Saturday, July 28, 2012

Week 6: Courtney Barrett

Courtney Barrett
I am so thankful to sit down and just really relax this evening! Summers can be so hectic and crazy at times. I would like to share a few thoughts and experiences that I have had since joining Crosspoint Church. I can truly say without doubt that my connection with Crosspoint has caused me to be more open with my church family and to be ever seeking for new opportunities to reflect Christ to nonbelievers.

         Life Groups.... If I can say one thing to every new member that enters our doors, I would say get connected!!! My life group is my family. They are so special to me and I am so glad to be apart of a group of believers that love and care about me so much. I know that I can depend on them for so many things. A couple of years ago I walked through some of the darkest days I have ever experienced in my life. I know that Christ placed special people in my life to help me sustain during that time. These very special friends are in our life group. They prayed for me when I couldn’t and they loved me at a time I could not really love back. I will always be thankful! Life is so much more meaningful when you build relationships that are Christ centered.

         Service Work- I have had the great pleasure of serving the church through the Leadership team for Crosspoint Women, Starting Point, and PIT Crew. Each area of service has allowed me to become closer to my church family and it has also opened up opportunities for me to meet others that are seeking Christ. Our church offers so many areas for us to serve. I believe serving others builds compassion and offers us a chance to truly reflect Christ to others.

          In short ... Ladies of Crosspoint....  YOU ROCK!!!  Too all of the Cp woman I know and to all of the Cp women I will meet in the future, I leave you with a few words.... Love...Serve...Pray... and be thankful for the one who gave it ALL!!! ;)


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Week 5: Christy VanderWoude

Christy VanderWoude
I have recently been studying the story of Hagar.  This is a seemingly small, insignificant story, but for me it has had a huge impact on how I see God dealing with me.  For years now Hagar’s name for God has been my all time favorite.  When she met him in the desert she called him “the God who sees me.”  To me, this is the most intimate of names.  When I call on “the God who sees me” I imagine standing before him naked with all of my faults and flaws exposed.  The amazing thing is there is no shame only extreme love, acceptance, and an overwhelming sense of grace.  In that moment I know he sees all of me. Let’s start at the beginning of Hagar’s (and my) story.

 Genesis 16:7-8 - The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a desert spring …The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

 Don’t you love how God asks questions he already knows the answers to?  Like Hagar at the well, he knows my name, he knows better than anyone who I am. He knows my strengths and my weaknesses and he loves me. Like Hagar at the well, he knows where I have come from, he knows my past, the roads I have traveled to get to this point in my life. He has seen all my mistakes and he accepts me.  Like Hagar at the well, he knows where I am going. This brings the most comfort; he knows where I am going!  He knows what lies ahead and he is preparing me for the journey.

Genesis 16:8 - “I am running away from my mistress,” Hagar replied.

So, here it is… The reason God keeps bringing this story to my mind… I’m a runner. If things are uncomfortable I run.  If something is unpleasant I run. If conflict is impending I don’t just run, I run as fast as I can!  My desert looks a little different than Hagar’s.  My desert is my bedroom with my face in a book or on the couch watching TV, anything to escape.

Genesis 16: 9 - Then the angel of the Lord said, “Return to your mistress and submit to her authority.”

Just like Hagar, God has found me in my desert place and given me a message that is heard throughout scripture. Return! Submit!  He is calling me to turn from my sin, return to him and submit to his will.  God’s grace is unfathomable. No matter how many times I run from him his message is always the same… “Come back. My grace is sufficient. My love is never-ending.”

Here is the beauty of the story.  God doesn’t send Hagar back empty, but he fills her heart with a promise.  She, a lowly Egyptian slave, will have more descendants than she can count.  She will have a son and he will be named Ishmael.  Ok, at this point the promise goes down hill. Basically her son is going to be an ass, but hey! She won’t be alone.  God has also filled my heart with promises.  He will never leave me, nor forsake me.  He will free me from all my fears.  He will meet all my needs.  He will forgive me.  He will save me. Like Hagar’s promise, it’s not perfect.  He never promises that there won’t be struggles and hard times, but I know that “the God who sees me” will walk with me through those times loving me, accepting me, truly seeing me!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Week 4: Stephanie VanEps

Stephanie Van Eps
I learned to play guitar when I was about 17. My dad, who plays guitar and piano and really any other musical instrument you put in front of him, bought me my first guitar. It was second hand and had a crack in the neck, which made it incredibly difficult to stay tuned, but I played it constantly. I had always loved to sing (nothing publically, I’m talking like, during worship or in the shower, or in my car) but as I learned more and more on my guitar I really began to crave worship and not just singing. I would play between (college) classes, I would write songs, usually during those same classes, and my daily time in God’s word began including a worship time.  It became a conversation starter between the Lord and me; I felt something, but didn’t know how to talk about or pray about, so I sang it out.  It was powerful and intimate and completely mine.

 During college, my best friend, and roommate, Sarah and I would play and sing together. We would lead worship for our discipleship group, or for friends. We wrote songs together and recorded and performed a few. We even sang at my Wedding reception (a sweet song I wrote from letters my adorable husband had written me while we were dating.) But Sarah was always the first guitar, the first voice. And when I lead worship with other people, I always just followed, or sang harmony. I was totally fine with that; totally comfortable. I had no desire to perform, to be in front of people. I just liked to worship. In fact most times, I was terrified to play and sing in front of people. I would avoid it at all costs, I would even make my husband turn around and turn off the lights if he wanted to listen to me play. I’m being totally serious. We had a strict “no eye contact” rule.

So a year and half ago during a Women’s Ministry meeting when the concept of having a women’s Night of Worship was birthed, I’m not really sure what lead me to admit that I played guitar. And I have no idea, why a room full of women who had never heard me play or sing completely entrusted me to lead this new ministry, but they did. For the next 6 weeks leading up to the first Night of Worship I thought of everything I could to get out of it. I wanted so badly to call Susan and tell her that I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t right for the job and she needed to find someone else. But in the midst of feeling totally scared and wanting to throw up every time, I thought about it, I could feel the Lord pouring HIS confidence in me. When I thought “I can’t do this,” He would say “Yes, you can.” When I would hear, “They’re not going to like you. You sing different. You are not talented enough to lead a whole night of worship,” God would tell me, “It doesn’t matter what you sound like or how much talent you have, this night isn’t about you.” He never let me go. He was never quiet. He talked over the voice in my head constantly, and He reminded me to lean into HIM to get through my fear.

 As I obeyed and continue to obey, the Lord has not taken away my fear of performing. I still pretty much feel like puking the whole week before a Night of Worship. And when I finally get up there, I am shaking and my hands are sweaty. But He is teaching me that all He wants from me is my heart. My love for worship and my willingness to obey Him is all He needs to do some work. As HE stretches me, He also rewards me. I can not express in words what it does to my heart, my core, my very being to look out in the middle of song and see a crowd of women responding to their God. In that moment I am not scared, I am not proud of myself, I am just blessed to be doing the very thing that our Lord has created me for, worship. Privately or publically My God created me to worship Him. It’s awesome.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Week 3 - Christina Harrington

Christina Harrington
I am sure if you have been a Christian for any length of time, you have heard a few testimonies about “tithing”. Well, get ready cause you are about to read another. Allow me a minute to give you some background history of my life.

 I was saved at age 12, and my family decided to attend a non-dominational church in Damascus, Maryland. I am now 40 years old and have stayed in love with Jesus for all those years. Along the way there were many…MANY preachers and/or pastors who gave their “sob” story about giving money to the church. The more they begged for what I considered “my money”, the more stubborn I became. There was one church that even went as far as every Sunday morning…well, let’s say he said it every way possible (even being straight out judgmental).

I did give at times, for example, when they needed food or drinks for meetings or church outings. Once in a blue moon I would throw $20 or $50 in the box (if I had any extra money, which wasn’t often at all). You see most of Scott and I’s early years was spent in a large amount debt…we are talking anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 (most of which was credit cards). We spent almost 15 years of our marriage with large debts hanging over our heads.

It’s been over 3 years since we the Lord moved us to Pearland, Texas. Our business was starting over from scratch and after about 6 months of living in Texas I got sick of the debt which was getting worse since we still had to pay rent in Maryland ($1995.00 a month) and rent on our Texas home ( $1550.00 a month). We were getting no-where fast, but deeper in debt.  I was done with it, so I started praying…and praying…and cutting cards…and looking for debt-free programs. Not long after we started down the road to being debt-free, Tom Allen started the first of the “90 day Tithe Challenge” at Crosspoint Church. Tom did an amazing job of preaching the truth of tithing and so (without signing the card) we took the challenge. We prayed and obeyed on a fixed amount (true agreement between spouses can bring the biggest blessings). After 3 months we were seeing our income rise and become steady. After one year, we were finally debt-free and had money in our business and personal accounts. So, we tested the Lord a little more…we added to the monthly amount that we originally agreed to give. It’s now been almost 2 1/2 years and our business income has stayed steady, and after renting for 4 LONG years, we were finally able to build a beautiful home right here in Pearland.

Early I stated about it being “my money”, the truth, it never was my money. The Lord gives us what we need! I pray that everyone seeks the Lord about tithing. God doesn’t need our money he needs open and willing hearts. I also completely understand that it takes time for us to fully understand our responsibility with “HIS” money. So, you will never hear judgment from me, but please do as Pastor Tom advises us… “Pray and Obey”!!!