You Long for Blessing

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There are two great words in the Bible that describe the posture of our souls toward other people. One is to bless. The other is to curse. We are creatures with wills, and in every encounter with other people we will what is good for them, or fail to do so: we will what is bad for them. Blessing is not just a word. Blessing is the projection of good into the life of another. We must think it, and feel it, and will it. -Dallas Willard, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You

Blessing is not something we talk a lot about in our culture, or experience or do. Our culture is more concerned about being right, putting others down, getting others in line, controlling outcomes.

Yet, blessing is something long for.

So how do you bless someone instead of curse them? Here are ___ ways to bless someone:

  1. Have a right heart. No one blesses from a place of pride or selfishness. It is a giving away. It might be financial, time, effort, care or love on your part to someone else. This is why it is rarely done. We bless people we think deserve, instead of blessing the people God has given to us. I remember when I got married and the pastor who had mentored me through college prayed over me. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life. Here was a man that to this day, I have done very little for simply because I couldn’t give him anything. He mentored me, showed interest in me, used his connections to better me and my ministry and he was asking God to pour more blessings on me. That’s a right heart. Giving, knowing that you will get nothing back. 
  2. Help them see who God wants them to become. Because blessing comes from someone, you are really helping the person you are blessing helping them see themselves as God sees them and who God wants them to become. This might be challenging a child to be who they are called to be. At the end of the day, this is vision casting. This is painting a picture for someone about how they are settling in life. Not in a negative way or a “stop doing that” sort of way. But, don’t you want more out of life kind of talk. There is a difference. One is negative that shows how much smarter you are and one is more helpful and comes from a place of serving that says, “I don’t want you to miss God’s best in your life.”
  3. Be willing to serve someone. Blessing is about giving something of yourself away, to someone. You may serve them, be generous to them. It might simply be words spoken to them. It will require you to take a step towards them. Blessing is not reciprocating. There is a difference. When I bless my children, I am not expecting them to give something back for it, or to earn it.
  4. Blessing shows someone where they have come from, but where God wants to take them. Each year, I write a letter to our kids on their birthday. In the letter, I highlight how they have grown this year, how God has worked in their hearts and lives, what has happened in our families. My plan is to give these letters to them when they graduate high school and go to college. I want them to have a picture of who they are, where they have come from, so that it influences them onto where they are going. In Scripture, when someone blesses someone there is usually a genealogy nearby in the text. This is a reminder of where these people have come from, their history. In essence, it is who they are, their identity. Blessing is a way of reorienting someone’s identity, helping them to see things more clearly so they are on track.

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You Are One Choice Away from Wrecking Your Life

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Only 2 weeks left in our series Fight and you don’t want to miss either of them.

As we continue this week and look at Judges 16:1 – 22 we see how our choices matter. Most of us make decisions everyday: what to eat, who to spend time with, what to buy, what shows or movies to watch, what to read or what websites to visit. We make these decisions often with very little thought about how they will affect our lives.

Yet, every choice impacts another choice.

Which leads us to a simple truth that we will unpack this Sunday: you are one choice away from wrecking your life. 

The question is, how close are you to that choice?

If you or someone you know struggles with making right choices in their life or keeping boundaries in their life, this is a great week to bring them to Revolution.

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

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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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Dorie Clark on Why we can’t stop working.

The ROI of work is immediately apparent. You get instant feedback and, oftentimes, instant gratification in the form of raises, promotions, new contracts, or general approbation. The arc of family life is different. In the moment, it can be banal, boring, or discouraging.

Perry Noble on 7 ways to be rich.

Give it TIME…what we spent years messing up will most likely not be fixed in three days, or even three weeks!

Dave Bruskas on 4 priorities for pastors from Christmas to Easter.

Christmas, with all its ministry demands, has come and gone. You’ve had a few days off. But you are still very tired as you approach the long run to Easter. How should you prioritize your time and energy? What can you do to recover?

Will Mancini on Ministry trends of 2014 leaders can’t ignore.

Sometimes you can dismiss a trend as a fad. Like Crocs, the Harlem Shake, or flash mobs. At other times to dismiss a trend is just a mistake. As in every era, some of today’s trends will become tomorrow’s reality. Innovative leaders aren’t afraid to embrace change and to be some of the first in on the shifts they see around them. In that spirit, here are 5 trends you’ll no longer be able to dismiss in 2014.

Tony Merida on 9 benefits of expository preaching.

Expository preaching is an approach that is founded on certain theological beliefs, such as the role of the preacher according to Scripture, the nature of the Scripture, and the work of the Spirit. Therefore, many of the benefits for doing exposition are hard to measure. However, nine practical-theological benefits are worth noting.

If you miss your family, you miss everything.

7 crippling parenting behaviors that keep your kids from becoming leaders.

I was intrigued, then, to catch up with leadership expert Dr. Tim Elmore and learn more about how we as parents are failing our children today — coddling and crippling them — and keeping them from becoming leaders they are destined to be. Tim is a best-selling author of more than 25 books, including Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their FutureArtificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenges of Becoming Authentic Adults, and theHabitudes® series. He is Founder and President of Growing Leaders, an organization dedicated to mentoring today’s young people to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Ed Stetzer on 5 ways to teach your kids to hate the ministry.

To put it bluntly, a lot of pastors’ children hate the ministry. My team interviewed 20 pastors’ kids who are adults now. They provided some insights that were both inspiring and disturbing. Children with a pastor-parent can grow to hate the ministry for many reasons, but there are five guaranteed ways you can make sure they hate being a pastor’s kid (PK).

OK Go “This too Shall Pass”
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How to Figure out God’s Will

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In his book The Catalyst LeaderBrad Lomenick lists some great questions to ask as you discern God’s will and God’s call on your life:

  1. What are your passions and gifts? At the intersection of these two elements, you’ll find your purpose in life.
  2. What would you work on or want to do for free? That is usually a good sign of what God has designed you to do.
  3. What energized you when you were a child? Does it still animate you? Knowing your calling is often directly connected to childhood passions and gifts.
  4. If you could do anything and take a pay cut, what would that be? You may have to blow up your financial goals in order to pursue your true calling.
  5. What barriers are preventing you from pursuing your true calling? Can you begin removing those?
  6. If you aren’t engaging your gifts and talents where you find yourself now, could you make changes in your current role to better engage those? Don’t rule out the possibility that where you are is where you need to be.

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Top Blog Posts for December

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In case you missed them, here are the top 10 blog posts from December 2013:

  1. Christmas Music You Should Own
  2. The Best Books I Read in 2013
  3. How to Make Christmas Special with Your Kids
  4. When Pastoring is Hard (And 3 Ways to Survive)
  5. Accountability
  6. The Five Stages of Discipleship
  7. Almost the Best Books of 2013
  8. Christmas is Over, Now What?
  9. You’re One Choice Away from Wrecking Your Life
  10. What’s Happening in 2014 at Revolution Church

Looking Back on 2013 & Anticipating 2014

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On a regular basis, I like to email our leaders at Revolution and remind them of where we were last month, last year or 5 years ago. For me, seeing where I’ve come from, where our church has come from, helps me to rely on God but also celebrate his grace towards us.

With that, here are some celebrations at Revolution in 2013:

  • 20 people were baptized this year, many of them new Christians. This is the most we’ve ever baptized in one year.
  • Our average attendance grew by 21% in 2013, from just under 200 to a little over 250. Each of those numbers represents a story and a person that is impacted by the good news of Jesus.
  • Planet Rev has grown by 25% in the last 3 months under the leadership of Jennifer Ingram, Cat Hibble and Rachel Redman. I love the passion these women bring to this important ministry. Since the start of Revolution, our kids attendance has made up over 30% of Revolution Church.
  • Mike DeAlto leading Rev Up. Mike is young (although he’s the same age Paul and I were when we started working in student ministry) and is on his way to becoming the leader God has called him to be.
  • Jason Wood started providing leadership to our Missional Communities and the impact he has made is already obvious.
  • We had 10 newcomer’s lunches with an average attendance of 14 adults.
  • We have 75% of the finances we need to launch our second Revolution Church (not sure on the location yet). From day 1 of Revolution, our dream has been to plant churches around the city and we are closer than ever to realizing this dream.
  • We preached through Ecclesiastes and the gospel of John. This is the first time we went through an entire gospel and it was stretching for me and our church to look at Jesus so in such depth.
  • We helped to plant Central Church in Midtown. So excited to see how God continues to use Dave Goffeney and his team.
  • Over $5,000 was given to our Christmas offering and over 100 pajamas were given to Magee Middle School to give to kids in foster homes in Tucson. I love the generous heart of our church.
  • We had 20 people take the 90 day giving challenge and take the first step in trusting God with their finances and letting go of control in an important area.

Things to anticipate in 2014:

  • We are doing our first woman series called Beautiful and our first man series called FightThis is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this and I think it will challenge the men and women in our church to be who God created them to be.
  • Rev Up participating in a summer camp. The impact that happens in a student’s life when they go to camp is enormous. Lives, futures and destinies are changed by going away and hearing from God. I’m so excited that Mike DeAlto is doing this.
  • Begin preview services for our second Revolution Church location in the fall/winter and Lord willing launch sometime in 2015.
  • Adding a second service. As we continue to grow, this will become more of a reality and open up space for more guests and give people options of attendance on Sunday morning. I had a mentor tell me: the more options you give people, the more people opt in. 
  • Hiring a full-time children’s pastor. I’m not sure when this will happen, but we are getting closer and closer to this reality and need. Our families need someone dedicated to this ministry on a full-time basis.
  • Adding at least 5 more missional communities. We need more space for the people God is sending to us.

[Thanks to Luke Simmons for the Image & idea for this blog]

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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Pray For Your Daughter – Mike Leake is beginning a 31-day pray for your daughter challenge. It kicks off January 1.

Steven Furtick on Point the way, clear a path.

Ultimately, there’s nothing we can do to force people to grow in Christ. Nothing. So whether we offer a 26-option discipleship program or a 4-option one really doesn’t matter. If someone really doesn’t want to grow, they’re either going to say no 4 times or 26.

Breaking the 7 barriers of leadership.

Leaders desire what they don’t have and reach for what they haven’t reached. Unfulfilled passions frustrate. Drive encounters barriers. Barriers block the future and frustrate the present.

Marshall Segal on Are you pastoring your pastor?

Some of the least pastored people in the world are pastors. These men work long, unpredictable hours, addressing every physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual issue under the sun, sacrificing their schedule, comfort, and a thousand other things, all without being relieved of their own personal, individual needs.

The pride of pastors.

My church is better than your church.  Our way is better than your way. We’ve figured out something you need to know. But pride is a deadly force.  It will lift you up on platforms and pedestals, setting you up for shame and mockery when you fall.

Christmas at Elevation 2013 (so powerful)

Christmas is Over, Now What?

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I don’t know about you, but I woke up this morning feeling really down. Just had a blah kind of a feeling. Unmotivated. Not depressed or sad, but kind of down.

My first thought as I finished breakfast was, “Is this the after Christmas blues?” Or, “Am I just getting old now?”

Maybe you feel like that. Maybe you don’t (if not, pass this blog onto a friend that needs it).

I shared this quote on Sunday in my sermon that encapsulates what a lot of people feel around Christmas (I can’t remember where I found it):

Christmas Eve. The perfect picture of anticipation: sleepless excitement for something we’ve been waiting for all year. Every year on December 24, my parents let us open a present. This was a teaser, a taste of things to come, and we kids relished it. Of course, it wasn’t much of a surprise – my mom always got us new pajamas, even when we didn’t need them. But still, it was a ritual of hope, one in which we celebrated the gift of giving and the joy of gratitude. Christmas morning. An unfortunate picture of disappointment. I am obviously only one person with his own set of experiences, but as I talk to others, I find similar feelings of frustration. As they get older, many people seem to develop a general distrust toward any day that promises to fill the emptiness they’ve felt all year long. This explains the rise in suicides during this season and why, for some, Christmas is a reminder of the inevitable letdown of life. The unfortunate answer to the question, “Did you get everything you wanted?” is, of course, no. And we feel terrible about this. Why can’t we be happy? Why can’t we be satisfied? Will we ever be content with what we have – with the gifts in our stockings, the toys under the tree? Why is there this constant thirst for more?

As I thought about it today (after I destroyed myself with Crossfit), I started to wonder if we set ourselves up for failure leading up to Christmas. Christmas in many ways can be like a wedding and the letdown after on the honeymoon, follow me for a second. All of this pressure, build up, energy, stress and thinking and money goes into Christmas and a wedding. Then it’s over. The parties, the gifts, family, friends, the tree, decorations, cards, Christmas specials, church services, meals, over. Then we sit around looking at our gifts, watching our kids play with them and get tired of them and play with them some more.

You wake up on December 27, 28 or 29 and wonder, what now?

Here are some things that came to mind as I prayed through this feeling for me that might be helpful for you:

  1. Stop and take a breath. Slow down. December is a mad sprint for most of us. You went to more parties than you can count, ate more calories than you care to remember. You are tired. Take a break. Maybe take a nap. Read a good book or your Bible. But give some time to slow down. Stop rushing.
  2. Get moving. For me, I went and worked out, listened to some good worship music, prayed and got moving. Maybe you need to get moving and do something active. Most Americans will join a gym this week, maybe you should. At least take a walk, a run or a hike.
  3. Say thanks. Be thankful for what you have. Remember, someone is grateful with less than what you have. You may not have as much as someone else, but you have what God has seen fit to give you right now. Also, you may not see the next Christmas or someone you just celebrated with may not see the next Christmas, so savor the moments. Take a little longer in those hugs or laughs or cries.
  4. Get out of your house. I love being at home, with my family and friends. But, sometimes it is good to get out of your house. Go see a movie, do something fun, go see some Christmas lights. Don’t just sit around (sometimes you should sit around), but get going.

What do you do to fight the after Christmas blues?

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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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Jason Johnson on 5 things Christians should stop staying.

We mean well, don’t we? But sometimes our attempts to say something spiritual actually come out unbiblical, or at a minimum, not very helpful. Here’s the 5 I hear the most…

David Romano on God, gays and advice.

As a Christian walking away from the homosexual lifestyle, I have some do’s and don’ts I’d like you to keep in mind when addressing this issue.

Tim Challies on Mobility, Pornography and Privacy.

Did you buy your children an iPod or iPhone or other mobile device for Christmas? You just bought them the major porn-consumption device. So what are you going to do to protect them from it? One of the most popular articles I wrote in 2013 concerned The Porn-Free Family. I will be returning to the subject in the new year, but for now, I want to point out an important fact: Most of our attempts to block pornography and to use accountability software are effective only or primarily on desktop devices.

5 ways to relax on your Christmas break.

So you’re off for Christmas, but some of you for sure are going to have a hard time winding down. I know I do. Being a driven kind of person, the idea of doing nothing but resting is unsettling for me. But rather than secretly doing email while your family isn’t looking, pacing the house because you can’t sit still or being agitated most of the time, there is an alternative.

Brian Howard on How to remember 2013 and set goals for 2014.

Welcome to the day after Christmas! Each year between Christmas and New Years I walk through a simple exercise to help me think through the past year and plan for the coming year.  I originally learned this exercise from David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, and have customized it over the years. My wife and I both walk through it, and I use it with those I coach as well. Allocating an hour or two over the next week to walk through this exercise will help you to start the new year well.

Jon Acuff on The empty shelf challenge.

Empty a shelf in your house somewhere. Every book you read from now until December 31, 2014 goes on the shelf. (Waiting until January 1st to do something awesome is stupid and fake.) At the end of the year, I guarantee you will have read more than you did in 2013. Best of all, you’re scientifically more likely to accomplish something when you have people working on it with you.

Justin Taylor on How to read the whole bible in 2014.

Do you want to read the whole Bible? The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year.

Merry Christmas!

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From my family to yours, Merry Christmas.

I appreciate the time you take as a reader to spend on my blog, sharing what you like, giving feedback through comments and enriching my life through your thoughts.

I hope you are able to spend today with those you love and that it is extra special.

Eat more than you should, hold your loved ones a little tighter than normal and relax because Jesus came to earth and is God so you don’t have to be.

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