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Jason Raitz

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

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10 Years at Camp Timber Lee!! What an amazing blessing and honor!

In the summer of 2006, I spoke at my first summer camp at Camp Timber Lee in East Troy, WI. 

Our kids were 6, 4 and 2 and my wife carted them all over camp that summer! It was a blast and I never thought in a million years, I would blink and I would be asked to speak for 10 years!! 

The only summer I didn’t speak here was in 2008 when I wound up hospitalized with MRSA. Not fun times!

But, we blinked and 10 years have gone by! I love that my kids have spent a ton of time here over the years!
I love that there are camp counselors who had me as a speaker when they were in middle school. 

I love the honor and privilege to share Gods word and invite students to follow Jesus! 

I love that my kids help me think through stories and even come up on stage!

I love that when we walked into our Cabin yesterday, our almost 14 year old…I love it here!

I love the staff here! They are some of the most amazing leaders I have ever been around! 

I don’t take any opportunity for granted and I’m praying that Jesus would wreck some hearts this week! 

I absolutely LOVE when Katie teaches at Thrive! Like she does today!!

Today, one of my favorite people on planet earth is teaching at Thrive

eisenbergersKatie Eisenberger!

She is just amazing! Her energy, her spirit, her life story and her passion for Jesus is just contagious.

Katie has been around Thrive before Thrive even was Thrive! One day, out of the blue, I got a phone call from Katie asking if we could meet. I sat down and she immediately began to pour out her out about how God was calling her to be a part of this new Church. The more she talked, the more excited I was for the future of this Church! She caught the vision even before the vision was completely birthed! That was in early 2013 and ever since then, Katie and her incredible leadership has helped Thrive grow and flourish!

She’s just a rock star leader and teacher. 

Today she continues our ‘Thrive at the Movies’ series with a look at Borne Identity! Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Because I’m kind of Matt Damon’s look alike, I could not do the message today! Right!?! It would have just been too confusing! Hah!

But, really, she is diving into a passage of scripture in Ephesians and talking about our Identity! It’s going to be good!

We struggle with our Identity all the time, don’t we? I mean, sometimes we think just students struggle with their Identity, but adults probably have bigger struggles with identity than they ever let on!

We try to find our identity in our cars, in our jobs, in our homes, in our stuff, in our facebook accolades and the list goes on and on.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, our identity is found in Him! Which is amazing! Because He is our rock, our salvation, our freedom and our joy!

So, head to Thrive this morning! 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema and let’s continue this journey together!

Meet my friend Jess and the famous Slurpee Sunday tradition

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.IMG_0231

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.

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!

What an INCREDIBLE morning AHEAD!! Can’t wait to send my kids to camp and lead worship at Thrive!!

OH MY STINKING GOODNESS!!!!

I am beyond EXCITED for what’s ahead today!!

First of all…It’s Sunday!!! I can’t wait to gather with my Thrive Church family!!!

Second of all…My kids and a great group of students are headed to Big Stuf Camp in Panama City Beach, FL!! 

Third of all…I have the privilege of leading worship at Thrive this morning with an amazing group of musicians! 

I am on freaking overload! I can’t wait! Here we go!

If you don’t have a Church home, you’re invited to Thrive this morning at either 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema.

If Thrive is your Church home, COME ONE!!!!! HERE WE GO!!!!

Our kids are heading to Big Stuf Summer Camp Tomorrow and we’re so EXCITED!!!!

The day is almost here! We’ve been waiting for months and months. We’ve been praying for this camp for months and months and now its here! Our kids are packed and one of them has re-packed a few times!

Tomorrow the Raitz kids and a great group of students and leaders are headed to Big Stuf Camp in Panama City Beach, FL.

I AM SO EXCITED!!!!

They can’t wait! We can’t wait! I LOVE SUMMER CAMPS and I can’t wait for our kids and the students from Thrive to experience an amazing week of camp!

Our oldest daughter, Bekah, was only 4 months old when we took her to her first camp and since then, she has traveled with me to dozens and dozens of them. Our other 4 kids have been to many camps as well and I am so excited for them to experience a camp where their dad is not the speaker!

You see, for us…

Summer camp is SACRED! 

As a youth pastor, I took hundreds and hundreds of students to many, many summer camps! As a speaker, I have given hundreds of talks at summer camps over the years.

And, as a teenager, my life was forever changed because of summer camp! 

That’s why Summer camps are sacred to us! I don’t think I would be a Pastor if I hadn’t of had those life changing experiences as a kid and I’m super thankful to my parents for making sure I did!

Yes, camps are A LOT of fun! They should be! But, the potential for INCREDIBLE life change is MASSIVE! There are so many great opportunities for students out there and as a youth pastor I took kids to everything I could! Festivals, camps, concerts, retreats, service trips. They were all awesome. But, for me, what I came to believe is…summer camp has an amazing potential for incredible discipleship and that’s why Thrive is going to invest heavily on summer camps!

That’s why I’m so passionate about getting kids to camp! I dream of the day that Thrive sends students by the bus load to camp and I dream of the day that…

EVERY PARENT and THRIVER is as PASSIONATE ABOUT SENDING KIDS TO CAMP! 

I’m so excited for the students and leaders heading to camp this year!

  • I’m excited for them to experience amazing worship! Many of the worship leaders are from North Point Church…Yeah, that amazing Church!
  • I’m excited for them to hear from amazing speakers! The speakers are world class!
  • I’m excited for them to learn from the amazing breakouts!
  • I’m excited for them to grow in their small groups!! The small groups will be amazing!
  • And yes, I’m excited for them to have an amazing amount of fun!!

This is why we picked Big Stuf! 

So, would you pray? Would you ask God to bless this trip? Would you ask God to just WRECK the HEARTS of the students going.

And, we’re still raising funds, so if you would like to help students attend, just head

HERE

and click on Youth Schlorship and donate!

OH…and, if you want to watch the main sessions from Big Stuff, click HERE.

Incredible Insight on Empowering Women Leaders from John Ortberg

I believe whole heartedly that both Men and Women have been given gifts to lead and teach in the Church. 

Recently I was talking to a Thriver and they told me they really loved it when we’ve had women guest speakers at Thrive. I kind of chuckled. They asked me why I chuckled. I told them about the time someone left Thrive Church because we have women Elders and we affirm the gift of teaching in women.

They chuckled. I didn’t chuckle at the time. It was crazy painful. Now I do chuckle.

One of the reasons I was passionate about planting Thrive Church was to create another Church and Community that empowered women to lead and teach in the Church.

Yes, Empower and Lead! 

I have worked hard to make that happen and I’m proud of it. Even in the midst of the negative voices, we’ve moved forward. I’m so excited that we have an amazingly gifted woman on our Sunday speaking team! Yes, it’s awesome!

That being said, there are probably going to be some folks who read this and disagree, that’s ok. But, if you’ve been thinking and praying about this, here are three great resources that have heavily influenced my thinking on this.

Great Blog Post by Perry Noble. ‘Should a Woman be Allowed to Preach’

Incredible Book by Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian. ‘Beyond Sex Roles’

Incredible Interview with John Ortberg.

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. 

 

 

 

Sunday Night Thoughts on Life, Family and Thrive Church

Thoughts on Life

Part One…

It’s been a long couple of days.

For the most part, I’ve had a pretty good run lately with my back (had surgery 2 years ago and its been feeling so much better). I’m even putting on my own socks! I know, I’m such a big boy! Now, I have the normal tightness and stiffness in the mornings, especially when we go from 70 degrees to 90 degrees.

I woke up Saturday morning and went out for a walk and I thought something climbed inside my lower back and left leg and turned everything off. I headed home defeated.

I fell asleep early last night and then couldn’t sleep much all night and then the worst thing ever happened…

I missed Church at Thrive this morning! 

Now, it’s not the worst for our Church. Thrive is not about Jason. Thrive doesn’t need me to run.

But, I love being there! I love gathering with people that are in the trenches of church planting together. I love gathering the staff team from Thrive. I love seeing the families and the students. I love meeting new people! I love it!

But, I missed. And, I haven’t really been out of my bed much all day.

Part Two…

Tomorrow morning I will be 7 days into my ’30 Day Social Media Fast’! Wow, 7 whole days! To be honest, outside of being a little ‘ancy’ on day one, it’s been really good. Part of the reason I’m doing this is to declutter my soul and I feel like that’s happening. IMG_1335

For me, just trying to keep up with comments and Facebook messages has become a pretty decent daily task. Now, I’m nobody special. But, I do receive quite a few messages everyday and I’m constantly behind on them.

Also, I’m trying to fill the same time I would have put into facebook/instagram into reading scripture and my book pile! That’s going great!

Thoughts on Family

School is out. Summer is here. We’re blessed to live by a lake. The kids have already had a few super fun afternoons on the water on a dear friends boat.

We’re moving forward with our adoption and we’re hoping our completed home study will be delivered to us the first or second week of July! That will mean we can finally send our final paperwork to China and the US for final approval and then we can start applying for grants.

That will take a lot of stress off our shoulders. The stress is pretty high lately.

But, my family continues to be a tremendous source of love and rest!

Thoughts on Thrive Church

God is working at Thrive! Just this past week, I had two men tell me they have never read their Bible more than they have since being at Thrive! Um, that’s a HUGE win!

But, in the midst of coming through an amazing season of ministry (Incredible Easter and the Shoe Project), we’ve hit some extremely hard times with our finances. I know its nothing new to Churches or Church Plants, but its tough.

To be honest, it’s extremely stressful. I know God will provide, but tough decisions have to be made and I’ve been seeking wisdom from other Pastors and our Elders and I have been on my knees more than any season I can ever remember.

Even in the midst of all that, I am so excited about the future at Thrive!

August 21st is coming and its an incredibly important day for our church! Its our annual Baptism and BBQ and its my favorite day of the year!! Last year, we had 63 people take the step to go public with their faith and it was incredible! I can’t wait for this year!

I know that I know that the…

BEST IS YET TO COME! 

 

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