How to REALLY support your Church

The ‘Church’ is extremely important to me. I operate under the premise that because of Jesus and when it is working right…

The Local Church is the Hope of the World! 

The church isn’t a social club. The church isn’t an inward focused organization. The church isn’t a religion check mark.

Jesus died for the Church. If it was that important to Him, it is that important to me.

So, how do we go about supporting our local Church? Here are a few ideas.

A few ways to really support your Church

Actually devote time to pray for your Church. Yup, do you spend time every day praying for your Church. For your Pastor? For the staff and leaders? For God’s hand and favor upon it?

Move forward with your Church. Churches are notorious for refusing to change. So many are stuck in the past. And, the only forward movement they have is to try to relive the glory days. One of the best things you can do for your Church is to move forward with it. Don’t try to hold it back.

Have a financial plan to support your Church. So many Christians argue about tithing. Regardless if you believe the tithe is a New Covenant command or an actual 10%, we are still encouraged by Paul to give. Pray over a percentage to give that’s already planned between you and God. And then give faithfully and obediently and then see what happens in your life.

Get your kids involved. For my family, its just not an option for my kids to NOT be involved. So, we attend on Sunday’s. We all serve on Sunday’s. My teenagers are involved with youth group and our younger kids are a part of Thrive Kidz.

Represent Jesus and your Church online. The thing many people forget is that they are actually carriers of the mission of the Church. So, represent Jesus and your church wherever you go. Especially online. LIKE your Churches Facebook posts. LIKE your Pastor’s posts. Write encouraging comments.

Leave the best seats for guests. When you do gather on Sunday, leave the best seats for guests. Sit in the middle of a row. Leave the outside seats for guests.

Fight the urge to disappear. You will cause so much hurt if you just disappear, especially if you’ve built relationships with people. You think that if you just disappear quietly, it will cause less pain. Here’s the reality, when you disappear, you will cause pain. So, don’t. Fight the urge to disappear.

Honor your Pastor and Each Other. This is HUGE! Raise the culture of honor in your Church by actually honoring each other. Be kind and compassionate. Be loyal. Be ready to help.

These are a few absolute GREAT ways to Support your Church! 

 

 

 

Can 7 Sunday’s really be all that important? The next 7 at Thrive are just that…

 

Sunday is coming! I am extremely EXCITED about this Sunday! Why?

It’s Thrive’s last Sunday at the theater!

I have been praying for this day for over 2 years and I can’t wait! Don’t get me wrong, I will miss the theater! I am sad!

But, I am more EXCITED and EXPECTANT and EAGER than I am sad!!

 

Save a Seat Campaign

Have you had a chance to save a seat? If not, there are still seats to sponsor!! Right now **986**seats have been sponsored! That still leaves a few hundred that need to be sponsored!!

If you want to help, THANK YOU! Just head to http://www.thrivechurchmi.cc/give and select CMU fund. Or text, 84321, the amount and CMU!!

****THE NEXT 7 SUNDAYS****

I can’t even begin to explain how important the next 7 weeks are for Thrive Church! I know we’re all busy. But, I’m asking you to consider making these weeks a huge priority, here’s why.

March 26th…Our Last Sunday at Celebration Cinema! Let’s CELEBRATE together! Popcorn, Memories, the most IMPORTANT message ever, Communion, a time of prayer and the band has been putting in extra work on some very special songs.

April 2nd…First Sunday at CMU. 930 and 11am.

April 9th…Palm Sunday. A GIANT Sunday!

April 16th…EASTER SUNDAY [Look Again]. The super bowl of all Sundays.

April 23rd…BAPTISM Sunday at CMU!! Our first ever baptism on the stage at CMU. If you have never been baptized through immersion, please check out this link. http://thrivechurchmi.cc/baptism/

April 30th…The Church has Left the Building! We are not meeting for our experiences, but we will meet at CMU and then spread out all over the area and serve!

As you can tell, wow, this is our MOST IMPORTANT SEASON ever as a Church!!

Thank you for Stepping UP! For Showing UP, for Jumping In and for Doing Good!

 

Sermon Notes…’STEP OUT’

**I’m trying a new thing. But, I write so many sermons and then they’re done. So, I’m going to start posting a portion of my notes. This is an edited down version.

“When God speaks, oftentimes His voice will call for an act of courage on our part.”

– Charles Stanley

  • That’s so true!
  • Jesus is our example of sacrifice. He lived his life to give it. We live our lives as followers of Jesus to help others find Jesus.
  • But, the reality is…

Big Idea: If you’re going to Step Out. The Key is to Keep Your Eyes on Jesus.

Matthew 14:22-24

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

 

  • Mountains were places of prayer for Moses and Elijah. Jesus went up on a mountain to find solitude.
  • All throughout the gospels we see Jesus finding time to be alone. To be quiet. Maybe there’s something to that!

 

Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

 

  • This is still normal in the Sea of Galilee that harsh storms rise up quick.

 

  • If you’re going to step out, learn this from Jesus.

Jesus is always getting alone to PRAY

  • What if we really put our life into prayer? What if instead of worrying, we prayed? What if instead of gossiping, we prayed? What if instead of facebook, we prayed? What if instead of talking, we prayed?
  • I love this quote by John Ortberg…

“At it’s heart, solitude is primarily about not doing something” ~ John Ortberg

  • If we’re going to step out and keep our eyes on Jesus, we have to pray. We have to seek God. We have to talk to Him. We have to listen for His voice.

Matthew 14:25-26

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,”they said, and cried out in fear.

 

  • When Jesus walked on the water, it was to get to his disciples and to bring a reality of His presence to them. He wasn’t showing off, or just going for a stroll. They needed to know He was legit.
  • No matter what the difficulties in our lives, Jesus comes to us in the stress. His presence is our assurance.
  • So, stop pushing Him away.

 

Big Idea: If you’re going to Step Out. The Key is to Keep Your Eyes on Jesus.

  • The disciples missed what was going on here and they didn’t comprehend the reality of Jesus presence in their distress. They didn’t recognize him and thought he was a ghost.

 

Jesus takes our fears seriously. Because fear creates a form of spiritual amnesia. It dulls our miracle memory. It makes us forget what Jesus has done and how good God is. ~Max Lucado (Fearless)

So, what do you fear?

  • Not having enough money. Paying your bills. Going Broke. The car breaking down. Finishing last, being wrong, losing control. Sickness. This election. A fear of public failure, unemployment, heights. The wrong person being elected?
  • According to psychiatric reference books, there are approximately two thousand classified fears.
  • Those documented fears run the gamut—everything from:
    • Photophobia:  the fear of never looking good in pictures
    • Arachibutyrophobia: the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth
    • Cacophobia- Fear of ugliness
    • Omphalophobia- Fear of belly buttons
    • Decidophobia- Fear of making decisions
    • Phobiaphobia:  the fear of phobias
  • According to Mark Batterson, Author of one of my favorite books…In a Pit with a lion on snowy day and Cirlce Maker.

 

  • He says, what’s interesting is that psychiatrists say that we’re born with only two innate fears:  the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises.
  • That means that every other fear is learned.
  • Fear, it seems, has set up shop in our lives.
  • It’s oversized and rude and it is unwilling to share our heart with Peace and happiness.
  • Fear is the big bully in the high school hallway: brash, loud and unproductive.
  • For all the noise fear makes and room it takes, fear does little good.
  • Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry.
  • Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that.
  • Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.

How do we get a point where we Master our fears and our fears don’t Master us?

  • And fear feels dreadful. It sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state and drains us dry of contentment.
  • When fear shapes our lives, safety becomes our god.  When safety becomes our god, we worship the risk-free life.
  • Can the safety lover do anything great?
  • NO. The fear-filled cannot love deeply. Love is risky. They cannot give to the poor. The fear filled cannot dream wildly. What if their dreams sputter and fall from the sky? The worship of safety emasculates greatness.
  • His most common command was FEAR NOT.
  • If quantity is any indicator, Jesus takes our fears seriously.

 

  • The one statement he made more than any was this: “don’t be afraid”.

 

Picture of Plactha

  • To be really, really honest, our move to CMU scares me a little. Not a lot. I’ve known since this time last year, that CMU was our new home.
  • It’s huge, God reminds me that there are 80000
  • But, change is hard for some. Its going to take a lot of sacrifice to get there. We still have $23,000 dollars to raise. We have 681 Seats Sponsored! HOW GREAT is THAT!?!
  • Here’s why this is so exciting? Because each of those seats represents someone’s life who desperately needs Jesus and who desperately needs a Church home!

Matthew 14:27

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 

  • The Greek for ‘It is I’, reminds us of God’s word to Moses, “I am”. This is a bold reminder that He is the Son of God.
  • Just a reminder, Jesus is the Only WAY, the ONLY TRUTH and the LIFE.

 

Matthew 14:28-29

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

 

  • Seeing Jesus walking, Peter the realist cries out…”Lord, if it’s you”, see he wanted to make sure, for he knew the sea; he was a veteran fisherman and no storm had ever made him lose this senses
  • Something to remember, Peter is not putting Jesus to the test, instead he was reacting in faith.
  • Peter had his answer and now it was all about taking the BRAVE step of faith.
  • It was Peter’s move. All Peter had in order to act was one simple word…come.
  • This is the ultimate test of faith, to move on Jesus’ word alone.

 

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

 

  • And HE DID IT! He stepped over the side of the boat to go to Jesus.
  • Faith gives its entire attention solely to the Master.

 

“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

– Billy Graham

Take the Step

Slide # 15…The more you’re willing to risk, the more God can use you. And if you’re willing to risk everything, then there is nothing God can’t do in you and through you. ~Mark Batterson

Matthew 14:30-32

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?”

 

  • He took his eyes off Jesus
  • But, don’t lose sight of this, even though he didn’t follow through, he had done something that not ever the greatest prophets of the OT had done.
  • Back to the OT for a second, there is a great Psalm in 18:16 that says…
  • “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters, He rescued me”
  • This story probably reminded people of Israel passing through the Red Sea.

 

Ask for Help

  • We often wish we could escape the storms or troubles or pain or sorrow or even the small daily frustrations that wear us down.
  • But, God promises to be close to the broken hearted, to be our source of power, courage and wisdom and help us through them.
  • Ask Him for help. Cry out to Him.

Psalm 34:17-19 (the message)

17 Is anyone crying for help? God is listening,

ready to rescue you.

18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;

if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

19 Disciples so often get into trouble;

still, God is there every time.

Matthew 14:33

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Remember your Source

Colossians 3:1-2 (the message)

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

What’s your Boat?

Want to know what your boat is? Your fear will tell you. Just ask yourself this: What is it that most produces fear in me – especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith? ~ John Ortberg

One more quote by Mark Batterson

 

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.

Mark Batterson

 

 

A New Chapter for Thrive Church + #SaveaSeat Campaign = The Best is Yet to Come

 

Thrive Church is 175 weeks old! It’s been an amazing 3.5 years! Lives have been changed! Marriages have been encouraged and healed! People have found community! And…people have found Jesus and follow Him!! Through it all…God has been so faithful! 

As I look back on 2016, I just scratch my head when I think about all the ONLY GOD moments! You can check out our annual report HERE.

In fact, He has sent the most amazing people to be a part of this church! I am in awe most days when I think about the staff He’s assembled, the leadership team and the body of people who call Thrive home! Just amazing!

A New Chapter for Thrive Church! 

Very soon, we will start a new chapter. For the Church that started in a bar and then moved to a movie theater, we will move soon to the campus of Central Michigan University. WE ARE SO EXCITED!!

This is a total God thing! It’s an ONLY GOD moment and I’m so excited for this new chapter!

Why are we moving?

Simple. We have outgrown our space. Our current Sunday morning location is great and its been awesome! But, our kids ministry has suffered from a lack of space. Plus, our new location will position us in an amazing facility for both kids and adults and its in a great part of town! And we’re praying that God opens up doors for us to reach College students like never before!

So, how can we get there?

#SaveaSeat Campaign

We’re asking people to sponsor seats to change lives!! If we can get enough seats sponsored, we will be able to purchase the equipment we need to turn CMU into Thrive Church on Sundays!!

There are 1200 seats and we’re praying that we can each one sponsored at $40!!

We primarily need to create an amazing environment for our Kids Ministry! Here is a portion of what we need:

 

  • (4) Carts of Portable Kids Ministry Walls (Brand new, these are $8000). We’re praying we can get them donated or fine used ones.
  • (150 feet) of Pipe and Drape
  • (4) Portable TV Cases for Thrive Kidz and the TV’s to go in them.
  • (2) Giant rolls of carpet
  • Bean Bag chairs, toys, slides, little kids tables and chairs
  • (2) Powered speakers
  • (3) Laptops and Label Printers
  • New Signage for Campus for Thrive Kidz and Thrive Church
  • Dream items: Octoball ring, 9 Square in the air, bouncy inflatable

 

It’s super easy to sponsor a seat. Just text 84321, the amount and CMU. Or you can give online, just check the CMU Fund or give at Thrive.

 

Don’t Miss our Ramp up to Move to CMU:

March 1…40 Day Prayer Campaign Begin (Praying for God to move in this new season at Thrive Church)
March 11…Worship & Prayer Night at the Hub. 6-730pm. We will corporately pray for our move, for Easter and for God to move.
March 12…NEW SERIES BEGINS: How to Wreck Your Life
March 25…24 PRAYER DAY. People will reserve half hour slots to pray on their own or at the Hub or CMU.
March 19-31…Hanging Door Hangers all over Central MI and CMU
March 31…Tentative Set Up and Tear Down Training Night for Road Crew/Thrive Kidz/Production (630-9pm)

April 2…Soft Launch at CMU [New Experience Times: 930am & 11]
April 16…EASTER!!!! (LOOK AGAIN)
April 23…New Series: #ForCentralMichigan (Loving where you live, serving where you live) & Baptism Sunday!!
April 30…THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!! Serving local Schools!

These are awesome times Thrive Church! God is doing some incredible things!

Would you join with me and PRAY LIKE CRAZY FOR SEATS TO BE SPONSORED?

 

A Beautiful Post by my wife about Winona’s Death, Moving Forward and the miracle of Kai’s Adoption.

Today is a bittersweet day for me. A year ago we were plowing through the adoption paperwork and checklists to bring Winona Mae home. We had a crib, stroller and had just bought paint for her room and had planned to paint over the weekend! Things were moving forward and we couldn’t wait to hold her in our arms!IMG_3316

The afternoon of 2/1/16 I had emailed our case worker a question about some paperwork and she replied right away with ‘are you home? Can you call me?’ I wasn’t too worried since I had requested a PHE level update on Winona and thought she wanted to give those to me. What she would tell me instead was something I never expected and still today hurts to think about. Winona had passed away…all we know is a virus was going through her orphanage and her little body just couldn’t fight it off. I was in shock, I was pacing the street in front of our house talking to our caseworker and wondering how I was going to go inside and tell the kids? When I hung up with our caseworker I called Jay and told him. We didn’t talk too much cause we were both in tears. Going in the house to tell the kids after talking to Jay was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

That night we were surrounded by friends and family who grieved with us, sat with us and held us while we cried.

The next few weeks were a blur as we tried to process the news. We questioned moving forward with the adoption process…how could we without Winona? How would we even begin to choose another child? Did we even want to move forward? Should we wait a few months, a year or stop altogether?

After praying and talking about it we decided to move forward with the home study and see what happened.

Fast forward a couple weeks and the picture of a little boy who also had PKU was sent to me by a fellow adopt parent who was adopting from his orphanage. We felt a connection to him but he was with a different placing agency and at the place we were at we didn’t feel called to switch agencies. Again we questioned the journey we were on but still felt God telling us to move forward and trust him. 邹宏凯+(1)We looked at other files of kids with our agency but neither of us felt really called to any of them (they were all precious and needing a forever family, we just knew we weren’t theirs). I was just about ready to call it quits cause it was getting to hard emotionally when I received an email and FB message late on a Saturday night from our case worker saying she had a file of a little boy on a 72 hour hold for us if we wanted to review his file. I opened the email and there was the picture of the little boy we both felt a connection to earlier! Everyone else was asleep but all I could do was look over the pictures attached to his file and smile!

The little boy in the file and pictures was Kai! The next day after a long Sunday (we had Thrive, then family over for Bek’s birthday) I emailed our case worker our LOI (letter of intent) for Kai to be sent to China. A couple weeks later we received our PA (pre-approval), and as you all know almost 2 weeks ago we brought him home!

When I think back to the beginning of our journey and how we almost quit when Winona passed away I get sad thinking of the love, joy and happiness we would have missed out on with Kai had we not listened to God’s voice and moved forward even though it hurt! Even though we wanted to stop cause it was too hard and we couldn’t see the end!

I am so glad we were obedient and faithful through the hurt and pain and and so thankful for Kai and for the love and joy he has already brought to our family in just the short amount of time we have known him!

I am excited to see what God has in store for this little boy who has captured our hearts! We still grieve not getting to hold Winona by know she is free of sickness and pain in heaven and will one day meet her! She will always hold a part of our hearts and will forever be a part of our journey to Kai!

img_3907

Happy 3rd Birthday Kai David Raitz!!!!

Today is Kai’s 3rd Birthday!!

Happy Birthday Kai David Raitz!!!!!

If the adoption process was lightening fast, we could have had him almost another year, but it’s not that fast. 

But, we will not take for granted that Kai is now a Raitz and its so much fun to celebrate his birthday today!

I can’t wait for his siblings to meet him. I can’t wait for his grand parents to meet him. I can’t wait for our small group and our church to meet him. 

Today is our last day in China! I wish we were leaving, but that’s on tap for tomorrow! So, today, we will celebrate Kai! 

Here are a few things you can be praying for Kai:

1. Pray for our travel home. We will be traveling about 30 hours. YIKES! Pray for God’s favor on that travel. 

2. Pray for Kai to keep bonding with us. 

3. Pray for God to give him favor with his siblings. 

4. Pray for a great transition into life in the Raitz house. 

5. Pray that God would use this boy to wreck the world for His Kingdom. 

6. Pray that Kai would come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Yesterday, I had a lot of fun taking pictures of Kai. Here they are!!

I think we made a mistake…

Ok, I know this is going to sound crazy, but…

I think we made a mistake.

 Let me back up. I have no idea how we could have done it. Shoot, I have no idea how we did what we did. But, I think we could have attempted it. 

I think with God’s help, it was something that we could have done. 

Actually, Tracie brought it up to me months ago and my  first thought was…’she’s crazy!’. But, I will tell you I prayed about it. I really did. But honestly, I have been a level of stressed out that I have never been in my life. I really needed to remember Jesus’ words…

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, ‘that is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life, whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear’

So, you maybe wondering what I’m talking about?

I think we made a mistake by not bringing home…

TWO CHILDREN FROM CHINA. 

Yes, I’m crazy! Tracie is crazy! Ican hear the chorus’s of ‘your crazy’ righ now. I can see all the eyebrows going up. I can see people waking away. 

Especially after re-reading my blog post from last night! Wow, we were tired yesterday! Kai gave us a run for our money. 

But, being here. Walking around his orphanage. Seeing the RIDICULOUS need. Having our hearts broken and then broken again. Meeting families who have adopted 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times. Seeing what God has already done in our hearts. 

Yeah, I think we made a mistake by not at least attempting it. 

Now, I have no idea how we could have afforded it. I have no idea how we could have managed it. I have no idea. 

I really have no idea. 

To be honest, I have no idea how we were able to do what we did. I have no idea how we’re going to afford 3 kids with PKU. I don’t know how we afford 2 kids with PKU. I actually had someone tell us we were financially irresponsible for adopting a child with PKU when our need is already great for the two we have with PKU. 

That broke my heart. 

We’re kind of figuring stuff out as we go. 

But, I was pushing Kai through the lobby at our hotel yesterday and I was watching a new dad push his new baby girl in her wheelchair. Yes, her wheelchair. Then I talked to another dad who has a new baby girl, she’s 8 and blind. And I talked to another family who is rushing to get their new son back to the US because they don’t know how long his heart will keep working before surgery. 

And, my heart broke again in ways that I never thought it would. 

JUST BROKE!

Actually SHATTERED!

And I realized I think we made a mistake. 

I know God is working in us. I Know God is working in Kai. I know God is working in the people following our story. 

I know we did what God called us to do, I just wonder if we were suppose to do more?

I wonder if in the future God will call us to do more. 

I know for sure it wasn’t a mistake adopting Kai! This boy has already captured our hearts. This boy is our son and we will love him forever.