I Survived My 20s – Idols

[Guest Post by Kimberly Davidson Campbell] – Although I enjoyed my 20s–and now definitely enjoy my 30s more–there was one problem: where I found my identity.

Idols.

The biggest heart struggle I had was not just about being single, but pleasing men. Not in the “dress cute so someone will ask you out” men pleasing way; but in something that was for me much more dangerous to my walk with God.

I thought if I could be involved enough, cool enough, and popular enough, pretty enough, stylish enough, smart enough, relevant enough–someone would give me my dream ministry position on staff at a church.

There was one church in particular where I spent the bulk of my latter-20s. I wanted the approval of the pastoral team so much–all of whom I knew on a personal level–that I would pretty much be engaged in any ministry to get them to think I was vital to their ministry.

Of course this wasn’t my main motivation.

As I look at the disappointments that came out of that, the paths I pursued, and some of the ministries I participated in, the heart attitudes I had to guard against were pride and the fear of man.

As I’ve now been out of that church for 5+ years I see that, and see God healing and convicting my heart, and see many of the relationships I had there have stayed and deepened. I learned so much of myself and my God as I taught college girls for 3 years–some of those girls are some of the best friends today.

They are a treasure.

If you’re anything like me–you might need a few tangible ways on how to grow.

Here are three ways to idol-smash the fear of man!

(1) No one and no THING can make you worth more in the sight of God.

Jesus did everything you need when He died on a cross for you. The pastor of the church I referenced above used to say “The gospel isn’t D-0, but it is D-O-N-E.”

No relationship can satisfy your heart and no ministry position, job, car, house, or association can satisfy your heart either.

And no amount of ministry being doing by you will make you “better” in relationship with God. Your worth and value come from your creation in the image of God and the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross.

(2) Keep your heart open to what God might be teaching you. 

If you see consistent sin patterns in your life, especially heart sins that may not be evident to others, seek pastoral help. Seek the Word that is able to cut even to the bone and marrow, it is alive and active. Make sure–if you are a woman–that you have an older woman who will walk with you and ask you how you are doing in a certain area (Titus 2).

(3) I won’t say I’m done forever with struggling with the fear of man.

I have grown more secure in who God is for me and who I am in Christ so I don’t look to others to satisfy me.

Perfect, no. 
Growing, yes. 
Recognizing sin, most definitely. 
Knowing Jesus forgives, always.

One book was recommended to me after I left that church and it is still the only book I recommend on this issue of the fear of man: When People Are Big and God is Small by Ed Welch. It is amazingly accurate and Gospel-centered.

Kimberly Davidson Campbell is a wife, mother, freelance writer and photographer who resides in Durham, NC with her family. She graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity in Education. Her passions include life-on-life discipleship, speaking, teaching, writing, cooking, being healthy, and photography – and mostly spending time with her husband and son! She blogs regularly at http://kd316.com.

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What's Your Story – Lisa & Kyle

Kyle Bonenberger and his wife, Lisa Ramsland Bonenberger, are experts on love and forgiveness.

A few years ago they planted City Church in Anaheim, CA. They speak, encourage, council, write, and give relational advice daily. Not to mention their credentials speak for themselves. Kyle is currently working towards his M.Div from Talbot Seminary and Lisa recently graduated from Talbot with a Master’s in Counseling. Lisa and I are both graduates of Biola University, and I had the pleasure of meeting them through Lisa’s mother, Marcia Ramsland, my mentor! Marcia is the one who named me the “Devotional Diva!”

My first question to them, “What does love mean to you as a married person? When you were single?”

Kyle said, “Love as a married person = Sacrifice. Love as a single person = Attraction.” Lisa said, “Love as a married person means to selflessly give of yourself, time, resources and preferences. Putting another person’s desires above my own. It also means to respect my husband’s decisions, learn when to talk and when to listen. Love as a single person means to orient and invite someone into your life. To desire to spend time with them and share whom you are risking rejection from them or their family.

“Have either one of you ever had your heart broken?” I asked.

Kyle said, “Two times before. The first time, I was in high school. At the time, I remember being shattered and thinking that my life would never be put back together. The second one was a mutual heartbreak; but the pain of it lasted a long time.”

Lisa said, “At a young age, I knew I wanted to get married and tried to only be in relationships where I could see myself with that person long-term. My first significant relationship started in high school and lasted through part of college. My second significant relationship started in college and ended in a broken engagement one month before I was to graduate from college. I did have relationships after college, but there was a period of two and a half years where I decided to intentionally not date and heal my broken heart.”

I asked them, “What did heartbreak feel like? Were you sad/depressed? Did you stay bitter? How did you overcome?”

Kyle said, “Of course I was sad. Of course I was depressed. I think you have to go through a grieving process like anything in life. It’s accepting that something in your life died. The hardest part is actually grieving the event like a death.”

Lisa said, “I agree with Kyle that breaking up throws a person into a grieving process. Grieving a person, relationships, and the DREAM that the person might have been the one! It feels like your heart is being ripped out and sometimes it can be hard for life to seem like it will get better. It is especially hard because you have common friends and don’t usually see their family after you break-up. After going through a break-up there are a lot of feelings and emotions you experience. Bitter was something I never wanted to be. Bitterness is like a root that grows inside of us and hurts us and those around us, not them. I overcame by surrounding myself with supportive friends, praying, journaling, fasting, getting a mentor and focusing on something new.”

“Do you feel it is easier to forgive yourself or others?”

Kyle said, “For me, it’s easier to forgive other people than myself. I grew up in a home where a lot of things weren’t the ‘traditional’ way, so I had to learn forgiveness as a young child. My mom was a therapist also, so she was really good at teaching us to forgive each other and talk through things. All that to say, forgiving other people is second nature for me, forgiving myself is not as easy; but it is not a huge struggle for me either.

Lisa said, “Forgiveness is a hard one for me. I see life as black and white, right and wrong. I try not do anything wrong to hurt people, so when I do and need to apologize, it is harder to forgive myself than others.”

“When love hurts do you find that you blame God?” I asked.

Kyle said, “I am an external processor. When love hurts for me, I need to talk to people about it. I need to “re-hash” situations verbally until God helps me make some “sense” of them. It may be tremendously frustrating to others; but it’s something I need to sort through inside myself. My wife processes internally, so I can stress her out with my verbal processing. I have a guy friend that I verbally process with. That helps.”

Lisa said, “I am an internal processor. When love hurts my reaction is not to blame God but to process. People hurt people because we are hurt people. We do something to hurt another person and that happens to us. I ask God to help me forgive, heal and move on as quickly as possible. Most times it seems to be a process and the older I get the more I realize that time does help heal a wound.”

I asked, “What would you say to a single person who is currently struggling with a past hurtful relationship?”

Kyle said, “I have no advice other than get involved in a small group at a church and find someone who you can call at 10pm when you’re tempted to call your ex and blab your face off to. Without that, it’s lonely. God works in the midst of pain; but you have to have a lot of people in your life to heal from a break-up like that.”

Lisa said, “If a relationship has ended, the only option is to move forward. This doesn’t mean you can’t stay in your pajamas for a week and not put on make-up, but at some point you will have to decide to move forward. This may require moving, getting a new job, finding a new church and/or new friends. It is about taking it one day at a time and making one healthy decision after another.”

“Do you feel sexual sin is possible to overcome? Do you find it’s easier to be single or married?”

Kyle said, “I think you can grow in it; but a lot of the issues stem from childhood. People get stuck in sexual sin and wonder why they can’t get out; but they don’t want to address the root issue. Accountability is good, counseling is good, but honesty is the BEST. You can be involved in all these things and not be honest about it and never change. Yes. It’s possible to overcome it; but the person has to want to change. It’s the GORILLA in the room for many of us.”

Lisa said, “Healing isn’t going to happen in one counseling session, but it is possible. It is hard to compare singleness to marriage. Every season of life can be easy or hard. In some ways singleness is easier, but in other ways marriage is easier. Once you get married, you never have to worry about going on a first date, but you have to know you committed to going on a date for the rest of your life with the same person.”

“How do you think love can change the world?” I asked.

Kyle said, “I think a person’s story and a couple’s story can make a difference in someone’s life. Sharing about the love of God through our story is a lost art.”

Lisa said, “Love starts with us as individuals then can be as a couple, and then as a family to love people unconditionally as best as we can. If we’re all other’s minded then it can make a difference in the place God has us.”

To listen to more of Kyle and Lisa’s story please click here or watch the video below. What’s your story?

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What's Your Story – Bruce & Heather

[Guest post by Bruce & Heather] – Life had been going along just fine until our Sunday afternoon drives to a Starbucks near downtown started messing with us.

The trip was our way of ending a hectic Sunday of multiple church services with something fun. Our drives into the city started out as a way to relax, but over time, something significant happened.

As we drove through the city, we began to notice that people’s needs were quite different from those of folks in the suburbs. We were confronted with homelessness, low- income housing, unemployment, and poorly rated schools. Often we would see groups of young adults sitting in parks or other public places, wasting away their day.

Do they have jobs? Has anyone encouraged them to finish school? Do they know they have been created for a purpose—that they have something of value to contribute to the world?

We realized that the people we were seeing were full of untapped potential.

As we drove home and through the iron gates to our community each week, we couldn’t shake the disparity between the two worlds. Ours was so comfortable, and just minutes away from our backyard was a city full of needs. How had we failed to notice? Why had we failed to be generous to fellow image bearers in need?

Over the course of the year, we realized something about ourselves.

We were addicted to comfort.

Before our Sunday afternoon drives, it was easy to fill our every whim and pass it off as a need. But once confronted with the realities of other people’s lives and the difficulties they face, it became harder for us to purchase another Hugo Boss shirt or another designer handbag.

The war in our hearts and minds was not to be quieted until the day we got an unexpected phone call.

A dying church in the city called Bruce to ask him to become their pastor. The church had one year to live before the lights would be turned off and the doors shut. If this happened, it would communicate to thousands of people that there is no life or hope to be found in the church. Suddenly, the previous year and our growing unease all made sense.

Our story was in need of a rewrite, but not because it was a bad story. Quite the opposite. We were in a good story, but God wanted something more for us.

We said goodbye to a contract on a McMansion dream house. We traded ministry and friends at a large church to rebirth a dying church as a new church plant. In the worst economy in our lifetimes, we went from a great salary to no salary. We are learning to live with less so that those with less can live with more, and God is exchanging a good story for an even better one.

You know every good story has a back-story–those things that happen beneath the water line that we don’t see until after the fact. 

Almost two years prior, God placed in our hearts the idea of writing a book.

We wrote nights, weekends, and on vacations. Our first two book proposals were turned down. But we continued to write. We were so convinced that God wanted us to write that we decided to finish the book even if no publisher thought it worthy of publication. At the beginning of 2010, we made one last pitch to NavPress.

For months we heard nothing.

In August of 2010, we resigned our comfortable life and planted Christ Fellowship Tampa. Some did not understand our decision.

A few even told us, we were “committing ministry suicide.”

But we could not shake the feeling that what God was doing was much bigger than we could see or understand. Three days later, NavPress came calling. It had been so long since we had submitted our book proposal that we actually thought they had forgotten about us. They wanted to publish our book!

It is our hope that ReWritten: Exchanging Your Story for God’s Story will inspire you to live the story God has for you. What’s your story?

To win a copy of ReWritten, please leave a comment on this blog or purchase a copy for yourself on Amazon.

Bruce & Heather Moore made the most extreme decision of their lives by leaving a large suburb church to rebirth a dying church with one year to live. They have seen the radical transformation of a church and the stories of countless lives rewritten. Bruce serves as Senior Pastor at Christ Fellowship Tampa and they have a very active preschooler.

 

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What's Your Story – Ashley

[Guest Post by Ashley] I always had a close relationship with God, and felt I could always lean on Him.

In high school, I got a job at a leather store in the mall. I was a trainer on the football team and fell head over heels for popular guy on the team. I had my whole life planned out. I wanted to be a stay at home mom and be an active part of a church.

I knew I wanted to save myself for marriage, but I started to drift from God. He wasn’t into going to church or praying. I ended up dating him and we had a child born out of wedlock. We were engaged for about three years.

I wanted to join a church that I had been visiting, so I went down to the altar and spoke with a deacon. A few days later, I got a call from the membership Pastor at the church. He invited us into his office for a meeting. He advised that the church wouldn’t allow me to become a member unless we were married. I was embarrassed and ashamed.

I didn’t go back to church for almost 2 months when I finally talked him into getting married so I could be a part of that church.  

We got married, and things were already headed down hill. I had been a stay at home mom and recently had a got a part time job at a local retail store. He had started gambling and taking pain pills on top of his marijuana addiction. His six figure income supported his habits. The days continued to get worse.

He would come home late at night drunk and had been spending time after work at bars and strip clubs. I became depressed. I felt ugly on the inside and the outside.

Why wasn’t I beautiful anymore?  

Why didn’t he want to spend time with me?  

One night in our kitchen, I prayed over him as he was trying to crush a pill to snort. He was so angry that I put my hand over a line of pills that he had crushed, then he put me in a headlock that took me to the floor. I pleaded for him to let me go…He snorted the pill in front of me off the kitchen counter.

I was devastated.  

He took off to the bedroom and said he was leaving. I begged him to stay and talk.

He pulled out a gun and put it to my head and pushed me to the floor.

He yelled some profanities and took off out the door. I opened the door and yelled that I was calling the police. He came back up the steps with the gun and told me he was going to kill me. I kept locking the door as he was unlocking with his key. I prayed for God to please let me survive. I made it, and so did my son. It was a miracle that he slept through all the commotion.

I didn’t leave the marriage.

I thought I was doing the right thing. He would tell me that I had broken my vows because I was trying to leave him while he was sick (drugs were making him sick), and that I had promised to love him in sickness and in health.

At this point, I had taken on a job with a good company and could support myself and my son. My brother was very close to me, and he had been staying the night with us a lot and he could keep the arguments down at the house. I never told him about what he had done to me, but he knew something was up.

A few months after the gun incident, we took my son to a baseball game and came home to find my brother had passed away in his sleep on my couch.  

My three year old son and I had found him. This was the most devastating thing that has ever happened to me.

I wanted to know where God was and why was He letting this happen to me?

I tried counseling and buying books on how to save your marriage. It was the end.

He didn’t want to be a part of our lives.  

Drugs was his life.  

I had been reading in Job and all the trials he experienced. This is where I gained my strength and renewed my trust in the Lord. I attended Celebrate Recovery at my church, where I learned how to deal with my codependent nature. God had given me little signs in the form of hearts, that made me realize that He was beside me each step of the way.

I decided I needed to divorce.

My son and I had moved in with my parents. I reconnected with my boss from the leather store, and we began dating. We both were single parents with ex spouses who didn’t seem to care about anyone but themselves. We both had a strong Christian background. He proposed to me last year and we ended up marrying a few months later. May 14th is our one year anniversary!!

I can say that I am thankful for the trials that I went through to make it where I am today.

I have a wonderful, loving husband that prays with me and keeps me positive. He is a great father figure to my son. He works hard every day to provide for all of us. I stayed true to God during all my sufferings, and He comforted me. He blessed me with the greatest husband ever. I cannot wait to bow at His feet and thank Him for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me.  My best advice is to keep holding onto your faith when everything else is falling apart. What’s your story?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

Ashley is a 28 year old mom of an 8 year old, and a step mom to a 15 year old. I enjoy Bible study and love spending an immense amount of time with my husband and kids. Over the past year, I have learned a lot about marriage. I now understand why it is important to be married to someone with the same beliefs. It is also an amazing feeling when you spouse prays for you. Connect with Ashley on Twitter.

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Singleness Is NOT A Disease

[Guest Post] American culture values independence.

Somewhere between my twenty-fifth and twenty-seventh birthdays, my status as a single man in the church downgraded from laudable to questionable. People stopped celebrating my singleness as a gift affording me undivided focus on performing God’s will (see I Corinthians 7) and began seeing it as a problem. They also began analyzing why I had failed to solve it. The message was clear: My “malady” of being single was somehow my fault.

It wasn’t anything I did.

It was what I didn’t do enough of.

I didn’t do enough to prove my independence.

American men who cannot demonstrate enough independence begin to feel weak and undesirable. Once we hit twenty-five, any failure to become fully independent becomes pronounced—especially for men in the church.

Unless you are able to buy a house and afford to live in it by yourself, you might as well wear a sign on you that says, “Not suitable for marriage.”

At twenty-five, I was working my way through graduate school, driving a car that was held together by prayer, and living with a gracious family from my church. I was anything but independent, and I felt like a total failure. Then I visited Argentina the summer before my last year of graduate school.

In Argentina, all my presumptions about independence and manhood were challenged. I noticed how many of the single men or women lived with their families well into their twenties and thirties. They simply didn’t value independence the way I did.

The experience caused me to reexamine what the Bible has to say about independence.

I found out that God doesn’t like it nearly as much as his American children do. He’s into something quite different: interdependence. Why? Because it’s a reflection of his own mutually dependent, three-gods-in-one, nature. As early on as Genesis 2:18, God tells us it’s not good for a man to be alone (and lest you ladies think that doesn’t apply to you, the word for “man” here can also be translated as “human”). In Psalm 68:6, God tells us that he sets the solitary in families. In I Corinthians 12, we are given a lovely metaphor of the church as a body that can’t function unless each part works interdependently. Through scripture, the value on interdependence is upheld as God’s best for us all.

Independence can get ugly.

It promotes loneliness and teaches us to judge those who can’t make it on their own. It teaches us to never ask for help for fear we’ll appear weak. It prevents us from receiving God’s blessings that come through others. In contrast, interdependence is beautiful. It keeps us from staying lonely and builds compassion into our hearts.

When I learned to embrace interdependence as the cultural value of God’s kingdom, much of my frustration as an “old” single man faded away.

It didn’t change the fact that I was single.

It didn’t change how people treated me.

But it did change me.

So where does that leave you? In case you didn’t know, singleness is not a disease.

Are you still striving after independence or have you embraced the kingdom value of interdependence? Do you even know where to start? Lest I leave you empty-handed, let me offer you some parting suggestions:

+Commit to a small group. Almost every church has them these days. Some churches are basically nothing more than networked small groups. As nice as Sunday morning worship services are, you can’t really experience interdependence in larger groups.

+Live in community, not alone. Remember that God sets the solitary in families. This doesn’t mean you should move back in with Mom and Dad, but you should consider finding people to occupy your extra rooms or seek to occupy someone else’s empty room.

+Borrow stuff (and share it, too). Have you ever wasted money on purchasing something you needed to use only once? Could you have borrowed that item from a friend? Independently minded people don’t even think to ask others about borrowing their stuff, and they don’t like lending it. That’s a far cry from the fine folks in Acts 4:32 who “had everything in common.”

+Become a people gatherer. Host events that promote interaction: Bible studies, potlucks, book clubs, game nights, etc. And don’t just invite your single friends. Married people need interdependence, too.

Vinnie Kinsella is in his early thirties and single, which makes him the male equivalent of a spinster by many churches’ standards. He works in the book publishing industry as a book editor and a consultant to independent publishers. He also teaches editing workshops and college classes in and around Portland, Oregon. If you ask him what he feels God has called him to do, he’ll look you square in the eye and say he’s already doing it.

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Permission For Peace

Sometimes, you need to give yourself permission for peace. 

I’m letting you know right now this post is going to rock your world. I may get vulgar and you might not like it.

But that’s what we do when we transition. Isn’t it?

We get rude.

In your face.

At first we think it’s our right. We were the ones wronged.

What happens when that apology we’re waiting for never comes?

I can’t tell you how frustrated life’s challenges have been in my life to the point where I refused to stay silent–and I’m the one who got burned. What the?

#1. Like that time my former coworker tried to force himself on me and didn’t stop when I said no–and I’m the one who got in trouble at work for reporting him.
#2. Like that time my roommates were so messy that I paid double rent just to move out immediately–and I had to leave the church we all attended because it was so awkward.
#3. Like that time my coworker acted inappropriately towards our boss at a Christian company–and I quit my job and moved back in with my parents.
#4. Like that time my guy friend acted like he liked me and then started dating someone else–the only girl I confided in about him.

One of my favorite movies is “The Wedding Date.” Debra Messing’s character is told that she has the exact love life she wants. Her face says it all. “You THINK I want to be this unhappy and miserable?” Well, yeah!

That taught me a lesson or two.

Just because I felt in the right, didn’t give me permission to give others the middle finger. That is when I needed peace the most.

“There will be times when we have to defend ourselves. When those times occur, let’s be sure we don’t confuse our job description with God’s job description. He is the consuming fire; we are not” (One Year Alone with God, Ava Pennington).

Going back to #1. After I quit my job God brought me into a place of abundance. Because that experience was so humiliating I ended up writing again. I started blogging. Most of the pages to Faithbook of Jesus, my first book, were from those few years of asking God where the heck was he was.

Going back to #2. God restored my relationships, although not to the point where they were–but it gave me permission to find a roommate that suited my needs at the moment. I wrote Faithbook of Jesus there, and I couldn’t have done it without my roommate.

Going back to #3. I am only responsible for my actions. I am only responsible for my actions. It took me months of therapy, disability classes, and anxiety meds for me to see that I was the one in error. God wanted me at that moment in time to leave room for faith and start writing full time as my ministry.

Going back to #4. I am not proud of how I handled that situation at all. It was the first time that I had the guts to give someone piece of my mind–to their faces. Still, I felt awful for my actions. After I apologized and calmed down, God used their prayers to bring the most amazing man into my life almost immediately–my husband.

Often times when God wants to transition our lives is when we’re most vulnerable to attacks of the enemy.

Satan knows how to push our buttons.

He knows our weaknesses.

God is patient and waits for us.

If you’re in the middle of transition and struggling with playing the blame game, here is a chart to keep you on the right path for peace.

Common Signs of Bitterness

1. Gossip and Slander. “See to it that no one comes short to the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled…” (Hebrews 12:15-17)

2. Ungrateful and Complaining. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…” (Philippians 2:14)

3. Judges Motives. “Therefore do not go on passing judgement before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” (1 Corinthians 4:5, emphasis added)

4. Self-Centered. “…do not merely look out for your own personal interests…” (Philippians 2:4)

5. Excessive Sorrow. “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart” (John 16:6)

6. Vengeful. “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone…Never take your own personal revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God…” (Romans 12:17, 19)

7. Brooding. “Love does not take into account a wrong suffered” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

8. Loss of Joy. “And I shall delight in Thy commandments which I love” (Psalm 119:47).

9. A Critical, Judgmental Attitude. “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). (Taken from The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace)

The next time you find yourself in a rough transition remember there is always room for peace.

Read Permission to Transition, Part I.

[Picture taken by Nathan Colwell]

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Permission To Transition

Sometimes, you need to give yourself permission to transition.

Why?

Because no one else can do it for you.

This past week has been the most amazing spiritual high ever and I feel I may never come down. It’s not an emotional high, but the benefits of walking obediently.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a confession. That I was going to take the rest of the year off from traveling, speaking, and writing my next book.

It’s so weird. Since then God has blessed me even more that I can hardly stand it!

I can’t help but rejoice that the Lord reigns in my life–and I pray yours as well. Those feelings of depression and despair are leaving because the King of King’s has arrived. Here are a few highlights of my week:

1. Reunited with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in years. God used her mightily in my life many years ago to show me that my writing would one day bring people to Christ! Her friendship has given me the permission to transition once again.

2. Attended The Voice of the Martyrs Regional Conference Bound With Them. The voices of those who are and were persecuted have echoed in my heart since that I find myself waking out of the sleep that is American Christianity.

3. Marc and I visited a new church the past two weeks called The Gathering Place. The  pastor preached on Exodus 33-34, which was the passage of Scripture God used to reveal to me two weeks ago that I should take the rest of the year off.

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16)

When we don’t have His Presence, we have nothing to separate us from anyone else or every other religion.

Confirmation after confirmation this week showed me one thing:

Give yourself permission to transition

When I met with my former friend, I wasn’t expecting her to be in the same spot I was a few years ago when I quit my job. I wanted nothing more than to encourage her to keep going, and yet I realized that God has new things in store for me too–even now as I rest in Him (Isaiah 43:19)!

Transition Doesn’t Always Equal Bad Changes

God has continually been surprising me with new realities.

Transition brings change, yes.

But it’s not always bad.

For instance, after I quit my job Harvest House picked up Not Another Dating Book, and I met my husband Marc. Hello? Sometimes, it’s all I can do to keep up with His Spirit (Amen?). I think the place where I’m at is the best life is and is going to get.

But it’s not.

God has more.

More of His presence.

More of His blessings.

Today, I am giving you the permission to transition. The kind of permission I was waiting so desperately when I quit my job. You might not have someone telling you what to do or that it’s all going to work out–but actually, you do. His name is Jesus and He is waiting for you to come to Him.

Friend, if you are in the midst of a job, relationship, or transition of any kind–I encourage you to check out the promises of God.

Cling to them.

Hold fast.

Hope is real, and He will not let you go even for a second.

If you find anything lingering in your heart squash it for the idol that it is. Smash anything that sets itself up between you and God. Go with God.

Here is something I read this week that changed my life–and I hope it changes yours.

“Recently I heard someone say, ‘God has given me a heart to pastor a church.’ What he meant was he had a desire to become a pastor. Certainly, to pastor a church is a good desire. As I walked away, I prayed that someday God will grant him the ‘desire of his heart‘ (Psalms 37:4). However, his desire to pastor is only as good as his willingness to wait on God’s timing…If he is not content to wait on God, if he is miserable and sins as a result, then his heart’s desire is not set on the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, his desire has become an idol (Ezekiel 14:1-11) or a lust (1 John 2:15-17; 5:21)” (The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace, page 59).

Watch my video log below and leave room for faith.

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Start A Singles Ministry

Today, my post entitled Is Your Church A Safe Place For Singles went live on CATALYST blog. I talk about a favorite church, and how it encouraged me to lead regardless of my relationship status.

Even though I am now married, I am encouraged myself as we try our new churches to find the right one for us.

If you’re a pastor or a small group leader here is a great way to jump start or restart a 20’s ministry at you church. Here’s how…

Singles need a home. Here’s how to start a singles ministry at your church.

Create a welcoming environment.
Young adults are in a state of constant transition. They are searching for a place to belong. Be welcoming and consistent. Build authentic community in a safe place, such as a home, coffee house, or a room at the church–and they will attend.

Will the right leader please step forward?
Your church may not have the financial resources to employ a full-time pastor, but there is still hope! Make sure the leader or leaders understand singles are not looking for another sermon or to be told what to do. They just want someone to listen to them.

Consider asking a pastor on staff, an elder, or lead volunteer to organize a monthly or bi-weekly outing. Then post dates and times on social media or via email.

Give them something to do.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a small church of thirty-five or thirty-five thousand, as long as singles feel there is a place for them at your church, they’ll show up and keep showing up (like it or not)! They need to feel needed. Give them a cause. Churches that invest in their singles see them stick around when they marry and have families of their own.

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage…
Encourage singles that they are not are second-class citizens. Keep an open door when they struggle to find purpose, heal a broken heart, or have a hard time finding a job. Those who are encouraged, encourage others. That is the kind of church environment that creates healthy disciples.

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20-somethings need a home

In today’s economy it’s pretty rare for a 20-something to own their own home. Especially in California. At the very least it’s even more rare to live in a stable living environment (that’s not their parents).

A safe place.

Tonight, after leading another week of the Summer Book Study it hit me.

20-somethings need a home.

My friend Summer’s graciously allowed us to meet in her home the past three weeks, and it’s fostered so much more than a Panera or a Starbucks ever could.

Why?

Because there’s less people.

Less distraction.

Less noise.

No interference.

You get the picture.

Remember those drawings we used to make when we were a kid of a house? It’s like that.

We need a place to belong.

To feel at home.

A place to share our deepest, darkest fears…usually stemming back from our childhood. It’s super painful and if not dealt with in a safe environment…one might never share.

Or find help.

This group that I’m leading this summer was totally impromptu. It wasn’t affiliated with a church. I didn’t ask for a pastor’s permission.

I just did.

I asked around who wanted to be involved and those who came, came.

“You get what you put into it” is our motto.

And you know what? It’s refreshing. Those who are committed show up. On time. Every week.

I love it.

So much.

If you’re wondering how to lead young adults at your church…the best place to start is in a home. It doesn’t even have to be official.

“You build it and they will come” is your motto.

Over the past three years I’ve had the privilege of leading discussions, small groups, spoken at conferences, attended conferences, launched and re-launched a 20-somethings ministry at North Coast Church in Vista, CA…and let me tell you…it’s rough.

Once you think you’re building any sort of momentum it changes.

Someone leaves.

Moves.

Quits.

Marries.

Falls away.

Whatever.

That’s why I think the importance of building a Christ centered community starts in the home. It’s what my parents taught me from such a young age. Not one night has gone by in the Johnson household where dinner wasn’t being served. Together.

In community.

That’s why I take such great responsibility in finding a tool that will work with an age group that is always (and will always be–for that matter) in such great transition.

So here’s where you come in.

Suggest meeting together.

Find a home.

Meet.

Keep meeting.

The end.

Dear Jesus,

Thank you God for the opportunity to continue to lead my generation and be a facilitator. Wake up those who are capable of leading and provide a home for those who are willing to host. Amen.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11, NIV).

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Called to the Altar

When I say the words: promise, dream, and destiny, what comes to mind?

Are you excited?

Are you afraid?

My gut reaction is JOY and lots of it. But if I think about it too long, my day dreams turn into fear and anxiety.

Why? Because this is me we’re talking about. I am fearfully [literally] and wonderfully made.

I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I don’t trust God with my emotions. I let them overcome me and I run.

I mean, I had waited and prayed for a church like this for three years. Don’t get me wrong, I love my church in North County – North Coast Church. It’s just that it’s mega!!! HUGE. Even if you’re serving and leading a small group [like I am], I could go to any service and maybe know three people max!!!

It was nice when I needed to rest for a while. But now that God’s been singling me out and making my heart burn for people again–I can’t hide! I must go.

So I went.

To All People’s Church in San Diego last Sunday. I couldn’t wait to finally go to a church that had time for prayer in the front.

I knew I felt called to the altar, and when I went up for prayer the words that were spoken over me made me ball my freakin‘ eyes out.

I mean, how did she know? [The Holy Spirit].

She prayed destiny.

Promise.

Dreams.

“I was born to fly.”

She said that I’m in a waiting period.

God’s promises and dreams that He gave can be trusted. He won’t put me to shame!!

Rest in His intimacy.

Immanuel, God is with me.

God will fulfill His promises for me.

I felt this was appropriate to share because prayer is one of the greatest forms of communication we have with our Abba Father. Any time we’re excited or afraid we can run to Him with our arms stretched out and say “daddy daddy!”

“Our lives are in his hands,
and he keeps our feet from stumbling.
You have tested us, O God;
you have purified us like silver.
You captured us in your net
and laid the burden of slavery on our backs.
Then you put a leader over us.
We went through fire and flood,
but you brought us to a place of great abundance (Psalm 66:9-12, NLT).

Dear Abba Daddy,

The exciting part is moving. The hard part is waiting. God give us the strength to endure Your abundant blessings today.We boldly approach your throne to find the grace and confidence that we’ve been missing. Thanks for allowing us, your children to come to you and not be ashamed. Thank You for always taking care of our needs. We love you, we need you, we want you in our lives! Amen

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