All posts filed under: Personal Growth

Are You Choosing Peace In Every Circumstance?

When you hear the word peace, what comes to mind? Do you imagine white, sandy beaches with the sound of waves? Do you think about sitting near a tranquil mountain stream? Do you picture tie-dye t-shirts and peace symbol necklaces? The word peace can conjure up many different thoughts and ideas depending upon your perspective or personal preferences. During our most recent services, Shannon taught the Biblical meaning of peace is “a serenity and tranquility that comes from trusting in the wisdom and control of God rather than our own understanding.” I vividly remember experiencing this definition of peace when we were in the midst of becoming approved as foster parents. We decided to enter the world of foster care because of a specific little girl. We wanted to be able to adopt her, if the opportunity ever arose. However, as we went through the approval process, the girl’s biological mother completed the requirements of her case plan and the family was reunified. While on paper this looked good, it was frustrating to know the …

Are You Loving In All Circumstances?

Love… how can we try to understand it? It’s not always easy to say what love is, but we tend to know how it feels. If you were blindfolded and given a bucket of items, you could describe what you are feeling but may not be able to fully identify each item. This is kind of like love. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NIV If love is patient, then love is not demanding. I can remember praying so hard for years about a certain situation and just felt like giving up. God answered my prayer on His own time and in the meantime gave me a journey I needed to experience. We have to wait …

Not a River You Can Just Wade In

Wisdom is less like a deep ocean and more like the force of a river. The power of the river is in its ability to adapt to its environment, change its course when necessary, and yet find its way towards its destiny. – Erwin McManus I read these words recently in a book titled The Way of the Warrior. I was immediately taken back a couple of summers ago when we took a trip out to Colorado. The quote evoked a very specific memory I had of a river we stayed near for a night. There are few places in that area of the country that don’t romance the soul. I remember taking the kids down to the rocky bank and deciding to take a swim. The river had some rapids visible upriver and downriver, but the spot we were at appeared deep enough and slow enough to wade in, chill out, and relax a little. After committing to just past knee deep I was suddenly taken aback and surprised by the sheer force of …

I Have a Confession to Make: Teenagers Scare Me

Teenagers scare me. It’s silly but true. As a preschool pastor and mom to young children, I’ve lived in this preschool/elementary phase for so long  I feel awkward and culturally irrelevant when it comes to engaging with anyone between the ages of 13 and 19. Now, I do remember what it was like to be a teenager and I do understand in a few short years (3 to be exact), I will be raising an adolescent of my own. But… this doesn’t make me anymore confident. Honestly, it wasn’t until earlier this year I began giving much thought to this idea. That’s when I made the connection between my ministry and my feelings. Many of you already know our church is experiencing an amazing period of growth. This is no less true for our preschool ministry. Over the past six months we have averaged nearly 150 preschoolers on a weekly basis! On any given Sunday, there are between 40 to 60 leaders serving in the Treehouse and nearly half of those are student volunteers! That’s …

Are You Experiencing Community as it was Meant to be?

-written by Betsie Richards “Joe’s here.” That’s all the text from my sister said, but that’s all it took to calm my nerves for the moment. My mom’s IV pump wasn’t working correctly and it’s hard not to panic when the medication keeping your Mom’s heart going isn’t getting there. In all honesty, we had minimal training on the home equipment we were given. But I knew who to call, part of my “tribe” if you will. Joe beat me to my parents’ house with two of his kids in tow. He had everything working correctly before I even got there. This was in addition to answering the (likely) thousands of texts I had sent him in the previous six weeks. “Bets, you have good friends.” Mom said this to me repeatedly during her hospital stay. She knew this because they came and sat with us, prayed with us, brought food, rolls of quarters, offered their homes, slipped cash into my hand or purse, sent constant encouragement, and even came to the hospital to visit …

As My Surrogate Family, You are Stuck With Me

-written by Matt Clotfelter The word family creates a different picture in everyone’s mind. For me, when I think about family another word which comes to mind is “surrogate.” Google defines this word as “a substitute, especially a person deputizing for another in a specific role or office.” For some, this word conjures up images of women who carry a pregnancy for another family. My image looks immensely different. You may live within walking distance of your extended family. Others may have to drive to a neighboring state. When I was 12, my family moved 11,000 miles from my nearest blood relative. In the missionary world, many times unrelated family units become an extended family of their own. I still have numerous parents of friends I refer to as Aunt and Uncle. It is an adaptive support system helping families in a time when it is hard to go it alone. Family can be one of the tightest forms of community, but even the Bible has examples of dysfunctional family. In Genesis alone, we find …

Don’t be Afraid of Doubt, Embrace It

How do you react when your child or friend expresses doubt? Do you see this as a step in the disciple-making process or does your heart sink and fear take over? During the week after Easter in our elementary and preteen services, we took a look at how Thomas wrestled with doubt. Through this story we can see how asking questions is a great thing. Asking questions can lead to understanding, which can lead to knowledge, which can lead to more questions, understanding, and knowledge. As you are walking someone through the discipleship process remember these truths from Thomas. Thomas expressed his doubt. When the disciples told Thomas they had seen Jesus, he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side” (John 20:25). Thomas had doubts and questions about what the disciples were saying they saw but he didn’t keep those doubts hidden. When someone is open and honest with you, celebrate their honesty …

Your Story was Designed for Victory in Jesus!

-written by Matt Clotfelter Nearly 30 years later, I still remember the day like it was yesterday. I remember it was quite warm and it hadn’t rained for days. I remember the taste of the hot peppers and the feeling of the branches against my skin. It was the first time I was ever physically bullied. As a middle schooler, I was quite socially awkward. I was still trying to learn how to mesh with my peers. It had been a difficult few months. It was the end of the school day, and my friends were playing a game I had no desire to be involved in, seeing who could eat the most hot peppers. When they realized I was not going to participate willingly, they decided to ensure I did. Before I knew what was happening, I was being held down and force-fed hot peppers. This was not my idea of a good time. Amidst their laughing, I was able to push myself away and make a dash for my bike. I dove through …

Make A Change And Love Your Neighbor

-written by Trey Gass In college, my roommates and I went through a phase where we would build music playlists with different themes or genres. We put together playlists for working out, studying, and hanging out in the room. We built themed playlists like beach music and for rainy days. We even made a playlist called “Estrogen” for when women came over to the apartment. (It was clean. We were young.) One playlist we built was the “deep” playlist, featuring songs with deep thoughts on life. One of the songs we added to the playlist was “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson. The song makes me want to snap my fingers and move my hips like Mr. Jackson himself, but if you slow down and listen, there is some deep meaning in the song. I’m starting with the man in the mirror I’m asking him to change his ways And no message could have been any clearer If you want to make the world a better place Take a look at yourself, and then …

Living Out the Mission of The Gospels

If you are a Christ follower, you have been made a new creation because of Christ now alive in you. On the cross, Jesus became our sin so God could defeat it’s power in our lives through the resurrection. Now, you have been adopted into God’s family. You are joint heirs to the kingdom of heaven. You are purchased, forgiven, chosen, loved, saved, identified as His, seen as without fault (see Ephesians 1:3-14). We are loved by Him, sought by Him, never without Him! This is who you are! This should pump you up! If you are part of the Southern Hills family, you have probably heard, read, memorized, and bought the t-shirt for our mission statement: Making Disciples who Make Disciples. It’s our mantra, our call to arms, our understanding of what Christ called us to do. In all we do, we should be thinking about how we can fulfill the mission we have been called to complete. Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on …