I cannot turn my brain off as I sit here trying to get healthy again from a lung infection. I have a 100 new ideas a day. Anyone with me? This is what happens when you are in the land between, or if you are like me everyday. Some would say I have too much time on my hands. That may be true as I sit on the couch trying to sleep off this bug.
Margin gives your mind room to dream. When you do not have margin in your life the dreaming stops. Innovation stops. Creativity stops. I have been there.
My dreams keep going back to church planting. I cannot turn it off. I want to trust me! I told my wife never again. But, I am convinced it is God’s way. It is His #1 strategy to bring all peoples to Himself.
The area I live in has many new start up churches in local schools, most of which are called, “Campuses or Multi-sites.” This is where a large church (mega church) located in a heavily populated area opens up a new “campus” in a neighboring smaller town (this is my case) or a different part of the metroplex to bring the gospel to more people. Most campuses have the same look, feel, and programming including video teaching from the same pastor. This is known as having the same 'DNA' as the central church (mother church). It is similar to how Starbucks or any other chain restaurant and big box store multiplies itself.
There are also many Mormon churches in our area. It feels like they beat out Walgreens because they are literally on every corner (over 17% of our population one source said). Each Mormon church building has the exact same look, feel and programming. They have a single focused multiplication plan. Hand the ‘playbook’ to a new leadership team and open the same church up with the same name in a new neighborhood so people don’t have to drive as far and can bring their neighbors, co-workers and friends easier.
This makes me ask, “Why does this feel weird to me? Is it just me? Am I the weird one?" Maybe I am just used to originality and diversity? Maybe I don’t understand it because I have never been part of it? It seems like a good strategy. Maybe they are on to something. (I know they are on to something.)
Yes, I am from Wisconsin where there is not much in terms of diversity, it seems. But, when I think about it, diversity is everywhere in Wisconsin. Each local coffee shop is unique. Each store has its own flare. Each church has its own DNA. Each house is designed differently, for the most part. That is what I am used too. It is time for new beginnings.
So, back to my dreaming. I know that to reach many different kinds of people there needs to be many different kinds of churches. I also know that church planting is the best evangelism tool created by God Himself. This is proven statistically. You know where I am going with this don’t you.
Yes, there needs to be more coffee shops than just Starbucks in my city, please! There needs to be more local shops. There needs to be more creative and unique God given ideas in the neighborhoods to bring us together. There needs to be more options and strategies to connect more people to God. The God I serve and love always is doing a new thing. He rarely does the same thing twice. The best is yet to come.
I believe God made every finger print on every single finger different for a reason. I believe not one snow flake is alike for a reason. I believe each one of us are created different for a reason.
I know what you are thinking, "Yeah, you are a different kind Jedidiah." Yes, I am.
Today I dreamed up a new missional church planting idea (new to me anyway). I’m sure I will dream a new one tomorrow and the next day. This is just the way I am designed.
For now I will continue to ask God what local church He wants me to be part of during this season of life and dive in head first giving my time, treasure and talents. I will bury my roots as deep as possible.
Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Never stop dreaming. All things are possible WITH Jesus!
Life is a gift. My childhood was fun, active and innocent, but at age 10 everything felt like it changed. I found myself sitting in the doctor’s office with my Dad after being sick with 9 months of chronic lung infections.
Anxious and longing for answers my Dad and I memorized two Bible verses as we waited. Luke 1:37, “Nothing is impossible with God.” and Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Dr. Bradley Sullivan, a specialist, looked at my fingernails, then ran a sweat test. As we continued to wait I remember trying to be tough, yet I was scared. That day I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.
What is Cystic Fibrosis? I didn’t care at the time. I didn’t want to know. I actually didn’t really want to know anything about it (until I was 19 years old).
For those of you that do not know what cystic fibrosis is I will give you a short summary from kidshealth.org, “Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a disease that causes the body to make thick, sticky mucus (say: MYOO-kus). This causes problems in two major areas: the lungs and the digestive system.
Healthy lungs produce mucus, which protects the airways and makes it easier to breathe. But for a person with CF, the mucus is thick and sticky and can clog up the lungs. This creates a place where bacteria can easily grow — and bacteria cause infections.
And it's not only the airways and lungs that are affected in a person who has cystic fibrosis. Mucus-producing cells line the digestive tract, including the stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, and reproductive organs. The pancreas produces enzymes that help digest food and hormones that help absorb sugar. When thick mucus in the pancreas clogs up the narrow passageways, it can make it difficult for people to digest food and get all the vitamins and nutrients they need.
Cystic fibrosis affects more than 30,000 children and young adults in the United States. It can be mild or severe, depending on the person. To make normal mucus, the body needs a special protein. This protein is defective in cystic fibrosis, producing the thick, sticky mucus that causes problems for people with CF.”
Life is a gift. I had a relatively healthy life through my mid-twenties. I love sports and anything active. I started wrestling at 4 years old and continued through high school. I also played organized baseball, football and oddly enough cross country. I played neighborhood basketball, hockey, and anything else competitive that kids make up.
My friends were and are amazing. God gave me the gift of friendship since I could walk and talk. I love people and I have always had a lot of friends, sometimes more than I can keep up with.
The best friend God gave me is my wife Kendra. We first met in junior high at our church youth group. I didn’t see her beauty until high school.
I was a junior and Kendra was a sophomore and I remember so clearly the day I fell in love. It was after school and the sophomore girls were trying to get a ride home from the junior boys with wheels so they didn’t have to ride the bus. I had wheels, an 86 Ford Escort hatchback white with red interior.
Kendra had grown out her blonde hair since junior high and no longer had bangs. She also traded in her glasses for contacts. When she started flirting with my friend Luke I saw her beautiful smile, her sparkling green eyes, and long blonde flowing hair I said to myself, “WOW!” I truly was in awe of her beauty, still am. My friend Luke didn’t have a car, but he said to her, “Jed has a car.” THANK YOU Luke.
That moment changed my life. I have to say thank you to my brother Israel as well for making owning a car possible, selling it to me on the cheap. August 17, 2003 I married the love of my life, my best friend. A proverb says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing.” I have an amazing wife and life!
The greatest gift I have ever received is life with Jesus forever through the forgiveness of my sins. I was born Christmas day as a gift to my parents, they say. Christmas day represents so much more for me. It is not only a day to celebrate the life God gave me, but the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.
I remember it so clearly. As a child I was taught about Jesus through the Bible. I followed the example of my parents and went forward with the stuff the church was doing, starting with getting baptized.
Yet, once I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis I turned away from God. I could not understand or feel the love of God in the midst of my new circumstances. In my pride I chose to try to create the best life for me on my own without God, or so I thought. I sought the good life through sports, popularity, girls, just trying to fit in and be normal. I did not want to have anything to do with my parent’s God or church. I did what I had to do living in their house under their care.
When I was in high school my parents sent me to a Christian summer camp for a week of hanging out with church nerds and listening to boring Bible teaching. Instead, it was a week of adventure filled with hiking, climbing, canoeing, swimming, sleeping under the stars, sports competitions, pretty girls, along with cool camp counselors and speakers.
At the last group gathering they called “Chapel” I was sitting there thinking about life. I understood what sin was and that I definitely sinned a lot, still do sadly. I understood that God, who is perfect, can have nothing to do with sin. Because of his perfect justice sin has to be penalized. The penalty of sin is death, eternal death, in a place called Hell separated from God forever. I also understood out of God’s perfect love he gave his son Jesus as the perfect sacrafice to pay the price for my sin. Jesus took my sin and received the punishment in my place. He gave his life so that I can receive forgiveness; so that I can stand before God clean and pure; so that I can have eternal life with Him; so that I can live the best life ever starting now. Amazing and humbling.
I understood these truths, but I did not know Jesus. I did not love Jesus. I knew this stuff in my head and believed in Jesus, but I had never experienced the deep love of Jesus.
I had not met Jesus personally until that evening Chapel service. I don’t remember much of the teaching or music, but I do remember sitting while everyone else was standing listening to the words of a song being played, “Come, now is your time to worship. Come, now is your time to worship.” Then, I felt the love and presence of Jesus. I didn’t see Jesus physically, but I know I met Jesus that night. I was in his presence. I started to weep and talk to him just like he was standing in front of me. I started to worship him. He said to me, “I love you.” I responded by standing with my arms held high and surrendered my life to Jesus singing the words of the song being played.
That night I received the greatest gift one can receive, Jesus. That night I told Jesus I loved him too and I asked him to forgive me of my sins. I told him I would follow him forever. I put my trust in him.
I want to say that it was the 'wonderful life' after that, but it was not. After 3 weeks of wanting to follow Jesus passionately I started doing things my way again. I took back control and thought I could create the best life for me, sound familiar. It took me three years to learn that I could not do it on my own. I’m still learning.
Every good gift I ever received came from God even when I rejected him. So, coming to the end of myself one more time at age 19 I finally said, “Ok. I can’t do it. I need you Jesus. Help me. I give you control. Please lead me.”
It has been quite the adventure since. I am married with two beautiful children. I have years of deep meaningful relationships with a diverse group of people. I have received so many gifts I could write a book just on that (maybe I will sometime).
Life is a gift. Give your life to Jesus and you will receive more than you can possibly imagine! I did. The best is yet to come.
- His beloved.
The healing garden. That is where I’m sure many people have experienced a new hope as they breathed in the fresh air. As I sit at one of the garden tables I feel the blood flow through my body as fresh air fills my lungs and touches my skin. I hear the whisper of my Creator, “I gave you life and I will continue to give you life forever.” This life is just a glance, a moment, a vapor in light of eternity. Life is so fragile yet so important. To think we have a maximum of about 100 years to make the most important decisions of our eternal lives. Yes, all life is eternal spent either with God or without God in a place called Heaven or Hell. This blows my mind. It charges me to not waste a moment. It ignites an urgency to help my family and as many people as possible make the best decision(s) they can in this life, including me.
Let’s back up just a few days… I was sitting at home struggling to breathe deciding on whether or not to admit myself to the hospital all depressed and feeling sorry for myself. My wife was begging me to go in for days, but my kids continued to smother me with loving hugs and kisses asking to play outside. I didn’t want to give that up for the hospital. Finally, I surrendered, humbled myself and cried out to God, “Why can’t you just heal me?” This is common place and has been happening more than few times a year for let’s just say years. You would think I would learn. You would think I would be prepared. You would think I would be stronger, maybe more humble and wiser.
Here are a couple things I have learned so far again:
First lesson - be alert!
Don’t forget the enemy is on the prowl to steal, kill and destroy! Be alert! Be ready! I let my guard down. I was tired. I was sick. I was hungry, but I could not eat. I turned to Facebook instead of my Bible. I turned on the TV instead of getting on my knees. Then, the prayers of the saints and the Holy Spirit woke me up. My Dad didn’t let me blow off his phone calls. I needed the Bible. I needed prayer. I needed people in my life to point me to truth!
Wake up! Be alert! Be ready!
Second lesson - who is my King?
I like my King a lot when I get what I want (what I really really want). Let’s be honest. We all love to be needed; to be loved; to be respected; to be heroes; to be providers; to keep up with the Jones. I like my King when I get what I want. The question is, “Do I like my King when I don’t get what I want?” Yes, I love my King. Yes, I get that my King gave His life for me because of my sin so that me, my family, my friends, even my enemies can have eternal life with Him forever. I understand the depth of His love for me intellectually. But, let’s take the question deeper, “Do I trust my King, really, when I don’t get what I want?” I want good things. I want to be a Pastor. I want to work full-time. I want to own a house in a nice neighborhood. I want my children in the best schools possible. I want my children to have the best stuff and opportunities as possible. I want my wife and family to have their security and provision from ME. Some call this dignity. I want my wife to have what she wants. You hear me friends? You want this stuff too. Your list might be different, but this is real. You want! I want! We cry out to our King, “Give ME! Give ME!” because we understand that we can’t do anything apart from God. The Bible says that He wants good things for His children. It says just ask and it will be given. Yet, our King is silent when it comes to some of our wants. We might not get what we want when we really really want it.
Oh, then, my King speaks to me. My ears perk up. I listen. He says, “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys the field.” What! This is the answer to my prayer for now? Really? Yes. Oh, yeah and this, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” As my daughter says, “Bam What!” Ha. This is real. This is hard to hear. This is truth!
What is my response? On my knees confessing Jesus as my King in worship. Then receiving His love and peace as He promises. My powerful awesome King Jesus continues, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
My confession is simply, “I WILL.”
I will like, love, trust and follow my King Jesus and His example. His words are life! Please be encouraged in whatever you are going through. Jesus is with you. He will give you peace and He has overcome this world. Look to Him. He is your refuge and protection. He is your hope. Be willing to joyfully let go of this life for a better life with Jesus. Make your confession, “I WILL.” Choose a life with Jesus that nothing can snatch away from you, ever! With JOY go sell all you have to buy the field with the real treasure.
Love you all!