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One of the biggest news stories of the summer happened when two murderous inmates, Richard Matt and David Sweat, broke out of the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in New York using tools frozen in hamburger meat with help from prison employees. After almost 3 weeks on the lam, Matt was shot and killed and Sweat was shot and taken into custody 2 days later.

Have you ever felt that kind of desperation to get away from the prison of bad habits only to find that escape is impossible? It could be almost anything: food, drugs or alcohol, approval, gambling, pornography, shopping, social media, video games, and even work. The fact is, we’ve all got some habits, hurts, and hang-ups that we need to break free from.

In John 8:36, Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” That means if you’re ready to get out of your prison cell and stay out, you CAN do it, with God’s help. In our new series, PRISON BREAK, we’ll help you walk through the proven steps to get free and stay free. Don’t live in captivity when you can walk in freedom.

I want to personally invite you to be my guest this Sunday at 9am, 10:30am, or Noon to start on this journey. So, bring someone with you and I’ll see you there!

3 Ways to Be a Pro Friend

August 6, 2015

Friendships are a bigger challenge than ever before. In fact, most people say they only have 2 close friends, and many others would honestly say they have no one they’re close to. As a pastor, I have talked with hundreds of people who struggle with loneliness and know that this is a very serious issue with dire results.

Friendships are so important in our lives that it could be said, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” But we’re poorly prepared to make and keep long-term relationships. Think about it, did you ever have a class in school on this vital topic?

It’s time to go PRO in our friendships. If you want to be a PRO friend, it takes three qualities:

Pro Friends are PRESENT. There is power in presence! In our constantly distracted day, the gift of presence is priceless. How many times have you seen a group of so-called “friends” who are all sitting in the same room, but they’re all pre-occupied with what’s happening on their phones than they are interested in each other. Your attention speaks volumes about your care for your friends. So put your phones down and get up in each other’s business.

Pro friends RESPECT each other. Any time you get two people together, you’re going to have two different opinions. A PRO friend will give the gift of honor, whether or not they agree about everything. In fact, if you both agree about everything, one of you isn’t necessary. Jesus’ disciple Peter wrote, “Respect EVERYONE.” (1 Peter 2:17)

Pro Friends are OPEN. No one needs a fake friend. A PRO friend will be real about what they think and feel. That means being honest about what you’re feeling, including your failures. In fact, our failures draw us together even more than our successes. Jesus’ half-brother James wrote, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed.” (James 5:16) When we get real with how we feel, then we can heal.

I hope that you will not only be a PRO friend, but that you will have many PRO friends. So, we’re going to invest the next few weeks drilling down on how to develop stronger and richer relationships. If you want to grow in your relationships, you’ll want to be with us this weekend as we kick off our new message series called, FRIEND ZONE. I know, I know. The real pop culture meaning of the term, “Friend Zone,” is a relationship where one person has unreturned romantic feelings for another person. But we’re going to redeem the phrase and use it to mean taking your friendships to the next level and winning with your relationships. And if you can’t be with us in person, you can always catch the messages on our website or on your Connection Church mobile app.

I Heart My Church!

February 27, 2015

You can’t go to church, because WE are the CHURCH! Church isn’t a building, it’s a movement. And we get to be a part of a revolutionary force that has changed the world for good and is continuing to transform lives. Yes, we know the Church is far from perfect, but Jesus gave His life for the Church and we believe there’s nothing else on the planet with as much potential. It’s a beautiful thing when it’s done well. We want everyone in Hays County to say, “I love my church,” so we’re focusing in on what it is and why it still matters today! This brand new series full of surprises is kicking off this weekend at The Connection Church. See you there!

When it comes to love, most people think they’re playing a losing game, as if the odds are always stacked against you. Maybe we just haven’t been playing with the right strategies. Let’s face it, love can be a battlefield. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Bible has plenty to say about how you can not only find the right match, but stay in a connected loving relationship for life. I’m so excited about this brand new series, The MATCH Game, where we’ll unpack the winning strategies for a strong, healthy marriage that will go the distance. Whether you’re single or married, we’ll be talking directly about what God has in store for you as a winner in the Match Game.

I hope you’ll join me at The Connection Church every weekend in February. We have 4 services to choose from, Saturdays at 5:30 and Sundays at 9am, 10:30am, and Noon.

Getting Ready for Christmas

December 4, 2014

JoyMeetsWorldAppArtSquareAre you ready for Christmas? We spend a lot of time getting ready by shopping, putting up massive decorations, and sending out Christmas cards. In fact we spend a lot of time and money during the Christmas season getting ready, but what about getting ourselves ready for Christmas?

The opening verses of Mark give us some practical ways to get ready for Christmas while we’re looking forward to the BIG day to arrive, so that when we wake up on Christmas morning, we’ll have done everything we can do to be ready for the best Christmas ever.

Here are 4 ways to get ready for Christmas from Mark 1.

Give the Gift of Jesus.

The best Christmas gift is the original, God’s free gift of eternal life.

“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and He will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for Him!’” Mark 1:2-3

John the Baptist had a very specific job to help people get ready for the ministry of Jesus. Our job at Christmas can be like that too. We are preparing the way for Jesus to change people’s lives. And there’s nothing better than helping someone cross over that line of faith.

When you help someone connect with Jesus, that’s the gift that keeps on giving. And best of all according to Romans 6:23, it’s FREE. We know that many people who normally never come to church will come for Christmas services. Everybody is in the flow of Christmas, so many people are more prepared to hear the Gospel now than at any other time of the year. So we want to intentionally invite as many people as we can to be a part of our Christmas events at The Connection Church.

Get your heart ready.
This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. Mark 1:4-5

When people heard John’s message, they confessed their sin to God, turned to follow after God and were baptized. If you’re ready to go public with your faith, Christmas is a great time before the next year begins. We’ll be celebrating baptisms in all of our services on December 13-14. You can go here to sign up now or find out more information.

Prepare for Christmas by asking God to search your heart. In Psalm 139:23-24, David said, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

You’ll renew your connection with God when you ask Him to examine your heart. When you do, it’s a simply a matter of agreeing with God about what we’ve done and asking Him to forgive us and make our hearts clean. In fact, He promises to make us WHITE AS SNOW.

On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. 1 John 1:9 (MSG)

Do Christmas differently this year.

If you want different, you couldn’t get much weirder than John the Baptist. Mark 1:6 describes him like this: His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.

In other words, John was a wild man. He stood out. He was different. To experience what Christmas is meant to be, we need to do it differently this year.

A.W. Tozer convictingly said, “Christ came to bring peace and we celebrate his coming by making peace impossible for six weeks of each year… He came to help the poor and we heap gifts upon those who do not need them.”

Different for you might mean doing what we do as a family and bringing your biggest gift to Jesus this year through our First and Best Offering day on December 13-14.

Finally, and most importantly, keep your focus on Jesus.

John was all about making Jesus greater. He helped people focus on Jesus.

In Mark 1:7, John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

The season we’re in is traditionally known as Advent, which means “coming.” It’s good for us to build up anticipation for Christmas by intentionally taking time each day to spend with God digging into the meaning of Christmas on your own or with your family. Click here to download a Christmas Bible Reading Plan to use during December.

I want to personally invite you to be with us at The Connection Church this Christmas this weekend as we kick-off Joy Meets World. In this brand new series, you’ll discover how to live a life full of joy this Christmas and all year long!