The Starting Line

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The Starting Line

     Have you ever found yourself sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, knowing that you really should go finish your work, yet feeling utterly powerless as the next episode starts in 3… 2… 1? Me too. 

     Although my schedule was busy and my to-do list anxiety provoking, I simply could not stop watching TV, checking my social media every few minutes, and procrastinating to lengths that made me even more anxious and even less efficient and effective in school, ministry, work, and just about every other area of my life. Eating way too many snacks while watching one too many F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes felt good at the moment, but once I was finally able to muster up the strength to turn off the TV, I found myself battling with the loud voices of inadequacy, failure, and shame because I couldn’t get it together and just do what I had to do. The worst part is that my struggle with self-discipline wasn’t just impacting me; it was impacting how I treated my family and how I served God and His people. 

     Don’t get me wrong. Watching TV is relaxing and fun, especially when you do it with people you love, and social media is a great platform to encourage and build others, but when we lack self-discipline, these things and many others can also weigh us down in our walk with God and in the race He’s calling and equipping us to run. Recently, the Holy Spirit has really been creating in me the desire to run this race well – to carry out the purpose God has for me without holding back. 

     I’ve never been much of an athlete myself, but after watching my sister run cross country for a few years, I’ve learned that running requires athletes to give up comfort, go through rigorous training that just plain HURTS, and to shed any extra weight that slows them down. Athletes put themselves through all of this because they see the value in getting stronger and faster, and they want to win. The extreme significance of the end is what propels them to practice self-discipline in the beginning. When we understand that the prize of this Christian race won’t collect dust on display, but will result in eternal life with Jesus and eternal life for the broken and lost, it must - it will - propel us to die to ourselves and strip off every weight and sin that slows us down. 

     I don’t know in what areas you are struggling with self-discipline, but I do know that God is good and He sees us in our struggles and helps us strip off the weight so we can be free and give our all to Him and His people. Learning self-discipline is a process that like training, hurts and requires you to go against what you want to do, to do what you don’t want to do because it’s what’s best for you. It’s not an easy process, but you can start with these principles:

  • Acknowledge and accept that there are things and sins in your life that aren’t aligned with His will and that are slowing you down and tripping you up (Hebrews 12:1).
  • Ask God to search your heart and to show you if there’s any way in you that isn’t aligned to His will (Psalm 139:23-24).
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to help you die to yourself, get rid of emotion/spiritual/mental damage, overcome sin, break down harmful habits and build up good ones, and most importantly, to strengthen you through His might and feed you through His word to be able to do all of those things.

     As you start building self-discipline, you’ll see the freedom, joy, peace, efficiency, and effectiveness that come with it. This will not only help you do better in school and work, but more importantly, it will free you up to serve, love, listen, and give more because your heart and mind will be available to others rather than in a hurry to make up for lost time and resources. Don’t get me wrong, the process is hard and will probably be longer than you hope, but every race has a starting line, and today you have the power to step up to that line and set off to win the prize. 

 

Geraldine Lara

Creative Team Producer

 

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Trust in the Midst of Pain

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Trust in the Midst of Pain

     “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 NLT
 
     This verse and many more recently helped me overcome a tremendous trial in my life. On October 31st at 6:40 am on my way to class, I experienced what would be one of the most impactful moments in my life thus far - my motorcycle accident - when a minivan ran a stop sign and caused me to crash face-first into a car. Time all but stopped and I saw myself frame-by-frame as I pumped down hard on the brakes with my foot and held on for dear life. The next thing I knew, I was flying through the air and then I was completely upside down with the car under my head and my feet in the sky. On this cold Miami morning, a morning that should've been like any other, I found myself lying on the road with people rushing towards me from all angles as I laid in utter shock. I laid confused because I couldn’t move and in pain as I looked at my broken right hand. 
 
     My thoughts and feelings raced through my mind as the paramedics strapped me into a stretcher and rushed me to the hospital. I was overwhelmed by pain as the doctors asked me questions to better help me. I began to wrestle with myself and God as I wondered “Why? Why did with this happen to me?” Although I was very confused for a few days about my situation, I did learn that in times of crisis and suffering is when you learn a lot about those around you. I realized who really cared about me and who didn’t, which turned out to be the people I least suspected. It was a real eye-opener and it led me to make major changes to my friendship circles; changes that I have never regretted once to this day. Not only that, but in the midst of this trial, I was able to lean on my mom as she motivated me to stay faithful. She was with me day in and day out until I was finally able to come home. Although this was an experience of overwhelming pain and suffering, God used it to teach me about the people He’s placed in my life and about His faithfulness and goodness in Jesus. 
 
     Suffering can come at the hands of others, either through their selfishness or negligence. Yet the Bible gives us an example of a man who was neither selfish nor negligent, yet suffered the most - Jesus. He was an innocent man, yet He took on the sins of the world and suffered a horrific death so that we may live. Jesus also modeled for us that suffering is inevitable. Suffering takes on many forms in this world; sometimes it comes through a devastating diagnosis, a natural disaster, or another one of the million ways in which we can suffer. Suffering is so common that sometimes we even let our struggles, trials, and sufferings become the most familiar components of our lives; we let depression, shame, anxiety, bitterness, grief, sickness, and addiction become weirdly comfortable and even expected after a period of time. So much so that we have a hard time imagining life without pain and can even forget how our life was before suffering entered into it. 
 
     Yet the story of Jesus shows me that God works according to His timeline, not ours. He walks us through our hurts and our healing rather than around them or away from them. I put all of my pain and struggles aside and focused on the only person that can shape me into the best Juan that I can be - Jesus. Today I encourage you to do the same because it’s time to get unstuck, move past survival mode, and move into all that God wants to do in and through your pain. You may not have been living fully because of your suffering, but now is the time to live, thrive, heal, and take your life back. God desires for you to bounce back from the hurt that has been robbing you and shrinking your world. Indeed, He has good plans for you. He hates to see you suffer and promises to use your suffering for good in your life and in others’ lives. He desires to propel you to even greater heights because He loves you and wants to strengthen you. He can use your hurt for something beautiful today. The question is, will you trust him to take you through your pain?
 
     He’s turned my weakness into strength and I know that if you choose to trust Him, He can and will do the same for you. 

 

Juan Medina Urrego 

Creative Developer

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Young at Heart

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Young at Heart

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 
— 1 Timothy 4:12

     Every time that I read this verse I get a feeling of urgency as if this verse is a battle cry. It may sound odd, but it's because this verse empowers me to act by reminding me that God doesn't care about my age; He cares about my soul.

     God doesn’t look at the external, He looks at the internal. He sees our soul and how it overflows into the way we care for others, speak up for change, and love others. He doesn't overlook us because of our age. Instead, He looks into us - past the messes, insecurities, and struggles - and He finds above all else a heart that beats only for Him and His people.

     We live in a time when young people are often overlooked and criticized for only caring about themselves. But I know the truth. I've witnessed first-hand the amazing things that young people do for others. I've seen how they passionately and vigorously serve others, how they overcome differences to come together as one, and how they are making a difference in our world. We are living in a prime time for young people to stand firm in their convictions, raise their voices, and set an example for others. Whether it's advocating for safety, marching to end racism, putting a red x on their hand to stop human trafficking, or speaking up against a bully, young people’s actions and voices matter like never before and have the power to stir up a change in our world.

     1 Timothy 4:12 is the battle cry of our generation. Our age doesn't stop us from being the world-changers God has called us to be. Instead, it propels us to set an example to other believers in the way we act, speak, and love.

     We are young at heart and that's exactly what qualifies to run full speed into the mess of this world with the message of Jesus.

 

Ashley Roman

Executive Assistant

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Giving Generously

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Giving Generously

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.
— Luke 6:38

     There's an old proverb that says that whatever you give is what you will receive. Many people hear this phrase and immediately think of the countless ways in which their finances will grow astronomically. Of course, there's no doubt that God will bless anyone with a kind and generous heart, but that doesn't mean that He will only bless them in their finances.

     A generous heart might be rewarded in seemingly small ways - a smile for the soul, a quiet blessing, or even a pat on the back. Yet the nature of the reward is not what’s important in giving generously. What's important is to give wholeheartedly, without expectations and without boundaries. We become living embodiments of what Jesus showed us with His life when we help like He helped, give like He gave, and love like He loved.

     Once we know this, all that's left is to ask ourselves: “How are we giving?”

     Do we allow ourselves be vulnerable with our time, resources, and skills? Do we give freely and without limits?

     This is a reality that we desire, but that is also hard to reach because it forces us to reflect on our actions thus far and to evaluate the intentions behind our giving. Although it’s hard to achieve, it’s something that we continue to work towards by taking one small step at a time. I know it's hard to be selfless and give wholeheartedly without worrying about the soundness and implications of our decision to give, but as we give one small step of faith at a time, we’ll see how giving generously will change us and shape us.

     I know that Thanksgiving is still far off, but I want to extend a personal thank you to everyone who has helped us come this far. Thank you to all of those who have helped us stay and walk in the plans that God has for us. Thank you to everyone who has volunteered with us and given their time, effort, and talents. Thank you to the communities that have opened their doors to us and allowed us to impact others’ lives. Finally, thank you to everyone that has helped us financially. We appreciate every penny that has been so generously donated to us and we thank you for believing in the mission God has given us.

     Thank you all for your generosity. You’ve taught us how to be generous and you’ve impacted more people than you will ever know.

 

William Rivero

Service Liaison
 

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Come What May

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Come What May

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
— Psalm 16:7-8

     Somehow we’re already one month into the year and well on our way through the second. The rush and excitement of the new year are gone and we’re left facing the new challenges, circumstances, and opportunities that the new year is bringing along. For some, like it does for me, this year means graduating college and stepping into new roles as an adult. For others, this could mean starting at a new school, job, or role at an organization. The truth is that we’re all going to face beginnings in one way or another this year, whether a new opportunity or a second chance. With beginnings come changes and unknowns, which can be intimidating and overwhelming, to say the least.

     So how do we deal with the new beginnings we will encounter this year? How do we deal with the uncertainty and discomfort of the new and unknown?

We keep our eyes on God and trust Him in full surrender.

     When the world around us and within us is shaking and changing, we must look to our unshakeable and unchanging God – the One who takes care of us and counsels us. We may not know the ins and outs of what lays ahead of us, but we can put the One who does before us and trust His love and counsel. So when worry, anxiety, and fear try to overcome us, we look them straight in the face and praise our Lord in holy trust and surrender. 

     Not only do we keep our eyes on Him, but we also surrender all to Him. We make Him our “right-hand man” by seeking His counsel in all we do and following it, knowing that He’s leading us in His good and perfect will for our lives.

When we do this - worship and surrender – come what may, but we will not be shaken.

 

Geraldine Lara

Creative Team Producer

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The More of God

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The More of God

     Happy New Year to you all! We are excited and believe that greater things are yet to come for this new year we are kicking off in M.A.D.E. Before we move into 2018, we want to look back into 2017 and celebrate how God moved and used M.A.D.E. to impact its community. This year was one full of new service events and new opportunities as an organization! We had the opportunity to partner up with local organizations such as Steps to Success, which helps adults with disabilities work on their social skills. We also loved being part of National Rebuilding Day, which provides low-income families with housing repairs. Here, we were able to help paint the house of an elderly widow and beautify 2 local community parks! One of the most humbling opportunities we had in 2017, was being able to help the hundreds of people impacted by Hurricane Irma in September. We had just finished Made Known Camp when Hurricane Irma hit Florida and left so many families devastated; however, it was the perfect opportunity to truly make God known in our community.

     In 2017, we had over 490 hours of activities including capacitation classes, service events, camp rallies, youth camp, and several volunteer appreciation events. God’s hand was tangible throughout every month and our vision for the year of expansion came to life as we held service events as far as the Florida Keys and sold out camp! He multiplied our resources and led people like you to sponsor over 67% of camp! He guided us as we all grew spiritually and emotionally; the Elders even wrote the Issues Pt. 2 Curriculum! Thank you for being a difference maker throughout 2017 and we hope you’re ready for what’s in store in 2018.

     As we began this new year, we had been asking God to enlarge our influence and allow us to serve our city like never before. God is on the move and wants to use you and me to make a difference wherever we are. We are believing that in 2018, God will work through us to accomplish infinitely more than we can ask or imagine as Ephesians 3:20 states. We know that God’s plans are better than anything we can dream of, so we are putting all of our trust and hope in His more this year. We cannot wait to share this journey with you.

So. We. Run.

 

Ester and Ale

Co-Founders

 

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Even When

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Even When

The seasons change and you change, but the Lord abides evermore the same, and the streams of His love are as deep, as broad, and as full as ever
— Charles Spurgeon

     As the end of the year draws near, the concept of seasons has been resonating in my heart. We’ve all grown up learning about the Earth’s four seasons; we see how nature obeys them and constantly adjusts to its changes. Creation reminds us of the importance of being flexible and that the need for growth may require going through some “ugly” stages. During the couple of years I lived in the Northeast, I secretly dreaded winter, not because of the cold, but rather because seeing the trees so bare and dry was a painful reminder that that’s the reality of life. We all go through different seasons in our lives and some of them won’t be as picturesque as we’d hope they’d be, yet God has a purpose for every single season, week, minute, and second of our lives.

     I think we need to learn to find beauty in every season. That throughout our winters, we may hold on tightly to God’s promises over our lives and declare that there is always more. I’ve also been trying to embrace the season I’m in and understand that I may not be able to do it all right now but maybe in another season, in God’s perfect timing, I’ll have the opportunity to do so. We must remain steadfast and patiently allow God to work in us and through us; ultimately, the current season will come to an end and a new one will begin, with its own wonder to discover.

     Despite the constant change, I believe that there are two things that you’ll be able to find true in every season: God’s love never fails and you will always have the opportunity to make a difference. Like Charles Spurgon describes in the quote above, God’s love is the constant we can count on throughout the entirety of our lives. How comforting is it to have something that will never fail and never falter, even in this ever-changing world. This gives way to the second truth: because of God’s unwavering love, I too can consistently love this world, no matter what the season. I pray that whatever circumstance you find yourself in, you know that you have the Light of the World inside of you and even when you’re in a season when the sun sets early, you can shine through.

 

Ester Avero

Co- Founder

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Don't Tell Me God Can't Use Young People

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Don't Tell Me God Can't Use Young People

        “You are not able to fight against this philistine, you are only a young man and he has been a warrior since his youth.”  

 

                                1 Samuel 17:33

 

 

Have you ever thought to yourself: “God can’t possibly use me; I’m too young?” That way of thinking is not only wrong, but also against the Bible. All over the Bible there are young people slaying giants, converting kings, and even hearing from God himself.

 

    

King Saul, the king of Israel, had a very big problem on his hands. The Philistine army was in a battle with the Israelite army. That was a problem in and of itself, but just when he thought that it couldn’t get any worse, the Philistines brought out a giant named Goliath, and all the Israelite soldiers were afraid to fight him. But David, a young person, went up to King Saul and told him that he would be able to defeat Goliath. It would be normal to think that a young person would never be able to defeat a giant like Goliath, but the story goes on to say that David not only defeated Goliath, but also gave the Israelite army the courage to defeat the remaining Philistine soldiers.

 

This story shows us that God’s power is not limited by age. So the next time that you find yourself doubting the call of God on your life, remember that God can use anybody.

 

 

So what’s your excuse? Are you too shy? Too young? Too far gone?

 

 

The truth is that God can use you in spite of your excuses and shortcomings.

 

 

Whatever the thing that you think is holding you back from being used by God is the very thing that He will use to show His power through you.

 

Chris Murialdo

 

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