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Jason Raitz

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

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Prayer

Monday Morning Thoughts about Life, Family and Ministry @Thrive

Yesterday was a great day! broken

It was my first Sunday teaching at Thrive since July 3rd and I loved every second of it. I only missed a Sunday and a half in July, but it was great to be back teaching.

I took a bit of a break in July. I took off 2 weeks to speak at camps and churches and then I was able to take off a few days for a vacation.

I planned it out months ago and my hope is that each July I’ll take a break like this.

It’s funny, a few years ago you couldn’t have convinced me that I would need a break. Well, wow, I needed the break. I understand now that every Pastor needs to take REST and Sabbath very seriously!

I’m learning an absolute ton about the role of a pastor. I’ve served churches for 20 years, but the pressure on the lead pastor is so much different than anything I’ve experienced in all those years of serving and working for Churches.

Thoughts on Life

It’s amazing how fast life flies by! And then, there are moments that seem to move at a snail’s pace. Like our adoption. Things are progressing, but its a slow go. Our home study was approved, but we’re just waiting for the official signed copy. At that point, we can start applying for grants.

Which will help, because our next round of payments are due and we’ll need to come up with another $3000. But, I know in the end, it will all be worth it! I just can’t wait to have Kai home with us!

Thoughts on Family

At the moment, our 14 year old is in Africa, our 16 year old is in South Carolina and our 8 year old stayed the night at a friends house. That left just Zach home with us! Wow, one kid is a breathe!

But, I miss Bobby and I can’t wait for him to be home! But, I LOVE that he has this amazing opportunity to experience another country!

And, I LOVE that Bekah has an amazing opportunity to travel to South Carolina with two amazing young leaders of Thrive Church and together they are getting a behind the scenes look at one of our favorite Churches…Newspring Church!

Thoughts on Minstry @ Thrive

Yesterday was a spectacular day for our Church! And, in just under 2 weeks, we will baptize between 25-30 people! Wow! Wow! Wow! IMG_4491

Tracie and I went down to the park where our outdoor worship experience is and prayed for that day and the people getting baptized! I can’t wait!

Thrive turns 3 on October 2 and I can’t even believe it! In three short years, I believe, we have made an incredible impact for the Kingdom.

I love my Church and I know the best is yet to come!

 

 

We’re praying for 25 people to Help us Bring home Kai. Would you pray with us?

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. 邹宏凯+(1)

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!

Oh facebook, I think I’m done loving you

Well, here’s the deal…

I think (think being the key word)…

I’m done loving you facebook. 

Now, you know me. We go way back. I was so excited to sign up way back when. You know this is a big deal for me to say because I absolutely LOVE you! It’s true, I think you’re awesome. I think you’re one of the greatest things ever and I think you’re one of the best tools ever created to help GROW the Kingdom of God!!

But, there is quite a bit I don’t love about you. Let’s start with that. And, some of this is not your fault.

So, here’s what I DON’T love about you...

  • I don’t love the endless mounds of garbage that people post on you. Again, not your fault, but you collect a lot of garbage! A lot of trash!
  • I don’t love the ridiculous drama that people create on you. Again, not your fault, but for some reason you seem to attract drama.
  • I don’t love that your presence in some peoples lives, seemingly increases there lack of emotional intelligence.  Again, not your fault, but self awareness and relational awareness is at an all time low.
  • I don’t love how awful Jesus followers treat each other sometimes on your site. Again, not your fault, but my heart has broken hundreds of times reading peoples thoughts that they post in the name of being a Christ follower.
  • I don’t love how sometimes, you give people a false sense of identity. Ok, maybe this is your fault. That little like button causes havoc in peoples lives. They worry about getting more likes and more comments. I’ve been there.
  • I don’t love how people can sometimes feel excluded when they see all their friends partying and hanging out. Again, not your fault, but I’ve learned to be careful from posting because sometimes my posts attract some passive aggressive comments.

Again, I’m sorry! Most of this isn’t your fault! After working with middle school students for 15 years, most of the conversations I’ve had with adults about their struggles with you, remind me of middle school problems. That’s not your fault.

You just seem to amplify problems sometimes. 

I’ve only been off of you for a week, but here’s what I’ve already noticed:

  • I’m not as anxious. I’m not a conflict guy. I can deal with it, but I don’t go searching for it. For some people, they love the conflict that they can create on Facebook. I don’t need that in my life.
  • I’m hopefully more present with my family. Countless times over the last few years I have been buried in my phone as we’ve hung out as a family. Shameful!
  • I’ve spent more time reading and reading things that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE reading peoples thoughts and posts! I love it! But, 75% of those posts are not helpful at all and I don’t miss those. I’m reading through the Old Testament and I’m working through my read pile!
  • I’ve noticed how much people are buried in their phones. Outside of my Youversion app, email, text and calls, I don’t really have much reason to pick up my phone. I’m not a big video game guy, so I don’t even have that. And, I’ve noticed how much people scroll through you as their hanging out with others. I think that’s why I’m going to keep you off my phone for good.
  • I’m praying a lot more. Instead of scrolling through your news feeds, I try to talk to Jesus more. That’s been really good for my heart, by the way.

I’ll be back. Don’t worry. I know you miss me. I know your algorythms are wondering why there are no posts on http://www.facebook.com/jraitz.

Side note: I am still blogging on this social media fast and when I post those, they automatically update to Facebook).

So, you’re still getting a few rhythms, but not many.

We’ll see how I am in 21 day more days. I think I’ll be back. I think.

But, for sure Facebook…

I’m done loving you. 

 

 

 

What I love about my Dad

I’m blessed. I have an incredible Dad. In fact, I have an incredible Mom as well.

Yes, I’m blessed. IMG_0445

Here’s the deal, I try very hard to not take this giant blessing for granted. I have quite a few friends who are not close to their parents as all.

But, my dad has always been there for me.

I love that. Through good times and bad, he’s been there.

When I was in high school and struck out, he was there. When I got a job in high school and it was miles away from our house, he was there and drove me to work. Some nights, he would have to leave the house late at night to come pick me up and he did.

I also love that my dad has always been there for my mom. They are a great team. He’s been there for my brother as well. He’s been there for my kids as well.

Yeah, I think the world of my dad.

He’s a man of God. He has a quiet strength. He has a ton of wisdom. He is incredibly patient. Again, he’s just incredible.

Yup, I love my dad.

IMG_6247

‘I just don’t feel connected at Thrive’

So, here’s the story, I do not feel this way!

I love my Church!

Like a lot! For 20 years I have served at and been employed by local churches and I can say that Thrive Church is my favorite (I did spend some time on staff at a Church called Willow Creek and that was pretty spectacular)!

Ok, I know what you’re thinking, ‘of course you love your Church, you started it’! Yes, that’s true! I helped plant Thrive Church and I lead it, so I am just a little bias! But, the reality is, I feel very connected at Thrive. There’s a good reason for that! More on that later.

But, from time to time, I meet with folks who tell me that they don’t feel connected and I totally get that! Our team spends a lot of time thinking through how people get connected at Thrive. We have charts and diagrams and lots of white board drawings.

In the end though, after many years of conversations like that, I think it comes down to a very simple diagram and 3 short phrases.

Show Up Jump In Do Good scratch4-01Here’s the deal, Thrive exists to help people Find and Follow Jesus! That’s it! We are a Church for people who have given up on God or on Church, so we actually try to not be ‘churchy’. We try to create an environment on Sunday’s where people are welcomed, accepted and loved!

So, we ask 3 things of every Thriver…

Show UP, Jump IN and Do GOOD.

And, we ask them to do these three things over and over and in time, we believe they will become a passionate follower of Jesus.

Show UP…Every Sunday. The reality is, people just don’t attend Church every Sunday any longer. And, we don’t want them to attend, we want them to be a part. We hope that every Thriver would serve at one experience and attend one. But, if you’re not there to hear the heart beat of the Church and to be a part, how can you feel connected?

Jump IN…To a Team, to a Small Group or to Shift. We believe people have to get connected to each other. So, there are 10 different Thrive teams to serve on. And, for three seasons of the year, there are Small Groups. Lastly, for those looking for some Seminary level teaching, we have Shift.

Do GOOD…Every day, every chance you can. We want people to live a lifestyle of generosity. With their time, their gifts and their finances. We want them to expeirence the joy of giving and sponsoring children and buying shoes and serving schools and the homeless shelter.

So, I think, if someone puts in just a little bit of effort, they will feel connected. Now, sometimes people try these things and still don’t feel connected, I don’t know what to do with that.

But, its amazing what happens when you put yourself out there.

I feel very connected because I love my Church! I fight for it! I serve it! I pray for it! I pray for the people of Thrive! I ask God to bless it. I give to it. I tell others about it! I read every email and every Facebook post from it.

If you’re looking to get more connected at Thrive, just email our amazing Connections Coordinator and she’ll get you all set up. Lindsey.msibi@thrivechurchmi.cc.

My prayer and hope is that I won’t have to have many conversations with folks with people who don’t feel connected, but I know we will do everything we can to help get folks connected and growing closer to Jesus!

 

 

What!?! I haven’t Preached at Thrive since April 3rd? I am Sunday and I can’t wait!

This is just crazy…I haven’t preached at Thrive since April 3rd!

What the heck is going on!?!

I never thought I would ever take a 3 week break from preaching at Thrive! I mean, I LOVE preaching at Thrive! LOVE IT! Honestly, there’s no other place I would rather preach! On a very warm beach is a very close second! Hah!

But, I am scheduled to preach this Sunday at Thrive and I can’t wait! 13048257_992241570871157_7843895192695765249_oIt’s a HUGE honor, a privilege and a blessing to be able to start week one of our new series…‘I do. We did. Now What?’. 

Here’s why I haven’t preached since April 3rd:

ONE…I can’t preach every weekend. Well, I guess I could but I just don’t want too. I don’t think it’s the best for Thrive or me. And, here’s the cool thing, it’s taken a little while, but we’ve been able to develop a teaching team at Thrive and I am so pumped God’s brought together some other folks to share the load.

TWO…I needed a break. Yup, its true. I just can’t preach every Sunday and lead Thrive Church and still have a thriving life with my family. It’s just too much. Now, maybe I could if I didn’t pour my life and every ounce of energy into my messages. Maybe. But, I just can’t do that! I can’t NOT give 110% of everything I am when I preach.

Why I’m EXCITED to preach this Sunday at Thrive:

ONE…I’ve missed it like crazy! I love my Church and I love to share from God’s word with them!

TWO…We start a series I am very passionate about! We are talking about why KIDS MATTER in this series! Why they should matter to the single person, the parent, the step parent, the grand parent and the Church!

We’re going to CHALLENGE and ENCOURAGE Thrive Church to care for kids, to be intentional, to understand that they are God’s Plan A for raising their kids and that we as a Church have to come around them and pour into them!

I can’t wait for Sunday! It’s going to be a GREAT day and I hope you will join us!

 

 

I love my Small Group!

Acts 2:46-47…

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved

I am super blessed.

Why?

Because I get to experience Acts 2:46-47 every Sunday night!

It’s sacred to me. It’s sacred to my family.

And, we love our small group.

Our Small Group met last night and I’ll be honest, I almost cancelled. 3 of our kids were away at a retreat and obviously came home exhausted. Tracie and I are still not feeling well. Our house was in disarray.

But, we thought and prayed and decided to not cancel.

I’m so glad we didn’t. Last night BLESSED ME! Last night was FUN. Last night was DEEP. Yes, deep. I love that our group really shared some giant prayer needs they have it took us to another level of intimacy with each other.

I LOVED IT!images

I love my Small Group.

I love that we get to experience Acts 2:46-47. I love that our kids love doing life together. I love that we have big meals together. I love that we pray for each other.

I LOVE THAT WE LAUGH! Gosh, we laugh! And that’s good!

We’re not going to wow the ‘need a super deep bible study’ folks out there. Actually, we just talk through the message and read some scriptures. But, it’s amazing what can happen in a group when people are committed to being there. Committed to each other. And committed to honestly sharing with each other.

I love my Small Group.

An update on our Adoption Process. Meet Kai!!

Well, to be quite honest, the month of February was a tough month for the Raitz family. It feels like we have been coming out of a daze.

As you may or may not know, we started our adoption process a few months ago and we fell in love with a little girl from China with PKU…who we named Winona Mae. Everything was moving nicely and God provided some amazing miracles. Amazing miracles!

Then we received a call that took our breath away. Winona had passed away. Her orphanage didn’t have central heating and a virus was going through and her little body couldn’t fight it off. We were and still are heart broken. I know we never had the privilege to hold her or to cuddle her, but she was very much a part of our family!

Good thing that God is close to the broken hearted. 

God has been healing our hearts and we’ve been praying and praying and we have decided to continue moving forward with our adoption plans.

For the past few weeks, we have been reading and looking over files on children from a few orphanages in China. We have been praying and seeking God. Honestly, its been heart breaking. There is so much need and so many kids need a forever home.

After praying and seeking God, Tracie and I decided to put in our paperwork for Kai and we have been praying all week. Well, we found our last night that we were approved!!

Meet Kai. kai

His Chinese name is Zou Hong Kai. He’s 2 years old and has PKU. He’s a little behind developmentally, but they tell us he’s making great strides.

We had hit the pause button on our home study and dossier when we found out about Winona’s death, but we are picking it all back up.

Prayerfully we will be heading to China sometime in the next 6 months to bring Kai home.

We have SO MUCH TO DO! There is still a mound of paperwork to get in. Our home study is not complete yet and we have a lot of paperwork to do still for our dossier.

And, by God’s amazing GRACE and PROVISION, we have been able to raise about half of the adoption costs. We will be applying for many grants in the next few months.

We can’t thank you enough for your prayers and encouragement!!

 

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