How Will They Know?

Written by Laura Gipe

When I was five years old, my parents built a home on a hill overlooking downtown Louisville.  Our new view was magnificent, a rolling hillside and beautiful city lights, a site I still cherish today.
 
One evening, during my pre-teen years, I was standing at the rear of our kitchen table, behind the seat my dad always occupied, staring out our sliding glass door.  It was very dark outside and all I could see were the flickering lights of the city.  I spent a lot of time in that moment thinking about my purpose in life and I was fixated on one very bright city light.  It was as if God was sending me a message and I vividly remember thinking, “If I can do nothing more with my life, I can be a bright light.”
 
In Acts 8:29-31 we learn the Holy Spirit said to Phillip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”  Phillip ran over and heard the man reading from the book of Isaiah.  Phillip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Phillip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.
 
My family did not spend endless hours in conversation talking about God, but servanthood and the story of Jesus was certainly sprinkled throughout my daily life.  My parents had five children and our lives were busy.  My dad, a family physician, kept a rigorous schedule between his office hours, hospital visits, and delivering babies during all hours of the night. It was not uncommon for him to take us along on house calls (where we waited in the car) or to after-hours office trips he would make to be with patients in need. On several occasions, our laundry room served as a meeting place for someone who might need a quick stitch or light medical attention. My mom did an outstanding job tending to all our needs, which were many, and she always prepared a wonderful meal so we could gather around our dinner table to be a family in the evening.  That meal always began with our favorite prayer, “God is great, God is good.”  One thing was certain, no matter what the schedule looked like, we were always sitting in church on Sunday morning which is where I soaked in my love of music, the message, and learned very early in life that Jesus loves me.  When we were old enough to begin caring for ourselves, my mom went on to obtain her BSN in nursing school. My parents always displayed true servant hearts, caring, giving, teaching, and sharing all that they knew, a perfect vision of being Christ like.
 

Last week three of our grandkids had the opportunity to participate in VBS. I was absolutely amazed at the number of people that served the children of our community.  It was obvious that months of planning occurred from the curriculum, music, décor, and list of servants.  When you walked into church you could immediately feel the love that was being poured out on our children. These dedicated servants used their calling to share the love of Christ. As Pastor Peter proclaimed in his message on Sunday, our mission doesn’t have to be monumental, it can be simple. 

 

The man in our scripture was an Ethiopian eunuch and he wasn’t clear about what he was reading.  Phillip, upon invitation and without hesitation, willingly climbed into the carriage and shared the Good News about Jesus.  As their conversation continued, they came upon some water.  Once there, Phillip baptized the man and he had now been fully touched by living water.

 

How will they know if we don’t tell them?  I often think back to the mission I received while looking out that sliding door. Be kind, be generous, listen, and share the Good News!  We can all be the light.

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Purpose

Written by Josh Suiter

Have you ever struggled with what is your purpose? Why are you in the job you are in? Why did this certain thing happen to you? Why are you here?

In the summer of 2016, I was informed that my employer was making some changes and in those changes, I was losing my job. This was a job I poured myself into. I worked hard for them and when this news hit, I felt betrayed. I felt like my purpose had been ripped from me. I could have let this break me but instead I used it as a chance to shine. Three weeks after walking out of that building, I started a new job at The Chamber of St. Matthews. This move not only gave me a purpose, but it gave me a passion for my line of work to help small business owners.

6 and a half years later, I have been promoted to CEO and have an opportunity to help double the amount of members I was helping in 2018. I don’t tell you this to brag but to say that even when you least expect it, God is defining, or in my case – redefining – your purpose.

In John 7:37-39 (NIV), it says “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”

2 Timothy 1:9 says “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.”

Jesus’ life has a purpose that saves our souls. His death gave us salvation. And his followers are told in John 7:39 that they will not receive the Holy Spirit until He has been glorified. Sometimes God’s purpose doesn’t look the way we think it should or occur in the time we think it should.

My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” But I am going to add in verse 12 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” During my time of unemployment, I was praying continuously for God to send me to the right place. I would read Jeremiah 29:11-12 daily and I knew God has a plan for me. But I had to wait to hear it.

It took a pay cut from my previous job, a further drive to work and a need to trust him more than ever for God to reveal my purpose to me. I am now more confident than ever that I know my purpose and that purpose fuels my passion. But I had to trust God and know that He has it all worked out.

Are you stuck in a job you don’t like? Are you struggling with your purpose? What’s holding you back from living the life in purpose that God has for you?

Do you trust Him to lead you to that life of purpose? He’s already created the path, you just have to walk it and trust him.


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The Ripple Effect

Written by Vicki Ogden

The theme for our Vacation Bible School (VBS) this year is “Make Waves”. The children who attend will learn that when we put our trust in Jesus, we can Make Waves because of His Spirit living inside us.

 

When ask to write a blog to coincide with the theme, my mind went back to my childhood – one because as a child I attended VBS every year and two because of the water theme.

You see I grew up with a creek in my backyard. It was less than 15ft from my back door. As kids, to pass time (you know before Netflix, Instagram, Tic Toc, YouTube), we would go outside and toss rocks into the creek. We would watch the circles around the point of entry get bigger and bigger. No matter the size (big or small) or shape (round or flat) of the rock, the circles would eventually make it to the banks of the creek.

This is called The Ripple Effect – the continuing and spreading results of an event or action.

Likewise, we, as Christians (a.k.a. the rock), can start a Ripple Effect to Make Waves that can impact the world around us – to make a positive difference in this world, one positive change at a time.

James 2: 14-17 says, What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Read that again, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

I don’t know about you, but I definitely do not want my faith to no longer be alive.

That is a pretty powerful message. Thus, we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth.

Each and every day and moment of our life is an opportunity to show others the love of Christ – in our home – at our job – in our community – in our church – at school – at the grocery store – in a doctor’s office – at the dentist – at the gas station – on the road driving. And every day is a chance to make a difference in someone’s life and start The Ripple Effect.

Sit with someone at lunch who is alone.

When someone shares a concern with you, ask if you can pray for them right then and there.

Read a bible verse with your child at night.

If someone is a little short on cash at the grocery store if you are able, pay for their groceries.

Hold the door open for someone.

When a co-work starts talking bad about you, do not retaliate.

If someone cuts you off in traffic, do not get angry. Just smile at them.

Put your shopping cart back in the holder.

Smile at a stranger.

Call your mom, dad, sister, or brother just to say hi.

When someone asks for forgiveness, fully grant it.

Pray for those who you do not see eye-to-eye with.

Take a meal or some cookies to the person who lives next to you.

Send a card to someone in a nursing home or away at college.

Build relationships with each other to help carry their burdens.

Don’t ever forget who you are. You are child a God, and we can change the world around us through the power of Jesus.

As Jesus declared, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18). This is our hope and the assurance of our faith.

God is the designer and the creator of all things. The God who made the creeks and rocks made us, and He is working in our lives to bring about good things – to bring about a great revival. What you do today can change the world around you, one small Ripple at a time.


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Make Waves

Written by Jaclyn Heeke

“What is your purpose?”

“That is a GREAT question! I’ve never thought about that.” …said no one ever.

We’ve probably all asked ourselves this no-right-answer question at some point. While it seems very intimidating, it still feels very necessary to think about, doesn’t it? Because for most of us, we want to make a difference in the short time we’re given on this earth. But what can we do to make our lives more meaningful and have more purpose, to fulfill God’s purpose of creating us? That is a great question!

This year our VBS theme at Wesley Chapel is “Make Waves.” The tagline of the curriculum is “What you do today can change the world around you.” Looking at it as a daily action, not some immense lofty goal, makes it a little less intimidating to think about – for children and adults alike. We can do something today that has purpose, and that seems much more achievable! There are Christians who are called to step out in faith in big far-reaching ways, but what if you’re not one of them? We can make our own waves in this world with our everyday actions right where we are.

In 2014, I attended a 72-hour Christian experience. At the end of the weekend, I was asked what I was going to do with everything I had learned and experienced. I didn’t get much sleep that weekend. My eyes (and heart) had been opened in so many ways, and a lot of the weekend truly is a blur. However, I will never forget how I chose to answer this question in front of the audience (many whom I’d never met, or had just recently met). I said, with total confidence, “I’m going to be the light.”

Since that weekend 8 years ago, I’ve made it my purpose to be available and welcoming, encouraging and patient, prayerful and kind to family, friends, church and community. Modeling this behavior, which I’m not always perfect at, to those around me every day helps show the love of Christ to others. While I still have some work to do in sharing the gospel with people, platforms like the 72-hour weekends, this blog-writing opportunity, leading and serving at Wesley Chapel all help me continue to grow in my faith, which helps me grow in my confidence to share the Good News with others…daily.

What are some ways you are making (big or small) waves today that will change the world around you?


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God’s Plan

Written by Jake Snawder

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  Isaiah 6:1-4

When I was asked to write this, I felt pretty excited about it, having never written a blog before. In the weeks that followed I began to think more about what I would write; I began to worry. How can I put into words what I feel like I’m being called to do? How could anybody put that into words? Having never really thought about it until the time came to answer the question, I really did have to think about it. I could have easily just said; “Exactly what I’m doing now”, and left it at that, but I knew that wouldn’t have been enough. The truth is though, that it really is what I’m doing now, but I have to explain how I’ve come to that conclusion.

In my professional life I am an installer of home appliances, and it has been very fulfilling work. I’ve spent the last seven years in that field perfecting my skill set that is required to be the best I can at my job. It’s a lot of work, and I’m tired at the end of the day, but it is the trade that I have chosen to make my career of. I’d rather come home at the end of the day with dirty, calloused hands than spend all day typing on a keyboard in a cubicle. I feel like I’m in a very rewarding line of work that is providing a public service and makes other people happy. I’ve always considered myself a people pleaser. I feel good when I’ve completed a job and the customer is happy, and I feel like that makes God happy as well.

But I feel like what I’m being called to do goes beyond just my career in the appliance world. I try my best to keep my professional life and personal life separate from one another, although sometimes it’s not so easy. In my personal life I have chosen to become a youth Sunday school teacher at Wesley Chapel, but I’m not your conventional Sunday school teacher, as you may have noticed. That’s nothing against the other Sunday school teachers who are your traditional example of what one should be. There are a lot of variables that led me to that, and at different times I didn’t really notice that it was God at work, but now as I look back on it, it was all God at work.

I grew up in a Catholic church. For 10 years I went to a Catholic school, and until I was 14 years old I attended Catholic mass regularly. The only thing missing was that I was never part of a children’s or youth group like what is at Wesley Chapel. To be completely honest, I never knew those type of groups existed at other churches. All I knew was that we had to go to mass every Wednesday during school hours, and I was never paying attention to the message. All I knew was that it was an excuse to be out of class for an hour and a half, and that was good enough for me. Looking back on that, I am very proud of the education that I received at the Catholic grade school, and I’ll never forget the time I spent there. But that would all change once I entered high school.

My goal for this blog is to explain what I feel like I’m being called to do, not tell my whole life story, so I’ll spare a lot of details in this section. Several people know that I am a recovering drug addict, and after reading this you’ll know also, now with three years sobriety under my belt. After spending so many years at a private school, going straight to a public high school was quite an adjustment. This is where I look back and wish I would have stayed in church and been part of a youth group. Shortly after my freshman year of high school started, I began to experiment with marijuana, and over the course of a few months it would become a habit. It wasn’t long until I began to seek other substances to try as well. This would consume my entire high school life.

After many failed attempts to get clean throughout my late teens and 20s, there finally came a day at the age of 27 where I decided that I was done with the drugs for good, and it very much came as a God moment. I got myself clean, and just a couple weeks later met Chrissy, to whom I am now happily married. Just a couple months after Chrissy and I began dating she introduced me to Wesley Chapel UMC. From that moment I’ve never looked back on who I used to be. But even when I began attending Wesley Chapel, and decided that it was a comforting place where I needed to be, I still didn’t know there was a place that I belonged within the walls of the church. But then there came one of the worst days in my life.

In the early afternoon of January 31, 2021 I received a phone call from my older sister, Shannon, as soon as I answered the phone, I knew something was wrong. My younger sister, Micayla, had been found dead at a friend’s house due to what appeared to be a drug overdose. She was 20 years old. My family had known that she had been using drugs, and we had all been trying to help her stop and show her our support to let her know that she did have people who cared about her, myself included, having been roughly 18 months sober at the time of her passing. That was when I began to feel the call to where I needed to be within the church. Shortly after Micayla’s death, I inquired about becoming a youth teacher at church. Having grown up around the daycare system (my mother was a daycare teacher for over 40 years), I had no problem giving up an hour of my Sunday mornings to talk to the youth about a man who died for my many sins.

So, what is God calling Jake Snawder to do? Well, if you would have asked me this question two years ago, I would have never been able to give you the answer you deserve. My goal as a youth teacher is to make sure these teens don’t go down the same path that I did, to not have to go through and experience what I had to, and to not end up like my little sister. That’s what God is calling me to do, to remind these youth that they are the future of this church, that they matter, and that they always will.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!1 For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6: 5-8


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Feed My Sheep

Written by Patrick Siefring

Wow!

What a great question…”What do I believe that God is calling me to do?”

For most of my life, I could not answer this question. Why? Because I truly did not have a relationship with God, I was a CEO Christian! (Christmas, Easter, Only) I prayed only when I wanted to and on my own time/terms. Even after I met Courtney, my wonderful wife of 15 years, who brought me out of my CEO status to attending church every Sunday, I still was a luke-warm Christian. I was the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:15-16). I had to be spit out!

Courtney and I were not putting God first in our marriage or in anything else in life. This came to a head in June of 2020 when Courtney asked for a separation. I hate that that is what it took for me to plead with God and start a real relationship with Him!

Sorry I am taking the long way to answer one question, I feel some of the past is needed to answer that question.

So from June of 2020 to September 2021 God was preparing me for a message to hear His calling…honestly I’m sure He has been preparing me for long time.

So Courtney’s grandpa is a retired pastor…and he told Courtney many times that he did not think I was a good match for her. Courtney’s grandpa is very straight forward and will debate with you that he is always right. (By the way I asked for his permission to write this.) He told her I would not be a good spiritual leader and I would be the reason her relationship with God would be hurt. He was half way right! I was not a good spiritual leader, however I was not the reason Courtney turned away from God. She told me I am the reason for bringing her back to Jesus. (Praise Jesus for that! He used me.) Side note… she brought me back to the church and then God used me to bring her back to Him. Isn’t that funny?

So in September of 2021 Courtney’s grandpa said to her, “I was wrong about Patrick, he has become a good spiritual leader and he does not worry anymore about Courtney’s faith and relationship with God.” He also stated he was eating his words. When Courtney told me this in the car while I was driving, she continued to talk. I Could Not Hear Anything Else, other than a voice inside my head telling me, “FEED MY SHEEP! FEED MY SHEEP! FEED MY SHEEP!” I instantly started to cry and praised God! And thanking Him!

Since that day, God has led me to a Great Banquet and Pastor Tony Alstott asked me to lead a Sunday class here at Wesley called “Growing in Faith”. I truly couldn’t believe that one day I would be leading a Sunday school class, but here I am! Tony told me that God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.

So…What do I believe that God is calling me to do?

Feed His Sheep. I am still learning how many ways God wants me to do that. Because He is still calling me!


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