Monday, December 31, 2012

This is Why

Mission Statement (Do Not Delete)
A simple phrase with profound meaning that anyone who has been around Elevation Church for any length of time can repeat on command.  But, so that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ is so much more than a phrase that I can repeat on command.  It is the why behind so much of my life.

So that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ is why I get out of bed at 6:30 on a Sunday.  It is why I put so much on the line to bring people to church.  It is why I serve all day on Sunday.  It is why I drive 20 miles to Rock Hill every Thursday evening for fifteen middle schoolers. 

So that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ is the mission statement of Elevation Church.  It is the reason why eight families sold their houses, quit their jobs and moved to Charlotte.  There was no earthly promise to them in Charlotte, just a heavenly calling.

This Christmas, so that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ became real to me, again.  Too often we get caught up doing church.  This Christmas, God reminded me of the why.  Allow me to present to you two why's behind why I am sold out to seeing those far from God raised to life in Christ.

Case One - Molly, age 13, has been in my eGroup for over a year.  In January, she asked me as eGroup was coming to a close if we could speak in private.  We went into the hallway.  She asked what it meant to be saved and for more information on baptisms.  I did my best to share the gospel with her in a few short minutes.  She said she understood, but felt that the timing wasn't right.  I prayed for her salvation daily.  Over the next few months, we talked about it on a regular basis.  She just kept saying the time wasn't right.  This Christmas Eve Eve, I received a text from Molly saying that she stood!  She stood to accept Christ as her Savior.  She stood to publicly declare that she was no longer going to flirt with the dividing line.  Nearly a year of prayer and persistence and conversations, Molly asked Jesus into her heart.

Case Two - John, age 18, is the brother of a friend of mine.  Less than a month ago, she shared with me the story of John.  John was far from God.  Mixed up with the wrong crowd, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, he was arrested, facing up to one year in prison.  My friend, Nesha, made one last attempt to see John be raised to life in Christ.  She brought him to Elevation Church two weeks ago.  He liked it alright.  Three days before Christmas, Nesha and I had breakfast.  Facing resistance from the devil, she admitted that she was probably going to skip out on church.  The next day, Nesha brought her brother John to Timeless Christmas.  John stood to accept Christ.  The gospel was clearly presented to him, and he knew that the time was now.  He asked Jesus into his heart.  Now, whatever happens in court, he has Jesus in his life.  Jesus will be beside him in whatever trials are ahead.

Molly and John are only two of over two thousand who stood to accept Christ at Timeless Christmas at Elevation Church.  But the stories of Molly and John hit home to me.  I've been praying for Molly and John for longer than they know.  Molly and John's stories are the reason that I get out of bed on Sunday mornings.  Their stories are the reason that I do what I do with a smile on my face.

So that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 in Review [ Pt. 2]

Elevation Church Year in Review

2012 was truly an amazing year at Elevation Church.  For me, at Elevation, I started serving at Elevation's Uptown campus, continued to lead a wonderful eGroup of middle school girls and attend an eGroup of amazing college age students.  Elevation started the year with a twelve night revival, went to Israel for Easter, and Pastor Steven released his second book Greater.  It was a banner year, in deed.

Below are my favorite ten sermon's from 2012.

10.  Suspension of Disbelief (Living a Better Story)  The entire Living a Better Story series was hugely impactful to me this year.  During the second week of this series, Pastor Steven preached from Numbers 13-14.  Suspension of Disbelief is deciding to get lost in the story.  We must believe that what we read in the Bible actually happened.  We must nail or disbelief to the cross.  Another quote that I loved from this sermon was that our setting does not determine our story.

9. The Taurus & The Fox (Grey Matter)  The entire Grey Matter series helped me grow this year.  This series was about those questions that aren't black or white in the Bible.  The answer is grey.  The Taurus & The Fox was a sermon about how to follow God and the closeness that we gain from the journey.  If God gave us directions, we wouldn't get to know him better by following Him. 

8. He's Big Enough for Both - Dumb Dichotomies (Grey Matter) A dichotomy is a division into two mutually exclusive contradictory groups.  Pastor Steven explained some dumb dichotomies; life or death, one God or many God's, spirit or flesh.  We make some dumb dichotomies, too; make plans or trust God, be successful or stay humble... John 1:14 says, where we put an OR, God put an AND.  God can do both.  He is big enough for both.

7. Frustrations of a Fixer (Mother's Day) Pastor Steven preached on the frustrations of a fixer.  God completes us.  No one can complete us, and we can't complete anyone else.  People were not created to fill the needs that God is suppose to fill.  This sermon impactful, because I try so hard to allow other people to complete me. 

6. Timeless Christmas (Christmas 2012) Pastor Steven preached a bold message on the dividing line.  So often, we flirt with the line of salvation.  There are moments in our lives where we can distinctly mark what life was like before and after that moment.  That is the line of salvation.  We must stop flirting with it and cross over the after life after accepting Christ.  We don't have to do anything before coming to Christ.  He already did it on the cross.

5. Digging Ditches (Greater) This is the second sermon in the series Greater, based off of Pastor's second book.  The story of digging ditches from 2 Kings 3 is probably one of my favorite books in the Bible.  There had been a drought, Elisha told them to dig some ditches, and the rain came.  You never read about them actually digging the ditches, but the rain came. 

4. The Power of Multiplication (Banner Years) Pastor Robert Morris from Fort Worth, TX came to preach for two weekends during our Banner Years series.  This was the first of his two sermons.  He preached on the power of multiplication with money.  Pastor Robert shared some stories of his audacious faith in God financially.  His trust in something greater than earthly things was inspiring. 

3. Burn the Plows (Greater) Pastor Steven's second book is titled, Greater.  This is the first sermon from a four week sermon walking through some of the greatest part of his book.  Burning the plows is in reference to when Elisha burned his plows in order to take Elijah's place.  Burning his plows symbolized that he could no longer go back to who he was.  There is something holding each of us back, that we need to burn. 

2. If I Have to Wait, I'm Gonna Get to Work (Waiting Room)  Holly Furtick, Pastor Steven's wife took the pulpit to preach this powerful sermon of working while you wait.  Waiting rooms are one of the most dreaded places.  She preached from Acts 16:22-40.  Paul and Silas were in prison, they didn't complain.  They bypassed the urge to complain and filled the situation with praise.  We must preoccupy ourselves with fulfilling God's purpose instead of escaping our problems.  Finally, we need to embrace the face that our detours are often God's destination. 

1. Continuum of Forgiveness to Bitterness  (How to Hug a Vampire) This was without a doubt, hands down, my favorite sermon of the entire year.  Pastor Mark Driscoll came all the way from Seattle, WA to preach this powerful message on forgiveness.  Pastor Mark preached through Ephesians 4:22-32, what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is not.  This sermon changed the way I looked at forgiveness. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 in Review [ Pt. 1 ]

.Redeemed. Year in Review

10. Proud Momma - This post is about two of the amazing middle school girls that I lead.  One lives in an athiest home, but reads her Bible in the closet and desires to go to church.  The other, has been a constant positive role model to the first.  I just wanted the world to know how proud of them I was, and still am!  They are amazing! [ 54 Views and Posted in May 2012 ] 

9. Yesterday - This post is about the day after my baby brother tried to kill himself.  I was a wreck.  Being the oldest sister, I did everything I could to keep it together.  I had no idea what to expect when I was walking into the hopsital and all I knew was he'd tried to kill himself.  After a stream of tweets, I posted this so everyone knew what was going on!  [ 57 Views and Posted in June 2012] 

8. Nehemiah and Me - This post was written after a difficult week, where I couldn't see how I could follow God and have a relationship with my parents.  I was beginning to feel like if I did what God was calling me to do, I was going to loose my parents.  After reading about Nehemiah, I found out that we had a lot in common.  Through skimming the pages of Nehemiah, I realized that without God strengthening me, I can't accomplish anything. [ 67 Views and Posted in November 2012 ]

7. How to Deal with Bad Ending Friendships - This post was written by one of the amazing middle school girls I lead.  She is thirteen and wrote a powerful post about how to deal with friendships that don't end well.  She had to learn what she wrote the hard way.  We all have something to learn from her words. [ 80 Views and Posted in July 2012 ]

6. Proud Momma - This post is another post about another amazing middle school girl in my eGroup.  It's about the same girl who wrote How to Deal with Bad Ending Friendships and We Should Be.  She's going to change this world.  Her hunger for God's word is empowering.  I've had many intellectual conversations with her about what is going on in the Bible and what God is doing in her life.  I'm so proud of her! [ 81Views and Posted in July 2012 ]

5. Giveaway - This post was a giveaway for the book When God writes your love story  that I studied personally, had my world rocked, lead a book study on it with a group of middle school girls and saw their worlds rocked.  The book is too good not to share. [ 83 Views and Posted in April 2012 ]

4. Lifted Hands - This post is about those days when lifting your hands in worship is the hardest thing to do.  We all have those moments when we can't bring ourselves to worship God on that intimate of a level.  But, those are the moments that we need to surrender and lift our hands in worship the most.  [ 95 Views and Posted in August 2012 ]

3. God Still has a Plan - This post was written when I was alone in my car crying about how I was convienced that I had messed up.  God couldn't use me, I had destroyed His plan for my life.  Then, I had one of those moments when God smacked me in the face, telling me that He could still use me.  You can go off My path for you.  I will get you back to the right path.  I have great plans for you.  Just trust.  That's the smack in the face God gave me. [ 107 Views and Posted in April 2012 ]

2. Giving Up is Not an Option - This post was written after I was losing someone very close to me.  They were far from God, had been making the steps to get closer to God, but one day just fell off of the face of the earth.  I realized that giving up was not an option.  I truly cared about this person and I couldn't allow what they were struggling with to effect the influence I had in their life. [ 131 Views  and Posted in May 2012 ] 

1. Yoforia - This post is a little thanks to Yoforia for going above and beyond to provide quality customer service.  It isn't the tipical .Redeemed. post, but it got a rediculous amount of views this year. [ 252 Views and Posted in May 2012 ]

Monday, December 3, 2012


I'm twenty-three.  That is going to take some getting used to...

Twenty-two was really an amazing year.  I grew closer to the Lord than I've ever been in my life.  I was stretched in ways that I never thought I could be stretched.  I struggled more than I thought I could ever struggle.  I laughed til there were tears in my eyes and I couldn't breathe.  Twenty-two was a year that I'll never forget.

Instead of reliving the past, I'm looking forward to what twenty-three will hold.  I never want to get ahead of God.  But, I think creating attainable goals are important.  I want to have moments this year where I know it only happened because of God, but I also want to have moments where I know I worked my butt off to make it happen. 

Twenty-Three Things I Want to Do While I'm Twenty-Three (in no particular order)... 
I probably could have made a simpler title for that, but ya know...

1. Finish my last twelve classes at Liberty University Online with a bang

2. Start grad school or seminary

3. Make and maintain a budget

4. Run two 5k's

5. Live in the moment

6. Read the entire New Testament

7. De-stress

8. Visit a new state (I have 44 to choose from)

9. Learn to check my email and social media sites no more than three times a day

10. Lose and keep off twenty-three pounds

11. Read ten books for leisure

12. Take pictures regularly

13. Laugh until I cry

14. Spend the weekend in Aiken

15. Create opportunities for God to move mightily

16. Learn to white water kayak

17. Spend some QT with Victoria before she moves

18. Follow God's lead

19. Have enough faith to believe that God can make my Sun Stand Still prayer come true

20. Visit Charleston at least twice

21. Get my second tattoo

22. Find time for me once a week

23. Live a life that glorifies God at all moments

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Good Bye 22!

22 has come and gone.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share one last post for twenty-two.  It was an amazing year.  I learned some great things.  Here is the top ten moments of my life as a twenty-two year old.
10. I ran my first 5k this year.  Last year, I trained for my first 5k.  The week of the race, I fell down my stairs and fractured my ankle.  Finally being able to get out there and run my first 5k was a lot of fun!  The excitement surrounding races is exhilarating.  I was lucky enough to get to run the race with my whole family!
9. Code Orange Revival was twelve nights of my life that I will never forget.  My church boldly invites the Holy Spirit into our presence every weekend.  As a way to set the stage for 2012, we had a twelve night Revival where world renowned pastors, worship leaders and speakers came to speak God's word to the church.  I attended four of the twelve nights and watch the rest of the nights from home.  This picture is from eGroups night of Code Orange Revival.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to lead the way with my eStudents!
8.  One of my favorite parts of being twenty - two was being at Liberty University Online.  No, I don't actually attend classes.  Yes, I do everything from the convenience of my computer.  But, this year, because of Liberty University, I was able to find my love for theology.  I have a strong desire to know as much as possible about theology.  I'm excited to say that next year, I'll be getting my Master's in Practical Theology and specializing in Children's Ministry.  My two great loves!
7.  This year, I was able to celebrate my eGroups one year anniversary.  We've been meeting since September of 2011.  We've grown from three consistently coming to a steady 10 each week.  We've seen some come and go, but through the past year, God has blessed me with an amazing group of young ladies.  I learn as much, if not more from them than they learn from me.  They keep me young, by teaching me what WRUD means and what a selfie is.  I keep them grounded by reminding them that they don't need a boyfriend right now and God's word is more important than Gossip Girl.  I wouldn't trade my time with them for anything.  And, I'm looking forward to many many many many more years with them!
6.  I made the transition back into serving after a brief break this year. God led me to the Uptown campus. I'm so thankful that He did. I've made many friendships through being at this campus. I've seen God use me and stretch me in so many different areas of my life. I was able to realize, once again, that He is always faithful and He always provide and His plan will always come to fruition. And, sometimes things that aren't so great have to happen so that better things can happen. 
5. Student Takeover was legen - wait for it - dary!  We white water rafted, navigated a ropes course, heard God's word spoken over us, served our city and served our church together.  The time that I had with my eGroup Student Takeover weekend was a time that we will never forget.  I am grateful to have the privilege to go to a church that doesn't have a student ministry but is a student ministry.
4. Work. Yes, I love my job! I'm a nanny and it's not as easy as it looks. I do a lot more than just sit at home with a kid and watch TV.... which is what people seem to think I do. It's truly an honor to work for the family that I nanny. The kids are amazing and the parents are great. The treat me so well. This year, I took a moment to reflect on how unique our situation is and how I can see God's hand all over it. I am so thankful for their love and support in my life.
3. Celebrating New Year's in the middle of the ocean was absolutely fabulous!  I fell in love with cruises this year.  The relaxation that comes with not ever having to be anywhere.  The convience of not having to drive anywhere.  The excitement of being able to do everything that you can do on land on a boat.  Geeze!  This picture of me sums up the entire trip.  It was absolutely amazing!
2. Realizing God's plan for my life with these girls has been amazing.  Growing closer to and learning about God with an amazing group of young women was a pivotal part of being twenty-two.  We saw the good and the bad together.  We always have each others back and that's a bond that can't be broken.  I'm so thankful that I got to spend a year with these ladies.  Looking forward to many more!
1.  My favorite moment of being twenty-two was getting my first tattoo.  I wanted "Redeemed" tattooed on my wrist for three years.  Making it official this summer in Charleston was a moment I will never forget.  Better than that, was the moment that it healed, when it was no longer raised and for the first time the tattoo felt real.  It felt like it was a part of me.  I have been redeemed.  Nothing can take that away.
Overall, 22 brought me much joy and happiness.  I saw God's hand over and moving in my life on a regular basis.  I was able to take a step back and see how each moment of my life I am taking one step closer to fulfilling his greater calling for my life.  I don't want to ever get too far from Him to not realize what He is calling me to do.