Faith Strong Interview

Let me read this blog to you!

I had the privilege to be interviewed for the 10th episode of the ‘Faith Strong’ series by the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) US Army Chaplain, Chaplain Morris. It was an eye-opening experience for me to be a part of this effort to share how I stay ‘Faith Strong‘ during #covid19 in Daegu, South Korea. I am a military spouse, Veteran, and mom of two that lives out my Christian faith in my home, in the community and via social media.

Official 19th ESC “Faith Strong” Episode 10 video

CH Morris had the great idea to go LIVE on FB so my viewers could see the “behind the scenes.” I didn’t even know that there would be more people in the room for this interview until I arrived! (This was on a new level for me folks 😜!) Even so, I am satisfied with what came out. (At the end of this blog is the “behind the scenes” FB Live recording if you want to check it out.)

In our interview, I talked about the 30 episodes that my children and I recorded during the first several weeks of #covid19 #coronavirus #socialdistancing as a part of their #virtualschool day with DoDEA Daegu Middle High school. A summary of these videos are found here: click Bible time & Worship Every episode Summary. These videos were birthed as a response to the panic, anxiety and fear that I saw in many people around me in my community. I wanted to help them to refocus on what was True even when a lot was unknown and changing. The focus of this ‘ministry’ was really a call to take time to go back to the Lord by spending time in his Word, the Bible, and through songs of worship and prayer. That is why I named this series “Bible Time & Worship.” It is my prayer that it would encourage whoever comes across it to seek after and follow the Lord.

I pray that once you watch the “Faith Strong episode 10” video (here) that many will be encouraged and that they will seek the Lord wherever they find themselves. I was mostly thinking about John 15:4-5, when I kept saying that I hoped that people would ‘go to the Lord.’ I trust that whatever we said in the video was what needed to be said but now, through this blog, I hope to shed more light on what I meant and how living out our faith works out in our day to day lives. So, in the Bible, John 15:4-5 says this:

A closer look at John 15:1-5

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4‭-‬5 ESVhttps://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.15.4-5.ESV

You might wonder, just WHO is the ‘vine‘ that is referenced in that text? Well, to know the answer to that, you would simply read the text before it to gather more information. When we read more in the Bible, we can get a better idea of what God wanted to tell us through the author that recorded those words (which now has been translated into English so that I can read for myself what it says! I am so thankful I have access to the Bible.) So if we read the verses before that it says:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. John 15:1‭-‬3 ESVhttps://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.15.1-3.ESV

So here the text starts off by saying “I am the true vine” so I know I have to keep backing up in the text to discover WHO is speaking to be able to then call themselves “I” as in “I am the true vine.” So by backing up in the text even more to the beginning of the previous chapter, chapter 14, we see that there is a conversation going on between Thomas (and the other disciples – I only know this by backing up and reading chapter 13 as well). Thomas is talking with Jesus. So Jesus is the one who says, “I am the vine.” Let’s read the first few verses of chapter 14 so you can see what I mean:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1‭-‬6 ESVhttps://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.14.1-6.ESV

Jesus is saying that HE is the vine and that WE are the branches. Hmmm. What do we know about branches in our day to day lives? We know that branches can do nothing on their own. Branches need to be connected to the vine that has the nutrients that it needs to develop as it was designed to do- create and grow fruit. So going back to what Jesus said from the text – 

 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:4‭-‬5 ESVhttps://bible.com/bible/59/jhn.15.4-5.ESV

Why we read the Bible

When we read the Bible, we get to know more about God. We see who He is and His purpose and design for us. We also see how He provides and cares for us. Jesus taught Thomas and his disciples these truths (about the vine and the branches) and it is recorded for us to read and learn from today. Jesus did not abandon us to figure things out for ourselves (even though it may feel that way sometimes). He left us truths recorded in the Bible about Him so that we can know Him and can choose to trust in Him as we follow Him in our day to day lives. God preserved the Bible for us so that we may really know Him; God wants to be known. God wants us to know Him as He knows us. I believe that when you really get to know God, who He is and what He has done already for you- when you see and understand that- you will respond and be changed. But, there is no way to really get to know someone unless we spend time with them. It’s not just a ‘check the block’ type thing but a sincere desire to seek the Truth and gain understanding. That is what I meant in the interview when I kept saying that perhaps this time that we are all in now, perhaps this time has been a divine invitation to re-evaluate our lives and to focus on what is important.

What will you do with this time you have been given?

As for me and my home (as far as it depends on me) I will serve the Lord. I recognize this unique call He has put on my life as a parent and I will show my children, through how I live my life, where my foundation truly lies. I want them to build their life upon a SOLID foundation (Matthew 7:24-27). I want them to see that some things aren’t going to save you, even though we and others may have spent a lot of time and effort and money on some things. I want them to see how having faith in God is an active faith. One that requires us to choose to stay connected to Him and to keep going to Him throughout all of our life’s ups and downs. God will do His part and we can do ours- which is to stay connected to Him. (According to John 15, remember? I know this can be a lot. I remember it was for me when I was first getting serious about wanting to know more about God. I am so thankful for someone that helped me go beyond just attending Sunday church and my weekly PWOC meeting. I needed to go deeper and she was there with me many years ago. Thanks Carole!)

How this works out every day

My children and I regularly read, and talk about what we read about God in the Bible. That helps us to get to know God. We also look for His handiwork in our lives and in the lives of others. We choose to thank God for the day(s) that we have been given and for sustaining us thus far. We ask God what does He want us to do next; we invite God in as Lord of our lives. We even confess to God that we have taken for granted all that we had and all that we have been given. We don’t want to live carelessly anymore. (Okay, okay so my children don’t NATURALLY do these things but I lead them in these things by pointing them out and talking to them about these things throughout our day and also when we are gathered together to study the Bible on a regular basis. I want them to first be aware of God at work and then I believe they will start to see God’s hands on their own. I actually don’t just believe that, I see it and hear it (at times) in the things that they say and how they respond in situations too. So that’s actually been encouraging for me to notice that in their own lives.) Do you see God at work in your life? How so?

What I have personally learned

This unexpected time at home has opened my eyes to how I should not take for granted what I have, even the things I am able to do and the people I am able to meet. Everything can change in a moment. My life can end just like that. Our life is a gift. I have been taking many things for granted and I don’t want to live that way anymore. I want to be more intentional with my time and with my relationships and with the gifts and talents that God has given me. A part of God’s grace towards me is that I know Him. I have a genuine faith in Him. I like to encourage others in their growing faith. I also care about the other people in the world who do not know God but sense that something is missing in their life. I care greatly about those who want to know God but are bogged down with the world and yet desire practical guidance and accountability. I REALLY, REALLY care about encouraging those who serve God; I try to encourage, pray for and help those who are also in the fight and laboring in the service of the Lord as they love the people God has placed in their lives using the unique giftings, talents and opportunities that God has given them. So, what about you? What has God put inside of you? And how are you using it for the glory of God that others may come to know Him too?

Life is fragile. We only get one life here on Earth. I want to use my life well. I want to continue to live out my faith in every way. I want to help others that want to get real with God. For me, I can see that I am on the road to the NEXT LEVEL of obedience with God. I know there are specific plans that He has especially for me to be involved in and to do. I want to do those things. I want to be faithful with the opportunities and the people that He has entrusted to me. Three of them live with me. And there are others whom I meet with regularly and finally there is all of you. But that’s me. I know that God has a special call for you, too. It starts with getting to know Him and staying connected with Him.

Final thoughts

I thank you for praying with me during this opportunity. Thank you for going on this journey with me. My hope is that you’re not just watching me (or others) on my (or their) journey but that YOU are taking your own steps of faithful obedience and making your own choices to stay connected with God too. Remember, He is the vine and WE are the branches. We can do nothing, NOTHING, apart from Him. (Of course we can DO things but are these things the fruit filled, life giving things that shine the way to Jesus?) If you desire a cheerleader or some specific, Biblical guidance along the way- I would be happy to encourage you. I’ve had these people in my life in my years of growing and I am so thankful that there are people that continue to be a part of my life today that challenge me to go even deeper with God. Interacting with different people (which sometimes can be very hard) and in serving others in various ways has challenged me to keep going back to God over and over again. I know that we are not on this journey alone by any means. We have the Holy Spirit at work within us, helping us to stay connected to Jesus and we also have one another. (Hebrews 10:23-25) Together, we can pray about what is next but know that THIS is why I am here and maybe why YOU have read through this long article till the end. (haha) Seriously though, I am glad that you are here.

You are loved and seen by God. 

May you SHINE the light of Christ in your circles of influence ☀️ aka the places where He has placed you. If something I shared here or in the video resonated with you, please leave me a comment and let me know! If you thought this was helpful, please share it with someone else, maybe they will be encouraged too – through you.

Sincerely,

Sejana 

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.  And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24‭-‬27 ESVhttps://bible.com/bible/59/mat.7.24-27.ESV

Thank you Pastor Woody for interviewing me! (This is the FB Live “Behind the Scenes” video.)
View this post on Instagram

🙏PRAYer request (shared on the @youversion #Bible app) : . I am surprised and honored to be interviewed for the "Faith Strong" 19th ESC YouTube series. I pray that our time on camera will go smoothly and whatever God wants us to say will be said in an entertaining and relatable, truthful way. I pray that this outreach will grow and that Chaplain Morris (aka Pastor Woody) will be able to encourage others to be a part of his "show" and lifting up God's people. . I thank God for CH Morris who shows his belief and confidence in me by seeing and supporting the things that I do. Not just with this but when we have worked together in the past, he is open to new ideas to help people to think and grow in their relationship with God. I am thankful for people in leadership who lift other people up and even challenge them too, which he has done. . The interview is tomorrow, Thursday, at 1330hrs at Camp Henry in South Korea. I blog on www.sejanashines.com or on FB / IG at SejanaShines. Thank you for reading and praying about tomorrow's interview! … Photos are with @chappywoody in front of the commissary (my first time on the base in weeks after the #socialdistancing measures were implemented due to #covid19 #coronavirus ). Also a few photos during our first youth group retreat. I was so nervous as the only other adult escorting the MIDDLE SCHOOL youth via subway and train to our retreat destination. 😳 They did well though especially after a quick talk he gave about respecting the elderly (in all cultures) and not being so loud on the train. There are a lot of great memories that would not have happened if he didn't push for this first youth retreat (and a second, the third was cancelled due to Covid). And the last photo is the conclusion of VBS. I learned a LOT during that experience (you can see more on my blog about that Google "SejanaShines VBS Thoughts from a first time director"). We served each week through Youth Group and I have learned a lot from working with you and seeing how you interact with all types of people, young and old, Soldier and civilian for the glory of God and your genuine care for people. 💓☀️ #leadership #usarmy #armychaplain #youthgroup #vbs

A post shared by Sejana Shines☀️🇺🇸🇰🇷💓 (@sejanashines) on

#homeworship #thankful #familyBiblestudy #KilltheVirus #Godisbiggerthanxyz #onlineministry #discipleship #faithoverfear #bestrongdaegu #parenting #togetherathome #prayer #worship #encouragement #coronavirus #covid19 #faithstrong #resiliency

Looking for a Bible Study to watch and reflect on during this time? Try these: https://sejanashines.com/2020/03/07/bible-time-worship-every-episode-summary/

Published by

Sejana

I think we all have influence and I want to use mine to encourage you to develop your relationship with Christ in ALL AREAS of your life, at ALL TIMES in your life. This blog is written from the Biblical perspective but I'm in love with a man that doesn't currently share my same worldview. I understand the importance of living out what you believe as our actions speak a whole lot more than our words ever will. We have 2 middle school aged children and currently live in South Korea due to the military. I'm an open book, just take a look! Reach out if you have any questions or comments. Nice to meet you!

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