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Only one thing is necessary...

The view at a recent spiritual retreat in Eisenhower State Park

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I recently got the opportunity to go on a half-day outdoors spiritual retreat that was put on by one of our staff members. We were each given an itinerary to follow on our own. It was a time of silence, prayer, scripture, and worship. The scriptures we were given almost all had either Mary Magdalene or Martha in them. The story of Martha running around preparing things for Jesus is a scripture that I have heard over and over. And over and over I come face to face with my tendency to be a Martha. To run around doing things for Jesus and neglecting to sit at his feet. Our society tells us that our productivity equals our value. And the church buys into this idea. We believe, perhaps not consciously, that what we produce for God is what is important. When we don't measure up to the rat race all around us we think we aren't enough. But Jesus calls us to sit at his feet telling us only one thing is necessary: being in his presence. I fall into this. I put pressures on myself to produce, produce, produce. I even put pressures on my time with God. I put expectations on it and if they aren't met the time wasn't "productive". I felt God telling me on this retreat that simply being in his presence is enough. I don't have to do anything. He simply delights in me just as I am. Not for what I can do for him. Believing that God delights in me for me is something that I still struggle to believe on some days. It is good good news. The creator loves us as we are. People need this good news.  

Worship outside at Fall Camp!

This same theme of God delighting in us and desiring a relationship with us was talked about at our Fall Camp earlier in October. We were able to get our community together for a time of fellowship and worship even in the midst of this weird year. I was so encouraged to see students having a fun time with friends while encountering Jesus. Even with the masks, social distancing, and being outdoors having fall camp almost brought a sense of normalcy to this year. A couple of my girls who came expressed that the talk about how God speaks to us and pursues us was exactly what they needed to hear. 

Every year we have an fundraiser we call Keep FOCUS Growing. Our campus pastors each raise their own funds every year but this doesn't cover other needs like evangelistic events or materials, administrative costs, or funds for any new opportunities that come up. Some of our generous donors have banded together and agreed to match up to $42,000 in total donations during this campaign. So if we receive $42,000 in total contributions, they will kick in a SECOND $42,000! Your first chance to give will be December 1st! Check out this link for more info and link to give!

Thanks again for your support and prayer! Check out the student testimony below!

Many Blessings, 

Emily Umstead


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