Archives: Vortex

Three Ways To Listen To Our Sermons

Three Ways To Listen To Our Sermons

One of the most common questions I get is:
“How can I listen to the message from this Sunday? We’re going to be out of town, and I don’t want to miss out on it!”

That’s a huge compliment.

We work hard each week to prepare messages that we think will be life-giving, meaningful, and relevant to your life right now. The fact that so many of you connect to them is a powerful testimony to what Jesus is doing in our church!

By Tuesday morning, we’ll have the message from that Sunday posted online.

Each week we provide several ways for you to connect to the messages we’re sharing on Sunday (or reconnect if you were with us).

Here’s how you can listen:

#1 – Access past messages through the Vortex Church app on your iOS phone or tablet, Android phone or tablet, Windows phone, or Amazon Fire.

The Vortex App is the best way to find our most recent messages, consolidated into one, convenient place. Once the app loads, it’ll load directly to the “sermons” tab.

The great thing about the Vortex App is that you can watch our latest videos, my blogs, and check out for upcoming events all in one place.

To get the Vortex Church App, visit: http://get.theapp.co/0230

NOTE: Make sure you enable “Push Notifications” so that we can send you important updates. We did this during the ice storm this past weekend and it was very helpful.

#2 – Subscribe to our Podcast.

Our podcast is going to become an interesting way for you to interact with the messages, because we’ll be providing exclusive content on it.

We’re planning to do some Q&A and sermon follow-ups posted mid-week that will only be available on our podcast!

There are THREE ways to subscribe to our podcast:

  • iTunes: If you’re an iPhone, iPad, or just iTunes user, you can find our podcast in the Apple Store by searching “Vortex Church Sermon Audio” and selecting “subscribe”.
  • Stitcher: Stitcher has become a popular podcast app, and you can access our podcast through Stitcher now. Again, just search “Vortex Church Sermon Audio” and subscribe.
  • Podbean: Podbean is an industry standard host for podcasts, and we recently relocated our podcast over to them. You can find us on podbean at: http://vortexchurch.podbean.com – just select the “follow” button!

#3 – Listen directly from our website.

Our website has been a constant source of information for our church, and we’re thankful that many of you visit it frequently.

To find the catalogue of our sermons, starting with the newest and working it’s way backwards, visit: http://vortexchurch.com/sermons/.

From the website you can stream the audio, download the messages, and often download the notes as well.

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Is there any other way that we could make the sermon audio more accessible for you? If so, tell me in the comments and we’ll work on that for you!

The Most Toxic Thing We Put In Our Mouths

The Most Toxic Thing We Put In Our Mouths

I read an article this week that stated drinking one can of soda a day can have the same aging affect on our body as smoking cigarettes.

It seems we’re always talking about that: what we’re putting in our mouths.

I feel sorry for eggs. Every other year eggs are bad for you. Then they’re good. Then they’re bad again.

We can never make up our minds about eggs.

Eggs are like that really annoying friend that will always come over and help you when you need it, but you never really want to call them because of how annoying they are. Eggs just leave us conflicted.

What’s in our mouths is important, because there’s no denying that our mouths are a gateway into our lives.

With all of effort to understand what’s healthy and what’s not, I’m afraid we’ve overlooked the most toxic thing in our mouths: complaining.

It doesn’t take much of a Bible scholar to know that the Scriptures are pretty clear about complaining:
Do EVERYTHING without COMPLAINING and arguing.” Philippians 2:14 (NLT)

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even need to look up the meaning to “everything” to understand that verse.

But we do it. We complain. Incessantly.

We complain about the weather.

We complain about the service and the food at restaurants.

We complain about the President and our government.

We complain about ourselves.

We complain…

Complaining is toxic. I really think it’s worse that drinking a coke. It will eat you alive on the inside, and you’ll never see it’s side effects coming.

Here are three toxic side effects to complaining:

#1 – Complaining Elevates Your Opinion Over The Truth.

You know what they say about opinions? Everyone has them. You included.

Sometimes your opinions might be right, but if you’re like me – they’re often selfish and just plain wrong.

Here’s a great example of how this works…

Around here we typically experience dry summers. I’ve often heard folks suggest during those dry summers, “It’s so dry. I like these sunny days, but we really need some rain. Why won’t it just rain?”

The Scriptures tell us, “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs” in Philippians 4:19.

If the Bible says it, it’s TRUE.

So, if we needed rain (emphasis on NEED), God would give it to us.

The statement “We need rain” is just an opinion, and it disregards the TRUTH that God will provide for us everything that we need. When we allow our opinions about what we “need” to drive our thoughts and conversations, we’re complaining.

Every time we complain, we’re elevating our opinions over the truth.

#2 – Complaining Keeps You From Enjoying What You Have Right Now

Complaining is always born out of the moment.

Things aren’t right. I know it. It should be better. I deserve better!

At least… that’s what we think.

The problem with complaining is that you’re left in the moment, thinking about how that moment should be different, and missing out on what that moment really is leveraging for your life.

Use the same illustration above about weather…

If you’re complaining about the lack of rain, there’s no way to fully enjoy the sunshine.

More importantly… If you’re complaining about how dry it is, there’s no way to thank God for a sunny day!

Our lives should be constantly reflecting on the goodness that God has blessed us with right now, and complaining robs us of that!

#3 – Complaining Infects Your Heart

There’s a deep connection between the quality of our lives and what is going on in our hearts.

Jesus said, “The words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you.” (Matthew 15:18 – NLT)

Complaining is toxic and infects us with a negative, self-centered worldview.

Think about this: How did God punished the nation of Israel for complaining after He delivered them from Egypt and positioned them to take the promise land? He forced them to wander around in the desert until everyone that complained died off!

That’s pretty serious, folks!

If we’re going to be the life-giving church God wants us to be, we’re going to have to carefully guard our hearts and mouths.

Here’s two things to do combat complaining:

#1 – Intentionally Focus On What You Have Right Now.

It’s likely that you’re overlooking a lot you have to be thankful for. Set your opinions aside and embrace the moment that Jesus has given you. Choose to be thankful.

#2 – Address The Condition Of Your Heart First.

If you’re habitually complaining, the problem starts in your heart. So simply trying to stop complaining won’t work. Look into your heart, ask Jesus to show you what’s wrong, confess the sin, ask forgiveness where there needs to be healing, and let Him heal your heart!

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Are you struggling with complaining? How have you noticed it affecting your life? What do you need to change to protect your heart and your life from the toxic effects of complaining?

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?

You Can’t Take It With You

I read a story on Bill Gate’s management style several years ago. Apparently his employees measured how good their product or performance reviews went based on how many times he said the F-Bomb.

Anything under 20 was a good review.

Studying Bill Gates early days a Microsoft informs you that he was very driven, rarely satisfied, and highly demanding. You might say that he still is.

These days Bill’s driven by a different dream: to give generously and make a difference in this world.

Along with his wife, Gloria, they established the Bill Gates Foundation in the late 90s, an organization dedicated to giving away billions of dollars to make a difference globally.

In a recent interview, the Gates shared a lot about their endeavors to give away their money and make a difference.

Here’s a few things I noticed….

#1 – They’re not going to leave their kids a lot of money. 

Based on studies that show giving kids a rich inheritance is quite unhealthy for them, the Gates have made the decision to give their children “the freedom to do whatever they feel led to do, but with the knowledge that their work is necessary for society and themselves.”

#2 – They’ve committed to give away 95% of their wealth before they die. 

This is staggering, considering that Bill Gates is worth 76 billion dollars. That’s an awful lot of money to be given away, and a huge opportunity to do good.

You might think… “Hey, I’d give that much money away if I was that rich.” That’s not always true. Even those with limited incomes can be extremely generous.

Generosity only exists when it’s a priority.

#3 – Giving has changed their lives. 

Bill Gates says in this interview: “Giving away our wealth is the most satisfying thing we’ve ever done.” That’s coming from a man who invented the personal computer, pioneered the software development that made computers central to business, and is one of the richest men in the world.

God’s plan is that we give sacrificially, generously, and joyfully.

God doesn’t want that from you. He wants it FOR YOU, because it will change your life!

Here’s the video of the interview with the Gates: 

This Summer Could Be…

ThisSummerCouldBe

Public schools in America give us a beautiful gift around this time of year: summer.

Summer translates into many different words for us all: words like beach, pool, relaxation, family trips, BBQs, and vacation just to name a few. In the middle of all those, it’s easy to miss the most important word that summer should translate into: FAMILY.

While summer is one of the few seasons that we have to be very focused on our family, we all too often miss the opportunity because we’re too concerned about our own needs.

For family to work well it requires our priority to be shifted from me to we.

This summer could be vitally important to your family…

  • This could be the summer God impresses upon your child that their identity is wholly rooted in Jesus.
  • This could be the summer that your marriage regains it’s past passion.
  • This could be the summer that the whole trajectory of your family is altered for generations.

How can you make this summer matter?

The answer is simple… MAKE JESUS A CENTRAL PRIORITY!

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Here are three moments that God instructs us to capture and use to infuse the love of Jesus into our family life:

  1. DOWN TIME (“when you sit at home”) – Your children are never going to be comfortable at rest, which they need, if they don’t see you model it. Sitting down together and talking should be a regular part of your family’s rhythm. My family did this over dinner every day growing up. Our family does this after dinner now. Find a time and make it routine.
  2. TRAVEL TIME (“when you walk along the road”) – If you’re going on a vacation or just taking them to ball practice, there’s travel time this summer. Put the DVD players away, sequester the cell phones, and have a conversation while you travel. Spending 4 hours in a car together? Sounds like a great time for a family devotion to me!
  3. BED TIME (“when you lie down”) – I have a friend who’s children are now grown and very successful. I asked him what he did that I could replicate as a parent. He told me that every night he’d give his children the ability to stay up as late as they wanted with one rule… once it was bed time, they had to be in bed and talking to him. He said they’d ask him questions about Jesus and life while “they thought they were just delaying their bed time, but they were really giving me a chance to disciple them and shape their future.”

This could be the summer God moves in your family. You don’t want to miss that!

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Our friends at the Village Church in Texas produced a guide for their families this summer full of a ton of ideas to capture this summer for your family.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD:
Village Church Summer Family Activity Book

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What other ideas do you have to make Jesus the central figure in your summer?

4 Things To Expect As We Go To Multiple Services

Multiple_Services

This Sunday we’re transitioning from ONE service to MULTIPLE SERVICES at Vortex!

We desperately need to increase our capacity to reach more people, so this is just us trying to be faithful to what God is doing in our church.

We want to reach more people, because we believe that there are more people who DESPERATELY NEED to be touched by the powerful, life-giving message of Jesus.

I wanted to share a few things to expect as our services change…

1. Services will not be as long.

We’ve targeted our services up to this point to be about 75 minutes, but now we’ll be shortening them by about 10 minutes to help with the turn-around between two services.

2. We’re tweaking the order of service to make sure the important things stay a priority.

We’ve always done an opening song followed by a small welcome from one of our Pastors. That’s going to change. Now, one of our Pastors will be on stage a few minutes before the service starts to welcome you

Once we start service we’re jumping right into worship. This is actually going to result in a slightly longer time of worship (moving from 15 minutes to about 20 minutes). So, if you’re the person that LOVES worship, get there on time!

3. The sermons will be slightly shorter.

Many of you don’t understand the work that goes into our sermon preparation throughout the week. We rehearse and time our messages so that we can be prepared for Sundays. Typically we’ve tried to craft messages to be around 35 minutes, but we’ll be taking about 5 minutes out of that.

You might be thinking… “Hey, that five minutes is important!” I agree with you, so that’s why I’m going to be working hard to make sure everything God would have me to say be said each and every Sunday. It’s just going to take more time to trim it down and draft the right way to say it all.

4. You won’t see everyone every week.

This past week I asked you to indicate which service you’d be attending on Connection Cards, and the crowd split right down the middle. And… That’s a healthy thing!

If visiting with your church family is a priority for you…

  • If you attend the 9am service, make plans to stay a little later and visit with your friends as they arrive for the next service.
  • If you attend the 10:30am service, get there a little early and greet your friends as the exit the earlier service.
  • We’ll have coffee service during the entire transition between services, so make the most of that time!

One last request…

Would you consider praying daily for our church as we prepare to make this change?

You matter to Jesus, and He will listen to you prayers.

Pray that God directs us, that He uses us, and that He continues to save people and reconcile them to Himself through Vortex.

Thank you so much for praying and partnering with us to see lives changed!

Moving To Two Services

NewServiceTimes_Small

I thought I’d share several reasons we’re moving to two services in a few weeks on May 4th.

#1 – We Need More Room

Each week two of the following three are near capacity: our parking lot, our kids environments, and the seating in our auditorium.

Have you ever walked into an auditorium with family of 5 and tried to find a seat when there’s barely three seats connected in the whole room? It’s awkward.

We need more room because our guests deserve to have a dream experience when they visit our church!

#2 – We Never Want To Be Afraid To Take A Risk

Well… For the right reasons.

We’re not afraid of more work. We’re not afraid of longer days. We ARE AFRAID of not reaching a family because we haven’t made room for them.

The move to two services is a risk because our crowds in each service will be smaller, but we’ve always said that we believe that we can grow bigger and smaller at the same time.

Multiple services has been a part of that plan from the beginning.

#3 – This Decision Reflects Our Values

It’s obvious when you visit Vortex that we don’t want to be the traditional country church you’d find throughout our community. They’re wonderful churches and fulfill a function in the kingdom of God, but we’re simply responding to Jesus by being ourself.

That means that we don’t have any ‘sacred cows’. We’ll move service times, rearrange leadership teams, and just generally be flexible to reach more people.

Whatever it takes. that’s what we’re going to do.

#4 – Our Church Isn’t Big Enough

As long as there are hurting people in our community that are far away from Jesus who need a loving church family, we’re not big enough.

As long as there is a single-mom who is struggling and feeling alone, we’re not big enough.

As long as there are men and women broken by sin who need to hear the hopeful and restoring message of the Gospel of Jesus, we are not big enough.

It’s not a numbers game. It’s a people thing.

That’s why we’re inviting you to join us May 4th at 9am or 10:30 as we take the next step in this really amazing journey of following Jesus!

Two Reasons To Be At Church This Sunday

Here’s two great reasons to be at Vortex this Sunday:

Forget You#1 – We’re starting a new series.
If you’ve ever felt like life was a tad empty and pointless, you might just want to be with us this Sunday. I’m sharing three things we can shift our focus from to fully embrace the kinds of life that Jesus has called us to. You don’t want to miss week one of FORGET YOU.

#2 – We’re doing a few new songs.
I don’t normally get all jacked up about some new songs, but these songs are really powerful. There’s something about truth that has embedded itself into melody that resonates inside of our souls. I’m excited for you hear them!

It’s supposed to be quite nice outside this weekend, so enjoy your baseball and softball practices, walks and play time outside, but don’t forget to make time to gather together with your church family on Sunday! See you then.

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