6 Ways to Have the Best 5k Experience

6 Ways to Have the Best 5k Experience

The Annual Run for the Love of It 5k is happening on the morning of February 11th, 2017 starting at 8am. This fun run features a chip-timed run or walk, a kid’s dash, bounce houses for the kids, and the best refuel station in Central Texas. You will also get a cool moisture-wicking event shirt to keep so you’ll remember this race all year long. But the best part of the run is that it makes a difference, with the proceeds going towards Global Missions in places like Guatemala and Haiti.

You might be thinking, the only time you’re going to see me running is if someone is chasing after me! But maybe there’s something in you that’s also saying you would like to give it a try and see if you could finish the 5k run or walk, which is 3.1 miles. If you want to give it a shot, here are 6 of my best practices to make it a great time and a BIG WIN!

1. Get your mind in gear. It all starts with a CAN-DO attitude! You’ll never do anything if you’ve already decided you can’t do it. Can’t never could! Instead, imagine yourself getting up, getting into the crowd of runners, and taking those first steps. Then picture yourself crossing the finish line in victory! With a positive outlook, you will start to find the motivation you need to make it happen.

2. Enlist a buddy. There’s no need to do this all by yourself. There may be someone else who is just waiting for you to ask them to be a part of this experience. Together, you can go even farther than you thought. You and your friend can encourage each other when you start to get tired to keep pressing on. You can even join the race as a team. If you want to join my team, just choose Faster Pastor in the registration process! Everything is more fun with a partner, so make the big ask and sign up together.

3. Go for a few walks or runs. We are in one of the nicest times of the year to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. It doesn’t matter how fast or really how far you go, as long as you’re getting out, moving those legs, and getting your body ready for the 5k.

4. Get a playlist ready. For me, this is one of the top priorities. You want some tunes that will get you pumped up and inspire you to keep going. The right song at the right time can make all the difference. With a good playlist, you won’t need to be clicking through your phone while you run, which can be really distracting and dangerous. Set it up and forget it so you can focus on running.

5. Get some sleep on the night before. You can shoot yourself in the foot by staying up too late the night before the run. Make sure you set a reminder to get in bed on Friday the 10th so you can get 8 hours of sleep and be rested up and raring to go in the morning. You don’t want to be late, because when the starting whistle blows, it’s time to move whether you’re ready or not.

6. Fuel up in the morning. You don’t want to run on an empty stomach. So plan on eating a light breakfast that gives you the energy you need. I usually have a breakfast taco and a delicious glass of grapefruit juice. Maybe for you, a slice of toast, or some cereal would do the trick. If you go with the taco, be sure to keep it light and not too greasy, you don’t want that sloshing around in your stomach while you’re trying to run. We also have a great refuel station with all kinds of healthy nutritious treats you can enjoy after the run.

Prizes will be awarded in many categories after the race is finished. Now, if you’re ready to register online, you can get signed up right now for only $25 per runner at https://www.athleteguild.com/running/buda-tx/2017-run-for-the-love-of-it. On your mark, get set, GO! Get registered!

What is Success?

What is Success?

Bethanie had a school assignment the other night to write about how to be successful. As she talked about this with her friends, there was a lot of confusion about what success is. If you’re going to be successful, it starts with an understanding of what success really looks like.

For some, success means the next promotion, a bigger income, the ability to travel, having the perfect house, and the list goes on. But success is more than just prestige, power, and popularity. Many people who have achieved these goals still find themselves unfulfilled. While everyone might define it differently, we all share common ground for a successful life. I define success as having:

The people who know me the best, love and respect me the most.

That simple phrase boils everything down to a single pursuit. Let’s face it, our families see us at our best and our worst, warts and all. That’s why every strong relationship requires massive doses of grace and forgiveness. Sometimes, our own families are the hardest to win over. But with integrity and consistency, you can build a life marked by love and respect.

This has some practical implications for every day. It’s easy to get caught up in so many other activities and distractions instead of investing meaningful time with the people who matter the most. We regularly sacrifice the important for the sake of the urgent, taking for granted: “my family will always be there for me.” The truth is, they may not. One day, the kids will be grown and gone, or heaven forbid, our spouse is diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Don’t assume about tomorrow. James, Jesus’ half-brother, reminds us, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (James 4:14) Life is short, so make the most of today by prioritizing the people who are most important to you.

Also, make sure that it’s quality time spent laughing, talking, playing, exploring, remembering, and dreaming together. Watching tv or going to the movies, as much as I enjoy those things, doesn’t usually count as moments well spent.

Maybe you feel rejected right now by the people in your life that you think should be closest to you. Let me remind you there is One who knows you far better than anyone else. That Person is Jesus. In Romans 5:8, Paul writes, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Just think about that truth for a moment, while you were still in the middle of your mess, Jesus gave His very life for you! That’s real love!

Prioritize the people closest to you by saying “no” to less important opportunities. You will never regret building those relationships, because at the end of the day, you are a success when the people who know you the best, love and respect you the most.

 

Start Strong. Stay Stronger. Finish Strongest.

Start Strong. Stay Stronger. Finish Strongest.

The new year is the perfect time to celebrate the victories of the previous year, reflect about where we find ourselves, and dream of what God can do through us in the year ahead!

Last year, we took huge steps forward as a church family by:

  • Reaching even more people for Jesus than ever before and baptizing 141 new Christ-followers!
  • Providing 18,900 nutritious meals for the children in Agua Zarca, Guatemala!
  • Attracting 350 students to our Fall Fuze Students outreach event and 41 of them stepped over the line of faith to commit their lives to Jesus!
  • Ending the year strong with 1741 people focusing on the true message of Christmas: the gift of Jesus to our world!
  • Taking the strategic step to start our Growth Track process that helps people take their next faith steps and connect in greater ways with God and our church.
  • Making a difference through our partnerships with Prison Fellowship, C3 Global, Hope & Love 4 Kids, Hays CISD and more.

But one thing I never forget is that we couldn’t do this without the incredibly faithful people of The Connection Church! I can’t THANK YOU enough for your generosity when it comes to supporting our mission to see lives changed ONE LIFE AT A TIME! Make no mistake about it: this mission is being fulfilled and you are a part of every story of life-change through your partnership.

Now, as we begin 2017, we have new opportunities to do more for God’s glory than ever before. I can’t wait to see the great things in store for us over the next 12 months!

Making the Most of Christmas

I want to briefly share with you 4 strategies from Mark 1:2-7 for making this the Best Christmas of your life! Click on the video above to learn more then check out the links below to take some practical next steps.
  • Give the Gift of Jesus

Bring someone with you to Connection Christmas by giving an invite card (you can pick those up this Sunday) or by spreading the word using social media with #ConnectionChristmas. Get FREE Tickets Here

  • Get Your Heart Ready

Take time to prepare spiritually and emotionally for Christmas with family or personal devotionals or advent readings. Bible.com has many excellent daily Christmas devos to choose from.. Find an Online Christmas Devotional

  • Have a Weird Christmas

Do Christmas differently this year by simplifying, slowing down, and focusing more on giving than getting. We like to give our best Christmas gift to Jesus through our Christmas Offering for missions. This Sunday is the BIG Day, so come prepared or give online today. Give Now

  • Focus on Jesus

Remember, Christmas is not about us, it’s about Him. When you serve with us at our Connection Christmas services, you are helping others focus on what Christmas is all about and changing eternities. Choose to serve with us at one of our services. Sign Up To Serve

Connect Initiative: Worship

Connect Initiative: Worship

The Connect Initiative is a way for us to understand and elevate our 7 Core Values at The Connection Church. Each month through the rest of 2016, we’ll focus on one of our shared core values and talk about them in all of our ministry teams in addition to any usual meetings, trainings, conference calls, and huddles.

This plan will help us focus in on one vital value and lead us to fully commit to our shared mission. Here are some ways you can make sure your ministry makes the most of this CONNECT Initiative for the rest of 2016:

  • Bring emphasis to each month’s value with your ministry teams
  • Incorporate the value in your huddles or other meetings
  • Talk about what each value means and how your ministry applies this value
  • Participate in any trainings, devotionals, or other efforts in this initiative
  • Prayer and dependence on God to show us how best to grow where we can

By the time we finish out this year, we’ll have worked through each value, and all of us will have grown together and closer to where God wants us to be.

We’re kicking this off for the month of June with our first value: CELEBRATIVE WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH. Watch this video where I unpack the power in this value and how we apply it at The Connection Church. You can use these ideas as a foundation for your team meetings for the next 4 weeks:

 

Twas the 2 Nights Before Christmas

Twas the 2 Nights Before Christmas

There are some traditions that make the holidays more meaningful every year. In the Austin area, some of those include the Zilker Park Trail of Lights, and even closer to home, the Trail of Lights in Buda. For us, Connection Christmas Eve is at the top of our Christmas list. Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, everyone is welcome at The Connection Church for this unforgettable experience.

We celebrate the joy of season with rockin’ versions of our favorite Christmas hits and moving carols. Along the way, there are lots of laughs, and some surprises, including a new twist on the traditional candlelight service. And after the celebration, be sure to stop by the firepits outside for S’MORES!

Without a doubt, this is the biggest Christmas party in Hays County! With our newly expanded auditorium at 1235 S. Loop 4, in Buda, we’ll have plenty of room for all of your friends and family at any one of our 4 celebration times. They happen on Christmas Eve’s eve, Wednesday, December 23rd at 5:30 and 7:30, and on Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24th at 5:30 and 7:30.

Tickets are free but are required to make sure everyone has a seat. You can RESERVE YOUR TICKETS HERE or pick them up at The Source in our lobby this Sunday. Please only reserve what you intend to use and let us know if you cannot attend so that we can pass your tickets on to others who would like to attend.

Remember the joy of the season and start a new tradition that will make the most of your Christmas for years to come. Come and see for yourself what all the talk is about!

Be the Presence of Jesus through a Christmas Offering

Be the Presence of Jesus through a Christmas Offering

As the Christmas season gets into full swing, I’m reminded of how much we have to be thankful for. I’m especially thankful this year for our growth and impact and the many changed lives we’re seeing at The Connection Church. Whether through our recent Gobble Box Thanksgiving Food Drive or through our upcoming Angel Tree gifts for the children in Hays County with an incarcerated parent, I am blown away by the difference we’re making this year! I’m thankful for every person who has given so generously!

At Christmas, we celebrate the greatest gift of all: God so loved the world that He GAVE His only Son! We want to help you keep Christ at the center of your Christmas celebration. When we give gifts this year, let’s prayerfully consider what we’ll offer the birthday boy Himself, Jesus Christ. He deserves our greatest gift!

That’s why we’re having our annual Christmas Presence Offering at The Connection Church. God has called us to be His hands and feet both here and around the world.

azmissionsThis year’s offering will be used to impact the lives of our 50 children in the Guatemalan village of Agua Zarca. By providing a nutritious lunch for them every day when they’re at school, we’re giving life, health, and a tangible expression of God’s love to an entire community!

Other receipts from this year’s offering will be used to help those in our own community closer to home.

Here’s what we’re asking everyone to do:

• Pray and ask God what He would have you give “over and above” your regular tithes and offerings. We can’t all give the same amount, but we can all do something.

• Bring your “over and above” offerings with you and put them in a Presence envelope available in our newly expanded Worship Center during the month of December as we celebrate His blessings.

You can click here to give to the Presence Offering today!

If you have any other questions about the offering, check out these FAQs.

We’ll have our big Presence Christmas Offering day on December 20th at each of our services. I thank God for using us to save lives through The Connection Church. I can’t wait to see what God will do as we give back to Him because of all He’s given to us this year!

Where Do I Fit In?

Where Do I Fit In?

Have you ever wondered, “Where do I fit in? How can I find my place in my church?” If so, you’re not alone. It often seems challenging to find your unique niche. But, you can be sure, there is a place for you. In Ephesians 4:16, Paul wrote, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” That means that God has put you in the picture for a reason. He wants you to discover that place He has for you and use your life to help others. Let me offer you 5 ways to discover where you best fit.

SECURITY: The process starts by understanding both WHO you are and WHOSE you are. When you know that you have been created by God as a person of value and worth and you belong to Him, that brings incredible strength and security in your life. You aren’t threatened by what you don’t yet know. Insecurity causes us to be distrustful and inflexible. We become resistant to change, and without changing, there is no growth. Place your security in God whose love will never fail you.

SELF-AWARENESS: Watch reality tv and you’ll quickly see how lack of self-awareness blinds you to your weaknesses. Sometimes, self-awareness comes with asking others to speak into our lives to help us see those areas we don’t see about ourselves. It takes courage to admit our weaknesses, but when we finally come clean, God can begin to use us in ways that we never imagined.

SUBMISSION: Humbling ourselves to follow the God-given authorities He has placed in our lives requires massive amounts of humility. In Matthew 8:9, a Roman soldier meets Jesus and he willingly submits to Jesus authority because, as a soldier, he understands the structure of authority. He said, “I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers.” When you learn the power of submission, you position yourself in a place where you are then able to effectively lead others.

SEE THE BIG PICTURE: Remember, it’s not all about you. You are a vital piece of a much bigger picture. Whatever place you are serving, in whatever capacity, is just one of the necessary parts of the whole. It’s the mission and vision of the church that drives all the parts to work together effectively. Ours is to see lives changed by the power of God, one life at a time. When we understand what we’re trying to accomplish together, we can each respond by doing whatever it takes to fulfill our purpose.

STRENGTHS: Your personal victories in your past reveal those areas where you are especially gifted. Learn from your failures, but build on your successes. Your strengths are usually those things that pump you up and get you excited. We typically downplay our strengths because they may come more easily to us. But that’s the way God has wired you to make the biggest impact with you life.

You were made to make a difference! It may take some time and effort, but as you begin to experiment and serve in ministry, you’ll find your place in the body where you have the greatest influence. If you’re not already serving on a ministry team at The Connection Church, you can click here to let us know that you’re ready to step up and serve.

How to Break Free from that Prison You’re In

How to Break Free from that Prison You’re In

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!