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.
So, today is my birthday.
I am 41.
To be honest, last year’s birthday was pretty hard. Actually, it was awful! Not that I turned 40, but because this year has been a tough year.
Regardless, another year, another birthday and it has me thinking. I’ll be 50 in 9 years. I have 9 years to accomplish many of the things that have been on my bucket list. So, here goes. A little warning, some are crazy selfish!
41 Things I hope to Accomplish
- Take my dad and boys to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Actually take Tracie somewhere for our anniversary. We’ll celebrate 20 years this May and we’ve never done a trip to celebrate.
- Take my mom and my family to Washington DC.
- Finally get healthy.
- Lose 100 pounds.
- Give up drinking pop.
- Memorize the book of James.
- Read 12-15 books a year.
- Write the book that’s been on my heart for 10 years called…’A Field, a Pedestal and a Shattered Heart’. It’s about how to get back up after you’ve been knocked down and your heart has been shattered.
- Take my family to Ecuador to meet our Compassion kids and bless them.
- Plant 5 Thrive locations around MI. Big Rapids, Midland, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Lansing.
- Help plant and invest in 3 more brand new church plants in the US.
- Raise $170,000 to plant 2 Churches in Ecuador with Compassion and Stadia.
- Take my dad and family on a Baseball Stadium tour.
- Start a youtube channel for people who want to become a better communicator.
- Sponsor 2 more Compassion Kids. We have 3 now, we want 5. One for each Raitz kid.
- Take Tracie to Hawaii.
- Spend a week in Dana Point, CA. My favorite spot on the planet.
- Build or Renovate a building for Thrive.
- Open up a full time homeless shelter in Central MI.
- Open up a ministry for people to get their cars fixed.
- Be a part of buying 10,000 pair of shoes for local elementary kids in Central MI.
- Write a series of ebooks for Church Planters.
- Remodel our house.
- Put in a basketball court for our kids on our side lot.
- Finally own a hot tub.
- Fast one day a week.
- Take my family to Israel and see the Holy land.
- Preach at Newspring Church.
- Have a conversation with Andy Stanley.
- Sing with Darius Rucker.
- Buy my dad a brand new truck.
- Thrive Church families sponsor 1000 Compassion kids.
- Take dance lessons with Tracie.
- Write a book on 1 Corinthians 13 and call it something cool like…Choose Love…there’s no better way.
- Bring a Passion (Yes, with Crowder and the gang) event to Central Michigan University.
- Take each Raitz kid to wherever they want to go on the planet.
- Walk Bekah down the aisle.
- Start an online Bible College with Dr. Tom Rundel.
- Buy each Raitz kid their own computer.
- Help other families adopt kids.
Another school year is starting! It’s just crazy how fast the summer flies by! But, here we are and instead of just letting the school year start, I thought about putting together a plan for my family.
You see, I want this to be our best school year yet for our 11th, 9th, 7th and 3rd grader.
Before I go into the list, I guess I should lay the foundation to how our family approaches school and education. Because it’s a bit different than most.
- It is NOT the school’s responsibility to teach our kids character. It is ours as parents.
- School is not life. We’re a bit different here than most. We’re more concerned about our kids being actively engaged and involved with their Church than school activities. That doesn’t mean we pull our kids from sports or band or yearbook or all that stuff. School activities are just not our priority.
Here’s why: The Local Church is the most important organization on planet earth. Jesus loved the church enough to die for it. That means its pretty darn important. So, we try to model that importance to our kids and as a family.
- We understand that school becomes a mission field for our kids. I grew up in private Christian schools from K-12. I loved my experience. I loved the bible teaching and the chapels. If there were a great evangelical christian school in our area, we would pray about sending our kids to it. But, there isn’t. And, we think as our kids have gotten older and their faith has become more of their own, it’s been awesome to see them represent Jesus and their Church at their school.
- Straight A’s and perfect attendance is not our goal for our kids. Our goal is for them to love Jesus, love their family, love their Church and live out the fruit of the spirit. Now, we push our kids to do great in school. So, I’m not saying we settle for less than A’s and B’s. But, if our kids got straight A’s and had no character and bullied kids at their school, we failed!
5 Ways to make this the best year yet!
ONE….Pray with your family EVERY Day! Yup, I know–I know, it kind of sounds impossible. Maybe its not for some of you, but my family falls way short on this and I wish it wasn’t so!
But, we’re going to make very attempt to pray together as a family…EVERYDAY! We did ok with this last year, this year we will do much better!
TWO…Eat dinner together at least 3 times a week. Again, for our family with 4 kids and lots of stuff going on, this has become harder and harder. But, like Andy Stanley says…we have to choose to cheat. We will cheat on other stuff and choose our family time this year. Something so cool happens when you all sit down and eat and talk and laugh and enjoy each other.
THREE…Sit down and write out a DREAM wall. Super easy, super important. Set goals for the year. Write down families and kids you’re going to pray for. Write down goals of who you want to invite to church. Write down goals you want to experience as a family.
FOUR…Figure out ways you can bless your kids teachers. I love teachers. After speaking at assemblies in schools, I gained a new perspective and love for teachers. So often, it’s a thankless job. Pray for your kids teachers.
We have spent a ton of time over the years reminding our kids that they can ask their teachers if they can help them. To thank them. To encourage them.
What am I missing? I bet, with this short list, we can have a great school!
The local Church!
- GATHER TOGETHER with your Church this morning!
- Don’t miss your chance to WORSHIP YOUR GOD with your Church.
- Don’t miss your chance to SERVE other people in your Church.
- Don’t miss your chance to receive COMMUNION and celebrate and remember what Jesus did on the cross.
- Don’t miss your chance to MEET new people and LOVE people!
My 14 year old, Bobby, has been traveling in Africa since August 1st!
I feel incredibly blessed that he’s gotten this amazing opportunity but
I MISS HIM SO MUCH!
Wow, I miss him. Tracie misses him. His sibling misses him. His grand parents miss him. His friends miss him! Every one misses him!!
You know Why? Yes, he’s our family.
But, its because he’s an amazing young man!
He really is! He’s a difference maker! He loves Jesus. He loves people and it shows! He’s got an amazing head on his shoulders. He’s polite. He’s caring. He’s a thinker. He’s always looking out for the person who is left out. He’s passionate. His laugh is amazing! His heart is gigantic!
Yes, I’m his dad, so I am little bias! But, I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am when I go to his room and see cards that other adults from church have sent him sitting on his desk. Cards thanking him for spending time with their kids and loving them!
Oh my goodness!
Our house hasn’t been the same without him. I can’t wait to hug him. I can’t wait to shoot hoops with him. I can’t wait to go for walks. I can’t wait to hear about video games. I can’t wait to hear his laugh and watch him dance!
I can’t wait for Bobby to be home!
I have an amazing friend named Jessica or Jess or as I try to pronounce it with an ‘h’…
Hessica. I don’t know why I do. It’s silly and I try to be funny with it. Its not, but she lets me do it.
Jess has been at Thrive since our very first Sunday, I believe. Or the second. But, either way, she has been at Thrive ever since. She hasn’t missed many Sunday’s in that time. She plays in the band. She has served in Thrive Kidz. She has helped set up at 7am on Sunday’s. And, she serves in One Youth! Actually, she’s one of the reasons One Youth got going and stayed going. She was the first adult leader and has loved and served students ever since.
If I had to describe Jess using one word, I couldn’t. It would just be too hard. Because I would want to use too many words, words like…
Faithful. Servant. Friend. Hero. Leader. Example. Loving. Caring. Believer. Amazing. Humble. Freaking Awesome. Lover of Jesus. Jesus Follower.
My wife and I have 4 kids and they all adore and love Jess.
Our 12 year old Zach is addicted to slurpees. There is a story behind that, but because of a special diet he’s on, we gave him his first slurpee pretty early on (like barely crawling, hahha) and he’s been hooked ever since.
Well, Jess and Zach have this cool tradition.
It’s called Slurpee Sunday.
After Church, before we’ll head to lunch, she takes Zach to his favorite slurpee place and they get a slurpee. As a dad who believes in having other adults be a part of our kids lives, this means the world. Some Sunday’s it’s probably a pain for her because Zach always remembers and is pretty persistent.
But, Jess is just faithful. Jess just loves. Jess just keeps investing into his life.
She cheered him on at his football games. She’s also taken our 16 year old to her favorite coffee place as well. And she has sat in the stands at many games from students from Thrive.
I was thinking about this today because last Sunday was slurpee Sunday and I was asking God to make me more like Jess.
I hope your kids have a Jess in their lives.
Today is July 3rd!
Happy ‘Merica! (almost)
That means though that a ton of regular Thrivers will be not at Thrive this morning!
Now, don’t get me wrong, so many are camping and traveling and relaxing and enjoying their families!
I think that’s Friggin Awesome!
I even told our worship pastor, Matt Moore, to stay home this morning because he deserves a rest and a break!
We all need a break from time to time. Especially folks on our Thrive teams who serve every week!!
But, not to be debbie downer, but today’s attendance at Thrive will be a lower than normal because of those reasons. Again, so happy for people to rest.
For some reason though, when I did the sermon planning, I decided to teach on one of the most important scriptures in all of the Bible about Church Unity and Togetherness today of all days!
1 Cor. 12:12
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
I love 1 Cor. 12:12-27! It kicks my butt every time I read it!
It basically encourages followers of Jesus to put aside their pride and realized you’ve been gifts to serve the body of Christ. It reminds us how important we all are and how no one is not important.
So, when people give me the excuse that they have nothing to offer or they don’t feel connected or they want to give up on the Church, I’m reminded of these passages!
The local Church, because of Jesus, is the Hope of the World and we all have the honor of bringing that hope to the world! So, don’t miss on your part!
If you can’t be at Thrive this morning, I hope you’ll catch the message online.
And, have a GREAT weekend!!!
If you haven’t heard yet, the Raitz family is adopting a little boy from China named Kai. You can read more about it here.
We’re beyond EXCITED and HUMBLED! We pray everyday for the moment we’ll be able to bring him home!
That’s why we’re praying for 25 people to each give $100 towards Kai’s adoption fund!
To date, we’ve been able to raise about $17,000 towards his adoption!! Its just been unreal and we’re so humbled and honored God would move in peoples lives to help us bring Kai home!
But, we have about $13,000 to go! And, in the next 25 days…
We have to raise $2500.
Here’s why. What’s been raised so far has been applied to our Home Study process, adoption fees and the numerous extra things that have to be done for the adoption process.
We have to raise $2500 immediately for our next payment to the adoption agency that oversees Kai. That will help us make sure that Kai stays with the Raitz family.
If you can’t help financially, we would so appreciate your prayers!!
We’re getting closer and closer!! We’re waiting on our home study report and then we will submit our final paperwork to the US and China. Then we will also apply for a few adoption grants. And then we will wait for the final approvals and then wait for our travel window from China.
Then, we will fly to China, spend 14 days there and then…
BRING HOME KAI!!!!
We pray about the day we get to hold home everyday! We pray about the day we get to walk around the streets of China with him everyday! We pray about the moment we will load up on the plane ride home everyday. We pray about the moment we will land in Detroit and then head home and introduce him to our friends and family!
I pray everyday for the day we will get to bring him to our Church! I pray everyday for the family walks we will take! I pray everyday for the times I’ll play catch with him and watch him playing with his siblings.
We can’t wait! Thanks for being a a part of our journey!