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.

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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!

Real Marriage Web Logo

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


Thoughts on Gentleness

This past week was an interesting one. As we at South Ridge Church have been focusing on the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) throughout the Summer, I had the pleasure of studying the topic of Gentleness. Had I been asked to define Gentleness before the message, I’m quite certain my personal definition would not have compared with the definition I discovered in my studies.

According to The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Gentleness, has a dual meaning.

  • Gentleness is not only applied in outward behavior or our relationships with others. But primarily an attitude reflected towards God Himself. It is that attitude of spirt [in which] we accept God’s dealings with us as good and do not dispute or resit.
  • Gentleness is getting angry at the right time, in the right measure, and for the right reason.

Regarding this understanding of Gentleness, I took this opportunity to challenge the people of SRC with two questions:

  • Who and/or What may be preventing you from experiencing the Gentleness of God?
  • Who and/or What may be preventing you from expressing the Gentleness of God?

The beauty of these questions is that there is likely a different answer for each person. One individual may not experience the Gentleness of God due to their own sinful nature (Galatians 5:19-21). They may miss out on experiencing the Gentleness of God because they get involved in things such as pornography, sex outside of marriage, other forms of lust, putting someone or something before God, resenting others for what they have, outburst of anger, intimidating others, regularly disagreeing with others, drunkenness, getting high, and so much more.

Or maybe they don’t get to experience the Gentleness of God due to other things they use to hide from God. Social Media, Entertainment, News, Diet, and so much more. These, too, may be excuses we use to hide from God. We don’t believe His dealings with us are good, which causes frustration. Pain. Hurt. Shame.

These are just some of the things that may be our go-to’s because we don’t accept that God’s dealings with us are good. As a result, we get into a terrible cycle.

We don’t believe God’s dealings with us are good.

         We give into something that’s a part of our sinful nature.

                We don’t experience the Gentleness of God.

                      We don’t believe God’s dealings with us are good.

                           We give into something that’s a part of our sinful nature.

                                We don’t experience the Gentleness of God.

                                     And on and on and on the cycle goes.


As the cycle continues, we may become more frustrated with God. Or we feel shame, so we hide from God. Or we try to numb our pain by going to something or someone other than God. And the cycle continues. Again. And again. And again.

In order to experience His Gentleness, we must first trust – completely, wholeheartedly, confidently – that God’s dealings with us are good. When we don’t, we miss out on experiencing His Gentleness. And then when we miss out on experiencing His Gentleness, we miss out on being about to express His Gentleness in our other relationships.

So, this week, consider these questions:

  • Who and/or What may be preventing you from experiencing the Gentleness of God?
  • Who and/or What may be preventing you from expressing the Gentleness of God?

Once you’re able to identify (at least) some of the things that may be preventing you from experiencing & expressing the Gentleness of God, only then can you consider how God may be inviting you to experience & express His Gentleness in your relationships with others.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.

Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. (James 1:22 NLT)

SecondCity Update (July 18, 2017)

As you may have seen, I’ve been doing my best to post regular updates to keep you informed about the many great things that are happening with our SecondCity Initiative! If you’re not in the know, our SecondCity Initiative is not only about launching a new Location of South Ridge Church in Bridgeport, WV, it’s also about strengthening the effectiveness of our holistic ministry, and increasing our Missions budget as well.

This week, we have some exiting things happening at our Fairmont Location! Thanks to the generosity and faith of many at South Ridge, we are currently renovating a section of the Family Ministry wing to be set apart as Student Ministry rooms.  They will now be completely separate from the Ridge Kids area so that students can be, well, students.  The rooms will be ready when the Student Ministries launch in the fall (see picture below).

Feel free to continue following along for more updates regarding our SecondCity Initiative, or check out SecondCity.One regularly!


SecondCity Update (July 7, 2017)

As I’ve written about over the past couple of weekends, we have some really exciting things going on regarding the launch of SecondCity.

David and Amy Cato picnic

One of the things we would like to see happen as part of the Second City faith initiative is a greater involvement in local, regional, and world missions.  In June our SRC was encouraged by the visit of David and Amy Cato.  They are missionaries to Brasov, Romania and we would love to grow our partnership with them in the future.

Stay tuned for details about a short-term mission trip to Brasov, Romania next summer.  (Pictured are David and Amy with some of the SRC staff and members of previous mission trip teams to Romania.)

Feel free to keep up with additional updates here, or at SecondCity.One.

SecondCity Update (June 30, 2017)

As I noted last week, we have some exciting stuff happening happening here at SRC! We’re edging closer and closer to the launch of a new location in Bridgeport, WV! Below is a video showing some of the newest progress, and as always, you can follow along with updates here on the SRC Blog, or by regularly checking in with SecondCity.One

Thanks to the help of many wonderful SRC volunteers, tremendous progress was made on the renovation of the Bridgeport building in the month of June.  A new roof was put on the building and nearly all of the building demolition was completed.  There is still much to be done!  If you would like to help out, please contact Pastor Dean Brannen at the SRC Church Office!



Did you know South Ridge Church has a new website, highlighting news and updates for our forthcoming location in Bridgeport, WV? Well — we do!

In our newest update, we wanted to let you know of how things are progressing with our Second City Campaign!

One of the key aspects of our vision is to Double the Momentum. 

Lucas and Hailee Gardner

One of the things that we are doing to Double the Momentum at South Ridge Church over the next couple of years is investing more energy in Student Ministries.  At the beginning of April 2017 we launched a high school youth group, led by Lucas and Hailee Gardner.

Jumonville Youth RetreatJumonville Youth Retreat 2

And in June a group of middle school students attended Camp Summer Ridge at the Jumonville Christian Camp and Retreat Center in Pennsylvania.

Feel free to keep up to date with future updates at