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Jason Raitz

Jesus Follower. Husband. Dad. Son. Brother. Pastor.

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Health

3 Simple Ways to Really Appreciate your Pastor

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.

But first…

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. 

3 Simple Ways

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.

  • Encourage them over social media. Like their comments. Share their posts.
  • Say thanks.
  • Send a card.
  • Love on their kids and spouse.
  • Squash any gossip or negative talk about them.

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.

  • Serve.
  • Give. Pray.
  • Use your gifts.
  • Don’t give up during tough seasons.
  • Invite people to be a part.
  • Be passionate about your walk with Jesus.

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.

 

I can’t even process how ROUGH the month started but how AMAZING it finishing!

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:

God showed up big. People showed up big.

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.

The Blessings that have found their way to our family…

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! 

TEN…77 Puzzle Pieces for Kai.

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

 

 

I’m tired of being in pain

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…

I’m tired of being in pain.

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.

Why?

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?

Lose weight. 

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!

 

Want to help us Bring Kai home? Sponsor a Puzzle Piece. Super easy! HUGE IMPACT!

Hey there!

Maybe you’ve heard or maybe you haven’t, but the Raitz family is adopting an almost 3 year old boy from China! We are naming him Kai David Raitz and we couldn’t be more excited!
This process started 10 years ago when God started to lay adoption on our hearts. Last fall, Tracie and I decided to start walking down this path. As we prayed about adopting, God just really laid on our hearts that we should adopt a child with PKU. PKU is a rare genetic disorder that our two youngest kids have. If our kids stay on a very strict diet and drink their medical formula, they will live a very healthy life.
When we started this process, God lead us to a little girl who we named Winona Mae. We were steam rolling through the process and it came to a screeching halt in Feb of this year when we found out that she had passed away. She was very under weight and her body couldn’t fight off an infection. We were crushed and heart broken. We took a few months to grieve and just kept asking God if we should continue and He said Yes.
He lead us to Kai David! He’ll be three in Jan and he has PKU. We have been praying for this boy for months! His room is painted. His crib is bought. And, we are excited!
We are working hard to raise the last leg of funds needed to complete this adoption.
If you would like to be a part, we have a very simple way you can help. img_2567
Would you sponsor a Puzzle Piece or two or three? We have made two identical puzzles that have Kai and our families picture on them. There are 252 pieces. If you sponsor piece number 78, we’re hoping and asking that you would donate $78 dollars to Kai’s adoption fund. We would then send you a picture of the puzzle and whatever puzzle pieces you sponsored. We started last night and we already have 20 pieces sponsored!
You can either give HERE or you could send a check to our address listed below.
Tracie heads to Chicago tomorrow after Church to take our paperwork to the Chinese Consulate in downtown Chicago on Monday morning. Once they approve and seal our paperwork, we are working towards raising $8210 so we can officially pay our adoption agency and send our dossier to China. After that, we will need to raise $3500 for our gift to the Chinese orphanage and then airfare and travel for 14 days in China. Yes, we still have a long way to go, but if even 100 pieces are sponsored, we’ll be well on our way!
If you can’t help sponsor a piece, no worries at all! Please pray for us! Pray for the funds to be raised. Pray for the adoption grants we’ve applied for. Pray for a quickness. Pray that we would be able to get him before Christmas!
Lastly, as many of you know, I have spent the last 15 years speaking and teaching all over the country. I feel called to share the Gospel with students and adults and I have loved it. God has given me the opportunity to speak to over 250,000 people in that time! Yeah, crazy!
I’m telling you that because it is also an opportunity for me to earn extra income that can go towards our adoption. Since starting Thrive, I haven’t traveled as much, but now that Thrive is three years old and we have built a teaching team, I am freed up to travel and speak a little more.
So, if you are in a position to bring in speakers, would you consider me? If you could talk to your Pastor or Leadership or pass on my blog (www.jasonraitz.com), I would be honored.
If not, no worries at all!
Thank You! Thank you for considering! Thank you for praying! Thank you for your support!
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How to make your Small Group GREAT!

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!small-groups-two

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!

1. ONE…Make it a priority! 

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.

2. Really Care about your group. 

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?

  • Imagine if we prayed for our group every day.
  • Imagine if we learned everything we could about the people in our group?
  • Imagine if we cared for all the kids in our group?

What can you do to really care about your group?

3. Actually pray for each group member and their families.

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…

Pray for them. 

4. Support your Church and Pastor. 

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.

5. Talk. 

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.

6. Serve.

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.

7. Create special memories. 

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.

8. Stick Together. 

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!

Just try!

 

 

Why am I so EXCITED today? I have the JOY of serving in Thrive Kidz!

Yes, I’ll be honest, I am super EXCITED this morning!

SUPER EXCITED!

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.

I mean, didn’t Jesus welcome them? 

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!!

#smallmatters

#everychildhasachurch

#thrivekidz

Thrive Church is officially 3 years old today!

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ONLY GOD had got us this far! 

It’s been an amazing THREE years! 160 people have been baptized kind of amazing!

This is a big one for me personally, because this past year was hard. I think satan threw everything he could at us and it wasn’t enough! We just kept moving forward! We just kept helping people find and follow Jesus. We just kept seeing amazing life change!

 

Today is a special day!

I’m so thankful!

I can’t wait to celebrate God with my Thrive family!

I do believe the BEST is YET to COME!!

Why I UnFollow or UnFriend People on Facebook.

Ok, I just re-read the title and I cringed. Why? Because to my core, I’m a people person!

I love people! I love their stories! I love getting to know people! I love seeing God work in their lives! I love seeing Jesus’ love envelope them! I love people. 

I don’t ever want to Unfollow or Unfriend anyone on Facebook.

But, it happens. 

Here’s what I’ve learned when it comes to Facebook in my life. Too much Facebook is not good. Too much negativity is not good. Too much drama is not good. You put them all together and it’s a…

PERFECT STORM OF NOT GOOD! 

It’s just not good for my soul to constantly be filled with all that trash.

So, I unfollow people. 

  • If they use their own personal page to create drama
  • If they use it to fill the inter webs with even more negativity than it needs
  • If they speak poorly of others
  • If they Bash churches or Pastors
  • If they Bash anyone or are just downright awful
  • If they swear or post nasty images

Now, it’s their right to do that! I’m not saying they shouldn’t. It’s their page and they can do what they want. I choose a different way. I wrote this blog post at the beginning of the year about how I approach using Facebook. I know its a bit radical for some, but I personally think the Kingdom of God would benefit from more followers of Jesus using their page to represent Him!

And, I unfriend people. 

This really hasn’t happened much. Even when people have spoken poorly of me and bashed me, I waited for them to unfriend me.

Really, the only reason I would unfriend someone is if they really bashed someone I cared for. Or, if they really bashed the ‘Church’.

Ok, that’s not true. A few years ago I realized I had thousands of friends on Facebook and I didn’t know hardly any of them. So, I went through and unfriended about a 1000 and got tired and I stopped!

I’ve been unfollowed and unfriended…

The reality is, I know that people have unfollowed me. At times, I have posted way too much or I have been way over the top about how excited I am about my church and what God is doing there. People have unfollowed me. It’s ok.

And, people have unfriended me and that’s ok.

The reality is, I have found that this is important for my own soul. This may not be important for yours. But, my hope is that people will stop filling Facebook with trash.

We’ll see. I’m hopeful.

Why is Church and God the first to go when life gets tough?

I have heard similar stories a hundred or more times, probably more.

‘Yeah, life has been hard, so I just don’t have time for Church’

‘My life is falling a part and I blame God’

‘Church just doesn’t fit with my crazy life right now’

‘I’m upset at a decision the Pastor made and so I’m going to find another church’

‘People look at me with judgmental eyes at Church’

Totally get this from folks who are far from Jesus.

Totally would expect it. 

But, I’m just shocked at the amount of people who say they follow Jesus and they fall into one of these categories.

Now, before you think I’m going all Judgmental. I’ve been there! I was once SUPER CRAZY STUPID burned out on Church. I was. I said some of those reasons. So, I get this all too well!

But, by the grace of God, I woke up and jumped back in. 

I don’t know what’s happening in your life right now. I don’t know how hard it is. I don’t know if you’re ticked off at your Pastor. I don’t know if somebody in your church has excluded you. I don’t know if you lost your job and you blame God.

Whatever the reason. Don’t give up. That’s the easy thing to do.

Jump back in to your relationship with God. He’s ready and waiting! He can’t wait to immerse you in His love.

Jump back in to Christ’s bride. The Church is waiting for you and needs you.

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