Ignite Fall Retreat Recap

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Ignite Fall Retreat Recap

Fall Retreat is always one of my favorite times of the year. And this trip was no different! We had the awesome opportunity to take 120 IGNITE students to Deerfield Beach for a time of spiritual refreshment… and beach volleyball, late night dinners at IHOP, and bubble wrap jousting. But most of all, it was incredible to witness God open eyes, transform hearts, and encourage his children through his Word! 

Our speaker for the weekend was Jim Murphy, an elder at Restoration Church, our Xpansion partner, in Buffalo, NY.  And as he spoke from 2 Corinthians 3-5, I was so encouraged and convicted! Over the course of the weekend, we studied the weight of the gospel, why this gospel is worth suffering for, how our future hope is anchored in the gospel, and finally, how we should live as missional ambassadors sharing the light of the gospel in the places where we live, work, and play. 

One way that we shine as lights in a dark world is by sharing our grace story, the story of God’s redemptive story in our own lives. As believers of Jesus, we don’t just believe that Christ can transform us, but since we’ve experienced his transforming power toward us, we believe that he can transform others too! We shine our light by knowing who we were before God wrecked our hearts, falling in love with Jesus through his Word, and living our lives in a way that the world sees that were different. In short, he has made us a new creation and we’re to live that way.

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“Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!”

My favorite part of the weekend, though, were the baptisms! On Sunday morning, after the final session, 7 students were baptized. I was a crying mess the whole time, as they each shared the way God worked in their hearts to save them. Each of them pointed to God’s incredible love and his great grace in their redemption story. And to me, nothing can compare to hearing them proclaim on a public beach, “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior!”

My hope is that after this weekend of experiencing Christ in an intimate way, we walk back onto the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University with a different mindset. Yes, we’re here for an education, and yes, we’re here to make friendships; but most of all, God sent us to FGCU to proclaim that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Thank God that the light of the gospel gives our lives a purpose!

— Courtney Blackmer, IGNITE Intern

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Hurricane Cleanup Gallery

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Gospel-Centered (Our Values Part 2)

By Joe O'Neal:

This is part two of our Distinctive Values blog series. If you missed part one, be sure to go back and read through it.

Our second value is:
Gospel-Centered.

We are committed to embracing the gospel, applying the gospel and proclaiming the gospel.


EMBRACE THE GOSPEL
For a long time, when I thought of the gospel, I mostly thought of the good news that Jesus came and died on the cross for my sins and now offers forgiveness and reconciliation with God through his blood. And this very true, amen. And sadly, it's also where many believers in Christ stop.

But the gospel, the good news of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, is so much bigger and all-inclusive than I had ever imagined. And as I continue to walk with God, it grows bigger and bigger.

When we talk about embracing and applying the gospel at Summit, we mean responding for the first time to the good news of Jesus by placing our faith in Him and turning from our sin. Yes. But we also mean living into that reality and all it entails, every day of our lives. 

You see, the gospel is good news for you today. Right now.


APPLY THE GOSPEL
Regardless of your circumstances, good or bad, the gospel has something truthful to say to you. It tells you how deep the Father’s love for you is. It tells you how in control of all things He is. How gracious and good and kind and merciful He is. How nothing can separate you from Him if you are in Christ. The gospel is good news for all situations. It teaches us to trust, to forgive, to obey, to rejoice, to believe in God afresh and anew. And we need to preach it to ourselves daily. 

This is what we mean when we say ‘applying’ the gospel. Its taking what we know to be true about God, believing His promises, understanding our new identity as sons and daughters who were crucified with Christ and allowing Christ to live His perfect life through us. The gospel truly changes everything. How we feel, how we think…

…and how we speak and act.


PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL
I’m glad God doesn’t leave us where we are. He is continually growing our understanding of who He is, how He works and what His call on our lives is. 

When I used to think about proclaiming the gospel, if I’m honest, it made me uncomfortable and nervous to think about. I’m supposed to walk up to a complete stranger and tell them about how Jesus died on a cross for them because they’re a horrible sinner? Maybe hand them a tract? Now, maybe God calls you to do that and that’s great, but proclaiming the gospel is so much more than just that.

As we begin to understand how to apply the gospel in our own lives and how to preach it to ourselves, we grow in our understanding of how to proclaim it to others as well because we’re now seeing it as good news for all of life. And when we encounter those in need of good news in our every day lives, we have the ability to speak the truth of the gospel into those situations.

I recently had several conversations with a man who had grown up occasionally attending church services. He was a friend of a friend and several of us were just sitting around the dinner table, everyone engaged in various conversations. He told me that he believed that trying his best and being as nice as possible to others would earn him the favor he needed with God. He said he ‘believed in Jesus and God and everything’.  

Here was an open door to have a simple conversation about God’s deep love for us and how he sent Christ who has accomplished on our behalf what we could never do for ourselves. How he fulfills the perfect standard of God for us (good isn’t good enough!), pays the punishment for our sin and offers it all to us for free, by grace, through faith. Amen! 

I remember he looked at me and said he’d never heard that before! Never heard the truth of the gospel explained. I think he was beginning to understand how freeing that would be. And this gospel encounter happened in the course of an everyday event, just sitting around food and drink, talking. The gospel proclaimed. I pray for more opportunities with this man and for the gospel to take root in his heart.


At Summit, we want you to understand first what Christ offers in eternal life through his finished work on the cross. But we also want you to grow in your ability to apply the gospel to all the circumstances of your life, and as you do so and experience joy and freedom, that the natural outflow would be the Spirit of God empowering you to share that with others in your every day life; in the places you live, work and play. So that every man, woman and child would have repeated opportunities to respond to the gospel in the same way you did and are doing.

For more information on embracing, applying and proclaiming the gospel, check out:

 

“Saturate” by Jeff Vandersteldt

Click here for more information and to purchase.

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God-Glorifying (Our Values Part 1)

This is the first of our four Distinctive Values. Stay tuned for short write-ups on the other 3 coming soon.

Our first Distinctive Value is:

GOD-GLORIFYING
by Paul Bush

God Glorifying:
We are committed to knowing God, worshipping God, and being led by God.

I think there are few terms that are used so often and understood so little as ‘the glory of God’. We see the glory of God preached in sermons, we sing about it in worship, and maybe even use it regularly in conversation. 1 Corinthians 10:31 even commands us to “do all to the glory of God”.

But what does that even mean?

One night in the fall of 1999, my life changed forever. I was just 14 years old and very little did I know that one car ride would change the trajectory of my eternity.

My friend had been persistently asking me to go to visit his church on a Wednesday night. I liked my friend and church seemed to be an ok thing so I gave in. On the half hour journey home my friend opened his Bible and started showing me some of his favorite Bible verses about God’s love. Something started happening within me. My heart began to sing to the tune of God’s word. It was unexplainable.

Then there was a pivotal moment my friend looked at me and said some words I will never forget, “Paul – you are either sold out for Jesus or you are just out.” It was in that very moment that my relationship with God became clear. Suddenly, I realized this whole Jesus thing mattered. I mean it really mattered! It mattered more than anything else in the world. It mattered more than anything I had ever heard or imagined.

So what does this have to do with God’s glory? 

The Hebrew word for glory is ‘kabod’. Which actually means ‘weight’. When the Hebrews spoke of God and his glory, one of the things they were trying to communicate is that God mattered. He mattered more than anything. His existence was of the utmost significance. He is the great ‘I AM’. The only one that exists in and of himself. Everything that exists owes its existence to Him. God by himself has his such weightiness and significance which commands the attention and respect of our lives.

You can think of God’s glory like gravity. Gravity is what anchors us to the earth. If you were to hold an apple in your hand and drop it, where does it go? Back to the ground. Why does it do that? Because the earth is so large, it has its own gravitational pull. Without gravity, nothing on our earth would have order. We would all be random floating around, not anchored to solid ground.

The weight of God’s glory is what gives order to the universe and everything in it. Hebrews 1:3 states “he is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature and he upholds the universe by the word of his power”.  Because of who God is – his eternal nature and sovereign power – God must be worshipped. Psalm 19:1 says that even the ‘heavens declare the glory of God’. Everything in this world is designed to give glory to our creator.

Not only do the heaven’s declare the weight and significance of who God is, but our lives should as well. Our lives should be ordered according to the glory of God. Everything we do- our social life, family life, work life – everything should be to the glory of God.

What does God’s glory mean for me?

Ask yourself this question: Does God’s glory give order to my life? If we believe God is to be glorified, then we believe God is weighty. His plan should have weight in our life. There should be much passion in us to see Him glorified in the way we live!

After a hectic day, my wife Karis and I love turning on our favorite show and enjoying a solid half hour of not thinking about anything. One night, I noticed Karis was taking an extra long time to put our 3 year old down. I started to grow impatient because I knew that a longer bed time routine meant less time to watch our favorite show together. Afterwards, Karis told me that my son was asking many questions about Jesus. The small act of having a spiritual conversation with a three year old carried more weight and significance than watching our favorite show. In that moment, God’s glory was what ordered my wife’s night.

Think for a moment – is your life ordered according to the glory of God? Maybe there are certain activities that in the grand scheme of eternity really don’t carry weight. The Apostle Paul was not speaking hyperbole when he said, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.


Practical steps to Glorifying God

That night in my friend’s car was the night I put my faith in Jesus. I believed that I was forgiven and because Jesus was alive, I now could live a life that glorified God. From that point on, my life was ordered with the gravitational pull of God’s glory.

If you want to understand more of what it means to glorify God, look to Jesus. As Hebrews 1:3 says, “he is the radiance of the glory of God”. If you have never trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, make that your first step in glorifying him.

If you already have trusted Christ, I would encourage you to prayerfully examine your life. Is your life ordered according to the glory of God or something else? Our culture is so obsessed with productivity and staying busy. Often times we lose touch with valuable relationships and tasks because of our busyness. As a pastor, I have found that one of the greatest threats to many Christian families is busyness. If Satan cannot get you to do evil, he will often try to distract us from good. I would encourage you to slow down and carve out time to reflect on how God’s glory should give order to your life.


Wrapping It Up - Three Final Factors

I must admit there is much more to glorifying God than what can be fit into a blog. But I would be remiss to point out three important factors to glorifying God. At Summit Church, we believe “God-Glorifying” means knowing God, worshipping God, and being led by God. All three of these areas are important and without each of them one cannot fully understand what it means to glorify him. For further study, I would encourage you to reflect on Psalm 119:105.
It states:

Your word is a lamp unto my feet,
A light unto my path.

As we study God’s word, God’s Spirit shows us how to know him better, worship him more truly, and be led by him wholeheartedly. I would encourage you to order your life around God and start by diving deep into his word. As we seek him in his word, we will find our life becomes more and more defined by God’s glory. 

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Our Mission

This is the beginning of a series of blogs on our Mission, Values, Outcomes and Convictions. Stay tuned for more to come.

OUR MISSION
by Kevin Stacy + Jamin Stinziano

At Summit, we believe that well-defined and consistent language not only helps build culture, but also provides clarity to the mission, vision, and outcomes of Summit Church.  The mission statement of Summit simply states that:

“Summit Church exists to glorify God by making disciples who represent the gospel to every man, woman, and child.”

We believe that this statement clearly communicates the type of church and the type of people God is calling us to be: God-Glorifying, Gospel-Centered, Missionally-Driven, Disciple-Makers. To better understand our mission statement, let’s break the statement down phrase by phrase, and then put it back together.

SUMMIT CHURCH EXISTS TO GLORIFY GOD

Summit Church has always existed for the glory of God. When Summit Church officially launched on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University in September of 2003, the first words spoken came from Psalm 115: “Not to us O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory.” Since the start, our desire for God to be glorified has always been our heart and it will continue to be the heart behind everything that we do. So how will we glorify God?

BY MAKING DISCIPLES

We believe that God will be most glorified in us as we give ourselves over to the call that Christ gave to his followers just before he went back to his Father: Make Disciples. We long to see men, women, and children trust in Christ as their Savior and then see them learn to obey Him as Lord. This is the responsibility of the Church worldwide, and we are committed to obeying Jesus’ mandate as best we know how.

WHO REPRESENT THE GOSPEL

 As we glorify God by making disciples, the outcome of those disciples is that they would be representatives of the gospel in the spaces where they live, work, and play. The gospel is the good news of salvation and transformation. It is our hope that, as followers of Jesus, we would seek to constantly be reminded of the transformative power of the gospel. Jesus ushered in the kingdom of God by living the life we could not live, by dying the death that was rightfully ours, and by being raised from the dead so that we might be brought from death to life! There is no greater news than this and it will continue to be our center! As we are changed by the gospel, it is our hope that we would glorify God by giving ourselves to the mission of God.

TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD.

Missionally-driven people are men, women, and children who understand that they are God’s image bearers. As image bearers, we are called to represent the gospel – that is to speak and act on the delated authority that is ours through Jesus Christ. It is our hope that every man, woman, and child in SWFL would have repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel because God’s people have taken the mission of their God seriously and have represented his salvation and transformation in the spaces where they live, work, and play.

 

SUMMIT CHURCH EXISTS TO GLORIFY GOD BY MAKING DISCIPLES WHO REPRESENT TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD

                  It is our hope that we would be people that give our lives to this type of activity – to be God-glorifying, gospel-centered, missionally-driven, disciple-makers. In John 15:8, Jesus says to his disciples: “By this my Father is glorified that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” He went on to say, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” This is what we’re going after – fruit that abides and does not spoil. We long to be a people that glorify God by making disciples who represent the transformative and restorative power of the gospel to every man, woman, and child.

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The Emorys Transition

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From Jeremy and Sharon Emory

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the Land I will show you” (Gen 12:1)

Abram was faced with a calling where there was no certainty of a destination or a future that was clear.  However, when there is a calling from the Lord we must be obedient and follow.  I have found that many times in my life when God is leading the majority of the time it doesn’t make much sense.  Faith is what leads us in moments like this.  Not in our strength, but in the object of whom our faith is in, Jesus Christ.  There have been seasons in my life when God was calling or leading us to take steps like this.

Seven years ago our family took one of those steps and set out to plant a church in the Gateway Community of Ft Myers with some of our closest friends; Adam and Dana Ponder.  Our heart was to see the Gospel saturate a geography and to see a people on mission together, making disciples, and “being the church” in this community.  As we sat down with local churches, Summit Church came alongside of us with a desire to partner for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.  For me, this was so refreshing to see a church with a heart for partnership and not competition. The heart behind their vision and mission was to work together to see Gospel Saturation in Southwest Florida and to the ends of the earth. 

After a few short meetings with the elders, we felt like God was orchestrating a partnership that would help us reach further, faster.  Sharon and I prayed and we felt like this was God leading and we stepped into a formal partnership to help launch the Gateway Campus.  From the very beginning, conversations of a vision to reach every man, woman and child took root in our hearts.  The heart behind this vision was for this community to have opportunities to hear and respond to the gospel.  It ultimately became our DNA.  “Summit Church exists to glorify God by making disciples that represent the Gospel to every man, woman and child” became a mission we owned, not just a fancy mission statement on a website.    

As we have followed God’s lead these past five and a half years we have seen His continued hand of favor on this expression and multiple lives transformed by the power of the Gospel.  Our prayers were that many would be saved and hundreds would be impacted by God’s grace and mercy. God has done just that! 

One of the most exciting things in ministry is when you see God move in supernatural ways and have opportunities to participate in His plans.  Sharon and I have not only seen God do great things in our family, but many other individual lives. For that I am truly grateful. 

This summer I received a phone call from Adam who was launched out of Summit Church to plant a church in our hometown back in North Carolina.  Adam and I often speak of ministry and how things are going at our respective congregations, but this phone call was different.  After some brief small talk, Adam presented an opportunity to come back to North Carolina and join him in helping pastor and lead at Summit WNC.  Sharon and I looked at each other and thought this was an odd request. We hadn’t had any desire to leave Southwest Florida.  However, after much prayer and consideration it became obvious that God was leading us. We began to consider what it would look like to move back home and join Adam and Dana in making disciples and leading a church in that geography.  We began to pray and seek counsel. Shortly, Sharon and I concluded that we should move our family back to North Carolina and to see the Gospel advance. 

The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two.  My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”   Paul’s desire was to be with Jesus, but he knew there was still work to be done and that his focus was to lead and see disciples made.  While it would be easy to stay and continue our work here in Gateway, we believe God is calling us to make disciples in NC. 

With many tears and heavy hearts, but also with great excitement and anticipation we take this next step believing we’ll encounter and experience God’s work in supernatural ways.  Gospel Advancement is our desire and while we may be moving to another geography, the focus of our work is to see the city of Asheville and surrounding areas saturated with the good news of Jesus.

This new opportunity will be another branch on the tree of Summit Church’s influence as we move to and lead a church with the same mission, vision and values.  The Gateway Campus is in a very healthy season and I look forward to coming back and celebrating with you guys all that God is doing here in Fort Myers, along with sharing God’s work in NC.  

While this is fast and filled with emotion, we feel that God has given us lifelong friendships here in Florida that will continue moving forward.  Our family covets your prayers as we make this transition and for all the details this will entail. If you have any questions or would like to talk with us, we would be more than happy to share more about this exciting new adventure. 

The Emory family loves Summit Church and all the love each one of you have shown us.  We are going to miss this place, but celebrate God’s call back home to Western North Carolina and are excited to see Him work there in supernatural ways.

 

   

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A Response to Racism

A RESPONSE TO RACISM
by Adam Alexander

A couple of weeks ago I was flipping through the channels and came across the old Cuba Gooding Jr. movie, Men of Honor.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  But just for a quick overview, the story is about Carl Brashear who was the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver.  He fought against extreme racial prejudice to graduate from the program and become a Master Diver.  While I watched this movie, my son Jonathan (born in Uganda) came up to me and gave me a hug.  As I hugged him and watched this movie, tears began to roll down my face as I rejoiced in the fact that Carl Brashear paved the way for my son to pursue something like this in his future if that’s what he was to choose.  It was a sweet moment of victory in my mind.  I loved being able to look at my son and think that thanks to the fights of people like Carl Brashear, Jackie Robinson, Katherine Johnson, and countless others that he too can become whatever he wants to be in life.

But then the events in Charlottesville happened this week.

Here is the deal friends.  This is a Gospel issue.  There isn’t another way to put it.  This isn’t about politics or culture or preference or anything else.  The reason we should fight against racism and injustice is because it is a direct offense to the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is so counter to everything that God is about and everything that Jesus came to accomplish.  Since the very beginning God has been about all nations.  Literally every tribe, tongue, people, and race.  To claim racial superiority is directly opposed to the very heart of God.


The beauty of this is that it is pronounced all through God’s word.  Take for example what it says in Genesis 12:2-3.  I added the emphasis.

"And 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.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

From the very beginning God declared that He was coming to redeem people from all the families of the earth!  He didn’t make any distinctions based on race, ethnicity, culture, intellect, social class, finances. There isn’t a race that is more superior than others in the eyes of the redemptive plan of God!

What about Jesus? Check out what happens in John 4. Again, I added the emphasis.

"And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”  (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Jesus was on the front lines of breaking down racial tension.  Jews and Gentiles were in the center of that day’s racial tension.  But that didn’t matter to Jesus.  He didn’t let culture, history, politics, or anything else stand in the way of bridging the gap to fight for racial reconciliation.  He saw the value in people and he loved them.

We can’t stop there.  Let’s look at one of Paul’s letters, Ephesians.  It says this in chapter 2 with my emphasis added.

"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."

The chapter starts off saying that we are all dead in our trespasses and then continues to say these incredibly hopeful words.  Racial superiority has no place in the Gospel and in the eyes of Christ.  We are all, regardless of race, past, worth, status; dead in our trespasses.  But God made us alive in Him!

One more reference.  Let’s fast forward to the end of the story and what it will be like in heaven.  Here is what it says in Revelation 7.

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

At the culmination of history, we will all stand side by side worshipping a God who created us in His image.  From the very beginning to the very end God sees who we are and celebrates and redeems His creation.


When I think about all of this, it makes me hurt even deeper for what is happening in our country today.  God created us exactly as He wanted.  Diverse, intricate, and beautiful.  So, let’s fight for the very heart of God. 

It is time for the church to engage in the battle for racial reconciliation.  And it happens by being willing to ask questions and then actually listen to learn.  It happens by speaking up and speaking out against these direct assaults on the heart of God and the glorious goodness of the Gospel.  It happens by breaking cultural stereotypes and historical patterns.  It happens by seeking the heart of God and living into the Gospel in your own life.  It happens by banging on the doors of heaven for revival in our hearts, in our churches, in our neighborhoods, in our city, and in our country.

Let me say it clearly to close.  As believers, we are unequivocally against white supremacy, the alt-right, and any manifestation of racism.  And as believers we are unequivocally for Christ’s supremacy, the good news of the Gospel, and racial reconciliation.

Lord, please break our heart for what breaks yours and bring healing to our land.

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Remember

Remember by Orlando Cabrera


I returned from my Sabbatical last week.  It was a wonderful extended time away with my family. I couldn’t be more grateful to the Directing Elders of Summit for allowing me the opportunity to have some time away.

Heading into this time, I had desired to just enjoy time with my family and hope to hear or learn something radically fresh and new from God.  Well the time with my wife and kids was nothing short of amazing! But I would be lying if I didn’t say there were moments of restlessness because, well, I hadn’t heard this amazing, revolutionary word from God. Yes, I read my Bible, prayed, journaled and even had the opportunity to visit five different churches in three different states.  All the churches we went to and services we worshiped in were all wonderful, but still I wouldn’t say I got this mountain top, burning bush revelation.  I left each service encouraged and grateful for God’s grace. 

And then, on the last Sunday of our vacation my kids and I were walking out of a great church in South Carolina before heading back to Florida, and I turned to my son and said, “Hey Max, wasn’t that an awesome service?”  He says excitedly, “Oh yeah!”  Then I asked him, “Did you learn anything new?”  He says, “Nope, but it’s really good to be reminded of what I already know. I really like that too Dad!”

And there it was, like a light bulb finally being turned on after stumbling about in a dark room trying to find a switch; it finally hit me.  I was not granted “new” information or some mountain type revelation per se, but boy was God so gracious to remind me of some things I had already known and either forgotten or allowed to grow stale in my heart. 

See, my son was right, being reminded as a child of God of what we already know is a good thing and I would press even further and say it’s essential to our continual spiritual growth.  Now we certainly don’t want to stop learning, but just think about how God’s Word calls us to remember…Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 8 verse 2

 “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” 

Solomon towards the end of his life gives a similar encouragement in Ecclesiastes chapter 12 verse 1

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them” 

There are many more references in the Bible where we as God’s children are called to remember. 


So here’s an encouragement and challenge- let’s keep reflecting on what we have learned and in our reflecting on what we have learned, may our awe and worship of God grow.  May our reflection bring us to a renewed and right view of our great God who is worthy of our lives and worship.

I have some more to share, and possibly will over the next couple of days with a follow-up post. But for now let me ask you the following:

1. What are you in jeopardy of forgetting about God today? 

2. What is it that you need to recount to yourself about God’s steadfast love, about His grace and mercy that has been shown to you in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

 I pray you will take a moment to reflect on some this and in doing so, thank God for who He is and what He has already done for you.  We should keep desiring new moments of fresh word, but let’s not forsake what we know…

”Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,”  Isaiah 46:9

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New Facility in Gateway

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UPDATE: OUR FIRST SERVICE AT OUR NEW FACILITY WILL TAKE PLACE ON SUNDAY AUGUST 13TH AT 10AM!

Located at:
12941 Express Court, Fort Myers, FL 33913


A quick glance around our current space in Gateway will tell you that Gartner is more than ready to move in and build the space out according to their specifications. The spaces around us are already empty, the sidewalks are cut and the parking lot is filling up with building supplies.

The good news is that much progress is being made at our new facility! During this next week or so, they’ll begin to take our AV equipment, lights and speakers in order begin installing them at the new building. Right now, the target date for us to move in is the weekend of August 13th! 

So with that in mind, here’s what we we're asking you to consider and pray for.

1.) Pray for the continued progress of our space and that everything will stay on track. 

2.) Pray that we can be a blessing and a gospel representation to the developers (Seagate) and to Gartner who is taking over our current space. 

3.) Pray that God would continue to help us in our search for a permanent location for our Naples congregation.

4.) And finally ask the Lord that we would be faithful to use this new space in Gateway to train, equip and disciple God’s people to live on mission in the places we live, work and play. All for his glory.

Thank you for your prayers and partnership in the gospel.

-Joe O'Neal

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Journey Camp Photo Blog

Here's a bunch of pics from our Summit Students trip to Lake Placid last week!

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Christ Together - Reach America

Christ Together is one of our Xpansion partners. They aim to unify the Church to consistently demonstrate and communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to every man, woman, and child in America.

We also were instrumental in helping to form this network nearly 10 years ago. They help churches collaborate and work together to saturate their cities with the gospel.

This summer, Christ Together is asking partner churches to take a special offering to plant churches in some cities around the United States that have high needs for planting gospel centered churches, yet low funding to get them started. 

This request is right in line with who we are and what we want to see happen in our community, our region, our nation and around the world.

If you would like to give towards this initiative, you can make a contribution to Summit and put 'Christ Together' in the memo line.

Thank you for your partnership in the gospel as seek to reach every man, woman and child!

 

 

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UPDATE FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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UPDATE FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

We are just over halfway through our time in the Dominican Republic serving alongside our partners LoveServes and "El Refugio" Church in the community of Haina. 

It has been an incredible experience so far as we have been able to serve in many ways from construction to children's and women's ministry. 

Three years ago we began pouring the foundation for a 6,000 sqft Trade School that was born out of the vision God gave Pastor Julio and the team here in Haina. Currently 35% of 18-25 year olds do not go to school or work in this community, and the Trade School will offer an opportunity to the young people to learn a trade and give them options outside of the gang lifestyles. Today we finished painting the interior of the finished first floor! It is set to officially open in the fall. 

We continue to to have amazing opportunities to share the hope of Christ with this community through outreach, children's and sports ministry, women's ministry and home visits. Though we have witnessed tragic poverty, the spirit of God is living and active in the people of Haina! We have learned so much about what it means to worship and love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength despite our circumstances. 

We feel blessed to be a part of this community for this week and hope to finish strong. 

PLEASE PRAY:
1. That our team would finish strong, staying connected to God as we minister to this community. 
2. That Pastor Julio and El Refugio would continue to be spurred on in their love and good work!
3. That LoveServes and Revision would be encouraged by their partners and that God would supply every need they have in Christ Jesus. 

Evan Lemkuil & Team

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Steadfast Love - Summer Series

Throughout scripture we see story after story reminding us of God’s faithfulness. In our series, Steadfast Love, we will be studying the Psalms and discovering how, through all of life’s circumstances, the love of God is unfailing, unrelenting, and steadfast.

Join us this summer, beginning June 3rd and 4th as we study select chapters in the book of Psalms.

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Easter Stories- Danielle & Diego

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Easter Stories- Danielle & Diego

In case you missed it, here are the stories we shared this past weekend on Easter. We're so encouraged by God's grace and love that calls people to himself and dramatically changes their lives.

We hope you're strengthened and encouraged as well.

 

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Gather - Live Worship Record

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We recently released a record entitled Gather: Live in the Living Room. The goal of this record was to capture the worship of the community who have been meeting regularly in our living room for the past three years. More than just the songs, we wanted to record every part of a worship night in the living room setting—everything from how the worship leaders led the group, to how those present engaged. As you can imagine, capturing every moment (down to the raw, unfiltered, even sometimes awkward moments) in a living room setting was quite the undertaking. At times in the process we weren’t even sure going in how the project was going to turn out!

At Summit, we’re convinced that whatever God wants to do in the world today, He wants to do through all of His people, not just through a select few leaders. We’re convinced that every believer is called to minister to the Lord, utilize their gifts in ministry to others, and to intercede for the lost, broken and those that need healing in our city, nation and world. We believe that as leaders, it’s our highest call to train, equip, and empower every believer to do those very things.

As we think of applying this to worship and the gathering, a passage of Scripture we often come back to is found in 1 Corinthians 14:26:

“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”

Paul in this passage is stating that when we gather as the church, each person brings something of merit to the table. Some would teach, some would bring a prophetic word, some would speak in tongues—others would interpret, and some would lead singing and prayer. All of this would be done in love and for the encouragement and building up of the body. 

At the same time, Paul certainly has a high view of the role of leadership and order in the gathering (see 1 Cor. 14 and 1 Tim. 2 for example). He viewed leadership in the same way Jesus did—not as a means for domineering and commanding, but as the role of a servant.

When we set out to record Gather, we had all these things in mind. During the night we had a time where some folks shared testimonies of how the Lord was moving in their lives (which led to an unplanned song of thanksgiving in response), we had a moment where we all broke into groups and interceded for cities that were hurting around the world, and we had a time where we prayed for healing and relief from anxiety for those present. We believe all these elements are valuable when we gather. If all we do is sing together, then we’ve missed out on so much of the beauty of what it is for believers to commune with the Lord and with each other. 

We hope that as we present these elements in a raw, honest living room setting that other communities, small groups and families might have an example they could try for themselves. We hope and pray that wherever you and your community gathers, you would experience the presence of God alive and at work in your midst.

You can listen to/purchase the record in all the normal places, but you can also go to our website to find out how you can download free copy! 

Finally, we’d love to serve you in any way we can. If we can come and serve your community in your home, do email us and let us know if we can help lead a night of worship in your living room. 

Andy & Mathis

 

Andy Graham 

Mathis Turley

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God Is Faithful

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March 16, 2017
Well it’s been a two weeks since I was able to sit with my computer and lay out those things that have been impacting us since that time and what they mean for us and for our future. Some significant and dramatic changes have occurred since then and some things have remained the same, but only more so.


First, what has changed in these past few days? I no longer have a spleen; I no longer have the lower 1/3 of my pancreas; and, most significantly, I no longer have the golf ball size tumor that has been growing on my pancreas for some time. As we approached surgery, the medical experts believed that this tumor was in fact malignant but hopefully could be removed successfully. What they found was dramatically different than what was expected. There, sitting on the tail of my pancreas, was a type of cystic tumor that was totally benign. I asked the surgeon, a man approaching his 80’s who has probably done more pancreatic surgeries than most surgeons in the world, if this type of tumor was even in the running as to a possibility. He indicated that it was not and how pleasantly “surprised” he was to find it as opposed to what had been expected. So from a physical perspective, and my prognosis, I am absolutely fine with no restrictions as to living my life going forward once the healing process is complete. Diane and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity that the Lord has given us to continue to follow the plan He has set before us.


Second, however, and more dramatic, is what has not changed, but rather has been so brazened into my soul as to have created a new and greater resolve in the truth of who God is.
As I lay in my hospital bed watching patient after patient slowly shuffle though the halls following their surgeries, knowing that most did not have the surprise result that I had had but rather the result that was expected; one that provided very little future and hope for them, I pondered the question of the Faithfulness of God, and continued to ask myself the question of what I really believed about who He is.


A dear sister in Christ, whose son has experienced the ravaging of cancer that appears to have no good end, visited me in the hospital and was rejoicing with us in our great news. I was about to proclaim to her how Faithful God is and then I found my tongue cemented to the roof of my mouth as I realized that I was about to proclaim something that would be a fallacy because I was ascribing the Faithfulness of God to a desired result rather than to His character. I was guilty of ascribing a nature of God to His activity rather than to who He is. Was God Faithful to me because I was free of cancer and could live but unfaithful to her and her son because he may not? And so in those moments of a short visitation in my hospital room, something happened to burrow deep into my soul a truth that I have known, and taught, and preached and yet maybe never really understood. That no matter what, God Is Faithful, not because of what He does or does not do, but because that is who He is.


We so deeply appreciate how you have lifted us before the Lord in prayer during these tumultuous times and know that your prayers have indeed accomplished much in this process. Please pray for Ellen and her son Chris as they navigate through this difficult time and continue to pray that we would have an ever increasing resolve to be about all He has called us to do and to be so that, in so doing, we may bring honor and glory to Him.


With great joy and thankfulness in the Lord for who He is,
Jack & Diane

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Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey - by Jack and Diane Stinziano - March 5, 2017

The sun has just come up over the Inner Harbor here in Baltimore, Maryland where Diane and I await my upcoming surgery the day after tomorrow. It is with a great sense of peace that we are here, not that we know what the medical outcome will be, but in the knowledge that our Sovereign God knows the plans that He has for us, and that they are plans for our welfare, to give us a future and a hope. The specifics of His plan, well, those are not necessarily for us to know. If we did, we would likely do everything we could to take control and move it along in our timeframe to produce the result we think best. But that is not how God would have it. There was a song that we used to sing in church many years ago: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey”. Simple, often forgotten words and a simple recipe, and yet how enormously difficult to do, especially when we are forced to step out into the uncertain and the unknown.

God has brought us along on an amazing journey with Him these last few years. Our move to Rome was in response to what we unquestionably sensed God calling us to do. He developed in us a passion to see Italians come to a real saving faith in Jesus Christ and He gave us a heart to stand alongside those who had sacrificed so much to minister the Gospel to a people who had no desire to even hear it, much less live it. And although we did experience those whose lives were changed as we ministered to them, the real change; the most dramatic change, occurred in us. To live in an unfamiliar culture, alone and far away from the security of friends, family and what is comfortably reassuring, etches something in a person that indelibly remains, for the good or for the bad. James 1 reveals that the trials and testing of life can produce something good, if we allow them to; that the testing of our faith produces an endurance and if we let that endurance have its perfect result, then we will be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. So whether the result is good or bad all depends upon the choices we make in the midst of the trials. For us, many trials came from this almost daily battle between what life is like in this almost surreal environment, versus what life had been like before venturing out, untethered to anything that had been certain. Choices that are forced upon us by the circumstances we are confronted with; by the trials and tests that befall us along the way. And on that journey that little simple song begins to reveal such a complex truth that as we trust Him in the trial; as we obey Him in the trial, we become more and more as He would have us be and happiness and joy are the byproduct.

The trials and tests that we have encountered after making our move into the Italian culture should have been expected, in one form or another, but most, if not all, took us by surprise. After all, weren’t we trying to do something good that God had directed? First, Diane’s diagnosis of breast cancer and following bi lateral mastectomy. Then to return to Rome after her recovery only to find that our apartment had been burglarized and the majority of tangible wealth lost. Then Diane’s bout with chest pains and resulting heart catherization and stenting. Then my diagnosis of a tumor that necessitates the removal of the tail of my pancreas and my spleen. Then Diane’s torn meniscus in her knee confining her to a wheel chair in the midst of our physical move from Rome back to the U.S. None of these are noted as complaints but rather as exercises in our training of endurance. Each have given us opportunity after opportunity to make a choice; to trust and obey, or not; to allow them to produce something good, or not. I wish that I could say that through these trials we have always and immediately embraced the right choice; in many instances it took some time for us to get around to allowing endurance to have its perfect result. But when we did, and do, then the joy of knowing that God is doing His work in us is, and can be, like no other.

We face this upcoming surgery with a resolve that its result will be for our good and that it is all part of the plan that God has for us.

We want to encourage you to run the race that He has set before you, trusting Him, the author and the finisher of faith. We would covet your prayers for us that we do the same; that we finish the course that He has set before us in a way that not only positions us for becoming who He wants us to be, but gives Him the Glory He so definitely deserves.

Thank you and may He richly bless you and cause His grace to overshadow you.

Jack & Diane

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Ignite Service Weekend Recap

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Ignite Service Weekend Recap

Our college ministry FGCU Ignite spent this past weekend serving our community in a variety of ways. Motivated by the love of Christ, they served several of our Every Child Initiative families and helped out a ministry partner of ours in Downtown Fort Myers.

Here are a few photos of the weekend. We're excited to see how God continues to use these students to impact our community and the campus of FGCU for the gospel. 

 

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