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Scott & Linda Elliot: Relational Health Transformed

A brick wall of despair and financial burdens nearly separated Scott and Linda Elliot in the early years of their marriage. Circumstances beyond their control and poor financial decisions left the young couple emotionally, spiritually and financially bankrupt. The Elliot’s found healing in their relationship when and where they least expected it.

“We argued a lot during those years,” Linda said. “Every argument was a brick. Every brick built a wall that eventually drove us a part.”

As leaders in their church, Scott and Linda kept their situation a secret and this put a strain on their marriage. Afraid of how this was affecting their three daughters, Linda began looking for ways to solve their problem. The way of the world said that getting a divorce was the only way to protect their children. Instead of following that path Linda began praying for God’s solution.

“We had too much pride to ask for help,” Linda said. “We had too much pride to admit that we needed help. Of course we had to keep up that facade that we were that perfect family.”

Scott began retreating from the situation by working longer hours. When a group called Life Action Ministries came to their church for a ten day revival, Scott and Linda looked at each other and said there was no way that they were going to go in their current condition. They promised each other that they would go to the first evening just to show everyone how fine they were.

“We turned to each other that night and looked at each other and said ‘Will you forgive me?’” Linda said. “We also went to God and asked for forgiveness for many things, some of which were anger, pride, resentment, and disobedience. He was faithful to forgive us and at that moment, the wall that we had built literally dissolved and we began to heal.”

Even though the forgiveness was instant, the Elliot’s were on a long path of healing and rebuilding. God did not take away the consequences. It took years, but through God’s faithfulness they were able to rebuild their marriage and finances. Scott stepped up and became the spiritual head of our household and it changed the dynamic of the household for good. This was important for the ongoing health of their marriage.

“We didn’t see necessarily a church-wide revival and honestly we don’t know of anyone else that was helped,” Scott said. “It may have been that that entire event was just for one couple in trouble who were short on time and hope.”

Scott and Linda have been married for 31 years and credit God with turning their floundering marriage into a fantastic marriage. When it seemed like there was nowhere to turn and all hope was gone, Scott and Linda cried out for forgiveness and guidance. It was a long road of transformation, but their relational health has been restored.

“Although you may think the problems that you are struggling with are unique and that no one else is facing those problems,” Scott said. “That is absolutely not true. That is a lie straight from Satan meant to isolate you and to destroy your hope. As long as God is on His thrown, there is always hope.”

 


 Watch John Mark's message on Financial Health Transformed.

 

 

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Steve and Lisa Jones: Physical Health Transformed

 

Lisa Jones’ wake-up call came in the form of a pre-diabetes diagnosis. Her sister had passed away at 59 years old due to complications from the disease. Lisa’s husband, Steve Jones, had a similar experience when he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and his cardiologist said that the party was over. Just a year and a half prior, Steve’s father was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Even though he is still alive, his heart is only operating at a 25% capacity and Steve did not want to follow in his footstep. These diagnoses and losses led the Jones’ to turn to God to transform their physical health.

Neither of the Jones’ treated their bodies as temples for the Lord. Lisa found that her love of food was blocking her from God. They ate what was convenient and did not watch portion sizes.

“We needed to do something,” Steve said. “I accepted Christ at a young age, but to be honest with you, over the years I don’t I don’t know if I truly accepted that my body was a temple to the Holy Spirit.”

In the summer of 2013 Steve and Lisa began praying for God to use their bodies as temples. They sought nutritional counseling and radically changed what they ate. No more of convenient foods, riddled with white sugars, sodium and preservatives. The Jones’ learned what their bodies truly needed through portion control and treating their bodies as a temple.

“Was it easy?” Steve asked. “Not at all. As a matter of fact it was pretty emotional at times.”

“I don’t think God intended for us to eat all of these things,” Lisa said. “We have learned a lot about what our bodies really need to have.”

People began noticing their transformation at Cottonwood Creek, where the Jones’ have been members for the past six years and serve in the senior adult ministry. When people would ask if they were losing weight, Steve would take the opportunity to share their journey of trusting God and using their bodies as a temple. In January of 2014 Steve and Lisa started the Right Start Program on Sunday evenings to help others who were struggling with getting healthy.

“We found a lot of people in the church would join us in the evenings, looking for different information about nutrition,” Steve said. “We had nutritionists come and talk to us and John Mark came and talked to us. Lisa and I were trying to do some calculations and we think that through that program, over 1,000 pounds has been lost since the beginning of the year.”

By Christmas of 2013 John had reached his goal of dropping 80 pounds. He stuck by Lisa’s side and she reached her goal of dropping 105 pounds in May of 2014. Dedicating their bodies to God, changing how they ate and caring more for their bodies transformed Steve and Lisa’s physical health drastically.

“I think that the thing that we have learned the most in our journey as that it is possible,” Lisa said. “You can do it. There are some simple things that you can start doing today to help you have a healthier life and body.”

“Trust in God,” Steve said. “He will show you the correct way.”

 


1 Corinthians 6:19: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own...

Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.


 Watch John Mark's message on Physical Health Transformed.

 

 

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Ryan Koesel: Spiritual Health Transformed

 

In his search for happiness, Ryan Koesel turned to chasing after money, glamor and fame. These worldly tokens gave him a temporary yet fleeting happiness. Through biblical community, seeking the Lord and God’s grace, Ryan’s spiritual health was transformed.

“I am now transformed by the renewing of my mind and no longer controlled by the patterns of this world,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s father left when he was eight years old and he began turning to food to fill the void. His mother began taking Ryan and his brother to church in search of God. From then on her life was different. Pastor Harold Meaux took Ryan under his wing, making sure to include him in activities and connecting him with mentors. At 13 years old, Ryan became a Christian.

“I ultimately found healing in knowing my mom now had peace in the Lord and seeing that I wanted it as well,” Ryan said. “I eventually experienced that peace in coming to know Jesus.”

After becoming a Christian the fight began in Ryan’s life. He had one foot in the world and one reluctantly in the kingdom. In 2001 Ryan lived in Nashville, Tennessee and began working in the country music industry. Contracted to work on recording studio design and ambiance, Ryan had an all access pass to movie premiers, meet and greets and the best parties in the industry. Living on a bus for months at a time made partying all the more easy. The rich and famous lifestyle had a hold of Ryan. The more money he made, the more successful he felt.

“I kept chasing after money, partying, glamor and fame,” Ryan said. “The world promised all of these things would make me happy. In turn they did, but eventually they failed me in every way. In God’s grace, He was there all along the way placing Godly people as guideposts and reminders to turn back to Him.”

At the end of the day, Ryan would find himself falling on his face, crying out to God. This emptiness led Ryan back God and he began attending church with his family again. From there he was connected with a young adult home group. His life turned from one rooted in greed, debauchery and pleasure, to one rooted in God’s word, love and grace.

“This is what I like to refer to as the snowball effect in my life,” Ryan said. “Through experiencing true biblical community God grew my appetite in his word and he also showed me how he wanted me to change, how he gifted me in his spirit. This snowball of grace that I was experiencing kept picking up critical mass as God kept showing me what I was gifted in.”

God grew him in this community and Ryan began to see his love for God and His people. Ryan learned of his spiritual gift for teaching and began leading small groups. During a study on Nehemiah, his small group began praying for each other and the vision God had for each of them. It was then that Ryan began to see God’s plan for him to serve vocationally. After seeking counsel, praying and fasting Ryan applied to seminary and moved to Texas to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Now Ryan serves as the Single Adults and Single Parents Minister and leads Celebrate Recovery at Cottonwood Creek.

“While at times seemingly tough and dark, God in turn used my childhood as a product of a single parent home, my divorce and poor lifestyle choices to now relate and minister to where God has me serving,” Ryan said.

While Ryan was trying to turn away from sin, he was still missing something. It wasn’t working for him and he still struggles with it today. Working through Celebrate Recovery, Ryan routinely finds his character defects and replace them with what God has for him.

“Ironically the most painful, whether emotional or physical, moments have led to my spiritual healing,” Ryan said. “It forced me to lean on Him more and grew my faith, rather than trust my own feelings and understanding of what I was suffering through.”

 


James 1:5-8: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

 


 Watch John Mark's message on Spiritual Health Transformed.

 

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17th Annual Fun with the Son

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Members of the Cottonwood Creek family have delivered school supplies and the gospel to east McKinney residents in need for the past 17 years through the Fun with the Son event. Fun with the Son prepares low-income students and families for the upcoming school year by providing for their physical and spiritual needs.

On August 17, 2014, 260 families came to Old City Park in McKinney and participated in a fun morning filled with games, balloon animals and a live concert. 350 volunteers passed out 1200 backpacks filled with school supplies, making it one of the most successful years in its history.

“The Word of God told us that we are supposed to be in the world but not of the world,” Cottonwood Creek Deacon Al Hewitt said. “It gives us an opportunity to share, to be able to give truth back to the people and to be able to help them.”

After running a needs assessment, each family was then directed to the different service areas. Children received eye and dental exams free of charge from local doctors. Two tables stacked a foot high with prescriptions glasses were available for those who needed updated lenses. The amount of glasses donated for this year’s event was so abundant that participants had many frames to choose from. Three hair stylists and two barbers also set up shop and gave the students fresh haircuts to start the new school year. The line for their services wrapped down the hallway and out the door.

Each year participants can bring their bikes to the event to be serviced at the repair station. ReCycles McKinney, a Texas-based 501c3 organization whose mission is to “re-cycle” bikes within the community and give back to those who need them, along with other volunteers, serviced the bikes this year. When a young boy brought his bike in that couldn’t be repaired a member of Cottonwood Creek stepped up and met his need.

“A young gentleman brought in his bike,” Randy Hancock, founder of ReCycles McKinney, said. “His 12” tire needed to be repaired and unfortunately we did not bring the stuff with us to do that today. We had a member of Cottonwood Creek provide us with a brand new, or almost new, bike. It’s going to be great to see this young guy and hopefully we can share the gospel with him while we are doing it and show him what Jesus can do in his life.”

This gospel centered event is about more than meeting the needs that each student has for the school year, but meeting his needs for the rest of his life. Volunteers take the time to sit down with each participant and present the gospel. By the end of the morning, gospel presenters were able to lead 144 participants in professions of faith.

“We are commanded to go out and give. Not just sit in the world and do nothing, but to do like Christ did,” Hewitt said. “To get out there in the world, share the truth, tell them about the forgiveness of sins and what eternal life looks like. To be salt and light to people. That is what we are here to do and that is what we will continue to do as long as God allows it.”

 

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Nick Cobb

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Nick Cobb was on his way to achieving everything he had hoped for as a successful high school athlete until a sports injury left him suffocating underneath a pile of standards and expectations.

As an athlete since the age of six, Nick learned early that winning made him feel good. In his mind, he equated happiness and joy with success. The harder that Nick worked, the more he accomplished and the happier he became with himself.

“I was always taught to be humble, but in my head I told myself that I was superior to those around me,” Nick said. “I became consumed with the idea of winning and earning the praise of my peers.”

Heading into his junior year with two wrestling state championships and a spot on the Allen High School Varsity Football Team, Nick knew it was going to be another year of success. However, a few games into the season, Nick suffered a severe ankle sprain.

“I told myself that it was just temporary and that I’d be back in a couple of weeks,” Nick said. “I wasn’t. I began to grow frustrated with the situation and myself for not heeling soon enough.”

The week before he was able to return to the field, the Eagles lost a season ending playoff game. With little time in between to recover from the loss, Nick had to turn his complete focus towards wrestling. Nick began to break mentally under the pressure when he had to get his weight down for wrestling two days after the season ended.

“I figured I could handle it since I had already accomplished so much on my own,” Nick said. “I was being crushed under the weight of the standards I had set for myself as well as the expectations of those around me.”

Nick took an interest in Christianity during his sophomore year, but he pushed it aside when he earned a spot on the varsity football team. What little he had invested in Christianity was soon gone. Not able to logically prove that God existed, Nick told himself that God was not real. Knowing that he could not tell his family and girlfriend his beliefs, Nick went through the motions of attending church and acting like a good Christian, all while the pride he had in himself secretly grew inside.

“Success had become something I basically worshipped, my false idol,” Nick said. “Then God chose my junior year to humble me.”

Lack of faith in God turned into a bitterness and anger towards Him. Late at night, when Nick was alone with his thoughts, ideas of no longer existing and being forgotten filled his mind. He would wake up in the middle of the night, covered in sweat and unable to escape immense feeling of helplessness. Winning another state championship in wrestling that year did not feel the void that was suddenly in his life.

“Something began to happen to me at church,” Nick said. “I still didn’t want anything out of the idea of God, but I began being moved to the point of tears almost weekly at church. I was truly struggling to push away whatever these things were I was feeling.”

At the end of the year Nick decided to go to Beach Camp. The promise of good food, hanging out on the beach with his girlfriend and not having to go to wrestling camp may have gotten Nick to camp, but he experienced a lot more while he was there. He resisted the sermons and worship all that he could until he grew tired of fighting the feelings inside.

“I finally saw everything clearly,” Nick said. “I saw how stubborn, how consumed in my pride and how broken I truly was. Despite how I had no desire for him, how I had resented him, Jesus softened my heart and found a way in.”

Once he gave up the fight to resist and gave his life over, the feelings of helplessness and anger were gone. It was the most satisfying feeling he had ever experienced. God lifted the weight of expectations of others and himself off of Nick’s back. In the end, Nick learned two life changing lessons.

“First, no matter how hard you try, you will never be permanently satisfied by worldly things,” Nick said. “Only Jesus will permanently satisfy your soul. Second, give all the glory to God because your success is only a gift from him.”

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