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cultivate kindness

Cultivate Truth

Summer VLOG: Week 8

Cultivate Truth: 100 Days in the Word

What an incredible summer it’s been. The best ones always end with a little unpacking and we’ve gathered plenty of truth to process through these past eight weeks. We know that joining us has been an investment of your time, but together we’ve cultivated the habit of studying God’s word and that’s one we’ll never regret. Thank you for joining us and making this a summer marked by truth!

Closing out our summer series is Melody Workman, our Cultivate Lead, with encouragement to take what we’ve learned and live it. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for all the details about our Fall Cultivate study and how you can join us as we continue to grow spiritually wise in a community of kindness.


Hey Friends,

I’m still in denial that summer is coming to a close. Pretty soon, we’ll be back to the hustle and bustle of the fall routine: class, school, work, carpool and practice. When we’re back to the grind, somehow life starts to feel more mundane, less exciting and definitely more exhausting. What most of us aren’t thinking about during these ordinary moments is our legacy. In fact, we don’t talk much about someone’s legacy until they die. But legacy has nothing to do with how we die, and everything to do with how we live. So my question for you today is:

How are you living?

The truth is, we are building our legacy during those seemingly uneventful moments of our everyday lives so how we are living them really matters. As we wrap up this summer series, I want to look at a passage of scripture that will challenge us to live our best lives – for real. Not the filtered lives we put on Instagram for everyone to see—but our genuine, authentic lives in pursuit of the One who gave His life for us.

I am so grateful you have come along for this journey of spending time in God’s Word each day. My prayer is that you will continue to cultivate this daily discipline so that you will become a woman marked by His kindness and known for His love. There is no greater legacy.

With love,

Melody



Let’s Dig Deeper:

As we wrap up our series, answer the following questions on your own or discuss them with a friend and/or your community group:

  1. Whose legacy has really impacted your life? How?
  2. How would you answer the question, “How are you living?”
  3. Read Romans 12:1-2 in The Message translation. What does your “everyday, ordinary life” look like right now?
  4. What would it look like for you to truly place your life before God as an offering? What are some ways you can practically do that?
  5. Continue to read through Romans 12. Paul’s instructions on how to live are pretty challenging. Which ones are the hardest for you and why?
  6. How can you look for God in the mundane? What are some ways you can experience His presence in the midst of your ordinary life?
  7. Spend a few minutes praying together (or by yourself) about how you can live your best life. How you can you be a woman marked by the love and kindness of Jesus as you go through your normal, everyday routines?

You’ve “embraced” the habit of cultivating God’s word through daily reading in Lysa TerKeurst’s devotional. That doesn’t need to end with this summer series. We encourage you to continue what you’ve started and even make the time to share what you’re learning with others. See you in the fall!


Melody Workman hails from New Jersey, but she was born for the West Coast – the closer to the beach, the better – add tacos and chocolate covered strawberries and she’s in heaven! Along with being the Cultivate Lead and a Worship Leader, Melody is wife to Adam Workman, Executive Discipleship Pastor at Sandals Church, and mom to their three children: Elijah, Mehretab and Addi. She’s a fiercely loyal wife, mom and friend – mess with her people and you mess with her! With that same passion, Melody believes that a tribe of women in love with Jesus and confident in who he has created them to be are an unstoppable force in this world. As a resounding voice for exceptional kindness, she desires to see more women experience spiritual growth by connecting in community, and she’s committed to making Cultivate a place where every woman feels welcomed, safe and loved.


If you live in or around the San Bernardino area and our mountain communities – we can’t wait to meet you! Join us at Sandals Church San Bernardino for an evening of food, worship, truth and exceptional kindness. Come learn about Cultivate Women and our exciting plans to Cultivate LOVE at your campus this fall. Save the date and invite friends to join you!

Friday, Aug. 17 – 6:00pm | 3701 N Sierra Way, SB 92404 | Childcare will be provided.

 

 


You’re invited to experience Cultivate Women and our vision of spiritual growth in a community of kindness. This year, we’re thrilled to include our always popular Cultivate Marketplace with your Cultivate Conference registration. We’re curating a special selection of vendors to bring you the best and most beautiful items to browse, including NEW Cultivate merchandise. When you join us, not only will you experience food, friends, worship and teaching from Tammy Brown, Melody Workman and our special guest speaker, best selling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa TerKeurst, but you’ll get to shop too! Don’t miss this incredible weekend! Register today at cultivate.sc/conference

September 21 & 22 | Sandals Church Hunter Park | 150 Palmyrita Ave, Riverside 92507

Cultivate Peace

Cultivate Peace in Community

Welcome to the fourth and final week of our Cultivate Peace series. We hope that you’ve been encouraged by these opportunities to dig into God’s word about the pursuit of peace. If you missed any of this series, you can find all the posts here. While each writer offered a different perspective, one truth remained the same:

REAL peace is found in Jesus.

As we finish out this series, Christmas is just around the corner. Maybe this is a season of reflection and rest for you. Maybe it feels a bit more like chaos and commotion. Maybe this Christmas doesn’t look at all how you thought it would. Regardless of where you sit today or in the days ahead, know this…you are wholly and completely loved by a God who is not swayed by circumstance. Yesterday, today, and forever more He is your Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. We pray that as you draw near to Him, as you cultivate His word and His presence into your heart and life, you would not only grow to be more like Him, but you would know His peace.

We wish you love, peace, and kindness this Christmas,

The Cultivate Team


—Cultivate Peace in Community—

Most people avoid conflict. Can you blame them? Friendships are on the line, feelings are at stake, and the price to pay for relational difficulties can be a high one, indeed. Most people enjoy the peace that comes with harmony and a lack of competition. Most people want that beautiful, beige existence that comes with neutrality.

I am not most people.

From a young age, I was deemed feisty. Sassy. Competitive. As soon as I could talk, I began to challenge everyone in all aspects of life. It didn’t matter whether or not I understood the topic, I’d argue my way around it. My whole life has been navigated via minor disputes, and I love it. I took a Meyers-Briggs personality test and discovered the very thrill I receive from a healthy debate is rare. Only 3% of the population has my debater-personality type, but most people don’t appreciate my pleasure in quarreling.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18 NIV

Uh, excuse me? I just came clean with the fact that I take pleasure in disagreements. I want to point out the holes in other’s philosophies, and highlight the errors in their speech. I accumulate and hoard facts and knowledge just to use it against people. How on earth can someone like me attempt to live at peace with everyone?

When I was first mulling over this verse, I was coming to terms with what seems to be an end of a friendship. It seemed like I was such a fraud, a failure. I clearly wasn’t at peace with everyone. But you know what? This verse actually brought encouragement, because it doesn’t all depend on me. I don’t have to “fix” a situation or another person. God can work on their heart. I need only worry about who/what I am in charge of—myself.

There is no caveat in Romans 12:18. It doesn’t matter if our personality type is a debater or if that girl was so unabashedly rude, we are to behave peacefully (and lovingly). God doesn’t just know us, He created us. He understands that there will be strife among us, and not all of it will be enjoyable. And yet, He still expects us, if it is possible, as far as it depends on us, to live at peace with everyone.

Living at peace might mean:

Trying to understand the perspective of others, even if we disagree.

Accepting when we’re wrong.

Accepting that, sometimes, people may have the wrong opinion of us.

Turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) and refraining from delivering biting words that will cut deep.

Forgiving our offender, even if we don’t think they deserve it, just like God forgave us. That is grace.

We will make mistakes. Our friends, husbands, sisters, colleagues, Starbucks baristas (yes, even these sacred keepers of the caffeine) will make mistakes. We cannot live in a constant state of grievance due to the mistakes of others.

We show peace even if it is not being shown to us.

Living at peace means accepting people where they are on their journey and meeting them there, not getting annoyed that they haven’t caught up. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and yet, He loves every one of us. God loves you.

Romans 12:18 also tells us to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on you.

What can we do to cultivate peace with our community?

Can we reach out?

Can we sincerely apologize for our own actions and words?

Have we prayed about it? Have we done everything we can?

There will be times when we will work through all those questions and yet, it isn’t better. At that point, we must release our grip and ask God to take over. We show grace. We are kind. Sometimes being at peace, means distancing yourself.

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed my four-year-old go through the painful experience of a “friend” mistreating him. It makes me cry just thinking about it. He wanted to play, but the other boy refused because he wanted to play with someone else. He even told my son to “go away.” My sweet, innocent little guy was so confused. What I said to him rings true for me—sometimes a “friend” might hurt your heart, no matter how nice you are being. It’s up to you to step away, to find a new activity or play with someone else.

As an adult, that can look like being the bigger person. Being the bigger person is never noticeable to the one who isn’t being the bigger person, but that’s not why we do it. We do it because it’s what’s right. Hurting someone that hurt us never fixes the situation. 

Personally, I’m still working on this. Every day I struggle with who I am being at odds with what God wants. I need to extend more grace, and look at everyone the way God does. Pray for me, and I’ll pray for all of you, because God wants peace. God instructs us to be the peacemakers, whether or not we enjoy friendly conflict. 😉

Kindly,

Dunya


LET’S DIG DEEPER:

  1. How do you deal with conflict? Do you take time to address it, or ignore and avoid it all together? How does that effect your life and relationships?
  2. Re-read Romans 12:18 and take a minute to pray. Ask God if there are any relationships in your life where you need to pursue peace. As far as it depends on you (NOT what would they need to do), what would it look like for you be at peace with that individual or group?
  3. Can you take the first step toward cultivating peace? If that is not possible, will you entrust this situation to God and allow Him to take over?
  4. Peace in community is not cut and dry. Continue to reflect on the truth of God’s word and allow Him to show you the next steps. Pray over your heart, and the hearts of those with whom you have conflict. Share your thoughts with people you trust to give you wise counsel and godly encouragement. If you don’t have trusted community in your life to support you, we are here for you.

Being connected in community is so important to our spiritual growth. If you’re ready to join a group, you can find one here.


Dunya Ahrns is part millennial, full Russian, and only half-listening. She loves literature, writing, unsweetened tea, and thinks Frasier was one of the best television shows ever created. Dunya has enjoyed Cultivate since 2013 and has led a women’s small group for a few years. She currently serves on the Creative/Communications Team at Sandals Church where she happily gets to point out the (grammatical) mistakes of others in the name of Jesus. Dunya has played tennis since the age of two, and her ideal day is spent at a museum to feed her pompous side, followed by Baker’s to feed the hungry one.

Cultivate Peace

Cultivate Peace Through Trials

We’re in Week 3 of our Cultivate Peace series, and we’re so glad you’re here! Peace isn’t always easy to come by, but taking the time to pursue it—to intentionally cultivate it in your life—is such a beautiful leg on the journey toward growing more spiritually wise.

We hope that by coming here, you’re creating a moment in your life to be with Jesus and see peace through His eyes. Life is busy, chaotic and full, but we pray that this might be a sacred space, and that when you leave, you would indeed feel more at peace. If you’ve missed any of our previous Cultivate Peace posts, click here to find them. We always love to hear from you – share your thoughts in the comments below, or on Instagram and Facebook.


— Cultivate Peace Through Trials —

As a child I struggled with trust. Those closest to me failed to exhibit behavior conducive to that of trusting relationship; they failed to make me feel safe and fully loved. I am NOT blaming them, but I am explaining why a lack of trust in those closest to me carried over into my relationship with God. Trusting God was hard for me, and still is if I’m being REAL.

I spent my eager, young Christian days building my scriptural arsenal for the trials that were promised to come my way. I read, memorized, wrote, plastered verses on 3×5 cards on the bathroom mirror, sent them to friends in cards to encourage them, and waited for my day of heartache to arrive. With my verses, I would slay that trial just like David did to Goliath. No weapon formed against me will prosper! Take that devil! Bam!

That day arrived, friends. I got that dreaded phone call that took me from the mountain to the pit in 2.5 seconds. Although mini-trials were as normal as the sun that rises, the Big Kahuna came with a wind-knocking-blow to the chest. I couldn’t breathe as my pastor friend revealed news about his son. News that I knew was also about my son. They caught him using heroine.

Now, before you get your judging juices flowing, this is still so hard to share even 8 years in. I’m still tearfully shaking as I type, because I care too much what others think. In my honest vulnerability here are some things I learned the day my son skipped right over beer and pot and went straight for the big guns named heroine & oxycontin:

You can do many things right and things still go terribly wrong.

When they do go wrong, we are still supposed to have peace as Jesus’ followers, right?

Well, that depends on where your trust lies. Is it in you or is it in God?

“I’ve told you all this that trusting Me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace.
In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties.
But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”
John 16:33 MSG

As Jacob wrestled with God for 24 hours, I wrested with Him for 2 years because darn it, this was not my plan for my son. I was going to do ALL I COULD to save him! Key phrase: All I could.

Friends, I started to chart the way to save my son with all the things a mom could do, and quite honestly there was NO PEACE. There was anything but peace. It took 48 months of exhausting my resources, sitting in doctors offices being told I am depressed and need medication, in order for me to finally hold up the white flag of surrender.

And that’s the day it came. I completely relinquished control and released my son to the God that created Him. I said in my heart and head, “I have to trust You with him. He is yours and You have to do what only You can do in him.”

As my son drove away, at 18-years-old, in his 1969 VW bus, destination unknown, I waved goodbye with a peace that only God could give. I shouldn’t of had peace at that moment with so much uncertainty, so much unsecured, but I did.

The key to peace is the surrender with full trust.

It does not have to take 2 years, my friends. It’s really up to us how long it takes. Unfortunately for us, this was a trial of seismic humiliation and we walked it pretty much alone, because “real” wasn’t the mantra at our former church. The beauty of being at Sandals, where the emphasis is on being real, is the ability to share your stuff. If we would have been in community where this was dealt with and prayed over, my wrestling may have been shortened.

Here’s my encouragement to you: Do not hide when satan sucker punches you or your family. Get with people you trust to help carry the load of pain. Speak truths that will help bring peace.

Peace is a promise that is delivered, maybe not right when we order it, but it does come. To all my suffering readers, cling to Him. He is your peace and He is the peace giver.

With love,

Diane


LET’S DIG DEEPER:

  1. When suffering hits, who is your first go-to? God, yourself, or someone else? Does your source have the ability to give you peace?
  2. Peace doesn’t mean you don’t care, it just means you have given your trial and your suffering to the One who can do something about it. Do you believe God can do something about your trial? Look up these verses to help your answer. Ephesians 3:20; Romans 8:18, 28, 31; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Psalm 118:6; Psalm 30:5b
  3. Is there an area of your life that you need to surrender to God? Will you relinquish control and trust Him?
  4. Maybe writing on 3×5 cards are old fashioned, but get verses memorized and hidden in your heart. What are some creative ways you will begin or continue to get God’s promises etched upon your heart?

If you or or a member of your family needs help, we at Sandals Church are here for you. You’re invited to join us on the weekends where our pastors and ministers can provide a safe place for you to be real. You can also connect with us here to be contacted by a member of our Soul Care team for prayer and support.


Diane Huntsman is the Cultivate Ministry Partner for Sandals East Valley campus. She’s a wife of 31 years, mom to 4 adult children and Grammy to her 3 gifts. She is in love with Jesus and determined to use all her mistakes, messes and years of living to help women in all seasons to make this life count for eternity. Diane has served in different women’s ministries for 25 years and desires to leave a legacy of loving Jesus to the max. She enjoys all things outdoors, hates running and burpies but loves to make her body do all the things her mind says it shouldn’t do. You can find her on her porch some days, and wishing she was there on all the rest.

Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus

Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus: Cultivating His Heart – Week 4

It’s the fourth and final week of our Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus series. Over the past weeks, we’ve not only walked in the footsteps of Jesus, but we’ve watched as He has changed the lives of women in the most incredible ways.

Through the stories we’ve read, we’ve seen Jesus meet women with honesty, compassion, and forgiveness. He was real with them and in turn they could be real with themselves, God and others. Their stories are a part of our history and a beautiful example of how real relationship with Jesus can transform our lives.

While our series is ending, we hope that you’re inspired to continue growing spiritually wise through reading and reflecting on God’s word. Keep immersing yourself in the stories of the bible. Dig deep, ask questions, and respond to what Jesus is showing you.

Spending time with Jesus is the very best way to cultivate His heart.

This week we’re reading five short verses that pack a punch—the story of Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha. There’s no doubt that, in some way, we all see ourselves in these two sisters. When I read this story, I get dreamy eyed as I long for Mary’s heart to be at the feet of Jesus. In reality, I’m much more Martha, setting the table and taking names, then fussing to Jesus about how nobody helped poor little me.

While we can relate to the sisters actions as individuals, together they are a picture of what the balanced Christian life looks like: first worship, then work; first a Mary heart, then service with Martha hands.

“What we do with Christ is far more important that what we do for Christ.”
Warren Wiersbe

As you read this story, put yourself in Mary and Martha’s home? How do you look when you’re about to host an important guest? What would it feel like if Jesus was coming to dinner? Imagine what it felt like for them.

Focus in on how Jesus responds to Martha. We’ve seen so much of His wise and kind heart for women, for His people, over the past few weeks, so how do you imagine Jesus’ tone of voice as He teaches Martha a life altering truth? How would you—or how can you now—receive His encouragement to choose the main thing?

By His grace,

Tiffany


Week 4: Jesus with Mary and Martha

Remember to use our REAL study method as your read. You can grab a printable version here. Take notes, highlight, re-read and focus on the choices Mary and Martha made and Jesus’ response to them. Reflect on your own life. What “one thing” is Jesus saying to you?

Read Luke 10:38-42 (The Message)

38-40 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

41-42 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”


LET’S DIG DEEPER:

  1. What do you learn about the heart of Jesus in this story?
  2. How do you see Jesus modeling wisdom?
  3. How do you see Jesus modeling kindness?
  4. Based on this passage of scripture, what do you see in Jesus that you want to cultivate in your own life?
  5. How can you live this out in your relationships this week? Be specific.

Pray, asking God for wisdom, strength, and courage as you seek to cultivate the heart of Jesus.

We’re so glad that you joined us here over the past four weeks as we have cultivated the heart of Jesus. We hope that you’ll follow His example of wisdom and kindness and carry it with you as you live out your faith every single day. Thank you for desiring to be women who are both wise and kind!


You’re invited to join us this fall as we cultivate emotional health by reading, discussing, and learning through An Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero. When you sign up, you’ll be registered to join a small group of wise and kind women, at the Hunter Park campus, for nine weeks beginning Thursday, September 14th at 9:30am through November 9. By popular demand, we’ll continue to offer our online option so you can cultivate community when/where it works best for you. Registration opens at Cultivate Unity on August 25th. Visit move.sc/cultivate for more information and to register.


Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus

Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus: Cultivating His Heart – Week 3

We hope you’ve been inspired and encouraged by the stories of Jesus interacting with women in the bible. Hasn’t it been incredible to see His heart for them and for us?

If you missed either the story of the woman at the well or the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus, take a few moments to go back and read them. There’s nothing quite like walking in the footsteps of Jesus and reflecting on His ministry to ordinary people who needed His extraordinary love.

This week, we’re reading the short, but life changing exchange between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. As you read these verses, think about the tension that must have been in the air. This woman is brought, seemingly caught in the act, straight into the temple to stand in front of Jesus and ALL the people. What would that have felt like for her? Imagine the murmurs running through the crowd as she’s accused by the religious leaders of the day?

When I read this story, I wonder what side of that crowd I would have fallen on. I’d want to be on the side of compassion and grace, realizing that I too am a sinner. However, my heart is convicted as I think of times I’ve looked down on another’s sin and sifted the ground to throw the first stone.

Not Jesus.
The degree of love and grace He shows is lavish, scandalous even.

As you read this story, remember that Jesus is not going easy on her sin. He can respond with such radical forgiveness because He knows that soon, He’ll go to the cross to die for her sin…and ours. Linger on that thought and allow it to fill you with gratitude. Amazing grace, right?

With a grateful heart,

Tiffany


Week 3: The Woman Caught in Adultery

Remember to use our REAL study method as your read. You can grab a printable version here. Take notes, highlight, re-read and focus on how this woman must have been feeling, what her accusers were hoping to do, and then on Jesus’ response to them and her. Reflect on your own life. How is Jesus speaking to you?

Read John 8:1-11 (The Message)

1-2 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

11 “No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”


LET’S DIG DEEPER:

  1. What do you learn about the heart of Jesus in this story?
  2. How do you see Jesus modeling wisdom?
  3. How do you see Jesus modeling kindness?
  4. Based on this passage of scripture, what do you see in Jesus that you want to cultivate in your own life?
  5. How can you live this out in your relationships this week? Be specific.

Pray, asking God for wisdom, strength, and courage as you seek to cultivate the heart of Jesus.

We’ll see you here next week, for the final week of our real lessons from the life of Jesus series. We’ll be reading about Mary and Martha. Until then, let’s be women who intentionally cultivate the heart of Jesus, who follow His example of wisdom and kindness as we live out our faith in this world that needs to know Him.


The countdown is on…ONE MORE WEEK until Unity! We can’t wait! Here’s what to do on Friday, August 25th: grab a friend and your daughters ages 10+, then head to the campus you attend every weekend. The evening kicks off at 6:00pm with activities, NEW Cultivate merch, and sweets & treats for purchase. Doors open at 6:30pm and the program begins at 7:00pm with worship and a special message from your campus pastor’s wife. Friends, it’s going to be amazing and we want you to come! 

Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus

Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus: Cultivating His Heart – Week 2

Welcome to week 2 of our Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus series. If you missed last week’s reading and reflection on The Woman at the Well, be sure to check it out.

This week, we are going to read one of the most powerful exchanges Jesus ever has with a woman. As you read the story of the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus, imagine that you are present. Put yourself in the room as she pours out her tears and offers her costly gift. What do you think was running through her mind? How would you have responded to her? 

If I’m completely honest, I think I would have felt awkward observing what happened. It’s so raw and vulnerable. Don’t we all struggle a bit with true vulnerability—the kind that leaves us feeling completely exposed? Often, we don’t feel safe and we wonder how we will be received.

Pay attention to how Jesus responds to this woman’s complete authenticity. It’s why I love Him so.

We are always safe with Jesus.

Linger in this story for awhile. How would you have felt? Would you have responded differently than the people in the room? Soak in the words and reactions of Jesus and let the beauty of His grace and love wash over you once more.

Seeking Him with you,
Melody


Week 2: The Woman Who Anointed the Feet of Jesus

As you read this story, remember to use our REAL study method. You can grab a printable version here. Take notes, highlight, re-read and focus on how this woman’s approaches Jesus, and then His response to her. Reflect on your own life. How is Jesus speaking to you?

Read Luke 7:36-50 (The Message)

36-39 One of the Pharisees asked him over for a meal. He went to the Pharisee’s house and sat down at the dinner table. Just then a woman of the village, the town harlot, having learned that Jesus was a guest in the home of the Pharisee, came with a bottle of very expensive perfume and stood at his feet, weeping, raining tears on his feet. Letting down her hair, she dried his feet, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfume. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him.”

40 Jesus said to him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Oh? Tell me.”

41-42 “Two men were in debt to a banker. One owed five hundred silver pieces, the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful?”

43-47 Simon answered, “I suppose the one who was forgiven the most.”

“That’s right,” said Jesus. Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”

48 Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”

49 That set the dinner guests talking behind his back: “Who does he think he is, forgiving sins!”

50 He ignored them and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”


LET’S DIG DEEPER:

  1. What do you learn about the heart of Jesus in this story?
  2. How do you see Jesus modeling wisdom?
  3. How do you see Jesus modeling kindness?
  4. Based on this passage of scripture, what do you see in Jesus that you want to cultivate in your own life?
  5. How can you live this out in your relationships this week? Be specific.

Pray, asking God for wisdom, strength, and courage as you seek to cultivate the heart of Jesus.

We’ll see you here next week, for more real lessons from the life of Jesus through the story of the woman caught in adultery. Until then, let’s purpose to be women who cultivate the heart of Jesus as we grow spiritually wise and relationally kind.


Cultivate Unity is right around the corner! We’re talking the women and girls (ages 10+) of Sandals Church gathering together at the campus you attend every weekend. One church, one event, multiple locations. Join us at 6pm for activities, NEW Cultivate merchandise for women and girls, plus sweet treats, coffee, and beverages for purchase. Doors open at 6:30pm and the program starts at 7pm with worship and a special message from your campus pastor’s wife! Come and bring a friend, or come and meet some new friends. We promise you won’t want to miss this night. Join us on August 25th! We can’t wait to see you!


Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus

Real Lessons from the Life of Jesus: Cultivating His Heart – Week 1

We’ve been all about Cultivating Community this summer. We hope you enjoyed learning and growing through the wisdom of God’s word in our July Wise and Kind Proverbs series. As we close out this summer season together, we’re inviting you to continue to cultivate God’s word into your heart and life by digging deep into the life and ministry of Jesus. Each Friday in August, we’ll be reading and reflecting on real lessons from His life. There is no one more fascinating to me than Jesus. There is just no one like Him!

As you read and study things He said, immerse yourself into each story. Pause and imagine you were there. Reflect on what you might have been feeling in those very moments. As you observe how Jesus interacted with all kinds of people, our hope is that you will be deeply moved and motivated to cultivate His heart into your own life.

In Jesus, we have the perfect example of wisdom & kindness.

Jesus loved people well, while also speaking truth into their lives and giving them grace when they didn’t get it right. Imagine what could happen if we as a community of women committed to cultivating the heart of Jesus into every aspect of our lives. It would not only change us, but it would change the world around us.

There is no greater pursuit than cultivating God’s word into our hearts and lives. We love being on this journey with you, and we encourage you to share what you’re learning with a trusted friend or your community group. We want to to hear from you too, and invite you to tell us what God is showing you in the comments below or on Instagram and Facebook.

Seeking Him with you,
Melody


Week 1: The Woman at the Well

This week, we are going to read the story of the Woman at the Well. It is one of my all-time favorites. There are so many nuggets of truth tucked away in this exchange. This woman was desperate for hope, for grace and for a new chance at life. I wonder if you can relate? Jesus meets her right where she is and this one encounter changes everything.

As you read, remember to use our REAL study method. You can grab a printable version here. Take notes, highlight, re-read and focus on who you see Jesus becoming to this woman. Then, reflect on your own life and how He is speaking to you.

Read John 4:1-30 (The Message)

1-3 Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.

4-6 To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.

7-8 A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)

9 The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”

13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”

16 He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”

17-18 “I have no husband,” she said.

“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”

19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”

21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”

26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”

27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.

28-30 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.


LET’S DIG DEEPER:

  1. What do you learn about the heart of Jesus in this story?
  2. How do you see Jesus modeling wisdom?
  3. How do you see Jesus modeling kindness?
  4. Based on this passage of scripture, what do you see in Jesus that you want to cultivate in your own life?
  5. How can you live this out in your relationships this week? Be specific.

Pray, asking God for wisdom, strength, and courage as you seek to cultivate the heart of Jesus.

We’ll see you here next week, for more real lessons from the life of Jesus through the story of Mary, who anointed His feet. Until then, let’s be women who intentionally pursue the heart of Jesus as we grow spiritually wise and relationally kind.


Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Uncategorized

What Being “Connected in Community” Means to me

Hey friends, I’m Shanalea, Pastor Adam Atchison’s wife. We lead Sandals Church East Valley, near Redlands. This idea of being real with ourselves, God and others was such a fresh and freeing vision that drew us to Sandals 9 years ago. There is no way we would be who we are today without this church and our community. REAL community.

I grew up in a place where you put on your Sunday best with a smile and pretended to be fine no matter what was happening in your life. So this idea of being connected in community has been such a learning process. Really, it’s been a struggle for me.

Just because something is hard doesn’t mean I get a free pass.

Since I am a storyteller and, well, I think things are more clearly seen when there is a story to point toward, I want to share a little about my journey with community.

I think when most people see me they think, “Wow, she knows a lot of people and must have tons of friends.” Which is partly true. I do know quite a few people, but I also have tons of acquaintances.

There is a common phrase, “Being alone in a crowded room.” This phrase is what I’ve felt most of my life. I would attend everything where I knew everyone, but never felt truly connected. I longed to have a BFF, for someone to know me, but I couldn’t figure out how to make that happen. I began to think that I needed to change myself, mold myself to be whatever “that person” (fill in whoever I thought was the person to know) needed.

On top of that I grew up moving around a lot so being in a place long enough to establish true friendships was difficult. Add a really hurtful experience with friends in high school, and by college, I was one messed up chick when it came to community.

All of these experiences left me feeling that there was something wrong with me.

I gave up on thinking that I could experience real community. This doesn’t mean I stopped having friends or going to parties. It means that I rarely allowed someone close enough to see the raw/vulnerable part of me.

It has taken years to even begin the process of healing in this area. I am still healing and still learning what it means, but I can tell you this…

Community Matters.

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT

This last year God has redeemed the broken part of me that thought REAL community was not available or even a possibility. He placed our family with another family IN community. The truth that has been spoken into me from these people will never be forgotten.

They have seen the raw, vulnerable part of me and STAYED.

I know!

My past experiences told me that people didn’t stay; that when it got hard they moved on (or I moved). Last summer was probably one of the lowest points in my life so far. I was undone and had no way of moving forward. There was nothing left in me to even fight for what I knew was true.

I was broken and defeated.

My community invited me in and spoke truth to my soul when I could only hear the lies of the enemy.

Community sat down and listened without trying to fix.

Community allowed me to ugly cry and not judge.

Community helped me laugh again when I felt like I would never feel joy.

Community chose to stay when I didn’t think I deserved it.

Community loved me when I didn’t think I was lovable.

I am in tears as I write this because it has been so powerful for me to experience this kind of community.

GOD is SO GOOD though and continued to bless me. I am a teacher and at the beginning of the year I decided that I wanted to start a Cultivate book club group with some of the ladies I work with. Having the sessions online has allowed us to participate in Cultivate and dig deep.

I began this group knowing that we would grow in our spiritual walks and become friends. I just didn’t expect it to be so quick and so deep.

There were hard moments where real life was shared and spoken. We cried together, we laughed together, we worked together. When my washing machine was broken for a month, they took on my laundry! YOU GUYS! This was huge for me. I literally shared my dirty laundry with a group of ladies. They have cheered me on when I thought I was in too deep.

The love, support, and friendship of this group changed my entire school year. I was able to love the “hard to love” people and receive prayer when needed. I have never had this type of experience at work. COMMUNITY MATTERS!

Here’s the main idea ….community doesn’t matter because I say so or even because Cultivate says so.

Community matters because God says so.

God doesn’t expect us to do this life without having people around to be with us, love us, and speak truth into us. Think about all the Bible stories you know…

Moses had Aaron. Noah had his family. Ruth had Naomi.

David had Jonathan. Martha had Mary. Paul had Timothy.

Jesus had His disciples.

Each of these guys and gals didn’t walk through life on their own. God gave them a person. He will give you a person too.

Maybe you are like I was and have given up on people or groups because you’ve had some bad experiences. I get it and really understand why you might feel that way. What I want you to know is that it is worth it to keep trying.

Pursue God first and foremost, but then pursue a community that is going to point you toward Him when you are in too deep to see Him for yourself.  

Kindly,

Shanalea


LET’S DIG DEEPER…

  1. What has kept you from connecting in community? Are there fears that you need to surrender to God?
  2. Sometimes we can simply go through the motions when we’re in a group. Is there something in your life that you need to be real with your community group about?
  3. Who is in your circle of people that might benefit from being in community? What would it take for you to invite them in? 
  4. Reflect on Hebrews 10:23-25. What is the purpose of community? How can you encourage others with what you’ve learned?

To learn more about joining a Sandals Church community group or to start your own, click here.


 

Shanalea is the wife of Adam Atchison, Campus Pastor at East Valley. She is mom to four boys, Avery (15), Aiden (11), Asher (9), and Axel (7). Besides being wife and mom, she is a 5th grade teacher at a school in Riverside. Shanalea loves Dr. Pepper, dancing, sitting on a beach, getting together with friends and family and enjoying great food and good conversation.