From Church

behind-the-scenes-of-the-2016-jmi-gala

Behind the Scenes of the 2016 JMI Gala

Every year we host the Justice & Mercy International Benefit Gala in order to raise money for all the mission work we do in Moldova, the Amazon and South Africa. It has become one of my favorite weeks of the year. Our National Directors – Alina, and her husband Vlad in Moldova; and Sarah, and her husband Magno in the Amazon – come all the way to the United States to attend and share about the work they do. These people are so special to me personally, and to our whole church family. In addition, we have people come in from Reston Bible Church as well as other JMI partner churches and so many friends from out-of-town who go on mission trips and invest in the work. It has become like a giant Family Reunion! All united in Christ and with a common desire to make a difference in His Name.

The Gala is our biggest fundraising event of the year and there is a lot that goes into making it happen. Our JMI and our Rolling Hills Staff Teams all work hard because we believe in what God has called us to. Along with this, it takes close to 100 volunteers – most of whom go on mission trips and sponsor children through JMI. The fact is, we all sincerely love the people we go to serve. The precious orphan children in Moldova, the pastors in the Amazon, the poor and forgotten in South Africa – they are truly our friends. We love them, and we know what a difference this night can make in their lives.

But, the Gala is also a lot of fun. When you are serving with people you love, united in a cause bigger than yourself and you see God do miracles in people’s lives, of course it’s fun! It is not work, but a calling and a passion.

Here are a few of the behind the scenes fun moments as we prepare for the Gala:

Taking our National Directors out to experience some good old American fun:

img_5392 img_5399 img_5402img_5400

 

Setting up in the auditorium with staff teams and volunteers – it’s all hands on deck

img_3072 img_3081 img_3071

 

Serving with people we love

14480535_10154048972632972_8289249172069063676_o 14500605_10154048973332972_7018553867123374493_o 14470566_10210755290067961_2097720990180822375_n 14435060_10157507517130015_4436330823453532996_o

Praise God for allowing us to be involved in what He is doing in the world. When Christ is transforming lives there is nothing like it! There is no place in the world that I would rather be than serving our God with people I love and seeing lives redeemed for His glory. Thank You, Father! Get involved. Jump in because serving God is awesome! Go on a mission trip, sponsor a child, serve locally, but do something. You will have a great time serving, and God will impact lives through you. We are better together.

“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Psalm 84:10

Lastly, here is a message from one of our good friends about giving to JMI:

unspecified-1

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor_ %22Winter is dead.”

Changing a Country

My first time to Moldova was in 2003. On that trip, I knew that God had a huge heart for the precious orphan children I met and a huge calling for us, a baby church in Middle Tennessee. I must admit that before that trip, I knew very little about this small country in Eastern Europe. But, it was the statistic that 60% of girls trafficked into prostitution in Eastern Europe come out of this country of 4 million and then meeting some of these vulnerable children that truly grabbed my heart. Not only the girls, but also the boys are in danger of trafficking, organized crime and even suicide. I have returned every year since my first trip and our church, Rolling Hills, has been sending mission teams multiple times a year. By God’s grace, we have had a front-row seat to see Him change an entire country.

Camps for Orphans and Vulnerable Children with Mission Teams

unspecified-1I am writing this on a plane returning home with one of our summer mission teams. From the first year, the prioritization of taking mission teams from Rolling Hills and other churches has been the basic building block. By hosting camps at various orphanages throughout Moldova, we have been able to share the Gospel and to see countless young men and women commit their lives to Christ. Having a spiritual foundation is the essence of a person’s worth and value. Christ has transformed their lives with His love, just as He has for each of us. We have seen God changing Moldova, one life at a time.

Mission teams have also allowed us to connect with children in order to hear their story and see the depth of their need. Through individuals who have served on one of our teams, we have been able to meet physical needs with clothes and food as well as to foster on-going discipleship by connecting Christ-followers in America with these children. This has allowed us to meet pastors in area villages who have helped identify the need. I am so thankful for the hundreds of people who have gone to Moldova to serve – God has used you and continues to use your prayers, love and support. You are a part of God’s bigger story for this country.

Sponsoring Children

After a few years of taking mission teams to serve in Moldova, we quickly realized that we had to do more. These kids were coming to know Christ, and we were able to give food and clothes, but they had long-term needs at the risk of not being met. In 2008, we started a non-profit called Justice & Mercy International. The first role of JMI was to hire a National Director and begin a sponsorship program. This sponsorship program has solidified the connection between an American (sponsor) and a vulnerable child in Moldova. This sponsor becomes a surrogate “parent” to the child providing resources for clothes, food and advice. Through letter writing and connecting a JMI staff member with the child, the child’s future is being impacted. Today almost 400 children are being sponsored through JMI in Moldova.

Different from great organizations like International Justice Mission (IJM) who rescue trafficked children from brothels, we are endeavoring to be on the front end – protecting the children and preventing them from ever having to experience the hurt and tragedy of this abominable situation. And, by God’s grace, it is working. Lives are being saved – spiritually and physically!

Transitional Living Homes

Through JMI, we were able to start a Transitional Living Home for when children outgrow and have to leave the orphanages at age 15 or 16 – their most vulnerable time in life. Today, we have a home for girls (The Grace House) and a home for boys (Boys to Leaders). The Transitional Living program is two to three years of providing a place for the child to live, a mentor (House parent), enrolling in additional school (“college”), teaching them English and spiritual discipleship. We have over 30 girls and boys currently living in our transitional living homes.

Independent Living

unspecified-3After the children graduate from the Transitional Home, they can move into an independent living apartment with others from the program. This allows them to learn how to live in an independent setting with the help of a social worker, vocational director and additional education. We have close 20 boys and girls in independent living apartments. It is exciting to see these kids growing up, exceling in school and attaining jobs in areas of influence – education, local churches and even government jobs.

By God’s grace, it is working!

Last night was an amazing celebration for JMI in Moldova. Our Mission Team shared in a graduation party at the Grace House for 11 graduates of the Transitional Living program. With caps and gowns, the graduates came out onto our stage in the back courtyard. With about 80 people present, we applauded the graduates for their hard work, prayed over them and blessed them. There was not a dry eye in the place. It was incredibly special!

unspecified-2Graduates like Ejor. Ejor grew up in the orphanage in Baltsi. He came to know Christ through one of our Rolling Hills mission teams. He has been in the JMI program for three years, and his English has progressed to the point where he now serves as a translator for JMI. In fact, Ejor leads worship at the Camps that our mission teams host in different orphanages and villages. Kids in Moldova are drawn to Ejor, and God is using him to impact the next generation there.

Graduates like Elijah. Eli grew up in the orphanage at Internat 2. This was our first orphanage in 2003, and we served at this Camp for 9 years in a row. I have watched Eli grow up. I met him when he was 8. He told me at graduation, “You were the first man who ever said he was proud of me.” These kids, just like all of us, simply need someone to believe in them. Eli was also one of our translators for the week and leading other kids to Christ.

unspecifiedAt the graduation that night, Elena and Ion came to visit. Elena was one of our first girls in the Grace House in 2010. Since she graduated from the program herself, she has gone on to marry Ion (a godly man) and just completed her Masters in education. Next month, Elena and Ion are the leaders of a Camp at their Moldovan church for 125 children in their community.

After the graduation, we had a big celebration. We had a Moldovan band, and all 80 of us danced traditional Moldovan dances. We had a cake to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of the NGO status of JMI’s work in Moldova. I stood looking around at everyone laughing and having so much joy, and thought, “Only God.” Only God can change an orphan’s life and only God can change a country.

We certainly have a long way to go, but we take motivation from the fact that Moldova used to be known for sending orphan and vulnerable children into the sex slave trade, and now we are seeing Christ transform these young lives so that this country will be known for sending missionaries for Christ. Through the leadership of these young followers of Christ who are now getting jobs in education, business and government, and volunteering in their local churches, with American mission teams in orphanages and sponsoring vulnerable children themselves, we are seeing a new Moldova emerging – one with a hope and a future. God is changing this country, and we all have a part to play in His bigger story for this country. Get involved and join in what God is doing. Don’t miss it – God is changing a country!

 

Our actions and decisions today will shape the way we will be living in the future.

Why I am So Passionate About The Church

I love Christ and his church. I am more convinced today than ever before, that the local church is how God will truly transform the world. The world is changed one life at a time, and God uses his church to accomplish his will. In his divine sovereignty, He designed the church to be the vehicle of his love and grace to a world in need.

Recently, we walked through the first part of Acts in a series called “Unstoppable.” As we went through this series, I was reminded how deeply I love Christ and his church. He died for us, and then He gave us his church so that we would not have to go and grow through Christian life by ourselves. I am so thankful. Because of Christ and his church, our lives and our world has never been the same.

God’s church is more than a bible study, community group, house gathering or any other small group setting. It is more than a group of friends sharing a meal together and talking about spiritual things. These all have their place, but it exists within the larger context of the church. These all tend to be inward focused – which is a part of, but far from the whole of the church. Church, as someone once said, is the only organization that exists for those who are not members – the least, the last, the lost. The church exists to give glory to God, grow Christ-like disciples and to share His love with a world in need.

As you study, you will realize there are five core elements of God’s church:

  1. Worship – the importance of turning our attention from the things of this world, and putting our focus on God. Corporate worship has always been essential to God’s people as they gathered at the Tabernacle, the Temple and today in local churches.
  2. Discipleship – the goal of our lives is to “be conformed to the image of Jesus” (Romans 8:29) This happens in the context of community. Jesus discipled 12. We need people to teach us God’s Word, challenge us and hold us accountable.
  3. Evangelism – the church must be reaching out. Jesus’ last words were a commission to his disciples to “go and make disciples.” A group of people that is simply inward focused is not a church. We must always be reaching out to share the love of Christ with others by inviting people to church and sharing our faith.
  4. Fellowship – praise God that we do not have to go through life alone. God, in his sovereignty, gave us Christ and other believers to encourage us and pray for us. This is why being part of a community group is so important as a part of the larger context of the body.
  5. Ministry – the church exists to take care of the poor, the orphaned and the forgotten. We minister to one another within the body, but we must always be ministering to others in our community and the world. All of these elements must be present to be a church, and as a Christ-follower, we must be involved in all of these (not simply the ones we like the most).

Christ and his church go together. It is a package deal. Now, the church is not perfect – it is full of sinful people, but they are loved and redeemed by Christ, himself. Jesus loves his church, and so should we. People who say they are Christians, but are not a part of a church are not living as God calls them. In fact, I don’t think you can be mature disciple of Christ and not be a part of a local church. Jesus established the Church. He said, “Upon this rock (the confession of Peter’s faith), I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) The church is the body & bride of Christ Jesus. Followers of Christ united by the confession of our faith, “Jesus is Lord.” It is all of  us united in God’s love, redeemed by his grace and joined in his call.

We are better together. This is why God established His Church because He knows this. He knows we need a place to belong, but we also need a place from which to make a difference. When God’s Church is functioning properly, there is nothing like it! Fueled by the Holy Spirit, the church is alive! It is not an organization, but an organism – the hands and feet of Christ Jesus himself. We can serve individually, but imagine what can happen, when we join in our confession of Christ, and serve together. Tomorrow, I leave on a mission trip to Moldova and it is incredible what God has done in the lives of precious orphan children through his church over the years. This is not an individual or a small group, this is God using His church.

The fact is, we need each other. And, this is so evident to me this year, 2016. The church has been there with me through the tough time of the death of my father, and through the great time of baptizing my daughter. We lock arms and serve together, grow together and reach other together, but we also lock arms and “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.” I am thankful for the difference God’s church has made in my life and in my family. I am thankful for the the faithful men and women who have taught me, helped me grow deeper in my own faith journey and allowed me to serve alongside them. I am thankful for so many passionate churches today who are impacting people for Christ across our community, our country and the world. I love being joined to a greater story!

And, today, we are the Church. We have been entrusted by the God of this Universe with his heart and love. Therefore, let’s give our best! Let’s lock arms together and go forward. No more small living or self-centered inward focus. God’s Church is not a country club or a social gathering, but we are ambassadors of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Therefore, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and open our arms to a world in need. Christ is for us, and He loves his church! May He find us faithful.

Screenshot 2016-06-23 11.02.19

Kate’s Baptism

I’d like to share this with you!

I love being a dad, and this past Sunday was such a great celebration for our family as our youngest daughter, Kate, was baptized! At Rolling Hills we endeavor to do a video for each person being baptized talking about their salvation experience. For Kate’s video, Tom, our expert video directer, added footage of her actual baptism. I want to share this with you, and with the whole world! I am so thankful for the salvation we receive in Christ Jesus. He is our Hope and Life. And, when your child experiences this – there is nothing better.

I am humbled at what our God is doing, and thankful to serve Him with each of you. Thank you for the difference you make in my life, our family, God’s church and in His Kingdom. To our great God be the glory!

With a full heart and much love,

Jeff

 

1

Why I Encourage Every Parent to Send Their Kids to Summer Camp

2

Yesterday, I was with a couple hundred children, students and adults at our Rolling Hills Summer Camp. Everyone was having such a fun time with smiles everywhere and lots of laughter. Worship was powerful and God-filled! At Rolling Hills, we put a lot of energy, resources and time into our Summer Camp, and as a result, we feel that it is one of the best in the country!

I truly believe every family should make camp a priority each summer for their child and student. Here’s why:

1. It’s Life-Impacting

Taking a week to be away from all their screens allows kids to truly hear from God (In fact, this could make a huge impact on all of us). Being away from all the distractions of social media creates an environment for students to focus on what really matters in life – God, their family, real friends and living a life that honors Him. Students are able to re-prioritize their life and make commitments to God that will have a profound impact on helping them become godly young men and women. Being a Student Pastor for 10 years, I witnessed many students return home from Camp different people. Their parents, family and friends would talk about the difference – “They used to speak to me so disrespectfully, but now they tell me they love me.” Or, “They used to treat their siblings like this, but now they include them.” It is life-changing.

2. It’s Relationship-Forming

Kids need good, strong relationships in order to be successful in life (we all do). First, kids need adults in their lives (besides their parents) who will speak truth, challenge and encourage them in the Lord. It is amazing how, as a parent, you can say something and your kids dismiss it, but someone else says it and your kids think it is the greatest thing they have ever heard! It is worth every penny to have other, godly adults affirming and speaking truth into your kid’s lives. Kids have enough bad influence from the world, they need godly influence. They need adults, both at Camp and afterwards, who will be available to them throughout the years, where they can ask hard questions and find godly answers

In addition, kids need friends. They need to be around other good kids who share their same faith in Christ and desire to live their life for Him. They have enough “peer pressure” at school, on social media and in the world. They need friends who will encourage and challenge them in the Word and in the truth of God’s love. Proverbs 13:20 can be summed up, “You are known by the company you keep.” This is so true for kids. Helping them develop godly friendships at church will impact the rest of their life.

3. It’s Really Fun!

Kids need to have fun. Kids are growing up in a world of stress and anxiety. In fact, research shows that more kids are struggling with anxiety and being medicated today than ever before. There are many factors, but the truth is that kids are having to grow up faster. There is so much pressure in the world from school, sports and even the tragedies they see on tv. They need to have fun, laugh and have a place to just be a kid.

Camp is stress relief. It is joy-filled. There are fun games, laughter and lots of smiles. Camp is spiritually transformational, but also emotionally invigorating. It is joy for the soul and so nourishing. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Kids need a dose of Summer Camp to rejuvenate their spirit.

Throughout the summers ahead, I encourage every parent to make Camp a priority for your kids. Plan for it, save for it (I have three kids there right now and it adds up, but it is worth it), schedule for it and just do it. Do it for your kids, and, at some point, do it for you as well. Maybe you didn’t grow up going to Camp. At some point, be an adult leader. The adults have as much fun as the kids. Seriously, for all the same reasons for sending your kids to Summer Camp, you need to go yourself. Review the list, and put it on your calendar.

As I reflect on my own personal life journey, Summer Camp was always one of my favorite weeks of the year. It was at Camp that I made many friendships. It was at Camp in my 9th grade year, that I first felt called to ministry. It was at Camp that I developed a deep passion for God’s Word and prayer. It was at Camp that I grew exponentially in my faith. It was at Camp, as an adult leader, that I walked with many students as they made life-altering decisions for Christ. I am so thankful for Summer Camp.

To all the Campers at RH Summer Camp, but also at Camps all over the country this summer – I am praying for you! May our God move in a mighty way in your life and may you return home different because of your time with Him.

To all the adult Leaders at RH Summer Camp, but also at Camps all over the country – Thank you! Thank you for the difference you are making for Christ and His Kingdom. If you ever wonder if you are making a difference, just look at me and many of my friends who had leaders like you pour into us as kinds. You are raising up the future leaders of the Church, and I thank you!

Join in what God is doing and make sure Summer Camp is a priority for your family each year!

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

Why You Need a Community Group

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.-2

Last night was our final Community Group meeting for the year. Ever since we planted Rolling Hills, I have led a Community Group. This is one of my favorite parts of ministry. Seeing God work in people’s lives is so encouraging and invigorating. And, I truly believe life-change happens best in community. Jesus had 12 men to share life together and they grew deeper spiritually through their interaction with Jesus as well as with one another. Jesus gave us the model, and I believe this is how spiritual growth continues to happen today.

A few years ago, Lisa & I along with Tom and Angie Atema made the decision to have a new Group each year. This was very intentional. Before this, we had the same Group of friends. And, while we loved it, we felt like God was calling us to invest in others. So, we left the comfort of our friends and branched out into leading (with Tom and Angie hosting) a new Group – the idea being that we would invest in new people for a year, raise up a leader and launch them as a new Group the following year.

It has been amazing! It is not always easy. Ministry is messy – just ask Jesus. It takes a while to get to know new people as well as to learn to trust them. It takes a while for a Group to connect and gel. It takes a while to feel open enough to share your heart, your struggles and truly where you are spiritually with others. But, the beautiful part is when God moves among us and spiritual growth happens right before our eyes.

We have loved and continue to love all our Groups. We still see one another at church, cheer on the new Groups that launch and continue to share life together. Sometimes it may take two years or more, but launching new Groups is a sure sign of spiritual health and maturity. As well as a great way to meet new friends.

This Group we had this year has been amazing. We knew no one coming into the Group last August. Not one. And, yet, God bonded our hearts closely together. We have laughed a lot, and cried a lot. We have celebrated the greatest joys in life together this year – parents baptizing their kids and new babies being born. But, we have also walked through some of the darkest times together this year – the death of a parent and major struggles in marriage. Yet, all of these life situations have drawn us closer to God and closer to one another. The fact is, we were not meant to walk through these times alone. God gave us community for a reason.

Since it was our last night, we asked everyone to share how they have grown spiritually this year. One couple shared how they had just moved here last summer and had no idea what would happen. God blessed them with church, community and they have grown more spiritually these past 9 months than at any other time in their lives. We love this family.

Another person shared what a hard year it has been with having a new baby, tax season (being an accountant) and dealing with family challenges. She said, “I have been carrying so much ‘Momma Guilt.’ I have felt like a failure as a mom, in my job and as a wife. And, yet, I now know God is with me, and I can see me being who God created me to be again.” Only God.

I love this. Another person said, “I used to love my religion. I grew up in a strict, fundamentalist church. My extended family was, and still is, there. It was comfortable, and I loved my religion. But, now, I love Jesus. Not my former church or even Rolling Hills, but I have fallen in love with Jesus. He is first in my life.”

One more shared about how difficult this year has been. They have had marriage issues that are still on-going. But, they said, looking back now, I can see how God brought me to this Group because He knew what I would be going through this year. He knew how I would need community and godly people around me.

You were not created to do life alone. God wants you to experience Him and life through others. But, you must be intentional. It is not easy to sign up and go to someone’s home that you don’t know. But, trust God. Be bold and put yourself around people who will help you grow in your relationship with God and others.

Every year it is so difficult when we come to the end of our Group. We have fallen in love with these friends, and it is so hard to bless them and to see them launch a new Group. But, like a newborn baby it is awesome to see them grow. To see them trust God, raise up another leader and continue embracing life in community. This is the mark of a disciple – making disciples (Matthew 28). Baptizing, teaching and obeying Christ.

You need a Community Group. You need a place to grow and to belong. Be intentional. Don’t hide behind the excuse of “I’m too busy.” No you are not. It is a matter of priorities, not time. Then, at some point in your spiritual journey, you need to lead a Group. It is awesome to love, pray and invest in others! Step up and trust God to work through you for His glory. In fact, you will grow even more as you prepare, pray, and pour out your life into others.

My prayer over our Group last night is my same prayer for you:

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6

IMG_4392

God has started something great in your life, but He is not finished with you. It is through a Community Group that God challenges you and encourages you. You need a Group. I need a Group. Life can change in a hurry. You need others to celebrate with you in the good times and to support you in the struggles. We grow spiritually in a Group. God has a great plan for your life. Trust Him. And, take the initiative to join a Group.

Power

The Power of a Volunteer

Power

Their names were Carl & Sue Moore. Carl worked for the Federal Reserve in San Antonio, Texas and Sue was a stay-at-home mom. But, to me, they were my 7th grade Sunday School teachers. Every Sunday they would be set up and ready when I arrived. They had games, snacks and a Bible lesson every week. They loved the Lord, and for whatever reason they loved 7th graders. Now, it takes a special person to work with middle school boys. But, they had whatever “it” is, and they invested their lives in raising up the next generation for Christ. Their Sunday School class had a huge impact on me spiritually that year. I fell in love with God’s Word, developed strong Christian friendships and witnessed the power of a volunteer.

Fast forward to this past Sunday night. At Rolling Hills, we hosted our first ever Volunteer Celebration event. It was incredible! 270 people gathered for a meal and and an amazing show. The entire night was meant to say “thank you” to those who serve and make such a difference each and every Sunday in God’s house.

Volunteers entered on a red carpet with people cheering. They came to a delicious meal by one of the best caterers in Nashville (a Rolling Hills volunteer himself). After dinner, the show started. It was an awards show with singing, dancing and, of course, awards. There was the “City Water” award to the volunteer who is everywhere. There was the “Nacho Libre” award to the worship ministry volunteer who is “The beeesssttt.” Then there was the “Officer Collins” award to the volunteer who makes the best first impression. We laughed, clapped and celebrated people serving and making a difference for Christ.

People like Lee & Saundria Keck. Lee & Saundria were presented the “Lifetime Achievement” award – kind of ironic for a church that has only been around for 13 years. But, they deserve it. Lee who retired from working with the State of Tennessee and Saundria who retired from LifeWay understood that you don’t retire from serving and volunteering. When we began the church they both had full-time jobs. Now, they volunteer full-time. Saundria was our first children’s leader when we only had 3 kids. When I announced one Sunday that we were leaving the Marriott to go meet at the movie theater, her and Lee drove straight to Lowe’s to buy rugs because she didn’t want these children she loved to be on a dirty movie theater floor. Saundria then started our Mom-to-Mom ministry which is for young moms and today has over 70 young moms coming each Tuesday morning. Lee has been leading a Bible Study for men, greeting at the door, and serving on about every mission trip. In fact, thanks to Lee’s contribution and help, there is a pastor in the Amazon who is using a canoe with Lee Keck’s name on it to travel from church to church to preach the Gospel. I love serving our God with these heroes and friends.

Ephesians 4:11 says, “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

We can’t become “mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” without people doing the work of ministry. We need each and every person serving in their area of calling and giftedness for all of us to become all God desires and for His Church to mature. That has been true for me.

In my life, I am so thankful for Carl & Sue Moore and Lee & Saundria Keck. In addition, I am so thankful to serve alongside the 403 volunteers who so faithfully serve our God at Rolling Hills every Sunday as well as throughout the week. We are raising up the next generation of pastors, missionaries, Federal Reserve directors, workers for the State and stay-at-home moms who love Jesus and further His Kingdom. And, we are growing more like Christ in the process.

To all of you who volunteer in the Name of Jesus, thank you! Thank you for investing your life in what really matters! If you are not yet serving, jump in and join the movement. Find a place to serve at your church and transform a life for the glory of God. The amazing part is that most of the time, your life is the one that is changed.

Untitled design-5

The Birth of the Men’s Leadership Network

Untitled design-5

About a year and half ago, on a golf outing with some guys from church, I found myself in this conversation:

Golf buddy: “I was reading in Esquire about how guys deal with the death of their own father.”
Me: “Really? What did Esquire have to say about this?”
Golf buddy proceeded to tell me some of the things the article unfolded about how men handle this experience emotionally as well as the pressure they feel now being the one to take care of the family.
Me: “Is Esquire where you go to get advice about dealing with issues unique to men?”
Golf buddy: “Where else am I supposed to go?”

It was then and there that the Men’s Leadership Network was born.

I knew we had to do something to help men with the unique challenges they face. I knew we had to help equip them to understand how to handle life from a Christian perspective. God created us and gave us His Word, and so He is a much better source for men than Esquire, GQ and any other self-help magazines. After this conversation I brought it up to some men on our church staff and we began to develop topics that would be relevant to all men. “How to have a great marriage,” “How to be a successful dad,” “How to balance work and home,” “How to manage money instead of having money manage you,” “How to become the spiritual leader of your home,” and, of course, “How to deal with the death of your father.” These were all topics that we knew men needed help on in order for them to truly succeed.

There is so much pressure on men today. First, they feel the weight of trying to care for their wives, children, parents and more while being successful at their jobs as well as their spiritual lives. Second, there’s an enemy who does not want them to succeed. Satan uses tactics like pornography, money, and more to destroy their self-esteem and their marriage. Finally, men compare themselves to others and don’t feel like they measure up. They are well aware of their own short-comings and then compare themselves to everyone else’s highlight reel – thanks, social media!

The aim of the Men’s Leadership Network is to not only address the questions that guys are asking, but to connect them to Jesus Christ. As Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” By interviewing Christian men whose experiences and training have made them well-versed in these topics, we were able to help others learn what the Bible says about it and how to respond as a godly man. We know that the impact on marriages, children, careers and generations will be immeasurable. God created men to succeed and it is only in Him that we truly find our worth, value and ultimate success. Let’s pray and help men become all that God desires and intends. Let’s be the spiritual leaders that God called and created us to be. Let’s change the world!

So, to my golf buddy’s question, ‘Where else am I supposed to go?”

To the Men’s Leadership Network. Join in every Thursday Morning at a location near where you work – Franklin, Cool Springs and downtown Nashville. For more information, check out www.mensleadershipnetwork.com.

Our next semester of Men’s Leadership Network begins tomorrow, April 7th. We have an incredible line-up of speakers and relevant topics that all men face. From learning how to leverage our influence, to dealing with the upcoming Presidential election from a Christ-centered perspective and even how to be a spiritual leader when someone close to you is walking through cancer, the topics are powerful and important.

Small

Life-Change

 

Our God specializes in life-change. With God, there is always hope.

I love having a front row seat for watching God change lives. It is amazing! Karen and Elliott were close to giving up last year – on their marriage and on their family. Enter our loving and caring God, and their lives were forever changed. They are a part of our church and Community Group, and it has been such a joy to walk with them in this journey.

Also, Tim. Tim is a wonderful husband and father. He is also battling stage 4 prostate cancer. He has become a great friend over the past year and his passion for Jesus is contagious. Listen to his story and allow it to encourage you the way it has encouraged me and so many others at our church.

Whatever you are facing in life, never lose hope. God is with you, and God is for you. Hold on to Him and experience His life-change in you. It’s not about what we do or don’t do. It is all about Jesus! He specializes in changing lives. And, it is awesome!

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all.-2

He is Risen!

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all.-2

It’s Easter Sunday Morning! Praise God!

“‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said, ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.'” Mark 16:6-7

Jesus is alive! He conquered death. The one thing which has kept our world in fear, and Jesus beat it. The grave could not hold Him down. And, because of this, we can come alive – truly alive – this Easter. Because of Christ, death no longer has the final say. Our God is greater! And, He loves us!

May you have a wonderful Easter celebrating the goodness and grace of our God. And, may Easter come alive in you. He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

From my family to yours….Happy Easter!