Month: February 2014

Belief vs Bigotry…A New Series at Thrive

We kick off a new series this Sunday at Thrive called ‘Bigotry vs Belief’. Bigotry Vs Belief-SlideWithLogo

I couldn’t be more excited!

Why?

Well, it’s a tough conversation! Honestly, I like to have tough conversations. Even when they’re not all that easy to have and this is an important to have.

I’m also excited because its a chance for Thrive Church to explore scripture and see how we can extend God’s love to the people around us!

Here are some questions we are going to be asking:

1. Are Christians Bigots for believing in Christ?

2. Can we have strong beliefs but still love those who disagree with us?

3. How do we bridge the gap between the two?

The official series description…

In a world where petty differences divide us, it’s hard enough to bridge the gap of disagreements with acceptance and love. Is Religion to be held responsible, in large part, for producing the hatred that our world sees? If culture is changing, does truth change with it? This series we will talk about how God’s love stands up in a culture of tolerance.

Can’t wait to see you on Sunday and I REALLY CANT WAIT for the great conversations that will happen at our Thrive Growth Groups!

Thrive Church…3 Musts for this Sunday

It’s almost Sunday!!!! That means, I’m crazy excited for what’s to come!1175433_10152037511128455_1659779187_n

And…what is that?

Sunday!!!!!

If you’re a Thriver…someone who attends Thrive frequently, consistently or have thought about attending, here are some things to know about this Sunday at Thrive.

3 Musts for this Sunday

1. Know what Thrive is all about.

Thrive’s mission is to help people find and follow Jesus.

That’s it! We’re Simple, Real and Fun. Our vision is to create a church unchurched people will love to attend.  Those two books have greatly influenced my thinking and philosophy on how we reach people for Jesus and help grow into a fully devoted follower.

“It’s a shame that so many churches are married to a designed-by-Christians-for-Christians only culture. A culture in which they talk about the Great Commission, sing songs about the Great Commission, but refuse to reorganize their churches around the Great Commission”

~Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide

Wow, that’s right on!

People ask me all the time, what are some books that have helped shape the Thrive vision and mission.

Ok, obviously the Bible! Specifically Acts 2, Romans 12. Now that the ‘right’ answer is out of the way, hah, here are two books that have really helped shaped my thinking.

Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley

Sticky Church by Larry Osborne

If you want to get a deeper look into what makes Thrive tick, read these two books.

2. Belief vs Bigotry. Bigotry Vs Belief-S2

We start a new series at Thrive this Sunday! As sad as I am to see RPM come to close, I am crazy excited about this new series. We’re jumping into to the idea…

Are Christians Bigots for believing in Christ? Can we have strong beliefs but still love those who disagree with us? How do we bridge the gap between the two….

3. Be at Thrive!!

Listen, I know that we all very busy lives. We have kids sports, and work travel and family travel and kids get sick and so on and so on.

But, if none of those things are happening this Sunday, make it a priority to be at Thrive!

We need you there! Your presence is important and it’s huge for our community if we all make a HUGE effort to grow our Church together.

So, I can’t wait for Sunday!!

 

 

What (they) Loved about Thrive this past Sunday

This past Sunday I wasn’t at Thrive Church! Thrive

It was really hard to be away! Excruciatingly hard! I was away for a good reason, I was asked to speak at SpringHill Camp for a middle school retreat. It was awesome! Such an honor and a blessing to be a part!

And, the really cool part of being away was…I didn’t worry at all about the Thrive experience.

We have an amazing group of leaders who are dedicated, who are servants and who came in prayed up and ready to go!

But, since I normally post a list of things I loved about my experience at Thrive, I asked some Thrivers if they would tell me some things they loved, so here goes!

What they loved about Thrive…

1. From Ryan…We loved the warmth that our friends were greeted with while visiting for the first time!23

2. From Sarah…I loved the smiles on the kids faces who tried out Thrive’s new bouncy house!!!

3. From Crystal…I loved how honest the guest speaker was about sin. We need to follow God’s word not what the world says.

4. From Katie…Hands down, the Thrivers stepping up to volunteer in Thrive Kidz! The fact that we have volunteers willing to share God’s love every Sunday is awesome!

5. From Kim…What an amazing series! The little spoof to start our service reminds me that we may not always know everything we need to know about relationships but to just keep our path straight, our hands on the wheel and follow God!

6. From Janis…I loved more than one thing:

Seeing friends
2 new babies
Sarah burkhart’s energy and smile, she also brought the bouncy house!
Big donuts!
The bass player

We would love to have you check out Thrive this Sunday! Maybe you’ve been thinking about it for awhile, maybe a friend has asked you, I think this Sunday would be a GREAT day to come and check it out.

See you at Celebration Cinema at 930am!

Lessons I’ve learned from my Dad

I’m so proud of my dad, Robert Raitz.IMG_2780

He received an award at work today for all of his hard work. He works for a company that provides hospital equipment for hospitals, nursing homes and homes. He has some amazing stories of taking in equipment for hospice patients in their homes and some of the conversations he has are heart breaking.

For his award, even the top execs came out. A company wide poll was taken and I guess he won by leaps and bounds. His co-workers, boss, and the clients his company works with all voted for him. Pretty awesome!

Here’s the deal about my dad…he’s just a likable guy. Everybody likes my dad. He’s just one of those guy that people love to talk too. He’s not a crazy extroverted person, he’s probably not going to be the first to start the conversation, but he really cares for people and he’s a great listener.

Hearing about his award got me thinking about some of the things that I have learned from him over the years.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned from my dad

1. Love Jesus. I can’t even begin to explain what an honor it is to have a dad who models loving Jesus!

2. Know God’s Word. Some of my earliest memories are of getting up early and coming downstairs and seeing my dad at the kitchen table with his bible. Still to this day, I can ask my dad where a verse is and most often than not, he comes up with it pretty quick from memory!

3. Love your wife. My parents will be married 40 years this June! Wow, that’s just amazing!

4. Don’t complain. In my 38 years of life, I have rarely heard my dad complain.

5. Work hard. I don’t know if I have met someone who works as hard as my dad. I mean, this is the guy who worked 2 jobs so he could send his boys to private school. He’s just an old school guy who doesn’t run away from hard work, he just does it and doesn’t complain.

6. Listen well. My dad is an amazing listener. I think that’s why everyone loves him so much!

7. Be patient. I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone more patient than my dad. He’s calm and just backs up and figures something out. It takes a lot for him to lose it.

8. It’s not about you. My dad is probably the most selfless person I know. Rarely does he spend any money on himself.

9. Be on time and do the work that needs to be done. I don’t think my dad is ever late to anything. And, when he has a job to do. He just does it. He works hard all week long, but when Sunday comes along, he’s at Church at 7am. He unloads, sets up, tears down and loads the trailer.

And, almost every Sunday he says to me…

This is the best part of my week. 

10. Never say no to your grand kids. My dad will sit for hours and play with his grand kids. He just amazes me.

I am definitely a blessed man. I can’t even explain the privilege I have of having such an amazing dad.

A super simple opportunity to invite someone to church

A few days ago, I got a much needed haircut today.haircut chair

I love getting haircuts. No, I’m not the primping kind of guy.

But, I do love the amazing opportunity getting a haircut gives me.

I’m not talking about that ‘ohhhh’ feeling when you see yourself in the mirror for the first time.

I’m talking about the amazing opportunity to meet someone new or to continue building upon an existing relationship.

I mean think about…this is a GREAT chance to talk to someone! Now, I know not everyone loves to meet new people and talk to new people.

But, as a Jesus Follower…this is a GREAT opportunity.

Why? Because they are paying attention to you! Now, I know they’re concentrating on what they’re doing and I know, that if you bug them enough they might make a ‘mistake’ with your hair. Hah!

But, what a GREAT chance to build a relationship!

These kind of possible relationships are all around us, all the time!

Why do we need these kind of relationships?

Because of Jesus’ words in Matthew 29:19-20…

“Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

If you are a fully devoted follower of Jesus, part of being a disciple is making disciples.

And, what better way than using the conversation time while getting a haircut!

Now, maybe it will take 2-3 trips before you feel they’re ready enough to invite them to Church or to ask spiritual questions, but its worth the relational investment.

So, instead of sitting there silent, use your time to build a relationship. You never know how God will it.

A privilege I do not deserve…being a guest speaker

This past weekend, I had the honor of being a guest speaker at SpringHill Camp.IMG_4425

Honestly, I know this is a GIANT privilege that I do not deserve! I know there are so many more qualified men and women, but for some reason God keeps tapping me on the shoulder and has been giving me these opportunities for the past 15 years.

Yeah, 15 years. Crazy! 

I can’t even express how heavy the responsibility is to be a guest speaker. For years, I wanted that responsibility and I DREAMED of having opportunities to go and be the speaker. Then, after about 5 years of having more and more of them, the reality of the weight and privilege began to sink in.

I mean, holy cow! I get to stand in front of a lot of students and present Jesus. That’s something that I do not take lightly.

It’s something that I cherish and I love, but it is also something that I take very seriously.

I know it’s amazing privilege and I hope that I’m stewarding it the best that I can. 

Now that I’m Thrive Church’s full time pastor, I am definitely speaking less and less away from home. Actually, I hate to miss Thrive on Sunday’s. Why? Because I just love my Church. I just being with the Thrive Community. And, I love the privilege of teaching our community at Thrive.

But, a few times a year, if I’m asked, I will travel and continue to speak. Why? I just love telling people about Jesus. And, right now, I’m blessed to be in a place where I have more opportunities to pick from that I can go and do. That could change overnight and I may not ever be asked to speak again somewhere else. And, that’s ok!

So, for now, I will continue speaking 3-5 times a year away from Thrive. Whether it’s a retreat, a camp, a conference or a parent seminar.

I will continue to to respect and thank God daily for giving me these tremendous opportunities to be the guest speaker. I will continue to learn, and to grow and to develop my gift.

Thank you God for blessing me with this tremendous privilege.

My Bekah turns 14 today!

I’m not even sure how it happened? But, there we were, at Royal Oak Beaumont and the time had come.

The next thing I know, our Dr. is handing me this unbelievably beautiful baby girl.

We named her Rebekah Sue Raitz.9852925-R3-029-13

Partly because we loved the name and partly because we love the story of Rebekah in the Bible and her over and above serving attitude. Her middle name is after Tracie’s mom. The perfect name of this new little baby.

Goodness, I will never forget that day. I was in a staff meeting at church and I got the call. I rushed home and picked up Tracie and we headed to the hospital.

It still blows me away that God would bless me with such a beautiful daughter. I know I don’t deserve her.

My favorite moment of the day was when the nurse handed Tracie our little baby girl. Here’s the thing you need to know about Tracie, she loves babies. No, she REALLY loves babies! All she dreamed of her entire life was having babies and being a mom. And, this was the moment when she met her little baby girl. It was a spectacular moment.

We had a waiting room of people and it was so much fun for them to see Bekah!

It’s crazy how quickly 14 years have flown by. Person after person told us not to blink and I guess we did. I know we have a lot of time left, but some days it doesn’t feel like there is all that much time left. I mean, if 14 years have gone by that quick, she will be driving and graduating from high school before I know it.

Bekah is insanely talented. Now, I know she’s my daughter and dads are suppose to say that, but she really is. She is crazy creative, she is ridiculously smart and she is really organized.

She literally brightens a room. Her smile, her eyes, her presence and the way she carries herself is amazing. I love her passion for creating. I love that she’s learning to play the guitar, I love that she loves pinterest and I love the moments when she gets along with her siblings.

Her dream is to attend the University of Michigan. I’m not sure where that came from, but I will support her. I do have to say, I wouldn’t mind if she went to a Christian College like Spring Arbor, or North Park or Judson or Milligan. But, I will do everything I can to help her.

I love that she willingly serves at Church. She has for a few years now. She’s steady, she doesn’t complain and she does a great job.

I LOVE that she has DREAMS to make our church better. She thinks outside the box. She’s a leader and I love that!

Probably like any parent, my biggest fear for her is not the standard stuff. My biggest fear is that she’ll get burned out from church. She’s grown up in and around church. She’s been on at least a hundred, if not more, trips to camps and retreats with me because I’ve been the speaker. She’s heard a lot of pain from her parents about some of the not so great stuff that happens when people do dumb stuff and church. And, somedays I worry, yes I do, that she’ll walk away.IMG_2872

But, I pray daily that she doesn’t. I ask God to give her such a passionate love for Jesus that her friends would see the difference in her. I ask God to give her a hunger and a thirst for scripture. I ask God to clarify her purpose and calling while she’s young, so she can go after it.

I pray everyday for her future husband. I ask for protection for her from stupid boys. I ask God that her husband would be a man who is a devoted follower of Jesus. A man that would love her with an amazing love.

Primarily, I pray and ask God to use Bekah in ways for His kingdom that this world hasn’t seen.

I still can’t believe my Bekah turns 14 today. I love her with every ounce of my being and I couldn’t be more proud of her.