Mary Rejoicing

Mary Rejoicing

Nov 22, 2017

by Sarina Villalpando Maranatha Community Church in Colton, CA   A long, long, very long time ago, an angel named Gabriel appeared to a young Jewish woman named Mary. He told Mary that she was going to have a son, who would be the Son of God. Young Mary was confused about this news but she had faith in God. Mary was given an assignment that was unique. She was to give birth to the child who would be the Son of God. During the birth, Mary faced a number of challenges to her faith but she continued to rejoice in the gifts God was giving her. Mary, out of nowhere, was given a new future — a future she didn’t expect! She was being given a child, the Son of God. We may not know if this is where Mary wanted to be — if this is what she wanted — but she continued to serve God. In the end, she rejoiced over the new baby in her arms and she forever stood by Him. Mary didn’t have to follow through, but she loved her child. Mary teaches us the good lesson that sometimes we are thrown an obstacle, an obstacle that we never expected. We have a choice to fight that obstacle or see our way through God’s plan for that obstacle and make it part of our life. This is what Mary did. She took action. She didn’t expect to have a child anytime soon, but she rejoiced about the child through the action of carrying and loving Him. Rejoicing is the act of being happy and thankful at the same time. But rejoicing isn’t anything without showing...

Fall into Podcasts

Fall into Podcasts

Oct 26, 2017

  by Michaella Osborn SDB Church, Boulder, CO I listen to A LOT of podcasts. They are a great way to fill your commute to and from school or work. Podcasts can also be a creative way to add some Jesus time to your hectic day. Here are my top 5 spiritual podcasts to listen to this fall. The Relevant podcast. Join this goofy ensemble cast (including Propaganda and IJMs Eddie Kaufholz) as they discuss, dissect and occasionally poke fun at culture and entertainment through a Christ-follower lens. This podcast is dear to my heart because it was one of the very first that I listened to. I love their mixture of shenanigans and interviews with cutting edge culture makers, both Christian and secular. The show has introduced me to some of my favorite writers and musicians. Red Rocks Young Adults The portable straight-to-your-phone version of a large-scale young adult service, Red Rocks is a Church here in Colorado and I like to binge sermon series from their back catalogue. Their rotating cast of speakers, clear audio for a live recording, and the fact that they are the only young adult centric podcast that I listen to, make them great for listening to on long drives and while doing chores. This American Life The long running radio show from NPR is also available right to your phone. While not a specifically Christian show, This American Life dives into topical issues and the lives of diverse people each week — letting us all work out our empathy and mercy muscles for people we might not run into every day. Fair warning: there may be tears from time to time. Soul City Church Soul City Church records their sermons from Chicago, IL, and we are all so grateful. The sermons are funny, insightful, challenging and practical. If you need a midweek pick-me-up and refocus in 45 minutes or less, Soul City Church is a good place to start. That Sounds Fun with Annie F Downs Author and speaker Annie F Downs introduces us to some of her very favorite people as they talk about projects they are working on, books they’ve written, and their personal lives....

Seven Days of Creation

by Sarina Villalpando Maranatha Community Church, Colton, CA   Sometimes it is important to reflect on the world around us. We tend to take for granted so much, but we forget how we started. Do you ever just look around and realize everything we see was made by God? God created the air we breathe, the trees, our pets, the food we eat, our friends, and everything else. Literally anything we think of — any person, object, or creature — was created by God and in His image. When we step outside, we are engrossed by His image. God loves us so much that we walk on this earth and live a life. He protects us from everything. He gives us the air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. We are incredibly blessed! The other day I was waiting in the doctor’s office for my mom and decided to pull out my phone and read Genesis. I thought why not? I got so entranced in the first few chapters. I realized how much I have overlooked those chapters and how much I have forgotten what those chapters contain. Think about it: off the top of your head can you name what happened every day of creation? I’ll admit the fact that I cannot. If you ask me, the first thing I can remember is that God rested on the seventh day…because that’s all I hear about. I’ve made it my goal to look around and just appreciate what God has created. In order to do that, I think it is important to understand and know every day of creation. On the first day God created night and day. Can you imagine, just both night and day are created. The night and day we live in used to not exist and suddenly they do. It’s pretty amazing. On the second day God decided to create the sky and sea. The sky we see every day and take for granted, and the sea that most of us in some way appreciate — they didn’t exist. God saw a purpose for them. Day three God created land and vegetation. God created the fruit and...

Blindfolded Guidance

Blindfolded Guidance

Aug 28, 2017

by Sarina Villalpando Maranatha Community Church, Colton, CA   You are now blindfolded and trying to find an object in the room. You are in complete darkness, you don’t know where anything is and you don’t know what the object you are trying to find is. The thing you do know is that there is an object hidden for you to find. Could you find the object? Is there something you could use to help you find this object? A voice has appeared to guide you. It is telling you what directions to go in. It’s told you what you are searching for is a small, round, and gray pebble. You still are in darkness, you wonder if the voice is telling you the correct directions, and you wonder if you really need to find this pebble because the journey so far has been hard. Sometimes we are faced with complicated decisions and feel that we are in complete darkness — but we never are. We have the guidance of God. God has a plan for us. He is the voice behind the blindfold that is encouraging us which direction to choose — but the choice of following the voice is our decision in the end. We are blind in the world without Christ. We must accept His guidance in order to find our pebble. In James 1:5-6 (NIV) it is written, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” It is important to remember that we are not alone, no matter how hard the decision is. God has a plan for us to follow. When we have accepted Christ as our savoir, we have the Bible and other Christians to help lead us. We still may not be able to see everything, but we will have direction. Now the question is, how should we go along with following God’s plan? How do we know what He is trying...

Love Sweet Love

Love Sweet Love

Jun 23, 2017

by Seth Osborn SDB Church of Boulder, CO Have you loved recently? I don’t mean the loves we usually think of: loving God, loving our family, loving a romantic interest… I mean the kind of love that’s hard. Not that those types are always easy, but this kind of love is even harder. This is the hardest love of all of them. It can only be done by deliberate choice: loving those who hate you. In Luke 10, starting in verse 30, Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan. I know, I know. We have all heard this one before. Just bear with me for a bit. A man is attacked by robbers and of the three men who saw him, only one helped. Neither the priest nor the Levite showed any mercy — though they were men of God, they walked by and left this poor man for dead. No, it was the Samaritan who helped him. The Samaritans and the Jews were hostile towards each other. You could easily (and rightfully) call them enemies. But Jesus says that this is the man who was a neighbor — this is the man who showed love and in doing so obeyed God’s will. I know this story has become hackneyed through many, many years of Christian teachings. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you rolled your eyes when you saw that this was the topic of my article. As someone who was raised in the church from birth, I understand all too well how many times you can hear this story in Sabbath School, VBS, Awana, and other child-focused ministries. I mean, that’s the easy stuff! We’ve had this drilled into our heads over and over again. Love everyone, even your enemies. Why do we need to focus on something we already know forwards and backwards? My answer to that is simply to examine yourself. Think about your recent thoughts and behavior. Are you behaving as Jesus instructed? It could even be something as small as a heated argument on Facebook. Have you been treating the people on the other side as your neighbors? Or have you slung hateful words at them?...

Uncertainty…

Uncertainty…

Apr 25, 2017

by Rebecca Olson Berlin SDB Church, NY Uncertainty… The end is in sight. On May 13, I will graduate from college. That’s not to say it’s over. I have a national board licensure test to take, a few years of online school to go, and many more steps of continuing education beyond that. But this summer, I will be a Registered Nurse. I will be a bona fide professional at taking care of people. And I have no idea where I am going. ​It seems to me like all my peers in my nursing program have a plan. They have jobs lined up, or at least interviews to go to. They chose a specialty way back in Nursing 2. They know where they are going. On the other hand, I am floundering in the unknown. ​I dread changing floors for my clinical rotations. That’s because each new nurse I meet asks the same question: “What kind of nursing are you interested in?” And they all raise their eyebrows and look away when I reply, “I don’t know.” It’s true. I don’t have much of a plan. It’s not for lack of trying. You should see the spreadsheets I’ve created listing pros and cons. I have lists of places I definitely do not want to work. I also have lists of places that I could see myself working. All my lists and spreadsheets have not yet given me an answer. But that’s okay. I am learning to embrace uncertainty. I am learning to expect God to show up when there is no possible solution or answer that I can see. I expect I will be learning to do those things for the rest of my life. I wanted to write about uncertainty because I know I am not the only young adult in that unpredictable place. In fact, there are probably many not-so-young adults in a state of endless waiting, too. So here’s some encouragement about uncertainty: while we may be uncertain, God never is. As Job asserted in a time of his life that was nowhere near steady, “But He knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out...