Let's Go!

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Have you ever been really excited to go somewhere. I mean you've been planning it for days, only for the day to come and you've discovered that someone else will be there you weren't expecting or it's just too much, or maybe you're just way too tired to make it happen now. Therefore, because of the extra work needed to make it happen, you cancel the trip or restaurant choice and go with another plan? I have... maybe it's just me.

A lot of times we are excited about a life change. We are excited about all of the great things God wants to do in and through our lives, our families, our work, our Church. That is until we realize that it means I'm going to have to personally change something, lose something, or release something in the process. Then it's not quite as exciting anymore and we don't even know if we want to follow through to the original extent anymore. The hard part is this - anything worth accomplishing will have sacrifices attached. 

Sure you can accomplish some things in your life without much change, sacrifice, or alteration. I bet you, however, that it won't be near what you think it could have been. Sure you can pay your bills, but what if you could financial flourish? The difference usually isn't just the amount of dollars you bring in each month but the spending changes, the saving sacrifices, and the mindset shifts you have to make to think on a higher financial level. Sure you can have a good marriage, but what if it was the envy of all other couples you're connected to? The difference is usually the way you love, value, communicate, and honor your spouse.

You see, anything at all worth accomplishing with great results is worth the sacrifices it takes in the process. I heard someone say one time, "You have to be more committed to the process than the results." The process to change is difficult. Often, to be honest, it's really painful. But nothing great comes without great sacrifice. I guarantee you that if you'll commit to the process of the changes in your life (that you probably already know you have to make) that the results will be worth it all in the end. Especially when it comes to spiritual growth with Jesus. Jesus' entire existence is to bring us all into a life of great existence with Him.

This Sunday we talk about change. We talk about what it means to go from HERE to THERE... because what got you HERE, will not get you THERE! This is a powerful Sunday to bring someone to Radiate with you as a first time guest, or follow up with a first time guest and make sure they come a second time as we close out our Flatline series! It's time to change some things! I'll see you Sunday!

Jesus, Racism, And You!

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We are currently living in the most divisive time in the United States of America in my generation. Racism is a word that is used daily. Hatred is spewed from the depths of social media to the souls of even the most innocent people. Accusations determine everyone's intentions despite what the actual intentions may be. If you don't agree with me you're against me, and if you're against me I have no room for you in my life. We don't end disagreements lightly anymore either, it's now spewed from social media, to daily gossip sessions with friends, to altercations at grocery stores. Violence isn't something we stray from anymore, it's now our means to an end. 

I believe with everything inside of me that the division that is happening in our great country, our purpose-filled lives grieves the heart of God. Division isn't the action of an external force. Division happens deep within a group of individuals before it ever escalates to be shown to a group of others. Division is the very bed that violence, disgust, and hatred lie upon daily.

One of the very reasons Jesus was sent to live life in the flesh was to bring the unity of Heaven to division of Earth. To bring the glorious connection of people, no matter their race/socio-economic status/their upbringing/or their heritage, that is in Heaven to Earth. God desires one thing from each and every one of us - connection!

One of the greatest commands God declared over the creation of His people was this "Be fruitful, and multiply." (Genesis). What if God wasn't just talking about physical multiplication through children, but spiritual multiplication through relationship? We can't multiply if we don't have relationship, therefore, as long as division fractures relationship it fractures the multiplication of the Kingdom of God. So... what are we to do about this? Good question!

I believe it's time that we, as human beings and children of God, stand up to division and start a movement of unity. How? By loving one another. By forging relationships with those that intimidate us, those we don't understand, and maybe even those we don't like. 

There's plenty more to study about this subject and discuss. Let's get together and talk this Sunday at 10 & 11:30am at Radiate Church. Division doesn't have to be normal, it can be eradicated! See you on Sunday!

Your Story Doesn't Matter!

I was raised in an abusive home. 
I was raised by addicted parents.
I was raised by incredibly, Godly parents.
I am a terrible parent.
My kids are grown and are following Jesus with their entire lives.
My life is a mess.
My life is pretty perfectly put together and I couldn't ask for more.

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Can you relate with any of the above statements? Truthfully, I regularly hear one of those statements from someone that tends to define their upbringing or their current trajectory in life. Often it's hard to hear them say it as it is followed with tears and brokenness in some of those cases. Then, other times it's easy and celebratory to hear because it's followed with excitement and gratitude. The reality behind each of those statements isn't the positivity or negativity attached to it, rather the story that created it.

We often hear that our past doesn't define us or our future is greater than our past. All of which are true, regardless of how it's said. But, that doesn't mean your story doesn't matter. In fact, I would venture to say that you have a powerful story to tell about the goodness, the love, and the power of Jesus in your life regardless of what your past looks like. 

Your past doesn't have to be tainted, negative, or littered with beer bottles, drugs, and sex to be tantalizing enough to bring someone closer to Jesus. Your story also doesn't have to be so pristine that regardless of what happened you were the closest to Jesus as you could've been in order to show people the love of the Father! Your story has a point and a person in it that others need to hear!

My story is quite interesting. I grew up in church, had amazing parents, a powerful home life, and I gave my life to Jesus at 15. I attended a Christian college and had dreams of ministry my entire life. There's twists and turns as I entered my 20's, walked away from Jesus, quit ministry, had 5 heart surgeries, and decided that God was worth my all, not my some. And guess what... I had to realize there's parts of my story that someone needs to hear because it may lead them closer to Jesus! The same goes with your story! 

Be bold about your story. Be confident in your story. Be proud of your story. And be excited about the God that brought you through it and into your future! 

This Sunday I'll tell you some details, intimate moments, some funny and some scary, in my life that strategically changed the way I do life. And I think you'll really get something out of it! I promise, it's going to get "real" this week. Do what you need to do to bring someone to Church so they can be touched by a story. Oh, and while you're at it - share your story with them as well! It may change their life, just like it did yours!

How To Fail At Life

Trucks. Jobs. Money. Boats. Houses. Friends. Authority. Position. Responsibility.

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Most of the things listed above are all things we want. Usually we seek/search for these things because we believe one, or all, of them are the answer to the emptiness, frustration, and hole inside that we feel daily. If we had more money we would be able to do more. If we had more friends we wouldn't be lonely. If our house was bigger we would seem more important. Truthfully, that's the perfect way to fail at life! 

You know me, I'm one for always achieving the next big thing, the new thing, the goals we have set. I don't see anything wrong with promotions, new homes, toys such as boats or trucks, and I have no issue with making more money. The issue becomes when those things are simply how we improve our lives. It's not that they improve our lives, its that our spirits improve our lives. What's on the inside, seeping out of us, that makes the biggest difference. It's how we love people, enjoy life, and make a difference that allows for things to be seen differently. The greatest way to fail at life is to allow THINGS to determine your happiness, rather than your happiness to determine your things!

Stop! Stop chasing STUFF. Stop chasing THINGS. Stop chasing meaningless RELATIONSHIPS! Stop filling your life with senseless acts that will fade when it's all said and done, and begin to become fulfilled with purpose, promise, love, and heart! Don't let people determine your attitude, let your attitude determine your altitude! 

This Sunday we start a brand new series called "Flatline" that deals with this very thing. Allowing life to become less about me, and more about Jesus! And that doesn't mean that you torture yourself, live in poverty, and never have anything nice or new. It means that when you do get those things, it's in the name of God the Father not you the person! Let's talk more in depth Sunday at 10/11:30!

***DISCLAIMER*** 
This Sunday is for those of us that have a life that doesn't seem full, yet it's busy. It's for those of your family/friends that question Jesus, the life He intends, and the Church He loves. It's for those of us that go through life with hurt, pain, frustration, emptiness, loneliness, and pain. It's for those of us that live and breathe. In other words, it's for all of us... and IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! Do what you have to do to get someone there with you. This may be the most important message of 2017! 

Platforms

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I love social media. I think social media has increased our ability to be mentored, taught, and trained from some of the greatest minds on the planet. Some of the greatest communicators, thinkers, most creative personalities are now found with the flick of your thumb on your smartphone. It's really quite amazing that at any given moment you can find high school classmates from years ago and connect. Social media, like most things, has a negative side as well.

It's not only created an opportunity for growth, connection, and relationship; it's created opportunity for judgement, fear, manipulation, and hurt. Chances are as you've mindlessly scrolled through post after post of social media interactions you've seen all of these things in some capacity. However, just because there's some negativity in the use of something doesn't mean you discount the value of it. For instance, I have some negative qualities about myself, but I like to think I'm still pretty valuable. 

The main thing that social media has done is made people acutely aware of the necessity, the value, and the power of platform! We all have a platform. We have a platform on the web, at work, at home, at Church, and even in your friendships. You have a platform for influence, for belief systems, etc. Everyone has a platform, but not everyone correctly executes the value of their platform. At any given moment, you can log on to your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account and speak to hundreds if not thousands. The conundrum in this is that while you can speak to that many, how you steward your voice and platform determines what people hear!

My point is this: What are you using your platform to communicate? The goodness of the love of Jesus despite skin color, political affiliation, or thoughts? Or are you using it to communicate judgement, manipulate people into agreement with you, or to portray a life that you aren't living to impress people you don't really know? We all have a platform to use, a Jesus that loves us, and a story to share... the challenge is - WILL YOU USE IT?

This has been a powerful series as we have looked at practical ways God can change our lives Any Given Day. I want to invite you to join us for the last week of Any Given Day this Sunday at 10/11:30am as we discuss the very topic of using our platforms for Jesus with former USC & NFL Quarterback Dylan Thompson. We will see you there!

What's Up With My Money!?

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Let's face it. There is no one on the planet, whose life isn't touched, in some way, by money. Some people grew up or now have more than they need. Some people grew up or now have nowhere near enough. And then, some people are right in the middle. The reality is this... money is a sensitive subject for many in life. But, The Bible actually talks A LOT about money. To be exact, there are 2300 verses in The Bible relating to money. That's 5 times as many as verses about faith and prayer! No, I don't believe that God thinks money is more important than faith nor prayer, but I do believe God wants to speak to the specific parts of our lives that can increase faith and prayer, or diminish it.

For some reason money is one of those topics that churches aren't supposed to discuss. If a church doesn't touch on it enough then they are "afraid", and if they touch on it too much they are "selfish". Our money is severely important to our lives, to our livelihoods, and to our hearts. 

Often we misdiagnose 1 Timothy 6:10 - "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (NASB, emphasis mine)

A lot of times we think money is the root of all evil. Money is terrible, disgusting, and shouldn't be sought after. WRONG! Money is A-Moral, meaning money has no right or wrong, it's an a-moral entity. However, when we LOVE money we begin to become a slave to something a-moral, that you will never have enough of, never enjoy enough, and never appreciate. Money becomes something that must be sought instead of something to enjoy. 

You don't have to walk through life living paycheck to paycheck, hating everything that entails finances. You don't have to fight about your marriage with your spouse, what seems like every day. You don't have to always hate green pieces of paper because it brings up horrible memories of a life of "not enough". In fact, God doesn't want you to struggle financially, God wants us all to live and give... generously! Think about it like this, if we prove our faithfulness to God through financial freedom, why wouldn't He want those that love/follow Him to have more so that they can help fund the Kingdom ministry on this earth? Not only is it logical, it's biblical!

Let's talk more about it this Sunday at Radiate Church! 10/11:30am at Blaney Elementary School in Elgin. Your money situation is about to make a lot more sense! See you Sunday!

Wedding Bliss!

I'll never forget my wedding day. I honestly wasn't very nervous or anything. I was more excited, anxious, and ready to move on past the celebratory day. I was pumped to see my bride walk down the aisle. Just before the service I was backstage waiting on the pastor to come and get me, and truthfully, I fell asleep! I'll never forget the way my chest was beating and eyes watering as the back doors opened and I saw the most stunning creation of all creations... the woman I was to call my wife for the rest of my life. I was, and still am, the luckiest man on the planet.

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I'll also never forget within the next year, one of our first big fights as a married couple. I wasn't budging on my stance, because, after all, I'm not wrong! And she wasn't budging on her stance either. I can't remember what we were fighting about, I can't remember what set it off, I just remember I said some things I wish I hadn't said. I then remember calling one of my best friends in Oklahoma that night, while my wife was sleeping, and saying these words to him, "Man, this isn't want I signed up for. Is this how it's going to be for the rest of my life? If it is, I can't do this." After an hour or so on the phone, and discussing things I realized something... marriage is blissful, until it's not.

To date I've been married 9 years to the love of my life, and the amazing mother of my children. I couldn't ask for a better HELPmate, as I watch many of my friends walking around with HURTmates attached to their sides. I love my wife more today, than 9 years ago, and that should be the trend in all marriages. Ephesians 5 gives us a glimpse into a Gospel-centered marriage and what it practically looks like in our lives, regardless of how difficult it can be sometimes.

"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of wife, as Chris is also the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives out to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her." (Ephesians 5:22-25, NASB)

Don't look at the surface of these words only, and get offended. Rather look at the depth of their meaning. Being submitted to your husband has nothing to do with bowing down to his every request. It has everything to do with the condition of your heart towards him. Just as the church's heart is to be submitted to the ways, the wills, and the desires of Christ - to please Him and Him alone; so a wife's heart should be to her husband. It's not a physical act, rather an emotional, spiritual, mental act of submission of the heart. In other words, it's an act of love!

Husbands, don't look at the verses above as opportunity to reign supreme. Rather look at those words as a challenge to allow our sacrifice to show our love for our wives. Christ loved the church so much He gave His literal life, His wants, desires, purposes, and plans. He gave up all He had to make the church the best the church could be. Such is our mission, our call, our purpose in marriage!

Marriage is beautiful, intimate, meaningful, powerful, and purposeful. Marriage is also difficult, and messy, and hurtful, and frustrating. The key to wedding bliss isn't feeling the emotion of bliss consistently - emotions fade and circumstances change. The key to wedding bliss - is to be so deeply committed to the love and goodness of your Father, God, and to one another that you are submitted to sacrifice whatever it takes in order to see them fulfill their God-given potential! And that takes COURAGE! Go ahead... begin your wedding bliss... RIGHT NOW! You can do this! I know you can!