Treasures of the Heart

Bruce Osborn, Director of Spiritual Development

Ralph Waldo Emerson, a poet and essayist in the 17th century, said, “Beware what you set your heart upon. For it shall surely be yours.” It is amazing how the heart drives our emotions, our will, our passions, and our desires. When you truly set your heart to something, you find that your motivation will soon follow. So beware, as Emerson says, because as your heart is stirred and motivated, so go your feet.

The heart is a central theme in the teachings of the Bible. Many times, throughout scripture the heart is used to serve as a measuring stick of our commitment to God. For example, with all our heart we are to love and serve God (Dt 6:5). The condition of our heart is reflected in our words and our actions (Matt. 12:34). And we find that our priorities are revealed by the motivations of our heart. Many of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 can be traced back to the condition of our heart. In the middle of that sermon, Jesus tells us these words, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What is it that you treasure? What do you find yourself thinking of when no other task is demanding your attention? If you could follow your heart today, where would it lead? The answer to those questions will determine your treasure. Jesus taught us to not put our attention toward those things that don’t really matter in the long run; the things that will break, that will run out, or that someone can take from us. Instead, He taught us to put our focus on the things that matter in eternity; relationships, time, service, and the things that you really can’t put a price tag on. As we share our faith in Christ through our actions and our words, we are training our heart to value the eternal treasures. And we will find that the things of the world that are only temporary will soon become less attractive and will not captivate our attention like they once did.

It’s not wrong to have things in this world. But when we allow them to become our treasure, the purpose of life, we have lost focus on the kind of life that Jesus came to show us. And by allowing ourselves to be led by those temporary treasures we will soon find that it will only lead to a disappointed and discouraged heart, an empty life. Retraining the heart to value things of eternal significance is not easy, but it is possible. It’s done one choice at a time. And it starts with your choices you will make today.

"The heart is the happiest when it beats for others."

- from God’s Little Instruction Book 

Every Day’s a Holiday

Written by Bruce Osborn, Director of Spiritual Development

If you’ve spent any time with our Service Without Boundaries population, you have probably met Jacob. And if you’ve had the chance to meet him, you can’t forget him, nor can you forget his positivity. It can be contagious. And if you don’t catch it, it will most certainly lift your spirit for the day and make any burdens you might be carrying seem just a little bit lighter for the moment.

Most every day, when my path crosses his, our greeting goes something like this:

Me: “Hey Jacob, how’s it going”?

Jacob, with a big smile: “Every day’s a holiday.”

And by the way he responds with that statement, I know that’s not a half-hearted greeting. He truly believes it. I am sure he has his moments, like we all do. But it never shows. He bleeds positivity. He is an encourager, just by the way he relates to those around him.

In the writings of the apostle Paul, he gives a wealth of instruction to Christians to be encouragers. In fact, there are some twenty-five references in his New Testament writings to encourage others. One of my favorites is in Romans 12, where he writes these words:

“We all have different gifts…if (yours) is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement…”

We have too much division and negativity in our world today. And it’s fed by twenty-four-hour news sources, social media, and all forms of media readily available at the click of a button. It can almost be all-consuming if you allow it to be. But we have control over what we allow to influence our attitudes and behaviors. The question we must wrestle with is what are we allowing into our minds and hearts to be that influence?

I don’t know about you, but I could use more of Jacob’s influence and a lot less of the culture around me.

This week, we’ll celebrate our nation’s independence. It’s one of the best holidays of the year for most everyone. It’s a time to reflect on the freedoms we have as a nation. Wouldn’t it be nice if every day was like Independence Day? Maybe a moment to reflect is what we all need this coming weekend; on our freedoms, our part in the culture that’s been and is being created around us, or on how we can be an influence for good by using the spiritual gifts we’ve been given, just like Jacob does every day.

We have the power to choose what is good and what is right.  And we have the opportunity every day to allow that choice to be a positive influence in our world. When we realize just how powerful our words and attitudes can impact those around us, and like Jacob, we choose attitudes and words of encouragement, we begin to see that truly “every day’s a holiday.”

Happy Independence Day! Keep shining your light for what is good and what is right. And like Jacob, let’s make every day a holiday.

Strengthening Communities for 179 Years

This month, we think back on our beginnings as an international organization – On June 6th, 1844, the YMCA was founded by George Williams and 11 other young men, who held a meeting in London that would lead to the founding of the YMCA. For 179 years, the Y has worked to strengthen communities –creating the first group swim classes, spearheading the first English as a Second Language (ESL) class and addressing chronic disease through programs like the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program.

You might enjoy watching a brief, three-part video series on our history. These videos were produced a couple years ago by Dr. David Newman, a pastor of a church that meets in a Y in Ohio and who loves the YMCA and its history.

The Reason Why Part 1
https://youtu.be/Ebwt69__pZc

The Reason Why Part 2
https://youtu.be/_nqVZk40AfA

The Reason Why Part 3
https://youtu.be/nJO-t9oOYOE 

Because He’s God

Written by Bruce Osborn, Director of Spiritual Development

A Spiritual Reflection

If you are a reader, you understand how sometimes a word, or a sentence can simply jump off the page, as if you have never read it before. And when that happens with Scripture (a rather common occurrence for me), I usually learn a new principle of the Christian life, gain a deeper understanding of Jesus, or discover a truth that I’ve never considered before.

Let me give you an example. There are many interpretations of who Jesus was when He walked on the earth. Some would say He was the perfect picture of God’s grace. Some might point to his compassion as his defining characteristic. While others would say Jesus was a man who loved all. These are all true, but there are many pictures painted in Scripture of just who this Jesus was and is. While this article is not meant to dive into all the details of who Jesus’ character, let me share one of the instances in his ministry that jumped off the page for me this morning.

In Mark’s gospel there is a story recorded of one of the many times the religious leaders of the day were seeking to find guilt in Jesus, to accuse him of breaking one of the many laws that were established by the Jews, his own people. It was the Sabbath and a man came to Jesus with a need for healing. For the Jews, it was unlawful to do anything on the Sabbath, the day of rest. Jesus asked the leaders, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Mark goes on to say that Jesus, “looked around at them in anger,” and was “deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:1-6).

What jumped off the page as I read that account this morning is Jesus’ anger. How can Jesus, full of grace, love, and compassion be angry? How can he be so upset at these people and still love them? He can because He’s God. No way am I able to express both love and anger in the same breath because I’m not capable in my finite mind and heart. Those emotions just don’t seem to go together. And you probably struggle with it too. And here’s another reality of that account. More times than I care to mention, I am like those leaders and Jesus looks at me and is “deeply distressed at (my) stubborn heart.” Can you relate? If you are honest, you probably can.

When Jesus looks at his creation, I think he experiences quite a few emotions; love, compassion, care, grace, mercy, long-suffering, and so much more of those feel-good ways our culture interprets who he is. But let’s not forget that he also feels anger and distress when he sees us pursuing our own ways, straying from his perfect plan, or celebrating anything contrary to his ways. And even in that anger, because he is God, he loves. It’s just who he is. How will you respond to his love for you today? Maybe we all should do so with a change of heart.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” -Colossians 3:1

YMCA Sends Missions Team to Mexico for 5th Service Trip

Pictured from right to left, in front row: “in selfie” Bruce Osborn (Director of Spiritual Development), then Dave Wasserman, Brandon Davis (EV Short Term Missions Director), Azumi (EV Teen), Savannah Wasserman, Stacie Gorecki. Back row: Jasmine Martinez, Jaime Wasserman, Kim Osborn, Eden Wasserman, Kim Holt.

In February 2023, the Glacial Community YMCA sent a team of nine people to Puebla, Mexico, as part of a mission trip partnering with the orphanage, Esperanza Viva. This was the YMCA’s fifth team to go and serve in this capacity, an outreach and service trip that first began in 2018.

Esperanza Viva, a ministry of Living Hope International, is an orphanage/youth home in Puebla, Mexico that currently provides shelter, family, healing, and hope to approximately 100 children living there.

The Y team’s week consisted of morning service projects around the campus, meals, crafts and recreation with the children, cultural activities as a team, learning more about the ministry of Living Hope International, and relationship building with both children and staff. Trips usually last 8-10 days and include some sightseeing time as well.

In 2020, the YMCA commissioned then-employee, Karlee Webb, as a full-time missionary from their staff to go and serve in the ministry of Living Hope, residing in Puebla at Esperanza Viva. The YMCA at Pabst Farms is proud to be among a select few YMCAs that have commissioned, sent, and helped support a missionary to serve full-time in this modern era.

“The Y has continued to send teams to serve, love, and build relationships within the ministry of Living Hope and Esperanza Viva, because these experiences are life-changing. The children love interacting with teams, and our volunteers are deeply impacted by that love as they serve and care,” said Bruce Osborn, Director of Spiritual Development for the YMCA.

The YMCA offers missionary opportunities multiple times a year, to both members and community participants, as well as their staff members, with trips seen as unique opportunities in leadership development.

The YMCA also partners with the Y-USA and other YMCAs around the country to help support the mission of the Y in Valparaiso, Chile. Past trips to Chile have included service projects, community outreach, teaching seminars, program development and support of their George Williams School.

Osborn adds, “The days are long for our team members during the week, but the work is rewarding. It is a recipe for a radical shift in the priorities of life, and one that I wish everyone could experience.” To learn more about the YMCA’s mission and service work, please visit https://www.glcymca.org/mission-trips-service/.

Blameless

Written by Bruce Osborn, Director of Spiritual Development

A Spiritual Reflection

A high-profile court drama, played out on most all major news outlets, ended yesterday. The verdict was given and a man was pronounced guilty of the murder of two of his family members. I wasn’t there to hear either side of the case. So, all I have to go on is what was reported. And the end result of the cases presented was a man pronounced guilty.

It brought back memories from a few years ago when I served on a jury.

Guilty was also the verdict handed down from that jury, a jury in which I was a member.  The case?  A difficult story of a young man, who seemed to have started with all the finest of intentions, but ended up guilty of a crime he never imagined he was capable of committing.  And because of poor decisions, his life was forever altered.  Tears shed, a family left in disbelief, and broken pieces of a life lay scattered along a path of deception and constant surrender to the wrong influences. 

That’s usually how it happens.  One decision, seemingly insignificant, leads to another, and before we know it, we find ourselves in a place we never thought possible.  Looking back, it’s easy to see the crossroads, the danger signs placed in plain view, warning us to stay straight.  But many times, we ignore those warnings and continue to chase our own desires, our own passions, thinking that all will turn out okay.  One wrong turn leads to another, and before we know it we’ve lost our way and we’re in a place we don’t need to be.  Choices. We make them every day.  Some good.  Some not so good. 

I can’t tell you how many choices I’ve made that I wish I could revisit.  I am guilty, and most likely you can relate.  We’re guilty.  Maybe not to the degree of the young man on trial, but our actions have been offensive to those closest to us, and more importantly to our Savior.  And our choices have put us in places we never should have been.  We are all guilty of the spiritual cancer of sin. Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s best for us.  And that cancer eats away at our spiritual life, to the point that if we let it go unchecked, unconfessed, we die inside.  And we soon learn that the separation it causes between us and God is too much to bridge on our own.

Oh, but there is hope…

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”– I John 1:8-9

Yes, there is hope for all who will trust in the One who became the once-for-all sacrifice for sin.  Apart from the cross of Jesus Christ, and our faith in Him, we have no way of approaching a holy God, no possible way of shedding our guilt.  No works of our own, no philosophy, no religion, not by science or reasoning will we ever gain His acceptance.  But by His grace, through our faith, and our surrendering to His authority over our lives, we can confidently know we belong to Him.  And when we arrive at that place, when we have said yes to His invitation, we are pronounced blameless!  He becomes our defense, our advocate (I John 2:1) to the Father.  No more guilt!  Simply defined, that’s grace.  And it’s all because of the work of Jesus on the cross, not my work.  That’s my hope!  And it can be yours too!

The jury is in.  Innocent is the verdict for all who are in Christ.  Go ahead, live free!

“He (Jesus) will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God, who called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”  -I Corinthians 1:8-9

Lessons Along the Journey

Written by Bruce Osborn, Director of Spiritual Development

A Spiritual Reflection

The Glacial Community YMCA is a unique place.  Over the course of 35+ years in ministry I have served in a variety of places, but this one is different.  Much different.  And over the course of the 16 years I have been here I have learned, and continue to learn, some valuable lessons.  Allow me, if you will, a few moments to share some of those lessons with you:

  • All people are valuable.  No matter where we are in life, or where we have come from, we all matter.  And because of our God’s great grace, our best days are ahead.  And by using what God has gifted us with, each of us can truly make a difference in the lives of others, the life of this organization, and in our community. 
  • Relationship, relationship, relationship.  It truly is all about the relationship.  Our relationships in the workplace, at church, in the community, and in our neighborhood are important, but there is none more important than our relationship first with Christ, and then with our family. 
  • An open-door policy.  This is modeled from the top.  Our CEO has always operated with this policy.  And anyone (member, volunteer, or staff) has the freedom to stop and chat, gain some advice for life, or seek guidance on a YMCA related issue.  And there might just be a conversation about the latest round of golf to be told too.  That kind of policy creates openness in all other areas of our organization.  
  • Leading by example.  Our staff and volunteers are incredible.  Everyone is quick to join the effort to see that our organization succeeds.   No task is too small and no feat is too great.  By faith, and a little hard work, great things are accomplished every day. 
  • Being mission focused.  The YMCA has an outstanding mission.  And this YMCA lives out that mission every day.  It is seen throughout our facility and our programs.  We are daily seeking to “put Christian principles into action…” in all we do.  
  • And finally, respect.  Everyone who walks through our doors brings with them a story, a history, and dreams for a better tomorrow.  And each of those stories and dreams matter.  They matter to us, and they matter to our God.  And our organization sees value in each of those stories.

So, what is your story? What dreams do you carry? Our YMCA community is a place where those stories can be shared. It is a place to be heard, because, as I have found, it is much more than a story. It is more than a history.  It is a life. It is a record of the journey God has for you. And this Y is a place you can serve, grow, and relate to others whose journey might look very similar to yours, or very different. But the value, the respect and the relationships you find at our Y are what we are all about. So, come, tell us your story and find hope for your journey in life.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Jesus’ words in Luke 6:31