Cultivating a Life Without Fear: Day 5

Reading guide banner WEEK 1

     Day 5: Commit to Growth

READING: Psalm 1

  • According to Psalm 1, what are some things that may prevent somebody from growing emotional and spiritual health? 
  • What are some things that lead somebody to growing in emotional and spiritual health?
  • What is the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself this week?

Cultivating a Life Without Fear: Day 4

Reading guide banner WEEK 1

     Day 4: What’s Preventing Your Growth?

Take just a moment to think about your upbringing. As you were growing up, when did your parents or teachers most acknowledge their love and appreciation for you? Was it when you behaved well? Received good grades? Did something else that they considered to be “good?” This is likely the normal experience for most of us. But sadly, it leads to a negative and/or incorrect view of God. 

In their book titled How People Grow, Henry Cloud and John Townsend write that our view of God is the greatest obstacle to our growth. They acknowledge that most people see God as a God of LAWS or a God of RULES. If we behave correctly, or do something “good” then God will reward us for it. And just as we did during our childhood, we strive to do just that, and earn a reward. But when our circumstances don’t change, we feel like we must not be behaving correctly, so we try harder and harder. But it never works. 

The first real step to growth is to acknowledge that God isn’t a God of RULES…He is a God of GRACE. And GRACE is unmerited favor. It cannot be earned. It’s freely given. And must be freely received. 

As you read today, consider this: Do you see God as a God of RULES or as a God of GRACE? 


     Romans 6:14; Hebrews 4:16; James 4:6; 1 Corinthians 15:10

When you were growing up, when did your parents or teachers most acknowledge their love and appreciation for you? In what ways do you think this may have impacted your view of God? 

Be honest: Do you see God as a God of RULES or as a God of GRACE?

In what ways have you tried to earn God’s favor? What was the result? 


Heavenly Father, I confess that when I think about the things that prevent me from growing, my view of who You are hasn’t been at the top of the list. Instead, I’ve thought of You as a God of RULES, and that if I would just behave better, or do good things, I would grow. Moving forward, my greatest desire is to accept Your grace, acknowledging that there’s nothing I have done or will ever do to earn it. By moving forward in this way, I can live more freely from the burden of always trying to prove myself. Grant me wisdom as I live in the light of Your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Cultivating a Life Without Fear: Day 3

Reading guide banner WEEK 1

     Day 3: Our Greatest Fears

Many scholars have set out to identify our greatest fears. Most lists of fears include things such as Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, and Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. While fears such as these are the ones most often talked about, they’re not necessarily our greatest fears.

Instead, one of the greatest fears that people have is the fear of not belonging. Students, young adults, and even the elderly will often walk into a new environment (classroom, work, church, other) and will immediately ask themselves, “Do I belong here?” Or, “Is there a place for me here?” And the sad reality is, many will change their appearance, or even the way they talk if they think it’ll help them to fit-in and feel like they belong.

Another common fear  for many is wondering if they’re enough. “Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I thin enough? Am I smart enough? Am I strong enough? Am I worthy enough? Am I ______ enough?” Within our culture, questions like these are regularly on our minds. And far too often, we give-in to believing we don’t belong and/or we’re not enough.

As you read today, consider this: Which of these fears resonates most for you? 


     Ephesians 3:16-21;  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Philippians 1:6

Which of these two fears have you struggled with more often:

  • Do I belong here?
  • Am I __________ enough?

Think about a time when you felt like you didn’t belong. What happened that made you feel that way? What emotions did you have? 

What word would you use to fill-in-the-blank in the question above? Why do you think you have questioned (or are currently questioning) whether you are ______ enough? In other words, what may be at the root of this fear?


Heavenly Father, today’s reading led me to realize how often I think negative thoughts about not belonging, or believing the lie that I’m not enough. I’m reminded that Jesus came from heaven to earth and died because of the exact opposite. He wants me to belong to Him, and He sees me as somebody who has tremendous value — so much so that He would choose to die for me. Thank You for this wonderful reminder! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Cultivating a Life Without Fear: Day 2

Reading guide banner WEEK 1

Day 2: Don’t Be Afraid

Throughout the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John, Jesus offered 125 commands. Of these, only eight are a command to love God and neighbor. But twenty-one times Jesus encouraged others to “not be afraid,” “not fear,” “have courage,” “take heart,” or “be of good cheer.” In fact, if you would take the time to analyze every statement Jesus made, you would discover that the one phrase Jesus spoke more than any other is…”don’t be afraid.” 

Does this surprise you? 

In his book titled Fearless, pastor and author Max Lucado writes, “When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god. When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life.” He goes on to note, “The fear-filled cannot love deeply. The fear filled cannot dream wildly…If we medicate fear with angry outbursts, drinking binges, sullen withdrawals, self-starvation, or viselike control, we exclude God from the solution and exacerbate the problem. We subject ourselves to a position of fear, allowing anxiety to dominate and define our lives. Joy-sapping worries. Day-numbing dread.”

As you read today, consider this: Why do you think Jesus taught so much about fear and worry? 


Matthew 6:25 & 24:6; John 14:27; 2 Timothy 1:7; Exodus 14:14

Why do you think Jesus taught so much about fear and worry?

What do you think most people are afraid of in today’s culture? 

Which of Max Lucado’s thoughts on the topic of fear stuck out to the most? Why do you think that is? 

What would you say is your greatest fear in life? 


Take the opportunity to write down one of the scripture verses from today’s reading on a small post-it note or index card. This week, memorize this verse.


Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the many examples where You encourage joy and gladness, and discourage fear. I grateful for the lesson that fear can lead to the inability to love others deeply or to dream wildly. My desire is to be somebody who regularly loves others deeply, so I pray that you would continue to reveal anything in my life that discourages or distracts me from real growth. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Cultivating a Life Without Fear: Day 1


Reading guide banner WEEK 1Day 1: The Rich Young Ruler

A man once approached Jesus and asked a very simple question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” But the answer he received left him dejected. Jesus told him to sell all of his possessions and give all of his money to the poor. For this man, it was the one thing he didn’t want to give up.  He was willing to follow every other commandment.

In the end, the rich young ruler made two great mistakes. First, he was convinced that he could inherit eternal life based on his good works and good deeds. It seems that he would gladly follow the commands of God, without actually trusting God in the process. And this leads directly to his second mistake: he clearly trusts his wealth. In fact, he was so attached to his wealth that the thought of not having it led to tremendous fear. He was afraid of what may happen throughout the rest of life without his wealth.

Chances are high that you have something in common with the rich young ruler. There’s at least one thing, perhaps more, that discourages or distracts you from fully following Jesus. It could be wealth, or control, or some other stronghold.

As you read today, consider this: What most discourages or distracts you from growing in emotional and spiritual health?


     Luke 18:9-14 and Luke 18:18-30

After reading through the above passages, re-read the opening note from Pastor Justin (located on the previous post). 

What would you say most discourages or distracts you from growing in emotional and spiritual health?

Take at least two minutes to think through and write down your answer to this next question: What do today’s readings reveal about the nature and character of God? 

How can you better reflect this attribute of God today?


Heavenly Father, today I simply acknowledge that there are things in my life that discourage or distract me from growing closer to You and from experiencing lasting contentment. I pray that as I continue through this Reading Guide, Your Word will bring to light some things that I have tried to hide from You and others. I also pray that as my fears, hurts and other anxieties are brought to light, that I will better understand Your grace, that I will receive it with gladness, and that I will grow as a result. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Cultivating a Life Without ______: (Introduction)

Cultivating a Life Without FEAR all weeks 

Beginning April 15, 2018, SRC will begin a new six-week message series that will focus on eliminating the things in our lives that distract or discourage us from growing in emotional and spiritual health. A six-week Devotional / Scripture Reading Guide has been written to supplement the series. Below is the introduction to the Devotional / Scripture Reading Guide, and each daily reading will be included as a separate post.

If you would like to receive an email each time a daily reading is published, feel free to follow the SRC Blog.

.     .     .     .     .

Cultivating a Life Without Fear, Hurt, Worry, judgment, Envy, & Shame:

On a basic level, most people want to GROW. Most people want to grow smarter, learning more about the world in which we live. Most people want to grow emotionally, learning how to more effectively communicate with others and experience lasting contentment. Most people want to grow spiritually, learning about their purpose in life and actively fulfilling that purpose.

Unfortunately, the first thought that comes to mind about how to grow is, “Just tell me what I need to do to experience growth, and I’ll do it.” But this isn’t working. As an example, most people know what to do to experience growth, but they’re still not experiencing real growth or lasting contentment.

The solution is difficult, but necessary. To experience growth, one must first identify what is preventing real growth from occurring. Fear. Hurt. Worry. Judgment. Envy. Shame. These are a handful of the things that prevent real growth, and are often the most difficult to weed out of our lives. 

This Devotional & Scripture Reading Guide will be a supplement to the Cultivating Growth message series. May it help you identify the things that may be preventing you from experiencing emotional and spiritual growth. And may you begin to take the necessary steps to weed them out, and experience lasting growth.

A Note from Pastor Justin:

As I was preparing this Reading Guide, I took the opportunity to think about the way Jesus communicated with others. I quickly realized that whoever He communicated with — whether it was His disciples, drunkards, prostitutes, or religious leaders — He did so with the desire for them to experience heart change.

Another way to think about heart change is to think about growing in emotional & spiritual health. So I skimmed through the Gospels, looking for examples of Jesus clearly communicating what heart change — or growing in emotional and spiritual health — really looks like. One moment in Jesus’ ministry really stuck out to me.

Basically, a young man comes to Jesus and asks Him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” After some quick conversation, Jesus tells the man, “If you want to be perfect, sell all of your possessions and give the money to the poor. Then, come and follow Me.” The young man walked away sad, because he was wealthy.

Most biblical scholars are quick to note that Jesus’ response was intended for this man alone. Jesus knew that the one thing that was most preventing him from placing his faith in Jesus Christ and fully trusting God was his wealth.

But here’s the thing — most of us have something in common with this man. Some may struggle to put their faith in Jesus Christ because they’ve put their trust in something else. And many who have placed their faith in Christ still have at least one thing that discourages or distracts us from fully trusting God.

Maybe it’s wealth…

Maybe it’s fear…fear that we don’t really belong, or we’ll never be good enough.

Maybe it’s shame…believing that we’re nothing and our lives are insignificant.

Maybe it’s envy…believing that if we just had what some other people have, then we’d be happy.

Maybe it’s anger…being frustrated over what other people may say or think about us.

Maybe it’s judgment…and we have too many judgmental thoughts towards others.

Maybe it’s control…and giving up control to God is a serious challenge.

Maybe it’s pride…thinking we’re better than others…

Maybe it’s doubt…refusing to trust God because we question if He really is good.

Truth is, it’s quite likely that many of us have more than one thing that may be preventing us from fully trusting God, and being all-in.

As we go through this series, and as you go through this Devotional / Reading Guide, it’s my prayer that you will not only identify some of the things that may be preventing you from being all-in, but that you will allow God to root them out, and by doing so experience emotional and spiritual growth.

New Series Begins This Weekend


This weekend, South Ridge Church will be beginning a new message series on how to grow in emotional and spiritual health. For all who follow the South Ridge Blog, a daily devotional & scripture reading guide will be published each day (Monday – Friday) throughout the series.

Feel free to follow along by clicking on the link on the right hand side of the page and adding your email address. By doing so, you’ll automatically receive an email every time a new daily devotional is published.

Two Upcoming Opportunities for Couples @ SRC!

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If you were to ask somebody you know, “What’s the one thing you’d like to see improved upon in your business, or friendships, or marriage, or __________?” there’s one answer you’re going to hear more than any other.


“In my line of work, I’d like there to be more open communication with my superiors.”

“My friends and I are so busy we hardly have time to just sit and talk anymore.”

“In my marriage, I feel like my wife and I sometimes miss what each other is trying to say.”

Well, we have — not one, but two — opportunities for married/engaged couples to learn some new tools to grow in healthy communication skills.

Opportunity #1: Emotionally Healthy Skills 2.0

Skills 2.0 is an 8-Week Study designed to provide people with various tools that will help them grow in their Spiritual and Emotional health. The study is both video and discussion based, and each participant will receive a workbook to participate in the study.


What Skills Does the Study Focus On?

There are 8 Different Skills focused on throughout the study. These include:

  • September 24: Introduction and Community Temperature Reading
  • October 1: Stop Mind Reading and Clarify Expectations
  • October 8: Genogram Your Family
  • October 15: Explore the Iceberg
  • October 22: Incarnational Listening
  • October 29: Climb the Ladder of Integrity
  • November 5: Clean Fighting
  • November 12: Develop a Rule of Life to Implement Emotionally Healthy Skills

The study will take place at South Ridge Church during the dates listed above, from 1:00pm to 2:30pm. There is no fee to participate in the study.

If you would like to learn more about the study, please contact me (Pastor Justin) at the SRC Church Office. Or you may click here to register for the study.

Opportunity #2: Fight For Your Us (Marriage Conference)

Fight for Your Us (Social Media)On October 20 & 21, Brad & Kate Aldrich (authors of will be joining us to discuss specific tools for communication and clean fighting.

The conference will take place:

October 20: 6:30-8:30pm

October 21: 9:00am – 1:00pm

The cost for the event is $35, which includes all materials needed as well as lunch on Saturday. Feel free to contact me (Pastor Justin) in the SRC Office for additional details, or you may click here to register.

SecondCity Update (August 16, 2017)

In July 2016 a team of people from South Ridge Church went to Brasov, Romania on a short-term mission trip to partner with a local church to serve the people of a Roma village in Garceni.  As a result of what God did during that trip and what He continues to do through members of the local church in Brasov, a Bible study was started in Garceni and recently the church celebrated the baptisms of several new believers.  We are grateful to everybody who has committed to the Second City faith initiative, making it possible for us to increase our support to local, regional, and world missions.​​​​​​


Baptism_Garceni, Romania

SecondCity Update (August 4, 2017): Staffing for Growth!

As we prepare to become one church in two locations we are also staffing to make sure we can effectively steward our growing ministry. Last summer Bobby Dunn joined our staff as a Technical Director in preparation for becoming a multisite church and to help make sure our weekend services run smoothly. Most recently, with Sue Whittaker switching to part-time, Jennifer Wilson joined our staff as an Office Manager and Communications Director to help make sure the church office runs smoothly during the week. We are grateful to everybody who has committed to the Second City faith initiative, making it possible for us to manage well the ministry of the church.

For continued updates, feel free to check-in here on the South Ridge Blog, or visit http://www.SecondCity.One