The Morning Thought

Today, right after I made this really clever comment to my wife, I started thinking about something.  The comment I made was a reply to her quickly solving a small problem that I presented to which I replied “thats why I married you girl, you so smart”.  I followed that statement with “Ok, your moves on the dance floor and the curves in your silhouette had something to do with it too, but you are really smart”.  A few moments later I was really thinking about my wife.  For some reason, I started thinking about something that very few people know about her.  Beth earned a 10 year pin for working 10 years for the Department of Defense.  Beth birthed our first child knowing that I would deploy with the Air Force for 4 months just 36 hours after his birth.  Beth sold popcorn in a mall, stocked Bath and Body works shelves, and sold Estee Lauder make up in California to ensure she and I didn’t lose the car we owned, jet ski we couldn’t afford and weren’t late on the credit card debt she had married into.  These accomplishments that I started thinking about this morning reminded me of the fact that she did all of this before she was 30 years old.  While that sounds impressive, even as I type it, its not the thought I had.  

When her crazy husband, that would be me, told her that he felt called to plant a Church she said “YES”, without asking one question.  I remember the 100 + questions I had rumbling around in my mind but she didn’t ask one single question.  I remember when I told her it meant leaving the financial security that we were currently living in.  She still didn’t have any questions, she just said “YES”.  I remember when I said we wont be able to continue living financially the way we had been because we had to save every penny we had in order to survive.  This time she said “YES, I KNOW and I’VE ALREADY STARTED SAVING”.  I must confess, all the “YES” stuff was blowing my mind but that’s still not the thought I’ve been reminded of this morning.  

We started our journey of praying, planning, and preparing to give our LIVES FULLY to the vision and mission of this new Church plant that would earn the name, Revolve Church.  We asked everyone we knew to give us money, move with us and pray for us.  We set financial fund raising goals and off we went planting a Church.  The thought that I can’t seem to shake this morning is related to what I found in the mail one afternoon.  I found a check in the mail for an amount that’s unnecessary to mention but I will tell you this, “It was the largest check we ever received toward our launch budget of $100,000”.  This check wasn’t made to me or to Revolve Church, so at first I was unsure what it was even for.  After discovering the check, I brought it inside to ask Beth to explain it.  She looked at me and said “that’s mine”.  I looked back without saying a word but my expression must have shouted “no crap, it’s addressed to you”.  She said, that check is the money I requested from my retirement account.  After a conversation with her, I learned that Beth had been putting money into a retirement account for 10 years and the Department of Defense had been matching her contribution.  That means that before her money experienced any growth from interest it was doubled automatically.  That day I thought, why has she cashed in her retirement? 

Now, the thought today is different from the thought that day.  She handed me that check and said “YES” once again.  She literally invested her life and life savings into planting Revolve Church.  I can’t shake that because after over 5 years we have seen hundreds of people make commitments to Jesus.  We have seen God do things that only God could have done.  We have made some really amazing friends and we have lost some really amazing friends.  We have laughed with people and laughed at people, cried with people and cried for people.  Revolve Church as experienced things that will never be told until Heaven and placed memories in our hearts that could’ve only come from Heaven.  The thought I cant shake is simple.  Beth said “YES” in ways nobody else ever has or will to the vision God gave me for Revolve Church.  I recognized Beth before, asked her to speak and lead in ways beyond her comfort, celebrated her privately and publicly but I’m not sure I ever uttered the simple words “THANK YOU”.  Today, I say “THANK YOU BETH”.  That is all!!!! 

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Tough week

Here I am Thursday night writing about a totally unexpected week of events.  My week started off great. I spent the day Monday training multi ethnic church plantersIMG_3821.JPG.  I also got a chance to sneak over to the hospital and visit my friend Mark who’s battling cancer and my little buddy Ridge who was fighting off a fever and low counts.

IMG_3818.JPGTuesday was pretty effective too. I spent the morning with Ella then took her and Beth out for lunch to celebrate Valentine’s Day! After Lunch I managed to get some study time in before and after my dentist appointment to get my teeth cleaned. IMG_3882.PNGI picked my 4 year old, Jacob up a few minutes early so we could get a little one on one time in hiking the eno! After a brief hike I went home and loaded the whole family up and we drove over to the amphitheater at WestPoint on the Eno where we dreamed about our 50,000 Easter Egg drop (www.bullcityeggdrop.com) After a short dream, we dropped our 12 year old son, Reagan off at small group and headed over to Popeyes for dinner.  Before putting the kids to bed my mom stopped by to give her grand babies a valentine present.  Mom left, we put the kids to bed and Beth worked on school work while I worked on church work.  Got in bed just in time for opening remarks from Jimmy Fallon & I passed out during the first commercial break.
I was IMG_3826.JPGawakened early in the morning by a call from my father.  I could hear the concern in his voice before he ever said “your mother has had a heart attack”!  This is the unexpected.  This kind of thing doesn’t happen to my family.  My head spun, emotions raced while I got ready and drove to the hospital.  The next 36 hours were a blur.  Many have sent texts, fb messages and called & im grateful for everyone.

However, I’ve learned a valuable set of lessons thru this experience.

  1. You are not exempt from crisis; but you are also NOT exempt from Gods promises.
  2. Healthy relationships really do make a difference in times of crisis.
  3. Nobody is promised tomorrow, we must learn to savor today!

I’ve reworded Romans 8:28 to say “God turns whatever life throws at us into something great when we Love Him.”

I didn’t know what to do, so I did what I knew to do.  I prayed, visited with my mom, and I took care of myself.  So many times I see people neglect taking care of themselves in the face of crisis.  Think about it, how much help can you be if you fail to take care of yourself first?  The 2nd commandment from God which is equal to the 1st is “Love your neighbor, as YOURSELF! I went for a run late last night and again I went for a run late tonight.  Running is my place to connect with God.  Running isn’t only physical for me, it’s also spiritual.  Therefore, figuratively and literally I run to God when I run into unexpected situations.

3 Questions for you to consider:

  1. What is your place of connection with God?
  2. How do you take care of yourself?
  3. Who are you in healthy relationship with?

Thanks for reading and please check out my running initiative for 2017.  www.15kfor15k.info
 

Running with Brayden

Today was an interesting day.  Started my day cooking a birthday breakfast for my cousin Chris.  Then I delivered kids to their appropriate destinations (aka preschool and bus stops).  Finally, I arrived at the office to work on some upcoming message series stuff.  Worked until lunch where I enjoyed a meal with 2 Congolese Pastors dreaming about planting a Revolve Church in Congo, Africa someday.  Came back to the office to finalize a few things for Sunday before heading home.  Arrived at home where I decided to go for an outside jog since I missed my gym time this morning.  My 7 year old decided he would join me on this run.  We completed just over 2.5 miles together and I did a little Facebook live video that you can find HERE!  After the run we stopped in Starbucks for a little refreshment where Beth picked us up and took us on a ride to pick up the 2 youngest kids.  We got home, I took a shower and got ready to head to meet with a crew of people that help me create relevant delivery methods of the Sunday morning messages.  Spent about 2.5 hours talking about the last few messages in the “Little Johnny” series, planning the new “JESUS” series and planning parts of the city wide “BULL CITY EGG DROP”!! You can find some info at www.bullcityeggdrop.com Got back home and gave kids baths, said prayers, and wrote this short update.

Monday was a busy day but a fun day.  I did ministry, family time, and prepared for my 15,000 for 15,000.  I am looking for supporters so if you are interested please join my www.15kfor15k.info movement.  If you can contribute financially that would be awesome, if not, just agree to support me and my efforts to raise $15,000 bucks for PURPOSE!!!

Good night!

A personal goal for 2017

I blogged earlier this week and said I would be announcing a personal goal here on my blog on February 1st. With a few minutes left in February 1st heres the announcement.  I’ve decided to run 3 – 5K races in 3 – days in 3 -different states for 3 – different reasons.  You can find all the information here:  www.15kfor15k.info 

Thanks for reading, sharing and supporting…

Jeff

3 Goals but MANY STEPS in 2017

Almost every January I have adopted a word for the year.  This year the word I adopted was something I thought about as early as October.  I was explaining something to my friends about my job.  In my explanation I placed a piece of paper on the ground and asked a friend to stand on the paper.  Then I placed another piece of paper about 20 feet away.  That’s when I asked my friend to step from the paper he was standing on to the other paper without touching the ground between the 2 sheets of paper.  It’s impossible, he said.  Thats when I explained that I felt like Christian leaders sort of led this way.  We expect people to accept the gospel message of Jesus and take the next step of becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus without touching the carpet of failure on the way.  We want brand new Christians to act like 20 year Christians (or at least how 20 yr Christians should act).  It’s not only ludicrous, it’s impossible.  Jesus didn’t lead like this, so why do we.

Seriously, the Apostle John, who wrote more new testaments books than anyone else besides Paul, was a disciple of Jesus, cousins with John the Baptist, brother of James didn’t even follow Jesus without errors.  Remember in Luke 9 where John is ready to call the fire down but Jesus rebuked him?  Jesus rebuked John because He knew John needed to take “steps” in becoming a fully devoted follower.  Rebuke actually means to honor.  Jesus honored John enough to correct him.  Today, we want to replace the person more than we rebuke the person because we want to microwave fully devoted followers of Christ.  In the microwave mentality we cut out the “STEPS”.  This way of thinking comes from our desire to have lots of small groups leaders, large rosters of volunteers, and larger budgets.  It’s NOT a bad thing to want more leaders, more volunteers and more money to do ministry. Everyone knows that the more we have the greater the impact we can make.  Nothing wrong with wanting MORE, but we can’t negate the STEPS that lead to MORE.

Why am I telling you all of this?  On February 1st, I’m announcing a personal goal for 2017. My goal involves other people and involves “STEPS” – a bunch of them.  I’ll be making the announcement here on my blog. Stay tuned.

39 people I’m thankful for on my 39th birthday…

IMG_1876.JPGOn my 39th birthday I woke up in the woods, not because I had been out all night partying and thats where I landed, but because I was camping with my 3 boys.  I climbed out of my tent and built a fire to warm up the amazing pre made, by my wife, breakfast burritos.  After I got the fire good and hot I laid back in my hammock and begin to think about this question:  Why had God let me live 39 years?  Laying there in my hammock I begin to hear God ask me back – who are you thankful for?  I answered quickly with a few things and God nudged me with a reminder “NOT WHAT but WHO??  All of the sudden, names of people starting popping into my head and I wrote them down as quickly as I could.  I titled my list 39 people that I’m thankful for on my 39th birthday…..Here’s the list….but before you read it:
  1. promise to make your own list this week of people you are thankful for
  2. Making this list helped me wish I was older so I could include several other people – my list kept going but I managed to stop my self at 39.5
1) Beth- who incredibly supports me and my insanely huge vision for doing this thing called “gospel living”….I love you
2) Ella “my daughter”  – who makes it ok to act like a girl and do silly girl things
3-5) Reagan, Brayden and Jacob “my 3 boys” – they laugh when it’s not funny and they’re funny when I need a laugh
6) My Dad – who refuses to retire displays that the “calling” is a lifelong journey…
7) My Mom – the equivalent of the energizer bunny jacked up on Red Bull and monster energy drinks
😎 Todd my brother – shows me daily how to love others even when I’m yelling about something else (the cool smiley face wasn’t intended but it was unavoidable due to autocorrect)
9) Brian B – you’re like the other brother
10) Jen B – you’re like the wife of my other brother (btw- Brian is my best friend)
11) Michael H- I wish I could reproduce your heart to serve
12) Courtney H- you complete more tasks for the Church in a week than most will in a lifetime
13) Hannah R- your courage and commitment during a family crisis big enough to stop isis in its track
14) Chad R- letting me be Jeff and pastor Jeff (it’s invaluable)
15) Bob C- even though we don’t talk anymore, the foundation of my dream was built in your home
16) Will S- you said yes to my dream and put up the walls of an amazing place of worship – I miss u bro
17) David H – your heart for world missions is contagious
18) Dean H- the constant encrouagement and mentorship is immeasurable
19) Dr. G-  your advice has revolutionized my day to day and liberated me from myself
20) Puckett- you are always first to wish me happy Veterans Day, merry Christmas, and a host of other things – your friendship is cherished
21-22) Andy & Alan -you 2 are hilarious and nothing brings me more joy than having you 2 around so beth can boss you 2 instead of me
23) Lee C – you say yes to every challenge when it comes to leading others in worship
24) Jess- you said NO and now you make me brave
25) Angie C- positive and encouraging & committed to the church
26) Brad D – our private conversations are spirit led my friend
27) Sherry H- they’re snotty nosed whinny kids and you still lead them
28) Robbie rob – broski – I love you
29) Richard – your desire to set up a church and put signs out so people can find God is inspiring
30) Philip J- you always say “that’s not a problem” and those words are frustrating and encouraging to me at the same time
31) Yolanda – when I see you I can’t help but smile
32) ____________ – you walked away at a time I thought I needed you – I may not like you now but I love you and I’m thankful for you – you taught me that God and His plan is greater and bigger than any person
33) Rhonda J- I borrow your inspiration several Sunday mornings
33.5) lil Phil – you are braydens role model (thanks for being a good one)
34-35) Amy  & Tony – you aren’t where you wanna be but you aren’t where you used to be either- keep growing
36) Lynn F- Im still thankful for the socks you gave me a while back
37) Robin G – your weekly summary of Sunday reminds me that someone is listening (hope to see that G change one day)
38) Lorraine B- many pastors would love to have someone that appreciates the Church publicly like you do
39) Terrance C- You are a DREAM MAKER – all 4 of my kids think they are going to be as tall as you some day

NONE’s

Have you ever met someone from a distance and been magnetically drawn to meet them up close and personally?  That what happened to me a few months back.  I was invited to a Church conference in Charlotte led by a pastor I had never even heard of.  While at the conference the lead pastor Dr James Emery White said something that resonated deeply with me.  He said that he had 4 children (so do I) and he said that all 4 of them were in full time ministry.  He mentioned that the youngest was 18 and I immediately thought to myself, I’ve got a little over 16 years until my youngest will be 18.  This created a HUGE desire to meet Dr White.  While he has been named an expert in Church and Culture, I simply wanted to meet him to discuss parenting.  I sent an email to my assistant and she arranged this meeting.  I was stoked that Dr White was going to give me some of his personal time.  I was so eager to meet with him that I arrived nearly a half hour early to his Church.  I wandered around the book store in his Church realizing that this man was more than a good father, preacher, leader, and teacher.  Dr. White was the author of more than a dozen books.  I bought a couple of his books while waiting to meet with him and I completely finished the first book, “What They Didn’t Teach You In Seminary” in less than 3 days.  THIS IS A MUST READ IF YOU ARE A CHURCH PLANTER!  I started the next book just a few days ago and today Im writing about an alarming discovery within the first few pages.  This book is titled, “The Rise of The NONES” The first few pages reveal this, hard to swallow, statistic.  Major research had revealed that the “NONES” are on the rise.  What are the Nones?  Good question!

When people are surveyed and asked about their religious affiliation, they simply answer: NONE!  Here’s what disturbed me and I hope it disturbs you too!  In the 1940s 5% of America would answer this question with NONE!  According to wikipedia, in 1940 the American population was just over 132,000,000 – (thats 132 Million) meaning that roughly 6.5 million would have NO religious affiliation!  If that bothers you, then buckle your seat belt and put a helmet on.  50 years later in the 1990s this number grew by just over 3% meaning that now 8.1% had NO religious affiliation! Wikipedia says that the American population had grown to just over 248 million by this time, causing the NONES to reach just over 20 million.  So in 50 years the NONES grew from 6.5 million to 20 million.  I know at first it sounds bad but when you think about numbers and time its not quite as bad as it seems. Remember, people reproduce what they are.  Just because the NONEs have no religious affiliation doesn’t mean they don’t have sex and reproduce explaining some of this growth.  50 years and over 13 million NEW NONES!  Brace yourself!!

From 1990 to 2008 this NONE group had grown to over 45 million!  WHAT? The NONES more than DOUBLED in less than 20 years!  I bet you are thinking what I’m thinking – the people in those times really screwed it up!  Here comes the BOMB! From 2008 to 2012 this number grew again.  Before I give you the number, lets think about 4 years.  Thats about how long it takes a newborn to be ready to start school.  It takes an average student that long to finish high school.  A typical Bachelors degree takes 4 year to earn.  4 years is the term of the President.  4 years = 48 months which is about the average length of a car loan. 4 years is 208 weeks and 4 years is only 1461 days (Don’t forget the leap year) So what happened in 4 years to the NONES?

In 4 short years, the NONES grew from 45 million to 60 million! Holy crap!  Let me put this into perspective for you:  Over 10,000 people a DAY!  EVERY DAY OVER 10,000 PEOPLE BECOME NONES!  I’ve never claimed to be a math major but even if my simple math is off, it is very apparent that we have a RISE OF THE NONES – Hence the title of this book by Dr White!

So WHAT?  What will we do?  We can start by asking a few questions!

Do we REALLY believe the Religious Affiliation that we claim to associate with?

What does our Religious Affiliation expect us to do in terms of reaching people?

Do we have a plan to attract people to our Churches or places of worship?

Do we really freaking care?

I’m deeply disturbed by the numbers and I’m committed to being an “AGENT OF CHANGE”!  How I will become this agent, I’m just not 100% certain at this time!  I seek your help!  I stand ready to enlist you and your creativity in terms or reaching the world with the message of Hope found in Jesus.  If you are interested in being an agent of change with me then follow these steps:

Buy a copy of this book “The Rise of the NONES” 

Once your copy comes in, email me jeff@revolvechurch.com to be included in our strategy meeting to become this “Change”

If the NONES can grow so can the ONES!  Lets do this!