Monday, August 4, 2014
There was a sense of accomplishment for #ServetheCity. Tangible proof was before our eyes. God did an amazing work, and we were witness to it and blessed to put our hands on it. For 31 days and more, July 2013 was incredible.
Saturday evening, I took down the city map in our church entrance containing Lego blocks of our #ServetheCity campaign for 2014. We removed the Lego-style coroplast block wall from the stage and threw tape-laced plastic into the dumpster. We tucked away clipboards, threw away sign up sheets, changed out the decor and moved on. No fanfare, no news media, no big production, nobody there to pat us on the back. The close to 31 days of serving was as silent as the balloons lifted in a memorial celebration one hour before.
#ServetheCity drifted away with a whisper.
Funny thing, we still build houses at Revolution Church.
Project Restoration happened again, you just don't realize it yet. Before we put up the studs, we had to fortify the wall.
Be patient, this reveal may be bigger than the last one.
I love you, and these are my thoughts.
Friday, May 30, 2014
I was returning a weed trimmer to our local Wal-Mart because it was broken. Upon entering the store, I walked through the striped area of the parking lot marked for pedestrian crossing. The white stripes and big yellow signs instruct drivers to stop and yield to pedestrians.
An elderly lady driving a late-model Cadillac was speeding through the main lane of the retail parking lot. She was moving at a higher-than-normal rate of speed, and upon entering the white markings of the pavement, she refused to slow down. Never eased off anything. There was a family walking behind me, and I decided to step toward her car with my hands out (as best I could) and instruct her to please slow down and stop.
She did not. In fact, she wheeled it into a handicapped parking space perpendicular to the store and slammed on her brakes without ever breaking her speed, likely in excess of 20-25 miles per hour.
I walked away and into the store, making no further comment except to the family next to me, expressing "wow" as I cruised into the shopping center.
About three minutes later, I am standing in the rear of the customer service line and I see the same lady, wearing bright pink from head to toe, going full throttle with a shopping cart on a mission. She's looking for me. She looks left, sees me standing in line, and makes a deliberate fast walk with her cart toward customer service. I have about 30 seconds to prepare for the impending argument before she starts yelling. I never make eye contact, seeing her out of peripheral vision.
"You can shut your mouth is what you can do," she said. "You're a little young smart a--, that's what you are, a little young smart a--."
Without raising my voice, I said "Ma'am, I did not have my children with me, but others do. That area is marked for you to stop for a reason. You were driving way too fast and all I asked you to do was slow down and stop."
She yelled there was no stopping there, that she was entitled to park in that space whenever she wanted because she was "handicapped" and again called me a vulgar name at the top of her voice.
At this point, all I could think of was the many times in the past I would have enjoyed a loud argument here. I thought of my shirt, representing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the words "unashamed." I saw the people around me, none of which I knew, until I noticed the attention of Vashon, my favorite clerk at Wal-Mart who routinely checks my family in the cashier line. She was working customer service about 20 feet away. Vashon always refers to me as "pastor" and has become a family friend. Later, she treated me no differently upon checkout.
The lady continued to yell and cuss. I had my back turned and politely asked her to stop, and go away. She would not back down. Even the lady behind me in the line was fed up with her and came to my defense. She later defended my actions to a Wal-Mart manager who came to the customer service area.
At this point, I said to her "ma'am, I just asked you to slow down and stop. Now let it go."
She yelled again.
"Ma'am, if you run into a child in this parking lot, calling me names is the least of your problems."
She yelled again.
Without turning around, I said "Ma'am, I'm done. Please go on."
I repeated this phrase three times until she angrily slung her cart into a check out aisle and walked away.
It's therapeutic for me to share this story, but it has bothered me much today to know that others may have seen the incident from the inside only, and not known why she was upset at me in the first place. Perhaps I came across rude, or insensitive, but to anyone who viewed the entire incident, I would hope I was patient and did my best to offset her anger and let her show the bad example.
Jesus said turn the other cheek. And that's hard enough by itself. To do so with our mouth closed is even tougher.
It's a reminder - our words can get us into trouble, even when we are innocent. Taking chances to do the right thing might result in angering others who do not feel their actions are in the wrong.
I would have gladly taken that car to my legs to keep someone else's children from being hit. Thankfully, that did not happen.
But being called a smart a-- did, and being a pastor does not alleviate me from the temptation to argue back with the most insensitive person I have met today. To her account of the story, I'm sure I have not been painted in the most positive light.
When I lay my head down to sleep tonight, I have to know I did the right thing, and I hope Jesus is pleased that I represented what's in my heart even better than what's on my shirt.
And if by chance you're the woman that made a scene reading this, it's not wrong for me to tell you to slow down before you kill someone.
Your handicap sticker may give you the rights to that space, but it doesn't give you the right to break the law. So in the name of Jesus, slow down.
And watch your mouth.
I just have to be sure to watch mine.
I love you all and these are my thoughts. I hope you have better encounters today.
Friday, May 9, 2014
I will get an opportunity to spend Mother's Day in 2014 with my family, because my family came to my rescue. If you've never heard the full story and would like to take a few moments to read, I've never really shared it. So here's my first account of my second chance.
Thursday night before Mother's Day, Noah had a game on field five at White House City Park. I was not his head coach and had not been pitching, but on this night I was asked to pitch and felt great. Immediately following the game, the church softball team was on field 6 and I played a doubleheader. My body felt awesome and I showed no signs of physical problems. At the close of the game, I stopped at McDonald's drive-thru and picked up food and headed home. I was tired, and fell asleep on the couch almost immediately.
Friday morning, I was scheduled to meet Chris Alsup at Lowe's to begin purchasing items to fill a shipping container heading to Jamaica, which was sitting on the church property and had to be loaded by Saturday. Except that when I awoke, I was so sick about 5 a.m. that I could not get up. My blood sugar was elevated because I had fallen asleep and not added the proper dose for my food at bedtime. So I took insulin, thinking in a while the levels would settle. But I told Jen I did not have the strength to get up.
By 6:30, Jen and the kids were gone. I found the strength to get to my phone and text Chris that I was not going to make it. Missing appointments is one of the most embarrassing things for me in life, but I simply could not go on.
Before 9 a.m. arrived, I had made around 15 trips to the bathroom, many times vomiting while on the toilet. I slept for 20 minutes on the bathroom floor because I did not have the strength to return to the living room. Once, I am pretty sure I passed out on the bed and woke up when I was sick again. At this point, I know something is deathly wrong but I cannot find the strength to even get to the kitchen counter where my phone is located.
Here comes Corey. He's my brother, and he was working a night shift. So long about 10 a.m. I can faintly remember the Price is Right in the background on the television and Corey coming into the house to check on me. I really don't remember how or why he got there, whether I called someone or it was a chance happening. I was seizing by now, muscle spasms and speech slurred.
Corey contacts my mom. She arrives, tries to help but nothing is working, so she suggests a trip to the hospital. I was defiant, and I had a speaking engagement scheduled in White House at noon. I was supposed to give the introduction and invocation for Captain Jeff Mingledorff at the Civil War Memorial trail marker dedication.
While mom and Corey were in the other room, I told them I was going to the bedroom to get ready. I collapsed twice while laying out my clothes. After a third collapse, I began shaking uncontrollably and developed a high fever. I covered up in the bed until I had to vomit again. I found my way to the phone where I looked up the number for Captain and called him. Truthfully, he seemed to be in a panic that I could not come, so I offered to find a replacement.
Pastor Phillip Wright of White House First United Methodist Church, who is my good friend, offered to fill the slot even though his time was short. Captain was ok with this, but did not seem to understand the severity of the situation. At this point, I had not even called Jennifer.
Mom enters the room.
"Did you just cancel your event?" she said.
"Yes, I can't go. I just can't go."
"Have you EVER cancelled an event like that?" she added.
"No, in 16 years I have never missed a speaking engagement anywhere."
"Then we're going to the hospital," she said. "Get up. Corey will take you."
I felt like it took over two hours to get out of the house. Corey drove my truck, and I stumbled out of the house and down the steps, and my momentum carried me to the passenger seat where I collapsed. My muscles were still seizing and I was freezing cold.
Going out of the house, I told Corey to get my phone. He did, and it dropped on the concrete porch and shattered the screen of a white iPhone4. I was so sick I couldn't even be mad.
We arrived at the emergency room at Hendersonville Hospital and I was immediately taken back and placed on a table. My vitals were horrific, checking in with a blood pressure of 65/21. I was placed flat back, stood up on my head, and dosed with heavy medication to raise my blood pressure. There was a friend of ours working in the ER and she was doing her best to take care of me. Jen took my phone away and I told her not to post ANYTHING about what was happened except to pray for me.
After a couple of hours, it was nearing 4 p.m. and there were seven people outside of my wife in the room in the ER. I was in a private room, not a curtained one.
"We know what he has, but we don't know why," I heard one of them say.
So I asked if I was dying. They lied to me.
"No, no, honey, you're doing great," they said. Bunch of liars. ;)
STAGE FOUR, SEPTIC SHOCK
I will never, ever, ever forget those words. I heard them clear as a bell while having a muscular seizure on the bed. They had turned my vitals screen away from me so I could not see it. I was literally an hour or less away from death if this did not improve.
I would find out later that my chances of survival were about 50 percent, and that 1 in 4 patients diagnosed with this did not recover and fatally reached the end of their life when organs shut down.
As a diabetic, this was even more scary because my immune system is weak and my organs are not at full capacity like a normal healthy person.
They took blood cultures, hooked me up to as many as 14 wires and IV lines at one time, and tested me nearly naked for insect bites or ticks. They evaluated everything I had eaten for the past 24 hours and took every precaution to make sure they found the source.
I got the call to move to the critical care unit. The emergency room had made the decision there was nothing else they could do. Without serious medical care immediately, I was likely going to die of septic shock. The seizures in my arms and neck and head were so violent now I could not lie still.
As Jen was being prepped about the move, one of the nurses came in.
I will never forget this, and I don't even think I have ever told Jennifer.
She grabbed my hand, cried, and told me she was sorry she couldn't make me better and then she prayed for me and left. I never spoke a word. She was crying as she walked out the door.
I got upstairs in CCU. The first few hours were tests and medicine. About four hours in, I started releasing some of the medicine from my body and it took three people to get me to the bathroom and hold all of my medical equipment. Basically, modesty was out the window at this point.
My last visitor came in at 9 p.m. My next visitor came in at 9 a.m. I laid wide awake for nearly 12 hours with no contact except the night-time nurse checking on my vitals. I seized all night long. It was the longest night of my life.
By morning, I was barely improving but my blood pressure had stabilized. I had gained 14 pounds of fluid overnight from the medicine. I needed two bags of magnesium and I think I took potassium but there were so many things I can't remember. The magnesium drips were like steel rods being jammed into my veins. By Saturday afternoon, the seizing finally stopped.
I moved into a regular room. I got into a heated argument with a nurse because the doctor at Hendersonville refused to let me put on my insulin pump and take any insulin, despite the fact that my blood sugar was high. I finally sent Jen home to get my pump and against doctor's orders, I put it on myself.
Amazingly, my blood sugar returned to normal. Imagine that.
By Saturday night, I was in a room and visitors were coming heavy. I remember lots of people coming by. I remember one person telling me I looked fat. Well, I was. My kids were almost in shock and didn't know what to say. Madison had been on a field trip that Jen was supposed to be on and didn't go.
"You're superman. You have to get out of that bed because you're supposed to be the one taking care of us."
I can still see the tear-filled face that spoke those words. For the first time in my life, every bit of superman in me was gone. I was helpless, I was hurting, I was empty. The reality that I almost died was sinking in, and I was not out of the woods.
Sunday afternoon late, I went home. On Monday, I saw my local doctor. I had a Jamaica trip in four weeks already paid.
Pastor Joe preached on a moment's notice that Sunday after coming Saturday to see me. I never had my phone for three days. He and a crew loaded the Jamaica container without me there. I was so blessed to see people step up.
At the doctor on Monday, I knew he wasn't even going to discuss the Jamaica trip until we ran tests on my organs.
And guess who shows up? Traci McAughty.
I'm leaving the doctor's room, having been told that I might have suffered major damage to my kidneys and that I needed to wait until the results came back. So here comes Amy Harper and Donna Brigance, who work at CrossRoads Medical Group, and Traci is back in their office (I think Mary Beaty was there, too). We prayed and Traci offered me encouragement, and here she was coming off treatment herself.
My lab work and organ tests showed no major damage.
My blood cultures never revealed the source of the infection, other than a bacterial infection which could have been food, insect or environment borne.
And I went to Jamaica. I was weak, and I still to this day have not recovered the muscle mass I lost in my legs and arms over a three-day stretch.
Why is not a question for me to answer, though it was a proving ground that I did not have to be superman anymore.
God has surrounded me with some great people.
I am learning I cannot be everything to everybody.
I'm just thankful for every person who he sent to be there for me. So to my brother, thank you. To that nurse, thank you. To the hospital staff, thank you. To Pastor Joe, thank you. To all the people who came, thank you. To my church, thank you.
Had I stayed home two more hours, the doctor later told me at best I would have been on kidney dialysis the rest of my life. At worst, I would have died and those chances were high.
To my mom, the best thank you I can say is that I will see you Sunday.
Without you, I would have never had that chance.
So why don't the rest of you join me on Mother's Day at Revolution?
I have some making up to do.
Friday, April 25, 2014
|Mikayla Everette, daughter of Joe and Amber|
Today, a little piece of you separated from the edge of the puzzle. You cried, and at various moments emotion will overtake your day at work and at home. You embarked on a new journey and signed your child up to begin elementary school, officially.
For the last four to five years, your home has been filled with the daily sounds and routines of toys bouncing across the floor, and a sudden stain which has no explanation, only an innocent look and lovable denial. Daytime naps, conversations filled with pre-school words you do not understand but yet make you smile echoed through the air of a porch swing gliding through the breeze. The greenway knows your secret laughter by listening to the giggles from a stroller. A pile of clothes, stuffed animals and shoes which no longer fit tease you back into a past you will never recapture.
This is why you cry.
Far be it from me to lecture you as a parent on how to handle this day. I'm a man, a pastor, a father of children heading into the sixth grade and the fourth grade, and just a year removed from conquering my own emotional demon by sending my little girl to middle school. But I recognized as I opened my news feed this morning that there is a common thread in our communities and our homes today, and staring through a window over a cup of coffee, you hear your child playing in the background knowing that days like this are about to be over.
And it's ok. It really is ok.
So this is an open letter to the Kindergarten registration parent. Please give me one moment of your time.
1. Dear mom, your child will be a world changer because of you.
The values instilled into your child since birth will be reflected in how God reveals their character and charisma. The stories they will tell to a teacher, who is not taking your place but rather becoming a partner with you in this role to raise a child, will mirror the values you have placed in them. Daily, backpacks will be filled with notes and pictures to mom. You will have pink hair, big eyes and a crayon-colored head so big that you swear your child thinks you are a teenage mutant ninja turtle. And you will love every moment of it, even the house with a front door and two windows and a picket fence and smoke billowing out a fake chimney when you live in a suburban condo on the second floor.
But their imagination knows no bounds, and you have taught them. Think of what those teachers will hear. My mommy is awesome. My mommy has a dog and he is really hairy. I miss my mommy. My mommy goes to Yoga class because she tells my daddy he is fat and she is not going to look like him when she is 34. My mommy is old, she turned 28 today. My grandma said that when my mommy was growing up she wet the bed but I never wet the bed unless I drink Kool-aid past 8 o'clock.
I love my mommy more than anything in the world. And your teacher will cry, not in front of the child but when she returns to her desk, because she dreams of one day having a child just like yours that thinks you are the greatest thing on planet earth.
Once, while watching the Price is Right and updating your Facebook status, your child interrupted you and crawled up into your lap and took a nap and while silence navigated the room with just a tick of the clock in the distance, you were teaching. You were nurturing a child which one day will become just like you.
And the first parent-teacher conference, you will see it. Right there on the chalkboard or in the hallway will be what your child never brought home but revealed for the scholastic world. A hand-drawn picture of you and your family and your world. And you'll get it. You are raising a world changer, and your influence carried past your own home even though letting go ripped your heart out of your chest.
It's because of you, so never quit investing.
2. Dear dad, the fish really was this long, and you can beat up everybody.
Now for dads, less of you will be reading this blog because it's just not your thing. But on the slight chance that you got off the mower or stepped away from the loading dock (how's that for stereotypical role designation, but I digress) and checked this out, let me help you pose like Hulk Hogan for a moment.
At the very time your child was registered for kindergarten, they were already building stories of your fame, and most of them aren't lies, it's just that you really love it when they stretch the truth. To your child's teacher, you are 6-foot-7, 245 pounds of solid Man of Steel frame, reel in 18-inch catfish and have a black Labrador retriever who can read the newspaper and weed eat the lawn for you. You can throw a baseball 900 feet, on one leg, and your John Deere zero-turn riding lawn tractor looks like a farmer's combine when they ride it back into the garage on the foot pedestal.
You'll look rather strange and down right ugly in purple marker compared to your spouse in the picture, and God-forbid you are balding on top or have glasses because suddenly your portrait will take the shape of a minion from Despicable Me (which, for the record, your child thinks are incredibly epic).
Letting go isn't as hard for you because the nurturing role for the working man is already filled with long periods of separation. But then again, there's the stay-at-home dad who will miss those mornings playing with the cat on the front porch as your child pulled its ear and then screamed like a crime scene upon getting clawed across the right knee.
But your kisses have sealed up wounds and put broken bones back into place. Your hands are so big the world rotates in them. And you can beat up your child's friend's dad, even though next September you are going to see him in the car-rider line and realize he's the one who fights in UFC on the weekend.
But your child doesn't know that. Because you are a hero. And you, too, have done your job. It's time for your kindergartener to release their own cape.
3. Dear parent, the road gets hard, but it's worth it.
My kindergarten experience with our second child was so rewarding, even though you might not think so because my son Noah spent the majority of the year in a wheelchair. Picking him up from school every day, we had to go through the center of the hallway where every child and teacher would reach out and give him a high five.
As much time as I have invested in the raising of my children, releasing them into a new world comes with tremendous challenges. They will poop in their pants while you are in a meeting two hours away. A grandparent will forget to pick them up because they are working in the garden, likely at the same time you have taken a business trip to Missouri.
Vomit happens, about two times a year, as does strep throat, the local allergy of the month, and the hypochondriac parent who freaks out every time you get near them with dirt, snot, or a bodily fluid which cannot be easily identified.
The chances are high you will encounter times of learning struggles, special needs, attention to details which your child cannot grasp, and an overly-extroverted child who gets marks on the chalkboard for all the wrong reasons (INSERT NAME was disruptive today). Perhaps your sweet angel will cry with separation anxiety, or refuse to talk to others, or make your heart melt when you punish them (you're a sucker and you know it).
During these moments you will encounter an opportunity to teach your children about the values of life that are bigger than words can explain. Your child will light up, learning to love others in spite of their differences, and melting your prejudices about social class and skin color and culture of origination, or even whether or not their parents taught them to speak proper English. The world will come alive as a new generation is reminded that those with special needs and disabilities are champions, and realizing that no one yet has taught your child to look at them any differently and how pure their heart loves all kids.
And they'll cuss, because the clown of the class taught them how to say the a-word. And they don't even know what it means, but Johnny's momma told him it was in the Bible so get his "blank" in there and clean his room.
And then there's the first report card. It won't have As and Bs, but satisfactory and excellent and needs improvement, and you will find what an incredible joy you feel that your child's writing on a 3-year-old level is actually NOT that big of a deal in this point of development.
Someone will break an arm, get a black eye, and you might be the one called in because your child ripped Woody's arm off by refusing to share.
And it's ok.
Whatever you felt reading this, today is the beginning of a new journey.
I'm on this road with you and I felt like you needed this today.
So cry it out, share it up, and let your child embark on a new adventure. Just wait until you get the first supply list (surprise!!!)
Now pardon me, I've written so long that it stirred up an emotion. Noah's friend said he was a Cubs fan and tried to get Noah to come to his side.
Looks I'm gonna have to go beat up his dad.
Peace out, and be blessed. Go Cards.
Kris Freeman is the lead pastor of Revolution Church in White House, TN, and he and his wife Jennifer have been married 16 years and have two kids, Madison and Noah. Jennifer is awesome, and Kris left his socks on the floor this morning and is in trouble when he gets home.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
A few specific things I would like to mention:
- The weather was incredible. God, that might have been the best Easter weather I have ever experienced, and all of us are giving praise after a very tough year in 2013 for weather during the Easter holiday.
- Two people followed Jesus Christ as their Savior. Four people were baptized to show public recognition of their faith. Over 30 hands were raised in our worship experiences to rise above their past. Life change is what this is all about. Every person, every hand, every story matters.
- There were well over 100 volunteers on various teams working together to make this possible. Many of them started early in the week, from stage design to stuffing Easter eggs, to decorating, mowing, cooking, cleaning, teaching, singing, playing (music and games!), ushering, greeting, parking, checking in, checking out, button pushing and camera moving. I probably left something out. I guarantee a nameless person even cleaned the toilets. It matters.
- Revolution Church experienced the largest single-day attendance in the history of our church, the second largest single-service attendance (only behind January 1, 2012 when we moved into the building) during our 10:30 a.m. service when we were at max capacity, and the largest combined weekend attendance for all events. Combined Easter worship attendance was 644, and it is estimated that over 400-plus people attended the event on Saturday with food, games, balloon launch and egg hunts. At one point, every single parking spot was full and we have a big lot.
- Our early service (9 a.m.) broke an attendance record for combined attendance, adults, and kids ministry.
- We stuffed over 9,000 eggs for Revolution and gave away almost 3,000 plus 10 volunteers to the community egg hunt at White House City Park on Saturday morning with our friends from other churches. There were 250 balloons launched in honor and memory of Casey Bush.
- We gave away a record number of items in first impressions, and served almost 400 food items on Saturday at the cookout. Wow!
It was inconvenient. You know it was crazy! And crazy good! Our volunteer teams rocked it for three services, some even staying from 7 a.m. to after 2 p.m. on Sunday, having also been there Friday night and all day Saturday. A few attendees in the 10:30 a.m. service had to stand up. Kids ministry was exploding. I know you're tired, and it is the good kind of tired.
Two final thoughts:
- God gets all the glory, and the measure of our success is not in the numbers, it is in the process of moving people from first-time attendees to fully-devoted followers of Christ, growing in discipleship. Let's grow families, let's work hard to make every week as important as Easter. Let's continue to develop healthy systems which foster an environment of generational and transformational change for broken people who deserve a second chance. This is the Revolution to live, love, serve. Bragging on Jesus for one weekend is fleeting if we do not follow it up with the same effort and energy to lift up His name EVERY SINGLE DAY. EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND.
- Thank you for doing what we asked of you. It is important for Revolution Church to make personal contacts to invite our friends and family to church. To maximize our budget, we did not place an emphasis on mass mailings or expensive advertisements to our community. We instead made the target audience a list of personal contacts by postcards, invite cards, social networking and face-to-face invitation. And you did it. It was such a blessing to see you make the simple invite. And best of all - we gave it all away. Food, games, gifts, eggs, candy, it's all possible because of your collective efforts. We are intentional about loving and serving people. PEOPLE MATTER. YOU MATTER. Don't ever believe what you do doesn't make a difference and that we do not appreciate it.
I know we ask much, so that's why the thank you is so important. Let's do it again this Sunday and prove to Jesus that we believe He is still alive and worthy of all we have.
I love you, and these are my thoughts.
P.S. If you're still reading, let's be humble about our successes in how we share with others. God has blessed our church to have grown from a kitchen table in three and a half years to what we have been blessed with now. Somewhere around us is a pastor, church, volunteers and team who worked just as hard and their numbers do not reflect it. Their 10 or 50 or 75 are just as important as what God did at Revolution Church, and what God did at Long Hollow Church, for example, because we could certainly look at the success of others above and beyond our reach.
We are in this together. And no one is greater than the other. It's all about Jesus, and don't forget it.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
God is doing amazing things at Revolution Church. Can I tell you about a few of them? DON'T STOP READING BECAUSE THE LAST PART IS THE BEST PART!
- In two weeks, we will have a meeting to finalize the purchase of the property at 3644 Highway 31-W in White House. It's where we are currently meeting, and we will continue to partner with Trinity Fellowship Church who meets adjacent to us. Upon approval, we have a goal to close on the property and facilities by Easter Sunday.
- We have experienced the largest number of first-time guests in the past five weeks than any period since the launch of our church.
- We had another quarterly membership dinner today. People are connecting to the mission and getting plugged in!
- Saturday is our partnership with Generation Church and the prom outreach event. We still need volunteers and we still need dresses, jewelry and attire by Saturday!
- There are already 29 people signed up for the Project Restoration build on March 29th with Jeff and Jenny Long and the playground for children with special needs.
- Pastor Kris is going to Africa on a mission trip, March 21-31.
And this next one is a big one.
Our RevKids ministry is literally busting at the seams. So here's the deal. We had a near record number of kids today in our RevKids ministry, which is already divided into five age groups or categories (RevKids, Juniors, Buddies, Tots, Babies). We have expanded our classrooms for Kids and Juniors, added classrooms for Buddies and keep putting more stuff and people for Tots and Babies because those little adorable critters are everywhere! We even moved our offices to make the youth center dedicated to kids and students.
You want to plug in? This is where you can.
We are intentional about an environment to share Jesus with our children. We are there to be fun, to be impactful, to be safe, secure and solid in our commitment. As we consider as leaders the potential of adding a third service to accommodate our growth, the most essential area of excellence is working with our RevKids ministry.
Can you give ONE WORSHIP SERVICE PER MONTH? Here's how:
- Sign up by commenting below on Facebook to volunteer, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and Pastor Ian and Katie will contact you.
- Fill out a secure background check form required for all children's workers.
- Find an area of service and interest (teaching, assisting, hospitality, technology, kids check in and check out).
- Serve one service per month minimum, and on that day, attend adult worship in the alternate time slot. For example, if you worship with adults in the first service, you can serve in the second.
That's it. Be intentional, make a difference, and let's grow the generation that makes up a large demographic of our church.
You can do it, because you are awesome. And after reading this blog, there will be 10 new team members by next week.
God is on the move. Go with him, and experience something awesome.
Thank you for being a great church.
"Do what you need to do. Go ahead. I am with you, heart and soul."
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Ten Questions For Leaders to Ask Each Week
A Ministry Evaluation by Chuck Lawless
1. Have I decreased, and Jesus increased during this past week? By looking at your schedule, activities, conversations, thoughts, and priorities, whose kingdom have you sought to build this week– God’s or yours? Are you more conformed to the image of Jesus this week?
2. What do I know about God and His Word I didn’t know last week? If you’ve learned nothing new, it’s possible that: you haven’t sought God through study this week; you’ve studied, but it’s been routine and non-transforming; you’ve been a Christian so long you don’t think much about any needed growth; and/or, you’ve stopped growing. None of these possibilities should mark a godly leader.
3. Would someone want to pray like I’ve prayed this week? Jesus’ disciples watched and listened as Jesus spent intimate time with His Father — and they in turn wanted to pray like He did. They longed to experience what He experienced in prayer. Knowing your prayer life this past week, would you be pleased for someone to model his/her prayer life after yours?
4. Would my family say they are my priority based on this week’s activities? You can’t answer this question, of course, on your own–but you can take the risk to ask it. How would your spouse answer this question? your children? How much of your undivided attention did they get this week? What or who would they say is most important to you?
5. With whom did I attempt to share the gospel this week? Some evangelistic attempts do not result in your proclaiming the whole message, but we are never given permission to do less than share the Word with others. Did you at least make legitimate attempts to do so this week? With whom? Are you praying for those persons?
6. Who will walk more with Christ next week because he/she learned from me this week? This question hits at your disciple making work this week. If no one learned from you in an intentional mentoring relationship, I doubt it’s because no one wanted to walk with you. More often it’s because we haven’t prioritized mentoring like Jesus did.
7. Did I hide anything this past week (and, more pointedly, am I hiding anything now)? The devil works in our secrets. He delights in our darkness, even when our outward Christian walk appears to be solid. Godly leaders, on the other hand, know that nothing less than honest confession and heartbroken repentance bring our sin under the light of God’s forgiveness.
8. If I were to step out of my leadership role today, would the work continue well without me? You may be new in your role, but even new leaders must quickly seek to improve their organizations. If the work you lead would be seriously stymied by your departure, you may not be leading the organization well. In fact, you may be committing idolatry of the self if you are the center of the work.
9. What would my team say about my leadership this week? It’s likely they see you most closely. They hear your words, watch your reactions, and examine your life. They know when you say one thing and do another. They recognize when you lead reactively rather than proactively. Your team can probably tell you whether you’ve been a good leader this week.
10. What are my plans for leading better next week? An evaluation without an intentional plan for improvement is an exercise in futility. What will you do differently next week? What steps will you take to improve? Who will hold you accountable to these plans?
Which question above most challenges you? What other questions might you add to this list?
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Miracles happen when incredible circumstances result which can only be accomplished by divine intervention. In the scene of John chapter two, Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding feast. It was his first recorded miracle, and set the stage for his earthly ministry to be revealed.
Expecting a miracle takes a lot of courage and prayer. There were five key things we want you to see if you're in that waiting period for a miracle. Here are the keys:
1. The setting. There was a party. God did not choose to reveal his son Jesus at the temple, he instead performed the first miracle at the party. The miracle may be done in an unexpected place or circumstance because God has something greater than just allowing you to celebrate it with people who already know Him.
2. The need. There was a problem. The problem is the stage of a miracle when your questions can turn to anger. You feel so abandoned that it's perfectly reasonable to want to lash out at God because life is not fair. No miracle can happen without a problem, so learn perseverance because there is a greater hope than what you are facing right now. In the meantime, pray, follow the instructions, and don't settle for less than God's answer.
3. The opportunity. There was a plan. The plan was that guests would be served, the best could be provided, the impossible could be done and Jesus could be revealed. What if the miracle is really not about YOU? What if God wants to show off and you are the one he has chosen to endure the suffering for His glory?
4. The reason. There was a purpose. What if the reason for your problem and subsequent miracle are to point people to Jesus? The whole reason the water was turned into wine was the ultimate revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, the son of God. Could God be using YOU to reach OTHERS?
5. The power. There was a plea. When you have nothing left, pray. Trust God. Seek him. Ask hard questions. Cry. Lean on him. Turn anger into hope. Take action. Don't give up.
So you're there, and the answer has not come. You prayed, and it feels like God ignored you or did not answer. You're angry, and it seems justified.
Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the answer is no. Or wait. Or now. Or maybe later. Or for a season. Or for another person. Or for patience. Or for his glory. Or for mercy. Or for growth. Or - the hardest one - for Heaven.
But God answers prayer, and he performs miracle.
The key is figuring out what his mission is for performing the miracle because it's never just the moment.
Even sick people who are healed eventually die.
God has a bigger plan that fixing your right now. He's looking to fix a lot of people forever.
Do you believe in miracles?
Pardon me, Al Michaels. But yes! Yes, I do.
I love you all, and these are my thoughts.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Can we beg Christian America to put away the soapbox and trade it for a more reasonable option?
In the book of Joshua, a strong leader was nearing his death. Joshua was a military commander for Moses, widely known as one of the greatest and most influential leaders of the Old Testament. It could be argued Joshua was greater than his predecessor, having taken the Israelites into the Promised Land. The land was divided based upon the 12 tribes of Israel and the heritage of the people determined the household and place of their future.
In the book which bears his name, Joshua issues a challenge on the doorstep of his death:
I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them. So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:13-15)
The people respond with a resounding agreement. But Joshua is wise, and he challenges the people to hold to their responsibilities despite their words. He then sends them, in verse 28 of the chapter, “away to their own homelands.”
It has become both common and popular to defend Jesus and the Bible with our words. But those words both inspire and require action to have a solid foundation. What Joshua understood is the Israelites history and propensity to give lip service to God but just as easy be tempted to sway from their dedication to serve other interests and other gods. It would happen again.
Our culture has developed a platform for giving “word-service” to our allegiance. Social media drives this train. In response to hot-button issues, we sensationalize the moment in our defense of something we many times are not living out in our own lives.
If you carry heartbreak that prayer is removed from schools, take an action step to teach your children how to boldly and respectfully pray in front of their classmates at the lunch table. Combat hatred and intolerance by loving others like Jesus instructed, rather than spewing words through blogs and comments on social media. Rather than condemn those which are different from you, take the approach of the friend of sinners and open a conversation about faith around a table. That is the proper platform. Take action.
This action begins at home. Before carrying the banner of the controversy with your words, be sure your actions match your attitude. Pardon the phrase, but it’s very hypocritical of followers of Christ to “stand with” the popular celebrity of the moment and then stay in bed on Saturday or Sunday and refuse to worship with a group of believers in a church setting because we can’t fix our priorities.
It’s easy to talk a good game. Joshua sent them to their homes to lead one.
And leadership of your home is hard, but that is what ultimately makes the lasting difference.
I appreciate well the defense of the faith. Just make sure when you draw your weapon, you are standing on the proper foundation. Clear your table, and you’ll find a solid place to start.
I love you all, and these are my thoughts.