- I love this time of year
- The parties, gifts, spending time with family and friends and Christmas preaching
- Love it
- Starting to love Christmas music more and more
- It helps when you listen to it non-stop from Thanksgiving to Christmas
- If you’re looking for some good Christmas music, here is a list of our favorites
- Yesterday, we had lunch with someone who has been to Revolution 5 times and they brought 4 first time guests with them
- The first time guests were so excited about finding a church
- Love it
- Then, we had our staff and elder Christmas party last night
- So much laughter
- Can’t believe who I get to lead with
- In the background I kept checking the Steelers score only to find out that apparently we still remember how to play football
- A little late
- Winning now only screws up our draft pick so we need to keep losing
- We dedicated Judah at church yesterday
- Christmas has taken on a new meaning for me as an adoptive dad as I think about the relationship of Jesus and Joseph
- It was really special
- I’m posting my “best of” lists this week
- So hard to go through and make my favorite books and albums of the year
- Stay tuned for some good stuff
- Yesterday was a killer day at Revolution
- I got to preach on the resurrection from John 20
- If you missed it, you can listen to it here
- One of the things I love about preaching theology like that is how it stretches me as a communicator
- Things like the resurrection are true, beautiful, overwhelming and the answer to so many struggles and questions we have
- Yet, so many sermons and books make it too academic and not life changing
- You have to bring the logical and emotional arguments to theological preaching
- Read a killer leadership book over the weekend called Catalyst Leader
- Highly recommend it
- So excited for this coming Sunday at Revolution
- We’re wrapping up our series in John and I am preaching on one of my favorite passages in the entire bible: John 21
- Then on December 29th we are kicking off what I think will be a life changing series for a lot of people called Breathing Room
- Then, we are going to do something we’ve never done before: a woman series and a man series
- Going to be killer
- Time to get to it…
The holidays are special. Things are busy. There are parties, gifts to buy, cards to send, food to make and eat, and memories to be made. Kids will be off of school, parents will be off from work, Christmas specials will be on TV. There is a lot that is different in the month of December.
And, if you plan ahead as a parent, you can make December a special month. Here are some ideas:
- Listen to Christmas Music. I’m not a big fan of Christmas music. If you know me, this isn’t news. However, starting at Thanksgiving, we listen to it almost non-stop until Christmas. Why? It is a good tradition. The songs are about Jesus and my kids love music. I look for Christmas music we like and create a playlist that I load onto all our iPod’s and iPad’s so we can listen to it wherever we are. The kids listen to Christmas music as they go to sleep. This helps to change the mood of the month and communicates, this time of year is different. It has its own music. Here are some of the suggestions from our family.
- Take your kids on a special daddy date. Every week I take one of our kids on a daddy date. We go to a park, go to Starbucks to get a treat and play a game or whatever they decide (within reason). In December, I like to do something special. Usually on that daddy date, I’ll take them to the store to pick out a present for their siblings. My hope is they will learn generosity and thinking of others as we talk about why we give gifts to others. This year, Katie is taking our daughter to see The Nutcracker Ballet as an example.
- Record Christmas specials and watch them together. Kids love Christmas specials. At least my kids do. So, record them and watch them together. Here is a list of what is on ABC Family this year and when it is on.
- The tree. Whether you go out and cut your tree down, buy one or have a fake one (like we do here in AZ), make putting up the tree special. Build it up, plan it, make your own ornaments, tell stories about the ornaments you are putting up. And, listen to Christmas music while doing it.
- Do a special outing as a family. Some families go caroling, sledding. Some shop on black friday together. One thing we love to do is go to Winterhaven to see the lights on Christmas night. After a long Christmas day, it is great to get out of the house to walk around and look at lights.
- Eat special (and bad for you) food. I’m a health nut about what I eat. At the holidays, I ease off the gas pedal on that. Eat an extra dessert. Have the same thing each year to create a tradition. At our house on Christmas Eve, we make Cream of Crab soup and have chocolate fondue for dessert. We don’t make it any other time so it is extra special.
- Read a special book together. This year, we are working our way through The Chronicle of Narnia. We are taking extra time this month to read through it and it is sparking some great discussions about who God is, who Jesus is, what humans are like and why we need Jesus, and who we are like in story. Communicating the gospel to our kids doesn’t have to be difficult and we can use books and movies to do so.
- Make hot chocolate. You don’t make hot chocolate a whole lot any other time of the year. This is when you do it and it feels extra special because of that. Load it up with marshmallows, whipped cream.
- Celebrate Advent. As a church, we are celebrating Advent every week in our gatherings. In Planet Rev Sunday, we handed out a booklet for families to use with their kids. This year, our family is using a daily devotional Counting the Days, Lighting the Candles: A Christmas Advent Devotional. So far it is great.
- Give your wife a break. Revolution Church closes its offices between Christmas and New Years so our staff slows down and has a break. During this time, I am able to give Katie some downtime, get out without the kids, take an extra coffee date with a girlfriend, take a nap. This is a great time for you to serve your spouse.
- Slow down and be together. Years from now, your kids will remember very little about life as a child. They will remember however if you were there. So will you. Don’t miss it. Work isn’t that important. That party isn’t that important. Shopping for one more thing isn’t that important if it keeps you from being with those you love. I’ve been reminded recently by the illnesses of close friends of the brevity of life. If your kids ask you to snuggle or lay down with them, do it. One day they won’t ask.
What do you do as a family to make Christmas special?
- What a great thanksgiving weekend
- We had a packed house on Thursday of family and friends
- Love hosting a big party like that
- Even though my Steelers lost, they played hard
- Can’t believe we lost 4 starters in 4 plays at the end of the game to injuries
- What our season has been like
- Yesterday was a great day at Revolution Church as we had my friend Jack Schull from Elements City Church come to preach
- He did a great job
- Love the relationships we are building with other churches and the unity among pastors that is started to grow in Tucson
- If you missed it, you can listen to it here
- I have been moved by the generosity I am seeing in our church during this season with our Christmas offering and our partnership with Magee middle school (where we meet)
- If you haven’t given to our Christmas offering, you can do here
- We want to raise $10,000 to give away and fight sex trafficking in our city and plant churches and help bless Magee middle school
- Read 2 incredible leadership books over the weekend: Leadership as an Identity and The Heart of Leadership
- Excited to go and spend Wednesday with the other Acts 29 Pastors in Arizona
- Love to be praying with them, sharpened by them and hear how God is moving in their churches
- I’ve been reading John Stott’s book The Cross of Christ as I prepare to preach on the death of Jesus this week
- Overwhelming when you consider all the angles of why Jesus died
- And how I put Jesus on that cross and how clearly you can see my sin in the people who literally put Jesus on the cross in the gospels
- We are not having a service on Christmas Eve this year
- Instead, we will do a Christmas service on December 22nd about how to pick up the pieces of your year
- You definitely don’t want to miss it as we wrap up the gospel of John that day
- Not having a service on the 24th gives our volunteers a break and allows families to spend the time together
- We will hand out materials to do the final advent reading as a family or individual on Dec. 22nd
- On December 29th we are starting a brand new series that I am pumped about called Breathing Room
- It is going to be an incredible 4 weeks as we talk about how to find breathing room in your life, schedule, work, money, with your family and health
- Perfect way to start the new year
- So many great things happening in the next month
- Time to get at it
Tomorrow is thanksgiving and then Black Friday and then Christmas will be here. In the midst of the holidays, it is easy to fly through them and miss what matters most. I thought I’d take a minute to share some things I am thankful for this year.
- My wife. It is hard to believe that Katie and I have celebrated 18 thanksgivings together from marriage and dating. It never gets old. Everyday I am blown away by her patience with me and our kids, the determination she shows in teaching them and her growth in godliness. She wakes up while it is dark out just to read her bible and pray for me and our kids and other needs. Her generosity challenges me everyday. She opens our home up to people, makes them feel welcomed and loved whenever they are here. I love being with her, watching her grow and do things and seeing how God uses her.
- My kids. It is hard to believe that I have 5 kids. While transitioning 2 new kids in the last 2 years into our family via adoption has had its challenges, the joys have far outweighed those challenges. Each night as we sit around the table as a family I’m blown away the noise our family can make. I’m also wondering what impact our kids will make in the world. God brought each child into our family for a reason, given us 18 years to train them and disciple them into adults who love Jesus and I can’t wait to see what they do with that. It is humbling and an overwhelming task.
- My church. Revolution Church celebrated 5 years this past September. Many churches don’t make it past year one. The things God has brought us through have prepared us for what is ahead. Today, we are stronger than ever before. Our staff and leaders are more talented, gifted and passionate than ever before. Our staff and elders are stronger as a team than we’ve ever been. We are healthier, financially stronger than ever and on track to plant Revolution Church Midtown next year.
- God’s protection in our lives and church. While difficulties come every year and I’ve grown to expect them in life, it is amazing to see how God protected us as well. Friends have moved out of our lives, people have left Revolution and those always hurt, no matter what. They are also reminders of God’s protection and his perfect timing. Looking back, I’m able to see how God moved in the perfect way. He brought Judah into our family at the right time.
- The Steelers play on Thanksgiving night. While I’m not sure they’ll win, the fact that they will play is a great way to end the day.
- My parents living close. My dad is one of my best friends and I love my mom. It was hard living apart from them for so many years and it is awesome having them less than a mile from our house. I love watching the relationship they have with our kids.
- Time off. Many pastors either don’t take time off because of ego or because their church won’t let them. I love that I have some down time this weekend and have a great friend preaching for me (seriously, he is really good and you don’t want to miss it). Thanksgiving also means it’s almost Christmas which is a little bit more time to catch my breath and enjoy my family.
- Homeschooling. This has become a serious blessing to our family. I don’t talk about it that much because what we do for our family works for our family and I don’t believe homeschooling is the only way to educate your kids. It works for us, our rhythm, allows to be together more and be on mission more strategically as a family. This past year has been a real blessing for that.
- Life changing books. Every year I read a ton of books and I’m on pace to reach my goal of 75 this year. I read 3 life changing books this year: Start with Why (the best leadership book I’ve ever read), A Praying Life, and In Search of Deep Faith. If you want a book to read this month, pick one of those.
- A full house. Tomorrow, we will have a full house of family and friends. It never gets old having people into our house to enjoy a good meal. One of the things we want is to use our house to be open to people, to be hospitable. I love how our kids get this vision and ask who is coming over and how excited they get when people are here. A house is a gift from God and is meant to show people his love and grace. I’m hopeful that will happen tomorrow.
What are you thankful for this year?
- Hard to believe it is Thanksgiving week already
- Things are pretty exciting for the kids and the prospect of putting up our decorations and tree soon
- Judah will have no idea what is going on, so that should make it exciting
- I’m sure we’ll spend the next month picking up ornaments all over the house
- Yesterday was incredible at Revolution
- I am blown away by the relevance of preaching long series through books of the bible
- We’ve spent the last 2 weeks in John 17 looking at prayer through the prayer of Jesus and the response has been overwhelming
- Yesterday, I talked about what prayer changes and tried to answer the question of when we pray, what happens, what changes because of our prayers
- I had more comments from people about the sermon than I can remember in a long time
- And, I got to pray with a lot people walking through bitterness and cynicism yesterday
- If you missed either week, you can listen to them here
- We got to have the Principal of Magee with us yesterday to talk about how we are partnering with the school on a food & pajama drive this Christmas
- Love how we can partner with them
- And we talked about how we are using our Christmas offering which kicked off a few weeks ago
- We are hoping to reach our goal of $10,000 to bless others and move the gospel forward in our city
- We want to plant more churches, fight sex trafficking in our city and nation, and bless the school that we meet in
- Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve read two incredible books that I would highly recommend you read over the coming weeks
- One was A Praying Life, that I got a lot of ideas from for my sermons on prayer
- The other is In Search of Deep Faith, which has been incredibly challenging and encouraging to my faith as I think about how best to stay connected to a faith that is alive and rooted in Jesus instead of feelings and wants
- One of the traditions I love about Thanksgiving is that we grill our turkey
- It is the only way to do it, so much better than deep frying it
- Also, this year my Steelers play thanksgiving night against the dirty birds
- We better win as we actually have a shot at the playoffs
- Who would’ve thought after an 0-4 start
- I’ll share this week some of the things I’m thankful for
- I’d encourage you to write those things down, it is a great practice to give some perspective to your life and remind you of all that you have
- I’m also excited about having some downtime and relaxing this week
I thought I’d share a few quick things I’m thankful for:
- My wife. I still can’t believe how blessed I am to have Katie in my life. Hard to believe that we are celebrating our 17th thanksgiving together, 10 of those in marriage. Each year, she gets more and more beautiful, and our marriage gets sweeter and sweeter. I could not ask for a better wife.
- My kids. This year, I have 4. Last thanksgiving, Nehemiah wasn’t even on our radar, but now he’s celebrating his first thanksgiving. I love the laughter of my kids, their imaginations, their energy and how they keep me on my toes. Being a father is truly one of my life’s greatest blessings.
- A new house. We moved last month and couldn’t be happier in our new house. We have more room for our family and having people over, and we’re closer to our friends, church and where we do life.
- Completing a dream. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book. This year, I decided by the end of the year I would know if that dream would become a reality. I’m close to knowing and it looks really good.
- My church. Most church plants do not reach the place Revolution is, and I’m thankful for where we are. Our team is stronger than ever, our church is picking up steam and God is doing some incredible things in the life of people. We’ve seen 5 people start following Jesus in the last month.
- My friends. Last night, we had several friends over and will have more over today. I know many pastors do not have any friends at their church, and I’m blessed to have many. I’m thankful for the friends I have, because several of them are becoming lifetime friends.
- My health. It’s crazy to think that 5 years ago, I weighed 130 pounds heavier than I do now. I can’t imagine going back to that body and lifestyle. I’m grateful that at 33, I’m in the best shape of my life and feel great.
- Today. We grill our turkey, hang with friends, watch a lot of football and eat too much crab dip. Thankful for those things.
What are you thankful for?
- Darryl Dash on How preaching shapes the church.
- What you teach really, really matters.
- Chris Sprad on 5 ways a father can make thanksgiving special for his son and 5 ways a mother can make thanksgiving special for her daughter.
- Thom Rainer on Adultery and leadership.
- Church growth is all about the pastor. Do you agree with this?
- David Murray on Sermon preparation in the midst of a busy schedule part 1 and part 2.
- What a weekend in my life and at Revolution Church
- Yesterday at church, we dedicated Nehemiah
- It was overwhelming to have our missional community stand with us as we stood in front of our church and commit to raise Nehemiah in a God honoring way
- Love how we are now including our missional communities in the child dedication
- Got to preach on spiritual adoption yesterday and talk about how God adopts us through Jesus
- It is one of the most beautiful, yet neglected doctrines in all of scripture
- The idea that God would pursue and choose us, give us the inheritance only Jesus deserves because he loves us
- I got real emotional at the end of my sermon yesterday because I read a letter I wrote to Nehemiah about his adoption and the adoption into God’s family that we pray for him to experience
- It is amazing the questions and feelings an adopted child feels and asks, and how closely we ask those same questions about God our father
- Today, we finalized our adoption of Nehemiah
- It was crazy to stand there and answer the questions of the state and how we will provide for him, how we will treat him as one of our own
- He really has become one of our own, in so many ways
- One thing that was special was to have so many friends and family be a part of yesterday and today
- So grateful for that community
- After all the hustle and bustle of last week, I’m really looking forward to some down time with my family this week
- Thanksgiving his definitely coming at the right time
- We talked about our next series coming on December 2, 9 and 16th called Man vs. Wife
- So excited for this series
- It’s been awhile since we’ve preached on marriage, dating, being single, preparing for marriage, divorce, and parenting
- This is how we’re beginning to celebrate Christmas at Revolution
- Mark your calendars for December 23rd, our Christmas Eve Eve service at Revolution Church
- We won’t have church on the 24th, but we will on the 23rd
- We’re kicking off the advent season this week at church
- Always a special time to slow down in the midst of the busy holidays and talk about Jesus and why we celebrate Christmas
I hope you got to spend Thursday with family and friends, that you are a few pounds heavier, but that your heart is fuller from this past week. We celebrated black Friday by sleeping in and going to a family movie, a great way to celebrate if you ask me.
Katie and I were reflecting on Thursday night after our kids were down, our house was empty and quiet, and we talked through all the things we have to be thankful for. God has provided for us personally in so many incredible ways, and for our church. Just 3 years ago when we celebrated Thanksgiving, Paul and Jennifer were just beginning the process to move out here, we were trying to break 40 as a church and just get off the ground. Today, God has moved in Tucson in some powerful ways. Our missional communities are up and running, with more to come in 2012, we are beginning plans to plant a Revolution Church in downtown Tucson in the next 18 months.
We are continuing our series in the book of Titus this week and looking at Titus 2:9 – 16. Here’s a snapshot at what we’ll look at this week: Tell someone they have a chest of gold buried in their back yard, or that they have a terminal disease and you can see how much what we know and believe changes us. For a Christian, the implications that spring from believing in the grace of God and the knowledge of what Jesus completed His death, burial and resurrection are radically transformational. Because of this, as Paul wrote to Titus he talked about how important it was to ground people in truth and to make sure they were sound in their faith. This week we will be finishing up Titus 2 and look at how “who God is” and ” what He has done” transforms our lives and equips every Christian to be used mightily for the gospel.
This is an incredibly important message for all of us because following Jesus is not something we earn, or keep up with, it is a gift we receive and follow in obedience. What a gift to be thankful for.
We will also be continuing our Christmas offering, with the money being split between our church plant in downtown Tucson and helping those in financial need in our community and city. I want to challenge you to be praying about how you can be a part of this as we move forward. Our goal this year is to raise $11,000 and we are on our way.
Also this week, we will be kicking off Advent. Each year as we enter the Christmas season, we pause in our gatherings to read Scripture, pray and light a candle as we focus on the birth of Jesus. It is always a powerful time as we prepare for the month ahead, the parties, the gifts, family, the speed we will live at and quiet our hearts to remember why this season is so powerful and important.
Also this week, because of the thanksgiving holiday and our desire to worship together as a church family, we will have one service at 5pm this Saturday only. So adjust your schedules accordingly and we will see you at 5pm as we kick off Advent, continue our journey through Titus and our Christmas offering.
So, do whatever you have to do to be at Revolution this week (and bring someone with you, you never know how a simple invite can make an eternal difference). An easy way to invite someone is to send them an e-vite.
Remember, we meet at 5pm (this Saturday only) at 6620 E 22nd St.
See you Saturday.
- Scot McKnight shared about his time at LCBC. This is a church in the town I grew up in that is doing some pretty amazing things. And I have a friend on staff there, Jason Mitchell.
- Is your church healthy? Church health is one of the most important things a leader keeps his pulse on.
- How the new Chris Tomlin CD came about.
- Matt Keller on 6 tools to remember someone’s name.
- Michael Hyatt on The best way to read blogs. He suggest google reader, which is what I use. Saves a ton of time.
- A scary, but interesting article on sleep apnea.
- How churches are using twitter, blogs and Facebook. If you aren’t using these as a pastor, you are missing a great opportunity. Speaking of which, you can follow Revolution on twitter here and join our Facebook page here.
- Since yesterday was Thanksgiving, I shared some things I am thankful for.
- A pastor in Florida has banned his church from Facebook. Any thoughts?
- If you are a new Christian, here is a good place to start.
- Jani Ortlund on The 6 second kiss. This is a great concept for couples.