A Letter To Ignite Church

Sunday was an AMAZING day. Not just because I get to do what I love every week, but the way my Church, Ignite Church, made me feel. Sunday morning was going as usual…unloading our trailer, setting everything up, sound check…then service began. First couple of song were great. Then, when our transition from worship to message was supposed to begin…Andy interrupted the service to begin a “journey” for Pastor Appreciation. It was a “dinner”. Sam (my worship leader), his wife, and my wife all sat at a table for 4 brought out on stage. We were served a great “vintage” year of Welches Sparkling Grape Juice, an appateezer of mixed fruit, a “main dish”, and for dessert…chocolate cake!! While we ate…or at least attempted to eat, a mic was being past around for people to share their appreciation for us and our families. It was by far the single most amazing way that I felt appreciated. So creative.

The truth is…I feel that every week. All of you always seem to find a way to encourage me. I LOVE IT! It makes my role as Pastor, enjoyable.

Who ever had the idea to appreciate us that way, “Thank You!” To those who made that dinner possible, “Thank You!” To everyone who pitched in for our gifts, “Thank You!” To all of Ignite Church…”Thank You!” It’s my privilege and honor to be your Pastor. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to call Ignite home.

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Road Block Ahead

It has hit me! The creative juices have stopped flowing. I’m in need of a creative jump start. For the past couple of days/weeks I’ve been sitting, then pacing, then sitting at the computer, the pacing again trying to think up directions in my message prep and series to reach people with the amazing message the Bible has to share. But, I’ve been drawing up blank! Needless to say, this has frustrated me. For those of you who are pastors, what do you do to jump start your creative juices?

One thing I’m excited about and hopeful with is a conference I’m going to at the end of the month. Exponential is a conference for church planters where we all gather to discuss…well, church planting. I really want to use that time as a “reset” button. Allowing it to be a time to talk with others, listen to others, and get some good ideas to bring back to Ignite Church.

Until then, here’s to sitting at a blank screen waiting….

Asking then Listening

Sometimes it’s a struggle to listen. We’re so busy that we tune out a lot of what is around us…even those that are close to us. I’ll be honest, it happens to me all the time. I tune out my kids, my wife, even God because I get so busy and distracted. I’m so focused on ME and what I’M doing that what’s really important seems second. If I can hear God above all else, I hope and pray that I can hear those around me more clearly. So what can we do? (This help came from an article I read.) I’m planning to wake up everyday and ask one of the following questions to God. Why? Because when we ask a question, it forces us to listen because we’re waiting for an answer. I challenge you to do the same.

• What questions should I be asking you?

• Is there anything you want to tell me today?

• What do you want to tell me about my key relationships?

• Is there anything I need to do to be at peace with anyone?

• What are my blind spots?

• Is there anything that’s gotten between you and me?

• Is there anything in Scripture that you want to show me?

• How shall I invest the time I have today/this week/this year?

 

Living In Anticipation

Crossfitters across the globe are living in a state of anticipation. Every week, It’s the same for 5 weeks…Weekend = Doing the OPEN WOD’s. Weekday until Thursday night = living in anticipation. We’re all wondering what Dave Castro has up his sleeve for the next workout. The nerves are raging. Excitement levels high. Muscles sore from last week. Thursday nights are spent around the computer waiting for the reveal of the next WOD that will torture us for the weekend. It’s 5 weeks of anticipation and excitement.

Which leads me to wonder…

How many Christians out there live in anticipation for Sunday?

Pastors around the world spend a week crafting to share the single most AMAZING news anyone will ever hear…that God loves them more than they’ll ever imagine. So much so that He sent His SON as a sacrifice to pay for our sin to make us righteous and clean so we can stand with Him! Yet, most “Christians” aren’t living in a state of anticipation for Sunday to hear the Good News; to be encouraged; to be pushed. (Huh…sounds a lot like a Crossfit WOD) At the same time, shouldn’t every day be lived in anticipation for what a personal God is going to bring our way? Whether it’s a great conversation, someone with whom we can share good news with, or blessings big or small.

Here’s my challenge to myself…and you…live everyday in anticipation and excitement! Look for those amazing opportunities God longs to bring into your life.

Anticipate_logo

Embrace the Suck

I have a shirt that I got when I was visiting a Crossfit Box that reads “Embrace the Suck” across the front. To me, this means I’m not good at everything I do and I have to accept that.

Sometime we feel we deserve to have everything work great…to feel great…and be good at everything we try. Especially if you work in the church or are a part of a church. Sometimes, things don’t go well. For me, as a pastor, sometimes my messages doesn’t go how I planned. The technology doesn’t work right, things break, people complain, I stumble over my words, etc. Guess what? Sometimes we just have to “embrace the suck”.  We aren’t going to be great at everything all the time. We’re imperfect people with limitations and weakness. God works better in our weakness anyway.

I’ve noticed that after I preach a message that I “feel” didn’t go very well, is when those messages seem to speak to people more. It’s in those times people have heard God’s voice (no…not mine, thankfully). As odd as it seems to me as a public speaker, when I let God do His thing and I let go of my own abilities, He does so much more than I could imagine.

When I feel like a Sunday doesn’t go how I want…I have to “embrace the suck”! God always works better than I do anyway. So don’t be afraid…keep going!

embracesuck

Courage To The Rescue

A couple of weeks ago, it was coming down to the wire. My wife had a partner all lined up to compete in Freezefest only to find that he had hurt his back and couldn’t compete. After searching for a replacement, and not finding anyone, I was officially drafted to be her partner. The “draft” took place 4 days before the competition. You need to understand that I have never competed in Crossfit before. I only go into the gym 2-3 times a week for 1 hour. The competition consisted of 6 WODs in one day. For some reason I agreed to this.

On the day of the competition, we arrived at the Union Depot at 6:30am (yes, an early day) only to have our first WOD a little after 9am. I go to line up as we are in heat #1 of the RX division only to find that I’m in the same heat as Kyle Spears. If you don’t know him…he won Granite Games. He’s a beast. He and his partner dominated this entire event. It was very intimidating to be competing with him.

Here are our results. Each WOD placing out of 68 teams:

  • WOD #1 Clean/Hang Clean Ladder – 49th (combined weight 381 lbs). We both PR’d here.
  • WOD #2 Sandbag/Partner Carry – 2nd (time of 1:46)
  • WOD #3 Deadlift Total – 63rd (total weight of 16,385 lbs) We think we did better than this.
  • WOD #4 Burpee Box Jumps – 6th (total 69 reps)
  • WOD #5 Handstand Walk – 51st (total of 90 feet) I feel like I could have done better here
  • WOD #6 Thruster/Chest 2 Bar/Run – 23rd (time of 6:29)

Over all placing? 29th!

What does all this mean? Well, for me, this was one of the more courageous things I’ve done. Like I said, I don’t like to compete. I’m not very competitive, I don’t train for it, and I don’t really like all the eyes on me while working out. So this single act of courage was actually just what I needed. It was really fun to do this with my wife. I think it was really good for our relationship. It was good for me, because now I know what Mary goes through every day when she’s at practice for 2+ hours training for Regionals. It also allowed me to meet people I normally wouldn’t have.

At the time…I would have never done this again. But as I reflect, I actually might do this again.

Here I am hitting my 215# Clean & Hang Clean. This was a 10# PR for me!

Here I am hitting my 215# Clean & Hang Clean. This was a 10# PR for me!

OPEN to Mediocrity?

Well, the Crossfit OPEN is over. I’ve mentioned that I’m not a very competitive person. But being a part of this worldwide event was fun for a variety of reasons. One, to push myself and see where I am in the grand scheme of things. Two, the community. There’s really something unique about the Crossfit community. I met so many new people. I was encouraged by them and new found friends. Three, to have something to talk about with my wife.

I bet you’re wondering how I did? Me too. Here’s a quick snapshot comparing myself to other men. Column 1 is where I was worldwide among men. There were over 110,000 male athletes worldwide. In the North Central Region there were approximately 8500. CFSP is the gym I belong to: Crossfit St Paul.

Wordwide North Central CFSP
WOD 1 59179 4752 13
WOD 2 50238 4145 16
WOD 3 46578 3934 13
WOD 4 49244 4073 13
WOD 5 45914 3760 15
AVERAGE 50230.6 4132.8 14
TOTAL 110,000+ 8500 aprox 27
Overall Ending 42939 3589

If you look and do the math…I’m right in the middle. I guess that puts me at about average in the world of Crossfit. I ask myself regularly if I’m OK with that? In this arena of my life, I think I have to be OK with that. I can only get to the gym 2-3 times a week. That’s just the season of life I’m in right now. I don’t have the time or the resources to hit the local box more than that. Where I struggle is when I compare myself to those who are doing better than me. I begin to feel frustrated and defeated.

This led me to thinking about my church. Ignite Church had it’s first public worship service 1 year and 6 months ago! I love my church and am so proud of all the people that help make it happen every week. When I look at our average attendance, we are an average church. The average church in the US has the exact same number of people in attendance as we do. That encourages me A LOT! As in Crossfit, where I struggle is when I compare myself/my church to other church planters. I look at my parent churches and other church planters who planted the same time as I did. When I do that and think about the numbers, many of them have higher  attendance than my church. When I focus on that, I feel frustrated and defeated.

When I ignore the numbers, and when I focus on what matters…lives are being changed, people finding Hope, people understand who Jesus is and that God isn’t a distant being…I am beyond encouraged. This was the WHOLE reason I set out to start Ignite Church! The mission is being completed. I’ve also come to understand a Truth God is teaching me. Am I being faithful with what I have now? If I’m faithful and wise with what I have now, God promises to bless that. What that looks like…I have no idea! But I have to stay focused on where we are and where we’re headed.

I LOVE THIS JOURNEY!!

Failed…Again

Well, I’ve failed at this blogging thing…AGAIN. It was a goal to post once a week. I’ve missed 2, maybe 3, weeks. It’s tough to keep track. Why has it been so hard to post? I’m glad you asked.

It’s CROSSFIT season! My wife, Mary, competes regularly in this amazing sport. The OPEN is starting tomorrow. Every Crossfitter is sitting on pins and needles right now about to puke waiting for WOD #1 (AKA 14.1) to be announced. Anyway, my wife has been training like crazy…about 3 hours a day, 6 days a week. Yea, I think she’s crazy too, but I’m pretty sure my wife could beat YOU up. 🙂 I’m super proud of what she has accomplished. Her gym is expecting to go to Regionals and then to the Games. With her gone training all the time, I’m left with our 2 boys. Have you ever tried working with 2 boys home? It’s next to impossible. Then, add in the mix a little puppy. I rarely get a moment to myself. So every moment I have left is doing what every other young church planter is left to do…craft a sermon, manage a couple of ministry teams, send out emails, write newsletters,  cast vision, have meetings, try to fix broken equipment, manage finances, and do all the administrative stuff. Not to mention manage a home.

You’re probably thinking, “Why are you trying to post now…GET TO WORK!” Well, I have to leave in 5 minutes to pick up my boys from school and I didn’t want to start a new project only to barely get started and have to stop.  I have many posts in the making. So there’s a glimpse into my life right now. PRAY FOR ME!!!

More Than You Can Handle

This Sunday, I challenged my Church, those that live for and follow Jesus Christ, to help the reputation of God by NOT mis-quoting the Bible. All too often, that’s what happens. Like this popular phrase:

“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Guess what? That’s NOT in the bible! People often say it’s the meaning/translation of 1 Corinthians 10:13. Read it:

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

This verse says nothing about suffering. Which is the setting when people say this phrase. They say it when bad things happen. What it DOES talk about is TEMPTATION. Paul is saying that no matter what temptations come our way…God provides a way out so that we WON’T fall into the temptation.

So Christians, help the reputation of God by reading and understanding the Bible before you quote it.

I’m Out

**This is a rant**

Well, it’s happened AGAIN. School’s out. I’m beginning to think the song lyrics should be changed to “School’s out for the winter”. Not sure about other parents out there, but I’m getting sick of this. I work out my house, which means that when the kids are home, I don’t get any work done. My boys are 7 & 5. This should tell you that they can’t entertain themselves for very long. I’m usually interrupted by “I’m hungry”, “I’m bored”, or the battle of a life time. So then I’m stuck trying to get a weeks worth of work done in 2 days (this was last week). Schools really should offer FREE childcare to those that can get their kids to the school. 

I’m tired of this canceling school business. I’m OUT! I’m headed out of the state of MN. I’m even considering leaving the country. I need to get away. I need to get work done and have adult conversations. Who’s with me!