In this 6-part series, we discover practical ways to live like the men and women God called us to be. For today’s message, special guest Cynthia Garrett, talk show host and president of Cynthia Garrett Ministries, interviewed the wives of the Rock Church pastors to explore the topic of how God has transformed and continues to transform their lives.
In opening today’s message, Cynthia shared some of the difficult background experiences she has had in her lifetime. She was sexually abused as a child and raped as a teenager, survived cancer in her late 30’s, had a failed marriage, and was a single mother for 14 years. So by the time she finally surrendered her life to Christ, there was much about her mind and heart that needed to be renewed by God. In light of this, she shared this Scripture from Romans 12:2 as a theme for today’s interviews:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
It doesn’t matter what challenges you are facing; what matters is allowing God to fill your mind with His will and His Word.
From the day we are born, the world begins to teach us a way of thinking that is incorrect: what is wrong is called right and what is right is called wrong. This is why it is so important to allow God to change and mold your thinking. It doesn’t matter what challenges you are facing; what matters is allowing God to fill your mind with His will and His Word.
Cynthia asked each woman on stage to share about their backgrounds and about how God has transformed the way they think in order to change their lives.
Esli Medrano - Microsites Pastor
Esli grew up in a Christian church and began serving the Lord at a young age. She assumed that doing the right things would bring her the kind of life she imagined she should have, so when she reached adulthood, she assumed that God would bring her a godly man with whom to share her life in marriage. But as the years passed and the husband did not come along, she began to feel something was wrong: either God was not listening to her or He didn’t trust her to be a wife. So she turned away, sad and alone, and decided to pursue relationships her way. She had many dates and lost her virginity, but none of the relationships lasted.
Finally, the Lord changed her heart and her mind. She came back to him sad, lonely, disappointed, and ashamed. She was determined to begin again - God’s way - and serve Him however He wanted, accepting whatever life He had planned for her. She doesn’t have a husband yet, but she trusts and hopes that her Heavenly Father listens to her prayers and knows the desires of her heart.
We will likely all experience seasons of waiting in our lives. Maybe you are waiting for a spouse as Esli is, or a child, a job, or an opportunity. But if we are willing to keep our focus on God, He uses that waiting time stretch our minds and change us.
Carissa Mayer, San Marcos Campus
Carissa has been married for four years, has a 1-year-old daughter, and is expecting her second child. Growing up, Carissa grew up in a family that did not know the Lord. She dealt with multiple divorces and a parent having a drug addiction. So on her own, she decided to be the opposite of the models she was given. She became an achiever and tried to do everything right, but along with that came a self-righteousness and a perceived need to be perfect. She assumed that if she did everything right, then her life would be perfect, but of course, it wasn’t. She had persistent issues at home and found herself in difficult social situations at school
Carissa finally reached her breaking point and cried out to God. She knew she could not do it alone anymore and she wanted to know that He was real. Little by little, she began to walk with God, and her self-righteousness began to fall away. By His grace transforming her daily, she can have joy and keep going through all the imperfections in life.
Vanessa Gibson, San Ysidro Campus
Vanessa has been married five years, has a 1-year old daughter, and is expecting a baby boy in a couple of months. Although she was exposed to church on Sundays as a child, she didn’t begin following Jesus until the age of 23. At the time, she was dancing for the San Diego Chargers. But while she was pursuing her own dream of dancing, God beckoned her toward Him. Vanessa’s sister had been walking with the Lord for ten years, and she knew there was something different about her sister - a hope and peace that she didn’t have herself. So she decided to follow Christ and began serving in the church and leading in ministry, eventually sharing presentations with the girls on her dance team and inviting them to church. Although she thought she was directly in line with God’s will and still pursuing her dream, little by little God revealed a different plan for Vanessa’s life. He spoke to her, revealed areas in which she was compromising herself, and eventually called her out of her role as a dancer.
Vanessa shared that someone recently told her, “I’m so surprised you are a pastor’s wife - I can’t believe it.” While the comment may have stung at first, Vanessa realized that it was a great compliment to the Lord because He is the author of our lives and it is only through Christ that she can walk in the light. Whenever the enemy speaks lies and discouragement, you can renew your mind, making it new again with the truth of God.
It’s so important to understand that your story is not finished. You may be at the beginning of a story, in the middle of a story, or at the end of one story and beginning another. There’s always change happening with the Lord - and no one is forever stuck in one place or one life if God calls him/her onto a different path.
Dee Dee Whitley, City Heights Campus
Dee Dee has been married for 15 years and has four children whom she homeschools. She pronounces herself a joyful mother of children! The decision to homeschool was simultaneously a decision to pause the pursuit of her career. But this is worth it to Dee Dee because she believes that her children are her first disciples, and she can give them daily the gift of Scripture and a knowledge of God’s grace (Ephesians 2).
However, for years, she battled thoughts in her mind such as, I hate kids! But the Bible tells us to take our thoughts captive, so she learned over time to overcome those negative thoughts with positive statements (I love kids. I love my children!) and the speaking the truths of Scripture (Psalm 113 - the joyful mother of children has become her personal declaration!)
Though her own parents divorced when she was young, Dee Dee was able to realize her identity as a child of God and allow Him to Father her, which has become the foundation for everything in her life.
The enemy will try to tell you lies to make you feel unworthy and inept, especially in the areas where your role in the kingdom is vitally important! You may hear thought such as, you can’t do this, you’re not beautiful or smart enough, nobody appreciates you, or you don’t have the resources you need. The most powerful thing you can do is to transform your mind. Write down scriptures that speak the truth and post them in places where you are sure to see them. Use the sword of the Word to fight this spiritual battle!
Pastor Nova Page, East County Campus
Nova has been married for 21 years and has two children. Growing up, Nova attended church regularly with her family, but Jesus wasn’t given lordship or a transforming role in her family life. At a young age, she remembers seeing people treat each other badly in church and knowing that it didn’t match God’s intentions for the church.
Though she was saved as a young woman, the enemy tried many times in her life to convince her that she was depressed, unworthy, and not good enough. He told her she was not a leader, that she couldn’t perform well as a singer, and that she should be quiet. It wasn’t until much later that Nova understood God’s love for her and that she didn’t need to perform for Him. It was this understanding that she was a beloved child of God, who had a plan for her life, that allowed her to begin to combat the lies in her mind that the enemy had placed there.
You can spend your whole life hating yourself or believing that you are not enough, but these are lies! Satan doesn’t have permission to kill you, so he tries to convince you to take yourself out of the game. He wants you on the bench, but you’re supposed to be the starting point guard! God places you in each area of your life where you have an important role to play - in your home, workplace, school, community, and the world. It is He who calls you, gives you value and authority, and plans your successes.
Tracey Preciado, Point Loma Campus
Tracey has been married for 17 years and has four children. She was raised in a non-Christian, single-parent household and didn’t really know her father. Growing up, she watched drug addiction, alcoholism, multiple marriages, and homosexual relationships in her home. At age 18, she sought out her father for answers about why he had left, but he wasn’t ready to face the shame, guilt, and consequences of his choices. When she was 22, her mom also disappeared from her life, claiming that she had had enough of her family and didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. Facing these relationships as a young person, Tracey naturally dealt with a lot of abandonment and rejection.
All of these things may seem to make a pretty unusual resume for a pastor’s wife! But the truth is that with God, there is no resume. There are only imperfect people coming to a kairos moment with God where they can choose whether or not to follow Him. Tracey’s moment came at age 26 when she chose God and faced the challenge of being able to trust that someone could love her and really stick by her side.
Psalm 27:10 taught Tracey that despite everything she had experienced, the Lord loved her and would never leave her. When she received that truth, the transformation of her heart and mind began so that she could become a healthy, whole person.
It’s so easy to hold onto the lies that are in your mind. When you decide to follow God and seek His will for your life, it can be scary to move forward, even if you don’t want to return to what lies behind. But as it says in Romans 12:2, we can only know God’s will for us when we have been transformed and have allowed our minds to be renewed. If we allow ourselves to be conformed to the patterns of the world, we cannot live in victory and accomplish what He calls us to accomplish.
Today is the day to give God permission to change the way you think. Dive into the Word daily and discover the truths that can transform your mind!