Finding God at the YMCA

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

Today I attended a Bible study . . . at the YMCA.

 

YMCA Young Men's Christian Association

I admit that I was surprised to be finding God at the YMCA, and Christian faith in particular. Yes, I know the acronym YMCA stands for Young Men’s Christian Association. It just seems that so many Y’s in the country have lost their Christian emphasis. Now I’ve moved to North Carolina (a more conservative state than others I have lived in) I was wowed by my local Y’s bold mission statement in HUGE lettering on the wall:

Our Mission: to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.

I walked down the hall, and saw a large painting of Jesus. By the front door was a wooden box for people to insert prayer requests.  Then I attended a Bible study, joining over 20 women to learn from the Bible and book called Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, by Lysa TerKeurst. We watched a DVD with Lysa (the first of eight videos), then discussed how it applied to us. The leader also made herself available to share the gospel. YES!

Wonder about the history of the YMCA?

From their website, you can read about the history of the YMCA, including this tidbit:

In 1844, industrialized London was a place of great turmoil and despair. For the young men who migrated to the city from rural areas to find jobs, London offered a bleak landscape of tenement housing and dangerous influences.

Twenty-two-year-old George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker, was troubled by what he saw. He joined 11 friends to organize the first Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets.

Later, in the United States:

Years later, retired Boston sea captain Thomas Valentine Sullivan, working as a marine missionary, noticed a similar need to create a safe “home away from home” for sailors and merchants. Inspired by the stories of the Y in England, he led the formation of the first U.S. YMCA at the Old South Church in Boston on December 29, 1851.

You can click here for more fascinating facts: YMCA history from 1900 to 1950s. 

I find this particularly interesting because my father-in-law, while a single young man, lived at the YMCA for a short time. He had graduated from MIT, and previous to that, at the young age of 19, had been a WWII soldier at the battle of Iwo Jima. The YMCA gave him a secure transition in a new city as he sought work and eventually a bride.

See this video about the history of the Y–including how the sport of basketball and the Gideons (who distribute Bibles worldwide) got their start at the YMCA:

© Laurie Winslow Sargent. Laurie edits Finding God Daily, and is a multi-book author/contributor and magazine article writer. She blogs for parents at  ParentingByFaith.com and for writers at  SellYourNonfiction.com.  Join her on Twitter @LaurieSargent.

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Find God on the 4th of July

By Dianne Neal Matthews:

While celebrating our nation’s beginning on the 4th of July, we can find God and the spiritual freedom that Jesus talked about.

 

Image: Michael Elliott /  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Michael Elliott / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NLT)

Parades, picnics, fireworks, and sales at the mall—we have a lot to choose from on this national holiday. But our observance doesn’t always honor the meaning of our nation’s birthday. The United States was born when the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, signaling our intention to become an independent nation and break ties with Great Britain. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the festivities of the holiday and miss the chance to celebrate the hard-won freedom that we enjoy today.

Many of the Jews who listened to Jesus were so wrapped up in their pride and self-righteousness that they missed the true freedom that He offered. When Jesus said that the truth would set them free, they protested: “We are Abraham’s descendants, and we’ve never been anyone’s slaves. So how can you say that we will be set free?”

Jesus accused them of being slaves to sin. Even though they were physical descendants of Abraham, they were not his spiritual children because they refused to believe in God’s Son. These men had no sense of their bondage to sin, so they did not see how desperately they needed the freedom that the Son offered.

Jesus suffered and died to set us free from sin’s control and Satan’s grip. Once that bondage is broken, we have the freedom to follow God and to be the person He created us to be. But pride, rebellion, legalism, and compromising with sin can keep us from fully living out our freedom in Christ. Through his sacrificial death, Jesus offers us the ultimate Independence Day. But here’s the paradox: in order to experience that wonderful freedom, we have to submit and be dependent on him.

“So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:36

Do I live in the freedom from sin’s bondage that Jesus died to secure for me?

© Dianne Neal Matthews. Dianne is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books (www.DianneNealMatthews.com). This material is adapted from Drawing Closer to God: 365 Daily Meditations on Questions from Scripture (Baker Books).

Why not take a moment from your Independence Day celebration to watch this video and pray for persecuted Christians who pay a high price for their freedom in Christ?

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Find God in a Joyful Heart (31 Ways)

By Karen O’Connor:

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The best way to experience a joyful heart is to rejoice in God and praise Him!

 

Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name

 (Psalm 97:12 the Bible)

. . . and you will find God in a joyful heart.

Also, here also are 31 practical ways to cultivate a joyful spirit:

1. Invite a new neighbor in for afternoon tea and conversation, a time to get acquainted and be together.

2. Meet a friend of colleague for a lunchtime walk, an opportunity for exercise and conversation without calories.

3. Give your spouse a foot rub or a back massage before bed to help him or her unwind (the next night could be your turn).

4. Walk barefoot on the grass in early morning, an invigorating ‘wake up’ call to your body.

5.  Stop anytime for a cup of your favorite brew and a big, fat muffin.  Sit awhile and reflect as you sip and chew.

6. Visit a bookstore and browse the shelves.  Pick a book that’s just right for this moment in your life.  Buy it, take it home, and read it!

7.  Call someone you haven’t seen in several weeks or months. Chat and reconnect.

8.  Send a note, a greeting card, or an e-mail to six people in your address book to say hello, thinking of you today.

9.  Take a leisurely salt bath, then a nap.

10. Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers or even a single rose. Place it on your desk or dresser where you’ll see it.

11. Jot down in your day planner or on a tablet all the blessings you received today.  Revisit the list a week from now and see how rich you are.

12. Purchase a medley of fresh fruits and make a big fruit salad. Then feast on this healthy food and notice how good you feel afterwards.

13. Call your parents (if they’re still living) and tell them you love them, even if the relationship is difficult. You’re alive because of them, and that’s something to be joyful about.

14. Stand in front of the mirror and declare out loud two positive things you notice about yourself.

15. Take a risk.  (Tell someone the truth you’ve been withholding; compliment someone you admire; etc.)

16. Volunteer at the local hospital, Girl or Boy Scouts, church youth group, or local government.

17. Be creative. Bake a fancy cake. Arrange dried flowers in a pretty basket. Sew. Knit. Make jewelry. Draw. Sketch. Build something out of wood or metal.

18. Start a joy journal. Write down today and each day, one thing you have to be joyful about.

19. Plan your summer vacation. Take one step toward making it happen.

20. Buy a new set of bed linens in a bold pattern or color that makes you smile.

21. Toss or give away all clothing you haven’t worn in the past two years.

22. Enroll in a class just for fun: cooking, needlepoint, ice skating, cake decorating, etc.

23. Veg!  (It’s okay to take time out to sit and stare.)

24. Drink eight glasses of water today. Notice how you feel when you’re fully hydrated.

25. Smile at everyone you meet. Pay attention to who smiled back!

26. Allow someone else to have the ‘last’ word, even when you deserve it.

27. Listen to classical music while driving.

28. Ask for help when you need it. It’s a joy to share a burden.

29. Reconcile your bank account. Oh the relief you’ll feel!

30. Comfort someone in need.

31. Say or write an original prayer of thanks today, noting your gratitude for a month of joyful new discoveries and reflections.

Enjoy this YouTube video with Twila Paris singing, “The Joy of the Lord.”

 ©Karen O’Connor. Karen is an author, writing mentor, and frequent contributor to the Finding God Daily blog. Visit Karen on the web at www.karenoconnor.com, on Facebook or follow on Twitter: @karenoconnor  

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