Archives: Vortex Church

It’s Going To Hurt (Part 1)

It’s Going To Hurt (Part 1)

I’m not a “health nut”, but I’ve learned something important about being healthy… It hurts.

Being unhealthy hurts, too.

When you plant a church, at the center of your motivation needs to be two things: God and people.

Planting always needs to be a response to a call. I’ve written about that before.

Planting also always needs to be focused on people.

I came back to our rural, Southern town to start a brand new church because I love the people of this community. I always have. This is place where people wave to you when they pass you in a car, where people pull over to honor a funeral procession, and where we still value being nice to each other. I’m so glad God has allowed us to live here.

When we started Vortex, I had no idea that our church (and me) would hurt people. I still dislike this very much. It’s been the source of much of my quiet pain and struggle for the past few years, but it is unavoidable.

Here are three ways that a church hurts people…

#1 – People are hurt by the sinfulness of others.

A church is a group of people, and any time there is a group of people there is a collection of sin.

People in church aren’t perfect; Pastors aren’t perfect.  Our imperfections aren’t often preferences. It’s often sinfulness.

One of the most important truths about sin to wrestle with is that sin impacts our relationship with God AND others. We often avoid the fact that our sins impact other people, but they do.

In our church, I’ve watched the sinfulness of one impact and hurt others. Sometimes it’s subtle, but most of the time it’s brutal.

Far too often our response is to disassociate the hurt from the people who were sinful and associate the pain to God and the promises of the Gospel. In this way, people far too often run from meaningful community after being hurt in a church.

A healthy perspective allows us to view the sinfulness of others in light of our own. We’ve hurt other people. We’ve offended them, too. We’ve needed grace and forgiveness. What we have received, we freely give.

#2 – People are hurt by the organization of the church.

The local church is an organization of people who have united around the cause of spreading the hope and love that the Gospel has brought to us.

As we leaders shape the organization of the church there will always be strengths and weaknesses to that organization.

There is no such thing as a perfect church. In our imperfections, we’ve hurt people along the way. I hate this. Of all the ways hurt creeps into a church, this is the worst. It’s also unavoidable.

There are often decisions that we make, as a team or simply as a leader, that will inevitably lead to hurting someone. Even the right decision will often hurt people.

This is why we must continually work to recenter ourselves on the two most important things in our church: Jesus and the people He has sent us to reach. We must be willing to be open and honest about our failures in repentance, and we must be willing to make adjustments when we miss the mark.

#3 – People are hurt by the Truth.

When we started Vortex, my heartfelt commitment was that if someone was going to be hurt or offended, I wanted them to be hurt by the Truth.

The wounds that come from the Truth are healthy. They allow us to face our faults and sinfulness, be healed, and move forward into new life that is only found as we are restored in Jesus.

It would be a mistake as a leader to not want this sort of pain for our people, because it is precisely this sort of thing that leads us to a progressive relationship with Jesus.

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How has pain drawn you to or pushed you away from God?

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?

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!

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.

Sometimes On Saturday Nights…

Most Saturday nights I’ll text most of our team to see if they’re prepared for Sunday and ask if I can do anything to help them out.

I also enjoy having fun with them, so sometimes I’ll make vague references to cheesy love songs from the 80’s and 90’s.

Tonight’s question was:
“Have I told you lately that I love you?” Then… I waited for their response.

After their response which was mostly something like “Yeah, man”, I shared this video with them.

I love my team, really I do, but this was just funny.

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