Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Party this Weekend!

Hey Freedom Valley,

This Sunday is a big day for us.  It is our 
final weekend to sign up for Connection Groups. These groups begin next week and run weekly for 12 weeks.  You can see a complete listing of the open groups right here.

Sunday is also the final day of our "Home Improvement" initiative.  You can still pick up your envelopes at church and give your gift to the Home Improvement project.  You can drop it in the offering on Sunday, give online now . . . OR . . .

You can bring it to our 
All Church Celebration Sunday evening at 6pm.   It's a Mexican fiesta! Obviously, the theme is Mexican, so bring your favorite Mexican main or side dish.  And bring the whole family out to this fun celebration at the church.  There will be plenty of food, fun for the kids (that's code for inflatable slide) and we will count up how much money we raised together and celebrate the improvements we can make to our building to make it more guest-friendly and safer for our kids.  This is one night you don't want to miss!

I can't wait to see you again this Sunday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

exciting faith steps

I want to thank you for your prayer last week to increase my faith.  God has really been answering those.  Last week, Sara and I decided to not hold onto the job at the hospital, so I gave my notice.  My last day at St. Francis will be October 7 and I will resume full time work for Freedom Valley then.  I also met with my board of directors last Wednesday and we worked up and approved a new budget that includes a stipend for me.  It's still not enough to make our budget work on paper, but like I said, our faith is growing and I am looking forward to seeing how God is going to bless our family and our church as I step out a little further.  

Here are the things I'm praying about this week:
  • Finish Strong - I have two weeks left at the hospital.  The last two people to fill my position have been me and Jon Trout (Jon is on our lead team, if you don't know him).  When I resigned, my supervisor asked me right away if there is anyone from Freedom Valley who might be interested.  I love that our church has a good name with her because of the good work that's been done by people from there.  I want to make sure I finish strong and don't tarnish that reputation a bit - much more for the reputation of Christ to be held high than our church.  
  • Big Stuff @ Church - In the next week, two big initiatives at church come to an end.  We close sign ups for this semester of connection groups and finish our "Home Improvement" fund-raising effort for some building improvements - both of these on Sunday.  I'm believing that we will see 80 people in Connection Groups and over $5000 raised for our building projects.   Those are both big goals for us, but we serve a bigger God and I really have faith we will reach those.
  • Priorities - My personal priorities are as follows . . . Follower of Christ, Husband, Father, Church Leader.  Funny how the top ones don't scream for my attention as much as the bottom one.  I am asking for prayers especially on the husband and father side.  My personal schedule has been insane the last six months, and now that Sara is working full-time, we are trying to find our rhythm.  Honestly, I feel like we're still doing well keeping our priorities, but I just want to do better.  I just want to be a little less tired and distracted when I'm with my family.  I also need to be more patient with my boys. 
Thanks so much for your prayers.  Remember to reply back if I can pray for you about anything this week.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The BIG 2 @ Freedom Valley

There are two huge initiatives underway at Freedom Valley right now.  You can get involved in both this Sunday and both end the following Sunday, October 2.  Here are the details . . .

Home Improvement - this is our in-house initiative to make our new facility more functional and guest-friendly.  Some improvements include installing doors on our main auditorium, a welcome center in the lobby, video monitors in all common spaces and windows installed in all classroom and office doors for absolute accountability and safety.  We are  believing that we can, together, raise $5000 by October 2 and YOU can easily be involved.  There are envelopes all along the back wall of our main auditorium.  These are numbered 1-125.  Many are already gone, but you can still grab one and give a financial gift equal to or greater than the amount printed on the outside.  Be sure and grab your envelope(s) this Sunday or give online right here if you can't make it this Sunday.

Connection Groups - these are semester-based groups designed specifically for you to build new friendships and pick up new life skills. This semester we are offering six distinctive groups that will run for 12 weeks beginning the first week of October.  Be sure and sign up for the group(s) of your choice this Sunday at church.  A complete listing of groups and their description can be found here.

Also, I am so looking forward to be continuing our "Priorities" series this week as I give you a sneak peek at a 
life-changing tool you can use to set your financial priorities.

See you Sunday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Reacting to a problem - my S.O.A.P. journal for the day

September 21 – Nehemiah 1

4 When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.

11 O Lord, please hear my prayer! Listen to the prayers of those of us who delight in honoring you. Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me.”

Observation: Two observations. (1) When Nehemiah heard a report that was unfavorable – a report that he did not want to hear – he did not just get sad and shut down. He directed his heart-break toward the ONE who could actually do something about it. He mourned fasted and prayed . . . for days! (2) He began to devise and execute a plan. He did not JUST sit and wait for God to work (although that was the first step). He immediately took action and asked God to bless that action. He was going to the King to see what could be done about this problem.

Application: I seem to do a lot of the second step with not enough of the first. If I'm really heart-broken about the state of my city (and I am), it's not just all about planning how to change that. It begins with mourning, fasting and praying to the ONE who can actually do something about it.

Prayer: Father God, please forgive me for wanting to fix things through action and planning alone. Sure, I pray, but Lord help me to understand and know the kind of prayer, mourning and fasting that Nehemiah knew when he found out the walls of Jerusalem were torn down. Tens of thousands of people in my city are hopeless without You, God. Help me to react like Nehemiah to that heart-breaking problem. In Jesus' name, amen. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Faith is . . .

In my personal time with God, I'm reading through the book of Hebrews right now.  Over the last couple days (chapters 11-12) I've been very challenged with the notion of faith and the various levels of faith.  I have a list of things that feel very challenging to me right now . . . church attendance, some leadership issues, cash flow for the church, cash flow for my family . . . the list goes on.  But this week, my lone prayer is for God to increase my faith.  If He is truly my source for all things good, then placing my faith in Him is the answer to my list of "challenges".  I know this sounds over-simplified, but that's just where God has me this week.  So, if you pray for me this week, please pray that God blesses me with a greatly increased measure of faith in Him.

One other thing.  I have a friend who had surgery last week and that surgery confirmed that they have cancer present in their body.  I'm not sure they would want me talking about this to a group of people, so I'm not going to identify them right now, but could you pray for complete physical healing and for this person to be strong and focused mentally.  Finding out you have cancer can be both a big deal physically and mentally.  

Thank you for your prayers.  I am praying that God blesses you with a week of growth this week.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Answered Prayers . . . the ultimate faith builders

About two months ago, one of my twins (Liam) decided that he was serious about getting an i-pod touch. So, he asked the guy who is normally his source of all his stuff. Me.

What a great opportunity to teach him that I am not his source, but rather that God is his source – and mine too! I told him that the best thing he could do was pray and ask God to do something big in his life. For a seven-year-old kid, a $200 i-pod is a mountain. Under our current work/rewards system, his max earnings for a week are $1.50.

So, for the last six weeks, every night when he went to bed, I would ask the same question. “What special prayers are we praying tonight?” Every night it was the same answer. “That I can get an i-pod touch for my birthday.” More specifically, he prayed that God would bless me to be able to get it for him. Even better, I think :)

Well, Sunday is his birthday and early this week I didn’t see any i-pods on the horizon. But Liam's faith was growing. One example: He asked me how much extra money I would need God to bless me with to buy him the i-pod? I told him $25,000. Well, a few hours later I was going to Guitar Center to pick up a cable for church and I took him with me. He was convinced that someone at Guitar Center was going to walk up to me and slip me $25K. I love that faith!! But he was a little disappointed when we left Guitar Center with a patch cable and no briefcase full of cash.

But all along I was praying with him. And early this week, all of a sudden, I thought God spoke to me. It was like I was compelled by the Holy Spirt to post on twitter and ask if anyone had an ipod or Nintendo ds (the other kids want Nintendo, but weren't praying much :) that I could buy cheap for my kids for their birthday.

It was no more than 5 hours before I got a voicemail from a friend. I'm not sure he would be cool with me identifying him, so I won't at this point. But the message said he has a i-pod just like Liam wants and he doesn’t use it anymore and I can have it!! I realized at that point that God was on the road to blessing Liam (and me) and building our faith through answered prayers.

So, Wednesday evening I asked Liam to come into my bedroom with Sara and I. (He thought he was in trouble) I told him that God had answered his faithful prayers and handed him his i-pod. Not for his birthday, just a gift from his dad who loves him and his Father in Heaven who loves him even more.

At first, he could not get his head around the fact that God did this just to bless him. It took a while to convince him that I did not buy it for him. But finally he got it. Of course, all his brothers cried and said it was not fair. But after a while, they all felt inspired to pray too. Even, Seth, Ethan's friend who was over that day told his mom at the pick up time that he was going home and was going to be praying :)

This is so cool for me and my son, but more than that, it's a huge faith builder. Sara and I have some big-time miracles and breakthroughs we have been praying for for a while. My faith has been boosted and renewed. God is cool.   

Thursday, September 15, 2011

set your priorities

I hope this has been a fantastic week for you!  I just want to ask for two minutes of your day so I can update you on what's happening at Freedom Valley.
  • Set Your Priorities - We will continue our "Priorities" teaching series this week as we talk about making God a priority.  I have a good friend of mine, Frank Thomas, flying in this weekend to share his story of how God became a priority to him.  He's an ordinary guy with an extraordinary story.  
  • LOVE Tulsa Tonight - Jefferson Elementary has asked Freedom Valley to come out to their school Open House tonight as one of their community partners.  We will be loving on kids with a big inflatable in the gym and giving stuff away to families.  So grateful for this opportunity. Tonight 5-7pm.  Come hang out with us!
  • Your New Friends - This Sunday we will open sign ups for our new semester of Connection Groups.  These are 12-week small groups centered around various topics and a perfect opportunity for you to know new friends on a new level.  Much more info this Sunday.
  • Home Improvement - Please be praying about how God would have you be involved in our Home Improvement project.  Between now and October 2, we are pulling together to raise $5000 to do some much needed improvements to our ministry space at church.  If you did not grab your envelope(s), you still can this Sunday. If you can't make it to church, but want to give toward this project, you can do so easily and quickly right here.
Wow, it looks like this is a Sunday that you won't want to miss.  I'm looking forward to seeing you again this weekend.  Remember to talk to that person you want to invite to church today. This could be the weekend they come and have their life changed from the inside out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

This week in my life . . .

I'm coming off of a week of great challenges and great victories.  I spent all week in a bunch of pain, but I think I finally found a chiropractor who will help me heal and be healthy for good.  Also, our grand opening day at church was a really great one yesterday.  Here is what I'm praying about this week.  Thanks for joining me in these prayers:

  • No Fear - As you know, our family is taking a big step of faith as I pull back from work at the hospital.  I am giving up a significant amount of money there with no guarantee of it coming from anywhere else.  I won't lie, I do struggle with a small degree of fear that somehow my family will go without.  But, the greater fear I struggle with is that people who God has given me influence with will watch me on the journey and have their own faith shaken if my "step of faith" somehow fails.  Now, I know that's not going to happen because that's not the way my God operates.  I prayed and waited on God until I felt Him release me to take this step, so I know it's not a presumption on my part.  No fear is ever a good thing and I refuse to yield to any kind of fear.  So, I appreciate your prayers to keep me strong and walking straight into my fear. 
  • Patience - I realized yesterday that I'm a little less patient than I thought I was.  Since I'm taking a big step of faith now, I think I'm expecting God to blow things up immediately and meet all my needs through the church.  Maybe He will do that.  But maybe He won't.  I will be honest.  Yesterday was a great day and we had a good healthy crowd at church, but I expected a significantly larger one.  I struggled yesterday, in the midst of a great day with some great victories, to not feel a little disappointed.  Yet another opportunity for me to learn to be patient and not presume to know how God is going to work.  So, I'm praying for an increased amount of patience this week.
  • Health - I've been struggling on and off with back and neck pain since March 2010 - and the pain has been mostly on.  I'm sick of it.  I'm done with it.  I have found a chiropractor who actually has a plan for wellness and we're beginning that now.  But, as good as he is, he's not my source of wellness.  God is.  Can you join me praying for wellness this week.  On that subject, I'm really at a spot where I need to make a turn in my eating and exercise habits.  My weight is creeping up and I just need to be healthier.  Thanks for the prayers along those lines.
Shoot me back anything I can pray for you about.  I love doing that!  Thanks for your prayers and have a great week.

Friday, September 9, 2011


This Sunday is it . . . Grand Opening Weekend at Freedom Valley.  We are celebrating the great, new ministry space God has blessed us with.  We are remembering and paying honor to the victims of 9/11 and we are starting a great new teaching series called "Priorities".

This is the day to be at church.  This is the day to bring that friend or family member who you've been meaning to invite.  Seriously, call them, email them, text them . . . right now.  YOU can be a real part of changing someone's life!

I will see you Sunday morning @ 11am.  If I were you, I would come a few minutes early to get a good seat.  We're expecting a really full house.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I quit!

Yesterday was a really tough day.  I woke up with a badly pinched nerve in my neck and had to call out of work.  When I called my boss at the hospital, I told her I quit . . . sort of.  To be more accurate, I asked her to hire someone else to fill my full-time position and switch my status to part time.  Why?  Because it's time for me to get out of the boat.

You know the story in Matthew 14 where Jesus walks on water and Peter tries it too?  Seems like everyone always talks about how Peter had small faith when he saw the wind and the waves, then he started to sink.  What nobody seems to talk about much, is that Peter was the only guy in the whole boat who even had the guts (faith) to try and get out of the boat!

I'm that guy.  I'm done giving my first and best thoughts and the majority of my time to St. Francis Hospital.  I have nothing against the hospital.  It's a good place, but God has called me to lead Freedom Valley Church.

Taking the job at the hospital was a great step for me.  Working a job in addition to pastoring the church was my greatest fear ever since I decided to plant the church.  I had to overcome it.  But like many things in life, what used to scare me has now become my crutch.  It's time to face my next big fear . . . trusting God to provide what I can't see.

So, I'll probably work full time hours for the next few weeks; until they hire someone to replace me.  Then, it's part time work at the hospital and increased hours working for the church.  I'm asking God to increase my faith and increase our church finances so that I can begin to pick up some pay from the church again.  But that's not guaranteed.  That's not what this is about.  It's about overcoming fear.  It's about being a leader that people can follow on a journey of faith.  It's about getting out of the boat.  

Of course, this is just the latest boat God is asking me to get out of.  There will be more.  But, for now, I would love to have your prayers.  You can follow me on this leg of the journey right here.  I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm praying about . . .

Thanks so much for your prayers lately.  I do, truly, feel like you're partnering with me!

Here's what's going on that you can pray with me about:

  • Work Change - The big thing I was praying about last week was whether to pull back from work at the hospital.  Sara and I decided together that I am going to go to a part-time (on call) status at the hospital.  This will be a significant cut in hours and pay for me and I have no earthly plan to make up the gap.  This is not my normal m.o. but I feel directed by God to go out even further on a limb.  I'm asking God to provide what I can't for my family.
  • Physical Health - Not coincidentally, I've been really struggling with health too.  I was out sick on Friday, had a killer headache on Sunday morning and this morning I pinched a nerve in my neck.  I can't even turn my head right now.  Lots of pain and at least part of a day of work missed again today.  I'm praying for healing in my body today.
  • Family Faith - Sara and I are taking a big step in faith right now.  Just because we're taking it, does not mean it's easy.  Will you please pray that God will increase our faith in Him?
  • Church Jump - We have a big day this weekend at church.  It's the Grand Opening of our new building.  We are expecting to have a larger than normal crowd, but I'm asking God to add very significantly to our church - long term.  Not just a big crowd for a day, but people who are impacted to His Kingdom and stay connected to our church and to Jesus.
Thanks for your prayers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

this week @ Freedom Valley

This is our last weekend before the Grand Opening of our new location on September 11. I hope you'll be there to pick up your pre-stamped invite post cards. We designed them, printed them and stamped them just so you can easily send your friends and family an invitation to church on September 11. Jot down the names and addresses of those you want to invite before you come to church on Sunday.

We are also finishing our "Building Blocks" series Sunday. I am so excited to teach you what God's Word tells us about how our friendships were designed to help us grow like we never thought possible before.

By the way, if you have been out, you can always catch up on our media page. Just click right here.

Looking forward to seeing you Sunday! Have a great rest of the week.

Pastor Jason

one prayer this week

Sorry for the delay on my post this week. I delayed on purpose because I was fighting some huge battles - some in my mind, some I believe are spiritual. I was feeling pretty vulnerable and was on a bit of a roller coaster Sun-Tues. Truthfully, I don't believe I was thinking very clearly, so I didn't want to fire off some crazy email when I was in that state :) Thanks for your patience.

I'm asking for one prayer from you this week. For guidance from God. I know that sounds way too vague, but I'm not ready to share the details yet. I think by next week I will be. I know that God is preparing me for a big step of faith (not leaving Tulsa or anything like that), but one that will add tremendous strength and momentum to my life and the life of our church. So, for now, can you just pray that God will speak very clearly to Sara and I about our next step in the process He has us on. I appreciate you so much. Thank you!