Never Settle


Portland Skyline from South Portland, Maine

I’m dusting off the ol’ blog again today…
this time I’m using it to promote Refuge…
Refuge is my dream… so that’s what I want to promote.
But in reality… there’s a bigger picture here… this post is
to promote dreaming.

Not just my dream… your dream… our dream.
If you breath… you dream.
We were created as dreamers.
Erwin McManus said, “Our imagination is God’s playground.”
How cool is that!?!?!

It’s been so long since I have written a blog post…
I realize that some of you may not be aware of the recent events in my life.
My family and I have decided to chase a dream… a dream that we’ve had
for a long time… a dream to start a church… a church in New England.

My wife is from New England… and we’ve always known that there is a huge
need in New England for churches… so we’ve always said…
“Maybe someday God would use us start a church there.”

Well… over the past 4 and a half years I have worked for a church that has
taught me to dream… and to chase those dreams until they become a reality.
Our pastor, Mark Shell knew what it meant to receive a dream from God and
chase it until it became real.
He taught me to never settle for my dreams to remain dreams and he inspired others
to get on board and support those dreams.

A little over two years ago our pastor received news he had cancer.
In March of this year, he went home to be with Jesus…
but he left behind a legacy of dreaming… and I will not let that legacy die.

It’s time for my family and I to chase this dream of starting a church.
It’s time to see if I can inspire other to get on board with our dream the
way Pastor Mark Shell did.
It’s time to not settle.
It’s time to bring Refuge to an area that desperately needs it.

The name of our church is The Refuge.
We will be launching in Portland, Maine in September of 2016.
In February 2015, GALLUP listed Maine as third on a list states with
the lowest church attendance.
Not that church is the answer… but that Jesus and His Body is… we want
to show Portland what we believe Jesus would look like if he were here today.

We cannot do this without help.

We have an amazing friend named Justin Williams
that has decided to chase this dream with us.
We have other friends that are praying about it.
We need people… we need a team…
so if you live in Portland, ME or if you live in another area
of the country… Please consider praying about joining our team.

The other way that you can get on board is by giving.
We are launching with an organization called ARC…
they will match every dollar that we raise up to $50,000
which will give us $100,000 but even that
will not be enough to get us started.
Dreaming is expensive!!!

There are 3 ways that you can give today…

Giving Slide

And just in case you don’t want to type that out… just click here to give.

So what about you?
What is your dream?

What conscious decisions are making today to equip you to witness
that dream become a reality?

You can do it… all  you have to do is RUN!

Never Settle

The End of Me.


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The song on the radio on the way to work was,
“Touch The Sky” by Hillsong United.
The lyric was “I found my life… when I laid it down.”
As I drove… the thought that resonated within me was…
“Isn’t that the truth!?!”

About two weeks ago I announced to my church that
God was calling my family and I to start a church.
The area of the country that God has placed on
our hearts is New England.
The city is Portland, Maine.

Last week my wife and I went to Portland.
As we left… I said… “I’m 97% sure this is where God wants us.”
I was reserving 3% for my comfort.
I was reserving 3% for the unknown.
I was reserving 3 % for for me.

But yesterday and today I have learned something…
I cannot reach “the end of me” by holding on to 3%.

In the book of Matthew Jesus said…
“Don’t run from suffering; embrace it.
Follow me and I’ll show you how.
Self-help is no help at all.
Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.”

In other words… lay your life down in order to discover what real life is.
This is our desire… to get rid of ourselves…
so that we can be who we were created to be.

The map above is one that I have saved
on my phone since the day I first laid eyes on it.
It breaks my heart… not because the answer is in attending religious services…
but because the answer is in a relationship that those “religious services” represent.

When I look at this map… I don’t see green.  I don’t even see gray.
I see life and I see death.
But in the death I see opportunity.
Opportunity for revival.
Opportunity for “the end of me.”
In the end…
it all produces life.

Now… I’m all in. 100%.
The Refuge Church is launching in the Portland, Maine area in September 2016.
If you have friends or family out there please tell them…
we’re coming… and we’re bring life with us.

Don’t procrastinate laying your life down… life is so much better when you do.

What does your 3% look like?

Lay. It. Down.

The End of Me.

Dear Salem, Illinois PART 2 (An E-mail from TWLOHA)


TWLOHA

Two weeks ago I wrote a letter to my friends in Salem, Illinois.
Before I wrote that letter in blog form… I reached out to one of my favorite organizations…
To Write Love on her Arms.
Today… I received an email from them.
As I read it… I thought… this e-mail is addressed to me… but it’s not JUST for me…
it’s for the community.

I want to share it with you… it’s filled with hope… love… and encouragement.
Please read it… please share it… but more than anything… DO IT.

Here is what they wrote me….

Hi Adam,

Thank you for your message. We’re so glad you enjoyed If You Feel Too Much!!
(A book by founderJamie Tworkowski) We apologize for the delay in our response; we receive many messages and it can be difficult to answer all of them in a timely manner. We hope you understand this and know that despite this, you and your message are still very important to us.

Our hearts are so heavy to hear about the recent suicides and other deaths in your community. We won’t pretend to know the entirety of the situation — but we understand how gaping of a hole suicides and deaths can leave in a community, and how devastated it must be. Our hearts and thoughts truly go out to you and everyone else in Marion County. Now, more than ever Adam, cling to your community and ask for them to cling back. Make yourself available to those grieving around you and ask others to do the same so that no one may feel alone in their grief. It’s important to acknowledge the pain that exists within your county, and that people may not be okay. It’s okay if they aren’t. But now is the time to bring as much hope and love into your community as possible. One of our friends, Cat Tinker, wrote a blog earlier this year called Hope in the Face of Grief. We know the situation she writes about isn’t exactly the same, but she talks about the need for community in times of sadness and grief, and how it’s okay to not be okay, and that people need other people.
Has your community come together in any way since these events? It can be so important to give a community an opportunity to do so and to share, grieve, and love together. We’d also encourage you and the rest of your community to try and make the local mental health resources as widely known as possible — so as to help those who may need them find them as easily as possible. Here is a list of resources we’ve found for Southern Illinois, that we hope may help. You are more than welcome to utilize any other good resources you know of in the area, as you are familiar with it. Our FIND HELP page has resources for Chicago, in Illinois, but also has resources in many other states — you may utilize and share them wherever you may find yourself. We also encourage you to look into our Get Involved page. There you can find ways to start conversations about mental health, bring TWLOHA to your community, and participate in fundraisers, campaigns, and benefits. We hope you’ll be able to find some ways to help your community here.
Thank you again for your message, Adam. We are so grateful for your kind words about our organization, and we hope that our words have been able to help you or encourage you in any way. This is a difficult time, but we have hope for you and for Marion County. We have hope, and we believe that better days are ahead. Our hearts go out to you and your community, and it is our wish that everyone may find peace in suffering, love in grief, and a light in the darkness. Know that you are not alone; let others know they aren’t alone. Life, with its joy, and with its sadness, was meant to be done together.
Please don’t hesitate to keep us updated on how you and your community are doing, Adam!!
With Hope,
TWLOHA”

My favorite part of this email was this…. “Our hearts go out to you and your community, and it is our wish that everyone may find peace in suffering, love in grief, and a light in the darkness. Know that you are not alone; let others know they aren’t alone. Life, with its joy, and with its sadness, was meant to be done together.”

Let’s not procrastinate doing life together.

#BetterTogether

Dear Salem, Illinois PART 2 (An E-mail from TWLOHA)

Dear, Salem Illinois


salem water tower

We live in a cruel world.
I wish it wasn’t so… but it is.

Unfortunately, you know this all too well.
Recent events have shown us all how fragile life is.
Five young people… 18… 19… 14… 17… and 19 years of age… gone.

Each death… a separate cause with a common question…
Why?

I wish I knew why.
We all wish we knew why.
But unfortunately none of us will ever know why.
In fact… when we look at all five tragedies… there’s a lot that we don’t know.
But, what we don’t know will drive us crazy.

We can go crazy thinking about what we don’t know…
therefore, we must choose to focus on what we do know.

So… what do we know…

1- We know that we have each other.

It’s one of the many joys of a small town.
We live together… cry together… laugh together… love together.
Without each other… we would focus on what we don’t know… and go crazy.
Today… let’s remind each other that we are here for one another.
Visit someone you love just to tell them that you love them.
Be there… your presence has purpose.

2- We know that we will survive.

I know there are days that it doesn’t feel like it.
There will be days we want to give up.
But we can’t.
Giving up is not an option.

On days that it doesn’t feel like you’ll make it…
get out and do something… for yourself… for someone else…
it doesn’t matter… just be active on those days… you won’t feel like it…
but trust me… when you do… you will feel alive again.

3- We know that we have purpose.

Do me a favor…
close your eyes…
take a deep breath…
and breathe.

There is purpose in your lungs…
and just because we don’t know the purpose of these tragedies…
doesn’t mean we don’t know the purpose of our breath.

Our purpose is to create a future…
a future that makes the world different… better.. and beautiful.
The world is more beautiful with all of us in it… together.

4- We know that today’s suffering is temporary.

In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul said this…
“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”

Glory awaits us… if we belong to Jesus… He owns victory…
and He’s gracious enough to share it with us.

If you have questions about that… please… let me know.

5- Finally… we know that there is meaning in all of this.

Take a six minutes… and listen to this song…

Salem, Illinois… Jesus is all we need… He wants us to find meaning in all of this… but through it all… we must find it Him.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says…
This is the reason we do not give up. Our human body is wearing out. But our spirits are getting stronger every day. 17 The little troubles we suffer now for a short time are making us ready for the great things God is going to give us forever. 18 We do not look at the things that can be seen. We look at the things that cannot be seen. The things that can be seen will come to an end. But the things that cannot be seen will last forever.

Sincerely…
Your fellow Wildcat.

Dear, Salem Illinois

Painting Life’s Story


dreams

I tend to look at my life as a story.
The things that take place in my life are what make up my story.
Some things that take place in my life I love…
other things that take place in my life I hate.
Which brings me to the question…
who is writing my story?

There have been happenings in my life that as they are going on…
I do my best to predict what will happen next.
Most of the time…
I’m dead wrong.
Obviously… I’m not writing the story…
if I were… everything would happen exactly as I desired and predicted it.

But then I think about quotes like the one above…
as well as…
“We will never create anything more powerful of significant than our lives”
– Erwin McManus.

This is where the wrestling match in my brain begins.
Do I write my story?
Does God write me story?
Do we both write my story together?

When I begin to grapple with life…
there is only one place that I turn…
The Scriptures.

In Acts chapter 3…
Jesus is called the Author of Life.
In Isaiah 55, Isaiah says…
His ways are thoughts are nothing like our thoughts…
and His ways are far beyond anything we could imagine.

I’m convinced that God is in complete control of my life…
my story…
and the fact that I cannot predict the next chapter doesn’t give me a sense
of helplessness…
in fact it gives me a sense of peace.

Does this mean that quotes like McManus’ are wrong?
I don’t believe so…
because in God’s complete control…
I believe in His unbelievable grace…
He offers me choices along the way.
Choices that create my future.
Those choices are the paintbrushes of my life.

God holds the pen that composes the story…
but by His grace…
He gives me the paintbrushes to illustrate it.

Don’t be so wrapped up in predicting the how the story goes…
that you forget to paint a picture that illustrates how powerful the story is.

Don’t procrastinate painting your story.

Painting Life’s Story

The Price of Forever


Forever

Forever… it loses all of it’s meaning with just the removal of three letters.
Unfortunately in today’s culture forever seems to turn into “over” more often than not.
This past Sunday in my student ministry I took a quick poll with our students…
“How many of you have parents that are split up?”
Way more than half raised their hands.
Forever is just not “normal” these days… whatever “normal” is.

My wife and I celebrate 10 years of marriage today.
In searching for the perfect thing to say about today here is what I found…
‘“When forever becomes a place…when forever ceases to be just a word… when it ceases to be just a measurement of time…but instead becomes a place where soul mates can dance to the song in their hearts… that is a reflection of true love.”
― Steve Maraboli

Forever is a dance.
A dance that can be interrupted by no one.
A dance to the song of the heart.
A dance that lasts for eternity.

But in a world where eternity seems impossible
and divorce is natural…
forever just doesn’t seem feasible…
so what do we do with forever?

Let me suggest that we look to the only One that has truly knows what forever is.
In the Bible there is a story about forever.
It begins with a marriage… a marriage between a man and a prostitute.
The prostitute just cannot seem to escape her lifestyle.
Night after night she leaves her husband to return to the streets
until one night she ends up on the auction block.
As she stands there naked and used up…
men are shouting obscenities at her…
placing bids for a one night stand.
One man shouted a price that no one would dream of paying…
the price of forever.
It was her husband… Hosea.
He bought something that already belonged to him…
she was his forever.

The story of forever is our story.
Our story with a God that loves us in spite of our unfaithfulness to Him.
A God that was willing to pay a price that no one else would be willing to pay…
the price of forever.

Forever was bought with sacrifice.
Forever was bought with blood.
Forever was bought with love.

In a world that seems to have lost it’s forever…
it’s so important that we hold onto ours…
and as you hold on to your forever…
remember…
it’s been paid for.

Don’t procrastinate holding on to forever.

The Price of Forever

Yelling At the Radio


Ash

Today is Ash Wednesday…
A day that I feel often gets over looked by my Protestant brother and sisters.
It’s a Catholic tradition.

I’m probably the furthest thing from a Catholic.
I’ve never been to mass…
I haven’t really even done a ton of study on the Catholic church.
However… there have been a few times that I have enjoyed listening to Catholic Radio.
I blame my dad for that… on long car rides growing up he always listened to talk radio.
For him it was Rush Limbaugh… for me… it’s Catholic radio.

Okay… so in reality I have only listened to Catholic radio twice.
This last time… I learned some and probably yelled at the radio some.
That’s what I do when I disagree with something being said on Talk Radio…
although I don’t think I learned that from my dad…
I think that is a result of having only St.Louis sports radio where I live.

I was listening to a call in show where a priest that was really smart answered questions.
One caller called in and asked about salvation and the Protestant translation of
John 3:16.
He asked about the belief that faith saves you…
Catholics believe that it is faith plus works that save you.
The priest accused Protestants of “proof-texting” with John 3:16.
I guess he completely missed Ephesians 2:8-9.
Which is probably when I yelled at the radio.
My issue though was not with the accusation.
My issue was what the caller had said prior to the question…
“I consider myself a moderate Catholic.”
If “moderate” means average… I take that as… doing enough to get by.
Now… trust me… I’ve seen PLENTY of “moderate Protestants”.
But if I really believed that I was saved by the things that I did…
I’m pretty sure that I would make sure I was more than average.
But the priest didn’t seem to care about average…
he was more concerned about being right.
Unfortunately this is something all religious people seem concerned with…
but what we need to be concerned with is being made right… right with God…
which brings me back to Ash Wednesday.

The reason I like Ash Wednesday is because it is day that begins a “Holy Season”.
It’s a day of confession.
A day to say.. “This is what I am going to do to get things right.”
Now… I believe that in all of my efforts I can never do enough to make things right.
It’s only by the death… burial… and resurrection of Jesus that I am made right with God.
However… when it comes to my repentance… the turning away from my sins… the stopping what I am doing that separates me from God… that is something that I have to respond to by God’s grace.

I don’t want to just ignore Ash Wednesday.
I want it to remind me of my call to repentance…
because that is something that I cannot afford to procrastinate.

Yelling At the Radio