Who's Got Your Back?

We concluded our Manswers series at Timber Ridge on Sunday by answering the question "Who's Got Your Back?"  We talked about our need to closely examine our circle of friends and our core network based on the following truth:

Whether or not we become who God has called us to be will largely be dependent on two things:  Our faith and our friends.

If you missed the message, you can watch it online here.  To follow up with the thoughts I shared on Sunday, I wanted to share three qualities of a good friend.  If someone is going to really have your back in life, they probably need to be people who exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. Sacrificial Love - In John 15, Jesus said this:  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  We need people in our lives who are willing to make sacrifices for us and who love us enough to look out for God's best in our life - even if it's costly.
  2. Loyalty & Commitment - In Proverbs 27:6 the Bible teaches us this principle: Wounds from a friend can be trusted.  And in Proverbs 18, we read that there is a friend that sicks closer than a brother.  Personally, I'd rather have one good friend that speaks God's truth into my life and is loyal to me and trustworthy than 100 acquaintances who only tell me what I want to hear and can't be trusted to handle the difficult things in my life.  We need people who RUN TO US when the mess hits the fan, instead of run away from us.  We need people who are loyal through thick and thin.
  3. Trustworthy - In James 5, the Bible tells us to confess our sins to each other and pray for one another so that we may be healed.  We need people that we can be honest and real with about the struggles we have in life.  But we need those people to know when to keep those struggles to themselves.  Here's a principle that will save you a lot of hurt & heartache in picking your inner circle of friends:  If they will talk about other people to you, then you can GUARANTEE that they are talking about you to other people.  
Life is too hard to go at it alone.  We need people who love us, are loyal to us, and can be trusted to help us through life's struggles.  We need someone who has our back.  


Real Men Are Under Authority

This week I'm sharing some follow-up thoughts from Sunday's sermon on what it means to be a real man and follow Jesus.  (You can watch the sermon online here.)  On Sunday we talked about how Jesus was a shepherd and a warrior, and how we, as men, are called to live out those roles as well.

One characteristic of a warrior is that he is a man under authority.  If you want to understand what the Bible says about authority, go read Romans 13:1-2 now.  As men, we must learn this vital lesson:  You can never be OVER someone until you have learned to be UNDER someone.  We have to learn to be men under authority.

As we think of being under authority, here are two questions to consider:

  1. Am I falling under the authority of God?  If there any area in my life that I am refusing to submit to the authority and leadership of Jesus?  If so, confess it and correct it today!
  2. Am I falling under the authority and accountability of a godly mentor?  Who do you have in your life who is speaking truth to you, asking you difficult questions, and pushing you to become more like Jesus?  Who are you accountable to?  If you currently don't have this relationship in your life, seek out someone this week who you can learn from about what it means to be a godly man, a godly husband and dad, and a man who follows hard after Jesus.
When we fail to live under authority and with accountability we are setting ourselves up for failure.  The Bible says that "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."  We all need someone in our lives who is sharpening us!


Real Men Love Sacrificially

This week I'm sharing some follow-up thoughts from Sunday's sermon on what it means to be a real man and follow Jesus.  (You can watch the sermon online here.)  On Sunday we talked about how Jesus was a shepherd and a warrior, and how we, as men, are called to live out those roles as well.

One characteristic of a shepherd is that a shepherd loves sacrificially.  Jesus modeled this for us.  In John 10, Jesus said "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."  Jesus modeled sacrificial love for us.  And as men, we're called to love our families sacrificially.

In our culture, love is spelled with four letters: T-I-M-E.  Time is our most precious commodity.  It's our scarcest resource.  So we give our time to the things and the people we love.  Men - if we are going to love our spouses and our children sacrificially, it means that we sacrifice our own agendas, plans, and desires to make sure that we are spending quality TIME with the people we love.

So what can you do this week to sacrificially love your wife and kids?  You can spend TIME with them.  Maybe that means skipping out on watching the Rangers game in order to take your wife on a date night. If that's the case, then DO IT.  Love is spelled T-I-M-E.  Maybe it means leaving work at the office instead of bringing it home one night this week in order to have a family game night or take your kids to the park.  If that's the case, then DO IT.  Love is spelled T-I-M-E.

Men, we are called to love sacrificially.  What sacrifices are you making this week to make sure that your family knows that you love them?


Real Men Protect Bravely

This week I'm sharing some follow-up thoughts from Sunday's sermon on what it means to be a real man and follow Jesus.  (You can watch the sermon online here.)  On Sunday we talked about how Jesus was a shepherd and a warrior, and how we, as men, are called to live out those roles as well.

One characteristic of a shepherd is that shepherds protect bravely.  Think of the role of the shepherd in the Bible.  They were protectors.  In 1 Samuel 17, David - a young shepherd - tells of feats of killing lions and bears in order to protect his sheep!  That's bravery!

So how can we, as men, protect bravely the people God has placed in our lives?  It's all a matter of how we live.  We have to live in order to protect our families from the negative influences that can cause harm and hurt in their lives.

Today I want you to think of 3 areas where hurt and harm can creep into the lives of your family - specifically your kids - and evaluate what you are doing to protect them in these areas.

  1. MEDIA - What standards are you setting for the influence that media has on your children?  You are responsible for the things your children watch and listen to.  What are you allowing them to be exposed to?  If you're looking for a good tool to find out the content of the tv shows, music, and movies your kids are exposed to, check out this great resource: PluggedIn.com.  It reviews current movies, music, and tv shows and gives you great information on what is influencing your children.
  2. FRIENDS - What standards have you set for the people who influence you kids?  Are you making sure they have healthy friendships & are around people who will influence them in a positive way?
  3. INTERNET - The internet welcomes the world - good and bad - right into our living rooms and homes.  What safeguards have you put on your kids' use of the internet in order to protect them from negative experiences or impacts?  Can I suggest three?
    1. Computers are in "open" spaces only.  Make sure the computer use is in the family room and not behind closed doors of a bedroom.  This allows for more accountability and oversight!
    2. Passwords and time limits.  Your computers and other devices that have online access should have a password where you can restrict your kids' access to the web.  Establishing time limits as to how much time your child is allowed online is also helpful in protecting them from negative experiences online.
    3. Download an internet filter.  You need some type of accountability and filter on your computer.  Internet filters help block unwanted junk from the web that could negatively impact your child, as well as provide you with accountability to what your kids are exposing themselves to online.  Two great programs I recommend are xxxchurch.com or Covenant Eyes.
It's time for men to go on the offensive and be the protector that God has called us to be for our families!  We're called to protect bravely!


Real Men Reject Passivity

This week I'm sharing some follow-up thoughts from Sunday's sermon on what it means to be a real man and follow Jesus.  (You can watch the sermon online here.)  On Sunday we talked about how Jesus was a shepherd and a warrior, and how we, as men, are called to live out those roles as well.

The final characteristic of a shepherd and warrior that we'll examine on the blog this week is this:  A warrior rejects passivity.  As men, God has called us to aggressively lead and love our families and community.  We can't make an impact if we take it east, put it on cruise control, and adopt the mindset of someone who has already "arrived."

Rejecting passivity means that we continually take the lead in living out our faith and leading our families.  There are three areas I want you to think about today.  Examine these areas of your life and if you have become passive in these areas, commit today to kill that "cruise control" mindset and begin to lead and live with intention and passion in each of these areas.

  1. Your Relationship With Your Spouse.  Don't put your marriage on cruise control.  Continually pursue your spouse - just like you did when you were first dating!  Make date night a priority and actively pour into your relationship with your wife!
  2. Your Relationship With Your Kids.  Refuse to get complacent when it comes to leading and loving your children.  Take the initiative in creating a great relationship with your kids!  They want and need you in their life - whether they always act like it or not!  Take the lead and pursue the hearts of your children.
  3. Your Faith In Jesus.  Real men love Jesus.  Plain and simple.  Don't be timid about your faith.  Don't be passive in following Jesus.  Fly the flag of Jesus proudly and boldly live our your faith as a man of God!
Men - refuse to be passive.  Refuse to be lukewarm. (You can see what God thinks about that HERE.)  Be intentional and active in pursuing your wife, pursuing the hearts of your children, and living out bold faith in Jesus!

Real Men Lead Courageously

We are in the middle of a series at Timber Ridge Church called MANSWERS: Answering The Questions Men Face.  Yesterday I talked about how Jesus is our model for what it means to be a real man.  We talked about how Jesus was both a shepherd and a warrior.  You can watch the message online HERE.

This week on the blog, I'm going to be following up on the characteristics of a shepherd and a warrior that Jesus modeled for us as men.  Each day, I'll share one characteristic we talked about on Sunday and give some practical insight into how to apply this trait to our lives as men.

The first characteristic of a shepherd is that shepherds LEAD COURAGEOUSLY.  In the Bible, in John 10:3-4, we see that Jesus modeled for us that shepherds are called to lead.  As men, we are called to lead.  God's given each of us a circle of influence - at work, in our neighborhood & community, and in our families - where we're called to lead courageously in order to impact others for the good of God's kingdom.

So what does it look like to lead courageously?  We lead by example.  That's what leadership essentially is.  Here are three areas you need to set the example to lead:
  1. LEAD BY SERVING. - Men, you set the example for your family when it comes to involvement in your local church.  Are you setting the example of serving God?  Your children learn by what you do.  Are they seeing you  serve God faithfully?
  2. LEAD BY SPENDING TIME WITH GOD. - Men, are you spending time with God - through prayer and reading His word - on a daily basis?  Your family needs to see you model this.
  3. LEAD IN FAMILY FAITH ACTIVITIES. - Men, what are you doing to lead your family spiritually?  Are you praying with your wife?  Are you praying for your children?  Are you spending time sharing God's Word with your kids?  
Men - we are called to lead courageously.  Go out this week and take the lead!


Things I'm Thankful For

I am continually BLOWN AWAY by what God is doing in and through Timber Ridge Church.  This past weekend was no exception.  As I've reflected on all the incredible things God did over Easter weekend, I want to share with you some things I'm thankful for.  Here's the top 5:
  • Changed Lives! - We had 9 people that we know of commit their lives to Jesus Christ in our services on Sunday!  JESUS is changing lives through Timber Ridge Church and that FIRES ME UP!
  • Incredible Volunteers - The people of Timber Ridge worked their tails off to serve others and show them the love of Jesus this weekend!  You guys and gals ROCK!  Every single one of you!
  • The mEGGa Hunt - I'm still a little shell shocked about the crazy-awesome number of people that showed up at The mEGGa Hunt!  We got to serve and love on around 2,500 people through our first ever community Easter egg hunt.  Yeah!
  • Easter Sunday at Timber Ridge - 359 people joined us for one of our worship experiences on Easter Sunday.  For that kind of response in a 7 month old church, I am extremely grateful to God for His movement in people's lives and for the team of volunteers and workers that make this vision a reality each week!
  • My Amazing Family - No one knows what the families of pastors have to deal with when their husband leads a church.  My wife and son make BIG sacrifices leading up to a big weekend like this.  Sacrifices of time, their own agendas, having me gone a ton, constantly working on ministry projects, etc.  I'm thankful that they are ALL IN on this journey with me!


Maximizing Easter

I am PUMPED about this weekend at Timber Ridge Church!  We have two great opportunities to help people connect with Jesus through The mEGGa Hunt and our Easter Sunday services.  I am praying that God moves in an incredible way and that we see a ton of people commit their lives to Jesus this weekend!  If you call Timber Ridge your church home, here are three ways you can make an incredible impact and maximize Easter.

  1. PRAY. - I mean REALLY pray.  As my friend would say, "Pray your guts out!"  Ask God to move in people's hearts and lives this weekend. Pray that our 3 Easter Worship Experiences would reach people far from God. Pray that The mEGGa Hunt would be effective and successful in showing our community God's love in a practical way.
  2. INVITE. - Be A Bringer!  Don't come to church alone on Sunday!  Invite your friends, neighbors, family, and co-workers to join you!  And invite them to The mEGGa Hunt on Saturday for a great morning of free, family fun!
  3. SERVE. - You have something to offer!  You can contribute.  If you don't currently serve on a ministry team, this Sunday is a great time to get connected and start serving!  You can also serve at The mEGGa Hunt and have a blast while making an impact in our community.  If you're interested in serving on Saturday or Sunday, email Vanessa at vanessa [at] timberridgechurch [dot] com.
I really believe this weekend is going to be an incredible time for our new church!  I'm excited to see what God is going to do as He works in us and through us this Easter weekend!