Sunday, June 27, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: God's Calling You

Get Your House in Order
A guest post by Kai A. Pineda

When the order came to stay in our houses in 2020, I was excited about the rest I would get. Little did I know God was not only calling us to a time of rest, He was seeking a time for us to get our houses in order.

Maybe you have heard the phrase “Get your house in order” before, but this is not about spring cleaning your home. I believe God was calling the entire world to get their houses in order! From the government, all the way down to the way businesses were ran and finances were handled. Everyone had to reevaluate everything pertaining to their lives and livelihood. 

For the follower of Jesus Christ, there was another house we had to get in order: our spiritual houses. It seemed like before the Coronavirus, I would have conversations with people who would talk about how they wished they had more time to pray and or study the Word of God. Some people who spent their days comparing their walk to another person’s walk with the Lord, craved for more intimacy with the Father. Then there were those who had felt disconnected from the heart of God and the ways of God. Now we had the time. Here was an opportunity to make all these wishes come true and a genie was not required.

I will be honest and share with you the journey I had been on before March 2020. The beginning of the year was going well and things I had desired were starting to happen. At the same time I knew there was a place within God I was longing to go and He was longing for me to come to. I was to release the second volume of my book Dear Church on my birthday. It was written, edited, and ready to go.

I remember reaching out to my book launch team manager and sharing with her that I did not have any excitement about releasing the book. She told me this was not uncommon for writers. I listened and thought maybe she is right. But something else was happening within me. I pushed the book launch date back to April 16, and then life started to change. Before I knew it, the book I had written which I knew was what God wanted, was not what God wanted to say now. He told me to hold that book and write about what the world and the children of God are currently facing.

It was then that I understood the lack of excitement in my spirit. It wasn’t because it was the second book, it was because God was showing me something was coming and I needed to pause to see what He was doing. While all of this was happening I was also teaching on discipleship for the year with our fellowships. The way in which God was revealing what it meant to be a disciple was wrecking me. Matthew 4:19 says, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

As I began to study the word “come” in the text above, God told me that 2020 would be a year of being made into disciples and would require three things: commitment, consistency, and courage. Little did we know we would be faced with a pandemic which would test all three. Our commitment to God would be tested. Our consistency in our faith and relationship with God would be challenged, and courage would be necessary in the face of fear and the unknown. It was a year when everyone everywhere was feeling levels of pressure they were not used to. All I knew was we had to come to terms with where we were and forge ahead in faith.

Today, in 2021 the same is true. We are still being tested in these three areas as we are still confronted with racism within the world and within the church. In order for us to keep remaining the disciples Jesus calls us to be we cannot allow the world’s way and allow man’s sin to keep us from becoming and creating the Bride Jesus will come back for one day.

So what will your commitment be to the Word of God when someone hurls a racial slur? How will you remain consistent in the Word of God and the ways of God, when brothers and sisters in the faith are doing whatever they want? How will you demonstrate courage when you are confronted with doing the right things for your fellow man, when the wrong thing is so much easier?

Daily, we have to make the choice regarding who we will serve.

But for me, I agree with God’s disciple Joshua when he said, “For me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). This is my decision today, tomorrow and forever. What’s yours?

Let’s Pray: Father God, I pray simply for greater commitment, consistency and courage 
in my life. May I be like Jesus Christ and pause before doing anything that does not bring You (God) glory. I am your servant and I desire to please you through faith. Where I am wrong, correct me. Where I need to grow, challenge me, and were I cannot stay, show me the course you have laid. In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

*Note from Alexis: Kai's message today reminds me a song by Steven Curtis Chapman titled, "For the Sake of the Call." Listen to it here

Author Bio:
I am a fire-starter and a passionate student of the Bible who helps others discover their identity and the beauty within the Body of Christ by leading them into an encounter with the Word of God. 

I am married to a man I am madly in like with and love more than I can explain. Together we plant home fellowships within the U.S. and abroad.

I am an author who released her first book, Dear Church: Vol 1: The Beauty of The Body, in 2019. The second volume will be released in 2021. 

I have recorded two praise and worship albums and love to travel.

I am an introvert who loves her family, people, rainy days, a chai latte from Starbucks, and my Maltipoo McLovin.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor challenging people to live lives based on a biblical standard and not personal preferences.

Connect with Kai:

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Thoughts on being perfect

Complete and Christlike
A guest post by Amber Hoopengarner

“Since you are children of a perfect Father in heaven, become perfect like him.”
– Matthew 5:48 (TPT)

Reading through scriptures one serene morning. I stumbled upon the above verse and as I pondered the wording, I thought surely no one can be perfect like Jesus.

So, true to my nature I began to search Google and read through Bible commentaries to see what it meant, as you can see Jesus was not saying be perfect as only, He can be, we know that is not a task any human can accomplish. If you look at the news and read the paper and follow the world events for even just a moment or two, it is evident as to why Jesus stated that we are to be “perfect” (all-inclusive, well rounded, and spiritually mature).

This last year has indicated to us that there is still so much work to be done within the body of Christ when it comes to racial differences. We profess to love others but choose not to share in each other’s burdens, we say we will suffer with our struggling brothers and sisters but then choose to respond with ignorance and claims of not seeing color. However, Jesus tells us to be well rounded meaning to see, hear, and seek to understand how life is experienced from other’s perspectives and to love them while we inquire about their struggles and hardships.

All-inclusive and spiritually mature means to embrace all believer’s battles and not justify sweeping them under the rug for sake of keeping the peace, but to address it in love and compassion that is the way to do it as a spiritually mature Christian. God has not commanded us to overlook the racial injustices of this world but to speak on them, in fact as we can see from this verse, he has called us to inform ourselves, to get all the knowledge we can about all our brothers and sisters in Christ those who look like us and those who do not so that we can better represent him and pattern ourselves after his character.

We as Christians have a mandate from Jesus himself to care about the underdogs, the misrepresented, and those who are suffering persecution.

As you go throughout your day, I encourage you to ask yourself in what way are you helping these minority groups? I ask that you look deep within your heart of hearts and evaluate if you have been ignorantly breezing through life without trying to put yourselves in another’s shoes? If so, how can you begin to take steps to broaden your horizons and change your mindset?

When you wake up, beloved, how do you want to represent Christ? What legacy to do you want to leave on this world? When you meet the Savior of the world face to face, what do you want Him to say? When is your life examined by God, what deeds do you want to be acknowledged for?

I want to know I did all I could for those who could not do it for themselves, in a way that was complete and Christlike.

Let's Pray:
God, as we look at the world around us, let us practice compassion and love for those not like us. You said God that we are all one body, yet we see so much division. Please bring complete maturity into your body so we can be light in this dark world. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Amber Hoopengarner is a writer and self-published author who is also a Certified Life Coach working with women who suffer from PMADs and children who suffer from mental health disorders. 

She is a Maternal Mental Health Advocate and works to help raise awareness within the church of mental health disorders especially among BIPOC women.

Amber graduated in 2016 from the University of Phoenix with an Associates in Human Services Management and is currently in the process of obtaining her bachelor’s in psychology. She also has certificates in Mental Health Coaching, Bibliotherapy and CBT as well as in Perinatal Mood Anxiety Disorders.

Amber loves God and people! She enjoys making a difference through bringing up issues and challenges that sometimes would not otherwise be addressed. Amber believes that God wants His people to be loved where right where they are while they are working on who He has called them to become.

Connect with Amber:
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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Waiting on our deliverer

The Deliverer
A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
–Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)

The scripture above calls for the weak, the fatherless, the poor, oppressed and needy to be delivered from the hand of wicked oppressors. Although the psalmist knew that God could deliver, he also knew that God often uses those in authority to deliver.

Thousands of years later, God’s cry for deliverance continues. The question is, who will answer?

In the case of enslaved Africans, this cry was heard by a group of Christians called Abolitionists. It would be understandable that slaves couldn’t imagine there being one White person genuinely reflecting the tenets of the Christian faith. All the slaves could probably envision were their masters with a whip in one hand and a Bible in another. Could it be that any would be willing to take an interest in delivering the enslaved? Could it be that there might be one White person, much less more than one, willing to risk their reputation to set slaves free? As the psalmist cried out in behalf of the oppressed, would there not be one who would do the same for the slaves?

The Quakers heard the voice of the Lord. In response, they were very instrumental in becoming anti-slavery activists. They clearly understood that slavery as it existed in the minds of the oppressor, was not the heart of God. Because of their stance against slavery, they stood on scriptures such as Genesis 1:27 that says humankind was created in the Imago Dei (the image of God). They believed if everyone was created in God’s image, then everyone – including slaves –had the same right to be free.

In the year 1754, the British Quakers led the way in starting to dismantle the prevailing attitudes toward the slave trade and the institution of slavery. After several years of changing thought instituted by the power of the gospel, British and American theologians worked to abolish slavery. The power of the Gospel was evident during what was called the Great Awakening. In a time when Christians were complacently building wealth from the owning of slaves, God brought revival to the hearts of many. History has it that during this time, more and more White Christians began to embrace the belief that it was a sin to purchase or own slaves.

As the southern White Christians used their authority to initiate and organize the movement, the Abolitionists became the modern-day answer to the psalmist’s cry for God’s people to be a delivering people in Psalm 82. In southern states where slavery was clearly accepted as the norm by most White people, there were those whose views were slowly transforming.

As some began openly opposing slavery, many of them lost position and privileges in society. Privileged because of the color of their skin, for thirty years these White men and women answered God’s call to sacrifice their own lives to deliver the oppressed. A White and Black brigade! They were brave, bold and resilient. Hidden from the slave masters, the White Abolitionists became the secret friends of slaves escaping to freedom on foot from the South to the North. With an intersection of bravery and unwavering faith, an estimated 100,000 slaves escaped on the path to freedom called the Underground Railroad.

Following a God-inspired pathway of routes while moving on foot, slaves journeyed through the woods, dangerous hidden roads, waded across rivers and swamps. They also hid in covered wagons, homes, church buildings and businesses often operated by the Abolitionists. Sometimes they rode on horses at night to reach the shore where they were loaded onto boats, crossing over into the promised land of the northern states. Only by the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Underground Railroad was woven together by Christian Abolitionists who helped to create this divinely orchestrated path of deliverance. Although not all safely escaped, by God’s grace, many survived to tell of their victorious journeys from slavery to freedom.

The presumption might be that because of the resources needed to help with such an undertaking, only wealthy White men or only those in the dominate culture could take part in the movement against slavery. On the other hand, because of the socio-economic implications, others could not understand why any White person would take the risk of participating in the costly movement against slavery.

I believe as with today’s White ally anti-racist movement, the beauty of the Abolitionist movement was the assembling together of Black and White Christians who willingly sacrificed their lives while portraying the very similar role of the anti-slavery activists. It was through this movement that White people and Black people learned how to step across the invisible, socially constructed racialized lines drawn to keep them separate.

As the Abolitionist movement continued to grow, it took a willingness in the heart of God’s people to allow the transformative work of the Holy Spirit to break the invisible barriers dividing them. These barriers had separated them for almost a century. Even though I am sure there were always those individuals who felt slavery was wrong, because the institution was so deeply embedded in their hearts and so ingrained in the foundation of American capitalism, it was difficult to let go of the ideology. This made the work of the Abolitionists even more profound as Black people and White people worked together tirelessly to end an institution that fed the economy the way slavery did. I often refer to the Abolitionist movement as a depiction of today’s ideal model of the multicultural church.

Historically just as scripture was used to justify slavery, the Abolitionist’s written materials were laced with the teachings of Jesus to call for the deliverance of slaves. As the Holy Spirit-led writers declared the truth written in the Torah, God’s Word always has, and always will deliver.

Let’s Pray: Lord, may we your people defend the weak and fatherless, may we uphold justice for the poor and may we deliver the oppressed. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words”  

Dr. Angelle M. Jones believes that the power of words inspires, and motivate to bring about transformative change individually and collectively.

Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc., she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012, Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.

In 2016, Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready, which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.

Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

Connect with Dr. Angelle:

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: A conversation with Robrenna Redl about race, faith and hope

Kristen Rimer Terrette’s interview with Robrenna Redl 
for Sharing Our Stories

Today, Kristen is sharing an interview that she conducted with her friend Robrenna Redl.

Read a bit about Robrenna below then enjoy her interview!

Robrenna’s Bio:

Robrenna is a wife, mama, writer, podcast host, coffee lover, and survivor. She describes herself as a real, raw, no-filters kind of girl, so she doesn't do small talk. Robrenna likes to dig deep and be a safe place to have real and hard conversations. 

She is a volunteer for the anti-sex trafficking organization I’ve Got A Name and an apprentice facilitator for the Trauma Healing Institute. Robrenna lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with Troy who is her husband of 21 years, two young adult children, and her 60 pound labradoodle, Evie.

The Interview:

Hi, Robrenna! Thank you for joining me on Sharing Our Stories. I’m fascinated by all you have your hands in. Your influence is strong and done with excellence, which is very hard to accomplish, so certainly God has His hand over you! Tell us a little bit about your background so we can get to know you, including something fun that’s not on your website.

Robrenna: Thank you for your kind words. Yes, God’s hand is in everything I’ve been doing. He’s challenging me to step out on faith while stretching and blessing me along the way. It’s interesting because I didn’t grow up a Christian. My childhood was a nomadic one. I was born in Chicago, but my stepfather was drafted into the Army, and our first duty station was Germany. I remember playing with the local kids on our cobblestone street, unable to understand a word of the language the other spoke, but still playing and having fun.

Our last duty station was in Texas, where my parents divorced when I was a junior high school. It was tough because we were homeless for a year. Since shelters weren’t available at that time, my mom made a difficult decision to split up the family to ensure we had a roof over our heads. My brother stayed in town with a teammate on the basketball team. My mom and sisters lived in another town 30 minutes away. After living with a cousin in another town for a few months, my friend Anne, who is still my sister-friend today, asked her mom to take me in. That experience shaped the way I see people, see struggle, and see the marginalized.

After quitting college for financial reasons, I joined the military, where I met my husband. I served in the Texas and Nebraska National Guard for 21 years. At age forty, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. While in the military, my colleague Sergeant Gina Johnson asked me to lunch and invited me to church. I declined her invitation. I told her I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I’ll never forget Gina told me, “Jesus will take you just as you are.” Although I never went to church with her, I remembered what she said. Ten years after Gina shared her love of God and His love for me, I professed my faith in Jesus Christ. Fun Fact: My friends say I’m the queen of GIFs. I’m also an avid true crime fan to see how detectives put clues together and solve the case.

Kristen: Thank you. You’re a Rockstar! Now, you have two terrific podcasts. Can you explain the purpose and your inspiration behind each one?

Robrenna: When my daughter entered 6th grade, I was a Bible teacher for her class. It was then I noticed girls struggling with the question of, “Who am I?” Therefore, I created a Bible study to help answer this and engage moms to join me in the quest. That’s the inspiration behind my “Mama Take Heart: Understanding Your GenZ Girl” podcast. It is my mission as a podcaster to help moms be the compassionate, gospel-centered, influential voice in their girl’s life. The first few episodes help parents understand the world of GenZ, such as what they value, fear, and their worldview. I also ask guests on the show to discuss different topics like the effects of screen time, social media, anxiety, and trauma, to name a few. I offer practical takeaways and resources to walk alongside their girl, graciously imparting truth.

The other podcast, GRIT-Getting Real while Immersed in Truth, started in response to George Floyd’s death. The first five episodes are Conversations in Black and White. Friends and acquaintances sit with me, a black woman, to have conversations about the state of race in our country. I like to talk about things the church is reluctant to tackle. I began the episodes with race because it’s relevant to what’s happening in our country and the church. The other part of GRIT is for those experiencing church hurt. I experienced this myself, so I want to help people process the anger or grief that accompanies it. It’s much more complicated than people think.

Kristen: You also blog, and one discusses the topic of color blindness. I admit to having used this term before but now believe what you say to be true: “I would rather hear that all our different races, ethnicities, experiences, and backgrounds are of value.” To people who have said this with good intentions, like me, but fell short in understanding the ignorance of it, can you lovingly explain and help us see the faults in the term color blind?

Robrenna: We’ve all used the term color blind during diversity training of the ‘80s and ’90s. Color blindness means acceptance. It falls short because it makes a person of color unseen by devaluing their experiences, culture, and heritage. For Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), a lot of cultural heritage was stripped away to assimilate to the majority culture to be accepted.

As a black woman, the color of my skin has affected my ancestry. People who look like me were kidnapped from their homeland and enslaved in another country. People who look like me couldn’t drink out of the water fountain, sit at the counter in a soda shop, swim in a pool, or go to specific beaches. People who look like me couldn’t live in particular neighborhoods, receive equal medical, educational, and job opportunities, or even apply for a bank loan. All because of the color of their skin. When a person acknowledges the skin I’m in, he or she acknowledges my heritage, struggle that of my ancestors, meaning my parents, grandparents, and so on.

Kristen: Thank you. Great explanation to help us all learn and grow in unity. Okay, so here on Sharing Our Stories, we’re all about getting real and helping open eyes to racial disunity while striving to be a part of the “change we seek” in racial unity. So, get real with us, what are your current hot topics in regard to racial reconciliation? Where are we failing and where are we making strides in the right direction?

Robrenna: I have a family that is multi-ethnic and multi-racial so my husband and I purchased a DNA Ancestry test for our 20th anniversary. My husband is white with 99.6% European, comprised of French, German, British, and Irish. I’m 87% Sub-Saharan African, including West African and Nigerian, Ghanaian, Liberian, and Sierra Leonean. The fascinating part is I’m also 11% Northwestern European consisting of British, Irish, and Scandinavian, and 1.2% East Asian and Native American. I tell you this because one of the current hot topics surrounds the construct of Whiteness. People don’t realize God created ethnicity—which is where ancestry is derived. Race is shared physical qualities and assumptions about a group of people created by an Anthropologist/Biologist, a supporter of Darwinism, and an agnostic Thomas Huxley. It’s a man-made construct.

Whiteness refers to people setting aside their ethnicity as a primary form of identity for the benefits and normalization of being White. When the Irish first came to America, they were mistreated because of their ethnicity. It’s through Whiteness that acceptance is achieved. I say well done to those in the church who recognize all are created Imago Dei and function as such regarding justice, voice, position, and power. To those still grappling with this part of Scripture, to move forward, we must acknowledge and lament the sin of racism, unlearn, relearn, and repent to get to reconciliation. How wonderful would it be to see Revelation 7:9 as the church?

Kristen: You are so right! Thank you for taking the time to share with us. You are an inspiration!

Note to the readers: Follow Robrenna on Instagram or check out her website. Find her podcasts here: Mama, Take Heart Understanding Your Gen-Z Girl and GRIT-Getting Real Immersed in Truth.

Author Bio:

Kristen's passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus.

She lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. where she served as a Children's Ministry Director for many years. With the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing fiction and non-fiction.

She also serves on the women’s leadership team at her local church and writes for Crosswalk and Wholly Loved Ministries. You can check out her articles and novels at

Connect with Kristen:
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