If Momma Ain’t Happy…

The Bible shares a few instances of men trying to make momma (or their love interest) happy. All of the examples that come to my mind ended badly. Adam and Eve in the garden was the start. Adam received instructions from the Lord to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Those instructions were given before God created Eve (Genesis 2:15-25). Then, when Eve took the fruit and ate it, so did Adam, who was with her at the time (Genesis 3:6). Adam picked Eve’s desire, and his desire for her, over God’s command.

Herod, trying to earn the favor of a young woman, served up John the Baptist’s head on a platter (Matthew 14:6-12).

In Genesis chapter 16, Abram listened to his wife Sarai and took her servant, Hagar, as a second wife so that Sarai might have children through Hagar. This idea seemed good to Sarai at the time, but she almost immediately regretted it and became embittered toward Hagar and the stepson that came from this foolish plan.

All of these stories led to pain and suffering.

The saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” is proudly proclaimed in our culture, but believers should never make another person’s happiness (or even their own happiness) a goal. Happiness is a target that no one can hit. Happiness is like the wind, it can be enjoyed and experienced when it comes, but it can never be held onto. Chasing after happiness leads to pain and struggles like those displayed in the stories above.

Rather than trying to make momma happy, or yourself, or your husband, kids, boss, neighbors, colleagues, or friends, live to make those people holy. This is what Jesus does for us and is what we can model with each other. Eph 5:25-26, explains the way Jesus “loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” Believers should sacrifice for each other. They should speak and trust the cleansing truth of God’s word over each other. The goal is sanctification (usefulness in God’s kingdom), not happiness.

Pray that your mind might be cleared of fleshly motivations toward others and that your actions will lead to holiness and usefulness in the lives of the people you love.

John Riley
Jr. High Pastor

He Listens as Well as He Hears

All praying people believe God hears them. If they didn’t, why in the world would they pray? But I wonder how many believe He actually listens and responds? And then I wonder how many realize that sometimes He listens and responds even when we haven’t prayed?

As we join Hagar in Genesis 16, we find her on a journey of discouragement and despair. And as she is in the midst of her pain and confusion, one thing that strikes me as encouraging is that while we don’t read of Hagar uttering even one word to the LORD, this in no way prevents Him from hearing and listening and responding to her. God responds to wordless prayers.

Now you may find yourself thinking, “No He doesn’t. We have to pray and use words in order for Him to hear and listen.” But let’s be reminded and encouraged by Paul’s teaching in Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Do you see those last two words? Of course, you do! Wordless groans.

You know, sometimes our life is so tough, our circumstances so discouraging, and our pain so overwhelming, the best we can do is…groan. And that’s perfectly fine by Him because wordless groans are the prayer language of our God.

Let’s face it, we all have challenges, worries, stresses, and burdens here at Emmanuel Faith. As I think about our church family, I know some are facing uncertainties as they look into the future, others are carrying around deep regrets about the past, and still, others are heartsick with concern for their kids or grandkids (and this is to name just a few of the things with which we wrestle). The reality is sometimes we are able to give words to how we are feeling, while at other times the best we can do is a deep sigh or a groan or a silent tear.

The good news we receive from this account is when we pray, and by whatever means we pray, we have a God who listens as well as He hears. Take heart, Emmanuel Faith. We are not alone!

Scott Smith
Connection and Growth Pastor

Does Anyone See Me?

From as early as I can remember, all I wanted to be was a mom. I played babies all day every day and couldn’t wait to grow up and have my own. So when the season of “littles” ran our house it was the best! I was in my sweet spot. We have 3 kids and more often than not, we had multiple of the kids' friends running around with us playing too. I loved having kids run around my house. The more the merrier. And even when they hit their teens, it was still lots of kids. But instead of running around, now they were “hanging out”. I’m grateful we still have one more high schooler left in the house to enjoy all the ruckus.

But it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Every now and then we would have “one of those days”. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that you want to just fast forward to bedtime and try again tomorrow. Nothing would work right. I would be tired and impatient, kids would be too crazy and not getting along, there was too much to do that day, and we were 15 minutes late everywhere we were going. I thank God that those days were few and far between, but they definitely did happen. I remember in those days thinking to myself, does anyone see what’s happening here? Does anyone see what I”m dealing with? Struggling with? Juggling? Does anyone see….. me? How am I supposed to do all this? Exasperated, I’d hide in the bathroom (that’s where all moms hide), take a few deep breaths, work to hold back tears, and ask Jesus to help me.

When you feel unseen, unfit, unqualified, and undervalued there is one who always sees you. God sees you. He sees you struggle at that moment and He’s right there with you whether you feel it or not.

We learned about Hagar in Sunday’s sermon. Now there was a momma who felt unseen, unfit, unqualified, and undervalued. And I’m sure if we asked her she would say she felt a whole lot more on top of all that. In the midst of Hagar’s pain, God sent an angel who told her what to do, gave her hope, opened Hagar’s eyes and she realized she was seen by God (Genesis 16:9-13).

I know there are times when we sit in the middle of a tough day or a really rough season with one of our children, and we wonder how and why God picked us to parent that particular child. Let Hagar be a reminder that God sees you and your child, and He sees the situation. He created you both with each other in mind. You weren’t accidentally or mistakenly paired with that child. So He will direct you, just like He did Hagar. He will fill you with hope, just like He did Hagar. And He will fulfill His good and perfect plan for you and your child, just like He did for Hagar and Ishmael. Keep going, keep faithful, and keep believing. God sees. And He sees the much bigger picture. Let that fill you with hope.

Bonnie Nichols
Women’s Ministry Specialist

Run to Grace

Yesterday Deb reminded us the Lord wanted Hagar to know he had a plan for her messy life and was giving her a glimpse of a hopeful future that could carry her through. Yet because of the distress, she felt in light of where she came from, she struggled to step forward towards where she was going … towards where God was leading.

When asked, “where did you come from?”, do you cringe or lower your gaze? Do you feel scrutinized for having a child out of wedlock? Has your own painful past warped your view of parenting? Have you made a decision that you regret and can’t take back? Do you feel so paralyzed with shame it sometimes feels hard to breathe? Does your past make it seem almost impossible to embrace your future?

Your Abba, your heavenly Father, has a different message for you; a message of hope and grace. Your past is not your identity. Your past may impact your future, but it does not define you. Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Your past, whether self-inflicted or done to you, does not have to label you or determine where you are going. At the same time, you don’t have to hide it. Sometimes just naming your past opens the door to the freedom that your heart is longing for. When we hide the truth it has power over us. Bringing the truth into the light amongst people who long to cheer us on brings about freedom. And oh, just imagine the hope it can bring to others who are struggling.

Here is what your Abba says about you:

  • You are loved: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zepheniah 3:17).

  • You are forgiven: “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

  • You are free: “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accurse us who God has chosen for his own? No one - for God himself has given us right standing with himself” (Romans 8:32-33).

  • You have hope: “and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

One of my favorite worship songs is called, “Run to the Father”. If you’ve carried your burdens, your past, far too long, struggle with shame, and are just tired of hiding, this song by Cody Carnes will likely minister to your soul: Cody Carnes - Run To The Father (Official Lyric Video)

Run to grace; your Father awaits.

Lynette Fuson
Director of Care & Counseling

Fight or Flight

When I was a teenager and lived with my grandparents on a farm in Oregon for a year or so, I used to run away to the woods and loved to sit by the stream when life got heavy in my teenage world. I grew up playing in the woods, so it was a safe place for me.  Sometimes I would write poetry, watch for deer or daydream, sometimes even get lost and have to find my way back. I wasn’t necessarily running away permanently, but I was temporarily escaping to be by myself with my thoughts.

Hagar is a young Egyptian slave girl who was given to Abram by Sarai, her mistress for the purpose of getting pregnant with Abram’s child, preferably a son. But when it happened, Hagar foolishly looked down on Sarai who felt abused plus maybe a little jealous. Abram didn’t want to be bothered with all of the drama and told Sarai to do what she wanted with Hagar so Sarai mistreated Hagar.

We know that women can be mean to each other, and that is what happened. Instead of facing her problems, in her immaturity, Hagar ran. And the angel of the Lord found her in the wilderness by a spring of water and said where have you come from and where are you going? Of course, the angel already knew the answers to those questions, but I believe the angel wanted her to honestly admit that she had run away from her mistress, and I don’t think Hagar had a clue where she was going when she ran. A recipe for disaster.

It’s that old fight or flight reflex we all have that causes us to want to run when a problem is overwhelming or someone is abusing us. People often don’t have a plan when they run, they just let their emotions take over, and away they go.

The angel of the Lord calmly said– ”Go back to your mistress and put up with the abuse.” He promised her a big family and told her more comforting things about her future. But why did he ask her where she had come from? Could it be that like us, she couldn’t move forward until she admitted where she’d been, especially to herself... He wanted her to see that running away never solves anything and usually makes it worse. The Lord wanted her to know that He had a plan in the big mess of her life and he gave her a glimpse of a hopeful future to hold onto.

God wants to do the same for us when we find ourselves in a mess and want to run away. He will walk with us through the problem if we let Him, giving us His wisdom and comfort. When you feel like running away, will you run away or run to Jesus with your problems?

Deb Hill
Executive Assistant

The God Who Sees (Mother's Day 2022)

Series: Mother's Day 2022
Genesis 16:1-16 |
Speaker: Ryan Paulson, Lead Pastor

May 8, 2022: For Mother's Day, Pastor Ryan Paulson shared a special message for all moms in his sermon message, The God Who Sees.