“Wiping out is an underappreciated skill”

Everyday Life

Relentless wave

Yesterday I let many people have a glance behind the veil of ministry and into my life.  The word of the day was ANXIETY.  Immediately my phone began to ring, my social media took a boost, and my heart became burden, but yet full.  On the other line was a consistent struggle of a lot of skeletons in the closet.  There are so many people who deal with this on a daily basis, and there was somewhat of an inkling of hope for people to hear a pastor have a similar struggle.  It is always so surprising to me that people often think though I am called by God that everything else just falls in line. This is so far from the truth it is somewhat humorous. But one thing I did take away from yesterdays conversations, is everyone is looking for that relief, that change of pace, that answer that solves what is keeping them from living a full life.

I explain my anxiety like this. If you have ever gotten out in the ocean and tried to surf this will be easy for you to understand, and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for! I remember the first time I paddled out on a board in San Diego California; it was a Thursday night in Cardiff. It was picturesque! Your surfing career begins with a little judgment and a lot of upper body strength as you paddle against the wreck less chaos of waves coming your direction. This is where undertows are your friend and your lifesaver! I learned to surf like I learned to ski. Or like I learned to manage my life, I just paddled out! There is a point in surfing where you begin to feel the wave pull you into it, as it prepares to spit you out. In this moment you make a choice whether you begin to paddle with or against the wave. But in that moment, if it is just right, you don’t have choice. You have committed, and it is time to jump up and take on the challenge, or become swallowed up by an endless beating, wave after wave after wave.   Anxiety is like this, there are moments where I begin to feel it pulling me in, and sometimes I ride, and sometimes I take an endless beating. But I have learned over the many years that this has been apart of my life that standing and riding has such a better outcome than trying to just paddle through it.

But even the best of us who have managed this for sometime, go out on days we have no business trying to surf, and misjudge where we stop paddling and we sink. We sink to a bottom of an unforgiving ocean, only to see a light at the surface that seems impossible to get to. But I write today to tell you to take heart, relax, and don’t fight it, you will emerge again, you will take a deep breath, and you will conquer this. It may take a community to help, it may take a family that holds you up, or it may take some sort of medical relief. I have tried all, and I haven’t conquered this yet.

But I write to you, because I refuse to let the devil win, by me dealing with this alone. This too will bring God glory, this too will make me stronger, and this too will be lived in front of you so that you know you are never alone. None of us are. So I am an anxious person, but first and foremost I am a child of God, and I will decide how I am defined, and I will be hopeful knowing that nothing, not even my chemical imbalance will separate me from my God.

Thank you for all your love and support. And for those of you who have reached out with a similar struggle, my prayer is for you always!

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What is the Goal?

Bible, Community, Everyday Life, Group Life, Leadership, Thoughts

Community

Community has been well-defined by many people over time.  In fact, we almost have it down to a science on how to create and decimate community within our churches.  But over the last several weeks I have been pushed to answer the question on, what is our end goal?  The problem with this question is there is a long-term ultra spiritual answer that I can quote several verses in the Bible, (take a deep breath) or I can simply quote the theme song from an american sitcom that began the same time I entered this world, “Where everybody knows your name!”  So my friends the goal of group life whether you call it a small group, a community group, or  even a life group, is to create a sense of belonging.  When you feel like you belong, accountability happens, and no matter if times are good or bad, care happens.  When people have other people to count on, the sense of belonging catapults them to a new chapter in their life, where they begin to experience the abundant life John 10:10 speaks about.  No matter the leader, no matter the strategy, if you can create belonging in your communities, then you will begin to see a movement that changes the face of your church.

 

And this is why we must go.

Elevate, Everyday Life, Family, Ministry, Pictures, Uncategorized

A little over 4 years ago God began to stir something in my heart that was somewhat unexplainable.  I was in Miami Florida visiting some friends who had planted a church down there. During this time my friends and other core people of this church plant began to bounce ideas off of me and were seeking guidance for a situation that was far from my expertise.  But through these conversations God began to develop something within my heart for the church-planting world.  I remember sitting in the airport in Ft. Lauderdale tore up about what I felt could be a calling to go and start a church.  Where? I had no clue.  Why me?  I was lost there also, but God was very clear when it came to church planting.  I was going to do this.  During this moment as I was about to begin boarding the plane I received a call from Kevin Campbell who I had been doing college and youth ministry with during this time back in Georgia.  I remember his words like it was yesterday, “How do you feel after your visit?”  Not knowing what he was asking but hoping my inkling was right, I asked him “what do you mean?”  And he said, “about church planting.”  I knew from that point on Kevin and I would begin this journey of a lifetime.  We began meeting and planning our next steps to move to a very heavily populated city of unchurched people, which has now become Elevate Church in San Diego California.   During our time here in Southern California we have experienced the emotional roller coaster called “Church Planting.” But it has been such an unbelievable experience throughout the last couple years we have been here.

I say all of this and prepare you with the precise background on how we got here to say this.  My wife (Kelly) and I will be leaving San Diego and Elevate Church at the end of this month.  Those are probably the hardest words I have typed so far in my 28 years of existence.  It is beyond words why Kelly and I would give up by far besides our marriage the greatest opportunity of our lives.  But at the end of the day about 6 months ago God began preparing in me a departure from the very thing he called me to.  We have invested in more than we can number, we have seen so many come to Christ because of this movement.  We have watched many enter the waters of baptism and begin a walk in new life.  We have seen two locations that were never built to be worship facilities erupt in worship.  We have had some great times and have endured some hard times, but one thing is for sure we have always followed what God had led and He has been faithful every step of the way.    We have to trust even if we don’t understand that God has a plan in us leaving, not just for us but also for Elevate Church.

When I think about this situation and try to dissect it more than I should, I am reminded of the story of Abraham and Isaac.  Way before God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22, the bible says in Genesis 15:6 “He credited him as righteousness” because of his faith.   God would never have asked Abraham to prove his faith if he didn’t establish his faith in the first place.  And I believe just like Abraham God began establishing my faith at the age of 18 when I first felt called into the ministry for a day like today.  We will never get a grip on God and the plans he has in store for us and I don’t think that we are meant to.  For example if I would have know that I would be returning home only close to two years after moving out here, I may have never made it.  I would like to think I would have still came, but that is just something I am not totally sure of.  But I came and it has made me a better man and husband to my wife, a better pastor to Gods calling and a more open heart to what God has next.

For those who are wondering Kevin and I are closer than ever and it is hard to think about doing ministry with anyone other than him.  I don’t have another job lined up or a better opportunity!  It is seriously and merely a leap of faith and something God has called.  I will be returning to school when we arrive back into Atlanta where I will pursue and finish my degree.  Something I do know is that school is a huge part of us coming back but where God leads from there is going to be an exciting and incredible adventure.  I hope and pray where ever we end up we will be able to be apart of a movement like Elevate Church where we will exist solely on seeing people far from God become passionate followers of Him.  And hopefully we will always surround ourselves with the unchurched, the broken, the sick, and the poor where Kelly and I will be a light of Jesus that helps change the world one person at a time.

We love everyone who has believed in us and has been apart of this journey with us.  Thank you Kevin Campbell and Elevate Church for your gracious loving support, and impact on the foundation of our marriage and our lives. We will continue carrying out the vision in which God has laid on this church here and to the outer most parts of the world!

With Love

Think big Live Loud

Chris Reynolds

To defeat the Giant

Bible Journey, Everyday Life, Ministry

Many of you are familiar of the story about David and Goliath. As I was reminded today of this story I thought about how relevant this story is today.  Because no matter where you are, there has been a point in your life where you were up against a giant that seem to shadow over you.  Most of the time this Giant in our lives is Sin!  But one of the greatest truths in this story is that even though everyone around David saw him as a shepherd boy and Goliath as the victor, David knew who was on his side!  But you and I when we are given this sort of opportunity to defeat what has cast a shadow on us for sometime, we tend to be overwhelmed with of how big the situation and/or problem is.  But what if for once we took on the optimism that David carried?

Everyone around David told him that Goliath was too big to defeat, but David thought he was too big to miss!

As David approached this Giant, he dwelled on how big his God was and realized that Goliath was no match for the creator of the universe.  Because just like David coming from the chosen people you and I are were chosen for the son of God to pay the price on our behalf, so then at that point we became heirs of eternity and Gods kingdom.  When we compare our sin and our problems with the creator and the power in which he bestows, our giants becomes nothing more but an opportunity to defeat and an opportunity to give God the glory in which he deserves.  So as you approach your giant today remember who is bigger, and remember who deserves the worship in which you will deliver to something.  Why not give it to the King of kings, and Lord of lords, the one that brings your only chance of victory.  Today my prayers are with you and your battle, that you too may defeat the Giant!

Living above the anticipation of failure

Bible Journey, Elevate, Everyday Life, Ministry, Thoughts

144752711_baf9e92c7e_mTomorrow I will be bringing the word at Elevate Church, I am so excited not only because it is a church that I am on staff with but because I know that tomorrow could be very ground breaking for a lot of people.  We are beginning a new series called “Chase the Lion.”  I am covering the “Defying the odds” part of this series.  I will be telling a story that comes from Acts 12, about a man named Peter who was very pivotal for the church we know and love today.  During this particular story the early church stood a chance of failure because of a king and his clutch on key leaders within this movement.  I feel as though a lot of us are in a situation that is a make it or break it time for our lives and that we are living under this unspoken anticipation of failure from those around us and from even our own fears.  But like I have heard put so many times since I began church planting, “The greatest rewards lie on the other side of the greatest risk in our lives.”  You may be thinking Defying the odds is a great thought but Chris you just don’t understand what I am up against.  Here is some advice, you are right to fear your fight with the odds, but it is not your fight, it is the hope and glory in you that will take you the heights in your life that  you never thought were possible.  But here is the scary thing about all of this…the story ends with the king failing but people still praising him, and because he did not give the glory to where it was deserved he was killed, and even eaten by worms.  So when you are on the other side of this story and you do “Defy the odds” remember who saw you through and give the praise where the praise is deserved, God.  So I pray that tomorrow God will knock down the walls you have been trying to climb and create  a wholeness in you that will never leave you defeated again.

The Blind leading the Blind

Everyday Life, Ministry, Relationship, San Diego, Thoughts

3348830173_30d01723b7_mThis post is a continuation of yesterdays post …..

Yesterday I wrote about something that God has just been putting on my heart about the people I come in contact with everyday.  How a lot of times we appear that everything in our life is going fantastic and nothing is wrong inside, but when in reality we are dying on the inside.  So apart of my step into the right direction I began handing out crackers and food to those around me who are homeless.  Well God added to this story yesterday at work.

If you don’t know this already I am a pastor, and if you know anything about that lifestyle, you sometimes have to work other jobs to compensate that lifestyle of choice.  So my other job is at the great and marvelous Chick-fil-a!   So as I was working last night I noticed a blind man walking across the road, with no regard to the on coming traffic.  He was approaching our building as though this was new territory for him and he was not sure where to enter.  As he placed himself with his hand grazing our wall towards the entrance my first thought was holy crap “I can’t imagine a life with out sight!”  So he stepped into our building not knowing where to go next he began asking for someone to help him get to the counter and get him some food.  So I began to assist him through the process of life outside of his boundaries.  So throughout all of this we exchanged names and crazy stories on how we  both ended up on the west coast so far from home.  I took him back to the bus stop where he exited my life, probably thinking just another day in a dark world.  But I am telling you God really used him to help me really think through my surroundings and my lifestyle and the choices that I make.  Though I have sight, I have come to realize I have a hard time seeing. This man has learned to trust, which is hard for me, he has learned to take a step in the dark and the unknown, which seems crippling to me.  He has learned to depend on people even when most of the time they are not dependable.  And he listened to me as though there was nothing in this world he would rather do.

When will we begin to choose to surrender a life we feel we have control of and begin to grasp a life that is unknown, but is controlled by the utmost highest.  Because after a couple hours with Danny, I have realized that seeing is not always believing but having faith in the next step can take you to the next level.

Is how your living today worth someone writing about in the future.

Open your eyes…it may not be how it looks.

Everyday Life, Ministry, San Diego, Thoughts

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A couple weeks ago I started this little cracker ministry, I know your thinking what the heck is a cracker ministry? Well basically I was cleaning out our offices at Elevate and came across so many packs of crackers that we use to stuff bags for advertising that were now sitting and aging. They weren’t exactly expired but they were heading in that direction. So instead of tossing them like I really wanted to, I decide why not give them out to those in need? So I loaded up my car and hit the road, and there started a cracker ministry. Basically there are more homeless in San Diego than one would know what to do with. And they are at every traffic light asking for whatever you got. And I have CRACKERS! So I began handing out these snacks to these guys and only seeing is believing the relief on their face when they recieve what I thought was stupid and what I saw as trash. A cracker? Or is it the gesture? I am not exactly sure but what I do know is everything and everybody in this world is in a place of need and are crying out, it just takes you and I to open our eyes. Here are some sobering statistics from those you come in contact with everyday!

40% of us have inflicted self injury

1 in 5 of us have contemplated SUICIDE!

Over 1500 of us actually go through with killing ourselves each year

65% of us say there is no way to tell which religion is true

53% of us believed Jesus actually SINNED

83% of us believe truth is relative

We will see 14000 sexual references on TV this year

9 out of 10 of us have seen porn online

8000 of us contract an STD everyday

1 in 10 of us have been raped

1/2 of us are no longer virgins and are not married

1 million of us are pregnant

340000 of us get abortions each year

1 in 4 of us use illegal drugs

All of us need to be reached!

What is the idea that you think is stupid that could change a statistic? What is your cracker ministry? Just because everything seems put together in their eyes, most of us are broken and need love. How will you make the dreams of someone else possible?

The time is now.

Welcome to the Magic!

Everyday Life, Family, Pictures

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Yesterday we celebrated the love of my life “Kelly’s Birthday” and we took up Disney’s offer of celebrating her birthday for free.  First off Disney is a place where you can truly be a kid again, which is over the top incredible, but second it helped me really put life and everything that is involved into perspective.  I know I have a habit of searching to deep into things to find the truths within them but I can not help it.  So here goes some thoughts for you and I that are in the church world.

1) Disney creates an experience. The moment you step into Disney you become overwhelmed by the experience at hand.  First off if it is your birthday you get this pin to wear so that everyone knows its your day.  From the happy music to everyone saying hey happy birthday you instantly develope an emotional connection to your surroundings.  You are treated as though you are the only one in the park, though you are surrounded by hundreds and thousands of people.

2) Disney knows details.  From the rides to the characters to the intentionally placed shops and ice cream parlors, every thing is thought out to the point that you cant help but notice.  When I thought wow, this would be an awesome time to relax there was a place to do that, when I thought, it is time to get a thrill, the thrills awaited my arrival.  From the point you enter it is like they know or create the thoughts you will have.  It becomes a no-brainer process and truly a vacation.

2) Disney knows advertising. They offer a free pass for you on your birthday knowing most people aren’t coming alone.  So you end up buying a ticket, eating in the park for two now instead of one.  You stay at there hotels and buy into their vision.  It is an incredible idea for them to keep people coming to their parks!

How can we take all this to church.  Create a detailed never forgetting experience where people know from the point they see your ad campaign that they are going to have an anointed moment with you and your vision.

Here is some other pics:

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What is holding you captive?

Bible Journey, Elevate, Everyday Life, Ministry, San Diego

Hostage-Web312x222I haven’t  taken the opportunity to blog lately because I have been held Hostage to a lot of things going on in my life.  I like to think I am getting my mid life crisis out of the way but whatever it is I am very thankful to Gods renewing spirit.  But all this turmoil led up to this Sunday where I was given a spur of the moment chance to preach at the church I am on staff at!  Due to Pastor Kevins child making her appearance God gave me the opportunity to help the people of our congregation  through the things that I have been dealing with.  I am not sure if your anything like me but when your frustrated and its complicated the best thing you can do is talk about it, and that is exactly what I did.  I learned with the crowd on this given date through Gods words that he was speaking through me.  So here is some thoughts:

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the patters of this world but be transformed in the renewing of your mind.
Gods will is more concerned with who you are becoming then who you are and what you do.

If you stand for nothing you will begin to stand for everything.

When your devotion increases for stuff your devotion decreases for God.

Ultimately to break free from the bondage of today’s culture and society you have to get a GOD size view of the SIZE of our GOD!

What are you in pursuit of today?  Because you will chase what is important to you.  Maybe you can begin with me by prioritizing our lives to begin a pursuit of the creator who has been pursuing us since the beginning!

Don’t let the world deface it, just let us shout with amazement as we dance tonight!

Elevate, Everyday Life, Family, Ministry, Prayer Request, Relationship, San Diego, Team, Thoughts

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I sit in bed right now thinking and dreaming and about to explode because I feel as though God is about to shake things up.  Tonight I am on the brink of a day with God like no other as my church takes a stand together and fast and prays for God to show out in this city!  This last week I feel like the church has gotten a lot of play time in the media from Pastors taking stands, from Pastors stepping away from topics that once were in their DNA to oppose , and from statistics that could make the cold shiver.  Here are some not easy reads but some amazing challenges for you and I–“The number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has nearly doubled since 1990, rising from 8 to 15 percent” and “the percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 percentage points since 1990, from 86 to 76 percent.”  “Don’t let the world deface it, just let us shout with amazement as we dance tonight” is a line from a song I was listening to tonight that was talking about love and I want you and I to take a stand tonight and rejoice that God is preparing the fields for the harvest and there is going to be another Great Awakening and we will win like he has said from the beginning!  Please don’t let this world as we know it have an opinion so powerful that it defaces the bride of Christ, instead pray and fast with me and His church this weekend as we enter the “Super Bowl” for the local church and as we celebrate the risen GOD!  Trust me those statistics may not lie, we are in a battle but today is no different than yesterday, who knows what may come tomorrow but I know you and I can win with love and compassion today….so lets dance.

For more on how you can join this Journey with us this weekend read this