Cindy's Story


Cindy's Story

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

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



Exposing Self-Dependency

Step 1: ADMIT
Exposing Self-Dependency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Disciple-Making (Our Values Part 4)

by Stephen Johnson

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

Our fourth value is:

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

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

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

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

1.         Is making disciples really necessary?

2.         What about my plan for my life?

3.         What if I don’t know how?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase here from Amazon.


Al & Sara Gomez in Nicaragua


Al & Sara Gomez in Nicaragua

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


Christmas Outreach Photo Collection


Christmas Outreach Photo Collection

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




Missionally-Driven (Our Values Part 3)

This is the third of our four Distinctive Values. 

Our third Distinctive Value is:

by Adam Alexander

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

1.         We become a new creature in Christ.

2.         We are given the ministry of reconciliation.

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

4.         God does the reconciling.

5.         They become new creatures in Christ.

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

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

So, what does this look like for us today?

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

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

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

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

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



There is Hope









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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



God, the greatest giver.


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

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

1. God is the greatest giver. 

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

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

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

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

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

- Orlando Cabrera

Find out more by visiting



Eager to Give

By Orlando Cabrera:

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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



Redeeming 'Whatever' - Part 1


By Dave Harvey:

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Flips ‘Whatever’

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

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

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

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

God Defines ‘Whatever’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we behold Jesus, God flips ‘whatever’.

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


1 Comment

7 Years of the Every Child Initiative


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

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

1 Comment


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"?


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. 

CE 1.jpg

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


2017 Publix Day


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!


Ignite Fall Retreat Recap


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.


“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



Hurricane Cleanup Gallery



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:

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

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.

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.



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:

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.