OFFICIALLY BEEN MATCHED WITH KAI IN CHINA’S SYSTEM!!!!!
OFFICIALLY BEEN MATCHED WITH KAI IN CHINA’S SYSTEM!!!!!
Some people ‘go’ to Church because they have an internal voice telling them that its the right thing to do.
Some people ‘go’ to Church because they want to be seen by other people.
Some people ‘go’ to Church because they have heard good things and don’t want to miss out.
Some people ‘go’ to Church because they’re starving for community and connection.
Some people ‘go’ to Church because its one more thing on their moral check list.
First of all…
Second of all…
That’s where the real power is!
Here’s what I believe passionately, you will miss out on the real POWER of Church if you’re not connected and if you’re not connected for the right reasons!
All those reasons TO GO to Church miss out on the power that is available to you. If Church is just a country club to you, a moral compass, another box on your to do list or another thing for you to feel good about yourself, you’re missing out.
But, when you get CONNECTED at a local Church that is working right and use your spiritual gifts to serve that body and to serve the community they live in…
Some Ways to Get Fully Connected:
ONE…Actually make it a priority to be there! Again, so simple but so hard in this day and age of crazy business. If you really want to experience the power of connection, be there. Make it a commitment to be with your Church every week!
TWO…Actually make it a priority to serve! Again, sounds simple. But, what if we approached serving our Church as a number one priority in our life? Be there. Show up early. Serve with your whole heart.
THREE…Actually make it a priority to get to know people. Again, so simple to say, but so many people shy away from this. They know if they actually do this, they will start making connections and then it gets harder to be nominally involved.
FOUR…Actually make it a priority to be known. Again, sounds so simple, but so many people give up on church right before they really get connected. What are you so afraid of? God created us to live in community with each other. Jump in and feel the power of being connected.
Today is your day! Make the decision to let nothing stop you from being connected. I really believe when you do, you will start to feel the power of being connected and then your life will change for the better!
So, October is Pastor Appreciation month. Today is the last day, but you don’t need it to be Pastor Appreciation Month to appreciate your Pastor. So, I thought I would chime in on a few really simple ways to appreciate your Pastor.
Yesterday I was the guest speaker at Connect Church in Washington, IL. It was planted and is lead by Dave Jane. He’s a brilliant Pastor! They’re a great Church! Doing amazing things for the Kingdom.
At one moment, a key leader in the Church got on stage and brought up the paid staff. They gave each staff member and their spouses a small gift and an envelope. They showed some pictures of them on the screen, they thanked them and they prayed for them. It was an awesome moment! Simple, yet profound.
I hope and pray more Churches do that than not.
Pray. And, here’s the deal. Really pray for them. Don’t just say you do, actually do it.
Pray for them, their spouse, their kids, their leadership, their ministry, their finances and their health. Ask God for His favor on them. Ask God to give them wisdom. Ask God to raise up a network of people who will encourage them.
And, let them know you’re praying for them!
Support. And, here’s the deal. Really support them. This is HUGE! I believe this fully, you are actually holding back the forward momentum of your Church if your not on board with your Pastor. His vision for the Church and how they lead.
Now, maybe you think you can wait them out and then everything will be fine after they leave. But, the reality is, God has called them to be there and if He’s called you to be there as well, figure out how you can really support them.
The reality is, if you can’t, it may be time to move on. Sounds harsh, but its true.
Ok, here are a couple of random ways you can show support to your Pastor.
Show UP. Yes, this is a biggie. Show up at Church. Show up in Church. Show up and be the Church. There are so many luke warm followers of Jesus. Sorry, no judgement here, but there are a lot of people who view ‘Church’ as a ‘To Do’ on their check list. It’s not. Being a part of the church is sacred. So, really Show up.
Yeah, these are pretty simple. But, they would bring a huge lift to your Pastor.
Yes, being a Pastor is hard.
But, these 3 simple ways would go a long way to show your appreciation.
What a month!
I’m telling you, this week started out ROUGH! I wonder how many people can relate? I actually wrote this BLOG POST talking about just being tired of pain! I know I’m not alone. I know people have rough weeks all the time, but this one, for whatever reason, just started out rough.
I take that back, the last 2-3 weeks have been on the rougher side. It kind of started on October 2nd. That was Thrive’s THREE anniversary and to be extremely honest, I had a very ROUGH morning that day.
Typically, our anniversary’s and big Sunday’s are my favorite, but something was going on inside my head and my heart and my soul. As soon as 8:30am hit, wave and wave of amazingly hard discouragement and disappointment just kept hitting me.
It was unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Listen, I’ve been a Pastor long enough to know that its not an easy job. I get that. Satan is attacking, People attack, Life attacks and thats all before you wake up some days!
For whatever reason, October 2nd was really hard. Those lying voices in my head kept reminding me of all the people who have left Thrive, the people who have said negative stuff about me and the Church, all the initiatives we haven’t been able to do yet because of finances and then the 1 or 2 super colossally bad decisions I’ve made while being Thrive’s Pastor. Yes, I’ve made more. A LOT MORE. But, there are 1-2 that really stick out.
Here’s what happened though in my life:
Here’s what I mean. God provided! He brought healing! He brought Peace! He brought love! He brought hope! The list below is just the short list of the amazing BLESSINGS God has brought my way. As you struggle with the rough moments, hold on, God has something for you! He has beauty that you can’t even imagine. He has healing that you can’t even imagine.
ONE…A Found Hand Written Note in my Bible. It was left by an amazing Thriver and I have read her worlds over and over again! Such a blessing!
TWO…Glasses for Bekah. A friend from TX messaged us last month and said she would love to bless Bekah with new glasses! Such a blessing!
THREE…A Car. Yeah, no joke. A miracle. Both are cars are old and held together with duck tape. A dear friend gave us a car and said it was the best way they know possible for helping with our adoption. Just UNREAL! Such a blessing!
FOUR…Gift for Pastor Appreciation. There is an amazing couple at Thrive who just bless so many people. Well, they gave me a gift for Pastor Appreciation month and with it, I was able to get some of the things my kids needed for school. Such a blessing!
FIVE…Gift card for Shoes. A wonderful couple at church stopped me a few backs and gave me a gift card for a new pair of shoes. With 4 kids and two of them having PKU, shoes and clothes are on the low priority list for Tracie and I! Such a blessing!
SIX…My parents. Yeah, I could fill blog post after blog post about all the amazing ways my parents help us all the time. They are just always there! Such a blessing!
SEVEN…A mattress for Bekah. We’ve needed a mattress for 3-4 months for Bekah. There was unfortunate accident on her mattress with our cat. Last night, a dear friend texted Tracie out of the blue saying that she has a mattress for Bekah! Such a blessing!
EIGHT…Approve, Certified and Sealed Dossier. This was HUGE. Many of our forms were set to expire this week before they were more than 6 months old for adoption process. Tracie, because of the amazing gift of a dear friend, was able to go to downtown Chicago and take the forms to the Chinese Consulate and get them sealed! Such a blessing!
NINE…A trip to Chicago for Tracie. One of our best friends in the world, made it possible for her to take Tracie to Chicago to get our paperwork to the Consulates. It never would have happened without her help! Such a blessing!
This is the easiest and simplest fundraiser ever. We have two identical puzzles. They are pictures of Kai and our family. We’re asking that people sponsor a piece or two or three. Really, whatever amount they would like and that coincides with the puzzle piece. When someone sponsors a piece, we send it to them in the mail with a picture of the puzzle.
Then, we write their name on the other puzzle piece. When its completed, we will frame it and put it in Kai’s room for him to see all the people that helped bring him home!
We have been blown away and people are continuing to sponsor pieces.
Friends from all the country! Churches! Kids! Students! Its just been unreal!
Even though the month started rough. Even though this week started rough. God has provided. God has brought healing. God has reminded me of his love. God has showed up time and time again!
If you’re going through a rough time, hang in there! Stay close to Jesus! He will get you through.
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ ~Jesus
Yes, this title and post is much more personal and whiny than I try to be on my blog. I try to work very hard to keep my blog very positive. But, yesterday was a classic bad back day for me and all day long I found myself saying…
Unless its super hot and my back is very lose, outside of that, then I’m typically dealing with some sort of back pain. Either a little pain or a lot of pain. It’s been that way most of my life.
Well, because I’m not very smart. It started when I was young and was hit by a car. Then, through my 20’s I really didn’t take care of my back. It worsened in my 30’s and for some reason, when we planted Thrive Church, it went from bad to horrible. I had surgery in Jan of 2014 to remove a disc and that took care of the sciatica, but depending on the day, it can be either manageable or it can be down right ridiculous. Bending is out of the question. And, every time I lift something with even a little weight to it, my back could start screaming at me.
I try not to complain.
I try not to dwell on it.
I try not to let it drag me down.
I try to keep going.
I try to fight through it.
But, wow, some days. And, I know so many people have pain so much worse than mine.
And, I know some of the possible solution is on me, that’s the kicker! The solution?
We all know being overweight does not help your back and I am dreadfully overweight!
Now, before you start saying…‘just eat salad and start running’. Trust me, I have heard those a lot over the years! And, yes, I am trying to eat more salad. I have actually taken huge steps this last month. I cut out pop. I cut out some things that are very bad and I am feeling much better!
And, I can’t run. I would run. I love to run! My last run was in June of 2012 and I ran 10 miles! See, I love to run. But, I can’t. I love to do cross fit. I can’t. Anything that involves jarring…yeah, I could be laying on my back for a week.
So, I have been in this continuous hard and painful cycle for 4 years. I start to lose weight, everything feels better, than the stress of life comes (having a big family, financial pressure, leading a church) and sometimes when my back feels better I push it to hard and bam, I’m back to def con 5 back pain.
When I hit def con 5 back pain, I’m done. Getting through the day is a win for me. Bending, standing, walking, sitting, putting on socks, it’s all hard. That’s actually an understatement! It’s painfully hard.
Sunday’s at Church, when I hit def con 5 back pain is unreal. The walking, standing, preaching, moving, it’s just hard.
Why I’m typing all this, I don’t know.
I just got to the place yesterday where I started to whine and cry to God and then I found this amazing video on youtube about Job. Put a lot in perspective.
I know Paul prayed for his pain to be taken away. I know David cried out to God.
So, I’m crying out to God. I am going to do my best to take care of the body that God has blessed me with. I am going to keep making better eating decisions. I am going to work hard to loosen and strengthen the muscles around my back that don’t want to bend.
And, I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
If you’re in pain. My heart goes out to you. I’m praying for you. Let me know, so I can pray!
It’s pretty awesome when someone in the community asks you about your Church because of your sweatshirt! Here’s what happened yesterday…
I was paying at iHop and my waitress looked at my Thrive sweatshirt and asked if that was the Church that baptizes all those people! I honestly was shocked and said YES! She said she read about us in the Morning Sun and she’s always wanted to visit. EASIEST INVITE EVER!!!! HOW freaking awesome is that?!?
It’s only a God thing what’s happening at Thrive!
So, head to Thrive this morning and experience what God is doing! We meet at Celebration Cinema at either 9 or 1015! Come a little early!
Our next BAPTISM is on November 13th during both experiences!!! YEAH, you read that right. The theater gave us permission and we are borrowing a portable baptismal!!
Just imagine being a part of that EXPERIENCE?!? People taking the STEP to Publicly Declare to Follow Jesus and the Band Leading us in Worship at the Same Time???
Don’t MISS Sunday, November 13th!!! We’ve never been able to do baptisms in our theater and we can’t wait!
It never ceases to amaze me how God moves and uses really simple things to reach people for his kingdom!
One of my great passions in ministry is Small Groups! As much as I love communicating and building strategic plans around gathering groups of people for an event…Small Groups just get me fired up!
Ever since I read Sticky Church, I’ve been hooked! If you can create environments that are so welcoming and so accepting and so rewarding, people will STICK! Kids will Stick. Students will Stick. Students will Stick! And, that’s what we want at Thrive!
We want EVERY Thriver in a Small Group!
We want EVERY Thriver to have a group of people who will be their ‘people’! Where they can ask spiritual questions without worrying about being judged. Where they can be prayed for. Where they can be loved. Where they can be taken care of. Where they can grow spiritually.Where they can live out the ‘One Another’s’ of the New Testament.
At Thrive, that’s why Small Groups are our Secret Sauce! We believe fully in Andy Stanley’s great quote…
Circles are better than rows
But, it takes some commitment and energy to make GREAT Small Groups. It’s just not automatic. And, I would rather my Small Group be great and something people look forward to, than just ok.
So, if you want your Small Group to be GREAT, here are a few things you can do to make it GREAT!
Simple, right? Wrong! We’re so busy! There are so many things clamoring for our attention and we feel like we have to say yes to everything.
And, don’t throw tomatoes at me, but honestly, it seems like everything is more important than our spiritual growth now a days.
Our kids activities are def. more important. Just look at your calendar. Again, not saying at all that kids stuff isn’t important, I love watching my kids at school and in sports.
But, what if we lived like the early Church in Acts 2:42?
‘They Devoted themselves’. Just think about that word for a second. Have you DEVOTED yourself to…
‘Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and to Prayer’?
What if our GROUPS became SACRED. We blocked out that time. My family has done some crazy things in the past to protect our Group time. Take some time to think and to pray about what you could do to make being a group a Priority for you and your family.
Yes, another one that sounds simple. But, what if we put the same energy into our groups that we did our passions in life (working out, camping, hunting, shopping)? Yeah, our groups would be pretty darn special wouldn’t they?
What can you do to really care about your group?
Again, I’m not breaking any records for deep thoughts. But, it’s crazy to me, if we’re really being honest, how little we pray!?!
Get a journal or make an online note or a note on your phone, and keep a record of all the prayer requests in your group and actually…
I know you’ve probably never met someone who just stirs up the drama pot whatever chance they get! But, sometimes, small groups can become havens for the complainers, the gossipers and the drama lovers. Especially about Church stuff.
Don’t allow that in your group! If you can’t fully support your church and pastor, maybe you’re at the wrong church.
Spend time praying for your church, your pastor and the staff. Pray for the leadership. Pray for the kids and students.
A great small group is when the talk is equally spread around. If you lead or host the group, remember this great principle…talk 20% of the time and listen 80%.
Now, it might take some time for you to feel comfortable enough to talk. That’s ok. But, its pretty awesome when every one in the group adds to the group.
Ask spiritual questions. Tell the group what you’re learning from scripture. Share what’s on your heart.
This is huge! Find some time to serve somebody! Serve the people in your group. When someone gets sick or life has taken a twist, feed them! Care for them. Or, as a group, find some time to serve your church or community.
There is something powerful that happens when your group unites outside of the group and serves.
When someone has a birthday in our group, make a BIG deal about! Have your whole group sing to them, lay hands on them and pray for them and then celebrate with cake and ice cream.
If you have kids and students, make a big deal when they hit certain ages.
Go on vacations together. Do spring break together. Go to each other’s kids games.
Help each other. Our group helped us paint a room for our upcoming adoption.
Yeah, this goes against some of the popular thoughts into group dynamics and ministry of always splitting up. But, the more time you have together, the deeper your community will be.
And, if someone in your group feels the nudge from the Holy Spirit to start their own group, send them out!! Celebrate them!!
If you don’t want your group to be GREAT, then don’t do any of these things.
Here’s the thing, the less you do, the more you can do better. So, you may have to say no to some things in your life to make your group great, but I promise you…it will be worth it!
Put some energy into these things and do them over time and your small group will be GREAT!
It will become a weekly highlight. It will become something that your entire family looks forward to!
Yes, I’ll be honest, I am super EXCITED this morning!
Why? Because I have the joy of serving in Thrive Kidz!
I use to believe what some leaders taught about serving in Kids Ministry. I use to buy into the idea that if you’re not specifically gifted to work with kids, you shouldn’t.
I don’t buy into that idea any longer.
Why? Because Kids are close to the heart of God and so shouldn’t they be close to ours? Even if you don’t have specific gifts to serve kids, I think we all should care and love and pour into kids.
So, I can’t wait!
If you’re not serving in kids now, I really hope you’ll consider giving some time to Thrive Kidz. It’s a huge investment in the Kingdom of God!!