If you’re making any end of the year financial gifts…here are some great options

Ok, today’s the day. If you’re making any end of the year financial gifts, you have to get them done today.

I was asked a few times who I recommend, so I thought I would write about a few, here goes.

1. Give to your Local Church. If you’re a member or a Partner (like we have at Thrive), GIVE to your Church! I believe with every ounce of my soul that because of Jesus, the local Church is the Hope of the World. It is the most IMPORTANT organization on the planet! And, the reality is, Churches would not exist without the faithful and generous gifts of those who call their church home. So, please give to your Church!

2. Give to Thrive Church. Yes, a little self serving. But, I have the responsibility of leading Thrive and one of my responsibilities is help raise money for our organization. And, we’re in the midst of trying to raise $14,128 by the end of the year, so every gift matters!

3. Give to send Students to Camp. My life was changed forever on an 8th grade retreat and ever since, I have done everything I can possibly can to get students to camp! Either weekend retreats or summer camps. Thrive’s students, both Club 45 and One Youth both head to SpringHill Camp for retreats and our One Youth students are heading to a Big Stuf Camp this summer!

I believe so much in camps that in 2016 the Raitz family will pay about $1800 for our 3 kids to go on these camps! I have no idea where it will come from, but I’m willing to sacrifice to make it happen!

Would you give so kids could go to camp? You can give here

4. Give to Sponsor Children. My family sponsors 3 children from Ecuador through Compassion International. Its an incredible Kingdom investment and I highly recommend it! I have been to Child development centers and I have stood in the homes of children who were being sponsored and I can say whole-heartedly that this is an amazing ministry and organization.

And…you literally save a child from poverty for $38 a month!

5. Give to Stadia. Thrive Church and countless other churches would exist without Stadia! Please make a year end gift to this amazing organization to help them plant more life giving churches!

6. Give to Newspring Church. I love the vision and mission of Newspring. I have been so blessed by Perry Noble and going to his Leadership Intensive was one of the best leadership decisions I ever made! Plus, the Newspring Network has been such an amazing encouragement to me and my staff!

Newspring is currently trying to raise THREE MILLION dollars to build a campus in Clemson and they are almost there! It was a blast giving towards this project!

7. Give to an amazing Church. Here’s a quick list of Churches you could give too…

The Church

Beautiful Gate

Journey Church

Engage Church

Community Life

242 Community Church

Kensington Church

Venture Church

Heritage Church

 

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I love the wisdom of my 15 year old daughter

It’s no secret that I’m the President and Co-Founder of the Rebekah Raitz fan club. IMG_0593

From the moment she was placed in my arms, she’s had my heart. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her and there’s nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for her to live out her dreams.

We have traveled together. We have flown all over the country together. We have walked the streets of a village in Ecuador together. She has sat in the front row of literally hundreds of my speaking gigs. She has hung out in countless green rooms as I spoke from stages. We have had thousands of conversations. We have talked about God, and sports and boys, and friends and pinterest and One Direction and Jesus and Church.

She’s just beautiful inside and out.

Her heart is just solid gold.

She is a leader and I love that! She has big opinions and she’s not afraid to share them. Countless adults have told me they’re amazed at how well she talks and carries on conversations with adults.

She’s a communicator and isn’t afraid to get in front of a group of people and share what’s on her heart.

AND, I love her Wisdom! 

We were hanging out yesterday and we talked about a million different things.

  1. We talked about her future and what she wants to do and what God is calling her to do.
  2. We talked about College and her plans for that. We talked about getting a jump start on applying for scholarships. We talked about her taking as many general ed classes as she can before she graduates high school.
  3. We talked about boys and the right kind to be friends with and to be interested in. I have been begging her since she was little to fall for boys who have fallen in love with Jesus.
  4. We talked about high school and some of the silly drama and how some kids are so wrapped up in things that don’t matter.

And, we talked about Church. She’s actually pretty passionate about Church and her Church.

She serves every Sunday and without a fight. We leave the house together as a family at 630am and Bekah is typically in charge of setting up a room and then running it for Thrive Kidz.

Now, I’ve mentioned to her a few times that I think she would be an amazing Pastor! She’s pretty hesitant about that and that’s great. I will support her in whatever area she invests her life. But, her leadership would be amazing in any Church.

But, it’s funny the wisdom that started flowing when she started to talk about Church. Here are a few Rebekah points of Wisdom…

ONE…She asked me why more Adults don’t serve at Church. I said, well, people are busy and some aren’t in the right season of life. She just couldn’t understand all the excuses people have about not serving at Church.

  • She says…How do people think the Church will operate if nobody steps up and serves? How do people think they will experience God?
  • Yeah, great point!

TWO…She overheard me telling Tracie that someone left Thrive because they thought it was wrong we teach about money and give people a chance to give.

SIDE BAR: As a Pastor, as a Dad and having a ministry family…we work very hard to protect our kids from the junk and pain and gossip that sometimes happens.

  • Back to Bekah. She thought about it for a minute and she said…’Outside of the fact that Jesus talked about money almost more than anything else, how do those people think the Church will operate if nobody gives? And, why wouldn’t you want to give, do they see all the amazing life change happening’?
  • Yeah, great point!

THREE…She asked me why it seems so many adults live life like high school students. Surrounded in the drama they either make up or invite themselves into. I said, I don’t know.

  • She then says…’Well, its time for them to grow up’.
  • Yeah, great point!

Obviously I’m proud of my daughter. I love her.

Our goal from day one as parents was to point her to Jesus, to love her so much that it would be hard to ever wonder if she was lovable and to prepare her to be a self-sufficient human being!

I have seen so many kids over the years that aren’t ready to be self-sufficient.

Well, I can proudly say, we could probably kick out Bekah now and she would do just fine! Hah.

I know God has amazing plans for this young woman and I believe He is going to use her to shake up the Kingdom!

Monday Reflections on Life, Family and Thrive Church

It’s Monday! Christmas is over! 2016 will be here soon! There are so many thoughts going through my head. Here are just a few reflections on life, my family and Thrive Church.

On Life

  • Christmas was amazing. I love my family. We had an absolute blast hanging out together!
  • On Wednesday night I got a gift from a student from Thrive! It meant the world! Seriously, a student! So cool!
  • I’m excited for 2016. I believe it’s going to be a great year.
  • I have found myself in quite a hole when it comes to managing my health. I’m going to through all the effort I possibly can into getting physically healthy again.

On Family

  • I scratch my head daily and ask God why He would bless me with the family that He gave me.
  • And, I can’t wait for our family to increase with the addition of Winona Mae! We found out last week that 2|42 Community Church is giving our adoption fund $10,000! So incredible and so humbling. IMG_3316
  • I was having a conversation with my 16 year old daughter today and she says…’Dad, why do so many adults have to act like high school students’? I said, what do you mean? She says…’It just seems like so many adults do and say such childish things to each other’. I laughed and said…yup!

On Thrive Church

  • Wow. The month of December for Thrive Church was just absolutely amazing! So many new faces. So many families. We celebrated. We laughed. We made decisions to follow Jesus. Here are some of my favorite moments from this month:
    • ‘The Force Awaken’s’ teaching series. We did a 3 week series on Luke 2 and it was great. Our artists did an amazing job of transforming our environments and people loved it.
    • We introduced Dr. Tom Rundel as our Spiritual Formation Pastor. People clapped! God is moving!
    • Starry Night was amazing! We took a risk and a leap of faith and we rented the Broadway theater. It worked out GREAT!

I so can’t wait for 2016!!

 

Another Adoption Miracle…A $10,000 gift from 2|42 Community Church!!!!!!!

As you may or may not know, the Raitz family is in the process of adopting Winona Mae! IMG_3316

We’re EXCITED! 

But, it’s a long process and we have to raise a lot of money in order to bring her home! Actually, we have to raise about $30,000. Honestly, it’s a daunting number and we’ve had no idea where the funds were going to come from. But, we know that God has called us to walk through this process and we’r’e taking the steps to do just that.

Well, if you remember, just this past Sunday, I found out that New Bethel Church in Lexington, IN had raised just over $2800 for our adoption fund! So humbling and such a blessing and a HUGE miracle.

Another Adoption Miracle!

2|42 Community Church in Brighton, MI donated $10,000 to our adoption fund!

242AREYOU EVEN KIDDME?!? How stinking amazing is that? God is so GOOD!

Yesterday was pretty fun! 2|42 announced it at all their Christmas Eve Services and my phone lit up! Voicemails, messages and texts came streaming in from friends who attend 2|42 and others who heard about it.

Talk about shocking! 

Ok, here’s a little more of the story. I was down at 2|42 for a meeting with their Pastor, Dave Dummitt and as we were heading to his office, he took me on a little walk. We ended up in a back room that had a video camera set up. He went and stood behind it and then asked me to come over to it.

I was a little curious what was going on, but I went with it. He then began to talk to his church about the different ministries and ventures they were going to bless with financial gifts from their Christmas Eve Offering. He asked me to talk about our adoption and so I did.

Then, he said these words…‘Jason, we’re (2|42) is going to give the Winona Mae adoption fund, $10,000’!

WHAT??? WHAT DID HE JUST SAY?????

I about lost it! I did lose it! I had no idea how to respond. I still don’t know how to respond! I was shocked. I was dumb founded. I started to cry. I started to laugh. I hugged Dave! I was speechless!

I was just shocked! I am still shocked. 

I called Tracie and she started crying! I texted my parents and they started crying. I texted my team and they started crying!

It’s been wild to experience these miracles and it’s such a blessing! Honestly, its tough as well! It’s hard to process this kind of extreme generosity! We’re so thankful!!

You know the phrase…

You can’t outgive God?

Well, it’s absolutely true! Since Tracie and I made the decision to honor God with our finances by tithing (we believe that tithing is returning the first portion of our finances back to the local church and we believe the starting point is 10%) and living as absolutely generous as we can, AMAZING things have happened in our LIVES!

We are ridiculously thankful and so grateful to every one who has donated to the Winona Mae fund!

If you would like to help financially, you can head here.

If you would pray for us, we would be honored!

We can’t wait to get Winona Mae home! #bringwinonahome

Merry Christmas from the Raitz Family!!

Merry Christmas from the Raitz Family! 2015 was an amazing year for our family!christmas card photo

As we finish this year:

  • Bekah is a sophomore in high school and doing great! She ran track her freshmen year and earned her varsity letter. She’s super involved in our Church and is just an absolute delight.
  • Bobby is an 8th grader and is an amazing young man! He loves video games. Like LOVES them. Like he watches youtube videos about how to play video games! Hah. But, he has a heart of Gold!
  • Zach is a 6th grader and is all life. He played football this past fall and loved it. He just started basketball. His PKU is doing good. He’s still addicted to slurpees of any kind!
  • Maddie is in 2nd grader and never stops talking! She’s a delight, but wow, she really never stops talking! Hah. But, she loves to sing. She loves school. She loves her teacher. And, her PKU is doing well.
  • Winona Mae isn’t with us yet, but we can’t wait to get her here! We’ve started the adoption process to bring this beautiful 17 month old from China and we’re walking through the process.

Tracie and I are doing great. Actually, we’re tired! Stressed at times! But, we’re great. We both love our jobs, I’m still the Pastor of Thrive Church and she is the Thrive Kidz Operations Lead.

We’re praying big prayers for 2016! We’re praying God will put his hand of favor on our adoption process and we’ll be able to get Winona Mae home soon!! If you want to help us raise the money to bring her home, please head here.

Thank you so much for all your support! Many of you financially support us through Thrive Church. Many of you pray regularly for us. Many of you send encouraging emails, messages and notes and everyone means the world!

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4 Reasons to be at Thrive’s STARRY NIGHT

starry night social media blastTomorrow night is Thrive’s first Starry Night experience! We are beyond excited! There are two nights of Starry Night. December 23rd and 24th and both start at 6pm at the Broadway Theater in Downtown Mt Pleasant.

Starry Night is a great opportunity to Celebrate Christmas and the birth and life of Jesus with friends, your family and your Church family!

It will be a fun night. That probably doesn’t surprise you at all about a Thrive experience. But, it will also include amazing music with classic Christmas Carols and some new rocking Christmas songs as well! And, an encouraging, but challenging message.

So, you’re invited to Starry Night. Still a little skeptical?

Here are 4 Reasons why you should come…

ONE…To celebrate the birth and life of Jesus! Even if you’re not a fully devoted follower of Jesus, you can’t deny that His life has had a major impact on this world? So, come and see what all the full is about. And, if you are a follower of Jesus, then come and CELEBRATE JESUS!!starry night 2

TWO…To celebrate Christmas with your friends or family. Starry Night is a tremendous opportunity for you to be with your loved ones! Bring your friends. Bring your family. Sing together. Laugh together. Be encouraged together.

THREE…To be encouraged! Who doesn’t need encouragement? And, its amazing, but the Christmas season is actually a time where people can feel quite down. So, don’t be alone! Come and surround yourself with people who will extend the love of Jesus to you.

FOUR…To create a Christmas tradition with your family. Your kids will remember heading to the Broadway together for Starry Night. It will be a blast to sit together. It will be fun to sing together. It will create memories for your family! So, be there together!

Again, I hope you can make it to one of the STARRY NIGHT experiences at the Broadway Theater at 6pm. Who knows, your heart might just need this encouragement!

Are you running away from Jesus?

Have you ever found yourself running away from Jesus? 12341509_911636515598330_6605231526272603795_n

I have.

Maybe you were mad at life. Maybe you were mad at Him. Maybe you were mad at yourself and you didn’t know how to deal with it. Maybe you were upset at how things have gone and you just question if He really loves you.  Maybe you were overwhelmed. Maybe some relationships went the wrong way. Maybe you’re heart-broken. Maybe life is great and you wonder if you need Him.

If you’ve been wondering how to stop running. If you’ve been wondering how to turn around. If you’ve been wanting to desperately stop running away and run towards Jesus. Here are Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:28-30 from (the message)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Did you get? If you’re tired, worn out and burned out on religion. If you’re mad. Frustrated. Sad. Not experiencing peace.

Just come to Jesus. Turn around. Stop running away. Get away with Him.

And…

You will recover your life and He will give you rest. 

So, today, make a decision to stop running. Start a new spiritual habit today. Read God’s word. Talk to Him. Surround yourself with other followers of Jesus.