‘Waiting is an act of Faith’. Message notes from week two of our Buffering series at Thrive Church.

Message Notes:IMG_8978

Slide # 1. Series Theme Slide

  • Good Morning Thrive Church! My name is Jason Raitz and I’m the Pastor of Thrive Church! How are we doing this morning!
  • Did you know that there are 3 other Churches in a network with us? Thrive TX in Houston and Thrive CA in northern CA. All the pastors have been friends for a long time. So, let’s be praying for Thrive TX!!
  • Did you know that Thrive is almost 4 years old? On October 6th, 2013 we gathered for our first official Thrive Sunday! And, October 8th we are going to Party! Why? Because, we are going to celebrate God’s faithfulness over the last 4 years!
  • So, just know this, you are expected and invited to be here on Sunday, October 8th.
  • Say it with me, Sunday, October 8th!
  • We have been planning, praying and preparing.
  • Here’s the crazy thing, and I know this is only going to interest a few of you. But, we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
  • So, the BEST IS YET TO COME!!!!

Series: Buffering

  • Last week, Dr. Tom kicked off this series as we learn how to endure God’s silence.
  • Silence is awful sometimes.
  • Like when you text someone and you can see that their writing back, but every time you look, that little thing keep spinning and you’re like, come on!!
  • Silence is tough sometimes on our faith, we don’t always get the clarity we want, and we need to understand how to make the journey in the dark and confusing times.
  • And we WAIT!!!!!
  • And waiting isn’t fun, is it?
  • So, today, we dive into WAITING.
  • We begin to ask tons of questions, just like Habakkuk did in chapter 1!!
  • Will the person forgive me? Will they talk to me again? Is my girlfriend pregnant? Does my dad have cancer? Will my mom be ok? Am I going to get fired? Are we going to be able to pay our bills? Why God, why did that happen?
  • Why can’t ‘THIS IS US’ start back now???
  • Who else hates to wait? We live in a day and age where people hate to wait! We want everything right now!

STORY: Chick Fil A in MD

  • This summer, I was in line in a Chick Fil A in MD with Madison and the lady in front of us was not happy about the wait. How do I know? She was on the phone and she kept telling the person on the phone…
  • If I have to wait any longer for this food, I’ll just go kill a chicken on my own.

And, imagine our what our kids are learning about waiting. They have every bit of information available to them in an instant.

  • They just have to speak into their phone. They don’t have to research. They don’t have to wait till next week’s episode. They are the binge watching generation!
  • But, waiting on God is a theme throughout scripture!
  • Waiting on God to move on our behalf gives us the space to work out our souls. It’s like a gym. Waiting is a gym for our souls.
  • God’s not all that concerned that you get your answer like google gives you an answer.
  • He’s ok with you waiting on Him. And, turning to Him.
  • Last week, Dr. Tom looked at chapter one of Habakkuk and today we look at chapter two.
  • God points out all the junk that needs work: pride, extortion, dishonesty, violence, murder, dishonesty, ect… and asks for silence.
  • Silence of our soul: when we stop our complaints, demands, and questions, it gives God the space to work and speak within us. We stop from asking God to act according to our insufficient perspectives, onto God’s grounds in humility.

Slide # 2…Big Idea: Waiting is an act of faith

  • I hope you walk out of here remembering just that. Waiting is an act of Faith.
    • What’s faith? It’s complete trust or confidence in God. What we believe about God and how we live out that belief. One of my favorite definitions of faith is…
  • Faith is the quality that gives us mastery over life’s difficulties.
  • So, when God is silent in your life, are you ok with waiting on Him?
  • Are you ok with being silent and just listening.
  • Sometimes we’re not, right! We want an answer now! We want God to move now. We want God to speak now. We want our problem or our need taken care of right now!
  • I love this quote by Craig Groeschel.

Slide # 3…Your greatest need becomes a blessing when it drives you to depend on God’ ~Craig Groeschel

WHAT!?!? How in the world can it be a blessing?

  • We’re looking in the book of the OT called Habakkuk.
  • This book’s purpose is to show that God is still in control of the world despite the apparent triumph of evil. It was written a long time ago. Between 612 and 589 BC.
  • This book tries to get answers to the complex questions and discussions in life.
  • Habakkuk was a man who sought answers. He was troubled by what he saw and he asked difficult questions. He saw a dying world and it broke his heart.
  • He boldly and confidently took his questions and complaints directly to God.
  • In chapter two, verse 4 it says this…

Slide # 4…

“See, the enemy is puffed up;

   his desires are not upright—

   but the righteous person will live by his faith ~Habakkuk 2:4 (niv)

    • Guess what, WAITING on God is an act of FAITH.
    • The righteous person will live by his faith!
    • In chapter one, Habakkuk gives it God. Brings all his questions and complaints and what does God say in chapter two?
    • Be patient. I’m God, I have this. I will work out my plans in my perfect timing.
  • To trust God fully means to trust him even when we don’t understand why bad stuff happens or we don’t get the answer we need when we need it.
  • Psalm 37:7 says…

Slide # 5…‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.’ Psalm 37:7 (niv)

Waiting is an act of FAITH. But, guess what? Waiting is not just sitting around with lilies in our hair.

Slide # 6…Waiting drives us to Action

  • We don’t have to sit on our hands. Waiting is like a gym for our soul. It can drive us to our knees.
  • In another book in the Old Testament, we see a GREAT example of this. And, before I even say another word, there’s a Pastor by the name of Steven Furtick and he preached a message that hit me hard years ago and some of these ideas are from that message! He also put them in a book called ‘Greater’, check that out.
  • But, in the book of 2 Kings chapter 3, there is a story that just teaches this idea so well.
  • A little background info…
  • There are 3 Kings that have set up to fight an opposing army. These kings are under the impression that they’ve been on God’s good side, but the reality is, they have ignored him in the good times. These three kings consist of two kings of the divided nation of Israel and an ally king. They set up to fight and then realize they have a major problem.

Slide # 7…2 Kings 3:9-12 (niv)

So the king of Israel set out with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. After a roundabout march of seven days (represents completion and perfection), the army had no more water for themselves or for the animals with them.

    • The problem! No water and it’s not raining and when you run out of rain, you look to God really quick. In these days, you can’t just walk over to the hose and get water.
    • These Kings were ruling without looking to God. They think they’re ready to fight, but they run out of rain. And when you have men and animals and they’re dehydrated and thirsty, you have a problem.
    • They find out that…
    • Trouble can be a good thing because it will make you look back to the source that you may have forgotten.
  • Sometimes going through a hard time can be the best thing to ever happen to you.
  • If you never went through anything, some of us may never even pray.
  • Wow!!!! Ok, back to the story.

“What!” exclaimed the king of Israel. “Has the Lord called us three kings together only to deliver us into the hands of Moab?”

    • WHAT he says. Kind of in the Mom and Dad voice. You know the one. WHAT! He’s blaming God in bad times, even though he didn’t even thank God in the good times.
  • I wonder if there is a lesson in there for us? God gets so much of the blame when bad things happen, and so little credit in the good times.

But Jehoshaphat (pretty good king)  asked, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?” An officer of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of [Snapchat] Shaphat is here. He used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.

  • Ok, this is kind of a put down, he’s calling him Elisha a water boy.
  • And, not like Bobby Boucher! Elisha was the replacement for Elijah. He’s a big deal!
  • Elijah was amazing! He called fire down out of heaven, actually spoke the words for the water supply of heaven to start again after a 3.5 year drought that he called for. He has serious power in his words.
  • Elisha is the new guy and he is about to preach his first sermon to the kings and he just had his first miracle. The Kings have a need that only God can meet and they want a miracle.
  • Isn’t that how we approach God sometimes?
  • I wonder what need you need God to meet? I wonder what the thing is that your smile doesn’t say.
  • You can do all you can do, but only God can make it rain. Some of you are on your 7th lap. Some of you are faking life and you need God to give a new sense of life.
  • But, we don’t want to wait! The Kings didn’t want to wait! They wanted an answer now.

Slide # 8…Waiting is synonymous with attention. Attention is synonymous with prayer. -Simone Weil

  • They call Elisha in and he preaches his first sermon.

[a]”Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him.

  • This is how Elisha starts in 13 and basically says, ‘oh, you want God to move now’. You’ve waited this whole time. He has a little attitude.

Slide # 9…2 Kings 3:14-19 (msg)

Elisha said, “As God-of-the-Angel-Armies lives, and before whom I stand ready to serve, if it weren’t for the respect I have for Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I wouldn’t give you the time of day.

  • What if that was my opening line of this message? I feel like that could be a line from Connor McGregor!
  • He has a boldness about it. Hard to be subtle when you’re speaking for God. Gosh, which a little side bar: One of the soul searching things I came to grips with during my time off is that I need to speak stronger! I’m a people pleaser. Sometimes, I’m not as forthRight as I should be.
  • I mean, I’m such a people pleaser that I wouldn’t turn off my snooze because it was Hootie and I didn’t want to offend them!
  • I’m going to work on that! Maybe not as hard core as Elisha, but maybe.
  • Can you even imagine that Jason? I feel like God doesn’t approve of me? What should I do? Well, how about you stop sleeping around and gossiping. That would probably help you feel better.
  • Mic Drop! Hahahah
  • Back to Elisha…Elisha says you guys have been trying to do this all on your own. God is not your hobby. God is not a spare time thing.
  • God is the Lord of heaven of Earth!
  • Then Elisha says…

But considering—bring me a harpist.” (When a harpist played, the power of God came on Elisha.)

  • You’re the only one to speak on God’s behalf and you need a harpist?
  • A harpist?
  • That’s the power in music!
  • I listen to worship music on my prayer walks.
  • I can’t wait the final scene in footloose without crying.
  • But, Elisha says that cuz there is power!

He then said, “God’s word: Dig ditches all over this valley. Here’s what will happen—you won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water and your army and your animals will drink their fill. This is easy for God to do; he will also hand over Moab to you.

    • This is not what the Kings wanted. They wanted a miracle and a magic trick right now.
    • They did not want to WAIT!
    • WAITING IS AN OF FAITH.
    • Some of you single people who have decided to wait to have sex are affirming that statement. Yes, waiting is an of faith!
    • But, waiting is also a beautiful thing.
    • It’s a GYM for the Soul!
    • God is working out so much in our waiting! He’s kicking the pride out of us. He’s getting our attention. He’s helping us refocus our lives.
  • Only God can bring the rain, but sometimes He wants us to be faithful.
  • He wants you and I to be faithful!
  • I think it was the great author and Pastor, Eugene Peterson, said this walk with Jesus is about being faithful and obedient in the same direction for a long time.
  • Waiting is an act of faith.
  • But…

Slide # 9…We can go to work while waiting

  • I love the verse that says; Dig ditches all over this valley.
  • You want to know what to do during the time of WAITING.]
  • Dig Ditches!
  • Get a shovel and start digging.
  • Actually, we ordered 300 little shovels and we were going to give everyone one as a symbol to remember what to do when your waiting.
  • Dig Ditches!

Slide # 10… Only God can send the water, but sometimes He wants you to dig a ditch!

Slide # 11… ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.’ ~James 2:26 (niv)

Story of Thrive: Just a story of digging ditches.

  • Thrive is the story of digging ditches!
  • Just waiting on God! And digging while we wait!
  • We started with nothing. Just kept digging ditches.
  • When we went to two experiences, some people were like, really! We just kept digging ditches.
  • We’ve had ups and downs. We’ve grown, lost people, grown again and lost people. We just keep digging ditches.
  • We introduced the first Shoe Project. Oh man, some people were like, you guys are nuts. We just kept digging ditches. We raised the money. The second shoe project. We raised the money, but wow! It was hard, digging ditches.
  • Guess, what, in 2018 when we do our next Shoe Project, we’re going to keep digging ditches! Just to keep the crazy train going, I am praying that we as a Church will raise $50,000. That could do 4-5 Schools!!!
  • You don’t know where the rain is going to come from, but you keep digging!

What area of life is God calling you to digging ditches? In preparation for the blessing He wants to give.

Faith is not just wishful thinking. Oh God, bless my children. You start speaking words of blessing over your children.

Oh God, bless my marriage. You start blessing your marriage. You want love and attraction? You be more attractive? You make your spouse the center of the universe. You pray for them all throughout the day. You rekindle the love.

Oh God bless my finances. You trust him by giving.

Oh God, I don’t know where I fit at Thrive. You start serving! There are over 20 different opportunities on Sunday mornings alone at Thrive! Or you pray. Come early and pray over seats. Or be a facebook evangelist. Like everything on the main Thrive page. Comment and help get discussions going. Invite friends.

  • Make a commitment to SHOW UP, JUMP IN and DO GOOD.

THRIVE CHURCH

  • We’ve dug a lot of ditches. We have to keep digging!
  • Real faith keeps digging when people say no, or are negative, or when it’s hard! We’ve had people say awful stuff about us. Or leave.
  • That’s ok, we will just keep digging ditches.
  • One of the areas I have struggled with, and we even talked about it at our Elder meeting this past week, is when people just disappear from Thrive. It’s hard. Some leave because they feel convicted. Some leave because of conflict with someone else. Some just stop coming because of laziness.
  • Part of my extreme exhaustion was letting the bitterness get to me.
  • God’s given us a GREAT vision for this Church and we can make a tremendous dent for God’s kingdom together!
  • Digging ditches of love. Of acceptance. Of wanting people who are messy so they can meet the God who loves them.

Oh God, I need your joy. God says, if you want joy, then rejoice. Quick watching and listening to crap. Put God’s word in your heart and start rejoicing.

Oh God, I’m single and I just want a good person. Then, stop dating people who want nothing to do with God. I’m not saying at all that they are bad. I’m just saying, if you want to be faithful, take God’s word seriously. Pair up with someone who loves Jesus passionately!!

  • Can you trust God today, because He knows your tomorrow and has already been faithful in your past.

Waiting is an ACT of FAITH!

As you wait, Dig Ditches.

Slide # 12…Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. – John Ortberg

  • As you wait, what ditches are you going to dig?
  • Where can you be faithful?
  • Waiting is not all bad, remember, it’s an act of faith.

 

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I took 29 days off and lived to tell about it!

It’s true. I did it. I took 29 days off from my role as Pastor of Thrive Church. I also took 29 days off from social media. I also took 29 days off from constantly replying and checking my messages/emails/voicemails/texts.

And guess what? I lived! And, Thrive Church…

THRIVED!

Let me tell you why I did it. Why I took 29 days off, consecutively. By the way, that’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this in 22 years of serving at Churches.

Here’s why I did it…

I let myself get to a very unhealthy place of life. 

You don’t understand. I was drained. I was exhausted. I had nothing left. My tanks were beyond empty. I felt like a zombie most days. For 20 some years, I have worked hard. 50, 60, 70 hour weeks. I have traveled all over the country speaking. I have always tried to do whatever I needed to get the job done. Even when I was exhausted, I always had reserve energy tanks.

But, for the first time in my life, the reserve energy tanks were gone. The past 4 years of my life have been a wild ride. We planted Thrive. Which, that journey alone has been amazing and exhausting. After we planted, my already bad back went to def con 5 and then came back surgery. It took about 16 months to start feeling better. But, every day I experience some kind of pain. Whether it’s a limping day or not is up to the weather.

Then there is the day to day stuff of leading a Church. And, we have seen God move in powerful ways and we have seen satan attack the Church in crazy ways.

We also pursued the calling on our lives to adopt and that journey was both amazing and exhausting. Raising $35,000 and doing mountains of paperwork and the waiting and the going back and forth. Dealing with the people who don’t quite understand adoption and receiving some of their non emotionally intelligent thoughts.

This year started in China picking up Kai and bringing him home. It was amazing! But, after I got home, we knew that God was calling us to move locations and we started a major fundraising campaign at Thrive. And, every time you do something like this, satan seems to up the attack. Then, our Church moved locations. To a much larger space that was a miracle. And, every time you make a change, there are those people who either don’t come along with you or criticize every move.

Then, over the last six months, our family has been adjusting to having a new family member in our house and having another child with PKU and the costs associated with that.

I was spent. My normal tanks were depleted and my reserve tanks were long gone. I was leading and living on empty.

AND…ON YEAH, MY PEOPLE PLEASING WENT OUT OF CONTROL

You see, my name is Jason Raitz and I am a People Pleaser. Even the thought of saying NO to someone causes anxiety to well up. Not good for a Pastor. Because honestly, I have to say no a lot. In order to keep heading towards the vision God’s given us for our Church, I simple can’t say YES all the time.

And guess what? 

I started to let a lot of people down. I let my family down. I let myself down. 

I couldn’t fulfill all the YESSES! I dropped balls. I wasn’t fully there for my family. I slept a lot. I gained a lot of weight. I began to let worry and anxiety rule my life.

And then the chest pains came. They set up shop and decided to stay for awhile.

Lastly, not proud of this at all, but in my complete and utter exhaustion, I started to let bitterness well up in me.

What do I have to bitter about? Great question. I mean, God continues to bless my family. I love my Church, I love my staff team and I love my job. The Patriots won the Super Bowl!

Because I’m such a raving people pleaser, and since I spend quite a bit of time pouring and investing in people. When they up and disappear from Church, I take that very personally. When they say negative blanket statements on Facebook or to other people about our Church, I take that personally. When they head to another Church and never have a conversation with me or another staff member, I take that personally. When they look the other way in a grocery store, that hurts.

And, unfortunately, in my extreme exhaustion, I let all that bitterness well up and  it started to take over.

I was no good to nobody. 

Tracie and my parents were worried about me. I know the kids knew something was up.

That’s when Dr. Tom sat me down. And then Matt. And then Sarah. Some of Thrive’s key leaders noticed a difference in me.

Multiple people asked me if I was ok.

Honestly, in my exhaustion, I stopped doing the practices that helped protect my soul.

I stopped reading. I stopped my every morning prayer walks. I stopped seeing my counselor. I stopped working out. I stopped blogging.

I started to dream about working at Meijer’s. I mean, I would keep that parking lot clean! I could push carts and I would do it well! I started to wonder what a 9-5 job would be like. A job that I could leave and clock out and they weren’t going to call me if a grocery cart went rogue.

This is all embarrassing, I know. It’s probably too raw to write about and post. But, it is what it is.

So, I went to our Elders at Thrive to explain and ask for some extended time off and before I could barely pitch my presentation, one of our founders said…’yup, this is a no brainer’. Another said…’is this enough time, take what you need’.

Talk about being loved! Talk about being supported. Talk about being cared for! 

 

29 Days

So, the day after we got back from Big Stuf Camps, I started this 29 day journey. I’ve never taken a full 2-3 month sabbatical. But, I can see how after a month, you really start to do some healing!

My 29 days looked like this…

The first week I slept. No really. I slept a lot. I was utterly and completely exhausted. I also changed my cell phone number. This was recommended to me and this was a hard one to actually do. I did it. I know some folks probably thought I died.

But, in the midst of constant messages/texts/emails, we had a mix up with Kai’s medical insurance when he first came home and we now owe $6000! Its been a ridiculous mess! Anyways, not having the constant phone calls asking for those funds has been nice.

The second week our family went on a vacation. This wouldn’t have happened without some amazing generosity from some friends! We had a blast together. We went to DC. We walked the capitol. We stayed with friends. Saw family we haven’t seen in forever. The kids kept asking, you sure you’re not speaking somewhere? Hah! IMG_8805

The third week, I started to get back into my rhythm of prayer walks and I decided to walk an hour a day around the campus of Central Michigan University. It was a great week.

The fourth week, I tried to listen to my wife and kids as much as possible. 

In these 29 days…

I started a new prayer journal. I’ve been reading through 1 Samuel and the book of Matthew.

I read ‘Emotionally Healthy Leader’ by Pete Scazzero. A must read! This book has helped me heal in ways I never thought was possible!

I re-read ‘The Circle Maker’ by Mark Batterson

I read ‘People Pleasing Pastors’ by Charles Stone

I saw my counselor and spent time with a mentor.

I went on a lot of walks with my wife and kids.

I talked to God.

I took 29 Days off and I survived!

28 or 38 year old Jason would have never been able to do this, but almost 42 year old Jason knew I needed this to replenish my tanks and for some healing to occur and to happen.

I’m thankful for my Church. I’m thankful for my family.

I’m expectant and excited for this next season of ministry!

Oh, here are a few photo’s from our trip to DC.

Meet Thrive’s new Small Group Director…Jon Strifler!

Are you even kidding me? God just continues to blow me away!

I am beyond excited to introduce Thrive’s newest staff member.

Why?

Because has God sent an amazing leader to Thrive and He has filled a tremendous hole! And that hole has been for someone to lead our Small Groups. I have been trying to fill that hole and honestly, I haven’t done a great job. Cue our newest staff member.

Meet Jon Strifler. He’s our Small Groups Director. 

Small Groups are the secret sauce of Thrive Church! Sunday’s are awesome, but it’s just a small part. Small Groups are where it’s at! And, I’m so thankful that God lead Jon and wife to be a part of Thrive! Jon will be working closely with Dr. Tom to create healthy communities for our Church to be a part of and they will be creating tools to help us grow spiritually!
Here’s a little bit about Jon:
How long have you lived in Central Michigan?FullSizeRender.jpg
-Been in Central Michigan for 4 years. Originally from the Indianapolis area
What’s your favorite thing about Thrive?
-So far my favorite thing about Thrive has been the amount of fun we have working as a staff team
How excited are you to lead Small Groups at Thrive?
-I am quite excited–super geeked–fangirl moment, whichever you want to use
If you had to pick between either Hootie and the Blowfish or Country music, what would you choose?
-Certainly not country, so give me Hootie
Jon has been married to Jennise for a little over a year and together they have a dog. Jennise is a professor at CMU and is an amazing artist!
If you want to be in a small group, lead one or have questions, shoot Jon an email. Make sure you go out of your way to welcome him on a Sunday morning!
Jon.Strifler@thrivechurchmi.cc

 

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.