LOOK AGAIN. Easter at Thrive Sermon Notes

Message Notes |    |

Slide # 1…Series Graphic

  • Good morning Thrive Church! How are we doing this morning? It’s EASTER SUNDAY!!!!! It’s the most momentous weekend in the history of the world! Bigger than any awards show, super bowl weekend, the world series, anything! Today we celebrate Jesus!
  • My name is Jason Raitz and I’m one of the Pastors here at Thrive Church!
  • I am so glad you joined us this morning! Make sure before you leave, if this is your very first time at Thrive, to head to the VIP room right after this experience and pick up your gift!!
  • And for everyone, please take some time to fill out the Connect Card.
  • Also, before we jump in, I so hope you will join us for our next series. It’s called…

Slide # 1a…#ForCentralMichigan graphic

  • We’re talking about how we can Serve and Love where we live!
  • And, on April 30th. We are leaving the building together and we are serving all around Central Michigan! We will meet at Celebration Cinema at 930am. Next Sunday you will be able to buy #ForCentralMichigan T-Shirts for $10 or 2 for $15. We would love for everyone to wear one. If you want to buy a few for us to give away, you can do that as well so everyone can have one.
  • But, we are serving at Schools, we are serving the city of Mt Pleasant, a few shut ins, Hopewell Ranch, and the foster Closet.
  • Let’s SHOW UP big time. There will be a registration link on our website.
  • And one more thing to CELEBRATE!!! 6 weeks ago, we started the SAVE A SEAT campaign! We asked you to give over and above from your tithes to help make Thrive happen every Sunday.
  • God moved! People from all over gave and I’m so thrilled to tell you that as of today, out of 1250 possible seats to be sponsored, 1253 have been sponsored! WE hit our goal!!!
  • When Matt texted me the other with our final number, I had to LOOK AGAIN!!!
  • And, that’s what we titled today at THRIVE. LOOK AGAIN.

LOOK AGAIN17880155_1299373263491318_8132221945181295977_o

  • Have you ever needed to LOOK AGAIN? I feel like this is a constant phrase in my house. My kids can’t find something and they me or Tracie and we say, LOOK AGAIN.
  • Then, I can’t find something, and Tracie says, LOOK AGAIN. I swear there are some days she’s like a MOTHER NINJA or a NINJA MOTHER and she doesn’t even have to get up. The kids are I are talking to each other about where something could be and without lifting her head, she says…’Oh, that’s in the closet under the basket, but inside a box’. Don’t be afraid to move stuff! Anyone relate?
  • Have you walked through a crowded area and thought you saw a celebrity and had to LOOK AGAIN? I have! Many times!

STORY: Scottie Pippen in the Airport

  • You kids out there. Your parents ever get a little touchy feely in front of you and you made the unfortunate decision to LOOK AGAIN to verify that YES, they where doing what you thought and now you’re doubly grossed out?
  • Mom and Dads out there, you ever see something your kids did and had to LOOK AGAIN to make sure what you saw the first time was correct?
  • Here’s a picture of 2 of my boys. This picture made me look again.

Slide # 2…Picture of Bob and Zach in Tuxes

  • I mean, come on, look at those handsome guys! Ladies look out!
  • Then, there have been other times where I’m like, I better LOOK AGAIN.
  • Like this time with Bobby…

Slide # 3…Picture of Bob in Hot Dog Costume

  • Yup, he wore this to the One Youth costume party and then he wore it home and then he wore it to bed. About a week later, I came downstairs and there was a giant hot dog playing the XBOX!
  • Then, when my son Zach went to the Big Stuf summer camp last summer, which we’re going again in July and can’t wait, [OH…Golfers out there. This week you can sign up. We need 50 of you to play in the first ever One Youth Golf Outing on May 13th. We’re still also looking for sponsors. Why? We’re raising money to get our kids to experience the BEST summer camp in the world!
  • But, from last years trip, I kept seeing a photo emerge on instagram of Zach and well, here it is…

Slide # 4…Picture of Zach in Whoopee Cushion

  • Yup, he loved this Whoopee Cushion! He would wear it everywhere around Big Stuf and people would just LOOK AGAIN.
  • Eventually, it wore him out and he lost the Whoopee!!

Slide # 5…Picture Zach sitting down in Whoopee Cushion

  • So, just last week, I had one more LOOK AGAIN moment with one of my boys. Kai and I were on a walk and he wouldn’t come and I turned around and this is what I saw.

Slide # 6…Kai looking up at the sky, looking like an eskimo

  • It took me a second, because I was rushing. I wanted to get done with the walk. I turned around and I was wondering what he was looking at and then I realized, he was just enjoying looking at the sky.
  • You see, this little boy spent the first 3 years of his life in an orphanage and spent the majority of his time in 2 rooms and everything is new to him.
  • I love watching him because he LOOKS AGAIN a lot!
  • What I love about all 3 of these pictures and moments with my boys is that they were all out enjoying LIFE!
  • Sometimes you and I need to LOOK AGAIN. Life has become stale or stagnant or the same ole story and it’s time to LOOK AGAIN. We become negative. We fall away from life giving relationships. We fall into dark filling relationships. We start to LOOK for things that are the opposite of Jesus to fill us.
  • I love this quote by Dr. David Jeremiah…

Slide # 7…‘It’s time to begin righting the story of your life.’ ~David Jeremiah

  • Not writing, as in with a pen and paper, but right-ing. Like, its time to get off our tails and begin living the life God intended us to live.
  • I love how the book of John describes Jesus, because without him, we cannot do any righting of our lives.

Slide # 8…John 1:4-5

‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

  • Jesus Christ is the creator of life and his life brings light to mankind.
  • In his light, we see ourselves as we really are (sinners in need of a Savior).
  • He lights the path ahead of us so we can see how to live. He removes the darkness of sin from our lives.
  • Here’s what we need to understand about Jesus.
  • What Jesus taught and what he did are tied inseparably to who he is. John shows Jesus as fully human and fully God.
  • Although Jesus took upon himself full humanity and lived as a man, he never ceased to be the eternal God who has always existed.
  • This is the truth about Jesus, and the foundation of all truth. If we cannot or do not believe this basic truth, we will not have enough faith to trust our eternal destiny to him.
  • The disciples themselves had to LOOK AGAIN when they were told that the tomb was empty. fac
  • So, when it comes to experiencing LIFE, are you ready to LOOK AGAIN or are you just going to settle?

Slide # 9…What are you looking for?

  • Are you looking for success? Are you looking for comfort? Are you looking for happiness? Those things lead to an existence.
  • Are these the things that you’re trying to LOOK AGAIN to find?
  • Are these the things that you think will bring you LIFE.
  • Do you know what LIFE really is?

Slide # 10…Life is what you are looking for, not just existence

    • How many of us are just existing and not really living.
    • So, what is LIFE?

 

  • Life is existence drenched in meaning. Thank you Dr. Tom for that!
  • Can you imagine if we lived that way?

 

  • But, too often we settle for existence. Here’s the thing about existence

Slide # 11…Existence looks for SUCCESS

Story: Jason and his love for BMW’s

  • So, once upon a time, I was in love with the idea of owning a BMW someday. True Story. If you know me, you’re kind of laughing, because I’ve always owned crazy clunkers. I owned a car once that you didn’t even need a key to start.
  • Except now. About 6 months ago, we were blessed with a car and it’s the nicest car we’ve ever owned.
  • But, for 4 years I lived in the Northwest suburbs outside of Chicago and BMW’s are everywhere. So, we have trackers, Amish and pick up trucks. Over there, they have BMW’s everywhere!
  • Well, in 2009, I was burned out. I had been serving Churches since 1995.
  • I started to work out at this gym and every car was a BMW. I started an MBA and one of my partners was like, Jason, with your work ethic and people skills, you could crush it at my company.
  • I started to dream for that kind of success! I would dream of driving around in a BMW. Wearing cool sunglasses. Listening to Hootie and the Blowfish in style.
  • Sometimes, we attempt to supplement existence with success. We want the validation that comes with achievement, or the security that comes with money.  
  • At the same time, I lead a small group of Jr high boys. I’ll never forget a night when we were going over questions and one of them was…if you could have anything, whnt would you want?
  • This guy pipes up and I really respected his dad. I wanted to be his dad. His dad drove a BMW. Ooohhh.
  • He said, honestly, I just want to play catch with my dad. He’s too busy. This kid had everything.
  • Gosh, that day just rocked me.
  • Here’s what I realized.

ILLUSTRATION: Dropper of water onto sponge.

  • We think Success will refresh us. We think it will bring us life. But, it just leaves us dry. It really doesn’t do all that much!
  • We think that if we were recognized with a promotion, if we had more likes on a Facebook post, if we had enough money for better things.Then, we would really experience LIFE.
  • I know some people who do whatever it takes to succeed.
  • I love what John Ortberg said about this…

Slide # 12…’Winning alone is called losing’ ~John Ortberg

  • The truth about success is found in the book of Ephesians 1:6

Slide # 13…Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. ~Eph. 1:6 (msg)

  • God graciously accepts us, though we don’t deserve it.
  • When you and I trust in Jesus as our Savior, so much happens in our lives!
  • We have been chosen for salvation, we were adopted, we were forgiven, we have the insight and wisdom of the God of the universe available to us, we have spiritual gifts, we have power to do God’s will and we have the hope of living forever!
  • Life is so much more than SUCCESS!

Slide # 14…Existence looks for COMFORT

  • Next we may try to supplement our existence with comfort.
  • We want relief from pain, boredom, loneliness, and exhaustion that overwhelms us day to day.
  • We medicate ourselves with alcohol, or substances, or food.
  • We live for the weekend.
  • We stay up late at night watching Netlix.
  • We live in our parents basement and play videogames until we’re 32.
  • We loosen our standards on dating so we don’t have to be alone any longer.
  • That’s not living. That’s existence.

Illustration: Dropper of water onto sponge

  • But again we are dry.
  • Work is monotonous, your spouse becomes a stranger, suffering enters life, your schedule and pace of life is overwhelming.
  • Comfort becomes your god. You do anything to just cope and be comfortable.

Story: Jason Coping

  • A few years ago, a guy came to Thrive and Jesus started to change his life. He was baptized. He served. He loved his Church.
  • Then, after a series of unfortunate events, he felt it was wrong of me to go on facebook and ask people to give our adoption fund. So, he went on his facebook page and kind of bashed me and the church.
  • This sort of thing happens when you lead. When you have a big vision, not everyone is going to understand.
  • So, as his post sat on the interwebs, people started to comment and some mean stuff was said. It hurt. I started getting texts and messages from people saying they didn’t agree. One Thriver tried to reason with him in the thread but he deleted them.
  • Man, I was hurt. Now, as a leader, this stuff happens. Some of the Pastors I admire most have been ripped into like crazy.
  • But, it was early on in our Church’s history and in my own leadership, I wasn’t quite ready to deal with that short of thing. Boy, God has worked in me now.
  • So, I started to cope. I started to seek comfort and for me it was food. It was binge watching TV shows and I tried to drown that stuff out.
  • The truth is, comfort won’t bring us life. It won’t bring us life drenched with meaning.
  • Jesus told us how to experience that kind of life in Matthew 11

Slide # 15…“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” -Matthew 11:28-30 (msg)

  • Jesus frees people from a life of comfort. Jesus promises love and healing and peace with God.
  • Comfort is not living. That’s existence.

And, lastly…

Slide # 16…Existence looks for HAPPINESS

  • Finally we try to supplement our existence with happiness.
  • We want the contentment, satisfaction, or exhilaration that comes through favorable circumstances.

Illustration: Dropper of water on sponge.

Yup, its still not enough.

  • But our life sucks up everything we give it without any relief.
  • We chase after relationships and flings, we dabble is substances that promise to alter our experience, or perhaps we are chasing after a fleeting contentment just out of our grasp.
  • The truth is found in Romans 15:13…

Slide # 17…May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (niv)

 

  • We don’t have to run to success, or comfort or happiness, we just need to go God!
  • We have to LOOK AGAIN for Him!
  • I love this quote by CS LEWIS

Slide # 18…“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ― C.S. Lewis

  • Here’s the truth so many people are searching for…

Slide # 19..Jesus offers a life drenched in meaning.

  • What we are really looking for is existence drenched in meaning. This is the Life that Jesus offers.
  • Here is how Jesus said in in John 10:10…

Slide # 20…A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. ~John 10:10 (msg)

  • When you make the decision to follow Christ, give him your life and trust in Him as your Savior. Confidence of belonging to God’s family, peace of knowing God provides, and the purpose of a God directed life.

Illustration: Existence is boring. Take the sponge and dunk it and hold it up!

 

  • Its up to you, you don’t have to settle for a mediocre life. A life that’s just about happiness and comfort

Slide # 21…Life is what you are looking for, not just existence

Sermon Notes: How to Wreck your Life. Week Four. Make it all about You!

Message Notes    |    |

Slide # 1…Series Graphic

  • Good Morning Thrive Church! How are we doing today?
  • Well, welcome to CMU! After two years of praying and seeking God, we start out Chapter Two of our history.
  • If this is your very first Sunday at Thrive, please take a second to head to the VIP Room, out the back doors and to the left and we would love to give you a free gift. And, we have folks who would love to meet you!
  • Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room, there are a bunch of seats open. That’s good news! That means we have the opportunity to PRAY BIG GIGANTIC BOLD PRAYERS!
  • Next Sunday and Easter and will give us a good feel for what the fall is going to be like!
  • Ok, here we are in week 4 of How to Wreck Your Life. If you’ve missed any, head to the Thrive website and catch up! We’ve talked about Failure, Fear and Settling for Less.
  • Now, today…

Slide # 2…If you really want to WRECK your life, make it all about you.

  • The good news is, probably no one in this room struggles with making it all about you. Right!?!
  • Who do you think of when you think of the greatest of all time?
  • Mohamed Ali, right? Once he told a flight attendant that he didn’t need a seat belt because he was superman. She told him, well, Superman didn’t need an airplane!
  • If you want to WRECK your life, make it all about you.
  • Ok, here’s the deal though. If you’re a follower of Jesus, this really is for you. If you’re still doubting this Jesus stuff or haven’t truly given  your life over to Jesus, this really isn’t for you yet.
  • Because, Jesus came to turn the world upside down. He came to point people to God’s Kingdom and God’s Kingdom is both now and later. It’s both for our time here on earth and its for our time when breathe our last breath and then spend an eternity in heaven.
  • So, this idea of not making it about you is so anti-today.
  • Social Media tells us to make it all about us. Social media has given everyone a voice, which is awesome. But, it’s also taught us all of our opinions are the only ones that matter all the time.
  • I was talking with Dr. Tom and imagine this, he said something that made me go…ooohhhh, he said

Slide # 3…‘A self centered life reduces your impact’ ~Dr. Tom Rundel

  • In the short term, being all about yourself seems like a good idea. It helps you get ahead. And, who doesn’t want to get ahead?
  • But, here’s what Paul says in Romans 8:8…

Slide # 4…

Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. ~Romans 8:8 (the message)

  • There is a lot of self help love in our world, isn’t there? There are billions of dollars in the self help industry.
  • And, it’s a good thing to take advantage of how amazing God created us to be!
  • So, Paul isn’t saying to not care of yourself. He is saying there is a line. A line we cross when we start to care more about focusing on our self than we do on God.
  • I know for my life, I operate at my best when God comes first. When a few days go by and then a week and then a month when I take my focus off of God, that’s when things start to get sticky in my life.

Big Idea: A self centered life reduces your impact

  • Self-centeredness is “immoderate concern with one’s own interests and well-being; self-love or egotism.”
  • Multiple Mirror Selfie shots
  • Self-centeredness is a sin because it leads to being devoted to self-gratification and overlooking other people’s needs
  • Here’s the thing…

Slide # 5…There is Self Love and then Love of Self.

  • Looking out for our own interests is natural. In fact, Jesus uses our innate self-interest as a basis for gauging our love for others: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
  • In other words, in the same way that you (naturally) love yourself, learn to love others. Our universe should be others-centric, not self-centric.
  • Paul gives us a In Phil 2 command leaves no room for self-centeredness.

Slide # 6…Phil 2:3-4 (message)

if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

  • Again, this is so anti what we’re lead to believe is the right way in today’s world!

STORY: Jason in my first 10 years of ministry

  • I wanted to be the GREAT Somebody. I wanted everyone to know me.
  • I wanted to be a GREAT speaker.
  • I read a biography on Ted Williams, the greatest hitter ever, and he always wanted people to say when he walked by…there goes the greatest hitter of all time.
  • I wanted that.
  • God humbled me, or my pride humbled me and I’ve been a recovering tool ever since.
  • 10 years ago I never would have worked hard to have a teaching team. Why? Because I wouldn’t have wanted anybody to get an praise but me.
  • Here’s what I learned…

Slide # 7…Self Centered Living is: a SIN and leads to EGOTISM

Big Idea: A self centered life reduces your impact

Slide # 8…Live to Love others.

  • Love and care for our neighbors (John 13:34–35),
  • to not pass judgment on others (Romans 14:13),
  • to bear others’ burdens (Galatians 6:2),
  • and to be kind and forgiving (Ephesians 4:32).
  • Being self-centered is directly opposed to the clear command, “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (1 Corinthians 10:24).
  • There are many other similar commands calling for selfless sacrifice and service to others (Romans 12:10; Ephesians 5:21; Galatians 5:26).
  • Every act of self-love is rebellion against the authority of God. Self-centeredness is rooted in one’s fleshly desire to please self more than God. In essence, it is the act of supplanting God’s authority with one’s own ego.

Slide # 9…

James 3:16 (message)

Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the other’s’ throats.

Slide # 10…Big Idea: A self centered life reduces your impact

The REAL reason Thrive Church is moving to Central Michigan University…it may surprise you.

So, Thrive Church is moving! We just announced that! It’s a very exciting time in the history of our Church!!screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-9-38-03-am We’re a portable church. That means, our dedicated
volunteers roll up to a rented movie theater on Sunday mornings, unload and set up. Then, we tear down and the trailers roll away.

In a perfect world, we would find a home of our own. We’re just not at a place financially where we can do that. To either buy land or purchase an old building and renovate.

We were having some significant talks with a possible home, but in the end, we just couldn’t afford it. That’s ok, God provided an amazing space!

That’s why we turned our attention to CMU. But, here’s the deal, here’s why Thrive is really moving to Central Michigan University. Here’s the real reason:

We’re moving for our Kids and future Kids! 

Yeah, no really! Even though the auditorium will be a GREAT place to help people find and follow Jesus, we’re doing it provide an AMAZING space for kids! We believe children are close to the heart of God and because they matter
to God, they should matter to us.
So, we want to have the BEST kids environment we possibly can for our kids at Thrive Church!

That’s the REAL reason! 

Many children ministries across the nation have the tag line…’the best hour of your kids week’.

Here’s the deal. I agree with that. That’s why we’re moving. That’s why we’re raising funds. That’s why we’re others to help us.

BUT…in the long run, we really want the best hour of a kids week to be with their parents! That’s why at Thrive, we encourage and teach that parents are the primary spiritual influencer and the church is number two. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to provide the best environment we possibly can. kids-space

A Field house becomes a GREAT environment for K-5th! 

We’re going to be able to use a giant field house at CMU and its so incredibly exciting to think about how awesome our kids environment will be!

We already have amazing volunteers.

We already have an amazing Thrive Kidz staff team.

Now we have the space.

The only thing we still need is the equipment to make it happen! 

Things like…Portable Walls, Carts for the Portable Walls, Pipe and Drape, A portable stage, Carpets, Mats, Bean Bag Chairs, Toys, Slides, Play things, Tables, Chairs, a Sound System, Computers, Check in Stations, Printers and Banners.

I would be honored if you would pray and ask God if He’s calling you to help us.

If you have any questions, email me directly at jason.raitz@thrivechurchmi.cc.

If you want to give towards this endeavor, you can HERE.

If you’re a Church leader and want to donate equipment, email me at jason.raitz@thrivechurchmi.cc.

We used this space at Easter last year and this is what we were able to do with it back then.

Just imagine the possibilities of an environment where kids are loved, taught about Jesus and have a blast all at the same time!

easter-three

 

 

HUGE EXCITING NEWS and a QUESTION! Thrive Church is Moving to Central Michigan University’s Campus!! Would you HELP US?

You read that right, Thrive Church is moving!!IMG_1810

YES, YES and more YES!

We have been praying about this for over a year! Seeking God! We have been searching and searching for a new home.

Central Michigan University said YES!! 

Currently we rent a movie theater (Celebration Cinema) and its been awesome! But, with our Church growing and movie theaters really not being designed for kids ministry, we decided more than a year ago, it was time to find a new Sunday morning home! We’re sad because we love the theater, but its time!

We’ve asked our local school district if we could rent any of their buildings. They said NO, a little more NO and then a lot more NO. I’m not bitter though. Hah!

We’ve asked a few open buildings in town and they said no.

Then, we went to Central Michigan University! We’ve used CMU before (for Easter and Christmas Eve), yeah, it was awesome!

easter

CMU Said YES!!!!! 

CMU said we could move as early as March 12th! But,  we need to raise some additional funds to purchase the equipment we would need to turn part of a college campus into Thrive Church!

How exciting is that? Just think of the amazing possibilities? We can have a much better chance to reach the 18,000 College Students on campus! And, our Kids Ministry environments will be a MILLION times better and that will give us a better chance to reach families!

There are 80,000 people in Central Michigan without a Church Home! This move is needed because it will give us a greater chance to reach them!

Would you help us?

We need to raise $50,000! Or, have the items below donated! Sometimes I read that number and a wave of shock goes through my body, but then I read through God’s eyes and I know its not all that massive to Him! kids-space

Why $50,000? 

CMU is an exponentially larger space than what we use now! So, the majority of this expense is purchasing Kids Ministry equipment to turn a field house into an amazing Kids Ministry environment!

We need things like:

  • Portable Walls, Portable Carts to hold those walls
  • Another Trailer
  • Carpets and Mats
  • Portable Tents and Portable Fencing
  • Check in Stations, Computers and Printers
  • (4) Stage decks for the Kids Ministry Large Group Stage
  • (2) 55 inch TV’s and Portable Cases for the Kids Ministry Large Group Area
  • Toys, slides, climbers, bean bag chairs
  • Bibles and Supplies
  • Signs for Kids ministry
  • Signs for campus to direct traffic
  • Portable Sound System
  • Lots of Pipe and Drape
  • Drum Set, Keyboard
  • 40 inch TV on a stand
  • Cables, chords and more of that kind of stuff
  • Microphones, Lightings, Stands
  • Monitors

So, Would you help us?

You can give financially to this endeavor HERE. Just select CMU Fund.

You can email any questions to jason.raitz@thrivechurchmi.cc

If your Church would like to donate equipment, we will come and pick it up!!! Just let us know!

Thank you for considering. 

Thrive launched on October 6, 2013 and in that time 172 have gone public with their faith in baptism.

God has just showed up time and time again. But, the reality is, we just can’t make this move without you.

 

Hey Thrive…10 Ways to make this Sunday Off the Charts AHMAZING!

 
OH MY GOODNESS…SUNDAY IS ALMOST HERE!!!!

10 Ways you can make Sunday off the charts AMAZING

1. PLEASE don’t miss this Sunday!! You know, there are 4-6 Sunday’s a year where we plan for longer, invest greater and pray bigger. This is one of those Sundays!! So many amazing things going on!
 
2. Take 5 minutes and send 3 facebook messages or texts to friends about coming this Sunday! Please share info about it on your page. Please like the Thrive Church MI Facebook stuff about this Sunday! Let’s spread the word!
 
3. Would you head to Stadia on facebook and like their post about this Sunday at Thrive? It’s awesome that Stadia believes in us.
 
4. Would you pray like crazy for this Sunday? Pray for 50 new volunteers, 50 new givers. Pray for kids lives to be freed from poverty!! Pray for people to find and follow Jesus! Pray for healing for broken people! img_4907
 
5. BE EARLY! Like 30 minutes early! Come on, please. Don’t miss the CMU Jazz band. Cheer for them and clap!
 
**Be in theater one 3 minutes before it starts!! Don’t miss all the hard work the band has put in on the opening song!
 
6. Come hungry. We’re grilling! 
 
7. Wear your favorite team’s jersey. Dress your kids like super heros.fullsizerender
 
8. Sit up front, and move to the center of aisles please 🙂 Make room for guests!! Clap, sing, cheer and laugh!!
 
9. If you knew how honored I feel and how special it is for Greg Nettle and his daughter, Tabitha to be coming, wow!! Greg is a mentor and friend and this leader is the real deal! Please don’t miss him!! Say hi! Stadia, the organization he leads has been so awesome to Thrive!!
 
10. Sponsor a child! Sponsor two! We can all sacrifice! $38 bucks is all it takes and you will FREE a life from poverty! LET’s DO THIS THRIVE!!!
Check out this link for more information!
 
I LOVE YOU! I’m proud of you!
 
Jason Raitz
 
PS…Some of you have asked about giving to help with the move to CMU! That’s awesome! If just 300 of us gave an extra $166, we would have all we need to make the environments amazing! You should have received some info in the mail about this, if not, let me know!

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!

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The CHURCH made Kai’s Adoption a Reality

How about that for a headline!?! 

That’s the reality though, without the local CHURCH, Kai’s adoption would not have happened. 

Tracie and I weren’t in a position to afford this adoption on our own. Maybe that should have stopped us from pursuing it. It has stopped many. A few people expressed that opinion to us. Well, not face to face but on Facebook and to others. But, as we prayed about it, we just felt God’s overwhelming push to move forward and to ask the CHURCH to help. So, we did. We did it on Facebook. We did it through emails. We did it on my blog. We did it Face to face. 

And…the CHURCH DID!!!! 

Here’s what I mean by that. Not one Church is responsible for Kai’s adoption or one person or one family, but MANY. 

We had 6 year olds give $5. We had teenagers give. We had families give $20. We had some who gave thousands. We had people give from Central Michigan, the Detroit Area, Grand Rapids and up north. From…PA, IND, VA, CA, CO, NV, TX, LA, NY, OH, IL, WI, WA, FL, TN, KY, DC and some I’m forgetting about. 

But, Kai’s adoption couldn’t have happened without every one of those gifts. 

And, how about this…

99% of the people that gave were followers of Jesus. 

You know why? Because generosity is close to the heart of God! I mean, HE Gave HIS Son for us! Jesus gave everything! The Acts 2 Church gave to support each other. We, as the Church, are called to give! I believe we’re called to give first to God through the Local Church and then to give as God leads us to give. 

I love what Todd Clark said about generosity…

‘Generosity will make you rich not poor’

I have found that to be 100% true in my life. Embarrassingly enough, I fought this for years. I didn’t give because I thought that because I made hardly anything working for the church and because I gave so much time to the Church, that that was the same as giving financially. I was wrong. Dead wrong. There is a very strong and compelling reason that Jesus said your treasure is where your heart is. He knew that we struggle like crazy to Trust Him and He wants our heart. If we can’t put our finances ahead of our heart, we won’t experience all He has for us. 

I can honestly say that is true. I have experienced that. When you make generosity so common in life, like breathing, and you do that over time, whether times are good or bad, one day…

You will wake up and experience a waterfall of the Holy Spirits presence in your life. I have. It’s amazing. 

THE CHURCH MADE KAI’S ADOPTION A REALITY! 

And, actual Churches made Kai’s adoption a reality. This just completely blows my mind! It’s still had to wrap my mind around!

3 Churches, who really don’t know my family or I all that well (I mean, I have a friendship with their Pastors) took offerings to help us! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?? So, we will always be in awe and so grateful to 242 Community Church in MI, New Bethel Church in IN and Canvas Church in VA. 

Then, Thrive Church in CA, who knows more of me and my Church because we’re in the same network of Churches, received an offering as well. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

Also, the night before we left, I asked some folks from my Church to gather and pray for us. And they did! And, they threw us a surprise shower to help with Kai’s clothes and toys and toddler stuff! 

THE CHURCH IS AWESOME!!!

The Church is responsible for this adoption. Of all the complaining and whining I read about the CHURCH, I’m sorry if I can’t join in! I love the LOCAL CHURCH! She is the bride of Christ. The local Church, when working right, is the Hope of the World. The Church preaches the Gospel. The Church gives people a home. The Church allows the generations to come together. The Church is a movement! The Church is the hands and feet of Jesus! The Church is the LIGHT to this dark world. 

That’s why it just shocks me that Christians have become so apatathic towards their Churches. But, that’s for another blog post. 

Here’s what I know…

A boy who didn’t have a family, now has one. A boy who didn’t have a Church home, now has one. A boy who wasn’t going recieve the level of medical care his PKU needed, will receive one. A boy who slep in a crip with 12 other kids, will now have 4 siblings. A boy on the other side of the world, one of the 17 million orphans in the world, now has a home. 

The Church did that! 

I love the Church. 

‘Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you’ ~ James 1:27