Archives: Sermon Follow Up

Don’t Let It Stay In Your Head

Don’t Let It Stay In Your Head

It’s THANKSGIVING!

That means turkey and family time.

It’s also means that we, collectively as a culture, take a day to pause and be thankful.

If you’re like me, you probably have so much to be thankful for.

I catch myself often thinking of these things.

Can I give you one simple piece of advice when it comes to being thankful?

DON’T LET IT STAY IN YOUR HEAD!

You’re probably like me. You have these quick thoughts that creep into your mind that reflect something you’re thankful for…

“I’m so glad I have wife that always smiles at me when I come in the door at the end of the day.”

“I’m so thankful my husband puts the toilet seat down.”

“I’m grateful for kids that love Jesus and are doing well on their own.”

“I’m thankful for a boss that gives me time to go see my kid’s plays at school.”

You have those thoughts, right?

SHARE THEM!

Take the time, right now, and send FIVE DIFFERENT TEXT MESSAGES to someone that you’re thankful for and tell them SPECIFICALLY what you’re thankful for.

Thankfulness changes things when it’s SHARED!!!!

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Here’s the challenge: Text or Call FIVE PEOPLE and express your gratitude for them. BE SPECIFIC!

The Power Of A Grateful Heart

The Power Of A Grateful Heart

It sort of amazes me that “Black Friday”, the day America loses it’s mind over cheap stuff we don’t really need, falls on the day that immediately follows Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a profound day.

Not exactly because of Turkey or stuffing or cranberry sauce that most of honestly detest…

Thanksgiving is important because redirects our hearts and minds.

We take this so seriously, that as we pastor our kid’s hearts we’ve made “having a grateful heart” one of the most significant points of emphasis in our home. When our kids complain, they’re immediate met with the question, “Are you having a grateful heart?”

There’s power in a grateful heart.

#1 – A grateful heart reshapes difficult moments.

You may not like it, but you’re going to face difficulty in life.

When we face difficulty, we don’t have to be dragged down in the midst of it. The Scriptures describe for us a joy that transcends difficult moments and trying times.

The secret lies in how our heart shapes our current situation.

There’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for, and in the midst of difficult situations a grateful heart elevates those things above the difficult things. This reshaping of our context allows us to view difficulty through a new perspective.

This is how cancer patients find a purpose in living their faith out in front of their family and friends. This is how grieving families find hope in a promised eternity with Jesus and our loved ones. This is how those who are hurting find purpose in the pain.

This is how Job, in the middle of great pain and loss, could say, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15).

A grateful heart unlocks a better perspective to live from.

#2 – A grateful heart erodes anxiety, worry, and fear.

Anxiety and worry are born out of fear. Fear looks at our circumstances and predicts the worst outcomes.

Many of us struggle with fear. It’s a significant tool the enemy uses to derail the work of God in our lives, because when we embrace fear, we begin to reject faith.

Faith always looks at the evidence in our current circumstance and responds with a resilient belief that “God can.”

Faith is described to us in the Scriptures as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

A grateful heart looks at our current circumstances, and when there is room for doubt, it instead chooses thankfulness.

Thankfulness reminds us of something that’s important: We’ve needed God before, and He showed up in a powerful way to take care of us.

That redirection erodes anxiety, worry, and fear’s capacity to grow in our hearts.

#3 – A grateful heart opens us to richer relationship with Jesus.

Imagine giving your kids amazing gifts day after day, and the imagine that they NEVER said “Thank You” or expressed any sort of gratitude.

What would that do your connection with them?

Now imagine that your kids looked for ways to say “Thank You” and express gratitude for EVERYTHING you do for them, every day, in every way possible…

Would that change things in your relationship with them?

A grateful heart reorients us to Jesus, and allows us to be more focused on what He is doing in our lives.

When that happens, everything changes!

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What needs to change for you to live with a more grateful heart?

Loved How We Need To Be Loved

Loved How We Need To Be Loved

A vast research project from the University of North Carolina studied how we, as American culture, view God. Christian Smith, a Sociology Professor at UNC, determined that the most common understanding of God in America aligns to these statements:

  1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  3. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.

Dr. Smith summed up this perception with this statement:
For most of America, we view God as a “Divine Butler”… someone to come and help us when we need Him, but not too involved in our lives.

There’s one huge problem with all of that…
That’s not how it works.
We’re not in charge. (and I’m thankful for that!)

The greatest problem with that perception of God is that we expect God to love us how we WANT to be loved.

That’s not how love works.

Love isn’t about what we want. Love thrives in what we need.
Love isn’t about me. Love is all about someone else.
Love isn’t about my needs. Love meets somebody else’s needs.

Why do we make love about us? It cannot work that way. It will only fail.

The same application needs to be made to how we understand God’s love.

God does not love us how we want to be loved.
God loves us how we need to be loved.

At times, what we need is not comfortable, and I’m afraid that many of us spend way too much time running from God’s loving invitations.

You know that your kids need to eat their vegetables. They’d rather eat candy. You love them, so you force them to eat their green beans and broccoli.

You want to live a comfortable life.
God wants you to live a meaningful life.
So… God convicts you and invites you to change your direction.

Even though its uncomfortable, He convicts you because He loves you!

I’m thankful that God doesn’t love us how we want to be loved.

He loves us how we need to be loved!

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What’s something that you’ve been running from that you realize is a loving invitation from Jesus?

3 Ways To Do Facebook Right As A Married Couple

3 Ways To Do Facebook Right As A Married Couple

The data is overwhelming: Facebook is having a negative impact on marriages.

Let me be up front about this: It’s not Facebook’s fault. Facebook can be a wonderful supplement to your existing relationships. It can help you connect with people you love but don’t get to see regularly. It gives you a chance to share your life with people you don’t see or talk to regularly. When used properly, it can be valuable.

The Facebook problem is a symptom of a greater disease: we’re not doing married right.

At Vortex, we’ve spent the last few weeks examining God’s blueprint for marriage, and we’ve all been challenged, convicted, and changed by what Jesus has been teaching us. If you haven’t been with us, I encourage you to give those four talks a listen to: vortexchurch.com – blueprints audio.

A few day’s ago I shared “5 ways to do Facebook wrong”, so I thought it might be nice to follow it up by giving a few suggestions on how we can get it right…

#1 – Kill the idea of privacy.

In a healthy marriage there are no boundaries of privacy. I realize that statement flies in the face of what most of us practically want, but it’s God’s design not mine.

If you have individual accounts, your spouse should have the username and password for you account. If you’re generally posting the same things, you might want to consider having a joint account. It’s not enough to follow them, because (as with any social network) there are activities that happen out of the view of the following public.

If you have a problem with the idea that privacy needs to be killed in your marriage, reflect on this with me: As Genesis 2 closes, after God has created Adam and Eve then united them together in the covenant of marriage, the scriptures tell us this: “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:25) As the first (and prototype) married couple, they were so intimate that not even a millimeter of clothing was going to separate them.

#2 – Celebrate and honor your spouse publically.

My wife taught me this important lesson:
It’s quite nice to have flowers waiting for your wife when she gets home. It’s altogether meaningful to show up at her workplace with those flowers and honor her publicly in front of the people she spends her days with.

Facebook gives you a venue to celebrate and honor your spouse publically.

You might be thinking: “I don’t know what to celebrate. I’m really disappointed in my spouse right now.”

Let me suggest that honor works a lot like the cork-in-the-bucket principle. Honor your spouse, as you believe they can be, not as they are. The more you honor them, the more water goes into the bucket. The cork rises to level of water. In the same way, our character often elevates to the level that we’re honored.

#3 – Create technology-free times & zones.

Here are three times you don’t need your phones (or Facebook):

  1. When you get home from work.
    Make the choice to put the phone down and have a conversation regularly when you arrive home. Taking fifteen minutes to communicate will set your evenings up for success.
  2. When you go to bed.
    This is a struggle for most of us, but studies show that exposure to the brightness of the screens actually hurts your sleep. This is again one of those important moments where conversation is unexpected and needed. The absence of distractions could also benefit your intimacy.
  3. When you’re on a date.
    My wife and I have had a rule: When we go into a restaurant to eat dinner together on a date, the phone’s stay in the car. Dating is all about facilitating intimacy, and intimacy is bred in conversation. Don’t rob yourselves of that.

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What did I miss? What’s helped you do Facebook more successfully as a married couple? Leave a comment and share it with us!

5 Ways To Do Facebook Wrong As A Married Couple

5 Ways To Do Facebook Wrong As A Married Couple

Facebook is a wonderful thing. That is, until it’s not.

The purpose of social networks is simple: to connect people to other people. Social networks weren’t necessarily intended to create relationships, but were designed support the relationships we already have. Facebook is great at helping you find that long lost friend from high school or that friend you played sports with growing up.

If you’re married, the way you relate to people other than your spouse is vitally important to your marriage. In 2011, one study showed that Facebook was named in ONE THIRD of divorce filings. That simply means that many of us are doing Facebook wrong.

If you’d like to do Facebook wrong too, here are five suggestions:

#1 – Check Facebook while you’re spending time together.

There’s nothing that says, “You’re valuable to me” like keeping your head down and staring at your phone. So… Take your phones to bed. Take them on dates. When your spouse tries to talk to you, just politely nod your head and ignore them. After all, you’ll post a picture of your meal with the hashtag #datenight, right?

#2 – Seek emotional support from your online community first.

You had a bad day? Tell Facebook first. You need some prayers? Ask Facebook first. Let your spouse learn about what’s happening with you by reading your posts like everyone else does on Facebook.

#3 – Shine a spotlight on your spouse’s failures.

Nothing says, “I love and honor you” like airing your dirty laundry publically!

Everyone makes mistakes, right? So when your spouse blows it, why not make it public knowledge by sharing it with your 734 friends on Facebook? Engage in an ongoing conversation with sympathizers about your plight, and make sure to tag your spouse so they can follow along!

Think about it, if you’ll tell Facebook that, what are you telling your friends at work?

#4 – Create posts to get the kind of attention your spouse should be giving you.

Everyone loves the “feel sorry for me” posts, right? Here’s an example: “I’ve had a bad day and no one seems to care.” That’ll get you attention and let everyone else know your spouse isn’t paying you the attention you deserve!

If that doesn’t work, you can go for the “I’m unappreciated” post. Here’s an example: “I cook and clean and take care of the kids. Don’t I deserve a ‘thank you’?” I’m sure you’re friends will give you a thank you!

Or… if you’re not feeling very attractive, post a picture that you feel makes you look good. If you’re a guy, go shirtless (if you can). If you’re a girl, a good #TBT to a beach picture where you’re in some swimwear should do. Then let your friends remind you that you are attractive!

#5 – Flirt with somebody.

Find an old fling, then like or comment on everything they post on Facebook. You could mention friends from work in your posts, tell how funny they are, or share how they’re so emotionally supportive. When someone you find attractive seems down or hits a rough spot, send them a polite little ‘pick me up’ message to remind them you care!

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I hope you’re not doing Facebook wrong, but many of us are. Getting it wrong is having a seriously negative impact on many marriages.

Getting Facebook wrong isn’t a disease; it’s a symptom of a greater problem. That disease is a lack of honor in our marriages.

Wives, honor your husbands as the person you want him to be, not as the person he is. You’ll see him in his most fragile and vulnerable state, and your response to that will play a huge role in your relationship. Honor nourishes that character of a man. As you honor him, watch him grown.

Husbands honor and protect your wives. Don’t humiliate them because of the failures. Don’t act in a way that makes her feel less important. Guard her heart and position in your life.

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What did I miss? How else can we get Facebook wrong?

Freaky Family – Part 2

Freaky Family – Part 2

Normal isn’t working, especially in our families.

Think about it… What’s normal look like in our families?

  • Disconnected: Parents and kids don’t talk, don’t share, and don’t have relationships and are living alone under the same roof.
  • Overcommitted: Kids have two-hours of practice and three hours of homework and parents are exhausted just trying to keep up.
  • Debt: Kids playing with (and breaking) expensive toys that parents paid too much for on a credit card that will continue to be a financial burden for months to come.
  • Unloved: With increasing commitments, overwhelming stress, and vast distractions our kids are leaving the home to look for love and finding it in places we don’t want them to.

Do you want a normal family? I don’t.

In my last blog I shared ways that every family needs to be different. I’m convinced the six things I shared are absolutely necessary for every family.

Here’s the tension about being different:
When the Holy Spirit leads us there is no cookie cutter kind of different.

Today I’m going to share some topics every family needs to thoughtfully and prayerfully approach, because without a plan we’ll live outside of God’s design in the default of normal.

Prayerfully consider how your family will approach these topics:

#1 – TECHNOLOGY

There’s no simple answer to technology these days.

For parents just a generation ago the question pf technology was answered as simply as “How many hours of TV will you let them watch each day?”

These days we need to consider television, tablets, laptops, phones, internet access, social networks, and how they all work together.

Here are few questions you need to have answers for:

  • At what age will your kids be allowed to own certain kinds of technology like tablets or laptops?
  • How and when will they be able to use them once they have them?
  • Will you restrict their internet access with a filter? Will you record their internet activities with a monitor?
  • How old will your kids be when they get a cell phone?
  • When will you let your kids have social network profiles? How are you going to monitor them?
  • Will you have technology-free nights as a family to encourage more interaction?

These are important questions to answer NOW.

In the heat of the moment, as your kids grow older and normal families do what normal families do, the pressure will mount to be normal when there is no family identity that’s created around a different plan.

If you haven’t identified your unique brand of freaky, you’re kids and your family could become victims to normal.

I learned this lesson coaching football. Before the season starts, a good football-coaching staff will go through different scenarios and decide what they will do when they get to that moment. They do this so they can look at the problem objectively, without the stress and influence of the moment. The benefit of this approach is simple: when decision has to be made, the decision has already been made.

Technology isn’t evil and it can be a powerful tool, but when it thoughtlessly consumed it has a devastating effect on family culture. Your prayerful approach to technology will have a powerful impact on your family.

For further reading, I’d suggest “Alone Together” by Sherry Trukle.

#2 – MONEY

You don’t have to look very far to see the evidence that we’re raising kids that have no concept of money or financial management.

The greatest reason this is happening is that we, as parents, can’t manage our money. We’re living beyond our means, buying stuff we don’t need to impress people we don’t even like, and going in debt at an unprecedented rate.

Why is that an important issue? Because however we address money, we pass that on to our children!

“Good people leave an inheritance to their grandchildren, but the sinner’s wealth passes to the godly.” Proverbs 13:22 (NLT)

Here are a few questions that it’d be good to talk about and pray through:

  • As a family, will you give your kids an allowance or have them work for you on commission?
  • Will you help your kids save for their first car or will you buy it for them as a present?
  • Are you going teach your kids to give and save before they spend?
  • How are you going to help your kids understand and feel the dollar value associated with their purchases?

I hope you’re with me on this… I don’t want what’s normal for my kids financially. Since we don’t want normal, we’re going to have to be different, and that different is going to be far better!

For further help on this matter we suggest, “Smart Money, Smart Kids” by Rachel Cruze and Dave Ramsey.

#3 – EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

I believe that there is great value in the immense offerings of extracurricular activities today: youth sports, martial arts, competition cheer, dance, music lessons, gymnastics, art lessons, and the list goes on and on.

As a kid I feel like I benefitted from the competition of youth sports. I learned how to win and lose, how to work for something, and that it’s ok for other people to be better than me at things. Those are powerful lessons!

What’s changed drastically since I was kid is the amount of time needed for these activities. What was one practice and one game a week has turned into three or four practices and two or three games a week. That’s a significant change in the level of commitment for our time!

Here’s something that you need to understand about the emergence of all these options: someone is making money off of providing these options for your child. These organizations will put the pressure on you to make decisions for your child and their level of commitment.

Let me remind you of something:
As a parent, no one can commit your family to something except you.

Even with their increasing commitment, I think that many of these options can be wonderful things for our kids.

Here are few questions you need to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider:

  • How much time are you willing to give for each child for an extracurricular activity?
  • How many nights will you commit to be home each week?
  • How many activities can each child be involved in? During each season? During the year?
  • How much money are you going to invest as a family into these activities?
  • How are you going to balance your other commitments and your commitment to these activities?
  • When there’s a conflict between your commitments, what takes priority?

Here’s why these questions matter significantly:
You’re teaching your children what matters in life in the way you navigate these options. The way you spend your time is a value statement to your children.

If you give their secondary activities primary importance, you’re teaching them to find value in the wrong places. That’s normal, and we don’t want to be normal!

Eternally… If we don’t teach our kids to find their ultimate meaning and significance in Jesus, we’ve missed the point entirely.

For further reading, we’d suggest “Boundaries” buy Cloud & Townsend.

#4 – CULTURE

There’s never been more ways to connect to culture.

We can watch TV shows on Netflix and Hulu. Listen to albums on Spotify or download them from iTunes. We can stream movies over the internet.

With all of that access comes the good and the bad. The freedom of the internet has given a rise to a remarkable amount of uncensored media, and the dangers that lie there for our kids cannot be understated.

There are few things questions that find more basis in the Scriptures than how we interact with our culture.

In the Old Testament, God created a different culture in the nation of Israel. They stood out. They were different. They had different customs, and through that difference God created their identity.

By the time Jesus shows us, that difference is primarily defined by distance: the God-followers stayed away from those who didn’t follow the religious laws. That wasn’t necessarily how God wanted it to be, so Jesus showed us a different way.

Those “God-followers” called Jesus a “friend of sinners”, because Jesus closed that gap and lived with those who were far away from God. (Matthew 11:19)

Here are a few questions to prayerfully consider when it comes to media and culture:

  • Will you watch movies with your kids or let them watch movies for themselves?
  • What kinds of ratings will you let them watch? At what age?
  • Will you have conversations about what they watch and listen to?
  • How are you going to stay connected with the music they listen to?
  • Are you going to stay away from mainstream culture as a family or are you going to be a part of mainstream culture?

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These conversations are going to make a huge impact at creating a family identity, and where that identity is strong your kids will be strong.

What did I miss? What else do we need to talking about?

Freaky Family – Part 1

Freaky Family – Part 1

Perhaps you’ve noticed… Normal is not working.

For the last few weeks at Vortex we’ve been focusing on the kind of different God wants us to be. Since normal is not working, we need to be “FREAKY”.

In my last talk I shared this quote:
“Where family identity is strong, peer pressure will be weak, but where family identity is weak, peer pressure will be strong.” – Greg Gunn

Our families are ground zero for teaching our kids that different is not just ok, when the Spirit of God leads it, different is BETTER!

This week I promised to share two blogs with you. The first (this one) is going to cover the ways that every family needs to be freaky. The second (coming on Thursday) is going to share with you a few things each family needs to pray through to consider.

There are certain things EVERY FAMILY needs to do different. We need to create a culture in our families that shifts from what the rest of the world has. We don’t want normal for our kids, so let’s create a family culture that’s different. That difference is going to provide them the basis to resist peer pressure. It’s important!

Here’s how every FREAKY FAMILY needs to do different:

  1. Your family needs to make serving God a priority.

For most families, serving God is an abstract idea. You might say things to your kids like “You need to keep God first”, but how do you practically show them how to do that? You do that by first serving God yourself, and then by getting them to serve along with you. One of the most common factors in teenagers translating into church-attending young adults is the fact that they served in the church as a teenager.

Parents, make sure your kids know that serving in church is a priority. It’s actively demonstrating that you are participating in God’s mission. You’re committed to doing something to help others. When it’s time, get them involved with you. You’ll find that serving provides a real connection God’s mission for your family!

  1. Your family needs to make conversation a regular part of living together.

The greatest tools that you have to influence your kids are your time and your words. Your words will not matter if you don’t give your children your time, so make sure that you’re devoted to giving them regular blocks of time.

Deuteronomy 6:7 gives us several windows of time to capitalize on conversation: bedtime, dinners together, and travel time. It’s important to figure out for your family when you’re going to focus on each other and as a parent you need to force conversations.

Conversation is vitally important today, because with the emergence of such a technologically rich culture we’re seeing young people that have such a hard time conversing with others. Lead them at home to understand the importance of talking to one another.

  1. Your family needs to make giving a priority.

Giving is the antidote to materialism and selfishness. I don’t know if your kids are like ours, but I’ve never had to teach my kids the word “mine”.

The world we live in is much more concerned about acquisition than it is giving. The more we have, the better we think our lives could be. However, many of us find that way of living to be broken and unsatisfying. There is no satisfaction in the pursuit of material wealth.

Jesus warned us: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

There are two ways we need to make giving a priority. The first is that our kids need to know that we, as a family, are giving to God. They need to see you buy groceries and clothes to appreciate how much they cost, but they also need to know you’re giving. The second way we do this is by teaching them to give from the money they get in life.

Giving will fight against the normal materialistic desires most of us live with!

  1. Your family needs to make church an important part of your week.

We all need to be taught and instructed. We all need to be convicted and respond to God work in our lives with repentance and restoration. We all need a Pastor and a church family. That’s for you as a parent and for your kids as well.

Your kids need to see that you have been convicted and they need to hear you repent. They need to see that you experience truth and do the work to apply it to your life as well. Your kids need to know that you find value in the relationships that your church has leveraged for you.

You kids need to see that because they will need that in life as well.

  1. Your family needs to make the Scriptures a regular part of our interactions.

What do you tell your kids when they’re afraid, when their hearts are broken, when they’re unsure about the future, or when they’re doubting themselves? Most of us provide our opinions. We tell them we love them, and that it’s all going to be ok.

What if we learned to make the Bible a part of those important conversations? 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

If we’re going to raise kids that run to God first, who seek His opinion above all others, we need to make the Scriptures a central part of our conversations at home!

  1. Your family needs to pray together.

There are coming moments that don’t make sense, moments that will be difficult, painful, and confusing. If we have not created a family culture to turn to Jesus, where will we turn when those moments come?

Your family needs to pray together regularly. You need to pray to Jesus to thank Him during the great times. You need to praise Him during the victories. You also need to pray during the difficult times. You need to seek His guidance together. You need to ask Him to heal you when you’re wounded. You need to worship Him even when life doesn’t make sense.

A family culture that turns to Jesus first one that’s powerfully different.

We need to embrace different at home, because normal just isn’t working. The difference between our family culture and the world will not be a liability for our kids; it will be an powerful asset. Truthfully, these differences may be the few things that provide the kind of platform for our kids to be those that stand up and chase Jesus relentlessly.

On Thursday I’m going to share a blog that will give you a few things to consider doing differently within your family. These won’t be for every family, but they will be for some! Check back for it on Thursday!

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What did I miss? How should every other family be freaky?

It All Starts Right Now

It All Starts Right Now

Too often we define our lives through big moments.

When we define our lives through big moments, our lives look a lot like this:

  • I’m a follower of a Jesus.
  • I’m married to Amanda.
  • I’m Adahlae and Klayton’s dad.
  • I graduated from South Stanly High School and Lee University.
  • I’m the Lead Pastor at Vortex Church in Albemarle, NC.

The problem with that sort of perspective is that big moments are one of two things: either the culmination of a journey or the start of a new one.

I’m pretty sure that we think about our legacy a lot like we think about life: we think our legacy will be found in the big moments.

That’s not true.

I have a friend who, as a single mom of four, worked two jobs for four years to put herself through college so that she could open the door to a better life for her little family.

Her graduation was a big moment. It was not her legacy, though.

For four years her kids saw her make sacrifices, stay up late to study just to get up early with them, learn to say ‘no’ to unnecessary expenses, work hard at her jobs just to come home and work harder, and simply pour her life out for them.

That was her legacy. What a profound legacy to give a child.

You see… we’re building our legacy right now.

Moments add up to become monuments. Life happens in the moment, and it’s in those moments that our legacy is forged.

So, what are you doing with right now?

It’s an important question to ask, because what you’re doing right now is something quite special: it’s called life. Life is active; it’s the culmination of the choices that you’re making. Let’s be honest about it too… we don’t want a life that’s just Netflix and naps. We want a life that’s significant, one that makes a difference.

Whatever you spend your time on, is what you’re buying to make a life with, and your life is being spent to purchase your legacy.

As the Apostle Paul approached the end of his life, these words expressed his understanding the life he had lived was turning into a legacy…

“I am already being poured out like a offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8

It’s my hope that through Jesus, we’ll all live lives that purchase that kind of legacy.

It all starts right now…

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What’s the legacy your life is purchasing now? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

What I Learned When My Wife Was Pregnant

What I Learned When My Wife Was Pregnant

One, primary lesson in dealing with pregnant women, as a man, is to never tell them, “I know what you’re going through.”

You can’t compare the experience of having a child grow inside you to having a kidney stone, having surgery, or even having ate too much. A pregnant woman won’t have anything of the sorts.

If you attempt such comparisons, you’re likely to suffer the wrath of a woman unlike you have ever suffered before. And for good reasons. What we experience as men, even in ‘similar’ conditions, is nothing like the experience pregnancy provides.

With that risk in play, I would like to share one thing I learned from my wife during her pregnancies:
Growth is uncomfortable.

From my perspective, I’ve never seen my wife happier than when she found out she was pregnant. Those two moments were packed with love and joy and faith and the satisfaction of a promise fulfilled.

But then the baby started to grow.

And as much as she was already in love with our children, the discomfort was evident.

There’s two places that I see this truth emerging right now:

1. In Our Personal Stories.

We all have one common desire: to be comfortable. We want to comfortable in our relationships, in our careers, and in our finances.

“Comfortable” rarely produces the kind of life that we find satisfying. Life requires tension, because all good stories have great conflict.

I’m pretty sure that most of us avoid responding to Jesus because it’s going to be uncomfortable. But… Growth is uncomfortable.

2. In Our Church

We’ve been here before, and by God’s grace we’re there again. Our church is growing, and as it grows it’s going to be challenging.

Growth produces change.

And let me be honest about this… we want to grow!

Here’s a few quick reasons why we want to grow:

  1. God’s given us a message of faith, hope, and love that we want to share with as many people as possible.
  2. As long as there is one more hurting family, one more lost family in our city, our church is not big enough.
  3. We want to invite people that are far away from God to join us on a life-giving journey to be changed by this message.

But change is uncomfortable.

That means that over the next season, as our church continues to grow, you can expect things to become less comfortable.

The first way this will happen is what we call “overlap”. It’s where events happen at the same time, on the same day, or on the same weekend. If you’re the family that’s been attending every event, it’s going to require some adjustment. That change is going to be uncomfortable.

The second thing that will happen is our church is going to become less “personal”. As of October we’re averaging around 250 people in attendance each Sunday. That means no matter how involved you, we are all becoming a smaller percentage of the whole.

I had an incredible moment yesterday: I saw someone at the grocery store wearing one of our church’s T-Shirts and I had no idea who they were! That’s amazing! I love that our churches reach is getting that wide!

So… what do you do when it gets uncomfortable?

I think we could all take a lesson from my wife during her pregnancy: Don’t complain, allow the discomfort to point you to the promise, and trust Jesus with it all.

You can, even in the middle of discomfort, enjoy the journey!

Healing

Healing

Let me simply say a few foundation thoughts that should frame how we think about everything:

  • If the Bible says it, then we believe it.
  • If the Scriptures tell us is good, then we accept that it’s good.
  • If the Word of God tells us that God wants something for us, then we should desire those things for ourselves.

If those statements become foundational for you, you’re going to embrace a God that is a lot bigger than you, a God who doesn’t always make sense or seem very logical. That’s a wonderful embrace, because who wants to follow a God that’s only as smart as we are?

We spent a few weeks as a church examining the benefits of a relationship with Jesus. The words that we examined were written by King David, a man who knew first-hand the benefits of a friendship with Jesus.

In Psalm 103, David writes a note to himself so that he would not forget all of these benefits. He then lists them out. He speaks of God’s forgiveness, redemption, crowning, and satisfaction.

In the third verse of that Psalm, David writes, “(Forget not all his benefits) who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases”.

Heals all your diseases? That’s a pretty bold statement.

It’s not just an idea, either. Sickness robs us. It’s robbed some of us of our health, our youth, and too many of us our loved ones.

Health, sickness, and healing are really personal issues.

For many of us, we read that statement and ask, “If God really heals ALL our diseases, then why did my (wife, brother, grandparent, etc.) die?”

That’s a significant question.

Throughout the Scriptures there is a connection to God’s healing and forgiveness. Isaiah 33:24 says, “No one living in Zion will say, “I am ill”; and the sins of those who dwell there will be forgiven.” 1 Peter 2:24 says, “’He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”

As most often is the case, this connection is best explained when we look more closely at Jesus…

In Luke 5, Jesus heals a paralyzed man. Now, most of us read these passages like we’re watching movies. We think, ‘Of coarse Jesus healed a paralyzed man; He’s Jesus!’ But… think about what we know about paralysis. This man had something significant going on in his nervous system: an infection, an injury, or a chronic condition. In the middle of the trauma, his friends brought him to Jesus.

When the paralyzed man is laid in front of Him, Jesus first tells him “Your sins are forgiven.” (v.20)

This statement causes quite a commotion, because (as the Pharisees asked) “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (v.21)

Here’s what happens next (from verses 22-25):
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.”

Jesus is pointing out something that’s remarkably important:
God isn’t waiting for us in eternity; He wants to be a part of lives now.

Sin is a spiritual sickness, and that is an eternal issue.

Physical sickness is a present issue..

If we’re going to trust Jesus with eternity, we need to trust Him with the present.

Here are five important thoughts on the benefit of healing:

  1. Healing was paid for by Jesus and cannot be earned through good deeds or through simply believing with great faith. (ref. Isaiah 53:5)
  2. Since we cannot earn it, God chooses to heal us through Grace. Grace is how God restores us from both our sinfulness and sickness.
  3. God will never punish you for your sins by making you sick. He’s already poured out the complete punishment for your sins onto His son Jesus. (ref. Isaiah 53:6)
  4. Healing is not just for physical sickness. It’s also for our hearts and souls. Restoration to wholeness from brokenness is always a gift from Jesus.
  5. This world, including every natural thing, was shattered by sin. The only way we’ll receive complete and total restoration is through the eternal redemption that is offered to us through Jesus. While death looks a lot like a final defeat, as believers in Jesus we see it as a great victory. (ref. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

The same God who forgives our sins also wants to heal our diseases (ref. Psalm 103:3).

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How do you need to experience God’s healing?

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