The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Category: Guest Blogger

Stories of Transformation…Chad

*On Sunday July the 6th, three stories of transformation were shared within our worship gathering at SVCC. These are true stories that come from the lives of people within our faith family. I will be posting all of these beautiful testimonies of the transforming power of Jesus this week. Below is the first of the three. To hear the story read click here.

I’d like to share my spiritual journey with you in the form of a children’s story. It is called, “My Little Sprout.”

It all started when a boy met a girl. Obviously the boy was me…and I knew that this girl was different in many special ways. The greatest way in which she was different was that she was a Christian. I saw that as a good thing. I believed that I had goodness within myself also…. But it wasn’t the same. I was not a Christian. And I was not like her.

But over time… we fell in love.

As our relationship grew, she began to be like a Gardner tending my soul helping faith to grow. She did this for a special reason. She was hopeful that I would be her husband. However, we both knew that it would not be right for us to get married if I did not have the same faith that she did. The only way for me to become a Christian was to have the seed of faith take root and grow in my heart.

So she tried and tried plant seeds of faith within me. But, there was a big problem though….the seeds were not making it to my heart because they were all stuck in my head. I tried to make the seeds sprout and grow, she wanted them to grow…but no matter how hard I tried or how long she waited…


Now I loved this girl so much that, at times, I thought, “Maybe I’ll pretend that faith is growing in my heart.” But, I knew that pretending about such an important matter would not be a good idea at all. I knew that faith was very meaningful and I wanted my faith to be real.

So I kept trying and she kept waiting.

Finally, tired of the long wait, and scared of the consequences of no seed growth, she tried one last thing…she asked me to pray with her…just her. I had prayed before, or so I thought. I had prayed with everyone at the church. I had prayed with the people at the dinner table. I had prayed with the people at Bible study. But, I had never prayed with just one other person.

On that late summer’s day, she took my hand gently into hers and prayed for us both…

BAM! A shock went through my body. I felt it go from my head down to my toes. I didn’t know what to say or think but I knew something had happened to me. She knew something also. I was scared. Could it be- maybe, just maybe one of those seeds in my head was shook by the tool of prayer, and landed in my heart?

I found a Bible. I began reading it diligently. I wanted to reproduce what I had felt during her prayer, but I wasn’t sure if I knew how. I tried to pray by myself, but I did not know what to pray for. My mind raced and wandered. Then I thought about the business I owned at that time. It was having a lot of trouble. In fact, I knew that I was going to have to work twice as hard to do what must be done. Twice as hard.

I was already working as hard as I could and I couldn’t afford to pay anyone else to help me. Where would I find the strength I needed? I decided to pray… “Lord, please give me strength to do what I must do.”

I knew I needed the Lord and that I could not do life on my own. The more I prayed, the stronger I seemed to get. But the demands kept falling on me like rain. I kept praying. The more it rained, the more I prayed. The rain brought on a flood of emotions inside me. Then the rain turned into a muddy pond over my head and heart. But I prayed to stay focused and I prayed for strength.

Then one day, through the silt and the water I saw something…

Could it be?

Was it a sprout from that little seed? Yes! I saw a sprout! I tried to tell my girlfriend all about it, but I couldn’t find the words. I didn’t describe it very well. I said things like, “It’s kind of green and it’s sticking straight up….and…” Then I thought, “If I can’t describe this sprout of Faith…is something wrong?” I began to doubt. “Do I doubt the sprout?”, I thought.

Then an answer came, “No, no. You must not doubt the sprout!” So I kept believing and praying…and the muddy pond over my heart began to clear up.

On a Sunday morning in December, light started shining on me and my little sprout of Faith. My eyes became clear and there was the sprout…without a doub! A SPROUT of Faith had definitely grown in my heart!

My head was filled with the possibilities of this New Faith. I thought, “Wow! I’ll always be given strength, and wisdom, and joy and hey!…….Do you know what this means?!? This means that I could be my girlfriend’s husband too!!!” I couldn’t wait to tell her the news.

So the very next morning I met her for breakfast. I couldn’t help myself…I immediately began to tell her what I was feeling.

As those first words of truth came from my lips, a huge rush of joy went through my body. Tears sprang from my eyes… tears of joy and sadness mixed together. The tears drenched my new Faith and I felt it grow stronger and stronger with each one that fell from my cheek.

My tears and words confused her. She didn’t know what to think! She didn’t see the Sprout of Faith within me because it was covered with tears and didn’t look like much.

I was confused too. I knew that the tears of Joy were for my new Faith…but what were the tears of sadness for? I realized that they were for a different sort of change in me. You see… I realized that I was not a boy anymore. I had become a man. A very special and different kind of man…. a CHRISTIAN man.

My name… is Chad Stogner.

Story: Chad Stogner
Writer: Chad Stogner and Sandi Dittmer
Reader: Ed Kaylor



Stories of Transformation…Shae

*On Sunday July the 6th, three stories of transformation were shared within our worship gathering at SVCC. These are true stories that come from the lives of people within our faith family. I will be posting all of these beautiful testimonies of the transforming power of Jesus this week. Below is the first of the three. To hear the story read click here.

My head lies heavy on the tinted window pane in the back seat of my mother’s car as my thoughts wander.  This is a road I have traveled before, but I have made this trip towards Camp Winnataska for the past 7 years and lately I find myself lost and questioning – knowing that on the trip home I will be filled with a sense of hope and of happiness that I cannot make last.

In the midst of other young people and adults that seem to be genuinely on-fire for this man called Jesus – my soul is awakened in ways that I cannot explain.  But as I leave the safety and security of that place, the winding bumpy path out of the camp seems to represent the distance that inevitably occurs shortly after I leave.

This road has become part of my never-ending story of renewed hope, followed by a tremendous sense of loss, hopelessness and dread. I hate myself for not being able to make sense of all this.  Why is it so hard to believe?  And why is it even harder to live for Jesus?

We are nearing the entrance to the camp.  My mind shifts and I’m 8-years-old again, sitting on the side of the curb in front of my house waiting for the little bus to arrive. I find myself aimlessly drawing a cross in the dirt, rubbing it out, and then drawing it over again.  I watch as my motions cause the dry ground to spray itself onto the clothes that I have so carefully chosen to wear today.  But it doesn’t seem to matter.

The bus rambles down the street in front of my house. It’s whining engine can be heard long before I can see it.

Just then, the neighbor’s door opens and Lizzy and Theo come bounding out the door in a race for the front seat.  As Theo sprints past her, Lizzy shouts, “Shotgun!!”  I can tell that they are headed to church.  At that moment, it occurs me to that our family is different.

When the bus arrives, it is full of old people smelling like mold and fake gardenias.  Each Sunday morning, I am greeted with smiles that wear traces of the wrong shade of lipstick on shriveled lips and I am welcomed into their world, “Good morning sweet thing.  We are so glad to see you.”  The excitement in their voices doesn’t seem to match the deep lines of age on their faces.

Something about this world is so different from my own world.

These people seem to have some sense of hope that I recognize, but don’t understand. But I am pretty sure that I want it.

The front wheel of my mom’s car hits a deep pothole and I’m jolted back into the present, but not before I hear the sound of my Sunday school teacher, a patient man who listened to my endless questions, “‘Do you think it is possible that we live in a universe that has one God, and that maybe there are other universes that have a God, and then there is one big God over all of them?’

Graciously laughing he leans into me and says, “Yes…. I do think that it is possible.” His words left me feeling the way I feel now — wanting to know and understand more – but not sure how to do it.

My arrival at camp is marked by the usual excitement.  Reconnecting with old friends.  Noticing how much each of us had changed.  Checking out the new guys – and some of the old ones that are now more, I don’t know … developed!  We have a shared history together that makes it feel like we left off where we were last year, as we said our goodbyes in this very same spot.

Before I can even settle into our cabin with my best friend Paige, my conversation turns to my thoughts in the car and I start gushing.  “Paige, this year has to be different for me. My parents just divorced and I have no one.  I’ve tried this Christianity thing every year for the past 7 years and I just don’t know how to be a Christian in a world where no one around me is seeking the Lord. When I leave here, I try holding onto the feeling, the passion, the belief, as long as I can …. but it always fades, and then I am discouraged and become doubtful that the experience was real.   I feel like I just fail God over and over again – always choosing the wrong things. I just can’t leave here and be disappointed like I have been before. I can’t figure out what I believe and I’m not sure any of it makes sense.” My gushing stops and I wait for a response.

Innocently, Paige reacts to my outpouring doubts, “I think being a lukewarm Christian is worse than not being a Christian at all!”

And I have my answer….

I know Paige. Her words were never intended to lead me to a 15-year endurance race down the path of destruction. On the contrary,  I’m fairly certain she was trying to inspire me to push through the pain.

But because I believed I would never really be good enough, it seemed easier to choose to believe nothing at all. I struggled in my own sin, living a self-centered life that was all about me and my constantly changing needs and desires. I thought I was strong and independent, living selfishly, recklessly, and with no regard to consequences.  Sure, there were times when I would hit ‘the bottom’, and cry out to the Lord – but as soon as He rescued me, I would be on my way again – forgetting quickly that He had graciously answered me in my time of need

But when I became pregnant with my first child, I was weary from running the race.  I remembered that feeling I had waiting for the bus to take me to church.  Laughing and playing and praying with people that really loved God at Camp Winnataska.  I wanted what I knew existed, but had no idea how to reach.  I wanted God.

Fourteen years later, my own daughter is about the age I was when I rode that bus to church.  I’m sitting in the service at Shades – the very place where I first encountered the God I now know – amazed at how easily I was swayed by my friend’s words – and grateful that God slowly, carefully, meticulously melted my heart towards him and placed me back onto the path that he had chosen for me.

It is the middle of worship and I find myself deep in thought. I feel goosebumps rise on my flesh without warning when the worship music shifts from something new and familiar to something old and powerful. “It is well,” I find myself thinking, “How come this old hymn never seems to lose its impact on me?

As I stroke the long flowing hair of my now young daughter, who is leaning against me as we worship together with my son and husband, I have one of those rare and life-altering glimpses of God’s impact on my life – and on the lives of my children.

My mind flashes back to my 8-year-old self drawing crosses in the dirt, watching other families share their faith together.  I recall the words that changed the course of my life the first time …. lukewarm …. nothing at all.  The years of trying to do it my way.  And finally, I’m back in the moment.

“It is well with my soul.”

He has given me a life that is centered on Him; one that fulfills me in ways that the world couldn’t even begin to do.  He has blessed me with a new family – a church body that encourages me, teaches me, and holds me accountable.  He has replaced my broken family with a community that supports and loves me – even when things are difficult. And he is teaching me – and my family – what it means to stand on His word and His promises.  He is showing us what it means to walk by faith, and not by sight, and the journey is both amazing and beautiful.

My name… is Shae Wall.

Story: Shae Wall
Writer: Anna Lee
Reader: Anna Lee

Father’s Day Encouragement…

At Shades Valley Community Church, where I pastor, we believe that one of the amazing ways God speaks to our faith family is through one another. This past Sunday (Father’s Day), God used Grace Wolnski to speak a powerful word of encouragement to all the Father’s in our church. I was so blessed by the Holy Spirit working through her that I wanted to share it with all of you.

I also shared a brief word of encouragement for everyone who struggles with Father’s day. Perhaps you had a bad father, no father, or you are a single mom with children bereft of a father… and Father’s day is always a struggle for you. I want you to know that there is hope in our heavenly father.

You may listen to both words of encouragement below and share them with anyone you would like. I pray God uses these words to continue encouraging his church all over the world.

A Word for Father’s Day…

*To listen online, simply click the link above. To download the file, right click the link and select save/download. To get this file as a podcast in iTunes, click here.

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