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To See You, Lord

I don't want to be a tour guide 
at the nature reserve called Abba, 
directing others’ attention 
to that cliff-face over there...
that ravine...
that bush...
that vista, 
fabricating wonder for guests 
but having in my soul 
completely lost touch 
with the landscape of my Father's heart. 
I want to see You, Lord. 
Fully. 
I want to feel the texture, heat and cold. 
To breathe Your air and discover 
the unseen tracks of who You are. 
I don't want to live a life that points to You. 
That is not enough. 
I want to live engrossed in You. 
Sweat on my brow. 
Dirt under my nails. 
Flowers in my hair. 
Utterly lost in the wild wonder.
-Antonette Weatherly

Rest for Your Soul

My little family of 3 frequently takes a 20 minute drive into the country to visit my in-laws. Some visits we remain until well after dark. That means a 20 minute drive home beneath the stars. 

When we pull up in our driveway we kick into our “out too late” bedtime routine. First, my husband scoops up our sleeping daughter from her carseat and gently deposits her in her bed. I then change my sleeping girl into her pajamas. Sometimes, this evokes a sweet smile from her, and feeling tenderly cared for, she nestles down into her blanket and drifts off to dreaming. 

I remember the exact feeling when I was a little girl, of being half asleep and my mom changing me into my pajamas. I recall the strange relief of having fallen asleep in one place, waking up in another, and finding yourself secure in the arms of your parent making you comfortable for bed. 

Recently, the Lord brought this to my heart and spoke that in this season, where many are experiencing fear, panic, and unrest, we can rest like my little girl, in and through Him.

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

The rest that God gives is more than physical rest, although physical rest is included. God also provides rest for our souls. As you meditate on Him, our good Shepherd, and His provisions for you, you can experience what it is to be tenderly cared for in times of trouble, and as you do, He will “make [you] to lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2). 

Prophetic Word: The Sound of Ringing Brass

3:00 AM February 18, 2020

This morning I saw a shovel digging deep into the earth and suddenly it struck against a treasure box. The SOUND of the strike was so loud it carried across the earth. The Lord spoke that across nations, across denominations, the body of Christ is STRIKING UPON THE TREASURE OF THE LORD. A sound like RINGING BRASS is resonating over the Church. The treasure that we have found is INTIMACY WITH THE MOST HIGH in the secret place. The deep yearning of the Spirit is compelling the people of God to find the true treasure of His presence and to REVERE it. There is a GREAT MOVE OF OUR FOCUS, a UNITY in the single pursuit of HIS FEET. 

The tip of the unearthed treasure box was covered in soil and time-worn on the outside, but those digging knew the YET HIDDEN GLORY of what they had struck. 

The SOUND of the shovel hitting the treasure was like that of RINGING BRASS. 

“And [Jesus’s] eyes were as a flame of fire, And his FEET LIKE UNTO HIM FINE BRASS, as if they burned in a furnace,” (Revelation 1:14-15).

Don’t stop digging! You have FOUND HIS FEET. As we make our dwelling at the feet of Jesus in the SECRET PLACE, we too are being PURIFIED IN THE SAME FURNACE of Yaweh’s love. His feet are the PLACE OF EXCHANGE, where we receive MORE OF HIS MANIFEST GLORY as He burns up all impurities. 

The SOUND OF RINGING BRASS is the words of David crying, “ONE THING I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).

The sound is His invitation over us to the MOST INTIMATE PLACE OF MEETING, where He transforms us into His own likeness, PLACING THE TREASURE OF HIS HEART into our hearts, making them cry out, “I will be satisfied when I awake in your likeness,” (Psalm 17:15).

As we live in this deep place of intimacy by the Spirit, we will carry His feet with us onto the main stages of the earth and into the recesses with GREATER POTENCY, making every place we enter a THRONE ROOM FOR ENCOUNTER with the King of Kings. 

At His feet He releases HIS SECRETS—secrets that release HIS WILL (the very ATMOSPHERE OF HEAVEN) into the earth through the individuals that carry them. The SOUND OF RINGING BRASS over us is resounding with the words, “There’s a private place reserved FOR THE LOVERS OF GOD, where they sit near him and receive the revelation-secrets of his promises” (Psalm 25:14-16 TPT).

Confessions of An Overcomer

Recently, I found myself in a new ministry atmosphere in which I knew without a doubt, I was in over my head. It was an opportunity I had waited and prepared for for years but actually being in that room, surrounded by leaders I’d looked up to for over a decade was surreal.

And do you know what I heard, “who do you think you are?”

That same old voice, using that same old strategy, “hath God said?”

The thoughts begun to rush in like a flood.

“Who are you to speak to God’s people? You’ve failed too big and too often to ever be of any use to the Kingdom. You’re a woman. You’re too young. This isn’t worth the risk. Life was easier being quiet. What do you hope to gain by this?”

I’ll admit, I listened to the voice of the enemy for about 5 minutes on the car ride home, then, my husband and Jesus slapped some sense into me.

The Lord said, “give me leaders who have been through some stuff.  Leaders that have walked through fire but don’t smell of smoke. Who have overcome lack, loss, rejection, sin, and sickness. People that know what it is to apply the blood of Jesus to their lives and see His power released. People that have trained their eyes to look at their suffering through the veil of his unfailing love. People who boast in their weakness, their losses, their embarrassments, and their failures. These are the more-than-overcomers in Christ, that will set captives free.

The enemy is scared to Hell that instead of identifying with all you are not, you will begin to identify with all that you have been made in Christ. When we identify with the finished work of Jesus, putting on Christ, we share in His victory.  He’s going to bring you into rooms in which you feel in over your head. Get ready! You are right where you belong, overcomer. 

Stewarding Kingdom Influence

John’s encounter with Jesus at the Jordan River in Matthew 4 teaches us what it is to healthily steward Kingdom influence. 

John has been preaching to the multitudes, “Heaven is about to appear! Turn from evil and turn to God!” (Matthew 3:2)  And thousands are responding to his message of freedom by confessing their sin and being baptized in the Jordan River. John knows his life’s message and is owning it with bold conviction in front of believers and non-believers alike. 

THEN Jesus comes to Galilee to be baptized by John. Matthew 3:13 says, “when Jesus waded into the water John RESISTED him saying, ‘why are you doing this?’ John the Baptist, the prophesied voice crying out in the wilderness (see Isaiah 40:3, Mal. 3:1) RESISTED Jesus! John’s been telling the multitudes that the Messiah is coming, who will baptize his people in fire (see Acts 2), and whose shoes John is not worthy to touch. Yet, the moment Jesus shows up with new instruction, John resists him.

I believe we all too often find ourselves as taken aback by Jesus as John is in this moment. We’re running our race, others’ lives are being impacted by our ministry, and we’re feeling fully capable of carrying out the assignment exactly as planned. BUT THEN Jesus steps into our situation with a new direction and we find ourselves at odds with the King. Put yourself in John’s shoes. “Surely you’ve got this wrong Jesus. I’m not really supposed to baptize you? Surely not now, in front of all of these people? After all that I’ve told them? What would they think?”

Isn’t it funny how often we as believers value a good presentation over the presence of Jesus? Jesus is right there! He’s telling John what must be done but because it doesn’t compliment his idea of a well executed plan, John is stopped in his tracks. He is resistant to the very thing he’s been expectant of, Jesus’ coming. Even if John felt unworthy of what he was being asked to do, who was he to argue with Jesus?

When John asks, “why are you doing this?” I love Jesus’ reply. He says, “it’s only right that we do all that the Father requires.” In other words, “because I said so.” When Jesus wades into your situation, that one you’ve got all figured out, (the 5 year plan, the chosen college, the ministry, the blog, the child rearing, the career) and he speaks your next move to you, take a page from John’s story. Don’t try to figure it out. Don’t expect a theological dispensation on why this and not that. Simply obey.

John baptizes Jesus. “And as Jesus rose up out of the water, the heavenly realm opened up over him and he saw the Holy Spirit descend out of the heavens and rest upon him…the Father shouted from the sky, saying, ‘This is the Son I love, and my greatest delight is in him” (Matthew 3:16-17) Think of how affirming and fulfilling this moment was for John! His quick obedience to the instruction of Jesus solidified him forever in the story of the unfolding Kingdom and the arrival of its King. Each well-stewarded moment of resistance in your life, each opportunity to obey, solidifies you in that story as well.

On the other side of obedience is always breakthrough. If you are waiting for breakthrough in any area of your life, I am willing to wager there is an opportunity to obey attached to it. We don’t know what manifest glory we release in our lives when we simply take Jesus at his word and say yes. It wasn’t sin for John to resist, to not understand, or to even question Jesus’ plan. But he didn’t allow it to cause him to disobey.

In John 5:35 Jesus calls John “a lamp that burned and gave light.” I believe John was a man of fire not because he spoke loudly and wore wild clothing but because he chose obedience to Christ over the convenience of being luke-warm and in charge. Living in the delight of agreement with Jesus far surpasses the brief satisfaction of a well-executed plan. We must remember that we are citizens of a Kingdom in which we are not the King. As John’s life demonstrates, simple obedience to Jesus is a mark of true Kingdom influence. 

Freedom

I’ve been processing with the Lord my expectations of what freedom looks like in a congregation, an entire congregation free of fear and shame. I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of the picture of freedom I had painted in my mind is desperately lacking, at least fundamentally.

Freedom is often thought of as this explosive expression, a kind of spontaneous combustion. I think of a congregation fully free and I imagine radical worship, demonstrative praise, services rich in emotion and bravado. I suppose I find that really attractive because I belong to a culture of hype seekers. Don’t get me wrong, I believe freedom looks like something. It surely doesn’t look like nothing, but I am beginning to consider that freedom looks like the woman of faith gently laying her hand on the broken and seeing them healed. Or that it looks like tears streaming down the face of the man of God experiencing the love of Jesus so deeply in prayer with a brother, he can’t even utter a sound as he weeps.

As a worship leader, there have been seasons in my life I have struggled to understand what it is to behave free, in order that I might encourage freedom in others. It occurred to me today that freedom isn’t necessarily loud, in your face, shouting “let me show you how free I am!” And I’m so relieved because I was never very good at that.

Jesus was the freest man to walk the earth. ALL the fullness of God dwelt in Him. Understanding that, how could I set my expectation on a demonstrative display of a manifestation only, and not upon the calm invitation he utters to Lazurus when he says, “come forth,” or when he says to the Canaanite woman, “your faith has made you whole,” or when he promised the man who hung beside him on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise.” Or better yet, when he came toward his disciples unannounced, walking across the surface of the water toward them, inviting Peter to join him. No hype. No bravado. Just authority released.

I think sometimes we as Christ followers invite noise into our gatherings because we are afraid to speak only, to lay our hands on, to cast out, to bind and to loose, to let the word produce life. We are afraid because these acts require our cooperation. These acts require a step of faith & we fear mustard seed faith will be inadequate. It is a fear that would never utter the words and yet agrees, “I’d rather shout than come face to face with my sister in need of healing, in need of prayer.”

I’m still processing all of this but I believe the Lord is saying, come up higher. He is giving me a new perspective. He is redefining what a “win” looks like when I step off of the stage after leading worship. He is inviting me to expect more of our services and to value the seemingly uneventful encounters happening across the room more than I ever have before.

I believe a wave is coming, sweeping across the Body of Christ, the likes of which the global Church has not known. Some things released will be loud, some things will be subtle. I don’t want to miss seeing what the Lord is doing because I would not value the subtle expressions of Heaven’s outpouring as highly as I value the earth shaking ones. More than something that is seen, I am beginning to believe that freedom is something that is known intimately, in the heart of man. It is the very nature of the Lion of Judah being released in us–sometimes roaring, sometimes resting in his strength, but always seated in authority. I believe freedom looks like that.

Surrendered: An Interview with Her Virtue Director Kayla McCusker

Victory Life Church’s Her Virtue is an annual camp retreat in which hundreds of young ladies ages 12-18 gather together to spend a weekend in worship, growing in connection, and discovering purpose. Throughout the weekend, campers participate in a range of fun activities, workshops, small groups, powerful teaching, and passionate worship.

Each year the Her Virtue team puts in weeks of prayerful preparation with one goal in mind: that lives will be forever changed by the love of Christ. For many returning campers and leaders this event has become synonymous with radical encounters with the Lord and moments that set the course for the rest of their lives.

Now, in it’s 11th year, Her Virtue is under the directorship of ministry leader Kayla McCusker and her team.  I got to sit down with Kayla to get an idea of what the journey to Her Virtue 2018: Unveiled has been like, and what’s in store for these ladies this year.

Q- This is you and your team’s first time to be responsible for the planning of a Her Virtue Conference. What has that process looked like?

A- So, I have a team of 7 and we meet every week. The first few meetings we were just sharing what was on our hearts. We didn’t talk about the logistics of the conference. All we did was share what we were going through in our lives and things we were struggling with. The second meeting was more of a “so what’s on your heart for Her Virtue” meeting. And it’s really cool because everything we had to say was all connecting. The Lord’s just awesome like that! There have been some challenges but overall it’s been one of the best seasons I’ve ever had. Because there is so much to do, in the back of our minds there’s always that thought that we forgot something but we’ve worked through it. The team that we have for Her Virtue makes everything a piece of cake. They’re awesome.

Q- What’s on your heart this year for the ladies attending?

A- Our hearts behind what we want for Her Virtue to be this year was first off…this year we are dealing with some heavy stuff regarding sexuality and everything that’s going on in the world…things that have entered not just the culture of the world but the culture that we as young people host. We knew that it was going to be more of a difficult year. We were going to have to jump through some things that we didn’t have to in previous conferences. There are so many different temptations and struggles out there, so how do we cultivate a culture where your temptation isn’t who you are? Where you can say, “I’m dealing with this, but it’s not who I am.” It’s a huge identity issue. We were wanting to create a place where they belong despite if they were dealing with pornography, same-sex attraction, whatever it is. We wanted to go with a theme that would allow us to instill truth into everyone’s heart so that when they leave the conference it’s not just another weekend.

Q- What does the theme Unveiled mean?

Picture going to an art gallery and there’s this masterpiece that has been the talk for months now. The whole conference is leading up to an unveiling. Unveiling the beauty in Christ’s work. We want them to know they are still wanted, they are still apart of this Kingdom no matter what they’ve struggled with. A huge goal of our team is to pull at the roots of whatever struggle they’re dealing with, not to say you shouldn’t be doing this but to find the root. The deeper reason why. Unveiled is about identity.

Q- You’ve attended Her Virtue every year for years? What was your experience as an attendee?

A- I’ve never left a Her Virtue conference feeling like I was missing something. I’ve never left feeling like that was a waste of my time. Her Virtue is where I received my prayer language. It’s where I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Some of my best friendships were formed at Her Virtue. It has kept the momentum of my walk with God up. It’s once a year but it was always something to look forward to.  It kept the momentum there, kind of fanned the flame. It helped me to find a community of people dealing with some of the things that I was dealing with and going through some of the things that I was going through.

Q-What would you say to young ladies who are apprehensive about attending Her Virtue?

A-The thought of going to a conference is very intimidating but my advice is that you have nothing to lose. If you’re going to take a chance, take a chance with a group or people that are on the same page as you. Her Virtue is a judgement-free place. I’ve dealt with some pretty heavy stuff that I feel like came forward at Her Virtue but was never judged.

Q- You’ve been leading in your church for 6 years and are one of the hardest workers I know. What advice would you give young ladies who feel called to leadership roles?

A- There are so many times in this walk, in being in ministry on a volunteer level for so long, that you feel you were promised something and it didn’t happen. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that if you are continuing to seek after the Lord and being obedient then there’s nothing but promotion. The times I’ve felt the most down about myself or my place in ministry was when I had paused seeking after the Father.

Q- Finally, what does surrender mean to you?

A- Thankfully, I’m in a church that encourages female leadership but since it is kind of a new thing culturally, you find yourself dealing with insecurity but wanting control at the same time. Having struggled with comparison and being so young in ministry,  I know what it is to surrender to self. In order to get to the place I knew the Lord was calling me to, I had to surrender my insecurities. Surrender is laying down anything that is self. Especially leading a team. If I’m not willing to surrender to self then it’s not going to be the team’s Her Virtue, it’s going to be my Her Virtue which isn’t going to be as good as the teams.

Surrendered: An Interview with Worship Leader Tayte Weatherly

Tayte Weatherly has been leading worship in her church since the age of 14. She has served two Victory Life Church campuses in youth and adult services, Victory Life Academy’s Chapel band, and multiple worship conferences. Her commitment to sharing the love of the Father and a passionate heart of worship has led her on a life-long pursuit of the presence of God being made manifest through His people.

In 2016, this pursuit led her to begin her first Worship Life Group.  This group provides an environment in which members participate in an extended time of worship, during which the gifts of prophetic ministry, healing, and prayer are lovingly encouraged and practiced by its members.

Q- What was your vision for starting a worship life group?

A- I have a really good friend named Jesse Hanks. The idea was actually hers in the beginning. She came to me and her vision for it was very simple. She wanted a time of worship for people who were hungry….people who wanted to go deeper, who weren’t afraid to put a lot of time aside for it, and not in a hurry.

Q- How did you begin?

A- We started meeting in the first place I ever led spontaneous worship, in the chapel at Victory Life Church in Durant. I started leading spontaneously while a sophomore in high school there. So, where we held the life group was super special to me because it felt like a reawakening of that first love. Spontaneous worship was a big part of the vision for the life group from the beginning.

Q- How would you describe spontaneous worship?

A- Spontaneous worship and prophetic worship are different. In spontaneous worship you’re not prophesying, you’re just loving on God in your own personal and unique way. Prophetic worship is God loving on the people in the room. You’re just used as a messenger. You go back and forth between them throughout a worship set. You’re always loving on God and then He’s pouring that love back into you [through prophetic songs]. Spontaneous is loving on God in your own words, on the spot.

Q- What is it about this aspect of worship that you love?

A- I love art and God loves art. He loves when we’re creative. I think the creative element of it caught me from the beginning. I’m also a super affectionate person and it was a way for me to release affection for the Lord like I never really had before. And [it was a way] to be emotionally vulnerable with the Lord. I love the vulnerability of it because it’s a huge risk! You’ve never sung these words before! It’s kind of a sacrifice that you give the Lord because it costs you something. It costs you being comfortable sometimes, and it costs you being safe.

Q- What do you think is the role of spontaneous and prophetic worship within the Church?

A- I’ve found that it is a huge facilitator for other ministries, like healing. Prophets will share more when there are prophetic worship leaders leading. So, it’s a huge facilitator for the supernatural really.

Q- What do you see God doing in your worship life group?

A- In my worship life group there’s no line between the stage and the audience. We all want to be there. The worship leaders don’t want to be there more than the people attending ’cause no one comes on a Friday night and worships unless they really want to worship. Because of the hunger in the people, there’s no distinction between the person leading and the people receiving. We’re both being vulnerable with the Lord. I would love to see more of that in the Church [as a whole], where we don’t expect the worship leader to be more excited than us. We’re both going after the Lord.

Q- Last year, you moved from meeting in the chapel to meeting in Janell Martin’s home. What has that transition been like?

A- The change between the chapel and the home was exactly what we needed. It seemed to fit the style of worship we were doing better than an auditorium or a sanctuary because it was very intimate and it felt like family worship.

Q- Your group experienced a lot of growth in numbers after the move, how have you grown as a worship leader since?

A- I didn’t expect having to grow as much as I did in flexibility and in facilitating ministries…learning to honor them. For example, recently I felt the Lord tell me to pause while singing. I didn’t necessarily want to pause. It was a beautiful moment with the Lord and I wanted to keep on singing, but He told me to pause because someone else in the room had a prophetic word. So, I just honored the Lord and paused. Sure enough someone did give a prophetic word during that time of silence. Learning to leave times of silence is something that I didn’t expect to have to learn how to do. That’s been a real growing experience.

Q- You’re learning to flow with group members who are stepping out in their gifts. How do you flow spontaneously with your team of vocalists?

A- I think you have to sing with a person for a long time to figure out the right flow and again, it takes a lot of honor. Someone might get a prophetic word and you have to let them sing it out, even if that wasn’t what you were feeling in the room. I’ve heard it called honoring the point. It’s like a pointing dog that points at something and before you see it, you just trust that the point knows what he’s talking about. You really have to develop more relationship with prophetic worship leaders because there’s a lot more trust needed.

Q- How do you flow spontaneously with the instrumentalists on your team?

A- I believe that instruments also prophesy. David prophesied with his harp and demons would leave Saul [1 Samuel 16:14-23]. I think that instrumentalists are just as important as singers in prophetic moments. As a leader you have to be very observant to the sounds that are going on around you because an instrumentalist can be catching a new sound, a new song and you might have to encourage them. I think it’s big to understand that you don’t just have prophetic songs, you also have instrumentalists coming up with melodies that can release power in the room.

Q- How has leading in a life group setting effected the way that you lead from the stage?

A- I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in life group that’s helped me leading from the stage is that sometimes God wants you to restrain yourself if it’s right for the moment. We have to remember that the people in the congregation are God’s kids and He’s very careful with His kids. I’ve learned to be very careful and really try to hear the Lord’s voice as well as I can. When He’s telling me no, I stop. When He’s telling me yes, I go. That’s something I’ve become better at because of life group.

Q- What kinds of challenges have you faced as a worship leader?

A- I think you have to fight comparison no matter how long you’ve been leading. We all have different strengths. There will always be someone who has a better range than you. There will always be someone who can do things with their voice that you can’t. The enemy will try to get you to waste your time comparing yourself with them instead of listening to what the Lord is saying to you. The main thing is listening to the voice of the Lord.

A- How do you overcome the struggle with comparison?

Q- Getting the Father’s perspective…seeing that person how He sees them will help you to celebrate them instead of seeing them as competition. When I see someone with a better voice than me or someone who is a better prophetic worship leader than me, I encourage them to go farther. It’s about not staying stagnate and not having the attitude that, “I’m the only person who can do what I do.” Letting people pass you, letting people exceed you, and actually being excited about that, that’s the Father’s heart.

Q- How would you encourage others who are growing as worship leaders?

A- Time alone with God. You can’t replace time alone with God with anything else if you want to grow. The more personal time I have of just worshiping the Lord, the better all of the times of worshiping on a stage are.

Take Away:

  • Spontaneous worship is about loving on God.
  • Prophetic worship is God loving on His kids.
  • Honor is a key component in flowing in the gifts of the Spirit.
  • When you see others the way the Father does, you can celebrate them.
  • You can’t replace time alone with God with anything else if you want to grow.

Surrendered: An Interview with Pastor Sierra Kinnamon

Pastor Sierra Kinnamon has been serving the Church since she was old enough to volunteer in children’s church ministry. From a very young age she has responded wholeheartedly to the call of God on her life that she share the Gospel to the nations. She has served as a missionary in 7 countries, including stays in the United States, in New York City and Las Angeles. Her non-profit organization, One Soma Global Inc., has aided in raising money for supplies in disaster stricken areas, and continues to meet the needs of communities local and abroad.

Following her most recent trip to India in the summer of 2017, Sierra was set in as a Pastor for Victory Life Church Durant, the mother church of a multi-campus church body under the headship of Duane Sheriff Ministries. Now, along-side her team, Sierra pastors two church campuses, Victory Life Colorado Springs,Co., and Victory Life Woodland Park, Co. This past Fall I sat down with Sierra during a visit to Texas to find out about her experience in Colorado.

Q: What is it like to establish and help develop a Victory Life Church location?

A: We have two campuses in Colorado and I oversee the life groups, the grow teams, and Next Steps for both campuses. The newest campus is 15 weeks old and we have about 60-65 people. A lot of what I’m doing there is identifying and developing leaders, while building and implementing systems for ministry.

Q: What would you say is the biggest task you face in your work?

A: The biggest task is that it’s my job to help establish Victory Life culture. [In a new location] you have a whole group of people who have awesome hearts, who want to be apart of Victory Life culture but haven’t seen it before. For instance, how we walk out different things…how we walk out mercy…and everything we do.

Q: What elements are most important in the culture of Victory Life to you and how do you go about establishing that?

A: I think for me it’s been acknowledging relationships. I know, that before I can have a say in anything, that the Holy Spirit has told me, “you have to establish relationship first….You have to let people see your heart.” Definitely the mercy side of things is very important to me. We’re gonna walk out mercy first. We’re not just going to look at someone’s heart and say we know them, but we’re going to walk life out with them.

Q: What has been the impact on the surrounding area having not one, but two Victory Life locations within an hour of each other?

A: Something we’ve been hearing all year is that we’re not just a church in a city but for a city. That’s interesting because we’re so close to Charis Bible College. A lot of Bible students come to the church, which is awesome but Bible school is different than a church. Pastor Duane said it best when he was in Colorado, “you’re sent to Bible school but you’re set in a church.” So really showing people that the church is not about just going and being spiritually fed (like you are in Bible College), but really about pouring that back out.

Q: What is your vision for pouring out into the Colorado community?

A: We haven’t started much outreach but once we’ve gotten our grow teams, Next Steps, and life groups going, that outreach is going to be my big focus. Because again, we have Bible students who come but we also want to make sure people in the community are coming. In the Springs there’s a big homeless population and there’s so much potential for all kinds of outreaches. I’m definitely excited about that.

Q: You’ve accomplished a lot in ministry and maintained such focus along the way. What is it that so motivates you?

A: More than anything, I’m really passionate about establishing the Kingdom of God and His culture. I think that our church is very closely related to that, and we’re very much working our way toward Heaven and Earth becoming one. Because of that, I can be excited about our church culture. I’ve found that if I’m walking in the Kingdom of God and I’m walking out what He carries, and if I’ve tried to model my life after that, then culture is the fruit of that.

Q: Being in a new environment, you’re not with your family but you’re still in Victory Life, not overseas, but you’re in an in-between. What’s that been like for you?

A: Personally the relationship aspect has been the most stretching in this season. Obviously what I’m doing in my job is all new, so I’m learning a lot. Where I’ve really had to trust is, I’ve never struggled making friends or with even the thought of it, but I found that as I was getting closer to the move, I’m like, “man I’m about to be uprooted.” Going from a place where people know you’re heart, know what’s inside of you, and friends who are good to call that out and hold you accountable to that, to then almost completely being taken away from that, and being in a place where you’re starting over, it’s been a really good stretching and growing experience. God has really been saying to me, “do you trust me?”

Q: Trusting in God must really play a vital role in your walk.  How would you describe that?

A: I was reading a book and the author was talking about how trust is developed in dependency and intimacy, and those two things are all I have right now. I have to be dependent on God, he is my best friend. I’m intimate with Him and trust can’t help but be formed in that. I have a new appreciation for family and for church family. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be but relationships take time and you can’t rush them. That’s been the most challenging aspect, but I know it’s what I’ve needed to grow. And in visiting my home in Durant, I felt this awesome sense of ownership of our campuses in Colorado. So, now I really have two places of home.

Q: What would you most like to see unfold for your campuses?

A: I think for me, I’d most like to see the leaders that need to step up, step up and take ownership of the church. [Many people] have awesome gifts but it’s about plugging in and seeing your gift develop. I know in my own life it was serving and doing whatever was needed that opened every single door for me. It was never saying, “I have a call to ministry so I’m going to do ministry.” It was, “I have a call but I’m going to serve where needed.” I want to be good at building and training those leaders.

Q: How have you walked through the process of building and training leaders so far?

A: Something I’ve been doing every time I meet with a new life group leader or grow team member, is asking them, “what are your spiritual gifts? What are the things inside of you?” Because I want to lead in a way that calls that out and helps set them in the right place. I want to see people take ownership, grow the church, and be for a city. I want to see communities connect to and find a home in the church and feel welcomed.

Q: Do you have any advice for young women who feel called to pastoral ministry?

A: Be willing to do whatever is needed and the work of the ministry, but also confident of who God is in you and His faithfulness. I know I never have to make a way for myself because He’s a really good dad who wants to see my gifts grown. I also trust that He knows the perfect timing. He’s not going to give me a leadership opportunity that I can’t handle. He’s not going to put me in a place that I’m not ready for.

Q: How have you walked out seasons of waiting?

A: I remember seasons where I felt like I have so much in me but I’m in a season of hiding, or I have so much in me but I’m not using it all. Even now, what I’m doing is details and administrative stuff and I know that’s not my end either. There’s still so much more in me but it’s a matter of saying, “in this season I trust that You’re developing me exactly how I need to be developed and Your timing is perfect.”

Q: Lastly, what does surrender to Jesus mean to you?

A: Saying yes, no matter the cost!

Take Away:

  • Before you can have a say in anything, let people know your heart
  • When you walk in the Kingdom, you set the culture
  • Trust is developed in intimacy and dependency
  • Serve whereever there’s a need
  • Be confident of who God is in you and His faithfulness
  • Know that in the right time, God will open the right doors
  • Surrender to Jesus means saying yes, no matter the cost

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A Lesson in Encouragement

I work as an Inclusion Aide in Special Education in an Elementary school,  which just means I get paid to laugh. I love the kids I work with. I love that they teach me to laugh at myself and daily give me a lighter view of the world. Throughout my short career,  I’ve had the privilege of spending hours and hours observing and engaging in relationship with children.  I especially glean from their interactions with one another.

One little girl, Savannah, is so enthusiastic. The books her teacher reads, the videos her class watches, her teachers instructions, her peer’s stick figure drawing, all blow her away, evoking her most expressive “Wow!” “Woah!” “That’s awesome!” “Did you see that?!”

She’s a fount of encouragement. She’s the voice you’d want cheering in your congregation as you preached. What I like most about Savannah is not simply that she is innately encouraging, but I see working within her, a recognition of quality and sensitivity to the efforts of others. When her peers, or her teacher for that matter, present quality to her, she applauds it. “Good job Ms. S!,” she shouts to her teacher.

Today Savannah was coloring in her fire station workbook. She pulled out a freshly sharpened color pencil and brought it within inches of my nose. “What color is this Mrs. Weatherly?”

“Aqua!” I replied. Her eyes lit up and she let out a screechy giggle.

Immediately, she went to coloring her fire station dalmatian pup, aqua. When she had finished she was immensely proud of the work she’d done. I told her it was fabulous and she beamed, but sometimes approval means more from your peers. So, she showed her work to those at her table.

“Dogs are black or brown, not aqua!” the first girl said. Disappointed, but not deterred Savannah took her masterpiece to the neighboring table.

“That’s wrooooong!” another girl declared. Savannah sunk.

“It’s pretty,” I heard her say under her breath.

I wanted to scoop her up and explain that sometimes people don’t recognize the beauty that is so obviously within in you. That you have to receive approval from God alone. I wanted to shield her, to protect her. She couldn’t understand why she wasn’t shown the same courtesy she so readily bestows to everyone else. I sat there feeling as deflated as she. I told her again what a great job she had done and then it was time to clean up.

There are times in my life I have been guilty of the same treatment those little girls showed Savannah. And there are times I have been Savannah, eager to please and to celebrate a job well done but swiftly rejected by those with whom I thought to celebrate. We all have to learn the hard way that approval comes from the Father. We have to know in our heart of hearts that we are “accepted in the Beloved,” Ephesians 1:6.

At the same time, I wonder. Can I, in my day to day be more like Savannah, quick to recognize the quality in others and eager to applaud it? Can I be sensitive to other’s efforts and join them in their celebration of a job well done? I understand that the gift of encouragement may not come so easily to us as it does to Savannah, but my prayer is that we not allow any excuse or insecurity within ourselves keep us from learning love.

One of my favorite passages says in Romans 12:10-15 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord…Rejoice with those who rejoice.”

In other words, be like Savannah.