When we are all in, God works all things for good.
In Alabama, we say good morning, and we say hello. We say, thank you. I came here and I said, good morning to a few people. I was like, what’s going on? Good morning. Actually, it’s good afternoon, right? That’s right. Good afternoon. I want to introduce myself and our family. We’re just excited to be sharing with you today. My husband, Matt and I, came from Alabama, a small town called Boaz, Alabama. It’s very, very small. We were serving in ministry there and we have been raised in the south our whole lives. We started a life together when we were young. At 16, we started dating. We’ve been together for 17 years and have been married 11 years this month. So that’s exciting, right? Yeah? That’s exciting.
We’ve had 11 years of ministry and marriage. It’s been an exciting, exciting road. I just want to share a few pictures with you of our family. The picture you’re about to see here is a picture of us on our last day in Alabama. This was the day that we left and came to San Francisco. We were staying with my parents. This is my kids, Violet and Blue, and my husband, Matt. We were staying with my parents. We were there for two weeks. We sold everything we own. We sold our house. We sold our belongings and we moved in with my parents for two weeks until it was time for us to come here. I just want to say, those were a great two weeks with my parents.
I have two kids. Violet is 8 years old. She is just radiant. She is a beautiful young lady. She loves life. She loves to sing. She’s just awesome all the way around. She loves Jojo Siwa. That’s her celebrity. She’s all about that. She’s into that right now. We’re supposed to be going to a concert in May, so just pray for us. You can look that up later, who Jojo Siwa is. Then, there’s Blue. Blue is 4. If you’ve seen him around, he’s handsome. He’s adorable. He’s fast. He’s very fast. You have to kind of watch him. He’s always wide open. Actually, Pastor Lewis came over to our house right after we had moved here. I’m thinking about first impressions, right? Here comes Blue out of his room and he sees Pastor Lewis. He doesn’t know him, but he runs to him and then climbs him like a tree. I was like, “That’s a great first impression. Way to go.” So yeah, those were my two kids. Then my husband, Matt.
We have been serving in ministry. That’s our ministry in Alabama, actually. That was the kids’ ministry there for ages 6 to 12. That’s the room that we were in. When we went home for Christmas, we decided to take a picture. That’s me and Matt. We’ve been serving in ministry all this time at this church in Alabama for 13 years. I started doing youth ministry when I was 19 years old. Later on, we added the children’s ministry. So from ages 0 to 19 years of age, we were ministering two on a weekly basis which was awesome. We loved every minute of it. We were excited about it. We enjoyed it.
This is a picture of our kid’s event that we had this past summer. This is our BBS weekend that we had. Those are children standing on the altar worshiping God. Some of them are on the stage with us, actually leading worship. Pastor Matt would give the message. Then we would have a time where they could give their hearts to Christ. We had over 40 children one weekend who gave their hearts to Jesus. That’s something to praise God about, right?
The day that we told our church family that we were going to move to San Francisco was probably the hardest day ever. That day, we asked our kids that were there in the congregation, the students and the volunteers, if they would join us on the stage for a photo. This is our next photo of some of the people that were there that day. We were able to have this memory with them. I kind of look at that as a reminder of what God did in that season. It also gets me excited about what’s to come in this season. So that is us. That is our ministry.
Again, we moved here and God set us up. I know he did. Our house sold in three days. Once we said yes to this adventure, our house sold in three days. That just doesn’t happen. So, we were sitting there with our realtor. We were writing things out with our realtor, and she said, “I think I have someone who’s interested.” I said, “Awesome.” She said, “She’ll be here in 20 minutes.” I’m thinking, “Oh no, I got to clean the house. There are boxes everywhere.” But she came. She liked the house. I thought, “Hey, this is good”, right? I mean, the sign wasn’t even in the yard yet. This is great. Oh, we have yards in Alabama. Yeah, we do. We have yards. We have one trash can. You guys have three. I’m learning. I’m learning.
But yes, we were sitting there at the table and I was thinking, “Wow, this is exciting.” Then a day later she said no. She said, “No, I’m not going to buy the house.” I was just devastated. I was wondering, “How are we going to do this? We’ve got to move to San Francisco. We are on a time limit. How are we going to do this?” I was just thinking about all of these things. I was thinking, “Well, God, if this is what you want, then you got to make a way.” We started thinking about how we’re going to put the house back on the market. On the third day, our realtor called us and said, “Hey, we have somebody who wants to buy your house.” I said, “Who?” She said, “The woman that came first.” I said, “Wow, this is so exciting.”
We go to the lawyer’s office to sign all the paperwork and everything. I’m sitting there, I’m just nervous. She comes over to me, the lady who’s going to buy my house, and she says, “I need to tell you something.” I’m thinking, “Okay, I don’t even know you. This is awesome.” So she walks over and she says, “I need to tell you something.” I said, “Okay.” She said, “Well, I wasn’t going to buy your house.” I said, “You what?” She said, “I wasn’t going to buy your house.” I said, “Well, great. Are you going to buy it now? Please buy my house.” She said no. She said, “I wasn’t going to buy your house, but I woke up and I was thinking about how I’ve been looking through all these houses.” She said, “And all of the sudden, I felt the Lord speaking to me saying, ‘You’re going to find your house today.’” She was thinking, “What?”
She gets out. She starts driving down the road. The next thing she knows, she stops right in front of my house. She gets right in front of my house. She looks at my house and the Lord says, “You’re going to buy that one.” She says, “No, I’m not. I don’t like that house.” Those sound like us, right? “I don’t like that house.” She said, “I don’t know what is in San Francisco for you, but for some reason, God needs you there and so I’m going to buy your house.”
That is what happened. I really felt like the Lord had set us up for a win. So that is a little bit about us. I want to pray over the word today as I share it. I want us to get ready for what God’s about to say. Lord, we just come before you, and we ask God that you would expand our hearts today. Lord, I pray that you attune our minds to what you have to say today, God. Let it run deep inside of us. We thank you for it, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
All right. Today my heart is to share with you just a few life experiences that I’ve encountered that have set me on the path of living one way. That is All-In. I tried other ways. I was a pastor’s kid. I tried other ways. Those other ways did not work. I tried other voices, and those other voices did not work. But I found true freedom when I jumped on board the boat with Jesus and I began to sail with Him into this lifelong journey of faith. Once you start sailing with Jesus, you will find that there is only one way to survive, and that is going all-in.
In 2018, a shift began to present itself to our family. We felt a release from our current ministry of 13 years, with the Youth and Children’s Ministry to go deeper and to level up in our Faith Walk. This was a tough time because I’m just going to be honest with you, it was a great time in ministry. In 2017, I released my first book, Unshakeable. I was traveling the south. I was going to women’s conferences and youth events. I was sharing about Unshakable. It was fun. It was exciting. I love signing books. It was great. Then, our children’s ministry, and our youth ministry, were both flourishing. They were growing. The church was growing. We had just built a brand new facility. It was a beautiful place.
There was this shift and I didn’t understand it. There was a conflict in me. There was this inner resistance inside of me. It felt like something was off. I was thinking, “Why am I feeling this?” There were things in the church that were even starting to transition and change. I knew that now it was time to go. There was a release for us to change and to go somewhere different and began to do ministry somewhere else. Was it a risk? Absolutely. But we were okay with the risk. We saw that God was giving us an invitation to have an out-of-the-boat experience. I say all of that to let you know that sometimes in our lives, a shift can take place, a turn signal of some sort. But if we are all-in, if we are all-in, God will be in all things.
At the beginning of 2018, I named my year Rise. I told my husband, “I don’t know how God is going to do this. I don’t know how He’s going to level us up.” What He had in store was nothing like I expected, right? Coming here has been nothing short of an adventure. I mean, I look at this and say, “Wow, what an adventure.” That’s what I tell my kids. This is an adventure. When the shift came, my first instinct was, “No way. I will not go.” At first, it was that. “I will not go. I will not leave my church.” Then it was, “I will not go there.” Next, I stepped off the plane here in San Francisco to visit. That is when I realized that there was no plan B. I was completely broken over what I saw, the loss, the torment. I felt, “God, okay, we have to do this. We have to come.” So, we came. There was no turning back.
One of the scriptures that we focused on and have been clinging to, as Christians we cling to, has been our lifeline. It’s Romans 8:28. It’s in your handout today, but in Romans 8:28 it says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to His purpose.” I want to say that one more time. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” When we are all-in, God is in all things, and He works it together for our good.
There are many things in our lives. We have people, we have struggles, we have emotions, we have time, we have opinions, and we have work in our lives. What I discovered from reading this scripture was that if I loved God and believed that He was going to be in all of my things, even my transition, even the things I didn’t understand about why I was coming here. God was going to be in all of those things. When we are all-in, God is in all things such as our marriages, our families, our careers, our struggles, even our grief, our relationships, our kids, our desires, and our emotions. He is in all of those things.
One of my favorite TV shows that’s out right now is on NBC. It’s called Manifest. I love this show because the cool part of the show is that Romans 8:28 is pretty much the storyline. It’s just kind of interwoven in there. It’s just weaved in there in the coolest way. So I’ve been intrigued to keep watching it. It’s about a flight on an airplane, Flight 828. They have a turbulent. They end up landing safely but the problem is, now it is five years later. Now, they’ve woken up to a new reality. Everyone else in their life has moved on. Everything has shifted. Everything has changed. It is stuff that they didn’t even see coming. They didn’t have a choice in it. They thought it had just been a few hours, but it had been five years.
That just challenged me with my all-in faith.
The show reminded me of living all-in. We can take the risk. We had to take the risk. We took the risk of moving our family across the world. Our life shifted in just a few months. Actually, we said yes to this at the end of August, I believe, and we were here on September 23rd. It was like that. It was fast. We took this risk and it shifted everything that we do. I mean, everything we do is different. The way I pick up my kids from school now, it’s completely different. I have a gate in front of my house. That’s different, you know? There are so many things that are different here. It’s been wild. It’s been tough. But I’ll tell you what it’s been, it’s been enlightening.
These people on the plane had this ‘enlightening’ to some kind of higher power that’s causing them to search for answers. That is what God is wanting to do in us. That is what he’s wanting to do in us. He wants us to search. He wants us to go deeper into Him. He wants us to be all-in so he can be in all things in our life. He wants to enlighten us. I don’t know what you didn’t see coming. Maybe it was a relationship breakdown. Maybe it was a big move. Maybe a job change. Maybe a sudden death or illness in your family. It can be anything that causes a shift in your life. I want you to remember this today. Don’t let it beset us, instead let it motivate us to become more.
I had the choice to make at that moment. When we decided to move here, I had the choice to either let the things that I was about to endure beset us or motivate us for more. The traffic alone was enough to make me crazy. But I was going to figure it out. I remember getting excited the first time I drove to Target in San Francisco. I was like, “I did it. I did it.” We’re all alive. Everyone’s happy. So, we moved here. We started serving and we started trying to find our new place. It felt like we were working against the current. The fear started to take hold and the “what if” started to play around in my head like, “What if people don’t accept us because we’re from the south? What if my kids get hurt? I have no family here. I have no help here. I have you guys. What if I can’t afford to live here?” I had all of these what-ifs in my head.
This is what I learned about that season. I learned in this season that I have to give God the All-In card. I have to play this card every single day. This is my choice. I get to decide what card I want to play, and it’s this one. This is what we’ve learned. We learned the first thing that we had to do was say yes to the best. Let me tell you what that looks like. When I told you I was afraid, I had fears. I had to face those fears. I was afraid to move my family. My head was full of questions, but my heart was steadfast. “I will not look back and I will look forward. God, if you’re sending me here, then you have the right people and you have the right friends. You have the checkbook for it. You have everything I need” because He has our best interest at heart.
In Colossians 3:17, it’s in your handout this morning, it says, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” This is our secret key. Do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. This is it. This is the secret key to saying yes to the best. In our words and in our actions, we must do it all-in. Do it is the yes part, all-in is the best part. When we say yes the all-in way, we were saying yes to surrender. Giving over our sails wholeheartedly, over our emotions, no holding back, giving over control. Pastor Lewis talked about this last week; giving over control. You need to check out the podcast of All-In messages because they’re so good.
We give over control and we let God be the steering wheel. His words become ours. His thoughts become ours. His desires, they trump. We want to please Him and it’s not out of the law. It’s not out of legalism, but it’s out of love. It’s out of a love to please God. We’ve surrendered and given Him everything. Then we have to adjust. Then we have to adjust. You know, this was an adjustment. Moving here was a huge adjustment for my family. Everything we did was so different. We had to align ourselves with God’s best for us. We have to do that as Christians. We have to understand that His way, His plan, and His direction, are an adjustment.
There’s the definition, knowing that we have a deeper purpose and meaning. Who’s writing your story? Is God writing your story? He is what defines us, right? So we know who we are in Christ and we walk confidently in that definition. It impacts our motives as we live out our faith. Many times we get so lost in this. We’re listening to other things and so, we’re writing our own stories. God wants to have the pen. Don’t let other people borrow it. Let Him write your story. We say yes to the best for our life. We are choosing to surrender. We are choosing to adjust. We’re choosing to be defined all in the name of Jesus because He has something better. He has something grander. He has something beautiful for us to embrace.
I was dealing with this inner resistance. “Yes, no. Yes, no. What should I do?” It was constant. I was dealing with this inner resistance to God’s purpose for my life because I thought I had it all figured out. I thought I knew what was best for me. God knows our current situation. He also knows our greater purpose. So we have to take the risk. We have to be courageous. How many times have we settled for something out of fear? How many times have we just let pride settle in? Are we making room for God’s purpose? Because He wants to be in all things, but does He have room in our heart for that?
I won’t forget one morning on our way to work. It was only about two weeks after being here. I was complaining. I was very, very upset. I was like, “Ugh.” I was having to come apart in the car and I was crying. I was telling Matt everything I did not like about San Francisco. He was like, “Oh.” So then I’m sitting there next to him and asked him, “Just pull over the car. Go to the gas station.” I probably was just annoyed at the traffic, but I said, “Just pull over.” So he pulls over. When he pulled over, I just grabbed his hand and said, “Lord, we do not know what to do. We do not know what we’re doing, but God, please guide our conversations today. Please guide us. Show us how to make good decisions, Lord. We need your help.”
At that moment I felt the Father, I felt the Son, and I felt the Holy Spirit bring comfort to us. I learned at that moment to stop venting and to start praying. Stop venting and start praying. Because we get so caught up in our worries, we forget that we have a safe place we get to go. A place for strength, a place for deliverance, and a place of resolution. I found out that God was a great listener. He allowed me to vocalize my struggles with Him, the things I was facing. When I was finished with all of that, He would bring in direction and He would bring comfort to me.
In Philippians 4:6, it says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I stopped venting and I started praying because I didn’t need sympathy as much as I needed strength. Wow. I needed strength. What do we need strength for? Maybe we’re going through a stage in our life where we just need some strength. Maybe it’s a time where you’re wanting to step out in faith and share your faith with someone at work. Maybe we need to forgive someone. Maybe we need direction on what steps to take next. Maybe it’s who we’re going to marry, what college we’re going to attend, or what we’re going to study. Maybe we need deliverance from addiction in our life.
Here’s the answer. Pray all-in kind of prayers. Vocalize the struggles you were facing and He will bring strengths to your soul. It’s okay to say what we mean with God. It’s definitely okay to say what we mean with God. It’s okay because He already knows our heart. It’s okay to say what we feel with God because He created our emotions. When we are all-in, God works all things together for His good. So stay in prayer. Your answer is closer than you think.
Today, this is my last point. I feel like it’s a very profound point because it just kind of sums it up. Stay with God. When we accept Jesus, we are in for the best ride of our lives. When I was a kid, my dad would let me jump in his truck. We would ride down the road together. Sometimes we didn’t have anywhere to go, but most of the time we would go to the parts store. The parts store was the place that you go, dad goes inside and gets all of the parts for the car, and I would sit there and eat my ice cream. It was the greatest day ever because I got to spend all that time with my dad, right? We call that going places in Alabama. That’s where you can just drive and drive and drive.
Dad would say to me, “Raven, if you stick with me, we will go places.” Wow. That statement never left me. In Psalm 27:13-14 in the Message Version, it says this, “I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God. Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again. Stay with God.” You know, there have been days that quitting seemed like the best idea I had ever had, but I had to stay faithful even among the faithless. It’s there that true character is born. So stick with God and He will take you places. We have to remain faithful and we have to persevere through the parts we don’t understand. Because sometimes we don’t understand everything. It’s okay not to understand, instead, trust.
That’s true faithfulness. That’s all-in status. Even when you can’t see it, you still believe it. So be sure. His goodness is coming. When we are all-in, God is in all things. Here’s the process to that. Start with God every day. Stay with God. Then, end with God every day. That’s kind of hard to do. The starting part was the struggle for me. Because in the mornings, I’m not a morning person. My phone is going off. I want to check Facebook and email before anything else, and that’s not good. It’s a distraction. I decided I’m going to change this. I set my alarm to be a worship song. It feels like I’m in the Holies when I wake up. It’s great. You should try it. Start with God. Stay with God. End with God. That is how we take each day of our lives with Christ. We don’t have to move to the other side of the world to understand this.
I am 35 hours and seven minutes from my family in a car, which I will not do with my kids. We can work it. You can work at the same job all your life, live on the same street all your life and experience the same thing because Jesus is the stuff that matters. Jesus is the answer in the midst of the world’s questions. I know this because He has rebuilt His defined purpose in my life. So today, this message is a deep cry for more, because we need more of Him. We need to grow in our prayer lives. We need to stay with God and not waiver. Be firm and resolute. We need to stop living halfway but go full out.
So remember this is how we give God the All-In card. We do that by saying yes to the best in surrender, in adjustment, and in defining who we are in Christ. We do that all in the name of Jesus. Then, stop venting and start praying because that’s how we fight our battles. Stay with God. Stick with Him and He’ll take you places. Be faithful among the faithless. I want to take you back to Romans 8:28 one more time, in your handout. “And we know that all things work together.” Can we just say it together? “And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Wow. Rest assured, if we go all-in, God will be in all things in our life. He will make it come out too good. As we close today, I don’t know what your situation is, but God desires to create goodness and purpose out of it. I’m thankful today that God is in my situation. I have discovered the only way to live is all-in. I’m encouraging you today to never look back. Once you give this card, once you play this one, this is going to be the best thing you ever did. Never look back. Stay focused. Stay with God.
We’re about to have our giving time this morning so I want you to get prepared for that. But before we do, the band is going to sing a song in just a moment after we give. A song called All Things. It’s a powerful song. I want you to just reflect and think and let this all sink in. Let it seal the truth of God’s Word in your life today. Thank you for letting me share with you this morning, this afternoon.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you and we honor you in this place. Lord, we just pray that you would be in all things in our lives. Lord, we pray that this week we would surrender, that we would adjust, and we’d be defined by you. We pray that this week we would start with you, we would stay with you, and we would end with you and our prayer lives would grow. We give you all thanks and glory in your precious name, Jesus. Amen.