When Options are a Bad Thing

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Most of us love options. It makes us feel like we are in control of things and that we aren’t missing anything. This is why churches offer a ton of programs and why we love going restaurants with huge menus (think the Cheesecake factory). Studies show that, the more options you have, the less likely you are to buy. The more options a church has, the less people plug in. They don’t know what is most important and what they should give their time to.

I love the message version of James 1:5 – 8. It says: If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

That last phrase is crucial.

Many times when we pray, when we seek God’s direction, we don’t fully commit or move forward with God. We keep our options open.

We don’t fully invest in generosity, holding back just in case it rains and God doesn’t provide. We don’t fully commit to community or what He has called us to, just in case we got it wrong. This leaves us feeling in control, but it also keeps us from fully experiencing the life God has for us and has called us to.

Besides control, one of the other reasons we keep our options open in life and with God is boredom. We are creatures who fear boredom, who fear down time. Think about the last time you just sat on your couch. What do you do when life is quiet and nothing is happening? You probably grab your phone and scan twitter, Facebook, pinterest or instagram.

We train ourselves to wait to the last possible minute in life to make a commitment. We tentatively plan on being somewhere, but only if nothing better presents itself.

We keep our options open.

We do this with God. We read something in the bible, hear a sermon and see something we should change, but we wait. What if it wasn’t God speaking? What if there’s a way around this passage? I know the bible says this, but what if I do that?

All the while, we keep our options open.

We want to pray for something, like James tells us, but we don’t. A piece of us doesn’t want God to answer our prayers because that would call us to have faith, to trust, to wait on God and give up control. Instead of pushing all our chips into the corner with God, we hold on to one so we can keep our seat at the table if it doesn’t work out.

And then.

We miss out.

We go adrift. We are tossed around.

If your life feels like it is being tossed around. If you feel like you are being bounced and can barely hang on, there is a moment when you realize, you’ve kept your options open and you aren’t fully trusting God. You haven’t fully trusted His way, you’re still holding on to a piece of yours.

When that happens, James tells us that we don’t just miss out on a small part of Jesus, we miss out on the whole thing. We don’t get anything from the Master. 

We miss it all.

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Top 10 Posts for April 2014

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In case you missed them, here are the top 10 posts for the last month:

  1. Heaven is for Real
  2. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
  3. Getting Married is Easier than Staying Married
  4. Why Revolution Church Doesn’t Have a Women’s Ministry
  5. You’re One Choice Away from Wrecking Your Life
  6. Get the Men, Win the War
  7. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  8. Why You Aren’t a Leader
  9. Stop Giving Him an Out
  10. What I’ve Learned from Being Married for 10 Years
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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Weakness is the way.

What does J.I. Packer mean by “weakness”? He defines it as “a state of inadequacy, or insufficiency, in relation to some standard or ideal to which we desire to conform” (p. 49). In the case of Paul in particular, and even of Christians in general, it means a realistic acknowledgment in facing not only our fundamental human limitations (such as those we encounter in the physical, intellectual, and relational realms of life), but more importantly our sinfulness, our transgressions, and the guilt that these entail. Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians (and to us) is that the only proper response is to “look to Christ as your loving Sin-Bearer and living Lord” (p. 50). The Christian must “love Christ, in unending gratitude for his unending love to you” (p. 51) and “lean on Christ and rely on him to supply through the Holy Spirit all the strength you need for his service, no matter how weak unhappy circumstances and unfriendly people may be making you feel at present” (p. 51).

Matt Walsh on The two worst arguments against homeschooling.

Why do I even need to debunk the socialization claim? You’ve seen our society, haven’t you? You’ve interacted with people, right? Homeschooling might be increasingly popular, but the vast majority of the people you meet have been public schooled. And you’re telling me that the vast majority of the people you meet are ‘socially well adjusted’? Really?

100% of mom’s are working moms.

By discouraging women from seeing motherhood as a job, we segment our lives into our own false categories of work and non-work. We inevitably pit one against the other.

Rich Birch on 15 things you need to know about Facebook if you are a pastor.

8 things healthy couples don’t do.

It’s often harder to see the good relationships, because they aren’t out slamming doors and stomping around and airing grievances on social media.

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Easter @ Revolution Church

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If you could change one thing in your life and you knew it would work and knew it would be the right thing, what would it be?

Everybody has something they want to change, something they wish were different.

It isn’t that we can’t think of something. Our problem even isn’t a problem of desire to change.

The problem for many people is that they change the wrong thing. 

Sunday we are kicking off a brand new series on the book of Galatians called ChangeWe will be looking at Galatians 1:1 – 5 if you want to read ahead and looking at how Jesus rescues us. But to rescue us, we need to know what exactly he is rescuing us from. This is where many people run into problems: they aren’t sure they are a sinner, they aren’t sure what they would change, they aren’t sure what is broken in their life.

Here are a couple of things happening I want you to know about:

  • Paul is teaching a new song this week called Grace so GloriousThis a powerful song that fits perfectly with our theme on Sunday and this series. Listen to it here and be ready to sing this powerful song.
  • The Stations of the Cross is on Good Friday, April 18th from 6 – 7:30pm. This is a powerful night of considering the cross and what Jesus did in our place.
  • We are having a baptism on Easter Sunday. If you have not taken this important step and would like to, or if you have questions about it, you can go here.
  • Be inviting people for Easter. Shoot them a text, make a call, an email (send them this), or send them an invite on Facebook.

Lastly, we are praying that Easter will be packed. This is a good thing because that means more people hear about the saving good news of Jesus.

Because of this, we want to make room in our parking lot for them by doing a couple of things:

  1. Carpool if you can.
  2. If you volunteer and arrive early, park on the east side of the school to open up more spots in the main parking lot.
  3. You can also park on Keesal Ave., east of the school.

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

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One Thing I’m Excited about this Week

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Last week, I challenged our church to pray for 30 minutes each day this week for Revolution Church, the city of Tucson, those who will be our guests this Sunday and for other churches.

Each day, I am sending out a short email with a verse on prayer, some specific things to pray for, a list of names (we collected the names of people who don’t know Jesus who will be invited this week and are praying for openness to an invitation and the gospel), along with 2-4 prayer requests from other churches that I contacted and asked “how can we pray for you this week.”

Here are some things I learned:

  1. I don’t personally pray enough. 30 minutes a day is a long time, but I spend time in the car, working out, reading Facebook, staring off into space. I have all kinds of time to pray, I just don’t. The same is true for most Christians. We don’t pray enough, we feel guilty about it, but we aren’t sure what to do. One of our hopes with this prayer challenge is that people will begin to see how prayer changes things, how they can make prayer a bigger part of their day and have their faith expanded.
  2. Christians need to pray more specifically than they do. It is almost like we are afraid to ask God for things. We don’t pray big, audacious, impossible, specific prayers. We pray in general terms, hoping God will answer a vague prayer request and when he doesn’t, we get frustrated. We do this to protect our heart and our faith, but we sell God short.
  3. Your church will pray if you give them something to pray about. Many pastors lament that their church doesn’t pray or people don’t step up. Most of that is on the pastor and not challenging his church. We have almost 100 people praying this week, that is incredible.
  4. Pray is how God moves. If you are a pastor, you know this. Prayer is how God moves. God wants us to pray, He wants us to ask. There are verses all over the Bible, calling us to ask and ask big.

If you want to be a part of it, send an email to Ciara Hull and we’ll add you to the list.

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What You Need to Know to Make Easter Great at Revolution

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Easter is next week. Here are 10 ways you can help make it great this year at Revolution:

  1. Don’t miss Easter. Easter is April 20th, next Sunday. At Revolution, we are starting a brand new series Change on the book of Galatians. On Easter, we will be looking at how the first step to change is to be rescued from what is broken in our lives, what needs to be changed.
  2. Don’t miss Good Friday. On Good Friday we walk the stations of the cross to come face to face with the cross of Jesus and the sacrifice made to purchase our salvation and to right all the wrongs of the world.
  3. Join our prayer challenge. This year, we laid down the challenge to pray 30 minutes a day during the week of Easter. So far, 75 people have taken the challenge. If you want to join in, email Ciara Hull and we’ll send you an email each day with things to pray for Revolution, our city and other churches about.
  4. Invite someone. Stats say that most Americans would go to church if someone invited them. So, grab an invite card this Sunday, share a link on Facebook or twitter, send an email, shoot out a text, make a call, show up at their house and drag them to church or at least bribe them with lunch. Put invite them.
  5. Serve somewhere on Sunday morning. Every week, Revolution happens because everyone plays a part. As we continue to grow, this is even more important. At Revolution, there’s for everyone to play and lots of help is needed. If you aren’t sure where to serve, email Ciara Hull and we’ll get you plugged in.
  6. Pray some more. 
  7. Get baptized. What a better way to celebrate Easter than getting baptized. If you are a new follower of Jesus or have never been baptized, you can sign up here.
  8. Be friendly on Sunday morning. We will have tons of guests on Easter Sunday and many of them have had a bad church experience, are nervous, think Christians are unfriendly. Prove them wrong. Have a smile on your face. Say hi to them. If you see someone who looks lost, ask if you can help. If they don’t know where something is, show them, don’t point the way, walk them to where they need to go.
  9. Pray again. 
  10. Take time to remember, thank and worship Jesus. In the bustle of Easter, having family and friends get together, serving, praying, it is easy to forget that we celebrate and remember a Savior and King who died in our place and rose from the dead. Take time to do that this week.

Thanks to Mars Hill Church for this blog idea.

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5 Things I want Katie to Say about me After 50 Years

Sunday, Katie and I celebrated 12 years of being married. It is hard to believe that the cute girl I met on a soccer field in Toronto, Canada in 1995 is my wife. I am blessed beyond measure.

This year after preaching a lot on legacy to Revolution Church I sat down and thought through 5 things I want Katie to say about me after 50 years. One thing I am convinced of is that nothing great happens without intentionality. I’m not going to magically become a great husband or father. Our marriage isn’t going to accidentally be great.

Here’s something I want to challenge you with, which is where this came from. If you make it to 50 years of marriage, you’ll probably have a big party. It is becoming so rare to make it that long. But if you do (and I hope you do), you will probably renew your vows or say something to your spouse. What will they say to you in that moment? I thought about what I would like Katie to say to me and wrote them down.

Here they are:

  1. I’m more like Jesus because of you. According to Ephesians 5, a husband is to wash his wife in the word of God, he is to pastor her, to disciple her, to give her space to grow in her relationship with Jesus and become who God has called her to be. Many women face an up hill battle because of past hurts, past relationships, possible abuse and then as they walk into marriage with their junk, they marry a man with a ton of junk of his own. It is hard to move past this and become free. One of my prayers for Katie has been that she would be freed from anything that would hinder her. This is God’s grace in action, but it also takes work on the part of both spouses. Daily I want to encourage her to spend time with Jesus. Getting out of the house on a regular basis to sit and journal and read her bible. To have space for Jesus to shape her and work on her heart.
  2. I’ve grown in my art because of you. Katie is incredibly creative, but she is also incredibly giving and will give to others at the expense of her gifts. Two years ago, we started to change this. I signed her up for a photography class, got her a camera and then this past year, upgraded all her camera and computer equipment so she could keep growing. Too many men (and I did this for years) simply take and take from their wife and never allow her to use her gifts, develop them and use her art. I love watching her art develop and use her gifts. I joke that one day she can work and I’ll retire! Seriously, it is such a joy to watch it grow and see others find value in what she does and the eye that she has for art.
  3. We really did have good times and hard times, but we made it through both. Marriage is a mix of good times and hard times. These times are sometimes short and sometimes long. We’ve had hard seasons of marriage and easy seasons. We will have hard and easy seasons ahead as well. Marriage is about lasting. It’s been said that the most important day of marriage is not your first day but your last. If we’ve made it to 50 years, that means we survived the celebrations and the pain. We’ve had joy and sorrow. We’ve laughed and cried together. But we made it together.
  4. You kept your eyes on me. Men are visual and consequently, many of the sins that entangle them stem from their eyes. I want Katie to look at me 50 years from now and say, “You kept your eyes on me. You were fascinated by me. You are entranced by me.” This is a daily choice that a husband makes. This a choice he makes as he watches a movie, gets on the internet, watches a football game when they cheerleaders come in. This is a minute by minute decision that men make. I’ve never heard a man who stayed pure, fought an addiction to porn, fought to keep his eyes for his wife, I’ve never heard that man say, “I missed out.” I’ve heard countless men who won’t fight their porn addiction, let the eyes linger on a swimsuit issue or victoria’s secret magazine say, “I have regrets. I wish I did things differently.”
  5. I’m ready for 50 more years. I hope that when we celebrate our 50th anniversary (as I’m 72 and she’s 70) that she looks at me and says, “Let’s do 50 more.” The true test of a marriage is if the couple would do it all over again. Sure they’d like to take back conversations, financial decisions, job changes or arguments, but can they look at each other and say, “I’d say yes to you all over again.” If Katie will look at me (I’m probably bald and still doing 72 year old crossfit) and say, “I’d marry you again, you oldie but goodie.” I’ll take it.
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Rest Takes Hard Choices

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On a regular basis I will talk with someone about Sabbath, pace of life, margin and rest. Most Americans are tired, don’t get enough sleep, don’t take enough vacation, feel stressed, overloaded, overwhelmed and aren’t sure how to change it. For many years, I struggled with this and still find myself not getting it right.

A couple of things helped me make the hard choices to rest (you’ll see at the bottom of this why I call them hard choices):

  1. Rest is a faith issue. Rest is a lot like giving back to God. It is trusting that God will make up for the time you aren’t. When people say, “I don’t have time to rest or take a sabbath.” What they often mean is, “I don’t trust God with my time. I’m too important. Life will fall apart if I’m not there.” Or, “I need to be doing as much as I am.” Many times, people won’t stop because the silence is too painful. As long as they keep moving, they don’t have to deal with hurts in their heart. The pace they keep, keeps them from feeling hurt.
  2. Rest isn’t something our culture encourages. Rest is seen as lazy. If your kids aren’t on 3 teams, in 2 dance troops. If you aren’t in 4 bible studies you aren’t growing as a Christian. We don’t encourage rest. We come back from vacation and say, “I need a vacation.” We go to work on Monday and ask “where did the weekend go?” I know someone who goes on vacation and fills their days from sunrise to sunset with things to do and see. Even on vacation, they keep moving and moving.
  3. Most people aren’t sure what “rest” means. Most people don’t know what it means. Some Christians say you shouldn’t shop or go to the movies on Sunday. Should you do any work? Rest in Scripture is to be restorative. It is to be recharging. For some, that is woodworking or painting, taking a nap, reading a book, having a long meal with friends, taking a hike, working out. Rest should connect you with God, restore your body, mind and soul.

So, why do I call having rest making hard choices?

Because, it will take time and it will often mean being countercultural to those around you.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you rest:

  1. It doesn’t matter what day it is. I’m a pastor, so Sunday is a work day, not a rest day. Just pick a day. It might be Wednesday for you. Pick a day, set it aside and think through what you will do on that day to restore your body, soul, heart and mind. What will you do? Who will you be with or will you be alone? How will you reconnect with God? How will you rest?
  2. It needs to be a day. Some people in an effort to feel better say, “I’m starting with 4 hours of rest.” That sounds nice and makes it feel like you are moving in the right direction, but it often fails. Quickly, you will find a reason to make that 3 hours. If you can give 4 hours, you can give a day. What are you afraid of? I know, you are afraid of not getting everything done, of things falling apart. So keep reading.
  3. Work fills the time allowed. Have you noticed how you accomplish everything you need to before going on vacation or before a school deadline? Work gets done that needs to get done. If you have 6 hours to work and at the end of 6 hours, whatever is not done is not done for the project. You skip Facebook, turn your phone off, no apps, no games, no breaks, you get it done. Work with that intensity each day so that you can rest.
  4. You have all the time you need to accomplish everything you want. I tell people this all the time and they always tell me I’m wrong, but hear me out. I’m a huge Steelers fan and never miss a Steelers game, even if I watch it on DVR. Why? I put it on my calendar. Because everything that is important has a time attached to it. You do something similar to this. It might be a show, a class, a team you’re on, a hobby you have (think about how much time you spend on a hobby). My point is, we accomplish all kinds of things we want to accomplish. We often just accomplish the wrong things.
  5. You don’t have to do everything you are doing. This is the hard choice. Resting means you will skip things. You will miss things. You will say no to things. But remember, when you say no to one thing, you say yes to something elseYou don’t have to do all that you are doing. You can stop some things. Not sign your child up for that team. You can get off that committee at school or church. You can stop and slow down.

Let me close with a story.

When I was in seminary, I wanted to not lose my marriage as many married students working on their masters do. Katie and I both worked full-time and I went to school full-time. Each class, I would get my syllabus and anything that was 1 or 2% of my grade, I didn’t do. Why? I had class one night a week and we agreed that I would do homework 3 nights a week and we would have 3 nights a week for time together. I had to be diligent in those 3 nights to get all my homework done for a full class load. I trusted God each semester to expand my time and effort. Even with doing 90% of my work in each class, I graduated with a 3.8 GPA and my marriage stronger than when I started. Sadly, I have classmates that are divorced and out of ministry.

Please, make the hard choice to rest.

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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How pastors can care for their kids.

Pastors also need to think and act intentionally. Our actions or inactions are powerful influences.

Dave Bruskas on Persevering as a pastor.

It is estimated that 1,700 pastors leave vocational ministry per month. Perhaps even worse is that almost half of those who haven’t left yet are thinking about doing just that. So how can a pastor stay in ministry?

Joel Osteen and American Christianity.

Joel Osteen is the prime provocateur of a seductive brand of American Christianity that reduces God to a means to our ends. A message that beckons multitudes to the table of the Master, not for the love of the Master but for what is on the table. He is the de facto high priest of a new brand of Christianity perfectly suited for a feel-good generation. And while a host of pretenders (including Prince) follow in his train, Osteen is clearly the biggest of the bunch—according toPeople magazine, “twice as big as the nearest competitor.” And his claim to America’s largest church is just a small part of the story. With one billion impressions per month on Facebook and Twitter, Osteen is the hip new personification of God-talk in America.

Jen Acuff on A simple way to create momentum in your marriage.

What we’ve learned though is that even as we work on different things, there is a simple way to create momentum in our marriage. I call it “the art of starting parallel.”

Does God harden someone’s heart?

Without question, the answer is yes, he does. The Bible speaks of God’s active agency in hardening hearts with unmistakable bluntness.

Luke Simmons shares what he learned on visiting 6 churches in 4 days.

Preaching really matters a lot. The sermon is the longest part of any service and, as a result, plays a huge role in the effectiveness of the service. The services I enjoyed the most had the best, most engaging, most gospel-centered preaching and the services I enjoyed least had the weakest preaching. Worship leaders need to lead. Everywhere we went had music. None of it was awful. Some of it was tremendous. But the best places were places where the worship leaders actually led. They prayed, they exhorted, they helped you engage. Anyone can play a gig. But we need worship leaders to lead.

Tim Challies on Outrage Porn and The Christian Reader.

When we are outraged about every little matter, we lose our ability to be outraged about the most important matters. When we respond with outrage to every little offense, eventually we become hardened to the things that actually matter. If everything is outrageous, nothing is outrageous.

Five Things We Teach Our Kids When We Don’t Know They’re Watching.

As adults we often tend to believe that kids aren’t paying attention.  But, we teach them so many things when we don’t even realize that they’re tuned in.  And, for the record, kids are always tuned in, even when they seem mesmerized by the TV.  Here are five things we teach our kids when we don’t know they’re watching.

Ever wanted to see if you could get a palace guard to smile?

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