Happy Birthday

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Our First Baptism

Well over 2 years ago God moved in the lives of many and there was an urging for a group of individuals to pack up and head west from a small town here in Georgia.  I can’t say that I thought we would ever last, I can’t even say other wise, because this was such a fresh idea in my mind when I felt the call to leave it all behind and help launch a church in southern California.  “Elevate exist to see people far from God become passionate followers of Christ”  I have said this line so much that it has become the life of my wife and I.  Today they celebrate as if day one was yesterday.  I can’t answer for Kevin Campbell, but I remember the feeling of not knowing if anyone would show, and I am sure today that the only thing that satisfies that feeling is Gods past faithfulness.

I want it to be known that I love all you “Elevators” as Howard so slyly has called us in the past.  I will never be the same after that chapter in my life, and I can only hope to be apart of such a journey that delivers such purpose as it did.  Kevin Campbell was not only a partner, a boss, or a spiritual advisor, he was my friend.  I have never met a man who prays more, believes more, and does more than he.  I remember many days hitting a wall in that journey not knowing what comes next and his answer was always the same, lets lift it up to God.  I know that position is a lonely position carrying the weight of the calling along with the lives of the church, but I can promise you that you will not find a more qualified individual than he.  His love, his patience, and his desire for the exaltation of Christ is so compelling that you cannot be the same.

Bro,

I love you and everything that you have done for me and my family.  I will be forever indebted to you for the grace that you have shown me and the moments you believed in me when no one else did.  I was nothing but a misfit who believed in a huge God and you gave me a platform to shout that.  Thank you for being such a man of God, and an example that there are still crazy people out there that believe in the miraculous power of Christ like I did.  I hope there comes a day where I can dig in the trenches along side of you again.  You have shoveled your way through concrete in SoCal when everyone thought we were crazy and the odds were stacked against us.  You truly have laid down your life for my family and protected us through such huge life change and for that anything you ever need I will be there.

Thank you for your faithfulness.

Your Friend,

Chris Reynolds

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Wow this is so true, yet we have shifted?

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I haven’t written in a while on this site, mostly because I read something that spoke to the thought of narrowing down my focus on when I blog and so I have spent time doing so on here.  But today I feel inspired.  And it is a personal inspiration not one of focus on the adventures that I am currently in but one that focuses on who I am.

Who is Chris Reynolds and what defines his life and his path.

I know him pretty well and I can tell you he dies on the inside daily for the people in which he comes in contact with.  He feels the pressure of the world and the expectations they have on him even though he has set most of those up against himself.  He labors in pain unto the broken and shamed, and tries so patiently to live within the grey shade of life in between who they say he is and who God knows he is.  He is trying not to be defined by what he does but by who he really is.  But its hard for him to rest his weary soul because no matter what happens during the day his calling is still whispered around every corner and decision that he hangs his hat on.
How can you shuffle through life so carelessly yet so intentionally.  I don’t know the answer to this and I have probably at some point around you put on this facade that I did, but what I can tell about who Christ was and what he has asked me to do is in the lines of this.  He infiltrated a culture without becoming the culture.  With this intentional way of living he was trusted without flaunting that He was better, He was in the same room but yet so much different then they were.  He was at this step that was only one step away from pure majestic splendor and fleshly bones. (of course He was God and sinless and perfect) But to those he came in contact with he was an example.  He didn’t make them feel as though they were less, He made them feel as though he was different, a desirable different.  I read a John Piper tweet yesterday that said “People are less intimidated when you are more like them, but are they more helped?”  Wow this is so true, yet we have shifted ministry, life and the grey in between to be more like them instead more like HIM.  How much of an impact can we have being like everyone else they know.  Don’t get you are better than that out of this, just get you are different and it is a year to embrace that difference.

So I know you want it cause everybody has one, here is the 11 things I want to do in 2011

1) Be a better Husband and help my wife reach a step closer to her dreams.

2) Read the Bible, the whole thing.  I say this every year and I fail it every year.

3) Memorize a verse a week, which means 52 verses will be apart of my vocabulary…that cant hurt.  Here was this weeks: Philippians 1:27 “Whatever happens conduct yourself in manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

4) For the love of all that is holy watch my portion size.  Lets face it I am chubby and not proud of it. Lets lose 20 pounds, why not?

5) Treat my mother like the queen she is.  With out her wisdom and guidance where would I be today?

6) See Hike with Hope take a giant leap of faith in this vision God has given us.

7) Finish School.  I will be done hopefully in December if my calculations are correct, but then again I failed math badly!  So at least by January…but why not December?  I am taking 15 hours this semester….God help my soul

8 Be a leader of my generation.  Love to start a disastrously raw small group where my friends and I can battle through this shade of bondage to societies success scale!

9) Support a missionary(this one is kind of a give me, since we have that couple picked out) But give consistent, and out of love.

10) Get a dog.  It’s either a kid or a dog at this point, lets face it…its time for something to thrive or die…probably better a dog than a child at this point.

11) Be me, at this point I have calculated my decisions by their outcomes and changed a lot of who I am to make you like me more…well this isn’t my licenses to be hated but to show you what God has created and live in a manner that is worthy of that!(see my memory verse is already paying off)

11.5) I also want to help the dreams of others around me become realities.  Right now I have a buddy who wants to clothe them and a buddy who wants to shelter them…its time to make an impact on the people in your woods and your streets.

There you go…be inspired

My mind is empty and my heart is full

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Lately life has gotten extremely busy, with our return to Atlanta for the sake of school in which I began yesterday.  I feel as though I sit in a classroom again with a mind I emptied long ago waiting for it to become full again.  The class I am taking right now is Sociology of Religion, which is essentially a discussion of how religion has impacted society and how it continues to make an impact.  In light of the topic and considering I am a pastor, this has been such an interesting time.  It is easy for me and it has always been this away, but to keep an open mind and not be threatened or insulted by what others thought of  my “Religion.”  Mostly because I guess I have never seen myself much as a religious person.  With my interpretation(probably not meaning much to you) I have always thought the Bible spoke and read pretty clearly that religion was not the main objective.  Jesus seem to amen such a thought within the time of his intentional stay here on earth.  But it is so hard for me to be objective not necessarily when it comes to talking about Christianity, probably because there are so many sects out there these days, who even knows what such a word means, but about Jesus.  Because I believe he was more than just a lunatic, I believe he was God sent, Gods son, redemptive power, grace waiting to cover me, there very being I live to praise.  So it is so hard for me to sit and let people continue to go on misunderstanding the very truths of Gods word and Jesus.  So while I am there apart of this social institution that society has said I needed to attend in order to get a job worth a crap. I am there trying to fill my mind, but I leave every night with a full heart.  I am still in the process of waiting expectantly for Gods next step in my life and the canvas to be revealed with the wild colors of his plan.  I guess I have been waiting since our departure from San Diego.  But I think you should know that while I am waiting I am not going to stop serving, living and dying to see people who are far from God become Passionate followers of Christ!  No matter the platform or the place of worship, I want to exist to see people thrive for the creator of the world.  I guess I write all this to say, sorry Dr. Holland I am learning a broader view of religions and no matter how much my mind fills with different perspective, it all points back to Christ and how we on so many levels may have missed the mark, but that there are still people out there who try to die to themselves daily in hopes that for a moment Christ life and teachings will be revealed within them.  And church leaders and everyone else who is walking around claiming the teachings of Christ, I feel you should know that the world doesn’t have that great of a taste in their mouths for us right now.  Sure some of them are that away because its their choice but some of them are that away because of the contact they have had with us and our churches.  One thing that is said over and over that I feel as though they just may have right is, we somehow continue becoming the very thing we don’t want to be, religious.  Please pray for my time this semester with these students and the chance I have to love them in a way that can’t be shaken!

For my boy Kirk

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Today I ran into a buddy of mine at a local coffee shop in town.  As he sat at his computer studying up on a passion that God has been fostering in his heart for sometime I could see in his eyes a familiar battle.  See like Kirk there are many of you who are in a place right now where God has called you to step up in this dance with ministry.  But the problem with this part of the story is you are somewhere between the beginning and the rising action, which they never really taught us much about the in between in school.  I remember being here and looking at the height of the many walls and mountains that I would have to climb in order to even get on this path where I felt called.  It began by explaining to my parents the unexplainable and then trying to get someone or somewhere to give me a shot.  Cause at this point within the story even falling on your face at a chance someone gave you is still a chance, but the problem is we make it so hard for people like Kirk to get even get that chance.

So our conversation continued and he explained the overwhelming thought of finally graduating and his student loans being due(they don’t waste any time) and seminary being pricey and how everyday felt like a crowded room with our backs against the wall with barely a breath of fresh air left.  And I guess I give you this example not to say Kirk is slowly becoming a statistic with the rest of our society of being over educated and underpaid(cause I won’t let that happen), but to say if you find yourself here in this moment living on a dream and praying for the hope within that very dream then think about this…When it comes to your life on the big scale of things, what is the one thing that you can’t leave this world without having some sort of impact on?  What is it that thing that if you knew you could do it and wouldn’t fail and couldn’t be stop, you would do?  Someone once asked me something very similar to this, and then said well if you don’t do it you’re an idiot!  Never in my life do I want to get to a point where I regret not trying.  There are many things in life that you may feel somewhat of a sense of failure, but what is failure and does it even really exist?  Because if we learn then how can we chalk it up as failing and not just experience.

I know when it comes to God, a lot of times we are called to do things that may seem crazy, that’s what faith does sometimes it calls us to living recklessly for Him, but I truly believe that something is not right about our lives making sense to the world?  Its suppose to be different?  So I guess what I am trying to say is, odds are meant to be defied cause God is meant to be glorified, so don’t give up, give in, or walk away.  Instead let loose, jump, run, and be dangerous to the sleeping comfortable world in which we live in…because lets face it, you don’t want to be rocking on the porch one day wishing you had.  And for the rest of you crazy people who have all been where Kirk is today wishing someone would give you a shot to develop and catch fire, here is your chance to equip our future.

Lets become leaders of leaders and let’s do it today.

It seems all they want is to die for a moment to live

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Since my departure from Elevate Church life has been such a ride.  There has been the lows of uncertainty and the highs of the new adventures on the horizon.  But during this triumphant return to Georgia I have been given a lot of time to ponder some of the greatest issues within this world.  Ok so maybe just within my life and my surroundings but trust me not to be anything less than dramatic…these are world shaking tragedies.   So here is my soapbox….

Everyone gets to this point where you will die for something…maybe not literally lose your life in these situations but where you would give up everything you know to know something different, to have for a moment clarity, such as…for you it may be a job.  Not just any job but your dream job.  No matter who you are or what you have experienced up unto this point, nothing matters but this job.  You would give anything for a moment of clarifying truth and experience in this very thing that you feel will make you whole.  The problem is once you have it, it’s not enough.  Ok maybe it’s not a job for you but a person?  Once you laid eyes on him or her you knew from that moment nothing mattered in life but the pursuit of this person.  Because this person is the very thing that is going to fill the void in the deepest part of your soul.  But again that feeling grows like a thirst that seems will never be quenched!  I know you are thinking ok I see where this is going but really do you?  Cause from my experience though this seems obvious these are the very cycles that the people in which surround you and I are in, and these cycles are vicious.

We know the answer and it seems somewhat “Sunday Schoolish”…nothing can fill/complete/fulfill you besides Christ and his spirit.  But people are desperate for a moment(and the crazy thing is they will just settle for a moment), but a moment of 100% authentic never-failing undeniable wholesome completing truth within their lives.  It seems all they want is to die for a moment to live…

Today I realized I am not much different from them.  I haven’t heard it much better than this “Awaken what’s inside of me, tune my heart to all You are in me, even though You’re here God come, and may the vision of You be the death of me.”(Vision of You, Shane & Shane) This is the purest cry I have heard in a while for God to move within a way you can’t explain.  But this is my cry, I want just for a moment to see God, even though the Bible speaks that no man can see the face of God and live to tell about it, I want it anyways. I want within my deepest being to see God, and to see him sweep this place.

I guess what I am saying is I see so many people around me dying to live and I can connect with that feeling more than they will ever believe because at some point someone called me Pastor.  But I do understand and I stand here with you saying there is a moment worth losing yourselves to.  And I want you to find that moment.  But I feel so alone in this battle.  I know there are so many of you living this and participating within a movement that are seeking the unchurched/lost/dechurched or whatever churchy name we have placed on these people who consist of what has become the norm.  But I am fighting and though you are probably there I feel alone.(Don’t read into this, I know I have God on my side)  But as for flesh and blood I am dying to find you who believe and are desperate enough to die for a moment of love for these people.

So many times this month I have heard “wow, you really are called and have a heart for the lost”…why is that surprising!  Rise up church and be the very thing you claim.

And by the way I am not leaving this soap box until we find the sense of urgency we read so much about within scripture.  Fight with me to help his children find worth.

It has been a week

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It has been a week since Kelly and I have arrived at our new place.  But it has been hard to make this place feel like home.  Most of you know we did leave San Diego and one of the greatest opportunities we have ever been given to chase a calling.  And a big part of that calling has been me getting back into school.  With all of my schooling being from Georgia, I guess I thought this would be somewhat of an easy transition back into this particular institution.  Little did I know!  So it goes like this… Since I have paid taxes in another state, being California, I am now considered out-of-state.  Even though I have lived and schooled in Georgia my whole life except for about 18 months, they still consider me out-of-state.  So ok that’s fine I came to grips there was no way around this until I found out a stipulation.  Within this year of me re-committing my membership to the great state of Georgia I cannot take any more hours in school passed part-time or they will always charge me out-of-state tuition because though I was born here they will put me in the file of moving here for schooling and continue to rip me off!  So for 1 year I cannot exceed 11 hrs.  OK so then I came to grips with that until I saw what out-of-state tuition cost!  For a normal in-state student for a semester is going to cost you around $2500, but if you come to the great peach state as an out-of-stater you will be paying over $8000 a semester.  Though there is Ivy growing on the campus, we are not talking about Harvard here, this is a state school!  So needless to say we really took this blow hard.  Our prayers have stayed the same asking God to use us as leaders of our generation to help make him famous but our tone has dampened a little.  We know all the right answers in this situation but it doesn’t take the sting out of it!  We are still pushing forward on trying to find jobs and trying to find ways around this school stipulation, and you should know  I am not worried about our circumstances I am just trying to shuffle through life during this time of perseverance.  Thanks for your time and we will talk again soon.

From West to East Day 2

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Today was a long travel day.  We woke up in what was one of the more sketchy hotels I have stayed in, in my life.  But the weather was brisk and the food was great which made for a good start.  First off before we hit the road we had to try Brandy’s which was featured on Diner Drive-ins and Dive’s.  Though the people were a little to “Mountainy” for me, it was a great banana pancake!

After breakfast we hit the road for our 9 hour trip to Amarillo, Tx.  One thing you should know is we bought a book before we left San Diego telling us about all the weird stops.  So we stopped at as many of them as possible.  First up we came across “Meteor City”  which was supposedly where the world began with one of the biggest meteors impacting our planet…we couldn’t tell you how legit it was because one thing the book left out is that it cost $30 for us to see the big hole in the world!  So instead we though it would be a great idea to just pull over and take a pic in the middle of the desert, a morning after we are all still pulling out cacti out of our legs!  Memories!

Our trip came to a screeching 2 hr halt because of this!

Carson saved the “Fam Cam” by catching the tumble weed

Best Shake I have ever had! “Standard Diner” Albuquerque New Mexico

We had such a great time getting to Amarillo, but we have such a long way to go to get to Little Rock…See you then!

The beginning of day 2

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Yesterday was a fantastic day as we continued to make our way from the west to the east.  We woke up in Vegas and had breakfast with some of the locals(Laurice’s family) and then headed towards the Hoover Dam.  We spent a lot of time in “Dam Traffic” but was entertained by every last sign that took the opportunity to use “Dam”  within its quick humored directions.

Hoover Dam though crowded was just incredible to see how we as humans can create such incredible structures.  From there we headed down the long lonely road towards the Grand Canyon.  Though it was beautiful I couldn’t help but think “why in the world do people live out here in the middle of nowhere!”  Through the desert and up the mountains and back down we finally began to see signs saying “Come See the Grand Canyon”  and man did we!  As we walked up to gaze over the cliffs I was just overwhelmed by Gods creation. 

Seriously pictures do not do the view justice…it was unbelievable!  And the quote of the day by my buddy Carson as we looked out into the great beyond, “They should bring atheist out here and hold them over the side” it was perfect.  I was a little confused on why in the world they charge $25 to go into the park but trust me you forget about that quick!  From there we headed towards flagstaff.  In between the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff the terrain was covered in beautiful white snow and nothing but mountains and beware of Elk signs.  Which later we realized were not  just for decorations, as we approached the biggest Elk I have seen heading the direction of our path that we were traveling on very briskly!  As I looked up its as though we locked eyes, Carson screamed I slammed on the breaks and the girls went nuts, not even knowing what was happening!

Needless to say nothing really happened but it was a close call and a great conversational piece for the rest of the dark drive to Flagstaff.  So here we are in the cheapest hotel we could find still recovering for another amazing dinner last night at a local brewery.  Today we are headed to at least Amarillo, TX and cant wait to see more of the peculiar sights of Route 66.