Every Padawan on Mission

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10. Phantom Menace

9. Attack of Clones

8. Rogue One

7. Solo

6. Return of Jedi

5. Last Jedi

4. Revenge of Sith

3. Force Awakens

2. New Hope

1 Empire

That’s my order.  I found myself ranking Star Wars movies while…ahem…in the the bathroom.  I wish I could leave that part out, but it’s hard to tell the story without providing the context.  So, yea, I was in the bathroom.  Everyone does it…even in a galaxy far far away.  There.  I’ve covered both the awkward parts & filled the necessary Star Wars pun quota faster than you can say, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi”.

Ok.  Enough of that.

While working through my Star Wars ranking I found myself desperately trying to decide between Sith and Awakens (was Sith really that good?) when the OTHER book caught my eye.

“Every Church on Mission”

My children, next to Star Wars and Calvin and Hobbes, have a magazine that is all about missions and the work of God in the world around us.  I didn’t put it there.  I haven’t been in my boys bathroom in months (it’s disgusting in there – it looks like a wet shaggy dog came in and shook himself dry!  Seriously, how is the ceiling wet?)

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I love it!

Not the gross bathroom.

I love that my children love things that matter.  I love that church to them is important.  I love that church isn’t just important b/c it’s fun (it is) or that their friends are there (they are), but because the Church is the hope of the world!

They pray for their friends to know Jesus.  They serve on the Set-Up team b/c they know that it’s not about pipe/drape, but it’s about creating an environment where lives can be changed.  They invite their friends to church!

I’m blown away by these kids.  And they aren’t alone.  Over the last 5 months at Proximity Church I’ve had the honor of watching our children grow so much.  I absolutely believe it’s because of what’s happening at Proximity!

There are great churches all over the city, and I know that Proximity isn’t going to be the right church for everyone.

Something special happens when you are involved in a new church.

 

You make big sacrifices.  You dream big dreams and you expect to see them come true!  And you wake up every day with a singular focus on God’s kingdom.

It’s like being a missionary.  It’s exactly like that.

It’s living on mission.

Now if I could also get them on mission to clean their bathroom.

 

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8 Days a Week: Part 3

Part 1

Part 2 

In the beginning God created.

He created light…and it was good.

He created land and seas…and it was good.

He created grass and trees and fruits and veggies…and it was good.

The Sun.  The Moon.  Stars.  Fish and Sea Monsters, Birds and Air Monsters.  He created things that creep and things that crawl.  Plants, animals, land and sea.  Heavens and Earth.  Male and Female.

And it was all good.

Then there was the 7th day.  The day God rested.  The day He stopped creating…unless He didn’t.

“Man was not made for Sabbath, but Sabbath was MADE for man” (Mark 2:27)

Jesus taught the Sabbath as a gift.  He taught that pause was something for us to enjoy, and not meant to be a burden.  And he taught that it was MADE.  Sabbath was a created thing.

“Rest”, like everything else, is a created thing.  “Rest”, like everything else, was meant for us to enjoy.  When we look back to the Creation Story we see one thing that sets “Rest” apart from every other created thing.  Everything God created was GOOD.

Not “Rest”.

Rest wasn’t good.

“God blessed the 7th day and made it HOLY” (Genesis 2:3)

Rest wasn’t good.  Rest is HOLY.

I like mountains.  I like looking at the stars.  I like the ocean (not the sand though)

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I like all the good things God created!

Sometimes I find myself spending so much time on the GOOD things of God, that I have no time left over for the HOLY things of God.

This makes me tired.  Good things make me tired.

Rest comes from the HOLY things.  When I am at my most worn out, stressed out and burned out it’s b/c I haven’t given enough room in my life for the HOLY.

Knowing it is one thing.  Naming it is one thing.

Now I have to get some stuff out of the way…

 

 


8 Days a Week: Part 2

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Part 1: Chick-Fil-A, Helen Hunt & How We Were Meant for so Much More

There was a man in the Bible who had a lot going on.  He was leading the country, engaged in a massive building campaign, and was quite the ladies man.  He was, to say the least, kept very busy.

He was also a man of wisdom who was in search of meaning.  He pursued meaning in pleasure, projects, hobbies…and work.  This guy got to work.  Certainly in his labor he could find meaning!

“So I hated life”

At the end of all his pursuits of meaning, the man discovers he had built a life in which he HATED.  Waking up every day, working to build a fortune or a name for himself, was RUINING his life.

He describes his life as filled with grief and pain, despair…and (this one gets me) even at night his mind will not rest.

Ouch.

It was not supposed to be this way.

But it is this way.

Monday’s coming.  We HATE Mondays…

It’s the start of the Rat Race.  The daily grind.  The dog eat dog routine.  It’s the constant striving to climb a ladder.  The pressures of providing and succeeding and finding time to BREATH.  It’s debt and broken a/c units and emergency funds.

And we feel it in our stomach.  We carry it in our shoulders.

And we hate it.

We hate so much of what life can come to be.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  We weren’t supposed to hate Monday.  We were supposed to ENJOY life!  How do we get to that place?

We just stop.  We hit pause.  We quit grinding and racing and thinking about To Do lists and just…rest.  It’s time to quit the stuff that isn’t working and try something new.

Or rather, it’s time we try something old.

 

 


8 Days A Week: Part 1

Chick-Fil-A would never hurt me.

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Not with their friendly workers, large smiling cow waving me in at the parking lot, and Christian music (without words) playing softly in the restrooms.  No.  Chick-fil-A loves me, and I LOVE Chick-Fil-A.  They aren’t like those OTHER fast food places.  They are different.  And I’m different for having known the Chick-Fil-A.  The Spicy Chicken Combo is Helen Hunt to my Jack Nicholson.

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It’s embarrassing to admit, but I was eating fast food at least 3 times a week…but it was probably more like 5.  Once I went through the drive through and instead of, “May I take your order”, the woman said, “Oh, Hi Mike”.

Yikes.

Then I stopped, and it was hard for a while.  After about a week the strangest thing happened: I felt…better.

I didn’t even know that things were bad.

I was so used to feeling bad that “bad” was just “normal”

Sometimes, if things are wrong long enough, you completely forget that they are wrong.

You forget that it’s possible for things to be better.

A friend of mine was telling me recently about a painful chronic problem she suffers from.  She said, “After a while you just learn to live with it, and adjust to your new normal”

We are busy…like all the time.

We are stressed, anxious and just TIRED!

We have a problem.  It’s a problem that is stressing us out, burning us out and wearing us out.  It’s ruining our lives…and it’s been happening for so long that it’s become normal.

We were not meant for this.  It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

It can be better.

 


Hand-Me-Downs

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“Look!  I’m dad!  Go ‘Astros!!!  Boo the Jazz!!!”

Asher had gone all out – size 13 shoes, pants, button up shirt.  He even found an old pair of my glasses and my Astros hat.

And I wasn’t sure what to feel…

Imitation may be the greatest form of flattery, but when it’s someone you really care about you don’t feel flattered.  You start wondering if you are worthy of being imitated.  When you see someone literally trying to fill your shoes it’s a pretty humbling moment.

My favorite verse in the New Testament is 1 Corinthians 11:1.  The apostle Paul says to a struggling church – “Follow me, as I follow Christ”

Can I really say, “Follow me, and I will get you there”?

I know I can convince Asher to love the Astros and hate the Jazz…but will my example truly make Asher love Jesus with all his heart?

Our next series at Proximity Church was inspired, in part, by these questions.  We all have SOMEONE who is watching us.  We all have influence.  We all have people in our lives that don’t know Jesus, but they do know us.

Will our example get them CLOSER to God?

Our March series: “Hand-Me-Downs” will help us embrace that responsibility

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How to Have a HAPPIER Marriage

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Last Sunday at Proximity Church we shared some practical things any couple could do to have a HAPPIER marriage.  Whether you are doing great or hanging on by a thread, these tips would be beneficial…

Get in Shape!  

Take care of yourself!  Exchange the fatty foods for some veggies and get your daily cardio in.  Drink more water, get more sleep and take up an active hobby.  Not only will you feel better about yourself, but your spouse will find you more attractive…which is ALWAYS a win!  This applies to MUCH more than just the physical.  Our marriages improve when we take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally, relationally AND physically.

Speak the Love Language of your Spouse

Different people give/receive love in different ways.  Kristan, for example, will often show her love for me by picking up my clothes or doing the laundry.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t even register on my radar!  I’m a quality time guy.  Kristan knows that the best way to communicate love to me is just by hanging out and spending time with me.  I, on the other hand, have learned that flowers and candy don’t mean near as much as emptying the dishwasher.  Know your spouse!

Fake it Til You Make It

Love isn’t just a feeling.  Love is a discipline and a choice.  It’s the practice of extending patience, humility, kindness, etc to your spouse.  It’s consistently putting their needs ahead of your own needs.

Thank God it’s not just a feeling!  I love Kristan a lot, but if I’m honest I love me more.  That reality is the source of every minor conflict and disagreement we have ever had.  My insistence on getting what I want, doing what I want and being the person I want to be is the antithesis of LOVE.  The great thing is, despite feeling like life should always be about me, I can make the CHOICE to make it about her.

We have an incredible capacity for love…we just tend to show it towards ourselves!  The good news is that Jesus knew this about us and often said things like “Love others as you love yourselves”.   Instead of just challenging us to love others more, Jesus taught us to take everything we know we want give it to another.  Easy peasy!

One BIG Thing!

This is a fun one!  Think of one BIG thing to do for your spouse today.  Something out of the ordinary.  If you make the bed every day it doesn’t count…if you never make the bed it still doesn’t count b/c making the bed is an incredible waste of time!

Come up with something that will make them say WOW!  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Maybe it’s buying flowers at the grocery store.  Maybe it’s inviting your spouse on a walk around the block.  Maybe it’s offering a back rub without the expectation that it will be returned or lead to sex.  Just make sure it’s about them!

Then, try to outdo one another!  If she gets you a gift card to Starbucks….surprise her one day at work with lunch.  Make it a competition!

Date. 

Seriously, we get married and have kids and completely forget HOW to go on dates!  Dates have become family meetings and strategy sessions.  Too often it becomes about kids, schedules, budgets, etc.  Remember your first date?  What did you talk about?  You wanted to get to know the other person.  Worse than awkward was to be BORING!

Go on a date with your spouse, but take some subjects off the table.  There’s a time and a place to discuss report cards and how well you are following the Financial Peace plan…but don’t pay a babysitter $50 to have that conversation.

There ya go.  On Sunday we had 10, but these are my top 5!  Hope they help.


Pencils! Pencils! Pencils!

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Every Sunday, when we take up our offering, we invite people to write “NEMS” on our giving envelopes.  When we see those letters we know that $5 of whatever is inside is set apart to go towards BLESSING Northeast Guilford Middle School.

$5 may not seem like much, but it adds up and every little bit helps!

Last Sunday we were able to meet a need!

Two weeks ago we put up a sheet in the teachers lounge asking what we could provide for them to make their lives a little easier.  I learned that pencils are a pretty big deal!  I’m thinking there are some epic “Pencil Break” games going on at NEMS!  Whatever the reason, among other things, we were told that pencils would be a huge blessing.

So Erin, our incredible Children’s Director, asked me – “How much can we spend?  I want to go BIG!”.

She went big!

We are so thankful to be at Northeast Middle School.  They are a blessing to us and we hope to always be a blessing to them.

This won’t be the last time we go BIG for them!  If you would like to be a part of what we are doing for NEMS you can give here.  Just type “NEMS” in the comment section and $5 of your gift will be set apart for the school!

 


Nolan’s Paragraph

This kid.

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This kid had to write a paragraph about someone he admired for overcoming adversity…

“The person I admire for overcoming adversity is Michael.  He works hard with his friend Erin to help people decide to know God more.  A fun fact about Erin is that she has a baby named Ruby.  The best part about Michael is that he is my dad”

Aaaand, just like that I get a big push of momentum to work a little harder.  If I can be half the man my son believes me to be I’ll be doing pretty well.  

What’s most important to me, however, is how well Nolan understands the WHY behind the WHAT.  He understands that I’m not working hard for personal gain, but that it’s all about helping others get closer to God.  This kid gets it!  

Oh – Nolan’s favorite part was how he hid the big reveal that “Michael” is his dad.  He was pretty proud of that!

 


Proximity Church: Celebrating 1st Month

I’m not sure when we stop aging kids by months and start using years, but it’s longer than I think it needs to be.

2 months?  Sure

13 months? Ok

22 months? Fine

Somewhere between 22 months and 25 months it starts getting weird.

“How old is your child?”

“Oh, he’s getting ready to turn 114 months.  We are having a party…his cake is big and has a lot of candles, it’s all VERY expensive”

Proximity Church is turning ONE MONTH!  I don’t know how long I’ll be counting the months, but right now I’m so thankful for this ride I’m celebrating every day.  Every now and then I swing by Cheesecakes by Alex and get a slice, put a candle in it and celebrate another day of Proximity Church!  Any excuse for cheesecake, right!

One month.  WOW!

We are celebrating a lot more than existing for four Sundays…

We are celebrating hard work 

There’s a guy on our team who ran his first marathon last year.  A year and a half ago I’m not sure he had ever run a mile in his life, but one day he made the decision to become a runner (on purpose, he wasn’t being chased or anything).  He ran when he felt like it.  He ran when he didn’t feel like it.  He ran when he was sick, tired, and on vacation.  He ran when there was 2 feet of snow on the ground.  The man had a goal, he worked hard and then ran that marathon and KILLED it!  There’s something really cool about working hard and achieving a goal.

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Our team worked hard!  For over a year our incredible team prayed, gave time and gave financially (many decided to DOUBLE their monthly tithe to make Proximity happen).  This team sacrificed and poured in to see something special happen in Northeast Greensboro.  We celebrate that!

We celebrate that people show up!

Someone smarter than me told me, “We count everything.  We count cars because in every car is a person and every person has a story.  Counting cars is all about valuing the stories of people who are interacting with you”.  Man.  That really got me.

Every week that I see a guest share their Sunday with us I am so humbled and thankful.  Our prayer is that Proximity might be used by God to be a blessing and a benefit to their story.  I believe it will be.  We celebrate that!

We celebrate stories already changed.

Church is not easy for everyone.  It’s not easy for the person who hasn’t been in 20 years.  It’s not easy for the single mother wrangling her kids who are fighting her every step of the way.  It’s not easy for the person who has felt judged, rejected or ignored last time they tried a church.

We have people like that who call Proximity Church home.  We know it’s not easy.  We know that church has, in the past been hard and unappealing.  We CELEBRATE that you are finding your place at Proximity Church!

We celebrate lives changed!

Last week my youngest son decided to follow Jesus.  He’s the most recent of a number of people who have found LIFE in Jesus in the last month!  We began Proximity Church so that people could hear the Gospel and come closer to God.  It’s happening!

We celebrate that!

There’s a long way to go.  People often ask me how everything at Proximity is going right now.  It’s incredible!  Better than I could have dreamed.  It’s not always easy, but it was never supposed to be. It was just supposed to be worth it.

I hope you will join me in celebrating our FIRST MONTH!

It’s only the beginning!

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Asher’s First Communion!

This kid. This kid had a BIG day!

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Today (January 24, 2017) is the day that Asher decided to follow Jesus!

I’m so proud of this kid. He’s adventurous and stubborn in all the best ways. He lights up a room and has just an infectious personality.  I mean look at this picture:

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What a kid.

So this Sunday at Proximity Church we are doing communion. Asher has ALWAYS wanted to take communion, but Kristan and I knew he wasn’t ready. We knew that, although he understood some of the Gospel and believed in God, it really wasn’t a faith of his own quite yet.  It was always hard, but we had him wait.

Today, however, we let him tell us about Jesus. Asher told us about creation. He told us about sin. He told us about Jesus dying so that others could go first. I like that.

We talked to him about how important it is to follow Jesus. It’s important when you are eight.  It’s just as important when you are eighty-eight. There’s no changing your mind. It’s gotta be everything.

He only had one big question: “Does the water have to be cold when I get baptized?”

I told him it does. It’s the only way we can be sure he really wants to do it!

I was already excited for Sunday, but this…this is going to be really special!

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