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February 2012

February 29, 2012

I can change me

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I am excited today because tonight my small group is starting back!  My friend, Heather Bishop, and I co-lead a small group for young married women.  Tonight we are beginning to study What's it like to be Married to Me? by Linda Dillow.

This book is excellent.  I love marraige books that center around me changing.  What is the point in me studying a book that just makes me focus on what my husband needs to do or not do?  Only God can change my husband.  But I can change me.  And sometimes, when I change me, I find that God changes my husband.

Great book.  Get ready H2H, we begin tonight.

February 27, 2012

Monday Morning Commentary

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This weekend we kicked off our newest series, Grey Matter.  It is a series about knowing and doing God's will when the direct answers are unclear.

The main point of this week's message is that the Bible is designed to lead me closer to the One who wants to guide me.  God wants me to stop asking for guidance and allow Him to be my guide.  The goal is not so that I will have clarity in all my situations, it is so that I will TRUST Him in every situation.

Grey areas are not a problem, they are an opportunity.  An opportunity to trust.  An opportunity to know God better.  An opportunity to focus on what we already know we are to do but aren't doing it yet.

When I look at God's will as a yes or no answer, I cut my relationship with God out of the equation.  The message really spoke to me.  I so often forget that the process is the point.  The process of seeking God and knowing Him is the goal.  I loved when my husband said, "The Bible is not an answer book, it is a worship guide."

Psalm 48:14 says, "This God, He is our God.  He will be our guide even until the end."

You can watch or listen to the message at the Elevation Network, in our archive or on our podcast.

February 24, 2012

Life Change Inbox

It's Friday and time for the Life Change Inbox to make a comeback!  I have been sharing some of the wonderful emails my husband gets, where people share the work God is doing in their lives through Elevation Church.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:2-4 that our lives are living letters written so that God might be glorified. 

Today we have two stories, Jennifer and her son, James.  

Dear Elevation,
“I Have Decided” is the Sunday that changed the course of my family’s path for eternity. I have been a believer from many years, but wasn’t attending church on a regular basis, nor really looking to either. One day, my son James and I were in the car talking about his future. He is a senior in high school and is preparing for college. We talked about different schools and studying abroad, when I felt compelled to ask him where the Lord fit into his future? He turned and spoke in a tone that almost sounded of longing "I never said I didn’t want to go to church”. At that moment, I realized he wasn’t the one that was falling short, I was. I said to him, “You know, there is this church I’ve been thinking about visiting. I see stickers all over the place, and its pretty close. Want to check it out?” He agreed. So that Sunday we both went. At the close of the worship experience, my son grabbed me and was sobbing. The significance of this should not be lost. Truth is, I hadn’t seen my son cry since he was 5 yrs old and fell off his bike. He told me he wanted to be baptized. Then, I cried.  What a moment – one I will never forget. 

Fast-forward 2 weeks. My daughter has been talking with her brother and is now interested in coming. She lives with her daughter Izzy and boyfriend in the University area, and hasn’t attended church in years. Her boyfriend is a non-believer and has no interest in attending, but she decides to take Izzy and go with James and I. All it took was one Sunday, and she was ready to recommit her life to Christ. Every Sunday she would call me to go, and was purchasing teaching and worship CD’s…anything she could get her hands on.  Fast forward again, Lauren and Izzy are now living at home and she is no longer cohabitating with her boyfriend. Fast forward yet again, the Monday directly following the Sunday after Pastor Steven spoke about Bold Obedience, I was praying for God to demonstrate a miracle to my husband, so that he might believe. At that moment God called me into bold obedience to Him, and informed me that after 30 years of smoking, and countless failed attempts at quitting, I was going to lay them down…  and, well, I haven’t had one since. Over 4 months and no cigarettes – I have been delivered. 

Can you take more good news? James invited his father (we divorced 13 years ago), who now attends Elevation University, and is active in a Next Level Group, and has now signed up to lead one. My daughter is planning to attend the volunteer class at the Blakeney campus, and is looking to volunteer in eKidz.

God has done so many amazing things in my family in just 6 short months; the transformation of character in my son, the confidence in my daughter, my personal walk with God. I could go on and on…. 

God has radically changed my family, and I am so grateful that He used Elevation as the vehicle in which to bring us back to His grace and mercy. The teachings of Pastor Steven speak to my spirit and I am so grateful for his leadership. You know he is “really preaching it” when, as you are driving home from church your teenagers says, “man, church just flew by!” 

I do believe that God has a plan for my husband. Please keep him in your prayers, that he may be sensitive to God’s voice. And please pray that I may be patient and loving in all my ways, demonstrating the love of the Father in a way that can’t be denied.

In God’s hands,

Jennifer

 


Dear Elevation,
I am a senior at Mallard Creek High School and currently attend the University campus. I first started attending Elevation on the last week of the baptisms, in August. I hadn't been to church in over 5 years, but my mother heard about Elevation and asked me to try it with her. When we first got to the Matthew campus we were overwhelmed by all of the positive and friendly people, we haven't felt more welcomed in a church. During the worship experience they were showing all of the baptisms they had done and seeing how happy all of the people were I realized that I wanted to have that feeling in my life. So when the pastor mentioned doing baptisms after the worship experience I just felt this power that I had never felt before, I felt God was telling me to get baptized and start a relationship with him. So here I was attending my first worship experience at Elevation and I was getting baptized.  I never thought walking into the worship experience that it would end on such a positive note.

I continued to attend Elevation and when they opened the University campus I was pleased because it was much closer to home. One week they had an eGroup event after church, I signed up for the next level group to take my next steps with God. I’ve just recently started to apply for college and I asked God if he could bless me with the right college, I was hoping UNCC so I could continue to attend elevation. I didn't go to any Code Orange revivals but I have been watching the podcasts. During the night 3 worship experience I heard him mention fasting for the Lord.  I never thought of fasting before but I couldn't get it out of my mind, it felt like God put it on my heart to fast and he will bless me in ways I never thought imaginable. My mother was addicted to smoking, then one worship experience God told her to quit and he will remove all of the symptoms of withdraw, out of bold obedience she followed his will and she hasn't smoked since. I feel like this is the same and I want to be closer with God and show him that I am willing to give my life to him. 

I am truly blessed to have joined such a church as this. I thank all of you for what you have allowed God to do in my family, we are all now attending church and our lives have been forever changed.

Thanks for everything.

James

February 22, 2012

Snuggles and Sneezes

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Graham and Abbey have been under the weather this week with the Flu.  So we have been taking it easy.  Abbey has had a pretty rough fever for several days.  It finally broke today some time during her 4 hour hibernation/nap, she woke up drenched in sweat.  Graham only had a fever one night but has been sneezing like crazy.

We have done a lot of snuggling.  Yesterday Graham watched Lion King all the way through for the first time.  I think he almost cried when Mufasa died.  Abbey has spent a lot of time in my lap and in my arms.  Today we resume life as usual (and pray the rest of us don't get it).

February 21, 2012

Monday Morning Commentary on Tuesday

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My name is Heather Bishop, and my husband is John Bishop- the Matthews Campus Pastor at Elevation Church. Holly asked me to guest blog for her today because this past weekend, Pastor Steven asked my husband to wrap up our series, Living A Better Story, with a message about the Turning Point. This was such a huge honor for my husband.


Pastor Steven taught us throughout this series that the elements that make a great story also make a great life. My husband preached about the element of the turning points in our lives, those moments when we are headed in one direction and then everything changes and we find ourselves heading in a completely different direction. John challenged our church with this question: How does God want to use you to be a turning point for someone else? This might be in a seemingly small way: like speaking a word of encouragement to someone, or challenging a friend who is struggling with sin by speaking the truth in love.


OR… God may want to use you in a major way to literally change the course of someone’s life- it could be the matter of life and death.


That was the case recently for John and I. It was literally a matter of life or death for our friend, Fasha. And God chose to use us to be a turning point in her life. I really don’t want to spoil the story.  It’s one of the most powerful stories our church has ever experienced. It’s worth the 10 minutes it will take you to watch it! You can see Fasha’s testimony on Pastor Steven’s blog: click here.


After sharing the story about Fasha with our church, John challenged us to not miss the opportunity to be used by God. To take the step of faith- and be a turning point for someone else.

This has been such a powerful series in the life of our church.  You can watch the message (along with the whole series) at the Elevation Network, in our archive and also on our podcast.

February 20, 2012

A celebration of 32 years

DSC_0165Yesterday was my husband's 32nd birthday.  We had a wonderful time celebrating.

I wish everyone could know Steven the way I do.  He has always been passionate and full of vision for whatever task God has given him.  I have seen him preach to a crowd of 20 middle school boys and crowds of thousands with the same passion and enthusiasm for Christ.

He has a vision for every thing he does.  Whether it is for our church or our family, he seeks God and obeys with audacious faith.  He is a great husband and an amazing father.

I have seen him handle difficult situations with the maturity and wisdom of a man twice his age.  And I often wonder how in the world I ended up marrying such an incredible man of god.  He is not perfect, but he practices what he preaches.

Happy Birthday Steven Furtick.  I love you.

(We will resume our regular programing tomorrow with Monday Morning Commentary on Tuesday.)

Have a great Monday.

 

February 17, 2012

LOVE Week Continues.....

What an amazing week!  LOVE Week has been a phenomenal success as we’ve seen thousands of people spread the love of Jesus by serving Charlotte and the surrounding area.

By midnight last night, you’d served more than 26,000 hours and the number keeps ticking upwards with each sandwich made, each snack bag assembled, each article of clothing sorted, and each pair of shoes boxed up to serve a child.

And the best is yet to come.  Today through Sunday there are still more than 150 opportunities for you to write your better story in service to our region.

Here are some of the big family-friendly events I know you’ll love.  Click on the links to sign up. 

Friendship Trays – today you can take a meal to a homebound neighbor.  It’s a lunchtime opportunity that’s great for kids who will love saying hello and handing over lunch to a senior citizen in need.

Birchcroft Cookout and Job Fair – Saturday, the opportunities are endless.  Join us from 12-4pm as we partner with Renovatus church to serve lunch and help refugees fill out job applications.

One7 Cleanup – Join us 9-Noon as we help our friends at One7 clean up their brand new site.  This inner-city youth ministry is a family favorite as a game of soccer or football always breaks out at a One7 event.

Samaritan’s Feet Shoes of Hope – One of my family’s favorite things to do this week has been sorting shoes at the Samaritan’s Feet warehouse.  Saturday from 9-4 you get to be a part of actually giving these shoes away at Druid Hills Elementary School.

Purple Heart Homes Walk/Run/Couples Relay – This 10k event in Statesville is an opportunity to support an organization that provides personalized housing solutions for veterans injured in service to our country.

Matthews Free Medical Clinic and Christ Our Shepherd – Join us at 10:30am at the Matthews Free Medical Clinic as we announce a new partnership there.  Stay to serve at the Free Clinic day or walk across the street to Christ Our Shepherd where they’ll be working to improve the children’s wing inside and beautify the grounds outside. 

And the list goes on.  There are opportunities near every Elevation location on Saturday to blitz the neighborhoods with LOVE.  Then on Sunday, be prepared to serve right after the worship experience and bring items to “Stuff the Truck.”

Thank you for all you’ve done already to bring God’s love to our city.  If you haven’t joined in yet, there’s still time – don’t miss out!  Go to LOVEWEEKCHARLOTTE.COM to see all the opportunities to serve!

 

 

February 14, 2012

Love Week (Tuesday)

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx has proclaimed February 11-19 LOVE Week across our city.  In celebration, he will join my husband and I to bless children and families on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

We will visit children in the playroom at Levine Children's Hospital with a team from Elevation Worship to sing songs, read books, and deliver Valentine’s Day gifts supplied by Elevation volunteer, Stephanie Castles.  My friend Stephanie was moved to service following an extended stay at Levine when her son Jacob was seriously ill.

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Last April, Pastor Steven and Mayor Foxx signed the “Orange Initiative.”  It’s an Elevation Church promise to serve 100,000 hours and give $750,000 in one year to fight homelessness and hunger and improve our city for all our citizens.

LOVE Week is an audacious, collaborative initiative to unify our city in an outpouring of volunteer service.  More than 40 churches will join together to beautify our parks, improve our schools, honor our police and firefighters, feed the hungry, raise awareness about homelessness, poverty, and addiction, serve the poor and improve the quality of life for neighbors of all ages, and from all walks of life.

There are opportunities to serve TODAY.  If you've been sitting on the sidelines of LOVE Week, this is your opportunity.  What better way to show our city LOVE on Valentine's Day than to serve?

In 2012, our LOVE Week goal is to serve 50,000 volunteer hours in collaboration with 50 churches.  Our hope and prayer is that this effort will inspire the citizens of Charlotte with a spirit of compassion, unity, selflessness, and service.

More than 350 events are planned and there is something for everyone.

To find out how you can be a part of this citywide initiative, join us at www.loveweekcharlotte.com   

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February 13, 2012

Monday Morning Commentary

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This weekend we continued in our series, Living a Better Story and if you have not heard any of these messages, you are missing out.  This series has been so helpful for me and so many others.

My husband opened up the message in Jeremiah 1:5,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
   before you were born I set you apart;
   I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

He said something (something that was not necessarily new, or all that profound, that is until I took it to heart) that I hope will stick with me for a long time... "God chose me before I ever did anything wrong AND before I did anything right!"

If you really take this to heart, it will change your life.  I can cancel the audition because God has designed me for my part, and I never really had to try out.  I realize that I can stop auditioning for my friends, my family, my church members (hello PWs), my critics, and even my children because God custom designed me for the part He wanted me to play.

This message was so powerful.  You can listen to the message at the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast.  You can also download our Elevation iPhone app and have the messages in your phone each week too.  Have a great Monday!

February 10, 2012

Love Week is here!!

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I love my church.  You know that.  But I especially love my church this time of year when we work together all over our city to do what I’m teaching my kids this month. 

1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

LOVE Week 2012 begins tomorrow.  For eight days, we will work together all over the Charlotte area to share God’s love through our service.  Two years ago we served 10,551 hours.  Last year, we partnered with 25 churches to serve 34,257 hours.  This year, we believe in the unifying power of Jesus to bring 50+ churches together to serve 50,000 hours.

 There are more than 350 opportunities to serve all over the Charlotte area.  And it’s amazing, but there are more than 50 opportunities Saturday alone!  Most of the events are family friendly, and some of them you can even do from home.  But I love how we can get out and serve with our family alongside others in our church so we can be living out that John 3:18 lesson together.

You can sign up at LOVEWEEKCHARLOTTE.COM – but if you find the list daunting, I asked our outreach team to point out a few great opportunities you’ll love.

SERVE OUR CHILDREN AND SCHOOLSLink arms and serve with neighbors from Elevation and other churches to have fun painting and landscaping at Martin Luther King Middle School.  Saturday, February 11 10am-1pm 

ENHANCE AND BEAUTIFY OUR CITY PARKS:   Just the best way to spend a Saturday morning – head to the park with the kids!  Serve at the same time when you join us at Reedy Creek Park to spruce up this beautiful natural area.  Saturday, February 11 9am-Noon 

eKIDZ INVASION:  DADDY/DAUGHTER DATE NIGHT:  Our eKidz staff is knocking LOVE Week out of the park this year as they “take over” Ronald McDonald house.  There are opportunities to serve almost every day.  From home, you can create “Welcome Boxes” for parents and children facing serious illness.  My favorite is Daddy/Daughter date night.  Monday, February 13 6:30-8pm

There are only 20 slots left, so Dads get signed up now.

DELIVER MEALS TO THE HOMEBOUND:    Amy Corbett and I have been delivering meals on a Friendship Trays route for years.  It’s great because it only takes about 90 minutes and the kids develop relationships with the neighbors we visit twice a month.  You can try out a Friendship Trays route any day during LOVE Week.  Click the link above to sign up on Valentine’s Day.  Take flowers with you and really brighten a homebound senior citizen’s day!  Weekdays, 11am-Noon

HONOR A TEACHER, POLICE OFFICER OR FIREFIGHTER:  Here’s another great opportunity you can do from home.  My husband is huge on “honor” – we want to restore honor to our generation by freely giving respect and honor to those around us.  Make a gift basket with an encouraging card and some special items to honor the people who serve us in our city.  Bring them to any Elevation Church location on February 19.

PREPARE AND DELIVER A MEAL TO FAMILY FACING CANCER: If you love to cook, you can bless a family with your gifts and deliver to their home.  Hope Cancer Ministries offers us this opportunity at dinnertime all week long.  Weeknights 5-7pm. 

GIVE SHOES, GIVE BLOOD, GIVE ANYTHING:  Spend an extra hour right at church serving.  At every location, we’ll bring the opportunity to you.  Bring a new pair of shoes to help our outreach partner Samaritan’s Feet recover from a recent theft at their Los Angeles warehouse.  Or help us give away more than a thousand pairs of shoes in the Druid Hills neighborhood on February 18.  Give blood at every location on the weekends and all week long at Elevation Matthews.  Package essential items for homeless children served through “A Child’s Place.”   Bring books, school uniforms, gently used clothing, furniture, or household items as we “stuff a truck” at every location to bless our outreach partners. 

From February 11-19 we will impact more than 50,000 lives through our service.  Don’t miss out on this opportunity.  Click one of the links above, or go to LOVEWEEKCHARLOTTE.COM.  I look forward to sharing the LOVE Week experience with you!