Author: jmarkjohns

5 reasons your marriage could be stronger than it’s ever been

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There are basically 3 categories of people in this world. Those who are HAPPILY married, those who are HOPING to get married and those who are SORRY they ever got married. Unfortunately, I run into a lot of people who find themselves in that last category. However, I’ve got awesome news for you if you happen to be someone in that last group.

I am convinced that there are at least 5 reasons your marriage could be stronger and healthier than it has ever been.

1. Because you’re willing to swallow your pride and finally ask for some help

Trust me, I know how hard it can sometimes be to admit that we can’t make something work on our own. But there are some things in this world that we were never intended to do alone and marriage is one of them. Don’t drown when there are lifelines all around you in the water.  There are people near you with healthy marriages who can and want to help if you will just swallow your pride, take a step and ask them for it.

2. Because you’re willing to accept responsibility instead of focusing only on your rights.

One of the greatest reasons for relationship trouble is unmet expectations. When we feel like we’ve been cheated or denied something we desire or deserve, it creates unbelievable tension. But when we switch our minds from reacting and being bitter to taking leadership and acting on what we know is right to do, we become the catalyst for change in our marriage. This takes great courage but the difference it makes will surprise you.

3. Because you realize that your kids are counting on you to show them what love is in REAL LIFE and not just a Hollywood version of it

Our children see enough fantasy. What they really need is to see what two people look like who are flawed and have weaknesses, fight through their differences to show them what honoring a commitment is really all about. They need to know that you don’t have to be the Brady bunch to still have a marriage that can go the distance. They will thank you and honor you for it, trust me.

4. Because your willing to find a local church and give God a chance to work in your life. 

The very act of getting up together and heading to a life giving church is beneficial to a marriage because it fills you with the sense that you are both committed to making it work and getting the help you need. But once you’re there, God can do more in one moment to rebuild and reunite hearts than we could do by ourselves in years. It’s just true.

5. Because CCA is starting a series THIS SUNDAY that could absolutely change everything for you.

Beginning February 8th and through March 1st, we are starting THIS and if my marriage was in trouble, I would do anything and everything to make sure I was there. God created marriage and no one understands how something works better than the original architect and engineer of a thing. This is going to be a game changer and we hope to see you there!

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6 reasons personal invitations to church REALLY MATTER

 

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There are so many beautiful things about the culture of the church I attend and pastor. CCA is known for passionate teaching and worship, service to the community, genuine, warm and caring people and many other things that are making big differences in peoples lives. But I think one of the most important distinctions that we have grown to embrace is the lifestyle of invitation. We just call it “COME AND SEE” (John 4:29)

I asked CCA yesterday how many of them were personally invited to our church, 70% of the entire congregation raised there hands. We believe Jesus is too good to keep to ourselves and as we approach one of our biggest services of the year I thought I’d share 6 reasons that personal invitations matter so much.

1. People naturally gravitate to places where they are wanted and accepted

A personal invitation to something that means a lot to you says “I love you and want you to experience something really good too!” It’s extremely relational and it connects with people’s hearts not just their brains. Deep down people aren’t really looking for friendly churches, they’re looking for FRIENDS and people that they can really find meaningful connection with.

2. People need hope

Way more people than we realize just suffer in silence and you never know what a simple invitation to a life giving church could mean for someone or an entire family.

3. People matter to God

When we extend a personal invitation to someone, God is using our voice and our body at that moment to make his love for them known. We become the visible expression of an invisible God (like Jesus was) and they feel His care and compassion.

4. People will experience an eternal forever somewhere

This is the most sobering reason. It’s what drove Christ to the cross and why his love is still so directed towards those who do not know him. The scriptures are clear about the reality of both heaven and hell and we must be careful not to be lulled into a complacency about these things. (Hebrews 9:27)

5. People are far more open than we think if we would just be bold enough to take a step

We get in our minds that people will automatically say no or think that we’re fanatically religious if we invite them to church. But we don’t hesitate for a moment to tell someone when we’ve seen a great movie or eaten at an incredible restaurant. Just take the same approach. You’ve experienced something that has fulfilled and blessed you in an incredible way, why would we want to keep it to ourselves? Way more people than you think will appreciate your invitation and say yes and will forever be grateful you made the reach when they encounter the love of Christ.

6. Because it’s honestly impossible to be connected to Christ and not care about those he cares about

The deeper your relationship with anyone, the more intense your concern for the things they care about. Luke 19:10 is as clear as any scripture about the thing that motivated the mission of Jesus and still does. The closer you get to him, the more compassion you will feel for those who do not yet know him.

Take a step, make a reach, share the love and just simply say “Come and See.” There isn’t a greater feeling in the world than when you watch someone encounter Christ that you invited. TRUST ME!

I pray you would know that feeling THIS CHRISTMAS!

5 things I want to share with EVERY CCA’er!

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1.As of yesterday, 165 people have said yes to Jesus at CCA in 2014 alone!! LET’S CELEBRATE!! It’s just incredible and I am totally blown away at how God is moving in peoples lives and in our church this year. We have never had a year where this many have received Christ and we must never take for granted what we are all a part of.

2. Trick or Treat on Main street is this Friday and we are totally pumped! We have 100 people coming to serve and ready to love on thousands of kids and families! It’s going to be insane in the best kind of way. These are always awesome times to not only serve our community but also hang out with church family and get to know some people maybe you see on Sunday but never get to speak to.

3. Our November series #dogood is starting THIS SUNDAY and this is going to be so much more than just a sermon series. At CCA, we have made it our mission to love God, love people and serve others, and we’re going to live that in avery strategic way. I will be sharing 3 specific ways that we can make a difference through serving others this month and I believe it could be one of our most amazing ministry months ever.

4. The Christmas service this year is going to be the absolute most amazing and memorable Christmas service that we have ever had in CCA’s history!!! Start gearing up now and making your invites to all those people that you know are more open to a church invite at Christmas than any other time of the year! We had 616 people last Easter, with 17 receiving Christ and I believe this Christmas is going to be EVEN BIGGER!!!

5. Never stop inviting. The main way that God impacts and changes lives is through the lives that he has ALREADY impacted and changed! Believe and be bold. You never know whats going on in someones life and what a simple invitation to a life giving church could mean for them and their families.

I love serving with everyone of you and am completely stoked at what the rest of this year will bring!

5 things that will truly change the way you live

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I read a lot and see titles like the one I wrote here often. But in spite of it’s over usage, given the content of these 5 things I’d like to share, I couldn’t title it anything else. I am convinced that anyone and everyone who would dare to truly embrace these, will experience a shift in the way their daily lives are lived.

Life gets complicated and no matter how good our intentions are, we can forget some of the most important lessons we’ve learned over time and must revisit and revive these things often.

These last 4 months have been challenging and I am throwing myself back into these 5 truths. I dare you to join me and watch what happens.

1. Ask God to set you on FIRE!

Ask God to consume you with passion! People without passion can make a living, but people with great passion MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Life has a way of naturally leaking our drive, energy and passion. The routine of doing the same things over and over have a way of causing us to drift and get cold. Run back to God, fall flat out before him and ask him to completely IGNITE YOU! We will never be able to fully recapture the drive and energy we need because we are smart or gifted…HOT PASSION GROWS FROM OUR CONNECTION WITH A HOLY GOD!

2. Let life be determined more by CONVICTION than CONVENIENCE.

Don’t just do what comes easy, do what you know is right whether you feel it or not. When God fills our heart with his purpose, it’s an anchor and a compass that allows us to stay on course even through the most raging emotional storms. Problems, challenges and difficulties make us long for easy waters and calm winds. Don’t do it.  Stay committed to the course. Even if the storm won’t move, as long as you do, you’ll get through it and pop out on the other side.

3. Ask God to help you see people the way He sees people

This alone changes everything. One of the dangers of our faith is that the longer you are saved the easier it is to become inwardly focused and selfish. It shouldn’t be this way, but it often is. It effects the way people even see their church. We begin to view the church as any other organization created solely for our own fulfillment and service to us rather than what it truly is..a global movement with a local chapter existing for the purpose of making Christ known to those who do not yet know him. When we see broken and lost people through God’s eyes, it compels us to serve and put others needs above our own.

4. Don’t have to have every question answered before you obey God

Planning is important and strategy matters, but if you have to have every single issue covered before you ever move when God speaks you will never take a step. Just accept that big things will require faith and every line item won’t be reconciled when God says “GO!” You will learn more about yourself and God as you move forward. Yes, it’s scary but I have become convinced at this point in my life that if I’m not at least a little scared, It’s not God.

5. Accept that you will never please everyone

One of my mentors told me years ago that if you are leading well you will constantly be disappointing people. It didn’t make sense then, but it does now. You never grow easy with it but you have to accept it. The more focused you become toward the goal God has given you, the more polarizing to some people you become. Jesus was willing to let Peter go when he tried to keep him from the cross. It makes Jesus seem uncaring at the moment, but no one loved people more. He was just focused on winning MANY rather than trying to please a few.

We’re half way through 2014, I’m praying the REST of your year is the BEST of your year!

 

 

5 things for CCA that will help you have the BEST SUMMER EVER!

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The weather is hot, the kids are out of school, family plans are being made and SUMMER IS IN FULL SWING! It’s the vacation season and we live in the Sunshine state, that means lots of time off and traveling with family and friends.

I am thankful for this season and always enjoy time at the beach and golf course with the special people in my life as well.

Let me share 5 things with you to keep in mind that will help you still grow and stay connected this summer.

1. Make every moment you get with your family matter

When you’re there…be there. I am as bad as anyone about being connected to my phone and technology. I am thankful for all the ministry and business it allows me to conduct no matter where I am or what I’m doing. But here’s the problem. It allows me to do ministry and conduct business no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Try to unplug more this summer when you’re with your family and be in the moment. The moments won’t last forever so we should do all we can to make them truly count.

2. University campus will have an abbreviated schedule this summer

CCA is pretty typical of every other church during the summer months. We can see a 30-40% fluctuation in attendance from week to week. One week it’s packed and one week it’s a ghost town, it’s just the way it is. Because we have over 200 volunteers and some of them are on the University campus rotation we are going to have service every other week at the U. The specific dates are posted on the CCA website. We have some really cool stuff planned for the University campus this summer so stay tuned for more info on that.

3. Online giving is safe, convenient and WORSHIP!

Over 50% of all CCA’s giving comes in online. It’s amazing how CCA’ers utilize this awesome tool. Online giving allows you to participate in worship and honor the Lord even when you know you will be out of town with the family. I want to thank every CCA’er personally for your incredible faithfulness to God and your consistent generosity and belief in the mission of LOVING GOD, LOVING PEOPLE AND SERVING OTHERS! You’re giving has allowed 104 people to receive Christ in 2014 already and THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

4. Our July series is going to be a game changer

“Made for More” is going to help us redefine how we see our finances and possessions. God doesn’t want anything FROM US, He wants something FOR US! And it’s true that money is a wonderful servant but a horrible master. The scriptures bring such a beautiful balance to this issue in our lives that can so easily get out of control. SERIOUSLY, DON’T MISS THIS ONE AND INVITE EVERYONE YOU CAN!

5. Watch the messages online with the family when you can’t be in service

Gather your family together and make time for God to speak to you all. Lead your family in this and then have some meaningful discussion about what you heard and what you felt about the word that day. You’ll be surprised at how impactful this can be for you and your family. We leverage technology to be able to make things like this possible for you and your family, use it as often as you can.

Tina and I love our church family so much and are thankful to be able to serve alongside you on this incredible journey.

We hope you guys have the BEST SUMMER EVER!!!

 

 

4 things every leader has to “GET”

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After 21 years of ministry and over 15 of those in senior leadership, there are some key things that I’m convinced leaders need in order to be successful and effective. Indispensable things like integrity, transparency, great people skills, strong work ethic, a positive attitude and adaptability just to name a few.

Good leaders know that these are traits worth striving for and developing and the good news is, many of these can indeed be developed.

But there are 4 specific things that I shared with the CCA staff this morning that have become some of the most important things that I have discovered in all of these years of leading. 4 things that a leader must truly “GET” if they want to be effective and impactful in what God has called them to do.

Here we go.

1. FEAR will always be in front of you – “GET” OVER IT

The one thing that no leader can delegate is courage. Someone has to be the first one to see it, believe in it and be willing to go ALL IN for it! There will never be a time when big dreams won’t have a certain amount of risk, and that risk always brings with it some fear and trepidation. The people we admire and watch do great things are not people who are somehow blessed with no fear. They’re ordinary people who decided to do what they feel called to do, even in the face of significant fear.

2. CRITICISM will always be around you – “GET” USED TO IT

Here’s the thing..criticism hurts. It makes you feel bad. But the feeling WILL wear off and is swallowed up in the victory of doing that thing that truly matters and is making a difference. Great leaders are willing to be misunderstood and criticized in order to bring change that will bless even the very people who are critical of them. If your doing big things, your critics will be many, stay focused, stay humble and keep plowing.

3. PRIDE will always come after you – “GET” ABOVE IT

Self reliance ultimately denies the power of God. When pride moves in, worship moves out. Great leaders are not simply people who learn how to overcome and conquer great obstacles, they learn how to conquer themselves. Proverbs instructs us to “Guard our hearts, for from it come the issues of life.” It’s true and we must always be on guard against pride, it’s always lurking in the background waiting to make it’s attack.

4. GOD will always be with you – “GET” ON WITH IT

If you only wait for perfect seasons before you move, you will NEVER move. Pray hard for God’s strength and guidance, make the best plan you can and then get after it. Some people claim they are waiting on a “move of God”…I am convinced God is waiting on a “move of man.” Psalms 1 makes it clear that God will only bless what a man DOES..not what he says and not what he wants…but what he DOES. Make a move and watch God show up. He’s with us and desires to bless those whose hearts are surrendered to him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 things I want to share with CCA

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God is leading our church through some incredible seasons and it is both humbling and thrilling all at the same time. CCA is a special place of love and healing and to have a front row seat at this special move of God is absolutely amazing. With that in mind there are five things I want to share with all of the CCA family.

1. Easter was amazing

We had 616 people attend Easter services between our 2 campuses. 23 people were baptized and went public with their faith. And 19 people accepted a risen Christ as their Savior and Lord! My mind could not help but to go back to that living room less than six years ago when we first met with those 30 people who had nothing but a hope that God could do and would do something great in our region and HE’S DOING IT! He’s a promise maker. He’s also a promise keeper!

2. God used you to change lives

You accepted the challenge to “Go Fish” and to simply reach out to all of the people in your circle of influence to “COME AND SEE” and they did! It really is so simple when you think about it. All we ever have to do is to face a little fear, be bold and watch God do what he does best. We never can tell who will fall in love with Jesus, all we can do is arrange the date. I’m proud of every CCA’er who stepped up and stepped out, God honored it big time!

3. Our upcoming series provides yet another incredible opportunity

Our new relationship series beginning THIS SUNDAY is going to be a true game changer for many. We all know people who are struggling in their marriages or discouraged with their present situation. This series is going to answer so many pivotal questions and address issues that many people are dealing with every day. FISHING SEASON IS STILL OPEN! Give people the gift of hope and keep inviting those who you know need these messages. TRUST ME…THEY WILL THANK YOU!!!

4. Serving with you is the honor of my life

It’s been nearly 21 years of full time ministry for Tina and I, and this time in our lives are some of the absolute greatest. Serving with you is such a humbling and amazing experience. Thank you for the privilege that you have given us of leading you and doing life together. The faithfulness of CCA is evident. With over 200 volunteers and the consistent generosity of our faithful givers, God is moving mountains. Thanks for believing. Thanks for serving. Thanks for giving. Thanks for trusting God. I am inspired daily by you.

5. The BEST is yet to come

We’re just getting started. We are just approaching our six year anniversary and I simply can’t imagine what CCA will look like in another 6 years, or 10 years or 20 years. Honestly, I don’t think we could possibly imagine what God truly has in store for us. All I know is that I’M ALL IN!!! There will be twists and turns for sure, but God will always prove himself faithful if we will stay faithful. Thank you again for your commitment to this journey. I’ll see you Sunday to kick off our new series…I CAN’T WAIT!