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Missionally-Driven (Our Values Part 3)

This is the third of our four Distinctive Values. 

Our third Distinctive Value is:

Missionally-Driven
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?


EMBRACE THE MISSION
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.

UNDERSTAND WHAT THE MISSION DEMANS OF US
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).

LIVE OUT THE MISSION
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!

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There is Hope

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THERE IS HOPE

BY TODD WERMERS

 

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

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God, the greatest giver.

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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

Find out more by visiting www.EagerToGive.com

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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. www.EagerToGive.com

 
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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

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Redeeming 'Whatever' - Part 1

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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!

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7 Years of the Every Child Initiative

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The Every Child Intiative

One of the major initiatives of Summit Church is the Every Child Initiative, which exists to envision, equip, and empower disciples of Jesus to have gospel impact in the lives of vulnerable children. 

Each year, we set aside some time to look to the Father and ask Him to intervene on behalf of these children throughout the world, but also to show us how He might have us as a church and as individuals step deeper into joining Him in caring for them.

It’s that time of year again. This week, November 12th, is global Orphan Sunday and we will join hundreds of churches and thousands of believers throughout the world crying out to the Father on their behalf.

Read more about Global Orphan Sunday from of our partners here at http://lifelinechild.org/orphan-sunday

Just consider some of the statistics. Right now there is an estimated 140 million orphans throughout the world. In the US there are approximately 400,00 kids in the foster system with over 100,000 of them waiting to be adopted. In Florida alone there are upwards of 22,000 kids in the foster system with over 500 of them being here in SWFL. In fact, in southwest Florida alone we need over 100 new beds to meet the current needs of our region so kids don’t have to be sent to different counties and so siblings don’t have to be separated. And these numbers are just scratching the surface.  They don’t take into account child labor, human trafficking, and babies facing the prospect of abortion.

The needs are immense, but our God knows them all and is able to meet each one.  One of the ways He has purposed to meet those needs is through us, the church.  There is no way around it. God, the Father, cares about the fatherless and as His people with His Spirit inside of us we get to care about them, too. And because we are convinced by what the Word of God says, there is no way to wiggle out of it.  The question for each of us is how will we join Him in what He desires for us and for them.  Not everyone is called to bring a child into their home, but every child of God is called to imitate their Father by stepping in.

So what does it look like for you? Some of you know right now that the Lord is telling you to adopt or foster or something like that and we want to encourage you to be obedient to what He is saying. If you’re married, talk about it with your spouse. Maybe He’s telling them the same thing.  That’s actually what happened with us.  Seven years ago on Orphan Sunday, we felt the Lord calling us to be a foster family. That fall, we stepped out in faith and seven years later we can look back and see how the Lord has grown our faith and changed our family. We are so grateful for the opportunity that the Lord has given our family to step in on behalf of the vulnerable. That was the call on our family.  What about you?  Maybe God isn’t telling you to bring a child into your home, but you can still be actively engaged.  You can be a part of our wrap around ministry. You can be a court appointed advocate.  You can volunteer with one of our partners. Or maybe it’s something else.  Let’s seek the Lord in this matter and let’s be faithful to do whatever He tells us. We are asking you to be intentional in asking the Lord how you can and should be involved. Make it a priority to gather with us on Sunday evening at our University Campus for a night of prayer and worship specifically focused on these issues.  Seek the Lord this week to see what He has for you leading up to next weekend.  This week during our services, some of our partners will be present and able to answer any questions that you have about what they do. Pray through what the Lord might be saying to you in relation to those partnerships. 

Summit, we praise God for you and the way you serve your community and world.  Let’s keep going. 

Jamin & Vicky Stinziano

Find out more at www.EveryChildSWFL.com

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School Partnerships

At Summit one of the ways we try to connect with our communities is through our eleven school partnerships, in both Lee and Collier counties. We want to support our educators and in turn, have the opportunities to represent the gospel of Jesus Christ to the students and families in our communities.

For the last few years, one of the ways we've been involved in our schools is through teaching a curriculum called 'Core Essentials' assemblies. All the kids from that particular school gather in their auditorium to hear our team teach good values, like honesty, kindness and integrity.

Of course we love the opportunity to unpack these values to the students but our aim goes a little deeper as we seek to meet students where they live, learn and play.  These assemblies work through a required curriculum that help the schools comply with local and state regulations; so these are a win-win for our schooling system.  But the question might remain; "why the church"?

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Core Essentials

at San Carlos Park Elementary

Putting on these assemblies gives us great visibility with the administration, teachers, and students in our area, and subsequently gives us the opportunity to love these schools and their families while we build healthy relationships in the process. 'Core Essentials' gives us a platform to serve our neighbors well and to engage them when we begin to see them outside of the schools.  

This brings us to the fruit we are seeing as a result of this work. Because the schools trust us and know we are here to serve them, over and over again we are having opportunities to minister to families in need that the administrations send to us. When we see these families outside the schools, we get to stand on the gospel and love them well through counseling and service.

We also see the fruits of our labors as we serve our area with Sports Camps in the summers. During the year we engage with students in the schools who then come to our camps and hear the gospel proclaimed! Then we get to step back into the schools and we are known! This results in continuing to build relationships throughout our circles of accountability. 

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School Partnerships

As a Summit Kids team we are so thankful for the opportunities that God has put before us to serve our school partners and we are seeing the fruit of that labor. Thank you for your continued partnership as we seek to make disciples that represent the gospel to every man, woman and child!

- The Summit Kids Team

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2017 Publix Day

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2017 Publix Day

Wow! We are so humbled by the generosity of the people of Summit Church! This past week between our 3 congregations we provided more than $35,000 of groceries to our community partner food banks! This tangible expression of the love of Christ to our community aligns our hearts with how Jesus feels towards the hungry and less fortunate and represents the hope of the gospel to them. We are so grateful to be a missionally-driven church that demonstrates Christ's love to every man, woman and child!


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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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