For Everything There is A Season

Have I mentioned lately how much I love and appreciate Summit Church — the pastors, their families, the elders, life group leaders (Kevin and Carolyn), etc.? Brian and I are very blessed to be a part of this church family. One blessing we’ve discovered since joining Summit is one we never expected to find and that is the ability to “do life” again with friends from a former church — but that’s exactly what’s happened — and continues to happen!

This particular blessing kicked into high gear Sunday morning when Sue Johnson and her husband, Paul, visited Summit for the first time. I’d not seen them since we left our former church in 2008. It was a sweet reunion on many levels.

As the service began, I smiled as I noticed Sue sitting next to Susan B. and waving at Jared G. in the sound booth. Both Susan and Jared were also members of our former church and are now current members at Summit.

Watching everyone wave and exchange hugs after a four year separation immediately transported me back to the time when the four of us (Sue, Susan, Jared, and myself) served together on the design team, alongside the teaching and worship pastors. For years, we gathered weekly in Steve’s office to pray, “design”, and execute upcoming teaching series in creative and meaningful ways. It was the highlight of my week. 

So, yes, I smiled on the outside at the sight of my friends together again. On the inside, however, was a twinge of pain as I recalled “what used to be.” 

But before the twinge had the opportunity to become a full-fledged ache, God reminded me of how He is using those past experiences to benefit His purposes in and through my life today.

Sadness turned into gratitude.
And gratitude melted into praise. 

For everything there is a season.  

For everything there is a season, 
and a time for every matter under heaven. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Sunday Snippets on Monday

Summit’s series on sharing our grace stories continued this week. Jason’s voice may have faltered a bit but his message did not.

Snippets follow, but I encourage you to listen to the sermon in its entirety when it’s posted Tuesday/Wednesday.


Jason began by reminding us that there are many doomsday people out there but we’re to remember that nothing thwarts God’s plans. Nothing! (Job 42:2) We are not to put our hope in the wrong kingdom. 

Luke 10:1-20

  • To follow Jesus means to be on His mission, with His message, and the right motivation. We now have a church culture focused on me, my issues, my needs.
  • Jesus says to His followers: I’ve given you a story of grace and there are needs out there that only you can meet. You’ve been sent. You’re on a mission with a message. Your grace story matters.
  • Don’t rejoice in your ministry or significance. If you rejoice in anything you do, you’ll end up disappointed. Everything we say and do should be Gospel motivated. 
  • The Gospel is the love you’ve been searching for. 

Sharing snippets from such a powerful sermon is a challenge, to say the least. I hope you’ll stop by for the entire sermon on Summit’s site. 

Prepare to be blessed!


Sunday Snippets: Your Grace Story

It’s great to be sharing snippets from our Sunday’s service at Summit Upstate once again.

There is one dilemma, however. Jason’s sermon was so riveting that I forgot to take notes for a good part of the service. Yes, it was that good. My snippets-attempt doesn’t do the sermon justice, but here goes:

  • If you know Jesus, you have a grace story unfolding through your life—and each one is unique.

Ways to become more intentional in sharing our own story:

  • Pray. When’s the last time we prayed for someone lost without Christ? 
  • Cultivate friendships with people who don’t know Jesus. Live intentionally. Watch to see who God will bring across your path today and be prepared to share. 
  • Repeat. Don’t grow weary in well doing. Keep going. After all, God is the one drawing people, not you. 
  • Embrace the uniqueness of your story. Stop wishing you had another person’s grace story!

lot of people say the Church is no longer relevant — that we need to
be hipper or trendier for people to want to come and camp out at the
Church’s door. It’s not about making God “cooler” — it’s about the
Church living intentionally.

arrogant of us to think God has become irrelevant and that it’s our job
to make Him relevant. -Jason Malone (I’d say this is tweet-worthy,
wouldn’t you?)

To hear the sermon in its entirety, please visit Summit’s site. Jason’s sermon should be posted by Tuesday/Wednesday. 

Sunday Snippets – Connecting for the Gospel’s Sake

Some observations from yesterday’s service, preached by Jason Malone, no doubt led by God’s Spirit:

  • When we steward with open hands, we are putting the gospel on display.
  • We believe that doing life with other people that love Jesus Christ — for the sake of those that don’t know Jesus — is essential in our own transformation and living on mission with our God. 
  • Having access to people isn’t the problem, connecting is.
  • It’s not bad to want to go to church to worship, to learn, or to connect, but if our ultimate reason for going to church is about “me” — it’s insufficient. When we treat church like a vendor of services, it is such a limited picture of what God has for His Bride. 
  • God is asking us to connect with others for the sake of other people. The Church has neglected “for the sake of other people”. Why? It’s messy. It will cost us something. It’s a lot of work. But when we cut this off we are usurping God and becoming a spectator, a consumer.
  • Casual connections are good, but they are not life-giving—and we, as the body of Christ cannot settle for less. Why? Because the gospel is at stake. 

When we live in isolation:

  • We lose perspective. We need other wise voices to help bring life into balance.
  • We fear intimacy. If someone knew the “real” us, they would reject us.
  • We become selfish. If our life is defined by or priorities and desires, we become self-centered.
  • We have poor health. 7,000 people over a period of 9 years were observed. Those who were isolated were 3 times more likely to die. Even those who drank and smoke outlasted those who were isolated!

“Our relationship with others is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful—Christian community is the final apologetic.” – Francis Schaeffer

To listen to the sermon in its entirety, visit Summit’s site here. It should be posted by Wednesday.


Sunday Snippets – A Passionate Pursuit

Jason Malone brought this message on Sunday. I believe it to be one of the best he’s ever preached—and that’s saying something! 

mentioned in the past, I try to jot everything down verbatim, but it’s not
always possible. To listen to the sermon in its entirety, I invite you
to visit Summit’s site.

  • Our heavenly Father doesn’t desire a casual, courteous, respectful-based-on-a-holiday or sitting-in-the-building-nicely-dressed type of relationship with His people.
  • God desires an intimate relationship.

Revelation 3: 20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

  • In speaking to believers here, we’re introduced to the concept that our God, with all His power and ability, says He will not force us to have an intimate relationship with Him.
  • Many times we opt for religion instead of a relationship because we can treat God with respect (keeping Him at arms length) without true intimacy (knowing Him).

4 Ways to Pursue Him

  1. We have to give Him some time. Unrushed, unstructured, sitting and talking, listening kind of time. If the full extent of our relationship with Jesus Christ is showing up on Sunday mornings we don’t have a relationship—we have a religion.  
  2. We have to be transparent. Stop working with formulas (Bible reading+church attendance+memorized prayers = successful walk with Christ.) Just talk. We won’t catch our heavenly Father off guard. He already knows when we’re angry, bitter, and ticked off so be honest. We can share all these things without being disrespectful. He desires honest communication. 
  3. We have to obey what He says. Sometimes we avoid #1 because we don’t want to hear what we think He’ll say to us — but when we have a relationship with God, we can trust His best for us and pursue Him because of it.
  4. We have to be willing to grow and learn. Showing up once a week isn’t growing.
  • Jesus says I want you to love Me, not just respect Me.
  • He won’t force the door open – but He will come in and fellowship. It’s not because He can’t get in. It’s that He wants to be invited in.

(I encourage you to set aside 30 minutes this week to take a listen. My notes doesn’t do his sermon justice. Powerful and packed with tweetable truths.)

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