In this Season of Life

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A song that I have grown to love is called, “It is Well with My Soul.” Sounds simple. Sounds easy? Sure. Fact: It’s easier said than done. You might be thinking, “Well, Jaime, sure that’s nice and all, but I’m really dealing with some difficult things right now, and it’s just not easy, or even possible for me to trust God with all of it. I’m anxious and stressed.”

So what does that mean – “It is well with my soul…” I wanted to share the story behind the song, as it left me broken-hearted yet still encouraged when I first heard it. The song was written by Horatio G. Spafford and here is his story…

Horatio was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with his wife, Anna, and their five children. However, they were not unfamiliar with tears and tragedy. Their young son died of pneumonia in 1871, and that same year, much of their business was lost in the great Chicago fire. Yet, God in His mercy and kindness allowed the business to grow back and thrive.

On Nov. 21, 1873, a French ocean liner, Ville du Havre was crossing the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe with 313 passengers on board. Among the passengers were Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters. Mr. Spafford ended up needing to stay in Chicago to solve an unexpected business problem and told his wife he would join her a few days later in Europe.

About four days into crossing the Atlantic, the Ville du Harve collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Anna quickly brought her four children up to the deck. She stood there with Annie, Margaret Lee, Bessie and Tanetta and prayed that God would spare them if that would be His will, or to make them willing to endure whatever was coming. The Ville du Harve sank beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic in just 12 minutes, carrying with it 226 of the passengers. The four Spafford children were among the 226 who lost their lives.

A sailor in a small row boat spotted a woman floating on a piece of the debris. The woman turned out to be Anna, Horatio’s wife. He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which, nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales. From there she wired her husband a message which began, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Mr. Spafford later framed the telegram and placed it in his office.

Mr. Spafford took the next available ship to join his grieving wife. According to Bertha Spafford Vester, a daughter born after the tragedy, Spafford wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” while on this journey…

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Chorus:

It is well with my soul,

It is well, it is well with my soul

How extraordinary is that story? This song… which often taps on my heart and moves me to tears, has such a deep authenticity of trust put fully in our Lord.  In my mind, I imagine Horatio on that boat sobbing, heartbroken, and crying out for God to give him peace. Crying out for God to still his aching heart and rest his anxious mind. I believe God gave Horatio this song and I’m so thankful the story has been passed on over the years. No matter what life throws at you, or has you stuck in right now, God’s going to be there through it all. He won’t leave you hanging or let you take it on alone. We’ve got to remind each other and ourselves to be faithful through our trials and suffering, no matter how difficult and scary they may be.

-Jaime Terranova

No More Excuses

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Each year around this time I am reminded that the holidays are fast approaching. Usually this thought is precipitated by a barrage of commercials and catalogs that remind us of everything we ‘need.’ With that said, this is a wonderful time to press pause and remind ourselves (especially our children) the value of putting God first in our lives. Through the constant distractions of our over-connected and over-scheduled daily lives, excuses can quickly pile up keeping us from making God our focal point.
This past Sunday morning, during our children’s program, we learned about the message God sent to the Israelites through the Old Testament prophet, Haggai. The Israelites had returned to the decimated city of Jerusalem after being in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. They quickly began constructing God’s temple and completed the foundation. Over the next 16 years, the Israelites got discouraged from finishing their work. Life was hard, there was no money, crops weren’t growing, and they wanted to give up. They chose to work harder on building their own homes and desires than putting God first. When Haggai first approached the Israelites to share God’s message, they made excuses about why they had not completed God’s temple. Remember, this group of 50,000 Israelites wasn’t a disobedient group of people. In fact, they were devoted followers living in exile in Babylon, whom made the choice to travel back to Jerusalem because God had given them this land as their promise land. They wanted to return even though they knew it would be a hard thing to do. They wanted to put God first like many of us wish to do.
Our lesson focused on putting God first in our lives, by making the right choice without excuses. For our hands-on activity, we played with building blocks. The purpose of the game was to build a temple together. The game began with the children seated in a circle with a large stack of blocks in the middle. Some of the blocks had excuses written on them. For example: “it’s too hard,” “I’m tired,” “I’d rather pick flowers,” “I want this stone for my own house,” “my friends aren’t doing anything,” “I don’t feel like it.” Groups discussed how easy it is to think of an excuse for a bad choice (not cleaning your room, ignoring homework). Children took turns choosing a block from the pile. If the block had nothing written on it, it was added to the temple. If a block had an excuse on it, the child had to keep that block for themselves. Through this visual exercise the children recognized how much faster the temple could have been built without excuses. The children began to grasp how quickly excuses can add up to prevent us from doing what we should, further separating us from God as our top priority.
For thousands of years, our natural inclination has been to push aside the choices that keep our relationship with God in the front and center in our hearts. It’s much easier to put material needs above spiritual ones. It’s not challenging to come up with excuses. Yet without God as a constant presence in our lives, we can never truly be satisfied. This is why as Christians, we should make a conscious effort to apply daily faith routines in our own lives. Children learn by observation and need guidance to grow up with a strong Christian core. Some examples of faith routines to start now in your family, are to bring them to church each Sunday for fellowship with friends, say a nightly prayer together, or read aloud an illustrated child friendly Bible. When eating a meal together or driving in the car talk about good and bad things that happened in their day while connecting those moments back to God. Talk about what it means to love God. By modeling, teach your children how to say thank you to God or how to ask God for help. Show them how to develop a comfortable relationship with God. Speak with respect and show compassion to help demonstrate the concept of putting others first. Encourage your children to look for circumstances when they can step up to meet the needs of others. This holiday season remember to press pause and show your children the value of putting God first.

 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
 - Matthew 22:37

What Draws You Closer To God?

img_0375What draws you closer to God during the good and not so good moments? God wants us all the time and waits for us wherever we are regardless how we feel. He also provides many opportunities to encounter Him. When I see a sunset or sunrise, I drop everything to see it. My family jokes with me because I literally chase the sun…The other day, I sensed God tell me that the sunrise was going to be beautiful and to make sure I looked for it. I dropped everything and ran to the beach with an inner excitement that I can’t express. When I arrived at the beach I felt peace, love, comfort… as if I was sitting in my Father’s arms. It was such a comforting feeling. I realized in that moment, this is it… I need to make more time for this. Yes, it was a beautiful sunrise but what I need more is drawing closer to Him and receiving His blessing. I wonder where you will find opportunities in your lifetime draw you closer to God? Whether through nature, church, small groups, bible studies, prayer group, classes, community and many more to mention. He is everywhere and wants to grow our relationship with Him. God, our Heavenly Father is waiting for us to sit and rest in His arms.

Ruth Wilkins

Director Of Adult Programs

Galilee

The Importance of Youth Ministry

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Student: “Go to church, Jesus, God, read your bible, pray?”
Me: “Those are all great answers, but the question was do you know what Noah did?”

Anybody who has ever taught Sunday school has heard these answers even when the kid wasn’t paying attention, probably because half the time one of those is the right answer.  There is so much depth behind those answers I am just glad the kids know them, but today I wanted to dive into the part about church.

Youth ministry at its best fulfills many important functions of church.  Church is so much more than just coming to a service or youth group, but it is being deeply involved in a Christ centered global community.  I love the illustration in I Corinthians 12 of being the body of Christ and how each member was created differently to serve its function.  When Christ was here he brought healing to people, he loved people, he helped people, he invited people in, he taught, and he gave himself up for others.  We are called to continue this work as a community.  Can you imagine the incredible things that would happen if every church in the area combined all of our talents, skills, and resources together to be the continued work of Christ to Virginia Beach?   Youth ministry leaders want students to understand that they are a part of something so much bigger than themselves at an early age.  These are some of the most formative years of their lives and forming them around Jesus will give them a solid foundation to be truly successful in life.  The incredible thing about a Christ centered community is the threshold to get in is not how cool you are or good at a sport you are, but that you trust in Jesus. God created us each different in terms of the gifts we have, the culture we come from, and the things we are excited about so that we are stronger unified with our differences than if everyone was the same.  How awesome would that be if in middle and high school students appreciated each other’s differences instead of making them feel like outcasts because of them?

In short youth ministry is important because God created humans especially teenagers to need community and they will find it somewhere.  Youth ministry are communities that weekly point teenagers to Jesus, seeing peers living out their faith, and being the body of Christ by serving and loving others for who they are. To me that sounds way better than what the communities at school are pointing our students to do. We would love for you to join us at Galilee.

Marty O’Rourke
Director of Student Ministries
Galilee Church