Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • What a weekend at Revolution Church
  • I love the first day of a series
  • And yesterday did not disappoint
  • As you can see here
  • Katie and I taught together on what it means to be made in the image of God
  • The implications of this is not just for women and how they see themselves, but also for men and how they see themselves and the world around them
  • Lots of people getting prayed for after the sermon
  • Love seeing that
  • If you missed it, you can listen to it here
  • We also celebrated baptism yesterday
  • Love hearing the stories of life change and seeing the power of the gospel
  • Nothing like it
  • We also had one of our highest attendances ever
  • Love seeing our volunteers jump into action and helping guests park and find seats
  • We are getting ready to kick off our next FPU class
  • If you want to change your finances, get out of debt, plan for the future, go here
  • Friday, I got to perform the wedding of Joey and Bernadette Morrin
  • So fun being a part of their wedding
  • The weather was incredible for an outdoor wedding in Tucson
  • I’m blown away the emails I’ve gotten about the Beautiful series so far
  • It seems like it is definitely striking a chord
  • It’s sad the bondage that many women live with
  • I’m talking this Sunday about how to be free from your past as you move forward into your future
  • So many people let their past be a compass for their future and it is heartbreaking
  • All of this makes me really excited to kick Fight off in a few weeks and talk to men
  • I’m sad that this Sunday is the last football game in a long time
  • Love football season
  • Thankfully the Olympics start soon afterward
  • My kids can’t get over how excited they are for the Olympics
  • Having lunch today with a new Revolutionary
  • Love meeting new people at our church and helping them get better connected
  • Say a prayer that this coming Sunday is even bigger than this past Sunday
  • Lots of freedom waiting to happen as we apply 2 Corinthians 5:17 in our lives
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Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You

bookEvery Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week I asked Katie to share about a recent book she read that would be helpful for the female readers of this blog.

In Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You, Stasi Eldridge takes a very practical look at how our pasts impact our present and future, while giving advice on how to implement immediate change into lives, through the power of the Holy Spirit. She is very honest and upfront with her story throughout the book, which makes it personal and an easy read. I appreciate her reliance on the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit. Some quotes that stuck out:

  • Jesus, come. Guide me. Holy Spirit, fill me. Dream with me and in me. Help me to unlock the desires you have planted in my heart and to write them down. Help me to dream big.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What would I love to do? What would I love to experience or create or offer?
    • What do I want to be really good at?
    • What do I want with God? What does God want with me?
    • What do I want to be known for?
    • Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing is too good to be true. And besides, if you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true?
As she walks through the journey of embracing God’s dream of you, here are a few more things she said that I found helpful and hope you will as well:
  • Laying down what we want to protect or are afraid of losing or are terrified we will never have is not the same thing as losing those things. It is surrendering them. It is opening up our clenched hand around them and allowing God access to them and to us. It is actually saying yes to God for them. Yes to his plan. Yes to his way. It is believing that just as his ways are higher than the heavens are above the earth, so his way for the things we fear is higher. This God of ours is a God of life, of goodness. He is the God of the Resurrection. We lay down our fear. We pick up Jesus. He is the only way we can live beyond fear. He is the Way.
  • Truth be told, a good part of our becoming takes place int eh sanctifying work of relationships. And not because friendship is always a greenhouse, either. Trees grow strong because of winds; drought forces their roots to go deeper. There isn’t anything on earth like relationships to make you holy. When our frail humanity is revealed in some way we and others don’t like, we bring it to God. We ask for forgiveness. We ask for his life to fill us and his love to flow through us. Which means “Christ in me, love through me” becomes a regular prayer. It always comes back to Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
  • John and I learned long ago that in cases of suffering, you can have understanding or you can have Jesus. If you insist on understanding, you usually lose both. When suffering enters into your life, take a deep breath. The very first thing to do is to invite Jesus into it. Pray, Jesus, catch my heart. When painful trials come your way, by all means ask God what’s up- ask him to interpret it for you. But whether he provides understanding or not, invite Jesus in. Keep inviting Jesus into the pain. Invite Jesus into the places in your heart that are rising to the surface through the suffering, be those painful memories, unbelief, or self-contempt. Pray, Please come meet me here, Jesus. I need you. Let suffering be the door you walk through that draws you to deeper intimacy with Jesus. Suffering can do that, if we let it. And though it would never be the doorway we would choose, it is one we will never regret walking through.
This is just a smattering of the writing of Stasi, but for me it took a little different look at things that I have read and known for some time. Although there were a few times I was afraid she was about to jump off the diving board into the deep end, she didn’t. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who has ever been hurt, and struggles to live the life that God intends.

Monday Morning Mind Dump…

mind dump

  • 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…

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.

book

  1. Leaders need solitude. Here’s why and how to do it.
  2. Acts of kindness for your pastor.
  3. The National (one of my favorite bands) just released their new album and Pitchfork has a great look at the band.
  4. Stop work overload.
  5. Joe Thorn on Reading profitably. I recently blogged about the same thing.
  6. How a leader should respond to criticism. This was timely for me.
  7. My wife Katie just started blogging on my blog, which I think will be helpful for the female readers especially as she has a ton of wisdom. Here’s her first blog post.
  8. Sam Storms on the Cure for spiritual burnout.

11 Things I Love about Katie

Kissing

Today marks 11 years of being married for Katie and I. I thought I’d share with you 11 things I love about Katie. Last night on our date night, I pulled this list out and read it to her. This one’s a little edited, but you’ll get the idea.

  1. Katie said yes. This may seem like a small thing and after being married for 11 years it is probably obvious, but she could have said no. I can’t imagine how my life would have turned out differently without her. I think about the girls I dated before Katie, girls I knew in college and I would have been miserable with all of them. None of them would’ve moved with me from Pennsylvania. A lot of things in my life would have gone differently without Katie.
  2. Katie never quit believing in me. I could tell Katie a crazy goal like running an Ironman and she would believe that I could do it. Her optimism in life is inspiring. Her belief that I can do anything I set out to do is incredible to me. I’ve said this in sermons, but one of the things a man doubts is if his wife believes in him. I have never doubted that. Katie shows her belief in me daily, she talks about it with others, builds me up in front of our kids and she reminds me often of how much she believes in me.
  3. Katie understands what I need from her. Maybe this is true for all married couples, but I doubt it as I continue to meet couples who have to guess what the other is thinking. Katie can look at me and know what I am thinking. She knows what I like and dislike in any situation. She knows if I gave someone my fake laugh, she knows when I’m peopled out and need some space, she knows what I need to be challenged with the gospel and when I need to be left alone for the Holy Spirit to kick me over. One look from her and she knows.
  4. Katie helps me to pastor our family well. While Katie knows I am called to take the responsibility of pastoring our family, she helps makes that happen. She sets me up to win in this area a lot. Not only does she help by teaching our kids and reinforcing the gospel with them on a daily basis, she helps me know how best to communicate the gospel on their level. What things they would enjoy to do for daddy dates. How to communicate to our daughter and the emotions that go with that. She encourages me when family worship diverts into a conversation about transformers or when the kids won’t stop laughing while I try to lead them in worship.
  5. Katie makes me a better pastor. Few people know that without Katie, Revolution would not exist. Many of the roles other staff and leaders play today, Katie used to do for free. She was the first partner at Revolution, the first unpaid staff member, she stuck with me when it was hard going at the beginning. On top of that, today she follows up with people, sends notes, cards, makes meals, visits people and does a host of things I don’t know about and others rarely see that make people feel loved and cared for in our church.
  6. Katie keeps me guessing and out of ruts. Katie is spontaneous. I don’t like new things. I like plans. I order the same meal at restaurants  I don’t like trying new things, but she does. She makes life worth living and exciting. My life is boring, mundane and the same. Katie is not that way and she keeps us moving towards fun as a couple.
  7. Katie loved me when I was fat. I was 300 pounds when we got married and she still said, “I do.” Enough said.
  8. Katie has been patient with me as I grow as a man. When we got married, I had no idea what I was doing. I was selfish, didn’t serve her well, didn’t lead her spiritually. She was patient. She didn’t berate me, yell at me, leave books with highlighted sections for me to read. She prayed for me. She asked God to take a hold of my heart and make me into the man I was meant to be. When I didn’t pursue her early on, she didn’t get bitter or angry. She told me where she stood and then let God work on my heart. She knew that only God changes a person, so she never tried.
  9. Katie does not put me down in front of others, especially our kids. This is one of our marriage rules and it’s gold. Katie builds me up in front of people and our kids. She talks about how hard I work, how I provide for our family, the vision I have, the places I am going and how exciting life is with me. She is my biggest fan and cheerleader. As a man, I need that. I couldn’t ask for a hotter cheerleader as a wife.
  10. Katie continues to grow in her relationship with Jesus. I’m blown away by the prayer warrior that she is for me and others. I’m blown away by how Katie prays. She has an ever growing list of people she prays for, things she is asking God for. She prays for our kids, the kids we’ll adopt, our church, our city and me. She continually prays that God will bless me, use me and continues to expand what she asks God for. Her faith literally inspires me and makes me feel like I don’t pray big enough prayers.
  11. Katie is more beautiful today than 11 years ago. Her eyes still get me. The life and passion she has in them is incredible. I look at Katie and marvel that she married me. Every week on our date night I look at her and think, “If I ran into her in a bar, I would ask her out.” At the very least, I would stare at her until she came and talked to me (since I’m the introvert).

11 Years Ago Today

11 years ago today, I asked Katie to marry me at Chicago’s Navy Pier. Hard to believe it has been that long. It has flown by.

We went to a concert and had a picnic near Navy Pier at Grant Park. I made Caesar salads because they were easy and I wasn’t a great cook then.

Afterward, we walked around Navy Pier, looking at the boats in the water as the sun set. To carry the ring, I brought my camera bag and pretended to take pictures of Chicago. I told her my mom wanted pictures of Chicago. Which was kind of true, but I’m not even sure what I took a picture of.

We finally sat down on a bench on the pier and she said, “Do you know what would make this moment perfect? If you had a ring.”

I panicked. I intended to ask her, but the ring was in the camera bag next to her on the bench and I wasn’t near it. So, I did what all smart guys do at that moment, I told her to close her eyes.

I got the ring out and got down on a knee and said, “Katie.” At this point, she thought I was mocking her with the camera flash or something, and she took a swing at me and almost knocked the ring into lake Michigan. My one foot was on the edge of the water.

I looked at her and I asked her to marry me. And the rest as they say, “Is history.”

Happy Birthday to my Beautiful Wife

Today, Katie turns 31. I thought in honor of that, I’d share 31 things I love about her.

  1. You said yes to me.
  2. You believe in me and that I can do anything with my life and you won’t let me settle for less. This has proven to be one of the most important things to me in our marriage.
  3. You are my biggest cheerleader.
  4. You are the best mom. Between what I do, homeschooling, raising kids, fundraising for our adoptions, you keep it all going.
  5. You serve our family selflessly.
  6. You gave up the corporate ladder to raise our kids and change future generations through their lives.
  7. You have a clear picture of a great legacy and pursue it.
  8. You are a morning person, which balances us out and is helpful to our kids.
  9. You like sweets. A lot.
  10. You loved me when I was almost 300 pounds.
  11. You continually work through baggage from your past and the hurts from growing up to find freedom in Christ.
  12. You constantly pursue finding your identity in Christ than in something else.
  13. You fight for our marriage.
  14. You model better than anyone what it means to be a godly wife and mom.
  15. You have a passion for married women starting out and new mom’s to find their identity in Christ and be all that God created them to be.
  16. You are beautiful and not just generically. Your eyes still twinkle when you smile like they did when we met 17 years ago, I love how defined your arms have gotten since we started lifting together, I love how your hair swoops.
  17. You handle our finances and keep us in check and on track financially.
  18. You are starting to spend money on yourself. Which has been a long time coming, but I’m glad you do this now.
  19. You are an amazing cook. Every time someone eats at our house they ask for the recipe of what you fed them.
  20. You are super healthy, which has challenged me to be healthy.
  21. You love Revolution. As the first member of our church, you have given more to our church than anyone else. People might not realize that without you, Revolution would not exist.
  22. You are willing to watch movies with me, even though that isn’t your favorite thing to do.
  23. You are the most giving person I know, which has challenged me to be more giving.
  24. You are spontaneous, which is helpful as I’m a planner.
  25. You keep my life from knowing what is coming next, which makes life exciting.
  26. You are constantly growing, taking the next step in your relationship with Jesus, growing as a woman, a wife and a mom. I love how you ask me what you can read next, which challenges me to keep growing.
  27. You have adopted my love for the Steelers. If not, this would have been disastrous.
  28. You like the same places to eat as I do.
  29. You listen to me vent, then ask if I’m done and challenge what I just said.
  30. You are one of the few people who could talk me out of something, which is quite incredible because of how stubborn I am.
  31. You love music, but let me be the DJ of the house.

If you see Katie, be sure to wish her a happy birthday.

The Next 100 Days

I think the next 100 days for our family will be pretty pivotal. Recently, Katie and I both read through Mark Batterson’s book The Circle Maker and really felt like we needed to be more intentional with our prayer lives, pray bigger, bolder, more specific prayers and think more through the lens of legacy.

To that end, I want to ask for your prayers over the next 100 days.

Starting this week Katie and I are reading through the Bible in 90 days, which boils down to 12 pages a day. At the end of that, we are going to do a 10 day daniel fast with the intention of clearly defining our goals at the end of that.

One of the things that Batterson talks about in his book is creating life goals. We will be making goals in 5 categories: family, influential, experiential, physical and travel. The goal of discipleship undergirds all the categories and has to be a component of the goals we come up with.

We want to think through the legacy we will leave to our grandchildren and think through how we live the rest of our days with intentionality. If we’re lucky, we are a third of the way through our lives and want to make the most of each remaining for the kingdom.

We’d appreciate your prayers as we embark on this journey. We are excited, a little scared to see what God calls us to, but excited to let him use our lives as he sees fit.

(Image credit)

Sunday Afternoon Mind Dump…

  • Last night was the last night of my summer preaching break
  • It was awesome to have Brent Thomas with us from another Acts 29 Church, The Church of the Cross up in Phoenix
  • He did a great job continuing our series The Story of God by looking at the book of Ruth
  • So many great truths in that book
  • I’m so pumped about getting back and preaching this week on the book of Jonah, so many things in there that we often miss or overlook
  • Had a great creative meeting for our next series that starts August 20th
  • Seriously, you DO NOT want to miss a week of this series
  • It is going to be awesome
  • In case you missed it, Amazon is having a huge sale on their kindle books, you need to check some of them out
  • Yesterday, Katie shared an update on our adoption, if you haven’t read it, take a minute to do so
  • Thanks
  • It has been nice having my preaching break, it has given me the opportunity to work ahead on our sermon series for the fall
  • So excited about the topics and books of the Bible we will preach through
  • Planning to do Titus and Jude this fall which I think will be pretty eye opening to everyone
  • On August 25th, we are tentatively planning a special vision night at Revolution
  • This will be a huge night in the life of our church as we look to the future and how we will be a multiplying church around Tucson
  • I’m so excited to share some of the things that have been happening behind the scenes at Revolution
  • Stay tuned for more details
  • I’m going to get back to my book before heading out to a community dinner tonight

Letting People Know You Are Sinning

As a pastor, I get to hear a lot of things from people. Either in emails or in conversations. What is remarkable to me is how often people will say in a conversation or in an email, “I’m sinning and I want you to know about it.” Now, they won’t come out and say those exact words. They will tell you what is going on, why they are doing what they are doing, tell you they know what the Bible says and then proceed to tell you why it doesn’t apply to them.

What this also reveals is the idols that people worship. For example, when someone says “I don’t give back to God” and here is why, they are not only telling you about their sin, but telling you that comfort or control is an idol for them. They feel more in control if they don’t give back to God. Believing they can do more with 100% of their money than God can if they give back to him.

Another one that has come up recently, especially since Katie and I taught together on it in April has to do with roles at home and mother’s of young kids working. Many couples will read Titus 2 and say, “We need the money, my wife feels called to work outside the home, she wants to, so she is going to do it.” Even though Titus 2 is pretty clear. Also, men will hear in Genesis 2 and 1 Timothy 5 that they are to work and provide for their families, not be man enough to do this and ask their wife to carry their curse (Genesis 3) and responsibility (1 Timothy 5) “for a season.” This is always how it is put and ends up becoming a lifetime. They will attach “good reasons” to their sin. It is a mission field at work (never mind that a parents first mission field is their home), we need the money (we sinned to get into debt, so instead of trusting God we will sin to get out of debt). In talking with couples, it will reveal an approval idol. I want approval, I want to matter and the only way for that to happen is for me to work. I want to feed my comfort idol, and if we make more money we will have more, so I will be comfortable.

The bottom line is that many Christians have figured out how to work around the Bible. We read it and think, “that sounds hard or uncomfortable or will get in the way of what I want” so they don’t do it. What pastors then do is not push them on it. After the sermon mentioned above in April, a woman emailed me to tell me they were leaving our church because she didn’t like that I told her the Bible called her to be a wife and a mom first, then if she had time she should work. I have to smile about that because if someone is going to leave our church, I’ll take that reason because I’ve done my job as a pastor, I’ve told you what I believe the Bible says.

The problem is that many people sin and will tell you about it, but they will also follow Jesus in a way that doesn’t require Jesus. Living an easier life and sinning (not doing what the Bible calls us) is easy. It doesn’t require the power of the Spirit. It doesn’t require Jesus to die on the cross and rise from the dead. He has to do that for us to experience the freedom in the gospel, to need the power to do something we can’t do on our own.

The next time you read something in the Bible that sounds hard and sounds like something you can’t do (because that will be on every page of the Bible) remind yourself that God gave you the Holy Spirit. Jesus left and sent the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus to do what He did, that raised him from the dead. That same Spirit lives in you as a follower of Jesus to do all that God has called you to.