song that would change my faith forever not because somehow I didn’t already know the message of the song…but because I needed to write those lyrics so that I could hear them out load and hear them often. The more that you hear something, the more you will believe it. These lyrics would symbolize the rebuild of my grace based faith.  I wasn’t aware of how God would use this personal song, to help touch hearts of others who may need to hear this message.


Months later I was encouraged to share my song with Cory, Wesley Chapel’s Worship Leader as me being a part of the worship team, somehow maybe God could use this song in worship. Knowing how choosy Cory is with worship music I was doubtful that he would go for it. He even warned me upfront that he would listen to it but that he couldn’t promise it would be used at Wesley Chapel. Well, God apparently had bigger plans for that song because Cory loved it and was eager for us to lead it as a worship song weeks later.


This song was God breathed. It was a song written from the very core of my soul that God has used to spread a very important message. That message is that no matter what you have ever done, God sees your sin but wants to pull you back into his loving arms. He longs for you, yes you who are filthy and covered with sin. Yes you, who believes you are too dirty to step foot in a church. Yes you, who thinks you will never be enough for God. That you will never be able to live up to his expectations, so why try?


The truth is that there is nothing that you could say or do that could make God not want you. He took the pain and suffered on a cross so he could be with you. There is no circumstance that he can’t undo. He took your sin and nailed it to the cross. There is nothing that you can do to earn that. He’s already done it! So just take the gift of grace and turn around away from your sin and he will be right there with open arms ready to take you back and help you walk away from the life of sin. Isn’t it amazing to know that there is nothing you can do to earn his love? That’s a huge weight lifted. That’s life changing, right? You are already enough for him, allow him to be enough for you!



I’m on my knees

I doubt you could ever forgive me

But your grace is free

So Lord pour it on me


You lift me up

You give me your love

You tell me I’m enough

You tell me I’m enough

You’ve given me life

And I give you mine

You tell me I’m enough

You tell me I’m enough


You see my sin

And still choose to pull me back in

Please help me see

That you still want me


You lift me up

You give me your love

You tell me I’m enough

You tell me I’m enough

You’ve given me life

And I give you mine

You tell me I’m enough

You tell me I’m enough


No matter who I’ve been

No matter what I’ve done

There’s no battle that you wouldn’t overcome

You took my sin

Nailed it to the cross

To be with me


No matter what I say

No matter what I do

There’s no circumstance that you can’t undo

You took my shame

Turned it into praise

You got to me

You got to me


You lift me up

You give me your love

You tell me I’m enough

You tell me I’m enough

You’ve given me life

And I give you mine

You tell me I’m enough

You tell me I’m enough


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An Incredible Reminder of God’s Care

Written by Shirley Owen

How gracious Our God is to send us His assurance when we need Him most! I am reminded of an event when this was so clear to us. We were living in Florida and usually had a summer vacation, but our summer was so busy that my dear husband scheduled a visit to Wyoming in December. We flew to Montana and drove down to Wyoming where we rented a rustic cabin at the east entrance to Yellowstone Park. The lodge rented snowmobiles to drive into the park, which was closed to other vehicles. Thinking that we would probably never have this opportunity again, we rented two snowmobiles and headed into the park. Willow poles stuck in the snow marked the routes we were allowed to follow. Just the night before more than 15 inches of new snow had fallen and despite the incredible cold and heavily falling snow, we proceeded undaunted. We were awestruck by the beauty of the forest, the wildlife meandering through the trees, and the waves frozen in place on Yellowstone River. A mountain pass with a deep snowdrift caused one of our snowmobiles to slide to the edge of the road all the way to the barrier that kept us from going over the side of the mountain, but we were not deterred. We continued on several miles into the park to a warming hut where we planned to eat, warm up, and start the journey back to the lodge. Leaving the parking area, we skidded into a parked snowmobile and broke a front skid. By the time we filled out reports and called the lodge to come rescue us, darkness had overtaken us. After some time, our rescuer arrived and prepared us for the return trip. He led, pulling the broken sled in front, I followed next, and my husband and son were at the back. These were our instructions…”Don’t stop for anything, only slow down! Follow my lights! Drive around the Buffalo!” I was shaking in my snow boots! Shortly into the journey, I began praying and God sent me the words to the hymn, “God Will Take Care of You”! The words to that hymn gave me confidence to keep going while driving past buffaloes in the road, driving much too fast just to keep up, and discovering that the light reflected in my visor let me know that my husband and son were safely behind me. End of story…we made it back to the lodge safely! That hymn was a continual reminder that God was in control and able to carry us through even the most frightening situations.


“Be not dismayed, whate’er betide, God will take care of you.

Beneath His wings of Love abide, God will take care of you.

God will take care of you, Thro’ ev’ry day, o’er all the way.

He will take care of you. God will take care of you.”

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Written by Jill Dayvault

I love music! I love to listen to it, and I love to sing it. It can stir up a lot of different emotions within me, and it can transport me to different times and places. I love a lot of different styles of music, but my favorites are Southern Gospel and the traditional hymns. This music can reach deep into my soul, and looking back over my life, I can see how it has inspired me toward a deeper faith in my Christian journey.

I have been singing since I could form words, and I sang my first solo when I was 3 years old at a Mother’s Day event at my hometown church. My family did not attend church, but my friend’s mother took me to church with her. She always sang and played the beautiful hymns on her piano, and she gave me a wonderful appreciation of music from a very early age. I attended church with her and her family until I was 18 years old, so my life was steeped in the hymns and singing in the choir. As a child/teenager, I don’t remember ever really reading the Bible, but I learned a lot of theology from the hymns because so many are based on Scripture.

At age 19, I wandered away from the church. The definition of prodigal is a person who leaves home and behaves recklessly, but later makes a repentant return. Based on this definition, I was a prodigal for the next 10 years (1970-1980). I believe if I hadn’t had the spiritual foundation my neighbor fostered in me, and if I hadn’t had the words of the hymns embedded in my soul, I may never have made a repentant return. But God had His hand on me while I was wandering.

I married my first husband in 1975 and when he got out of the Army in 1977, we moved to New Albany (his hometown). The marriage didn’t last, and we were divorced a few months after moving here. I was not in a good place emotionally or spiritually. In the fall of 1980, my nephew married a young lady who attended Wesley Chapel on State Street. I went to their wedding, and when I sat in that sanctuary, I felt like I had come home. I started attending Wesley Chapel, joined the choir, and became a member in 1981.

My faith was shallow during this time, and although I never stopped attending church and singing in the choir, I was having a lot of personal struggles. I re-married in 1982, and gave birth to my daughter in 1983. My husband was not a believer, but I was committed to attending church with my daughter. Because of my husband’s battle with alcoholism, we divorced in 1986. Again, my faith was being tested, and I was struggling. It was during that time that a chorus was sung in church, written/composed by Bill Gaither, and the melody and words of that song ministered to me like nothing else had to that point, and it still holds a special place in my heart.

The chorus goes like this:

Something beautiful, something good
All my confusion, He understood
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But He made something beautiful of my life.

I knew if I could just surrender my brokenness and strife to God that He would make something beautiful of my life, too. Psalm 51 has always been very personal to me, and verse 17 says “The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (New Living Translation). I praise God for accepting my repentant heart and for His transforming power in my life these past 41 years. What a faith journey.

Music has been an integral part of my spiritual growth. After attending a Dayspring Emmaus retreat in 1991, two other ladies and I formed the Dayspring Trio. We sang Southern gospel for 19 years, singing at retreats, revivals, church services, and special programs all over Southern Indiana. God blessed us mightily during our time together, and singing that music was heavenly and never failed to lift me up and draw me closer to the Lord. In 2019, I was a member of the Messenger Quartet, and we sang at a lot of the Assisted Living facilities in this area. It was a wonderful ministry, and I believe it would have continued except for Covid, which put an end to going to these facilities.

My faith has continued to grow more and more with each passing day that I walk with the Lord. God has blessed me these past 17 years with a godly husband. I have a wonderful church family here at Wesley Chapel who has loved me, encouraged me, and mentored me. I have stayed very involved in the music ministry at Wesley Chapel, and it continues to inspire me toward a deeper faith in my Christian journey.

 I’ll leave you with the words of another hymn written in 1910, but it sums things up for me:

            There’s within my heart a melody; Jesus whispers sweet and low,
            “Fear not, I am with you, peace be still,” in all of life’s ebb and flow.

            Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know
            Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go.

May Jesus put a song in your heart, and may the music inspire you toward a deeper faith.

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Let’s Raise a Hallelujah

Written by Heather Perkins


Being in a profession of music, I am around by music all the time and experience what music has to offer every day.  I remember a time when I was playing a Brahms piece in my piano lessons, and crying because for the first time I found myself understanding how to play with emotion and creating an environment of serenity and emotions.  I grew as a musician, and the way I played changed forever.  I noticed the power of what the arts have to offer. When Covid and the pandemic started, I learned just how much power music and art have on our lives.  


To understand a time in my life when music made the biggest impact: there is a progression of different music that brought me to a deeper understanding of who I am in Christ.  I walked through a pretty difficult season of life.  Not only was I in deep depression like everyone else during the time of Covid, but the impact of the pandemic took on a whole new meaning and feeling for me.  I lost a dear friend to Covid and I began to really question God. I was mad and disappointed with how life was progressing after that.  You see, this particular friend was the one music friend that I worked with and was a music teacher as well.  On top of that, Melinda was the one who kept me grounded, real, and walked through all of the hardships that I went through in my professional career: we did everything together.   Everything around me felt overwhelming and uncertain.  I remember seeking grief counseling and taking time to understand my emotions and how I felt.  It was such a big process for me and I went through a lot of growing pains along the way.  If I did not have the people in my life to help me through it, I do not know where I would be. It was MUSIC that ushered in a deep season of understanding and discovering emotions for me. It all started when I was listening to the singer Pink’s new album and she wrote two songs that really spoke to me deep down to the core.  It was like I could have written these lyrics.  Even though the meaning of the song was not intended for grief and soul renewal, I took these lyrics and meditated on them for hours and listened to the meaning they had on my own life and healing.


“ Hope flows away, if you could spend a day in shoes, your mind would change, if you’d known what I’ve gone through, we want the same thing, Maybe then you’ll understand, How it hurts to be human.

God it hurts to be human, without you, I’d be losing, someday we’ll face the music, God it hurts to be human.   But I’ve got you and you got me”-Hurts 2B Human


“ Tryna stand up on my own two feet, this conversation aint comin easily, and darling, I know its getting late, so what do you say we leave this place?

There’s something in the way I wanna cry, that makes me think we’ll make it out alive, so come on and show me how we’re good, I think that could do some good.

Walk me home in the dead of night, I can’t be alone, with all that’s on my mind, so say you’ll stay with me tonight, Cause there is so much wrong going on outside”-Walk Me Home Tonight


Listening and reading these lyrics at that point in my life, it was like I could use them to express how I felt. I would drive in the car singing these words at the top of my lungs and crying.  It was like God was trying to give me a way to help process my emotions and how I felt inside.  After that- a while after that- I started using music as a way to help myself feel and process what was happening around me-instrument, Broadway, praise and worship-anything that made sense.  In the end I came across a worship album that changed everything for me.  Listening to the Victory album by Bethel helped bring me back to where I knew I needed to be.  The words they put together brought me peace that I have not felt in a while.  It gave me peace when I needed it most. I was going through a season that God wanted me to go through and he gave me the tools to help process that season and come out stronger in the end.  I know I still have a long way to go, and the process has been so painful, but now I stand in victory knowing that I am going to be ok.  


God has a plan for every season and he gives us tools-sometimes unexpected-and we have to be willing to let those tools help guide us through the seasons we are going through.  God gave us music.  It is something that He intended to be used to help lift us out of whatever we need.  It is so powerful and so overwhelmingly beautiful that it can only come from God.  In the Bible there are countless references to music and how music is used to worship him.  I challenge you to really listen to whatever music you are listening to today: listen to the instruments and how the tones are put together, listen to the singing and how they are singing, listen to the words of the music and how they can guide and teach you something, listen to the song as a whole and how it is woven together to create a masterpiece for us to have and hold on too.  Let us come together and praise God for everything He has given us and enjoy this amazing tool: MUSIC.


“I raise a Hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies, I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief, I raise a hallelujah.  My weapon is a melody, I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me.

I’m gonna sing in the middle of the storm, louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar, up from the ashes hope will arise. Death is defeated, the King is alive.

I raise hallelujah, with everything inside of me, I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee, I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery, I raise a hallelujah, fear, you lost your hold on me.

I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm, Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar.  Up from the ashes hope will arise, Death is defeated, the King is alive!”

Raise a Hallelujah, Bethel.

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Taking Action from the Psalms

Written by Becky Perkins

During my adult years, I have striven to read a Psalm daily to help guide and focus on my prayer time with God.  I try to read through the Psalms beginning January 1 through December 31, which enables me to read through the Book of Psalms yearly, plus extra readings.   Sometimes I fear that reading in this routine, the readings will become ritualistic and mundane, but I am reminded that sometimes we do things out of obedience until a truth from God resonates with the soul.


Recently, while reading through Psalm 119, the longest Psalm in the book of Psalms, verses 25 – 40 became one of those treasured moments.  I was not feeling like reading that morning.  It was in the middle of VBS preparations, actually 2 weeks prior to VBS, and I was quite busy.  I was in the midst of several trainings for VBS and attempting to get all communications out to leaders.  We had 15 new adults serving in VBS this year and 3 adults who had never experienced a VBS in their life.  Not having VBS for 2 years due to Covid, it really was like starting all over again.  I was not spending the time I should have in God’s Word and prayer to prepare for such a big event.  I read through these verses and thought, God I really am not getting what I need today from these verses. Verse 25 says the person writing this Psalm felt low in the dust and was asking for God to preserve his life.  Then with a prompting from the Holy Spirit, I wrote down all of the action words in those verse.  And this is what I found, much like a hidden treasure.


Help me recount my ways, teach me your decrees (verse 26), help me understand your teaching help me meditate on your wonders (verse 27).  So, I followed his instructions and recounted my way, how I had been acting, what I had been saying, how I had represented Christ on a day by day basis.  Taking a daily assessment of myself and my heart.  I had to ask for him to help me understand what he was saying to me.  I admitted my soul was weary and I needed strength from his Word (verse 28), I needed help to stay from deceitful ways and I wanted to choose the way of truth (verse 29 and 30). I soon found this Psalm passage to bring me to my knees in prayer of forgiveness and to look for what only he could do through me. 


It is very easy to be swallowed up in the ways of the world around us, the things we see, hear and experience.  All we have to do is walk out the door each day, and the culture hits us in the face.   If we do not have the Word of God foremost in our mind, we will be thinking wrong thoughts, have wrong motivations, speak unkindly to others, and a lot of other things that are not as Christ.  We need to take an inventory of the heart and mind to be sure we are following the precepts and instructions of the Lord, daily.  Meditating on the Psalms is a great way to stay in check with our heart and God’s heart.   Verse 2 says, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free”.  I hope I run more often to the Word of God so that my heart is free of shame, guilt, and unloving feelings and thoughts.   


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