Fix your eyes on Jesus

Can imagine, as a Jesus Follower, if we actually did that and if we really took those words seriously!?! Just imagine the life change in us that would happen. Just imagine the change in our families lives and friends.

New glasses

Today I get to go to an optometrist. Actually, my wife, Bekah and I get to go!

And, I am excited!!!! 

Get this and I’m not proud of it! My wife hasn’t had new glasses since 2007 and I’m not much behind her. And, our Church, Thrive Church, came together and blessed us with a terrific Christmas gift of new glasses for the three of us!! Just so humbling!!

Everything will probably change for me as I get new glasses. Ok, not everything, but a lot will. My eyes and what I will be able to focus on is about to change dramatically. I squint a lot right now. I struggle to read things far away. Shoot, I struggle to read things close up! But, that’s all going to change.

And, that will make life better. Unknown

As a Jesus follower, the author of Hebrews 12:2 encouraged us to fix our eyes on Jesus to focus on Him. Focus on how He lived and to live our lives in the same way.

Here’s how the message version says it…

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. 

In 2015 I’m doing everything I can to keep my eyes on Jesus.

To focus on Him. To Live like Him. To be Him to as many I can. To be as focused on my life mission as He was.

 

My biggest hurdle in 2015

2015 is looking pretty darn good.

Which, to be honest, 2014 will be tough to top! I had a great year in 2014. It wasn’t easy by any means and actually it was one of my toughest yet, but it was a great year.

The only negative I can muster up about 2014 is…my health. I mean, leading a church…especially a super young church is not easy. We dealt with a ton of not so fun moments, financial stress, growing pains and leadership challenges. But, even with all that, 2014 was great.

It was just my health.

My back surgery was so much harder than I ever thought and it took me a long time to bounce back. In fact, bending is still a constant struggle and the pain from that is still not fun. The simple act of getting out of bed or putting on socks, yeah, these are extremely painful tasks for me!

I miss running. Playing basketball. Swinging a baseball bat or a golf club. Wrestling with my boys.

So, for me, that pain and struggle has given me excuse after excuse to let my weight go. The discipline of eating well, while dealing with the pain is just something I flat out failed at in 2014.

That’s my biggest hurdle for 2015.

I just can’t continue to live the same way. But, changing, like everyone knows…well, that’s hard! Actually, hard doesn’t even cut it. Its a ridiculously hard battle and I am way down deep in the hole. I’ve tried to change for months and each time, well, I fell back into old habits.

Every time in the past, I have been able to work out. I have been able to run. This time, I just can’t.

So, here I go. This is my biggest hurdle to 2015 and one that I’m ready to take on.

I would love your prayers for strength and courage.

Proud to be married to such a Selfless woman

I am so Proud to be married to such a selfless woman.IMG_4073

We were talking last night, and in Thrive’s short existence, she’s never sat through the experience. She’s never heard and sang all the worship songs. Never heard one of my full messages. Never. Nota. None.

Why? Because we just haven’t had enough volunteers in Thrive Kidz for her to be able too leave that hallway. And, she does it willingly. She doesn’t have to do it, she chooses it. Just because she’s the Pastor’s wife doesn’t mean she has to serve kids, But, she does. And, she works tirelessly throughout the week to get things ready for Thrive Kidz.

Tracie and I have been married for almost 18 years and she’s always been selfless.

I don’t mean this in a mean way, but she’s so low maintenance its crazy sometimes. I can count on both hands the amount of times she’s had her hair done or her nails done. She never asks for jewelry, or shoes or clothes. I actually have to push her to buy stuff for herself. Again, not trying to be mean, but it’s annoying sometimes!!

She just always wants to make sure the kids and I have what we need. For 10 years, she has spent thousands and thousands of hours taking care of our PKU’ers diets and I just can’t remember ever hearing her complain about it.

One of the things I was most attracted to about her was her servants heart! And, that’s still the case.

I just don’t know how’s she done it over the years. Because I’ve served at Churches for the last 20 years, we have never gone to church together. (That’s change with Thrive because our whole family drives to church together at 630am). We’ve had a few pockets where we could sit with each other and actually drive to church together, but never really be a part together. If that makes sense. Again, I can literally count on both hands the amount of times we have sat together in church. Crazy!

Then, as babies have come along, she’s been on her own to do the whole ‘get the family ready for church’ thing.

There were years when our kids were really little and she was getting the special PKU diets all together, feeding and getting our other two kids ready and then bringing them all to church on her own. And, for 4 years, we had the privilege of being a part of a GREAT Church in Chicago…Willow Creek. It was a massive building and literally took 25 minutes to get all 4 kids in their classes and she did it alone all the time.

I talk with young couples now who have little kids and it’s funny to hear stories about how their lives come to a grinding halt when they have kids. It just makes me more proud of my wife.

She’s strong. She’s wise. She’s a hard worker. She’s in love with Jesus.

Again, not sure how I married so well!!

My family is Blessed! A box, a fixed car, a cool shirt, a borrowed van

I’m not even sure how to express what happened yesterday. IMG_3403

It’s something that literally took my breath away and really messed with me for quite awhile. Messed in a good way, that is.

First of all, it’s been a crazy week. Lots of extra planning, details and running around to add all the special elements to Thrive yesterday. A very full week! Very worth it, but lots of extra hours on top of an already full week.

Second of all, my car broke down. It’s a ’99 and so that’s kind of expected, but really bad timing.

Third of all, as much as its an exciting time of the year for my family and my church, it’s pretty stressful. I worry way to much. And, my anxiety really flared a ton this week. I worried about Christmas gifts for my family. I worried about if some Thrive families were going to be able to get gifts. I worried if people would show up to Thrive on Sunday. I worried about Thrive’s Christmas Offering and Year End giving. I worried if I could get our Thrive staff a Christmas gift.

I know it’s not healthy and it’s a sin, but gosh, it’s hard not to worry.

So, back to yesterday. During our first experience, I get a text from a Thriver that Tracie and I and Matt and Helena need to be at the green room between our experiences. I thought that was a little weird, but I went with it.

When I got there, they handed Tracie and I a box and we opened it and it was filled with little gift bags. In each bag was a different gift.

Things like…

  • New glasses for Tracie, Bekah and I!!! ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME??? Tracie hasn’t had new glasses since 2007 and me around 2008!
  • There was a card with money to buy PKU food for Zach and Madie. UNREAL!!!
  • There was a gift card to one of my favorite resturants, Cheesecake Factory
  • And more!!! It literally almost knocked me off my feet! I mean, how do you respond to that kind of generosity?!?

Then, a family grabbed me in the hall and handed me a gift! They were so excited to see me open it. Inside was a Hootie and the Blowfish baseball jersey!!! Are you kidding???? How awesome!!! I love Hootie and I love baseball!!!!

If that wasn’t enough, I had asked a Thriver if I could borrow their van to take my family to a speaking engagement in WI in Jan and they said yes. I can’t even begin to explain how much stress and worry that takes off my shoulders!! Are you kidding me?????

Then, I get a text last night from one of the most amazing men I know saying that my car was fixed! He’s a guy who has blessed my family before and it’s humbling to think he used his precious spare time to fix our car! Wow!

ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME??????

How do you deal with stuff like this?

I love to give. I love to serve. I love to help others. Honestly, its hard to be on the receiving end. I am just so thankful.

I am ridiculously blessed and just blown away by my Church.

Yet another reason…

I LOVE MY CHURCH!!!

What I love about…Thrive Church

I love…What_I_Love_Logo

  • Our passion for people who have given up on the church

I really love…

  • How welcoming and accepting we are

I love…

  • That we have fun as a church and we love to laugh

I really love…

  • How we clap, cheer, sing and hoot and holler during our Sunday experience

I love…

  • That Thrivers are so excited to invite friends and family to Church

I really love…

  • That our church is passionately in love with Jesus.

I really do love my church!

Every day I am more and more excited about what’s ahead and every day I thank God for giving me the privilege of being the Pastor of Thrive Church. It’s a privilege I do not take lightly and one that I love!

Oh, here is what I loved about today at Thrive

1. I love that a 4th and 5th grader were our hosts for the experience and lead from the front!

2. I love a high schooler read scripture from the front.

3. I love that a team of people were not at Thrive, but were at the traveling homeless shelter.

4. I love that Ethan and Bob (Thrive volunteers) took our trailer to the traveling homeless shelter, packed it up and took it to the next church.

5. I love that we had pictures with Santa at Church. And, we had an indoor snowball fight…wore ugly Christmas sweaters…and showed a super funny video at the very end of our experience.

6. I loved the band! Holy cow they rocked! They did such a great job of leading us in worship.

7. I love how many adults serve on Sunday’s in Thrive Kidz!!

8. I love how many new faces there were at Thrive today!

9. I loved the moment a Thriver pulled me aside and thanked me. Wow, so meaningful.

10. I loved, LOVED, that 7 people trusted in Jesus today at Thrive.

I LOVE MY CHURCH! 

A little bit of Saturday randomness and ramblings…

I can’t believe Christmas is in 4 days. Someone asked me today what I’m getting for my wife and I said, I’ll think about that after I get through Christmas Eve. Hah! Guess that won’t work.

I really LOVED this post by Perry Noble about the Church. He’s so right on and I couldn’t agree more.

I always have great hope for the future, but I’m kind of sad today. It just really breaks my heart when christians are so awful to each other. IMG_3277

I know this is really selfish, but I need chairs in my office for people to sit in and I really like this one.

I gathered together with a group of people at 7am this morning to pray for Thrive Church.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I still can’t believe people would get out of bed to pray outside in the cold weather! So awesome!

My wife continually blows me away. She serves and serves and serves!

I love how much my kids love their church.

I’ve been praying for tomorrow at Thrive all year. Desperately praying God moves in the lives and hearts of everyone who gathers together!

 

A morning with my Zach

A typical Saturday morning for me goes like this…I get up around 6am, I head to Celebration Cinemas in Mt Pleasant and I takeIMG_3194 a prayer walk around the theater.

Then, I head to the office and I finish preparing for Sunday at Thrive. I’m there as long as it takes me and then I head home and hang with my family!

Well, last Friday night we had our staff Christmas party and we got home pretty late. Needless to say, it was an amazing night of laugher and fun!

I forgot my phone in the van. That meant that I didn’t sent an alarm. Well, I slept in till 7:50am! I can’t remember the last time that happened!

As I was getting ready, Zach said ‘Dad, can I go to work with you?’ I went to say no, and then thought, why am I saying no? I explained that he would have to hang out in my mom’s office on the computer and he loved it!

We went to the theater and we did the prayer walk together. I told him to put on some worship music and IMG_3198talk to God. I did the same thing. It was awesome!

On our drive to the office, we talked about a ton of stuff.

It was the coolest time ever! 

We talked about school. Who his best friends are? Why are they his best friends? We talked about his PKU and how he’s doing with that.

Then, we talked about Church. Gosh, this kid loves our Church and of course I love that.

Here’s what amazing…I almost missed it! 

It’s not all the time I can bring my kids to work and still get done what I need too, but last Saturday was a day that I could and my first reaction was to say no.

I’m so glad I took a moment and rethought that.

I know the older my kids get, I’m gonna have fewer and fewer of these moments and I have to take advantage of single one now.

I loved my morning my Zach and I looked forward to many more!