Spring Break Syracuse!?

“Why would you come to Syracuse for your spring break?” We heard this question many times this past week; people living in the city couldn’t understand why we would come from beaches and sunshine to snow and freezing temperatures. Our answer? Because we love Jesus.

Ignite, Summit’s college ministry, strives to saturate the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University with the gospel of Jesus Christ; but we don’t want it to stop with FGCU. Over Spring Break, twenty-one student leaders from Ignite had the opportunity to fly up to New York to be part of the work that God is doing in the city of Syracuse. We worked with Missio Church, and partnered with CRU (at Syracuse University and The University at Buffalo), YoungLife, Restoration Church, Seymour Elementary School, and The Neighborhood Church. 

The elders of Missio Church planted a church in Syracuse because they wanted to be part of the reconciling of that city back to God. They strive to represent the Gospel of Christ to a region where only two percent of the population profess Jesus as their Savior. The hearts of the people are cold towards the gospel and are hostile towards Christians. Missio partners with other ministries and churches to bring the gospel to their circle of accountability which includes several schools, the inner city, and Syracuse University.

To say that this week was amazing would be an understatement, but to say that it was easy would be a lie. We had the blessing to work with YoungLife students in middle school and high school. We walked around the University at Buffalo and Syracuse University, having gospel-centered conversations with students around the campuses. We got to play with children at Seymour Elementary School and spent time at the Neighborhood Church. All of these were amazing opportunities to share the love of Christ with the people of Syracuse and Buffalo, but each experience opened our eyes to the sparsity of the gospel and the brokenness of the people. With the YoungLife students, we saw students that didn’t know the gospel and didn’t see purpose in their life. On the college campuses, we met students that didn’t care if they were going to hell, people who weren’t curious to know whether there was a God or not. At the Neighborhood Church, we saw people hurting for a Savior. But in spite of this, we could see God working.

While we served Syracuse and took part in the reconciliation of the city, God also worked in our hearts. We saw people whose passion and love for Christ was evident in their ministry. We were challenged to spread the gospel in uncomfortable situations and serve the least of these. As we worked together, our love for one another was strengthened. Through the testing of our values and convictions, our faith in God and our passion for Christ’s mission grew.

We experienced a lot this past week, but the greatest experience was being a tool that God could use to reach the people of Syracuse. We look forward to bringing what we learned in Syracuse and applying it here at home on the campus of FGCU. Students in Fort Myers and students in Syracuse are the same: they need to experience the redemptive power of the gospel. Ignite students, we have a mission to serve FGCU from our Holy God. Let’s live it out!

P.S. To our Summit Church Family, whether you are in Ignite or not, you can be a part of the work that is happening on FGCU’s campus. Pray for the students of Ignite. Pray that we have the courage to reach out and the wisdom to know what to say.

-       Abby Bizub and Iggy Fernandez



The Beauty of Surrender

By Jeri-Nichole Kendall


“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh…”                                                                                                                                                     Ezekiel 36:26b

My first night back in Recovery, I remember hearing this promise whispered over me. There was this stirring in my heart, feelings that had not been there in a while. 

I wish I could put to words all the ways the Lord is re-awakening me to his plan for my life through leading worship on Thursday nights. I have learned, once again, the beauty of surrender. The beauty in turning my will and life over to the care of God as I understand him (Step 3). And isn’t that what true worship is? Laying my life down to give God the glory. The calling is not singular for a worship pastor, and it is not only done through music, but in all that we do (Colossians 3).

In my surrender, I have found even though God’s plans are different than mine, they are so much sweeter.


Living Hope Intl


Living Hope Intl

We love our partnership with Living Hope International in Puebla, Mexico. God is using them to change lives through their orphanage, school, church and training center. A couple of weekends ago, they celebrated the opening of a brand new facility in which to train the next generation of leaders in Mexico, and we have the privilege of being a part of that. Thank you to all of you who sponsor children here and for your faithful giving at Summit that goes to support God-glorifying ministries like Living Hope.

Here’s a great testimony from one of their recent graduates.


Graciela Luna

"Thanks to Living Hope I was able to get licensed with a career in finances. You always motivated me to not take my eyes off Jesus. When I look at what we've achieved, I see the power and grace of God, and He is giving these children an education and a future. I'm at a loss for words on how to thank God for changing my life. I thank all who have given to Living Hope International and prayed for this to happen."


Learning what it means to serve


Learning what it means to serve

During my internship, the Lord has taught me a lot about divine patience and surrender. Going into this season, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to learn from it, and what I believed the Lord was going to show me. I knew that I wanted to grow in my skills musically and to effectively put set lists together. Above all, though, I believed that God was going to show me how to lead people in worship. Oh, how wrong I was! While the Lord has definitely given me a gift of worship and leadership, I was looking at my role in the wrong way. God, in His patience, began to show me a whole new side of worship and He used the Summit worship staff to do this.


"When I surrender those times of worship over to God, and allow Him to do what He wants with it, He is most glorified!

I clearly remember one day at the office, where Andy asked me what I thought my job was in worship. I told him that as a “worship leader” it was my role to lead others into worship. What he told me that day really impacted how I now look at my calling. Andy explained to me that my role was less about leading and more about being a curator. A curator is someone employed at a museum or exhibit that knows the art pieces well and can skillfully place them in the best sequence or arrangement. But you never see the curator! Their job is behind the scenes. When I looked at my role from this perspective, I realized the beauty and humility of serving. By seeking the Lord, knowing His heart, and being teachable in what He is doing in me and my community I am able to curate a space for fellow believers to worship the Lord. It’s not my job to lead them into it, frankly the Lord doesn’t need me to.  When I surrender those times of worship over to God, and allow Him to do what He wants with it, He is most glorified!

- Kaitlin Connor




How a dental visit is changing my heart.


By Joe O'Neal

So, the other day I had to visit the dentist for an 8am appointment. Nothing major, routine stuff. Still, hanging at the dentist’s office isn’t my favorite way to start the day.

I thought about how to use that time, figuring maybe I could listen to a podcast and try to disappear to a happy place, far away from the whirring and whining of dental instruments. But I was pretty sure having headphones in would be frowned upon…

Some of you are feeling triggered. I’m sorry about that.

Anyway, I’ll cut to the chase. I had been challenged recently to memorize more scripture in 2018, and not just verses, but whole passages in context; not so much a resolution for the New Year, but a practical discipline to engage in all the time. So, I thought, what better way to get my mind off of my mouth then to focus on memorizing the first few verses of Colossians 3? I opened the Bible App in the waiting room and began reading.

Fast forward and I’m roughly one month and 13 verses into Colossians 3. If that doesn’t sound like much, I agree. It’s a slow process for me. Reading, re-reading. Writing it out. But even though I’m only 13 verses in, it’s already been a rich process and I wanted to share what I’m learning so far in hopes that it would encourage you as well.


1. Memorizing and meditating on scripture remind me of what’s true.

Like a compass that points truth North when everything else spins around, God’s word reminds us of what is true, even when the busyness of life, the noise of the world and the accusations of the enemy seem overwhelming.

There’s a phrase that I keep reflecting on over and over from the very first verse of Colossians 3; “If then you have been raised with Christ..” (Col 3:1) You see, when Christ died, I died. When he rose, I rose. New life is mine, raised with Christ. This is the victory  that is mine in Christ as I learn to “put to death what is earthly in me.” (Col 3:5) What’s true about my identity is that I’m firmly established in Christ, who has accomplished all for me and will now empower me with his own life to become more like him.  Scripture reminds me of what is true.


2. Knowing scripture reveals Christ more fully and increases my intimacy with God.

God’s word keeps me connected to and abiding in Christ. When I see him as the passage describes him, as resurrected King, sitting at the right hand of God above, as the one who has bought me and brought me into relationship with God and who has even now become my very life and guarantees me a future with him; (Col 3:4) when I see him accurately as he is, then I can worship him more deeply and grow in my relationship with him.


3. Committing God’s Word to memory gives language to the Holy Spirit to speak to me in a hundred different situations.

I’m not sure just how many times I’ve had one or more of these verses pop into my head at various times during the day. I can tell you, it’s been a lot. When I need to hear from God, his Spirit speaks his word to me. Words that have helped me resist temptation. Words that have brought me great encouragement when I’ve failed. Words that have reminded me of the glory of Christ and his victory on my behalf. The very words of God, brought to my mind by His Spirit, helping me become more like Christ. 

If you’ve made it this far, let me leave you with an invitation to join me in memorizing a passage of scripture this month. It can be at the Doctor’s office, the school pick-up line, the airport, and a thousand other places.

Maybe you’ll study Colossians 3:1-17 or maybe you’ll choose a different passage, but whatever it is, as you put God’s word into your head, it will filter down to your heart and be expressed daily through your hands as you put the truth into practice. 

Do you want to grow in your intimacy with God and hear his voice? Do you want your life to look differently? Hide God’s word in your heart. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. He will speak to you through it and draw you to himself.



A Safe Place


We recently honored “Sanctity of Life” week by remembering the plight of the unborn and vulnerable child in our services at Summit. While recognizing the rights of the unborn, we also took time to hear the story of a brave woman who lived through the painful experience of abortion and the following shame, fear, and guilt associated with it. Through the graciousness of Christ and the love of God’s community she was able to face the reality of her pain, to embrace the fullness of forgiveness and healing in Christ, and now God uses her story as a testimony of His glory and hope for those men and women who are post-abortive and wondering if there is still enough grace for them. 

The truth is that this year alone 20% of pregnancies will end in abortion (Perspectives in Reproductive and Sexual Health, 2017) and over 50% of those will happen in homes that would self-identify as some form of Christian faith. (Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients in 2014). The reality is that the church has not always been a safe place to confess and seek healing and restoration, and we believe God wants to do a mighty work in this. 

We want to remind everyone that calls Summit Church home that this is a place where we can be honest and open with the pain of our past and present. Whether the guilt of our own choices or the shame of being harmed by another, we want everyone to experience the spiritual and emotional healing that Christ offers through the Gospel. If you or someone you know has experienced the pain of abortion and have lived captive to the self-condemnation and secrecy of shame, we implore you to reach out.

If you are ready to come out of hiding and find the loving embrace of God and his church, please email

If you are ready to come out of hiding and find the loving embrace of God and his church, please email

You are not alone in your struggle, and we long for you to know what many have come to experience as the freedom of a life lived in transparency with Christ and His community.

There is hope. Christ has offered Himself to you and He has created His church to be a community of healing. When you are ready, with love and all sincerity, we encourage you, reach out today. 



Counting...Part 2


By Orlando Cabrera

In my previous post, I referenced how counting helps fuel our gratitude and helps maintain our humility before the Lord. Today I wanted to continue my rambling and offer this encouragement in regards to the importance of counting and its connection to our intimacy with God.  So here is my second exhortation…

#2.  Count on God.

I know what you might be tempted to be thinking at this point…”Really? That’s it?”  That thought is understandable, but let me unpack it a little.  By definition, the word ‘count’ can mean “to rely or depend on someone or something.”  The truth of the matter is that as much as this world and culture celebrate independence, we are dependent people.  There are NO self-made men or women. There are just a bunch of people running around pretending as though they don’t need anyone all the while masking their self-dependence. And like wet paint in a rain storm, it just doesn’t stick.

The beautiful thing about this journey and adventure called faith is that we can count on God to never lead us astray.
— Chuck Swindoll

We as believers in Christ have not been called to a life of independency, or co-dependency but to a life of dependency upon the Lord.  That is why Jesus in John 15 stated that we are to “abide in Him, the true vine, because apart from Him we could do nothing.”  Dependency upon the Lord is a sign of spiritual maturity, vitality and growth.  You see the more we grow in our faith, the more dependent upon God we become. Because we are becoming more convinced of our ongoing need for Him, and that neediness fuels our ongoing pursuit and intimacy with Him.

So take what I just said and compare it to these words from King David in Psalm 63:1

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

David is one dependent dude and it’s awesome. He understands his great need and his need fuels his intimacy. Dependence upon the Lord and counting on him is essential to our spiritual growth!

The Bible is absolutely littered with verses that instruct us to “call” upon the Lord, or in other words “count” on Him; because He is near and He is faithful.  The psalmist, Asaph, wrote in Psalm 50:15 regarding God’s heart for His children, Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me." King David wrote in Psalm 145:18 these words of truth and solace, The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

We also see countless testimonies of God’s children throughout Scripture who declared that their calling, their counting on, or depending upon the Father was not in vain”In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.”  Psalm 18:6

So how is your counting today?  Are you counting on the Lord? Let me encourage you to continue to count on, rely upon and call out to our great God, your Father in Heaven.  He is mighty, loving and faithful and He can and will sustain you.

 “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  Psalm 50:22




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By Orlando Cabrera:

Do you remember when you learned how to count?  If you do that’s great, I sure don’t and probably, until recently, I haven’t even considered how great it is to be able to count.  The counting I am referring to is not the arithmetic related counting, but the spiritual importance of daily counting.

The word count has several meanings…to name the numbers in order, to calculate, to rely or depend on someone or something, to have value or significance, consider.  I would venture to say that counting is quite significant to our spiritual walk and intimacy with God.

Over the next couple of posts I thought I would share some thoughts regarding the important of learning to count, and it’s connection to our walk with the Lord.  I pray these ramblings will be of blessing to you, here’s the first…

#1.  Counting helps fuel our gratitude and helps maintain our humility before the Lord.

It's important that we “count” our blessings; not calculate them, but take in to account what God in His great love and grace has actually bestowed upon your life. Counting our blessings and reflecting upon the goodness of God will draw us to a place of humility and thankfulness. Ingratitude is usually connected to our forgetfulness as much as to our hearts.  If you don’t believe me just think back to the people of Israel that Moses lead out of Egypt through the desert.  Moses continually endured their moaning and groaning because they were a people who quickly forgot all that God had done on their behalf.  In fact, some of Moses' last words to them before he died were “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God…”(Deuteronomy 8:11

We need to remember and we need to count well!  Let your “count” start with Jesus, God’s greatest blessing and then work from there.  When we practice a habitual lifestyle of counting our blessings, we will begin to see that Jesus Christ is everything and that there is enough in that One gift alone to count a long list of blessings that will carry into eternity.  Andrew Murray states that “Thanksgiving will draw our hearts out to God and keep us engaged with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts."  

Consider the words of King David in Psalm 103…

 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” - Psalm 103:1-5

So let me borrow from the words of Johnson Oatman and his old old hymn…           

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,

What blessings do you need to count today?  May it fuel your gratitude for our great God. 



Cindy's Story


Cindy's Story

Coming off the heels of Sanctity of Life Sunday, we continue to be grateful for our partnerships with Verity and the Pregnancy Resource Center.  We want to say once again that if you are post-abortive, there is grace, hope, and healing for you.  We are so grateful for Cindy’s testimony and if you didn’t get a chance to hear it this past weekend, we have the link below.

If you are ready to take a step to find the healing that the Gospel offers, we encourage you to send an email to  A trained expert is ready to receive your email and will help you take that first step toward healing.



Exposing Self-Dependency

Step 1: ADMIT
Exposing Self-Dependency

More exercise, less TV; more family time, less junk food; more calls to loved ones, less time at work; more books, less selfishness. Every year around this time millions of Americans will collectively “resolve” to adopt new lifestyles and abandon old habits. Making a New Year’s resolution has become a normal part of our culture, and, as we know, so has breaking those resolutions.

We are people that become easily distracted and uninterested in our resolutions, because at the end of the day, resolving to do more or become better is exhausting.

Real life hits us, we miss a day here, lose time there, and all of a sudden we are weeks along before we even remember that we made a resolution to begin with! Resolution is exhausting because it depends upon our willingness, our strength, and our dedication.

In Recovery, during the month of January, we will be focusing on Step One that speaks to the nature of our problem, and that is our powerlessness. We will expose the lies of self-dependency and sufficiency for what they really are, traps that lead to disappointment and regret. Instead, we will focus on admitting limitations, resolving rather to be transparent, to be weak, to be vulnerable, and to face our reality with desperation and hope.

This can be a frightening process for many, I mean, it’s much easier to abandon our resolutions when we make them with ourselves… it’s easy to break a promise when I’m the only one that knows about it! For those in Recovery, we will have to face the truth about our need for God, that our own strength has brought us to some pretty dark places and that it can’t possibly be the best answer for a new life and for change. This will take great courage, but the good news is that we are not alone.

Our New Year’s resolution will not be about what we can do, but about what has been done for us. Instead of looking to ways we can change ourselves we will look to the only one with the power to change, and that is Christ. Here at Recovery at Summit you will have a community to support you and encourage you in life change that can be lasting and impactful. This year, if you make a resolution, make it a resolution to give up, to stop the resolutions dependent upon your strength and to start a personal journey of discovering the life that God intended for you. 

Join us on Thursday evenings at 7pm at our University Campus. Find out more at



Disciple-Making (Our Values Part 4)

by Stephen Johnson

This concludes our Distinctive Values blog series. If this is the first post on our Values that you’ve seen, be sure to go back and read the previous posts.

Our fourth value is:

We are committed to seeing people trust Christ, obey Christ and imitate Christ.

One of the most exciting parts of my faith is remembering that God didn’t just save me from something, but he saved me for something. Of course, what he saved me from—my bondage to sin—stirs gratitude and worshipful awe within me. But what I find truly amazing is that he saved me for a purpose—to further his mission to save a people for himself. My part of the mission is clear, articulated many times throughout the Scripture, and clearly stated by Jesus at the end of the book of Matthew: “Go therefore and make disciples...” (Matthew 28:18a).

The charge to make disciples wasn’t a new idea for those close to Jesus. In fact, when he picked the very first disciples, he stated that outcome clearly: “Follow me, and I will make your fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19). Notice, though, that Jesus’ call starts with an invitation to personal discipleship. That’s important. In order to make disciples, you must first be a disciple. Do you love to follow Jesus? Are you a student of God’s Word? Do you long to worship him? Are you filled with gratitude because of his love for you? Does that gratitude drive you to obey his commands?

The second command, the charge to “make fishers of men,” or “make disciples,” can be more troubling. I think that most people feel a little tension when they are directly called to make disciples, and typically struggle with three questions:

1.         Is making disciples really necessary?

2.         What about my plan for my life?

3.         What if I don’t know how?

First, yes, making disciples really is necessary. In Matthew 16, Jesus tells Peter, “I will build my church,” allowing us to rest in the fact that the church’s builder is God. But the method Jesus has chosen to use for the building process is incredible. God uses all Christ’s people to build his church by charging them to make disciples all over the world. It’s not a new design, nor is it unique to the New Testament stories of Jesus, either. At the beginning of the story, in Genesis 12, God tells Abram, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). The blessing that we get to share with the world is the good news that Jesus saves! So yes, it’s necessary, and it’s a privilege.

Maybe you are more prone to ask the second question. That’s totally understandable, because we all have our own ambitions. I ask it often. When I was a kid, I wanted to be the left fielder for the Chicago Cubs (ok, I still dream about it). I planned on wearing #9, and being a mainstay in the heart of the order for a decade or more. Not only that, but I’d parlay my hall of fame baseball career into a successful run into politics. After all, it’s my life, and I get to make the plans. However, part of what makes God’s plan of using his people to make disciples as the primary means of building his church so genius is that anyone, anywhere, with any job can do it! Obviously, I didn’t wind up playing for Cubs, but even if I had, it wouldn’t have exempted me from God’s command to make disciples. God desires for his disciples to leverage where he has placed them so that people in all domains of society have access to the gospel. Following Jesus and making disciples doesn’t rob our plans, it gives them a purpose!

Perhaps the most common sentiment I hear about discipleship, though, is: I don’t know how. I hear it often in my interactions with students at Ignite, Summit’s college ministry. And again, I understand the feeling. My students’ description of discipling relationships often sounds more like a scientific formula than friends who daily walk with Jesus together. But perhaps we’ve been over-complicating things. How good is our God that he doesn’t just save us, and then leave us on our own to figure out life! No, he leads us through shepherding and care. Discipleship is no different. In discipling relationships, Jesus is our perfect model and teacher, the Bible is our perfect resource, and the Holy Spirit is our perfect guide.


Now we come to the critical point—the call to action. What does the command to make disciples mean for us today?

If we are committed to seeing people trust Christ, obey Christ, and imitate Christ, then we must employ a strategy that gives us the best chance of seeing success in those areas. 

So, if we are committed to seeing people trust Christ, we must tell others about Jesus when we have the opportunity. A few weeks ago, I went out to play golf by myself. When I got to the course, I was told that I had to latch on with two other gentlemen if I wanted to play. So, even though I’m not very good, I chose to stick around. It didn’t take long for the conversation to take a religious turn. On the second green, one of my playing partners asked what I did for a living. Talk about a softball. I saw an opportunity to pivot from telling him about my job at the church to asking his thoughts on Jesus, the gospel, and the church. And the best part was that we still had sixteen more holes to play! Those opportunities are available every day. In your going—on the golf course, over lunch, at the grocery store—tell others about Jesus.

If we want to see people obey Christ, we must make sure that they know what Christ says. Perhaps the most important thing that I’ve learned by walking with the new believers at Ignite is that they are new believers. Intimacy with God through reading his Word and praying is a brand new phenomenon to them. Scripture, not my knowledge or voice, is useful for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16b).  My commitment in discipling new believers is to help them get acquainted with the Word of God, to read His promises and commands, and to consistently and lovingly remind them that this Christian faith means regularly setting aside my sinful tendencies to pursue him as my treasure. So in a discipling relationship, what’s the best way to accomplish this? I do it by reading God’s Word and praying, and bringing others with me while I do.

Finally, if we are committed to seeing people imitate Christ, we must challenge them like Jesus challenged us: “go and make disciples.” Whenever I read Paul’s writings, I am amazed by the amount of people he loved, taught, and then sent to do the same. But one relationship sticks out to me more than the others, because I think the words Paul uses to describe it reveal a glimpse of his discipleship mindset. It’s the story of Onesimus, a runaway servant, who Paul discipled while in prison, challenging him to live and look like Christ. And after walking with him and watching him mature, he sent Onesimus back to his master, Philemon, to serve him faithfully—as a multiplying disciple of Christ. The words he uses to describe this sending in Philemon 12 are poignant, “I am sending [Onesimus] back to you, sending my very heart!” In discipling relationships, we must fight back the ease of isolation, and be careful not to neglect the command of Christ to make disciples who, in turn, go and do the same. We must, like Paul, challenge those we disciple and send them out to make disciples for themselves. Make it your aim to empower those you disciple to make disciples who make disciples.

Before I conclude, it’s very important that I point your heart toward the true disciple-maker once more. Whether you are a prolific people person who makes dozens of disciples, or if you disciple a few people over the course of time, remember to give credit where credit is due. In 1 Corinthians 3:6, Paul puts it succinctly, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” 

For more in-depth study, consider the book 'Multiply' by Francis Chan.

Purchase here from Amazon.


Al & Sara Gomez in Nicaragua


Al & Sara Gomez in Nicaragua

We're so grateful for missionary partners like Al and Sara Gomez! The Lord is doing significant work through them in the city of Estelli. People are coming to Christ and being baptized and a new church is forming as they serve and meet the needs of their community. Take a second to be encouraged by God's activity through our partners!


Christmas Outreach Photo Collection


Christmas Outreach Photo Collection

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Christmas outreach program this year by purchasing gifts for families in need! We're praying that these tangible act of love on behalf of Christ will continue to bear fruit!




Missionally-Driven (Our Values Part 3)

This is the third of our four Distinctive Values. 

Our third Distinctive Value is:

by Adam Alexander

Missionally Driven:We are committed to embracing the mission, understanding the demands of the mission, and living out the mission of God.

I love butterflies.  So much so that my boys are always coloring pictures of them for me or shouting for me to look when they see one flutter by on our walks around the neighborhood.  While my love for butterflies may seem a little odd to you, it is rooted in something much more symbolic than just a winged insect.

The reason I love butterflies is because of the picture it seems to imitate of the work of Christ in the gospel.  I recognize that all illustrations break down in some ways, but just stay with me for this one. You see, before a butterfly was a butterfly, it was a caterpillar.  A caterpillar who walked around, just crunching on leaves, with an inability to fly.  Then something miraculous happens.  That caterpillar goes through a transformation and comes out as a new creature, a butterfly on the other side.  This new creation doesn’t need to walk anymore but now because of its transformation can actually fly!  I don’t know about you but when I’ve visited butterfly gardens (yes, they exist and yes, I have been) the butterflies aren’t just walking around.  That wouldn’t make sense.  They were transformed and they were transformed to fly.

That’s how it is connected to us and to this distinctive value.  We were transformed, made new, rescued, and redeemed for a very specific purpose.  And that purpose was to live on mission for the glory of God.  But the problem is that many of us aren’t doing that.  We don’t live driven by the mission of God.  We are butterflies walking around like caterpillars.  And that doesn’t make sense.

Before we can go any further, we must be able to define the mission of God. Let’s break it down as simply as we can, the mission of God is to fill the earth with His glory (Psalm 72:19).  Here at Summit, we define the mission this way: Summit Church exists to glorify God by making disciples who represent the Gospel to every man, woman, and child.

This is what we were made for.  We were made, rescued, and redeemed to be a people that live on mission for the glory of God.  So, what does it really look like when we live missionally-driven?

Let’s take a minute and consider Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 5.  Beginning in verse 17,


17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”


In this passage, Paul lays out a cycle of redemption and it goes like this:

1.         We become a new creature in Christ.

2.         We are given the ministry of reconciliation.

3.         We make an appeal for others to be reconciled.

4.         God does the reconciling.

5.         They become new creatures in Christ.

Guess what happens when we live this cycle of redemption out on a consistent basis wherever we live, work, and play?  THE GLORY OF GOD FILLS THE EARTH!  What incredible news!

Here is the beauty of all this, that God is inviting and using all His people into this missional lifestyle.  It’s not just pastors, elders, missionaries, or church workers…it’s all Christ’s people taking part in the activity of God.  And it is that way, because it is God doing the work.  We are merely earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7) that display the surpassing greatness of the power of God.

So, what does this look like for us today?

First, we embrace the mission.  When I come home from work, my two-year old son Benjamin runs to me and throws his arms around my neck and won’t let go.  This is what it means to embrace.  It means to cling tightly to.  When we understand the work of the Gospel in our own lives (we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone!) the only possible, reasonable response is to live differently as a missional ambassador.

Second, we understand what the mission demands of us.  Peter declares our identity this way, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession…”  But then he tells us why this is our identity, “to proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) It means that we are reconciled to be ministers of reconciliation.  We must daily pick up our cross (Luke9:23), open our mouths (Ephesians 6:19), and make an appeal (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Finally, we live as missional ambassadors.  We go to our neighborhoods, our job sites, our restaurants, our homes, our golf courses, our kids sporting events, our schools…and we go with the purpose of living on mission for the glory of God.  The hope of the Gospel transforms us so that we think different, we live different, and we speak different.  Everything we do, we do for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

I will leave you with a paraphrase of one of my favorite stories in the Bible (if you have never read Isaiah 6:1-8, stop what you are doing and read it now).  The prophet Isaiah has this vision where he enters the throne room of God and immediately recognizes his own depravity in light of the holiness of God and declares, “I deserve to die!”.  And then all the sudden an angel of the Lord flies over, touches his lips, and declares that his sin is forgiven and his iniquities have been taken away.  And then guess what? Isaiah now gets to hang out in the throne room of God!  We don’t know how long, but it was certainly long enough for him to overhear the trinity having a conversation.  The trinity asks these questions, “Who will go for us? Whom shall we send?”.  When Isaiah hears these questions, I imagine that he is beside himself and then he declares (my paraphrase) “Are you kidding me?! You are going to send someone to do your work?!  I deserved to die, yet you gave me life!  Here I am, send me!”

If you know the message Isaiah brought to the nation of Israel, you know it wasn’t pretty.  But for Isaiah the thought of being a missional ambassador outweighed it all!  Oh, how I would pray that would be true for me and true for you…that we would become a people that live out the mission of God by the power of God for the glory of God all the days of our life!



There is Hope









As I sit here in Starbucks sipping on a Grande coffee, I remember back to the months and days that led up to my addiction being exposed.  There were many nights I stared at my computer screen hoping that the next image would bring me relief, but no matter how many images I viewed, none brought me that relief I was looking for. Image after image just seemed to bring more despair and hopelessness until finally I became numb to it all: numb to the pain, numb to my friends, numb to the look in my wife, Jen’s, eyes, but most frightening of all, numb to God’s conviction. I was numb to the voice of the Holy Spirit - that soft, calm voice that ever since my salvation was offering me life, truth, freedom, but maybe most importantly, HOPE.  

Hope was lost on me as a young teenage boy who desperately longed to matter and belong.  At an airport counter in Virginia, I learned there was no return ticket. I would not be coming back home. It was there that I was abandoned physically, emotionally and spiritually by my parents, and I lost hope. 

Hope had been something that I always longed for and would dream about, but it was also something that was covered up by my addiction to lust.  In some sick and twisted way…only the way The Great Deceiver does…he used those images to give me a counterfeit hope. It was a hope that would only last until the high was over. After each high, there was a crash back to reality, and the pain would set in until the numbness took over. 

But it was the Hope that kept me alive.  There were many nights that I would make those empty promises to myself and to God. There were those times with my closest friends that I would tell just enough of my addiction to feel better about myself but never fully tell the truth. There were also those nights that I wanted to die…wishing that something would happen to me the next day to take me out of the pain, but those wishes never came true. I would pray that God would take my addiction away or that I would wake up the next day and the desire to lust would be gone. It never happened.

Then on August 8th, 2008, God answered my prayer for HOPE.  I was finally exposed for who I was and what I had been hiding since I was 13 years old.  It was that morning, through the pain in Jen’s eyes, that God was about to do for me what I could not do for myself. He brought me Hope. That Hope would come through a few dedicated men at a treatment center in Nashville, Tennessee called the Center for Professional Excellence.

Something that I heard very early on in my journey of recovery was that there was Hope for me. It was the next line that took me longer to believe. “The only way to get the Hope was to get the help.” 

The only way to get the Hope was to get the help.

The help came in some very painful ways. Help came through being exposed. Help came through others’ anger. It came through Godly men (the elders of Summit) that willingly fought for me. Help came through the scariest place of all: my family. Not the family I grew up with but from my wife. It came through a church that loved, cared, and supported Jen and myself in our darkest hours. Help came in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous. The help came by hearing two words I had never heard before. “Me too!” Help came in many different ways.

If you are reading this blog and desire Hope, I want you to know this is the whole reason that Recovery at Summit was started almost 8 years ago.  It was started so that others could get the Help they needed. It was started so others could hear those two grace-filled words, “Me too.” It was started so other addicts were not alone.  It was started for all those who long for Hope. 

Know that if you are longing for Hope there is a place for you at Recovery.


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”                                                                                                                           -1 Peter 1:3



God, the greatest giver.


As we come to the end of what has be another blessed year of ministry we are asking those of you who call Summit Church your home to pray with us for a strong close to the year…a close that will actually propel us into 2018 positioned for greater Gospel impact.  As we have stated already 2 Corinthians chapter 8 has been a passage the Lord has laid on our heart in this season.  The Apostle Paul’s words to the church at Corinth in describing the posture and heart of the Macedonians is one that we want to imitate as God’s people.  We want to be a people, a church, that is eager to give, eager to be a part of God’s redemptive mission, and eager to use all that God has entrusted us in a way that brings Him the greatest glory.

But as we consider the words of the Apostle Paul there are a couple of things I would love for us to consider. 

1. God is the greatest giver. 

Any good we do or any giving of any type of resource that has been entrusted to us that we release is merely but a shadow of the Father’s heart.  God has given far and above what any man, woman or child could ever earn or commend themselves for and that is the free gift of eternal life through the person and finished work of Jesus Christ.  God is a great giver.  Through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, God lavishly dispenses His grace and love upon His children.  A love that is unmerited and is eternal.  God is a giver and we are blessed receivers.  So as we posture ourselves with an aim to finish strong, let us do it from hearts filled with gratitude for all that God has given.

2. Never underestimate what God will do through obedient people.

As we respond in obedience to the Lord’s leading we should never underestimate what He can do through that single act of obedience. What we may consider small or insignificant if done in direct obedience to the Lord is actually quite significant and should never be underestimated.  The miracles we desire to see lay in God’s hands, not ours. The accomplishment of any goal or endeavor the church of God may have lay in the good graces of God, not in the might of its people. God desires our obedience for it’s through that very obedience that God releases a grace and move of His Spirit that can only be explained by the work of a mighty God.  So as we press on and as we look forward to what the Lord has before us, let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthian 8; let us be a people eager to give, but let us do so from hearts of gratitude seeking to respond humbly to the great Giver, and let us not for one second think that a single act of obedience could not make a difference.

Before I end this post, consider this one thing, of all the amazing miracles Jesus performed, the only miracle recorded by each of the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John was the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9 & John 6).  Now we cannot say with certainty why it is only this miracle of Jesus that is recorded in each of the Gospels, but I personally wonder if it wasn’t God’s way of reminding us of what can be accomplished when an individual responds in willing obedience to the bidding of the Master.  One boy’s lunch, that was actually deemed insignificant by one of Jesus’ disciples becomes the very offering Jesus lifts up to the Father, blesses, breaks and uses to perform one of His great miracles. 

As we have always asked, we ask again, please seek the Lord with us and whatever He leads you to do, trust Him wholeheartedly and respond in willing obedience, and pray with us that our great God will take our “fishes and loaves” and do something glorious with it.

- Orlando Cabrera

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Eager to Give

By Orlando Cabrera:

Hey Summit Family
As we head into this Thanksgiving Holiday, we as a staff at Summit want to 'Thank You' for your continual faithfulness and partnership in this mission.

As we have been walking through the Book of Philippians I can’t help but draw from the very words the Apostle Paul uses in expressing his thanks to the Philippian church as he writes:

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy because of your partnership in the Gospel…”

We share those same feelings and gratitude to all of you who call Summit your home.  2017 is coming to a fast end and this has been a tremendous year of ministry across all three of our campuses and we praise God for that. We've released a website that looks back on God's activity in our midst, recounting his goodness.


We want to run 'through the tape' as we press towards the end of the year.


 As we look forward to 2018 and all that God may have for us as a church in the new year we fully understand that how we finish 2017 is vitally important.  We want to run 'through the tape' as we press towards the end of the year.

A passage of Scripture that the Lord has impressed on our hearts for this season is 2 Corinthians 8.  These words from the Apostle Paul are a challenge to the church at Corinth to live generously by excelling in their act of giving.  Paul highlights the posture of the church at Macedonia and says they were EAGER TO GIVE and literally begging for the opportunity to join God in His redemptive mission by practicing faithful stewardship.  Paul explains that the Macedonians didn’t do this as a result of their excess but they actually gave out of their poverty and from a state of deep sacrifice. 

One of the outcomes here at Summit that we believe is an outcome for every disciple of Jesus Christ is stewardship of life…faithfully using all that God has entrusted us in a manner that reflects the Father’s heart and character.  We are challenging you, Summit family, to finish this year strong.  As we seek to finish strong there will be some areas of ministry and some Summit partners that will be directly impacted and strengthened for greater Gospel advancement by our individual and collective obedience.

We look forward to sharing with you some more of what we believe God desires to do through these remaining weeks and entering the new year, but for now, thank you again.  God has and God continues to use your obedience and partnership to move this mission forward, so to borrow once again the words of the Apostle Paul…

“Now you should finish what you started.  Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving.  Give in proportion to what you have." 2 Cor. 8:11



Redeeming 'Whatever' - Part 1


By Dave Harvey:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Phil. 4: 8

“Whatever!” Few words capture our culture of contempt more than this prickly exclamation. We hear it often – a students’ eye-rolling response to her teacher’s direction; a church planter’s muttered protest when he’s told no one volunteered for service; a harried moms’ exasperated murmur when her husband says he can’t pick up the kids; a pastor’s heart-reaction to a criticism leveled at his ministry. ‘Whatever’ is a verbal wave of dismissal, the armor of apathy that we slip on—sometimes with only a with a whisper —that shields our heart from the hassle of other people’s agendas and opinions.

‘Whatever’ is the flushing sound of your wants down my mental toilet.

But our words betray our heart (Luke 6:45) and ‘whatever’ is often the traitorous voice. When a root of bitterness breaks ground (Heb. 12:15), it sounds like ‘whatever’. It’s hostility with a harness; a subtle resentment that pouts with irritation; the distant tremors of a heart growing hard. Cynics say ‘whatever’ to convey indifference – a disheartened echo from a soul under protest. When pessimism goes dark, it sighs ‘whatever’ late into the night.

‘Whatever’ may be loud or lazy, strong or subtle, bold or brittle, but it’s cool detachment masks a thousand disillusioned’ slights.

How does God reach us when our heart staggers mindlessly into the grey dusk of ‘whatever’? What can a pastor or church planter do when he’s uncovered a hopeless heart – in himself or others – that hides behind this vacuous word?

God Flips ‘Whatever’

‘Whatever’ is a problem of perception – what do we really see when we survey our world?  Read Phil. 4: 8 again. Now look around again through the eyes of this passage. Has anything changed? As the Author and Source of language, words always bend to God. So in Phil. 4, God flips the story on ‘whatever’.  “Whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, whatever is commendable..” –  it’s a long list. But here ‘whatever’ is aimed in a different direction. It’s the voice of hopeful reflection and attentive consideration. The Bible assumes there is beauty, good, and virtue in the world – look around, do you see any signs?

As the soul coarsens, ‘whatever’ corrupts. We become blind to virtue and deaf to the sound of creation speaking. But God wakes us to another ‘whatever’. But to see it, we must rise and look around.

Excellent things surround us; sublime stuff that’s worthy of praise and just waiting to be detected. Pump up the mental balloon and release it to think. Most of Paul’s verbs are present tense (whatever “is”). God invites us to take stock of reality, not theory. It starts right where you are, in the pain or pleasure of this very moment.

Admittedly, the good ‘whatevers’ are more difficult to reach. There are at first distractions – the white noise of swirling thoughts competing for supremacy. But stay with it. Listen, touch, taste, smell – there is splendor, courage, honor, purity, things that are admirable and praiseworthy. Can you see any of them? Are you able to spot the good?

God Defines ‘Whatever’

There is beauty. The sparkling path of a sunbeam; the hue of an Autumn leaf; the rippling water of a creek as it cascades across glistening stones. Keep looking, there’s much more. Paul said, “Whatever is lovely”. When God ordered creation, lovely was stamped on everything from particles below to the planets overhead. Can you see the splendor? Dewy grass, Spanish moss, stingrays and beach sand, bumble bees pollinating, hummingbirds hanging suspended in midair. Creation reflects glory.

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made”. (Rom. 1: 20)

In a fallen world with powerful forces stirring our appetite for corruption, we must feed on things that are ‘lovely’. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).  What are you feeding on this week? Recently, I stopped on a Facebook post where a fistfight was recorded. It was pretty mild as fights go, and so I lingered there until a little blood was shed. Later that evening, I felt strangely sullied; like I had been defiled in some coarse and understated manner. Though a jawbreaking blow may be at times necessary, violence is not beautiful, nor does it foster the peaceful blessing of God. “Let evil,” prayed David in Psalm 140, “hunt down the violent man speedily!” Evil hunts violence, according to David. When they meet and I sit perched as a spectator, there’s nothing beautiful to see and righteousness is not being fed.

There is common grace. Sin is confined, natural laws upheld, gifts and talents are distributed, God conveys unmerited blessings upon all people.  “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”. (Matt. 5:45) Can you see grace shining through people outside of your church? How about outside of your faith? A soldier defends his homeland, a wealthy woman supports orphans, an accountant courageously stands against his company’s illegalities. There is virtue, honor, justice, commendable acts of conscience – God’s image bursting from fallen creatures. There are things in the world worth perceiving and praising. “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” (Ps. 117: 21)

There is God’s Word. Poignant, pointed, and precious, revealing God’s heart, God’s plan, God’s law and God’s Son. Do you part the pages and look for the treasure? The very words of God lie within – “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). The Scriptures revive the soul, convict the heart, and correct the sinner. If we search for whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable, our Bible is our keystone. If the good ‘whatevers’ are hard to see, ask God to, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law”. (Ps 119:18)

There is Jesus. The Alpha and Omega, and Captain of Our Salvation. The Rose of Sharon, Wonderful Counselor, Redeemer and Eternal Son. He is the Lamb of God who offered Himself as a substitute for our sins. Jesus upheld the law of God. Where Adam failed, Jesus displayed perfect obedience. By becoming the second and last Adam, he succeeded where we faltered. By his obedience, Jesus earned a super-stockpile of righteousness, imputed to us through Christ’s death and resurrection. This makes him the ultimate “Whatever”, fully embodying the perfection of every quality listed in Phil. 4:8. Our Savior is perfectly true, impeccably honorable, inestimably just, blazingly pure, indescribably lovely, and eternally excellent and commendable.

Do you see Jesus this way? I hope so. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to talk about this passage. “It is by beholding the glory of Christ by faith,” said John Owen, “that we are spiritually edified and built up in this world”.

As we behold Jesus, God flips ‘whatever’.

In part 2, we will discover that when Jesus redeems ‘whatever’ for us, it transforms the way we think and the way we live. Don’t miss it!