</iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"          Nashville… A place of beginnings   They say Nashville is a place for dreamers, never in my wildest dream did I think this country city would be the place I found my life. It’s Nashville where I found a piece of God, found myself, loved myself, and learned myself. Its here where I got my beautiful education, met my best friends. Nashville is where I fell in love with my black culture and learned how I fit in this world as black women. It’s in this country place where I get to be apart of ministry and where my writing passion took off and grew; it’s here where I married the absolute love of my life. Nashville is a place I chose. It’s where life began.   We have a closeness to where things began, don’t we? Maybe because its comfortable, special, ours. But the thing about beginnings is that there almost always has to be a continuation. Continuation in the midst of change is such a hard concept because it’s filled with so many unknowns.            Click to Tweet: The beauty of Jesus looks us straight in the fear of our faith and gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit -Courtney Lester       A trend that has been happening in many cities is a trend I like to called “community swap”(not sure if this is an official term but I’m going to coin it). It’s where different communities of people occupy a new area than before (some may call this gentrification but that’s another post for another day).  Today, we are seeing suburban communities move to urban areas, and urban resident move to suburban areas. Industrial areas have been repurposed to restaurants and retail shops and restaurants and retail shops have turned to office spaces. This is a normal cycle that happens in the history of cities over generations but to many of us this is new in our lifetime. So what happens to the places that began there? Do they die or do they continue? Jesus tells us to continue so new life can begin.   Jesus started a crazy impactful ministry on earth for 33 years, but he was very intentional in expecting us to continue the ministry he started. It’s a beautiful reminder to us that our beginnings are to empower others to continue. In Acts 1, before Jesus’ Ascension into heaven, He meets the disciples’ fear. They loved what began in Jesus but out of fear of continuing they asked when He was coming back to finish. I believe we ask this question when we reach the crossroads of life. God, you began great things but when are you coming back to finish?   The beauty of Jesus looks them straight in the fear of faith and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s like the Holy Spirit is God’s way of saying you are enough to continue what I started.  And so our (Justin and Courtney’s) continuation begins.    I’ll never forget the car ride home from our honeymoon, as we looked at each other ready to continue life where it all began. To remain faithful to all that we have begun in Nashville and to grow what was started. It was then when the call from Rhode Island made so much sense. Where God revealed that we must leave a place of beautiful beginnings to go to a place that finds it hard to continue. It’s crazy to me to see how God orchestrates our lives that our continuation is someone else’s beginnings.    What is God continuing in you that might be a new beginning?    It was only when we were completely faithful where we began that God showed us exactly where we need to continue.   We are ready, we are set, now lets go! 

The beauty of Jesus looks them straight in the fear of faith and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s like the Holy Spirit is God’s way of saying you are enough to continue what I started.

And so our (Justin and Courtney’s) continuation begins.  

First, Read this! The top 10 cities people are moving from and moving to.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2016/06/07/10-cities-americans-are-moving-to-right-now-and-10-they-are-leaving/#1e14b7653e91

With that. Missions!!!

Take a look! Consider a few things!

1. Do you have anything for the new families that are moving to your area? (i.e. a top 10 list of things to do in the city / Something welcoming new people to the area) They're coming, your church has the room!

2. Does your ministry welcome non-churched people? Consider where everyone is moving from. Those areas are not in the bible belt. Will people be welcomed and feel welcomed? Don't tell me you are a "friendly church!" Thats a cop out. Do your ministry offerings show that people are welcome? Do your sermons speak to the truth of the gospel and culture? A hug and a smile start friendlyness, groups and engagements keep it friendly.

3. Does your church welcome people who don't know "churchspeak?" Most people won't know when to stand/sit/sing/what a hymn is/what your churches unwritten rules are/where they aren't supposed to sit/what communion is/"washed in blood" Take a moment and consider what you say by explaining everything you say. Think, no sports team integrates rookies by immediately throwing them into the game one the first day, there are playbooks and meetings that they have to sit in and read first! A fly route is a fly route...but delicately we want to explain what a "fly" route means to us.

With that! Let me say this. 

Young Adults have not quit church. We haven't! We love it, and really want to be in your church. Three things that we (me) want in your church

1 - Don't make me do everything at your church. My life is already busy, but I want to do something! Don't give me a full time job.

2 - Pastor, can I get a cup of coffee with you? In essence, do I feel I can I sit for an hour and have a real honest conversation with you about real issues .

3 - it's not music that gets "us." Is your church a safe place? Do I feel comfortable asking questions? Can my faith comfortably be stretched at your church?

Just some thoughts! I pray kingdom grows because we get uncomfortable enough to lead people to be comfortable with Jesus in our churches! People are coming! Get Ready!

        
  
 0 
 0 
 1 
 843 
 4810 
 #CJLes Ministries 
 40 
 11 
 5642 
 14.0 
  
  
 
  
    
  
 Normal 
 0 
 
 
 
 
 false 
 false 
 false 
 
 EN-US 
 JA 
 X-NONE 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
    
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
   
 
 /* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
	mso-style-priority:99;
	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
	mso-para-margin:0in;
	mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
	mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
	font-size:12.0pt;
	font-family:Cambria;
	mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria;
	mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;
	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}
 
      
  
 0 
 0 
 1 
 865 
 4931 
 #CJLes Ministries 
 41 
 11 
 5785 
 14.0 
  
  
 
  
    
  
 Normal 
 0 
 
 
 
 
 false 
 false 
 false 
 
 EN-US 
 JA 
 X-NONE 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
    
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
   
 
 /* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
	mso-style-priority:99;
	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
	mso-para-margin:0in;
	mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
	mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
	font-size:12.0pt;
	font-family:Cambria;
	mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria;
	mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;
	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}
 
    
  
 0 
 0 
 1 
 939 
 5356 
 #CJLes Ministries 
 44 
 12 
 6283 
 14.0 
  
  
 
  
    
  
 Normal 
 0 
 
 
 
 
 false 
 false 
 false 
 
 EN-US 
 JA 
 X-NONE 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
    
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
   
 
 /* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
	{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
	mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
	mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
	mso-style-noshow:yes;
	mso-style-priority:99;
	mso-style-parent:"";
	mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
	mso-para-margin:0in;
	mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
	mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
	font-size:12.0pt;
	font-family:Cambria;
	mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria;
	mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
	mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria;
	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}
 
    So we get married in 13 days! As we journey, we wanted to bring you in the journey.   I (Justin) am a preacher of the Gospel.  I LOVEEEE preaching.  It gives me life, helps me struggle through things, and forces me to ask difficult questions.  Everything.  Believe it or not, I used to hate talking in front of people.  I remember in middle school my teacher told us, “Picture everyone in class naked when you get in front of them.”  And I did. And I never was more uncomfortable in my life.  The next time I got up she slipped and said, “Picture you naked.” And I did.  And I never was more comfortable.  Everyone looked at me in awe. Now I (Justin) know I’m extremely attractive…but the way they listened to every word, sat on the pauses, and leaned in with intention blew my mind.   That’s what our engagement season has been all about. Getting naked.  When I was willing to picture myself purely authentically present, the quality of what I gave them was purely authentically awesome.  It’s in this authentic living that you become intimate.  Intimate literally saying that you get to know what inside of the other, the level that no one has ever been on.  Its beyond sex, its beyond living together.   Does your significant other know you on a level that no one else even knows exists?   Not just that you leave your socks on the floor, but why you did it and is participating n helping you put them in drawer?  Not just that you leave orange peels on the counter, but also why you don’t like putting them in the trash immediately?  Not just that your favorite color is blue, but why blue drives you?   Does your significant other know you on a level that no one else even knows exists?    That’s Nakedness.    Radical intimacy where you and Jesus keep meeting.  The place where you and your spouse start the journey towards radical relationship.   Genesis 2:25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. This is a weird caveat in the story of Adam and Eve, but it speaks volumes. The ability to expose everything that I am and not be ashamed is the beauty of a God ordained relationship.     If you are not willing to bring your spouse there, your relationship is already doomed to fail.  Engagement forced us to bring each other into those dark intimate quiet scary places, and know that the other will love us until that place becomes full of joy.  Our engagement season has been nothing but naked fun.  Now, there are levels of acceptance of said nakedness.  First, we as a couple had to accept ourselves, we had to be willing to accept the other, and then we had to be open to honest and open criticism for growth.  That, my friends, is much easier said than done.   Nakedness also forced us to define how we look to each other.  The amazing thing about being naked and staring at someone is…they can’t see what you see, you tell them what you see.  There is a constant reminder to each of us daily to remind the other how much we love them, how much we care for them, how much we adore every single “roll” (if you will) of their lives.  Whether its Justin’s never-ending need to watch every single second of every single basketball game, or Courtney’s need to watch every single show on HGTV.  Justin’s undying need to eat 5 oranges a day no matter how I remind him of the carbs, or Courtney’s shoes that Justin hates but she loves.   Or the fact that Courtney questions every time she makes a meal whether or not it’s good. Or how Justin has an extreme displeasure with himself and at times sits in long depression.   Those rolls are not known until the other makes it known that its bothersome, but can assist in helping you lose the dead weight. But if we stayed covered the entire time, we would have never known it existed.   Exposure and nakedness in a relationship opened us to open criticism from others that carried over to the home.  How people talked about how we looked, critiqued our work ethic, questioned our love, or even tried to permeate our relationship; all has a way of easily distracting from the greater goal God has on our relationship.   It taught us that everyone and everything is not welcome in our home.   There are some friendships that we had to disband. There were some proclivities that we had to disown.  There were some issues that we had to place on the table.  You can’t expect authentic progress with inauthentic living.   Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:25-27 that we should present the other flawless and without blemish. In order to do that, we have to expose those blemishes to each other. Being Naked is being vulnerable to your true essence and trusting the other to protect, work, and love you through it.  It begs the question, in every conversation you engage in and relationship you embark on, we had to ask, “Will (Justin or Courtney) feel comfortable in this conversation?”  Because frankly, it will come back home.   No matter how, or what that is, it had to be exposed in order to see what changes can we make together so that we don’t need to seek outside counsel.   Relationships don’t mature in “courting” and “dating” they mature in engagement.  Engagement is the middle ground where the planning you do means nothing if you aren’t authentic when you finally are naked together.   So what? Do we get together and just naked and stare at each other? No! Well kind of.  Here’s how you can get naked with your spouse.    -Establish that you both are the King and Queen in your relationship.   Who has the final say? Who is the one that is the final leader? But remember both of you can make relationships.  Anything with two heads is a monster, select whom leads and work together in the engagement season to be co-leaders while also submitting to vision  - Articulate and establish a vision for your family.  Without a vision, things will not happen.  Establish that vision now.  Not an abstract how many homes and children you will have.  But a vision that articulates what you will stand on, what you see in 10 years.  (Remember visions change as time change.)   -Be willing to get naked.  Be willing to sit down, and get uncomfortable together.  To openly talk about everything, to discuss anything, and authentically come to places of agreement.  You will not know where to workout until you see life naked. 

Does your significant other know you on a level that no one else even knows exists? That’s Nakedness.   Radical intimacy where you and Jesus keep meeting.  The place where you and your spouse start the journey towards radical relationship.  If you are not willing to bring your spouse there, your relationship is already doomed to fail.  Engagement forced us to bring each other into those dark intimate quiet scary places, and know that the other will love us until that place becomes full of joy. Our engagement season has been nothing but naked fun.