Shouting So They’ll Listen

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In his new book, A Call to ResurgenceMark Driscoll shares some eye opening stats about our culture:

  • 88% believe Jesus existed.
  • 78% believe God exists.
  • 73% believe in evolution.
  • 71% believe in karma.
  • 68% believe in heaven and hell.
  • 67% believe spirituality exists in nature.
  • 65% believe in angels and demons.
  • 59% believe Jesus rose from the dead.
  • 53% believe in the devil.
  • 46% believe in extraterrestrials, aliens, or UFO’s.

This is the culture we live in, work in, play in, and pastors, this is the culture you preach to each week.

So how do Christians tend to communicate to this culture? By shouting.

We don’t necessarily walk up to people and start screaming, although, I’ve seen people with signs stand on a corner and shout at people.

Have you ever seen someone try to communicate to someone with a language barrier? Americans when they encounter someone who doesn’t speak English, they talk louder. As we’ve brought Judah into our home from Ethiopia, we have a language barrier to overcome as he speaks little English and we speak very little of his language. Our boys, in an effort to get him to play with them or do something, simply talk louder if he doesn’t respond.

That’s what Christians do.

We don’t change what we are saying, we simply say the same things only louder and with more force.

Yes, but the message doesn’t change.

That is true. The gospel is the same. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We never stop talking about the glorious news of Jesus’ sinless life, our brokenness and need for a Savior and how Jesus met that need by dying in our place and rising from the dead and sending us the Holy Spirit. We never stop talking about that.

But, we can change how we talk about that.

Instead of shouting, find common ground, a common language. Answer questions and needs that people have.

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Monday Morning Mind Dump… [Lunch Edition]

  • It was quite the weekend in our house
  • Saturday night after almost 4 years of waiting, Katie brought Judah home from Ethiopia
  • Hard to believe the journey to this moment has been so long
  • We are loving it and adjusting well
  • Say a prayer for us as we add him to our family, as he learns the English language and the patience we need while we adjust
  • Sunday was a great day at Revolution
  • We baptized 4 people
  • Always love hearing the stories of how Jesus has changed lives
  • Never gets old
  • I preached on John 14 and talked about who the Holy Spirit is and what He does
  • I had so many notes I could’ve preached for 3 hours
  • The Holy Spirit tends to be a divisive topic which is sad because without Him we are lost
  • He does so much and Christians tend to be ignorant as to what He does
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • Last Monday, I started my sleeve tattoo
  • Super excited about it as Katie and I have been planning it for almost 2 years
  • It is a koi fish with 6 flowers (1 for Katie and 5 for the kids)
  • The flowers will be colored in with their birth stone colors
  • Pumped about how it has turned out so far and I can’t wait to fill it in
  • I’m performing the wedding of some Revolutionaries this weekend
  • I love being a part of weddings and the process of premarital counseling
  • Really excited for this couple
  • We’re doing a child dedication in church next Sunday
  • I love seeing parents make a commitment to how they will raise their child(ren) and hearing their missional communities make a commitment to the parents and the child
  • It really is moving
  • Over the weekend I read through most of Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David & Goliath
  • Like his other books, this was utterly fascinating
  • His books are just so interesting
  • Picked up Mark Driscoll’s new book A Call To Resurgence this morning
  • Definitely a book every pastor should read as we don’t live in the Christian nation most Christians think we do
  • I was reading through John 15 this morning which I’m preaching on this Sunday
  • So much in those verses on how we stay connected to Jesus and not feel alone
  • Can’t wait to unpack them this Sunday at Revolution

Monday Morning Mind Dump… (Afternoon Edition)

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  • While last week was amazing as we celebrated our 5 year anniversary as a church and had baptisms, yesterday was incredible
  • We kicked off a brand new series on John 12 – 21 yesterday called Made for Glory
  • John 12 starts with the topic of generosity, giving and holding our stuff loosely
  • While most pastors hate to preach on the topic of giving and money, I’ve started to enjoy it
  • People in our culture want answers when it comes to their finances and the relationship they have with money and stuff and the Bible is the best place to get those answers
  • We did a 90 day giving challenge
  • We’ve done this twice a year every year since we started the church
  • It’s simple: if you aren’t giving back to God, start and if in the next 90 days you don’t see God expand your faith, move in your life and challenge you in the area of finances, let us know and we’ll give back everything you gave in the last 90 days
  • We’ve never had anyone ask for it back and we’ve had over 100 people take the challenge in the last 5 years
  • We had our highest ever yesterday with 16
  • Can’t wait to hear the stories of how God works in their lives over the next 90 days
  • It was a sad day in our house today because we’ve been praying and hoping that we would’ve woken up this morning to an email about being able to go to Africa to bring Judah home
  • That didn’t happen
  • We’re hopeful about tomorrow though
  • Say a prayer that we’ll hear tomorrow
  • I got invited to start doing crossfit with one of my neighbors in his garage
  • He has the whole set up
  • So, now I’m doing crossfit 3 times a week with a couple of Air Force guys in their 20’s
  • So far, I haven’t felt old yet
  • Hoping that continues
  • I got to have coffee with a college student last week who has attended Revolution for almost a year and has been exploring Jesus that whole time
  • He has a ton of logical questions about Christianity, which was awesome and fun to talk through
  • Love talking about how faith is logical and not just a feeling or an emotion
  • Katie and I went to one of our new favorite places for date night last Friday, Blanco
  • If you haven’t been, it is so good

The Biggest Sin in Adoption

We have met our son, FINALLY seen his sweet smile, squeezed his small body, got lost in his big eyes and then had to say goodbye for 5-10 weeks. Every time I think about leaving him that last day tears come to my eyes; we walk with him toward the lunchroom and his breathing becomes great heaves. Josh and I are trying to hold it together and not have a complete melt down in front of our son, who has lost SO MUCH, and now probably feels like the hope that he may have found in a relationship with us is being ripped away from him. We help him wash his hands, and instead of his lighthearted smile and willingness to obey, he is in a fit of tears and his legs won’t support him… we kiss his sweet face and walk away. The nanny explains we will be back, but how can a 4 year old know that in his heart. So again because my arms are too short to change anything in this process, we pray; that he doesn’t lose hope, that when we return he doesn’t reject us because he has felt abandoned by us, and that our hearts will be ruled by peace and patience as we wait.

This is the part that gets me, being ruled by peace as we wait. There have been times in this waiting that I have gotten caught up in the frenzy of wanting to know what is going on, following other people’s journey forward and feeling forgotten, and it. has. been. sin. Before we traveled to meet our son, we were waiting on a piece of paper from a government official giving us the clearance to travel, as we waited I begged God that it would come through. One morning I woke up especially early and prayed, I watched the sun rise and was reminded of  what we tell our kids… see that light from the sun, it is so bright that it is hard to look it, that is what the glory of the Lord looks like…

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That morning I was reminded of the truth that God’s ways are above our ways, that He exists outside of time and He already sees it as done. The timing of the thing that I was so anxious about, God already saw as DONE. Thinking in that way helped me to not just cling to the peace that I knew I should have, but actually live in it.

We are in a time of waiting again, this is some of the most painful waiting we have had to do up to this point…

I am reminded of God’s heart toward us, His calling us and desire to be in relationship with us, and because of his patience we have salvation (2 Peter 3:15). My desire through this is to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity (2 Peter 3:18). If I fall into the sin of worry, control and lack of peace, then I am not pressing into God’s heart for me or my son, who is not orphaned because he is OUR SON NOW, but feels orphaned. There is a longing in my heart that can very easily cross over into the sin of worry, but if I feel that and see it through God’s heart toward those who have not crossed over into His family I am more likely to live in His peace.

Isaiah 53:5 says,

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

If I am not living in peace then I am neglecting the very crucifixion of Jesus, and I think that is the biggest sin in adoption.

How we Spent our Time in Ethiopia with our Son

This gallery contains 23 photos.

Many of you have asked what our time with our son was like while we were in Ethiopia. In 2 words: too short, but in actuality we spent everyday with him at the transition home, usually twice a day for … Continue reading

Top Posts of August

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In case you missed them, here are the top posts of August 2013:

  1. Finding an Accountability Partner as a Pastor
  2. Q: Why Doesn’t Revolution Have a Women’s Ministry
  3. Meeting our Son who we Didn’t Know Much About…
  4. My Arms are Too Short
  5. 21 Skills of Great Preachers
  6. Marital Bliss
  7. The “Other” Celebrity Pastor
  8. The Sins of a Pastor
  9. Two Ideas that Should Change how We Think about our Bodies, Weight Loss & Food
  10. Food, Weight, The Gospel and Stop Being the Victim

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Monday Morning Mind Dump…

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  • Such an awesome day yesterday
  • We had our highest non-holiday attendance ever!
  • So amazing how God continues to grow our church
  • We had to add more chairs, which we almost ran out of
  • I preached on one of my favorite passages yesterday, John 10
  • Had someone else take the step of following Jesus
  • We’ve had at least 1 person every week for the last month
  • Never gets old seeing people start following Jesus
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • I had my fantasy football draft last night with some guys from church
  • Can’t wait for football to start
  • So ready
  • If you’re curious, you can see my team here
  • This week, our paperwork should be submitted to the embassy in Ethiopia to bring our son home
  • This is a huge step, so pray that nothing slows it down
  • You can read Katie’s last blog post (and see some pictures) on the journey here and here
  • We still need to raise close to $3,000 to bring him home, so if you would like to help us, you give a tax deductible gift here
  • Every little bit helps
  • Wednesday we are shooting our 5 year anniversary video
  • So excited to celebrate what God has done on September 15th and look towards the future
  • Lord willing, this time next year we will begin preview services for Revolution Church|Midtown
  • Speaking of midtown
  • This past week, I got to spend some time with some pastors leading or planting churches in midtown praying together for each other and our churches
  • Love the unity that God is bringing to Tucson
  • Definitely a change since we moved here 7 years ago
  • Got to go and buy the fabric Katie will use to make our kids halloween costumes yesterday
  • A princess, 2 crusaders and 2 vikings
  • Should be pretty funny
  • Our boys are excited that they get weapons
  • Yes, we go trick or treating
  • Here’s why
  • Friday on date night, Katie and I went to see The Butler
  • So good
  • Adopting a child of another race, the movie made a huge impact on me and the history of our country and world
  • Til next week…

My Arms are Too Short

Last week we got an email that our sweet Mamush had conjunctivitis, so he got eye ointment, it cleared up. This week we got another email saying that he is on a round of antibiotics for pharyngitis, which according to the internet is a sore-throat. I know that it is a small thing, but can you imagine your child not feeling well and you can do NOTHING. I wish I could have brought him home last week so that my arms could hold him while he isn’t feeling well… but my arms are too short.

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In actuality, my arms are too short even for the kids under my roof. Even if I can hold them and kiss their boo-boos and tell them how much I love them, my arms are too short to save their little souls. So I do, for all of my children, the only thing that I can- I cry out to God. I don’t always pray like I want to, like my heart says I should, but that is changing and I know that a prayer can be answered if it is asked in the chaos that is my life, or in those serious times of fasting and solitude. Right now the prayers made while over my kitchen sink with the kids’ noise in the background will have to do. And I feel like God is pleased. Image

(A woman waiting to be healed at the church on top of EntotoMountain; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

I pray that He is pleased to heal Mamush of the discomfort that he is in, that his little heart does not lose hope as he waits for us to return, and that at our return he does not scorn us because he has felt abandoned by us. I pray that Nehemiah continues to meet developmental milestones and we are not burdened by the relationship with his Birth-mom and Birth-dad, but are able to extend grace and know our role.  My prayer for Ashton, is that He will continue to develop into a man of character and substance. For Gavin, I pray that his spirit for adventure and attention does not distract from the calling that you have on his life, that he is able to submit that to You for Your Glory. Ava’s heart is so sweet and helpful, I pray that You would protect it from the arrows of the evil one, and that she is able to grow into a strong women, who’s confidence is not in herself, but in You. Image

(Walking into the church on top of EntotoMountain; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

This is a great place to start praying daily for your children: http://www.inspiredtoaction.com/wp-content/uploads/kat/I2A_Prayer_Calendar.pdf

If you would like to help us complete our adoption and bring Mamush home as we travel back to Ethiopia in 5-10 weeks, you can donate here. At last count, we still need to raise $5,000.

Adoption Trip Update #6

On Friday, Katie and I left Ethiopia. It was definitely hard to say goodbye to our son knowing that we won’t see him for 5-10 weeks. He was a mess when we left, also knowing that we wouldn’t be back tomorrow. Knowing the issues of abandonment he has already dealt with, that he is 4 years old and has a hard time understanding what is happening, I told Katie later that moment of saying goodbye was the closest I’ve ever come to crying.

She was glad to know I had feelings.

Landing in Rome on Sunday was just what we needed. Even though we’re in Rome, Katie and I aren’t the type who plan out a whole day of activities and run til we drop. We’ve walked around and have seen a ton of really cool things and have eaten some amazing food, but we also took a 3 hour nap yesterday.

Here are some pictures of our morning walk through the streets of Rome:

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After taking a much needed nap, we embarked on a night walk through Rome and a search to find dinner. Eating gluten free has not been as difficult in Rome as one might expect. In fact, in Italy, if you have celiac disease, you get a stipend from the government to buy gluten free food because it is more expensive. Just another way the States are behind other countries.

Here’s a shot as the sun was going down:

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Dinner was incredible. They had gluten free pasta that tasted like regular pasta. We had a wine that had one the best wine in Italy for 3 years in a row. The whole thing did not disappoint.

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Here are some night shots of our way back to our room:

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Time to get going for another day. Today were heading to the forum and colosseum and probably a nap. It felt weird last night that as we were walking to dinner Revolution was happening and I was preaching via video. I can’t wait to get back and preach live this coming Sunday for,the first time in 8 weeks! So pumped for that.

Adoption Trip Update #5

Today is our last day in Ethiopia. It is incredibly hard to believe this is it.

Here are a few things you can pray for us about:

1. Saying goodbye to our son today will be heart wrenching. We’ve waited 3 years to meet, have spent everyday with him and now we won’t see him for 8-10 weeks.

2. Pray for him as we leave. We go to see him in the morning and afternoon and Friday afternoon and Saturday morning he will look for us and won’t see us. Pray he doesn’t feel abandoned, that he knows our love and that he gets through what lays ahead.

3. Pray for safety. With all the travel alerts, security is sky high and it is a little nerve wracking on this side of the world. We’re practicing sovereignty but would appreciate your prayers.

4. Katie and I are spending 3 days in Rome before heading home. Pray we get refreshed after the emotionally and physically draining week we’ve had here. It’s been incredible but really tiring and leaves our emotions pretty raw. We’re excited to tour the city, eat good food (ironically, Rome has over 75 restaurants with gluten free menus) & wine and enjoy our time together.

To end, here’s what we woke up to this morning:

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A great reminder of God’s presence and love.