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Archive for January, 2015

“Your Phone Broke?”

“Your phone broke?”

That’s what a friend who had been trying to communicate with me the other day said when they saw me. I’m usually pretty easy to contact but I had been having “a day”. Not a bad day, mind you, just “a day”. Have you ever had one of those? Serious conversations, over phone and in person. Multiple opportunities to pour out vision about some of the exciting things I am believing about our future. Pressing business… HEAVY prayers… sermon preparation… phone ringing… texts coming in… Facebook and twitter notifications… “you forgot this!” I never got around to doing “that”.

So when I run into this friend, who was glad to see me, they say with a smile, “Hey man, your phone broke?” I didn’t laugh. I don’t even remember what I said, though I am sure I made some excuse as to why I was so quiet that day.

The next morning I was thinking over the previous day and just broke out laughing about this. It was a funny comment and in the moment I wasn’t feeling it. You know what I realized?

I WAS OVERWHELMED.

I want you to take a moment and think about all of the people in your life. Do you see it? There is brokenness everywhere! People are overstressed, overworked, overburdened and overwhelmed. How easy is it to get overwhelmed? If I struggle with moments (not to mention occasional seasons) of feeling this way, how does the person who isn’t looking for it deal with being overwhelmed with life?

This is why I am SO EXCITED about the “Overwhelmed” series! I KNOW that I know that I know that people need this. That person you work with, your next door neighbor, your cousin, your teens – The “Overwhelmed” series is going to be applicable to the lives that we live.

I am begging you to look around!

Ask God to give you eyes to see those people and invite them to Vertical this weekend. You just might be used by God to change that person’s life!

 

Ask Yourself: Am I Overwhelmed?

I am SO EXCITED that this weekend we start our “Overwhelmed” Series at Vertical!!!

One of the things that I am convinced about is that people are bogged down with life. They are overworked, overburdened, overanxious,  overstressed and they DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT. Perry Noble’s book, “Overwhelmed”, is a timely book in the life of Vertical Church. One of the most common conversations that we have with the people of Vertical is about their overwhelming lives. We are looking so forward to teaching you that Jesus didn’t come to deliver us FROM our problems but promises to deliver us THROUGH them.

3 reasons I am so excited about “Overwhelmed”:

Reason 1 – Stress is real and it’s killing people. Anxiety is real and people don’t know how to handle it in a biblical way and often self-medicate. Worry, depression and suicidal thought are real, even among Christians, and the Church seems to not want to talk about it. I’m a talk about it!

Reason 2 – I believe that HOPELESS people want HOPE, and we have it! I believe that HELPLESS people want HELP, and that’s what we do! I believe with all of my heart that we are going to see a lot of life change and people taking next steps because they will begin to understand that it’s OK not to be OK, but it’s not ok to stay that way!

Reason 3 - I believe that God is going to use “Overwhelmed” in such a powerful way that people will get free, marriages will be restored, lives will be redirected and ETERNITIES will be changed!!! We’re going to “help people who don’t like church meet God” and we’re going “to lead people to become passionate about Jesus so they can lead people to Jesus.”

If you know ANYBODY who is going through a tough time, PLEASE INVITE them to Vertical with you Sunday. I promise they will be encouraged and will take a step towards HOPE.

PS: we have INVITE CARDS that you can give out. If you received some after church Sunday, PLEASE GIVE THEM OUT!!! God wants to use you - People NEED this!!!

WARNING: Bad News Ahead…

For many of you, January 2015 has been an INCREDIBLE month. You are seeing CHANGE happen in a lot of exciting areas of your life. Some of you are motivated, moving and dreaming about the possibilities that lie before you. You are seeing God in a deeper way – a relational way. You’ve never been closer – never felt like you were getting “it” like you are right now. That JACKS ME UP!!! I believe I might be addicted to seeing God change people’s lives.

The “Change” series has been a great one – Literally one of my favorites from almost 4 years at Vertical Church. The momentum and the evident presence of God in our midst lately at both locations is just mind blowing. I am SO thankful to God for blessing us with His Manifest Presence among us as we seek Him.

Unfortunately, I need to warn you about something. There is some possible bad news ahead:

You won’t always feel the way you do right now.

The night of February 5th, 2011 was the 2nd longest night of my life. (You can read about the longest night here) When I went to bed that night I felt like my life would change forever as the next day was Launch Day for Vertical Church. I could not sleep for anything. And when I would fall asleep I would quickly wake up and look at the clock. I COULD NOT WAIT TO GET UP AND FINALLY, AFTER ALL OF THESE YEARS OF DREAMING, HAVE CHURCH IN OUR CHURCH PLANT!!!

The following Saturday night, same thing. This pattern continued for a few months until one Saturday evening, I slept peacefully and was surprised to be startled by the alarm clock at my regular 5:15 am.

See, it’s important that you understand that I LOVE MY CHURCH!!! But I have to be honest, sometimes today I struggle to get up at 5:15 am. As exciting as Vertical is, and as much as I truly can’t wait to get there, we have done this 207 times. Ride your favorite roller coaster 207 times and tell me if you get the same rush as the 1st few… Vertical is not new anymore, and if we don’t guard our heart we will allow “the ordinary’s” to slip in.

You won’t always feel the way you do right now.

Just as you have heard us talk about over these last 4 weeks, rainy days will come!!! In our 1st year we had like 1 rainy Sunday, but they indeed came! Distractions will happen. Opposition will arise. People will try to discredit you. Your enemy, the devil, will tempt you. What do you do when you don’t want to fall or fail?

  1. Focus on God. Remember I talked about it last Sunday?!? Nehemiah 4:14, “Remember the Lord…” You heard Donnie quote Nehemiah yesterday from chapter 6 – so repeat after me: “I am doing a great work and I CANNOT come down!” Don’t stop what you’re doing. Focus on God, focus on next and get your eyes off the distractions around you.
  2. Pray. Verse 9 says, “They were trying to intimidate us, imagining they could break our resolve and stop the work. So I prayed for strength to continue the work.” The common response in most of our lives is to work harder during times like this. We need do what Nehemiah did – stop what you are doing and PRAY. Take it to God, focus on Him, remember what He said, then get back to work.
  3. Let God fight your battles. Through the years I have had multiple bouts with people whom I felt were opposing me. I remember one particular Sunday night crying out to God from my driveway and sensing Him instructing me to pray for them and allow Him to handle this situation. That’s what Nehemiah did, he prayed, “…remember those who were trying to intimidate me.” And God did. They completed God’s plan and finished the wall in 52 days.

I Have Never Met Someone Who Didn’t Come Down

Your bad news is actually good news – you are aware and you can be ready! You may feel really strong right now but you won’t always feel that way, and that’s OK. If you never come down from the high you’re on you are different from every single follower of Jesus that I have ever met. It’s important that you recognize this and recognize that opposition doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, opposition often points to the fact that you are doing something right. Never forget what Donnie said yesterday, “The closer you get to doing what God wants to do through you, the harder your enemy will fight to stop you.”

I love watching God work in YOUR life. Let Him. I’m praying for you.

The Coldest, Wettest Night of My Life

If you are going to try to do what God wants to do thru you, your spiritual enemy will do whatever he can to stop you! This might not comfort you in the moment, in the midst of your storms and challenges, but I believe that the closer you get, the harder that you’ll have to fight.

I wonder how many of you have found that the more you try to follow God, the harder it gets? Here’s an encouragement for you – IT WILL GET BETTER! You just have to stay in there, saying day in and day out, “I’m not giving up – I know God is leading me – I know God is with me – I AM NOT QUITTING!” Remember what we learned last week: We don’t face opposition for doing something wrong, we face spiritual opposition when we are doing something right.

The battle might be the toughest near the end but you are right at the point of break through! It is always darkest in the moments before the dawn breaks. I experienced this first hand a couple of years ago…

It is always darkest in the moments before the dawn breaks.

Every summer my son Matt, along with Pastor Donnie and his son Dylan and I, join some friends to tackle a portion of the Appalachian Trail. This trip is one of the highlights of my year. It is a man’s trip, totally roughing it, pack in-pack out, all foods and camping accommodations for the duration of the trip. On one particular trip we were caught off guard as a storm came up suddenly on the high altitude that we were camped at. We had planned to shelter camp the whole trip, meaning we were going to sleep in open air shelters that are placed at various places along the trail. But on this particular night a shelter just wasn’t in the cards as a large group beat us to the shelter, taking our chance for a roof out from under us.

We had no tents.

That’s another message about being prepared for whatever may come our way. “We’ll be fine.” our friends assured us. The radar had shown that it should be a pretty clear night. So we set up camp and were just getting to sleep as the sun was setting in the west. It wasn’t 10 minutes before one of the guys yelled, “you better make plans for some cover, I hear a storm coming up pretty quick through the trees!” Within the next 60 seconds the BOTTOM FELL OUT of the sky. We attempted to wrap ourselves in 2 tarps that we were actually laying on (that was a really bad idea). It wasn’t long before we were soaked, along with our sleeping bags and everything we had outside of our backpacks.

Everything was soaked. The ground was muddy. There was nowhere to go. No wood was dry enough for fire. And the rain, though no longer heavy, continued to drizzle, not for the next hour or two, mind you, but ALL NIGHT LONG.

We were cold at around 58 degrees. Matt was shivering which worried me, and there was nowhere to get warm or comfortable. All I could think about was keeping Matt warm, laughing about how bad this actually sucked, and praying continuously for the morning to come.

I never went to sleep. And as the night went on it got darker and darker on top of that tree covered mountain. The minutes turned to hours, and my prayers were for the sun to come up and the rainy drizzle to stop.

The dawn is breaking – the sun is about to come up.

The sun DID come up and you better believe we quickly broke camp to make sure that NO ONE was able to keep us out of our shelter on that next night. I was asleep by 4pm!!! That night was discouraging, but making camp and drying out our clothes was ENCOURAGING. It was ok and the rest of the trip HAD to be (and was) better than the beginning of it.

Your enemy will work hard to discourage you, scare you, distract you, slow you down and eventually to get you to give up on the dream that God has given to you. This weekend, as we look at this last section from Nehemiah’s story, you are going to learn the most important play from your spiritual enemy’s playbook and how to beat it every time.

This is MY FAVORITE PART of Nehemiah’s story. I cannot wait for you to experience it!

Something Miraculous Going On…

Lately I have noticed a difference on Sunday morning’s at Vertical Church – a “CHANGE”.

It started 2 weeks ago. I noticed it but really just explained it away as a “good day”. In church life we seem to have “hot” days – and “not so hot days”. It’s hard to guess when those will be, and because you know that every weekend holds the potential for changing someone’s eternity you go always go in with high expectations. But the other weekend was different. Others mentioned it. There were conversations happening among those who see it from the leadership side. Stories coming forth – decisions being made – a few of those “WOW! I didn’t see THAT coming!” conversations.

Something is different.

People seem to be leaning in… praying harder… singing louder… laughing more… lifting hands higher. The “AMEN’s!!!” are stronger… the prayers seem to be deeper and people seem to be investing in invitations harder.

Something is different.

Follow Fast ’15

We had more people than ever participate in our annual start of the year fast. We had many who have fasted before but pressed in harder and deeper than ever. And I truly believe that the difference is that God has answered prayers through our time of fasting – HE has revived many hearts.

 

6 ”Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?(MY NOTES: when you do this…) 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your lightwill rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations;you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, (MY NOTE: rebuilding walls – sound familiar?)Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

I Believe that we have Entered a New Season

Maybe you are experiencing it with us. Maybe you are on the outside looking in. Maybe you are on the INSIDE looking around. You see it too and you want to experience it too.

Pray. Tell God. Be honest. Lay down the things that are hindering you. Turn FROM your sin and turn TO Him. You don’t have to fast to do that and you don’t have to wait for Sunday morning

2 For he (God) says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Cor 6:2

By the way… Next Weekend (February 1) we begin one of the most important series we have EVER done at Vertical, “Overwhelmed”. Here’s how you know you need this series: If you, or anyone you know ever struggles with stress, worry, anxiousness or ALL of the above, this series will deal with all of it. How do you overcome worry when you are stuck feeling overwhelmed? Seriously, this series is going to “CHANGE” a bunch of lives. Make sure you invite those people who meet the “qualifications” to join us to Win the War against Worry.