Friday, December 31, 2010

Goals for 2011

2010 was an amazing year for me. God pulled me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I did not set any goals for 2010. I hate setting goals, because I always seem to fall short of them. This year, I am going to set goals. I am going to post them on the world wide web so someone can hold me accountable for them.

Career Goals:
1. Find a job that is spiritually, intellectually and emotionally fulfilling.

Educational Goals:
1. Make all A's and B's in my last two semesters at CPCC
2. Graduate from CPCC in December 2011
3. Make a plan for furthering my education

Financial Goals:
1. Build my savings account
2. Start paying the bills my parents are paying for me

Personal Goals:
1. Lose 30 pounds and keep it off!
2. Run my first 5k
3. Stop eating fast food on a regular basis
4. Work out at least three times a week

Relational Goals:
1. Get to know my brothers better
2. Gain an understanding on my parents resistance to church
3. Visit my grandparents at least four times
4. Visit Victoria at least four times

Spiritual Goals:
1. Gain a better understanding of the Old Testament
2. Learn from my New Testament class
3. Finish the 8 month Bible Reading Plan
4. Finish Sun Stand still
5. Have a more personal relationship with God
6. Learn to follow God's direction without hesitation
7. Serve on at least three Outreach projects
8. Become a better eTeam leader for Host Services
9. Join an eGroup for the first semester of 2011
10. Lead an eGroup for the second semester of 2011

Well, until I wrote all of those out, I did not realize how many goals I had for myself. I will post on the first of every month my short term goals for that month, and how I did in the previous month.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We're all about the numbers...

9. We Are All About the Numbers

Number nine in Elevation's code of core values is "we are all about the numbers". I love this. So, I am happy to report to my many (ha) followers the numbers from this week at Elevation.

Between the eighteen worship experiences Elevation held at four different locations on three different days 13,378 people attended and there were a reported 1,172 salvation's.

I am so happy to hear about those numbers. I had the opportunity to meet over 15 first time families serving in eKidz. They came from different parts of the country, traveled various amounts of miles all to attend Elevation Church. How awesome is that? I had the opportunity to talk to some of those families after service and they were all excited to come back soon!
I love serving at Elevation. I had an amazing week serving there!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Great Commission

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And s urely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Matthew 28:16-20

Elevation Church exists so that people who are far from God will be filled with life in Christ. I love this saying. Elevation Church strongly believes in the great commission. We are suppose invite the lost to church! That is our job as believers. Elevation does not exist for me, it exists for the unchurched. I love this! I love reaching out and inviting people to church. It is such a privilege to invite the unchurched to a church that I am completely devoted to. I love seeing their reaction when the worship team comes out. There face screams "this is a church?" I love that!

My parents are CEO's. (Christmas and Easter Only) This has always bothered me. I use to invite them to church on a weekly basis. I made it possible for them to have no excuses, and they still found them. It hurt too much to invite on a weekly basis. I would cry on my way home and feel defeated. I began only asking Christmas and Easter only. They grin and bare it now. I am just happy I can get them to say yes on Christmas and Easter.

We went to Elevation's Christmas Experience on Wednesday. This was the first service. I was so excited to be able to go to the first service. I thought my parents would enjoy getting it over with first. It worked out for all of us.
Elevation has a way of always doing something unique and off the wall. This year it was fireworks inside. Chris had a full blown asthma attack. My mom and Chris left the auditorium, but my dad, Corey and I stayed for the sermon. Chris only got worse. No ushers or greeters would let my mom or anyone for that matter back into the auditorium to let us know that they needed my dads keys to get home.

My parents are livid. They chewed me out. Obviously, since I own Elevation Church and I was behind the fireworks and the no interruptions rule. My mom told me that me inviting her to church is me telling her that I am not happy with who she is, and showing her who I want her to be. I told her that it wasn't who I wanted her to be, it was who God wanted her to be. He sent me to invite her. I said I only do it because I love them. They said, you could love me a little less.
Chris said to me last night, I will never go back to Elevation Church. That killed me. I just keep hearing him say that in my head. He use to love Elevation. He served in Production. I don't know what changed in September, but he stopped volunteering and turns down every opportunity to attend. This was sort of the icing on the cake, as they would say.

During the series "The Invitation", Pastor said that not inviting someone to church is like not inviting your best friend to your wedding. That has stuck with me, and is my reason for inviting everyone to church. I want to see my parents in heaven. It kills me to know that I am going to go to heaven, and at this point I won't see them there.

This is sort of a vent since my family won't hear me out right now. I am praying that God continues to give me strength to reach my family and not give up. Satan is trying to tear me down and tell me that it's not worth it. Satan is telling me "why bother?" But, it's worth it. Eternal life for my parents and brother is worth it to me!

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
Luke 19:10
Merry Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Elevation Year in Review

What a year I have had. Elevation has truly transformed my life this year. I started volunteering at the end of March. I became a team leader this summer. I became an eGroup leader because God slapped me in the face in September. God has done great things for me this year. He revealed to me where He wants me to be at Elevation. I began working toward that goal. Elevation has played such a part in my life this year. I hope that Elevation only has more of an impact next year!!! I am excited.

I thought I would post my favorite and most impactful sermons of 2010. This is all in my personal opinion. :-)

Elevation Year in Review

10. The Antidote to Insecurity (Fearfully & Wonderfully Made) - This sermon was based from Psalm 139:13-16. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made (vs 14). I love this sermon because it spoke straight to me. I am very insecure about my body and who I am. Pastor said that "You can't cover insecurity on the inside with stuff on the outside", which is something I tried to do for many years. He also said, "You can't worship God until you appreciate how He made you." Since Pastor preached this sermon on Mother's Day, I have began to see myself as God sees me and appreciate Him for making me as He did. I can't be ashamed for who I am because I was fearfully and wonderfully made by the hands of God.

09. The Idol of Greed (Scarecrow in a Melonpatch) - This week Clayton King preached! He preached from Jeremiah 10:1-6. He said "any idolatry is stupid because why would we worship anything besides our Almighty Lord." Wow! How good is that?! The idol of greed is not only money. Everything that King said is noteworthy. So, I will do my best to not regurgitate all of my notes. "Greed always wants more, and it always wants it right now." "Greed never says no, wait or enough." That is so true. It stung when King said that. "Greed will promise you happiness then devour you." I use to fall short to the sin of greed. He finished the sermon with a bang. "God is the cure for greed. The vaccine is generosity." Whenever I am having a bad day, I try to run through a drive thru line and pay for the person behind me. Blessing someone for no reason always cures my terrible mood.

08. Your Excuses are Stupid (The Invitation) - Pastor preached this sermon from Luke 14:16-24. This verse talks about how everything is already prepared for you. The quote from this sermon that stuck with me the most was "no excuse will be enough for the price that Jesus paid on the cross". We have to stop making excuses for why we don't attend church. We have to stop making excuses for why we aren't inviting people to church. We can't accept the people's excuses who we ask to church.

07. Selective Hearing (One Generation Away) - What a sermon this was! It was geared toward students, but I took notes on everything he said. I was leaning in to hear every word! Pastor's first point was to practice selective hearing. 'Right voices mean right choices'. We have to listen to the people who love us the most. It is easy to go from friend to friend looking for the answer we want to hear, but we need to listen to the friend who loves us the most. The second point was find your sound and play it loud. 'God has not called us to stand up He has called us to stand out!' Finally, just keep showing up. This point was the most personal for me. We have to just keep showing up no matter how tough life gets or how much we want to give up. This applies to everyone's life in some way or another. Just keep opening your Bible. 'When you fall down, let Christ pick you back up!!!'

06. Face Forward (Americana) - 'Remembering where we have been is an essential part of mapping out where we are going." 'To truly follow Christ you have to face forward'. There is no progress to be made when looking behind. We can't follow the coat tails of someone else's success or faith. It is easy to be paralyzed by past pain, but we must face forward and move on. John Bishop closed with, 'When you ask God why you are saying you don't trust Him.' Wow!!! This sermon reminded me to face forward and keep moving. I can't live off of who I use to be. I have to move forward and become who God wants me to be today.

05. System 77 (F-Bomb) - This was a life changing sermon. 'You may have to forgive someone 77 times for one offense. You must forgive continuously if you believe in the Gospel.' Pastor spoke on forgiveness, and how if we don't forgive in all circumstances, we don't believe in the Gospel. That statement killed me. Pastor said, 'if you don't give it, you don't got it because if you got it you give it!' So, if you don't forgive, Jesus didn't forgive you because if you were forgiven you would forgive. Unforgiveness equals unbelief. This opened my eyes to a world of people I needed to forgive and stop holding grudges against.

04. You Don't Suck Anymore (Christ Alone) - "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" Romans 8:1 Pastor said "condemnation operates through suggestions like 'you're so stupid'." My favorite quote from this sermon was, "just don't pick up the phone when Satan calls." I hear this in the back of my head on a daily basis. When I want to buy a shirt for no reason, I tell myself not to pick up the phone. When I want to talk about a co-worker or friend, I tell myself to not pick up the phone. God's voice will lift us up higher, not bring us down. When the devil says 'you aren't worthy', reply 'you are right, but thanks to the blood of Jesus I am!" BAM! Pastor used the term bump, set, spike - (bump) You aren't worthy, (set), I'm not, (spike) But Jesus is! What an amazing sermon that was.

03. Audacious Faith in the God Who Provides (Sun Stand Still) - Audacious faith was an entirely new concept to me. I have never heard of this term. I have never read the story in Joshua where Joshua prays for God to make the sun stand still. I never knew that it was possible to ask God to do things of those sorts in my life. This sermon transformed my life! I was pumped to share the term audacious faith with all of my co-workers.

02. Why Bother? (Sun Stand Still) - I have many why bother moments in my life. Why bother starting an eGroup? Why bother waking up for a job where you feel unappreciated? Why bother inviting your parents to church when they'll hate it anyway? Why bother thinking you'll ever be on staff at Elevation? Satan tries to tear me down with the why bothers on a daily basis. Pastor preached on why we should bother! It is always worth the bother! Pastor said, 'the truth is more powerful than the facts.' This means that if the facts say you can't do something, but the truth is God told you to do it, the truth is more powerful! 'If people laughed at God, they will laugh at you! But, God always has the last laugh.' Lastly, 'You don't have to figure out how it is going to happen, just believe that it will!'

...And it all leads up to this. (drum roll!!!!)

01. I Can Do Awkward (Elevation Easter Experience) - Obviously Easter ranks as my number one! Easter was an important service to me for so many reasons. Pastor wanted to see 10,000 people worship together in 2010. Over 11,500 people attended our Easter experience at the Timewarner Cable Arena. I love how Elevation always rises above expectations!! 790 people got saved! I invited the Wiktorek's. The Wiktorek's helped me through a really rough time in my life last year. Michael Wiktorek was one of my youth pastors when I attended Covenant Church of Harrisburg. I will always love that family! The Wiktoreks were able to make it! My grandma, dad and brothers attend! The best part?? I WAS BAPTIZED!!!!!! I was one of about 60 people who had the opportunity to be baptized at the Easter service. It was so moving. I am so thankful that some of the most important people in my life were able to be there for that! :-) And the sermon? Pastor preached on "doing awkward". We all have awkward situations in our life that we are avoiding. I have one right now. This sermon has been on my mind recently because I just need to do awkward.

I hope that you go into the new year with an open heart. God has something incredible to do in your life. I pray that you are listening to His word, and are ready to do what He wants you to do with your life. I pray that you are never hesitant with His direction. I pray that you have an incredible year and that God allows you to do things you never thought possible. I pray that the sun stands still over your life.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grenade by Bruno Mars & eKidz

Let me start by saying... I love working in eKidz. Every week I have the opportunity to meet first time families. I get to hear a short story about what has led them to Elevation, hear from their heart and encourage them that Elevation is their new home. I love it!! My favorite part about all of it is that I get to see families come back!! I love giving out permanent tags. :-)

So, how does loving eKidz relate to Bruno Mars' song Grenade? I bet you are rather confused right now.

This weekend a family from Cherryville came to visit Elevation. I had the honor of checking this family in. This was a very interesting family. They took a year long course to become a member of their church. The husbands brother attends Elevation. He began to realize that you shouldn't have to attend a course or take a test to become a member at a church, and loved everything his brother had said about Elevation. He got on the subject of secular songs and how strongly he feels that many can relate to how God thinks about us. The first song he referenced I was not familiar with. Then, he mentioned Grenade. I had never taken the time to consider how much this song may relate to how God views us.

Easy come, easy go; That's just how you live How often do we take God for granted? We feel as if God is there and we can stray because He will still love us. We get comfortable in our relationship with God. We begin to think it is okay to have premarital sex because God will forgive us.

Take, take, take it all, But you never give How often do we take advantage of all that God has given us? Are you tithing? If not, then you are taking all that God has given you and not giving anything back to Him!

Many of us will easily throw what God has given us in the trash for the 'next best thing' or to 'do what everyone else is doing'. Is it worth it? God gave us everything we have!!

What if God thought I should've known better? I can't imagine what life would be like if God felt as if He should've known better than to forgive me for my sins.

Let me take this one step further. You said you loved me but you never did... When you confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you committed to a relationship with him. Do you live your life in that manner? Do you live your life in a way to exalt the name of Jesus Christ?

And finally, You wouldn't do the same. Jesus Christ died on the Christ for our sins. He died on the cross for my sins. He died on the cross for your sins. Would we die the same death that Christ did on the cross for our sins? You can't honestly say yes to that. Do you live your life in a way to proclaim your gratitude for the death Christ died for your sins?

I am so thankful that this family decided to come to Elevation on Saturday. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to hear from this man's heart. He had some very insightful things to say. I haven't stopped thinking about what he said. I hope you take a minute to think about how these lyrics relate to our relationship with God.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Highest Week Three

Holy Cow!! Pastor Steven preached an amazing sermon this week at Elevation Church. I will be listening to it several times throughout this week at the Elevation Experience!!! I am still trying to process everything he said. I will be writing some notes, and personal reflections from this sermon on Gratitude. But, to get the full effect... Visit the Elevation Experience!

Pastor Steven referenced Psalm 69:30-31, Psalm 110:4 and Luke 6:45.

He started off by saying You can't ask God for anything until you've given Him thanks for all He has done. I can't take credit for anything in my life. God has made everything that has happened in my life possible! I can't go to God and ask Him for anything in my life without giving thanks for what I already have.

Pastor then spoke on five observations about gratitude.
1. Gratitude is never invisible or silent. People often try to say that they are not good at expressing thanks, but you know my heart, so it's okay! But, that is not so. I am not a cardiologist ;-). You have to give thanks for everything in your life. When Pastor is saying this, I immediately thought about how overwhelmed with gratitude I was when I was invited to the Newspring Leadership Conference by Kelly Draddy, the whole time at the Leadership Conference, leaving the conference and even days after. I made sure to express that gratitude. I actually couldn't get through telling Kelly, Brandon and Jessi thank you without crying. I was so thankful they chose me. I couldn't leave there without saying thank you to all of them.

2. Gratitude sustains joy and blessing. There are a lot of people out there who are very blessed, but do not know how to sustain that blessing. Has someone ever hurt you? You replay that offense in your mind over and over again. 10 years later the offense is more vivid in your mind than when it happened. Can you think of something like this? You are sustaining that offense. You can sustain a blessing in the same way! Relive your salvation over and over again. I have pictures of the day I got baptized all over my apartment as a constant reminder of the greatest blessing in my life.

3. Gratitude begins where my sense of entitlement ends. We are not entitled to the life that we have. We are not entitled to the forgiveness of all of our sins. We do not deserve this life!! Pastor spoke about the first time he was offered a job where he was going to be on salary and the company would pay for his benefits. He called all of his friends to brag about this. He was so excited. None of his friends were excited, because they expected this. What use to be a perk may become part of the package. We use to be thankful when God performed a miracle in our lives, but now we expect him to bring us a better job. Is this coming home for any of you? It sure hit home to me. Do you get direct deposit? I do. Don't you hate that you never get a chance to hold that money that you get? It goes straight into the bank and then bill pay takes it right out for rent and electricity and cable. WE HAVE A DAILY DIRECT DEPOSIT OF MERCY AND GRACE INTO THE ACCOUNT OF OUR LIFE. Rejoice in that! Rejoice in the fact that every single day Christ has new mercies for your life. Rejoice that Christ didn't have to bless you.

4. Grateful people can find a blessing, enlarge a blessing or create a blessing in almost any situation. Do you know someone like this in your life? Someone who can find a blessing in any situation? I try my best to do that. On days when I am discouraged about not being able to pay my bills, I have to take a minute and remember that I have so much to be thankful for. I have a family who is willing to help me in my time of need. I have a job that pays most of my bills. I have a warm bed to crawl into at night. There are some people in my life, and probably in your life who are crap factories. Every amazing thing in their life, they can turn into a negative. Pastor spoke about a friend of his who received a raise. Pastor rejoiced with his friend, and his friends only response was, "I am going to have to pay more taxes." WOW! Can you think of someone like this in your life? I know I can. This rang home for me. Not just for my life, but for many people in my life.

5. Gratitude increases favor and creates opportunity. Have you ever read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18? This verse says Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for us to thank Him because He has low self-esteem. He instructs us to thank him because favor follows those who are grateful. You can get to the place in your life where favor follows you everywhere if you have a grateful heart.

Thank Him!
I am continually praying through a difficult situation with a friend. I am praying that God instructs me on how to help a friend who is a crap factory. I believe that it is easy not to realize you are a crap factory. I have been asking God to instruct me on how to point out to this person that they are a crap factory and help them deal with this situation. This is a tough situation, as this person is one of my closest friends. God has helped me through this recently, but I still have a lot to learn on how to deal with this situation. I pray that Satan never has enough power over me to where I become a crap factory and can find something to complain about in every situation. I am thankful that God has given me the ability to find something to be thankful for in every situation in my life. I am thankful that everyone around me would say that I find the positive in every situation. :-)
I am thankful for my Pastor. He speaks the Word of God every week. I am thankful that he is so obedient to God's word. He wrote this message on napkins at Pizza Hut, and it will go at the top of my most impactful sermons of the year. Thank you, Pastor Steven for listening to the Word of God and following His lead not your own.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crucified Sins

This passage is screaming out to me this week.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. --Galatians 6:24-26

I love the way that is phrased. We have crucified the sinful nature. We no longer live in sin. We no longer have sin in our lives. Satan has nothing on us because we belong to Christ Jesus. We can are stronger than anything Satan has to attack us with. We belong to Christ Jesus. We have crucified the sinful nature.

Take a minute and let that sink in. Take a minute to visualize the fact that your past, present and future sins have been crucified. Accept that, and know that Satan has nothing on you.

I am so happy to know that I now belong to Christ Jesus. My sins are gone because of His grace and mercy. I no longer have the constant need to shop and fill a void. There is no void to fill because Jesus is in my life. I am so thankful for the fact that I no longer have to have stress and worry about money. The Lord has His hand on my life. I no longer have financial worries. Thank you, Jesus! His mercy is incredible.

Rejoice in that today!! You no longer have to live in sin.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I have struggled with prioritizing lately. I know I am not alone. I have spent some time researching the importance of having priorities and implementing a plan. The most important thing I have researched is the importance of taking time EVERY DAY to read God's word. Delve into it. It is so rich and true. Don't push it off. Don't skim what you read. The Word of God is incredible if you take the time to read it.

This time through the Bible reading plan I am following, I have gotten the most out of the subtle truths in the Bible that we forget. Every day I read something about God's unfailing love and am overwhelmed with thanks. How good is our God! No matter what, He loves us. He has brand new mercies on us every day.

I know that in one way or another you are struggling with priorities.

Your job is scattering to prepare for the time off over the holidays. You have mounds of paperwork. You are going in early and staying late. You have a holiday dinner to plan. You have secret Santa gifts to buy. How are you glorifying God in all of this? You are working yourself too hard to where you don't have time to spend in the Word.

It is the end of the semester. How do you juggle reading your Bible with all of the assignments you have due? Don't let the Devil tell you, God will still be there at the end of the semester. You can just spend time with Him then. Luke 4:12 says we can't test the Lord! Don't test His unfailing love for you!!!

The holiday season is among us. Christmas is about the birth of Christ! Christmas is not about spending all your money on Christmas presents. Christmas is about the birth of Christ! Christmas is not about decorating your house as beautiful as possible. Christmas is about the birth of Christ! When was the last time you took a moment to pray to God and let him know how thankful you are for the Christ's life?

I know you can relate to one of the scenarios, or you are thinking of your own! Don't deny it. You are loosing sight of your number one priority today.

Pray. Repent to the Lord. Find your Bible. Look through these links, and open your Bible! They are all have Biblically sound advice.

The Importance of Quiet Time - This post walks through the importance of quiet time. It is a conversation between a few women. They walk through some steps if you are just beginning quiet time.

Your Right and Responsibility - This post walks through the importance of taking time to read the Bible. It states that being a Christian, we have the right and the responsibility to read the Bible. It walks through some things that we can gain from reading the Bible.

Priorities in the Bible - This blog posts revolves around Philippians 1:9-11. One of the sentences in this passage is "so that you can determine what really matters".

Time Management - Time is our most limited resource. We should all be well aware of this. Make the best use of your time.

The last link was the most convicting to me. What if I spent my day today doing homework and never took five minutes to open my Bible? What if today was my last day? I did not glorify God in any part of my last day. What if I spent today putting lights on my porch, decorating my apartment with poinsettias and garland, putting my Christmas tree and never once opened my Bible to thank God for the true importance of Christmas? What if that is how I spent my last day? I would have spent the entire day worshipping the Christmas that America has created, not the Christmas that God has intended.

I apologize for the length of my post. God put this on my heart to say. I hope that it allows you to evaluate where your priorities are this holiday season.