The Gift of ‘Something More’

It is that time of year! For high school and college graduates, it is a time of celebration. For parents of those graduates, it is a time of bittersweet joy and sadness. For both, it is a time of change. This time of change and growth into adulthood will bring new experiences and opportunities. Yet, it may also lead to thinking about the point of life. What is the purpose of my life? What is it that makes me get out of bed in the morning? Even if these graduates are not considering these questions now, somewhere down the road they will. That is why, if you know a high school or college graduate and are looking for something to give them, then consider giving them the gift of Something More. In the book Something More: Finding the Joy and Purpose of Life, Theron St. John shows how believers and skeptics alike desire to live happy, meaningful lives. In a short 50 pages, he shares the problem and solution to this common pursuit of purpose and joy. The book helps the young adult see their need to trust Jesus and to treasure Him above all! This book is a great evangelistic tool for parents and adults to use in reaching young people with the gospel. The discussion questions at the end of each short chapter work well for discipleship meetings. If you are interested in purchasing the gift of Something More for a graduate, you can order it for cheap on Amazon. If you would like to purchase a signed copy from Theron himself for $7 flat (US only), then you can either use the “Ask the Answer” page on this site to reach him or you can e-mail Theron at entrustedbygod@gmail.com.

Endorsements for Something More

Chrissy Colgrove, Women’s Director, Campus Outreach IUPUI

Something More: Finding the Joy and Purpose of Life is very easy to read, enjoyable, clear, and to the point. The content of the book is simple enough for a nonbeliever to understand, but has depth to challenge the believer. I even think it could work really well broken up in sections and used in an evangelistic Bible study as separate articles with questions!”

 

 

Claudine Broussard, co-author of Seeking Jesus

“Theron lays the groundwork by describing what we pursue to find happiness and purpose. Then, he takes the reader back to Eden and points him to the only One who can satisfy us. Packed with relatable stories and targeted toward young people, it is a wonderful tool for sharing your faith with friends and family.”

 

John Minion, College Student

“I believe Something More is a book that is both edifying to the believer and potentially enlightening for unbelievers. Theron challenges unbelievers to re-evaluate what is presumed to be sources of happiness, joy, and satisfaction. He reminds believers of our rest in Christ–by his death–we are justified and have peace with a holy God.”

5 Reasons I’m Grateful I Went to the Philippines

“A long time coming.” That is how I would frame my initial thoughts as I look back on my trip to the Philippines last month. For nearly the last decade, I’ve known Antonio Ner, a dear brother in Christ who serves as a missionary in the Philippines. For that same length of time, he has encouraged me to visit him and his ministry, expressing this desire numerous times. Yet, it was not until this summer I finally resolved to go. I’m grateful I did. Along with eight other people from my church, we traveled to the Philippines to spend a week observing Antonio’s ministry, witnessing the work he does, and coming alongside and serving with him and his wife as we were able. As I continue to reflect on my trip, there are many things I could share but I would like to share 5 reasons I’m grateful I went to the Philippines.

  1. I’m grateful because this trip brought to mind the power of God and partnership in the gospel.

    Living in the midwest section of the United States, the Philippines is literally half a world away. It takes more than a day to travel from where I live to arrive in the Philippines. Then, imagine once you have finally arrived, the next week has been planned out to serve and observe. When you consider the trip we went on in these terms, it does not sound like something that would ever pop up on a vacation brochure. That is because if you are looking for comfort, this is not the place to find it. However, if you are looking to grow in your faith and be more conformed to Jesus Christ, this is one of the opportunities that will draw you. But you will not have this goal in mind unless the power of God is in your life. That happens through a relationship with Jesus Christ and being conformed into His image. At the same time, the power of God is so mighty, as it was on this trip, because it was complemented with partnering in the gospel. When I read Philippians 1:3-5, which says, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel”, I think of Antonio Ner and the ministry leaders he has with him. I am truly grateful to have met them all.

  2. I’m grateful because I went with a great team from our church.

    As I am thankful for my new Filipino friends in the faith, I praise God for the team that the Lord sent from our church. This trip was my fourth international short-term ministry trip (the previous three being to Haiti from 2012-2014), and I am always amazed at the team God puts together. With each group, I’ve noticed we have been a people made up of different economic backgrounds and different personalities. That’s because what unites us is not our backgrounds or our personalities; what unites us is the gospel. I’m grateful for the different personalities and characters that went on this trip, which includes John and Jo Glover, Rob and Joanna Yeend, Cristian and Braden Monroe, Bill Skinner, and Brandon Sutton. I am especially grateful for the two teenagers who went, Cristian and Braden, as the trip served as an intense discipleship opportunity with their youth pastor.

  3. I’m grateful because I was encouraged and challenged by Antonio’s ministry.

    As a youth pastor, too, I was encouraged and challenged by Antonio’s ministry. One of the consistent themes of Antonio’s ministry is how he equips the youth and sends them out to serve in ministry. During our Saturday morning time in the villages, we were witnesses to the youth who lead in these ministries. As we helped serve these impoverished villages food, we heard these young people sharing truths from Scripture to these kids in their respective villages. What a blessing to see the upcoming generation invested in the gospel!

  4. I’m grateful because I was touched and convicted by the heart of the Ner family.

    I could go on and on how Antonio’s ministry has encouraged and challenged me, but what really has left an imprint on me is the heart behind the ministry of the whole Ner family. To know this entire family is a blessing. His wife, Liza, has a true servant’s heart and is such a sweet woman to befriend. Where most believers would run from a troubling situation with the excuse they are involved in ministry, Antonio and Liza run to the troubling issue, because they realize that it is the ministry. From the street ministry to using any and every opportunity to share the gospel, they are representatives of being sold out for the cause of Christ. My prayer coming back is I might use the conviction I feel to grow in my heart for the lost and share my faith with the opportunities I get.

  5. I’m grateful because Jesus is Lord over all the earth, from America to the Philippines.

    The reason I share my faith in the first place, truthfully, is because I serve a God who has saved a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (see Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9-10). He is not sovereign over merely part of the world but over all the earth. His Lordship extends from one side of the world to the other. In our conversation, Antonio’s daughter, Princess, put it well when she said, “It amazes me how we all were born and raised on both ends of the world but we all have one heart to serve God and his people.” I am amazed as well. I am in awe in the grace of God in saving me and I am grateful to God for having me go on this trip! Friendships have been formed and family members in the faith have been met. I only hope that my next trip to the Philippines won’t be a long time coming but a time coming soon!

Ministries Worth Mentioning: Morning by Morning

Entrusted By God desires to equip everyday people to live as faithful stewards in an entitled culture. One of the means we accomplish this mission is by supporting and sharing about ministries who are faithful to Scripture and committed to serving the Lord and others. The “Ministries Worth Mentioning” series serves that purpose. In this edition, we look at the ministry of Morning by Morning.

The Lord’s Mercies: Morning by Morning

In the book of Lamentations, we hear the Lord speak and work through the prophet Jeremiah. As Jeremiah laments over Israel and deals with affliction in his life, he looks to God in hope. Lamentations 3:22-23 describes the basis of this hope,

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

In dark times, Jeremiah knew where to look for the light. Morning by morning the Lord’s mercies were new. It is with that hope and light Morning by Morning exists. Founded by Liz Wann (Editor in Chief), MBM (Morning by Morning) seeks to encourage and engage with people about God’s mercies by pointing them to Christ and spurring them on to the gospel. Morning by Morning accomplishes this by examining the realities of the gospel in the spheres of truth, family, and culture. Each article addresses how the gospel transforms people’s lives through one of these spheres.

A Personal Testimony

As a reader of Morning by Morning, countless articles written by people such as Liz Wann, Katie Tumino, Tommy Welty, Chelsea Stanley, and Sheila Dougal have refreshed my soul and reminded me of the truth of the gospel for all of life. If you would like to, likewise, be blessed, then head over to Morning by Morning and download the free e-book, Morning by Morning, Volume 1, which contains some of the best articles from each blog series in 2018.

By God’s grace, my interaction with Morning by Morning is not only as a reader, but I have also contributed as a writer. Last year I was introduced to the ministry through an old church friend, Katie Tumino, and was grateful to contribute to the site with three articles (links to those articles can be found below). I look forward to the future of Morning by Morning and plan to continue to contribute to this ministry as the Lord leads.

How You Can Get Involved

Writing

One of the ways you can get involved and support Morning by Morning is by writing for the site. I would encourage you to read a few of the articles on truth, family, and culture. If you believe it is a good fit for you as a writer, go to the Submissions page of the site and fill out the Submissions form.

Become a MBM Patron

But maybe writing is not a passion of yours personally or you are not sure this writing ministry is a fit for you at this time, but you still would like to support Morning by Morning in some way. If that describes you, then support MBM by becoming a patron and giving financial support. Your support of Morning by Morning goes beyond the site even. As MBM’s Patreon page says,

Morning by Morning also seeks to mentor, equip, and help Christian writers. Many large platform writing ministries turn away writers due to a large volume of submissions, lack of strong writing ability, or the submission doesn’t fit into their specific online goals; and many times, they aren’t willing to train the writers submitting articles.

We seek to be more flexible in what we publish (as long as it has a biblical focus), so writers have more of an opportunity to “get their work out there.” We strive to give more focused attention and training to those writers who need it and ask for it. Morning by Morning is for and about writers.

If you would like to know more of what it means to be a patron of Morning by Morning and what you will receive as a supporter, then check out MBM’s Patreon page here! You will not regret supporting a writing ministry so intent on serving the Lord and others!

New Growth Press’ Spirit of Giving Family Devotionals Giveaway

For active families, reading the Bible together can feel overwhelming. However, family Bible study doesn’t have to be complicated! With just ten minutes a day, parents have enough time to pass on the most valuable treasure the world has ever known.
Start off the new year resolved to study the Bible together. New Growth Press has you covered and is giving away a family devotional package every family will want to win!
In this third and final Spirit of Giving giveaway of the Christmas season, New Growth Press is giving away THREE gift boxes of family devotionals (retail value of $148 each). From December 3-8, you can enter to win one of family devotional boxes.
Here is the LINK for you to ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY: https://promosimple.com/ps/daa7/spirit-of-giving-family-devotional-giveaway.Each gift box includes one copy of the following family devotionals written by Marty Machowski:
Children love stories, and the parables provide a wonderful opportunity to engage their imagination and help them understand and live out the good news of the kingdom of God. After teaching a parable, Jesus often said, “Whoever has ears, let him hear.” In other words, “This is important, so you better listen up,” and what could be more important than the good news of the kingdom of God? This family devotional provides a unique opportunity for parents to help their children “listen up” and hear the gospel as Jesus himself shared it.
Wise Up is designed to connect the teaching of Proverbs to God’s larger story of salvation. Children will learn that Solomon’s wisdom, life, and failures all point to “something greater than Solomon”—they point to Jesus. The goal of this devotional is to present the wisdom of Proverbs against the backdrop of the gospel to show children that real wisdom comes only as we depend on Jesus for daily help and forgiveness.
Long Story Short guides families through the Old Testament stories and is designed to cultivate honest and powerful discussion about the Bible, which is the catalyst for change in children’s lives. Through 78 Old Testament stories, Long Story Short explains God’s plan of salvation through the Old Testament, focusing on the hero of Scripture and important biblical truths without being corny, confusing, or condescending.
Suited for children from preschool through high school, this gospel-focused book is full of ten-minute devotions to continue the gospel story that began in Long Story Short. The consistent and short structure helps children walk through the life-changing truths of the Christian faith in the New Testament—without overwhelming them. Through 78 New Testament stories, Old Story New does the hard work for moms and dads. Simple discussion questions (and answers!) for each day’s devotion help children understand and connect with Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, and the birth of the Christian church.

This beautifully illustrated storybook captivates young readers with the heart of the gospel. The Gospel Story Bible points to Jesus, helping families and kids identify Christ as the hero of every story. While it’s easy to forget Jesus in the midst of frantic schedules, family squabbles, and conflicting priorities, Machowski reminds families of God’s plan of salvation in Christ, which is continually on display throughout the Bible. Ideal as a storybook for your preschooler, a devotional for your grade school student, a refresher for the adult believer, or an introduction for the new one, The Gospel Story Bible is also a companion to Long Story Short and Old Story New.

In addition to these books for the entire family, the winners will also receive a new book of devotionals just for parents, and New Growth Press’ latest parenting book.

In this uplifting and faith-strengthening devotional book for parents, Marty Machowski encourages parents in the midst of trials. Full of Scripture, testimonies of faithful parents, and insightful meditations, Parenting First Aid equips moms and dads to run to God and trust his ability to do what they can’t. The easy-to-use format provides encouragement to turn to God in the midst of family difficulty. While God does not promise happiness and ease in parenting, all can find comfort in God and peace beyond understanding through the Scriptures and meditations found in Parenting First Aid.

Every family is unique, which is why Child Proof explores the need for parents to cultivate personal and intimate care for their children as modeled in God’s individual, personal, and fatherly care to his children. This child-rearing book lays a foundation of parenting by faith and progresses by teaching readers how they can know their own kids well and raise them accordingly. By discussing particular issues moms and dads might have in family life, Lowe demonstrates how formulas aren’t the answer, and parenting with biblical wisdom is best for a proactive rather than reactive approach to parenting.

In case you don’t win the prize pack, sign-up for New Growth Press’ e-news athttps://newgrowthpress.com/ to receive information about their Countdown to Christmas discounts so that you can order copies. Be sure to follow them on social media as well where they will be sharing daily deals throughout the Christmas season (facebook.com/ngpbooks | twitter.com/newgrowthpress | instagram.com/newgrowthpress).

Announcing DIAMONDS 2019 Online Conference

A few months ago, I shared with you a review of an honest and hopeful book for teens facing illness, particularly chronic illness. The author of this book, Sara Willoughby, is a teenager herself who deals with chronic illness. In the book she shares her heart with her fellow readers, encouraging them to trust in God and His plan even in the midst of their illnesses. Just as He’s Making Diamonds is a reminder God is not done with us yet, the announcement that follows reveals Sara Willoughby is not done yet either. Read about the big news from Sara below:

Blessings,! My name is Sara Willoughby. Maybe you know me. Maybe you don’t. I’m the author of He’s Making Diamonds: A Teen’s Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness, and I’m also the host of . . . well, you’ll see. I’ve been working on something for a loonnnggggg time, and even harder, I’ve been keeping it a secret! But at last, today is the day. I get to tell you. You get to know. We can be happy together. Are you ready?

The big announcement is . . . drumroll . . . (I’m serious, are you doing a drum roll?) . . . an online conference for chronically ill Christians.

Isn’t it exciting? I’m so grateful to the person who shared the idea in the first place. You are very wise, girl. But let me explain a little more to make you fully understand how much fun this will be, okay?

Where: The conference will be held live online. So you can watch from wherever you can find wifi . . . even if health issues force you to be stuck in bed.

When: It will run from Friday, January 25th, through Saturday, January 26th.

What it costs: The conference is completely free. We know that many facing long-term sickness struggle with medical bills and other financial burdens, and we don’t want this to be one of them. Your heart and soul need care just as much as your body does, but sadly it’s often neglected. We don’t want that to be the case.

Who is presenting: We have an awesome line-up of speakers if I do say so myself. People like Vaneetha Rendall Risner, Kristen Wetherell, Sarah Walton, Esther Smith, Isabella Morganthall, Emily Ryan, Stephanie Kehr, yours truly, and others! (Not to mention that Joni Eareckson Tada will be popping in to say hi.)

Who this is for: When I mentioned this to some friends, one of them asked a very good question. He said, “Is this exclusively for Christians with chronic illness?” And no, anybody and everybody is welcome to come. Yes, Diamonds 2019 is targeted to Christians facing long-term sickness. And that will help guide our topic choices. However, that doesn’t mean no one else can be encouraged by it. Caregivers, family, and friends will also enjoy it. And even if you don’t have any connection with illness at all, here’s the thing: the same truths we need in illness, are the ones we need in any trial. Packaged differently, but at the core, it’s the same. So if you or someone you know is going through a difficult time, please come. We want to help equip you to fight, even when the battle is long and hard.

Why we are doing this: We know that so many of you feel so alone. You struggle with questions you don’t think you should have. You battle fear and discouragement. We’ve been there. We want to offer you life-giving hope. We want to refresh you for a weekend — providing truths you can hold on to when the going gets tough — so that you can fight that the child of God that you are. With confidence and hope.

How do you register: Does this sound like something you or someone you know would be blessed by? Well, here’s the good news: registration officially opens today! You can be the first to claim your spot. And remember, it’s completely free. Just follow this link: sgwilloughby.com/diamonds-2019/.

Can’t wait to see you there!

An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Chrissy Colgrove

NOTE: This is the sixth interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted’ Life. This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture (You can find our other interviews featuring authors like Jaquelle Crowe and Tessa Emily Hall as well as musicians Jonathan and Emily Martin here.) In this sixth interview, we welcome Chrissy Colgrove. Chrissy is in her fourth year on staff with Campus Outreach (CO) at IUPUI in Indianapolis, where she serves as the Women’s Coordinator. The ministry of Campus Outreach Indianapolis is a college campus ministry based out of Midtown Church in Indianapolis, Indiana and is driven by a mission to “Glorify God by Building Laborers on the Campus for the Lost World”. Chrissy works full-time on IUPUI’s campus sharing the Gospel with students who do not know Christ as well as discipling believers and equipping Christian college students to share their faith.

Chrissy, thank you for participating in this interview. For starters, would you share your testimony of how you came to faith in Christ? Who and what did God use in your life to point you to Christ?

Chrissy: Of course! I’m excited for the opportunity to share. I grew up in Northwest Indiana attending a Catholic church. To be honest, I didn’t have much spiritual interest growing up. Though my parents told me God existed, I struggled to reconcile how God could exist with the state of the world around me. So, I lived as if He didn’t exist and really went after what the world tells us will make us happy“the American Dream”. I was so sure if I excelled in my studies, was liked by others, sought to be in the best in everything I didI would find purpose and be happy. I came into college with this mindset, adding the “college experience” as necessary for my fulfillment.

It didn’t take long, maybe a semester, for me to realize that even though I was doing all the things I thought would bring purpose and joy, there was an undeniable gap within me. At the same time I was having these thoughts, I “randomly” reconnected with a young girl, Amanda, I met at the beginning of the school year. She was a student involved with the ministry of Campus Outreach and claimed to have a faith in Jesus that changed her life and gave her purpose. I mostly mocked her and couldn’t understand how you could have a relationship with Jesus…let alone how it would change you, at least not until our first Bible study. We read an article together that used Scripture to break down the Gospelthat God sent His only Son to live a perfect life, die an undeserved death on the cross and rise to conquer sin. I’d heard it before, but for the first time, I HEARD it. The Gospel was for me. Jesus’s death on the cross was the payment made for what my sin required.

Realizing this, I was desperate to know that Jesus, the one that would die for me when I knew I had been so far from living for Him. I went back to my dorm that night and prayed what I believe was my first authentic prayer. I asked God to forgive me for living my life apart from Him and begged for Jesus’s perfect record in place of my own. After that, I was never the same. God started slowly changing my desires. The greatest change, though, was the passion I developed for telling other people about Jesus. You couldn’t shut me up about Him. Ultimately, when it came time to graduate college, I knew I wanted to invest the next season of my life into spreading the Gospelthat’s how I ended up working full-time with Campus Outreach.

How would you describe the ministry of Campus Outreach to someone who is unfamiliar with this great gospel work?

Chrissy: The vision of Campus Outreach is to “build laborers on the campus for the lost world.” Essentially, we share the Gospel on the college campus with students who do not already know Jesus, help establish young believers in their faith by teaching them how to study their Bibles, pray, etc., equip students to share their faith with others, and then send them out all over the world equipped with the Gospel. I really do believe, because college students are the most freed up to make radical decisions for the Gospel, that God will use them to reach the world. Our ministry has had around 1,700 professions of faith in the last 15 years, and more people than I can name are currently serving overseas or in positions of influence in the states, as teachers, police officers, nurses, and pastors to name a few. It’s pretty incredible how the Lord has been using the ministry!

As you share in your testimony, God used the ministry of Campus Outreach to draw you to Himself. How is He now using you in the ministry of Campus Outreach?

Chrissy: When I came on staff with Campus Outreach, I had very low expectations for how God would use me. I thought of Elisabeth Elliot, Helen Roseveare, and Darlene Deibler Rose. These were amazing godly women, and I felt my faith was so small in comparison to theirs. Now, when I think about what God has done in spite of my small faith, my jaw drops! God really can use anyone, even someone young in their faith, like me, to lead people to Himself. God has allowed me the privilege of leading many women to Himself, and then getting to help and see those women lead other women to Christ. I have an entire spiritual family. I’m a spiritual great-grandma lol! Just recently, two of the girls I discipled graduated. One moved to innercity Detroit to help with a church plant and the other is doing full-time missions overseas. I often say I’m seeing someone in ministry’s “dream” play out. Getting to see someone you’ve led to Jesus, lead someone else to Jesus, who then leads someone else…getting to see your spiritual babies exceed you in their faith and give up everything to leave the country so others can hear the Gospel…I mean there is just nothing more beautiful than that.

What is your favorite aspect about serving with Campus Outreach?

Chrissy: Gosh, there are so many!! Aside from what I mentioned before about the beauty of leading people to Christ, I think my favorite part is getting to be a spiritual mom/big sister to so many young women. College on its own can be really hard and really lonely, but it’s especially hard if you’re trying to walk with Jesus in the midst of that. I love that I get to be there for young believers as they navigate life on their own for the first time. It made such a difference for me in college, and it still does, to have older women help me think through tough decisions in light of God’s Word. I’m constantly amazed that I get to work every day with a group of women who want to live their lives in a radical way for the Gospel wherever that are. It’s truly meaningful for me to get to help shoulder some of the burdens of the women in our ministry. They are part of my family and I cherish them!

The vision of Campus Outreach is “Glorifying God by Building Laborers on the Campus for the Lost World”. This happens in discipling relationships as leaders reach, build, equip, and mobilize college students for Jesus Christ. In your three years with Campus Outreach, what relationship first comes to mind as fulfilling the vision of Campus Outreach?

Chrissy: I’ll share one of the most recent. Last Fall, during the first week of campus, I went around the dorms recruiting girls to play in a massive game of Capture the Flag. I met a girl named Grace, who I later found out had virtually no spiritual background, and invited her to come play with us. We connected and over the next few months built a deep friendship. I spent countless hours with her, in her dorm room, the cafeteria, and local coffee shops, trusting that God would use our time together to lead Grace to Himself. After many Gospel conversations, Grace made the decision to attend our Spring Conference in Brown County. On the first night of the conference, she realized her need for Jesus and asked Him to be Lord and Savior of her life. Directly after, she committed to spend ten weeks at the Orlando Project to learn how to share her new faith with others. Now, she’s a little nugget in her faith, but she is the epitome of a new creation. She makes decisions that help her grow in her walk with Jesus. She wants to tell everyone about Him. She’s shared the Gospel with her family and has even started a Bible study with her old college roommate (who isn’t a Christian). I mean, this is a 19-year-old girl, living in a way few are on the college campus. I can only imagine in four years who will know Jesus because of her, where He will send her, and how He will impact the world through her.

Right or wrong, today’s college students are sometimes portrayed as the entitled generation. Yet, as followers of Christ, the biblical truth is we are not our own but belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). How does the gospel impact and encourage young people to live as faithful stewards in an entitled culture?

Chrissy: Working on the college campus, I feel for them. It really is a struggle. A majority of college students look to drugs, excessive drinking, lust, materialism, perfectionism, their own moralityyou name itas their main source of joy and pleasure. There is an intense pressure to fit into that mold and when you don’t, you stand out like a sore thumb. Walking with Jesus on campus, and you could honestly argue this is true no matter your season, is like trying to walk up a downward stream. There is so much temptation to spend money you don’t have to wear the best clothes, to live this wild college life. It seems like it would be easier to just give up and go down the stream with everyone else.

For Christians though, Jesus didn’t promise us that life would or should be easy. That’s one of the main issues with our generation, myself included. We want ease and comfort. We get really upset when we realize walking with Jesus is anything but easy and comfortable! It’s hard to fight our sin. It’s hard to live differently than a majority of your peers, but when we fix our eyes on Jesus, when we see His incredible sacrifice on the cross, and when we recognize His deep, deep love for us, there is no question of if he is worthy of everything. When we look at the cross, we see that Jesus is better than anything this world could ever offer. One of my favorite verses comes from Psalm 84:11 – “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” I have to challenge myself on this often, Do I believe that God is withholding something good from me because I don’t have _____? Do I believe He is a good Father who works all things for my good and His glory? What does His Word say? I hope other young people get in the rhythm of asking themselves this as well and that, in the end, it brings them encouragement as they find that Jesus is better than anything else in this world.

Chrissy, as a prayer and financial supporter, I (Theron) am grateful for the ministry of Campus Outreach and the heart you have in glorifying God by building laborers on the campus for the lost world. If someone else would like to prayerfully or financially support you, how could they get in touch with you or give to your ministry?

Chrissy: The best way would be to email me (chrissy.colgrove@campusoutreach.org). I can send along giving instructions or add them to my email updates so they can be praying. I love when people reach out to me personally because then I can be praying for them as well! But if they’d rather, they could also visit our website: www.coindy.org/give and designate their giving funds to my ministry.

An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Tessa Emily Hall

NOTE: This is the fifth interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted’ Life. This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture (You can find our other interviews featuring authors like Jaquelle Crowe and musicians Jonathan and Emily Martin here.) We are excited to welcome Tessa Emily Hall for our fifth interview. Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books to show teens they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, released with Bethany House September 2018. Tessa’s passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net.

Tessa, the Lord has clearly gifted you with talent as a writer. When did the Lord begin to stir in your heart this desire to share your writing with others?

Tessa: I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until I reached middle school that I felt God calling me to be a writer for Him. I remember when He first put it on my heart to write Christian stories for teens. At the time, I’d never heard of the term “Christian fiction”—I simply wanted to write in a way that points others to Christ. I knew I wanted to eventually write non-fiction Christian for teens as well (including devotions). In fact, when I was eleven years old, my friend and I launched an online teen ministry that we called Girls of Grace Group. We wrote a Christian newsletter and sent it to about 150 tweens every week. I absolutely loved receiving feedback from our readers and witnessing how God used the newsletter to strengthen their relationship with Him. Since then, I knew God was calling me into a writing ministry.   

In Scripture, we learn we are not our own but belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). How does the concept of biblical stewardship impact the way you approach your writing?

Tessa: I view the gift of writing not as something to claim for myself. Sure, I believe God loves it when we find joy in receiving and using our gifts—but ultimately, they weren’t to be used to bring glory to ourselves but to our Father. I believe that writing is the tool He’s given me to further His Kingdom and build the Body of Christ. Why should I brag about the tool? When I write, I want to act as a messenger for God—relaying the message He wants His children to hear. So why should I receive praise as though the message came from myself?

I believe that each of us are responsible to fulfill our calling if we hope to expand the gospel the way Christ intended. When we use our gifts, that’s when we become faithful stewards. We become obedient to God’s calling. So, when I write, I’m simply obeying what I feel is God’s calling on my life. I approach each writing session in prayer and ask that He writes through me. Doing this helps me to start writing in the right mindset and it allows me to use the writing session as a way to worship Him.  

As a faithful steward, how do you use your gift to glorify God and serve others?

Tessa: Writing is something I do for fun, but I first and foremost view it as a ministry rather than just a career. My favorite part about being an author is hearing from readers—because when I read about how the words touched them in some way, then I know the Holy Spirit is at work. Those emails only confirm that I am doing what He’s called me to do—by using words to glorify Him and serve others.

Although I’m technically an introvert, I love the opportunity this career has given me to reach teens. Even when I was a teen myself I knew that I wanted to be involved in youth ministry. I have a passion for helping teens to embrace their uniqueness, tap into their potential, and pursue God’s calling for their life. This is actually the mission behind PURSUE Magazine, which is a Christian-based magazine for teen girls that I founded a couple years ago (www.PursueMagazine.net). I also love speaking with teens at schools and youths groups—and, of course, connecting to them through social media (@TessaEmilyHall across all platforms) as well as my mailing list. =) I don’t want to be known just for writing books, but for touching lives and building relationships with those readers. This is how I feel God’s called me to serve others.

This past month you celebrated the release of your new book Coffee Shop Devos: Daily Devotional Pick-Me-Ups for Teen Girls. Why did you choose to couple the theme of the coffee shop with truth from God’s Word?

Tessa: The idea first came to me simply because I love coffee—lol! I’ve always been a huge coffee fan. When I first decided to write a devotional for teens, I knew I wanted to give the book a unique element that could set it apart from other devotionals. Of course, a coffee shop was the obvious choice. I thought it’d be cool to have a “Menu” that would allow teens to choose their preferred devo flavor based on their current need. Each need is also paired with a specific coffee drink. (For example: “Decaf – Finding Rest”.)

Once I chose the theme, I brainstormed a list of spiritual parallels to coffee and having a relationship with Christ. I had no idea I’d discover so many! This became the perfect illustration of the overall message of Coffee Shop Devos—which is to become “addicted” to our quiet times.

For example: Many of us would say that we can’t go a day without our daily caffeine intake. It prepares us for the day, gives us a jolt of energy when we’re sluggish, helps our brains have clarity, etc. In the same way, our time with Jesus can provide us with the “spiritual caffeine” we need to face the day as well (except on a far different level than coffee!). His Word is the fuel we need to keep going. He can prepare us for our day because only He knows what we’ll face. And when we begin our days in His presence, that’s when we have the clarity to view our life and circumstances through His perfect perspective.

Each devotional in the book shares Scripture and then shows how it can be applied in a teenage girl’s life. You do a good job of guiding teen girls to read and reflect on God’s Word. Why do you believe it is important for young women to know and apply the truth of God’s Word, especially during their teen years?

Tessa: Honestly, I believe a lot of Christians are forsaking the importance of fueling on God’s Word. We’ve become accustomed to a form of Christianity that’s lukewarm. I don’t want teens to grow up viewing the Bible as if it’s just an old book that Christians read during church and leave on their bookshelves the remainder of their week, allowing it to collect dust. It’s not a boring old book; in fact, it’s Life! We can’t bear the weight of this world without it. We’ll become starving and dehydrated spiritually.

If teens can make a habit of partaking in the Daily Bread daily—if they can discover that it’s more than a religious duty—then they’ll discover the “addicting” side effects. They’ll understand that it contains the answer to their heart’s every longing—peace, joy, hope, and love. They’ll witness the transformation in their lives and in their hearts. Then, hopefully, they’ll form a habit that can carry them throughout their lives.

On page 44 of Coffee Shop Devos, you have a devotional titled “Faithful Steward”. Why is understanding our role as stewards of what God has entrusted to us critical for teen girls in a culture which clings to entitlement?

Tessa: Wow! What an amazing question.

I believe that, when we view our resources as a gift from our Father, then we’ll begin to understand the value in respecting them. This entire world was His creation. The money that we earn isn’t ours to claim. However, we have been entrusted to manage our time, gifts, talents, and money the way God intended. When we do this, that’s when God can reward us for offering our resources to Him as a sacrifice.

Nothing on this earth is ours to cling to. We deserve nothing but the death that Christ died on the cross. If we can approach our resources through this perspective and with gratitude for what we do have, then God can help us use them as a way to glorify Him. Being a faithful steward is yet another way for us to demonstrate our love and devotion to Him.

In the devotion you gave reference to, I use the example of Adam in the Garden of Eden. God originally called him to oversee His creation. He expected him to be responsible. Instead, Adam’s disobedience in this area led to destruction. Just think of the “abundance” (see Matt. 25:29) that Adam could’ve enjoyed if he hadn’t become unfaithful!

If there is one thing you hope teen girls take away from their time with Coffee Shop Devos, what would it be?

Tessa: I hope they’ll come to understand the value of pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ—not as a religious duty, but as a lifestyle. Being a devoted Christian often gets a bad rep amongst teens. Why? I believe it’s because some teens assume it’s restricting to “follow rules”; they’d rather live life their own way instead. But these teens don’t realize that, by neglecting this invitation of love, they’re walking away from true freedom. We can never find freedom apart from the cross. It’s the complete opposite.

This was one of my underlying intentions in writing this devotional—to show teens that Christ is the longing to every desire of their heart. And it’s only through pursuing an intimate relationship with Him that we can receive the fulfillment that we long for.

No Greater Joy: Entrusting the Truth to Youth (Videos)

As I approach my fourth year serving at Blue Ridge Christian Union Church as the associate pastor of youth and families, my heart swells with gratitude. It has been a delight to see the growth of and in the youth of the church over the last few years. It has been fun to attend their sporting and school events. Yet, my greatest joy is entrusting biblical truth to these youth. As John the Apostle says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). There is no greater joy than seeing youth place their faith in Christ and grow in His grace. This has truly hit home for me the last few weeks at Blue Ridge. This past week I witnessed one of the teenage boys, Zack Yeend, take the step of publicly professing through baptism the work God has done in his heart to bring him to saving faith in Jesus Christ [you can watch the footage of his baptism in the video below].

Witnessing the work God has done in Zack’s life to bring him to this point has been a true blessing for me to watch as the pastor over youth and families. Another blessing has been to implement 2 Timothy 2:2 in some of the other youth of the church. In 2 Timothy 2:2, the Apostle Paul exhorts Timothy, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” The week before Zack’s baptism, the youth of the church served on what we call “Youth Sunday” (the 5th Sunday of a month). While this was not the first time we planned a “Youth Sunday”, this one was special. (For one, three of the youth, along with their leader, wore stylin’ bow ties…okay, that is not what made it special ;)) One of our pre-teens, Lucas Thurman, led the congregation in prayer after the youth took up the offering during the service [you can watch the footage of Lucas’s prayer in the video below].

The joy of seeing the youth of Blue Ridge walk in the truth of Scripture came to full fruition as two of the young men stood before the people of God sharing the Word of God. Cristian Monroe opened our worship service as he read Scripture and prayed. His brother, Braden Monroe, then blessed the congregation by preaching a message from John 8:51-59 entitled “What is the Most Important Question?” [you can watch footage of Cristian’s Scripture reading and prayer and Braden’s sermon in the video below]. As these two young men shared biblical truth with the congregation of Blue Ridge, I was left humbled at what God has done these last four years. He has called youth to Himself for salvation and has grown them by His grace to serve them. What they have heard from me as I have shared the Word of God with them they are now sharing with others. For me, there is no greater joy than sharing biblical truth with these youth. And, now, I am humbled they are sharing biblical truth with our church!

Not Just a Millennial Problem

Gone are the days of Mayberry. A town made famous from the 1960’s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry exemplified the culture of its day. For instance, the viewer could guarantee come a Sunday morning scene, the bulk of this town would be in church. That was typical of Mayberry’s day. But this has ceased to be the case. No longer do people attend church services on Sunday mornings simply as an act of cultural acceptability. Plenty of people would prefer to sleep in on Sunday in the luxury of their home than to sacrifice their Sunday by listening to a sermon message. For these people, they must be convinced why attending church service on a Sunday morning is worth their time. This reality is especially the case among Millennials, those born roughly between the years 1980–1995. Even for Millennials who grew up in the church, many have left it if for no other reason than that they only went at their parent’s command living under their roof. For Christians, this is a problem that clearly needs a solution. However, it is not the only problem. There is another problem that persists, one in which the blame is laid mostly, if not solely, on Millennials. It is the issue of entitlement.

Not Just the Millennial Generation

With entitlement, a person clings to their rights, believing there are things they inherently deserve. They downplay their role of responsibility. They do not seem to show gratitude to those who serve them and grumble at the smallest inconvenience. When they are told, “No!” they make a scene because they think they ought to get special treatment just because of who they are. The person who lives with an entitled mindset views life through the lens of personal preference, not sacrificial service. Understanding that, the issue of entitlement is not just a problem for the Millennial generation. It is a problem for all generations.

Millennials, Mayberry, and Motives

This means the mindset of entitlement can be as much of an issue for the Millennial generation as it is for the Mayberry generation. The subtlety of Mayberry’s problem with entitlement is it comes with a mask. Because the days of Mayberry featured church attendance as the cultural norm, there may be a temptation among some, though not all, from that time to believe they do not fall into the trap of entitlement because they give up their Sunday mornings for church. What they do not realize is the marker of the entitled mindset is not defined by merely looking at what you do with your mornings but what is going on in your motives. A person can attend church weekly their entire life but if they perform that act with the belief they have earned or deserve heaven, then they have been deceived into an entitled mindset. If a person serves in church leadership but lives a life marked by constant personal preference instead of sacrificial service for the glory of God and the good of others, then they are operating from an entitled mindset. The problem of entitlement may appear more pervasive among the Millennial generation but can penetrate the Mayberry generation just the same.

Seeing the Solution

We, the Millennial and Mayberry generations, have a problem. By God’s grace, Jesus Christ provides us with the solution. As God-in-the-flesh, He did not cling to His rights but gave up His divine rights so that in becoming a servant He would be our Savior (Philippians 2:6–7). Because of His life, death, and resurrection, we are given the free gift of eternal life in Him (Romans 6:23). As sinners, we earned the payment of death. As our Savior, Jesus extended to us eternal life. God’s grace gives us the very thing we do not deserve. We are not entitled to the grace of God. It has been extended to us in Christ and we have been entrusted with this great gift. The problem of entitlement is solved by seeing the person and work of Jesus Christ. So, whether you are living as a Millennial or longing for the days of Mayberry, check your heart to see where tendencies of entitlement may be. Where there is a desire for personal preference over sacrificial service, confess your sin to God and see Christ’s person and work as your hope of salvation. Entitlement is a problem of all generations just as Christ is the hope of all generations, including the Millennials.

An ‘Entrusted’ Life with Natalie PunKay of Hope Ministries

This is the fourth interview in a series entitled An ‘Entrusted’ Life. This series serves to introduce you to Christians who display faithful stewardship amid an entitlement culture (Our first three interviews featured authors Jaquelle Crowe and Claudine Broussard and talented musicians Jonathan and Emily Martin). For our fourth interview, we welcome Natalie PunKay. Natalie PunKay serves as the Youth Services Coordinator at Hope Ministries in South Bend, Indiana. She is a certified teacher who serves at a homeless shelter to help school-aged children (grades K-12) and their parents succeed at Hope Ministries and in their educations by offering daily tutoring programs, providing educational and therapeutic resources, and serving as an advocate for each student at his or her school.

Natalie, first and foremost, thank you for your willingness to participate in this interview. Would you begin by sharing your testimony of how you came to saving faith in Jesus Christ?

Natalie: I grew up in Southern California and regularly served in an impoverished community in Tijuana, Mexico with my family (practically my entire life). Before giving my life to the Lord, I could feel the hurt that those living in poverty faced. I deeply desired to help them. At the time, I felt that giving them food, clothes, shelter, etc. was the only way to help, so through partnering with my church, those were things we helped to provide. But, I knew, even from a young age, that it wasn’t solving the issue. Therefore, I kept searching for the answer. I eventually learned of the hope found in Christ. The Creator of the universe offered an ETERNAL life away from hunger, hurt, and sadness. This was something I wanted to offer others. This was something that I needed, myself. And from that day, I decided to spread this hope to the world. My heart to serve the poor was not because of my relationship with the Lord; however, my heart to serve the poor is what brought me to a relationship with the Lord.

As Christians, God gives each of us gifts and passions to use for His glory and in service to others. What particular gifts and passions has God entrusted to you?

Natalie: God has given me a passion to serve those living in poverty. He has equipped me with the gift of teaching and a heart that deeply desires to spread the love, joy, and hope found only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is my calling to use education to combat poverty at its root—through working with children in my community and across the globe to face any obstacles that may prevent them from living life to the fullest.

One of your favorite Bible verses is Psalm 143:8, “Show me the way I should go [oh Lord] for to you entrust my life.” How does understanding God as the One who has entrusted you with these gifts and passions impact the way you use these gifts and passions?

Natalie: This is a verse that I recite to myself throughout the day—every single day—because, if I’m honest, I feel that I often simply don’t know the way I should go. Yes, I feel that the Lord has given me gifts that allow me to serve effectively. However, I still come across situations where I have NO CLUE how to respond, and I have to simply entrust myself to the Lord and say, “show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” It is in these times where I see the Lord work in the most miraculous of ways!

Recently, the Lord provided you with the opportunity to use your gifts and passions at Hope Ministries—South Bend, IN. Please share about Hope Ministries and your current role there.

Natalie: The Lord threw the opportunity at me (yes, ‘threw’—it was in no way my plan) back in February to coordinate an after-school tutoring program at Hope Ministries. Since then, I have grown in my relationship with the various residents and staff members at Hope, and I have had the opportunity to create additional programs for the children. Recently, I was offered a full-time position at Hope as the Youth Services Coordinator so that I’d be able to expand these programs, as well as directly connect with each school-aged child’s teachers, counselors, and principals to best support the academic and behavioral needs of every child. I can now serve as an advocate for my students and their parents in the school system so that they each feel that they have a voice and a loving support system.

Natalie, if someone would like to support and serve you and Hope Ministries, in what ways can they get involved and how can they contact you for more information?

Natalie: Our primary need at Hope Ministries is volunteers. I’d encourage you, even if you do not live in the South Bend area, to get involved in some form of service opportunity in your own community, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve…” (Mark 10:45). Whether serving at homeless shelters, in community events, at churches, at literacy centers, etc., there are so many ways that you can serve! Yes, it’ll be a sacrifice, but it’s what we are CALLED to do, and it opens up opportunities to spread the love, joy, and hope found in Christ to the world.

If you live close enough to South Bend to serve at Hope Ministries, we’d LOVE to have you come tutor for even just an hour a week and watch growth occur in the lives of the children you serve (because I GUARANTEE you that you’ll see growth with your own eyes). Send me an email for details.

Prayer is also greatly needed. If you’d like to be a ‘prayer buddy’ and pray for a specific child, email me, and I’ll send you a name and specific prayer updates about one of our children. Otherwise, please keep Hope Ministries and our children in your daily prayers, that each child will find the lasting hope found only through Christ and allow that to guide his or her life.

You can contact me at npunkay@hopesb.org for more information! Thank you!