Weekly Update | May 22

Greetings from the Geranium City. Well, today was a pretty big day.

The eagle has landed. This morning, I was announced as the new campus pastor of Momentum’s Eagles Landing location (!). This is a plan that has been – to some degree – in motion for a while, but was made official last week. We are grateful. Grateful for God’s leading and his affirmation along the way. Grateful for an incredible Momentum family of which we get to be a part. Grateful for our friends and family who have faithfully supported us financially and through prayer. And we are excited. Let’s do this thing.

Adah goes to kindergarten. One of the big unknowns for us going into next year was schooling for Adah. We were leaning toward a private school for two big reasons: First, private school is an option because of the generosity of some loved ones. Second, we didn’t feel we had the opportunity to commit to a public school because we simply didn’t know where we would live. We would prefer to minimize any potential school hopping for Adah Kat.

With those reasons guiding us, we are excited to be enrolling Adah at Strong Rock Christian School. The factor that put us over the top – because there are other fine schools in the area – was the ease for Katie in getting there given her long commute. And it doesn’t hurt that we have a cluster of friends there to support us. We are excited to have this decision behind us, but please pray that God will either confirm this decision for us or eventually redirect us when we figure out where we are going to live.

The house hunt is on. Speaking of finding a house, the hunt is on. One incredible turn of events is that the owners of our rental house have offered to let us rent month-to-month. That is a huge blessing, and gives us a window to find a house we love. Speaking of which, please be praying that we could find a house in our price range that would be great for hosting and hospitality. We don’t need it to be big or immaculate. Just right for us. Also, if you have recently been in a card game and won a charming old house near the square and would love to barter it for a substantial hug, give me a call.

How you can join us in praise: That we have clarity in our next steps (employment and where to send Adah to school). That the owner of our rental house is being so very gracious to us in allowing a month-to-month rental plan.

How you can join us in prayer: That Katie and I would transition into this new role and season well. That we would find the right house at the right time at the right price. That I would lead our WIN team and FaithBridge team well. That I adhere to my schedule for teaching preparation in 2016. That Katie and I would be intentional in all we do. – LM

Weekly Update | Apr 10-May 21

Greetings from the Geranium City.

Earthquake in Ecuador. Momentum has a deeply felt connection to Ecuador through Stadia and through Compassion International. Through Stadia, Momentum has planted a church in Los Bajos that – among other churchly functions – serves as a center for support for Compassion children. Through Compassion, dozens of families across both of our campuses support children in Ecuador, and some have been able to visit their children on trips down there. So needless to say, when Ecuador was recently rocked by a 7.8 earthquake, Momentum hurt for Ecuador. Prompted by encouragement from the elders and staff, the Momentum family just gave $45,000 to Stadia/Compassion to help in the rebuilding efforts. We pray that God will multiply that amount greatly.

Social workers luncheon. Momentum has been rapidly building a good relationship with the social workers in Henry County, so we were pleased to recently host a second social workers luncheon.

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Elisha’s ridiculous faith. On April 17, I had the opportunity to teach on the initial calling of Elisha in 1 Kings 19:19-21. We studied the faith of Elijah in letting go of his fame, the faith of Elisha in letting go of his familiarity and the faith of Elisha’s parents in letting go of their family. In short, we learned that faith lets go of comfort to embrace calling. You can hear that sermon here.

Minister meal day. I recently had the privilege of participating in what ended up being feed-a-pastor day. The day started with breakfast at Strong Rock Christian School to hear about the upcoming Atlanta Fest that will be hosted on their campus. The day continued with lunch at Point University’s Buckhead with a group of Atlanta-area pastors. When 2/3 of your meals are covered in a day, it’s a win.

Dinner with adoptive friends. We have a special connection with one particular adoptive couple. The husband is a minister I (Luke) had met while in Gwinnett, and after a conversation he and I had (and I’m sure many other things and details) they pursued adoption through Covenant Care. By the time they were ready to start the process, Katie ended up being their case worker. And when all was said and done, their daughter ended up being Katie’s first placement. All that said, we had the recent privilege to meet up for lunch and talk about life and adoption and the joy therein. It was lovely.

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Hattie turns 2! Hattie turned 2. If you see me any time soon, don’t remind me of this.

Hands on Henry. On April 23 (also Hattie’s birthday), our 30253 village took a second step in our partnership with Oakland Elementary by helping with the Hands on Henry project on their campus. We cleaned inside, weather sealed some new benches, tilled some earth, and doubled the size of a garden area. It was a fun and promising next step as we head into summer and then a new school year.

Elisha’s ridiculous conviction. On May 1, I had the opportunity to teach on the interaction between Elisha and Naaman in 2 Kings 5. We studied how Elisha acted from God-honoring conviction because he saw the real need in Naaman’s life, instead of acting from fear like the King of Israel or from personal gain like Gehazi. In short, we learned that the ongoing calling in your life is to see as God sees and obey as God leads.

Thursday mornings with Ron. For the last couple months, I have had the privilege to hang out with Ron Shaw on Thursday mornings – early. He is given surplus foods from a local pantry and delivers the food to people in need. I get to help him unload and inventory everything. It’s fun. But the best part is being able to hang out with an older and wiser man on a regular basis. Here’s my limited wisdom I can offer from this experience: find a reason – make up a reason – to spend time with older and wiser people. Their experience and perspective is contagious.

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Committed parenting. On May 8, I had the opportunity to teach on commitment to the role of parenting, studying from Deuteronomy 6:1-15. We looked at four keys to parenting: modeling (genuinely and actively loving God), margin (creating and redeeming time to cultivate spiritual growth), moments (capturing and leveraging the teachable occasions in daily life) and milestones (making and marking significant events in life). In short, we learned that gospel parenting loves and leads today while looking to tomorrow.

Geranium Festival. I got to participate in a special moment today: Momentum’s 10th Geranium Festival in McDonough. This event was their first involvement in the local community, and I am happy to be a part of it moving forward.🙂

How you can pray: That I would lead our WIN team and FaithBridge team well. That I adhere to my schedule for teaching preparation in 2016. For clarity in our next steps (employment, where to live, where to send Adah to school) when our residency ends in July. That we would find the right house at the right time at the right price. That Katie and I would be intentional in all we do. That we have unified clarity on what’s next. – LM

Your blood flows through my veins

From my mothers womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again, into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

No Longer Slaves (Bethel Music)

On a Sunday morning a couple years ago, I found myself at McDonald’s for breakfast because I’m healthy. As I enjoyed a good book and a bacon, egg and cheese bagel, I began to listen in on a conversation (mostly because it was so loud I had no choice). A woman was talking about a cruise she was about to go on with her grown children, and she was lamenting the fact that they were bringing the grandchildren. I cringed a little because I don’t think you are supposed to admit feelings like that out loud, even though – let’s be honest – a grandchild-free cruise would be just a tad more stress-free. But then she continued, referring to a conversation she had with her daughter: “I’ll help her with her kids, but if she thinks I’ll help with her adopted son, she better think again. He’s not blood.”

Speaking of blood, all the blood in my body immediately rushed to the part of my brain dedicated to punching things. I was angry. Angry that she would have the audacity to make such a statement so loudly and matter-of-fact-ly. Angry at the irreparable emotional damage that a statement like that might make on her adopted grandson. But mostly, I was angry as an adoptive father.

At that point in my life, Katie and I had already adopted Adah and were on the verge of adopting Hattie. So I had felt the pain and the respect for a birth mother in making an adoption plan. I had felt the stress of paying the adoption fees. I had felt the glorious joy of welcoming a child – born to someone else – into my family. I had felt the frustration of people asking if Katie and I “had any children of our own.” (Here’s a free adoption language lesson: instead of saying “children of our own” we prefer to say “biological children.” Why? Because Adah and Hattie – though adopted – are our own. That’s not an issue of semantics but of identity.) And I had felt the paternal protectiveness for every facet of my child’s being, blood included.

You see, there was a point in our adoption process that I sat in a room at the local courthouse and I looked a judge in the eyes and told her that I mentally, emotionally, spiritually and legally chose to parent this child. I was claiming her life; her giggle fits, her tantrums, her strengths, her weaknesses, her future, everything. And everything includes her blood. Whatever her DNA might otherwise state, her blood is McGee blood because I have claimed it as such. She is blood.

I find vindication in these strong thoughts and feelings because they are not first my own; they are God’s. Long story short, God created us and invited us to walk in relationship with him, but we chose – and continue to choose – rebellion against him. In the pursuit of freedom, we found fatherlessness. But God, in his infinite mercy and grace, looked at our blood – blood different than his because it is tainted in its DNA by sin – and did not hold it against us. Instead, God the Father sacrificed the life and blood of his Son so that his Son might share this life and blood with us. God made the adoption plan, paid the price, made us his children, calls us his own and fiercely opposes anyone or anything that would question our identity in him.

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…

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I pray that Adah, Hattie and any other child that God brings into our family through adoption would know that they are our own. That McGee blood runs through their veins. And I pray that you would grasp that God has taken the same stance with you. Through the work of Jesus, his blood flows through your veins.

Weekly Update | Apr 3-9

Greetings from the Geranium City.

Short and quiet week. Aside from doing some work from home, I only spent Tuesday in the office this week. And my one day was a fun day. After doing a little sermon planning, I spent most of the day meeting with Jeremy and Josh to plan through Moxie’s Collision weekend and Momentum’s intern/resident program. I really enjoyed participating in these discussions because it is so fun to learn from the wisdom of my friends.

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Staycation. Our little family was able to enjoy a mini vacation in Atlanta. It was apparently animal-themed, as we went to Zoo Atlanta and later went to see Zootopia. We also chose to stay in a hotel overnight, so our girls greatly enjoyed the high life of in-room snacks and an indoor pool. It was a great getaway.

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Opportunities for encouragement. On Saturday, we had a couple unique opportunities to be of encouragement. We started our day by welcoming in a couple children that our friends are currently fostering so that said friends could get away for some ongoing foster training. Being of help to a foster family is an incredibly humbling and rewarding experience; you should try it. I was also able to get away for a few hours in the morning to help some guys in our lifegroup rake the yard of a widow with whom one of our lifegroup families has had a relationship. The yard is covered, so much so that we did not finish and are planning to make a return visit. If you are in the 30252/30253 villages, keep an eye out for an opportunity to help us in the next few weeks.

How you can pray: That I would lead our WIN team and FaithBridge team well. That I adhere to my schedule for teaching preparation in 2016. For clarity in our next steps (where to live, what our employment should be, you know minor things like that) when our residency ends in July. That we would find the right house at the right time at the right price. That Katie and I would be intentional in all we do. That we have unified clarity on what’s next. – LM

Weekly Update | Mar 6-Apr 2

Greetings from the Geranium City. I hope you and your family had a happy Easter!

Back-to-back teaching weeks. This past month, I had the privilege of preparing two different sermons on consecutive weeks as part of series called I Will. This series built on our first series of the year, I Am, in which we studied the I AM statements of Jesus in the book of John and how Jesus’ strengths spoke to our weaknesses. In a sort of response, I Will was a study of how we as believers actively respond to the compelling love and grace of Jesus. I was able to teach on I will listen (from the parable of the four soils) and I will make a difference (from the account of Jonah). You can find those sermons here.

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Hoover party of five. We join our friends Seth and Melissa Hoover, and their daughters Ella and Moriah, in celebrating the addition of their son Elijah. Two weeks ago they concluded a two year wait to adopt and bring him home from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Join us in prayer for the process of love eclipsing biology, the process of Elijah coming to know he is family and he is home.

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Partnership with Oakland Elementary. Two weeks ago, Momentum’s 30253 village (of which our family is a part) kicked off a new relationship with Oakland Elementary by bringing out the ice cream truck to their annual career day. This served as a great way to say nice to meet you and we looking forward to getting to know you better. This school is large and serves a very transient community, so pray that we will serve them well. And join us!

House hunting. As we are nearing the end of our residency, we realize that we will be moving to a new house soon, wherever it might be. I don’t necessarily want to delve into next step details; I simply want to ask you to be specifically praying for our next house. We have loved our Sloan Street house, but it’s shortcomings have served to highlight some of our desires for our next house. One particular shortcoming has been the lack of space for having people over, specifically for meals. Katie and I believe God has  composed us in such a way that we love hosting families and small groups in our home, but we haven’t felt the ability to do so. Please join us in praying for a home with ample space for meals and hosting. This does not necessarily mean lots of square footage; we would just love an ideal layout for the right price. Thank you for considering us in praying for this.

How you can pray: For the Hoover family’s transition. For our partnership with Oakland Elementary. That I would lead our WIN team and FaithBridge team well. That I adhere to my schedule for teaching preparation in 2016. For clarity in our next steps (where to live, what our employment should be, you know minor things like that) when our residency ends in July. That we would find the right house at the right time at the right price. That Katie and I would be intentional in all we do. That we have unified clarity on what’s next. – LM

Reading List | March 7, 2016

Here are a few articles that we’ve enjoyed that we hope you’ll enjoy as well:

On adoption | Adopted by the Living God by Gavin Ortlund
This article explored the theological foundation of adoption. In our experience, a theological understanding of adoption serves to deepen your appreciation of physical adoption. I love this line: “‘Father’ is the Christian name for God.”

On bitterness | The Hardest Sermon I’ve Ever Preached by Nate Rector
A friend and former classmate of ours shares his experience with infertility, miscarriage and the bitterness that so often accompanies them. There is hope: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).

On church planting | 10 Practical Ideas for Engaging in Church Planting by John Alwood
“The great thing about a church planting movement is that there are numerous ways to get in the game. Your church can begin by being a contributor and work up from there. Wherever you start, know that you and your church will receive the blessing of seeing new churches planted that reach people who may not otherwise meet Christ.” – LM

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Weekly Update | Jan 17-Mar 5

Greetings from the Geranium City. Yes, I do appreciate the humor of having a blog post entitled “weekly update” that will cover the last month and a half that I have not posted. It’s good to be back, and I’m excited to share.

Lots of teaching opportunities. I will share more about this, but – counting each Sunday service as one time – I have taught 14 times since I last posted. I realize that for a seasoned pastor this might be just another week or two at the office, but it has been a stretching but fun time for me. Five of those teaching opportunities came at…

Spiritual emphasis week at my alma mater. On January 25-29, I had the opportunity to travel down to Savannah and serve as the speaker of Calvary Day School’s spiritual emphasis week. I was able to teach each morning on the reclaiming work of God, catch up with old friends, and play some basketball with students in the afternoon. I was also able to stay with my parents, so they got a solid granddaughter fix.

More frequent teaching at Momentum. My other nine teaching opportunities have come at Momentum. Since February 17, I have had the privilege of teaching on how Jesus meets us as the way/truth/life in the midst of our feeling stuck (John 14), on how Jesus meets us as the life-giving vine in the midst of our weariness (John 15), on the beauty of the boundaries God gives us (Psalm 16), and on the thread of “the lamb” in scripture (John 1:29). As much as I can tell, teaching is gifting that takes a lot of practice and opportunity, so I am grateful for the opportunities that God is placing in front of me.

Adoption conference and training. On January 23, Katie had teaching opportunities of her own: co-leading breakout sessions at an adoption conference in Warner Robins. In one session, she shared from her experience as an adoptive-mom-turned-adoptive-family-case-worker. In the other session, she talked about the intentional use of positive language for adoption and birth mothers. These were a first for her. Then this past week, Katie was able to share (for the second or third time, I can’t remember which) at the adoptive family training for Covenant Care. I believe that God has uniquely written our story to set Katie in a place of guidance and encouragement for adoptive families, and I love to see her embracing that role.

FaithBridge. Momentum’s partnership with FaithBridge continues to move forward. We have hosted two Encounter introductory meetings at our Westridge campus, with a weekend training coming up later this month for foster families, respite families and volunteers, as well as ongoing training being offered for current foster and respite families. If you are part of the Momentum family and happen to be reading this, it’s not too late to jump in on this. Just contact me!

LifeGroup. Katie and I love our LifeGroup at Momentum. God intended for his people to thrive in community with one another, so to be part of a tangible piece of that community is so very life-giving. We also have a group chock full of capable group leaders, so Katie and I are having to prepare ourselves for the reality that we are going to have to be openhanded with our group so that they can have the freedom to step into whatever leadership role God has for them. It makes for exciting and emotional goodness.

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Adah turns 5! Our Adah is 5. Even as I type that fact, I question the truth of it. This girl is growing up too fast. It is a true pleasure to call her my daughter, and she is so dang full of life that it feels like a remarkably daunting task for Katie and me to try to direct her passions in a God-honoring way. This 5-year-old is going to leave a mark on her world.

How you can pray: That I would lead our WIN team and FaithBridge team well. That I adhere to my schedule for teaching preparation in 2016. For clarity in our next steps (where to live, what our employment should be, you know minor things like that) when our residency ends in July. That Katie and I would be intentional in all we do. That we have unified clarity on what’s next. – LM

Weekly Update | Jan 10-16

Greetings from the Geranium City. I am currently sitting in the Starbucks on Eagle’s Landing Parkway at 6:45 am, finishing up my notes for today’s sermon. And I’m currently feeling like a superior idea would be to still be sleeping. Nonetheless, good morning!

Sick Hattie. It seems Hattie might finally be better. To review, I took Hattie to our doctor on Tuesday. I had also taken her last Monday, at which point she had already been sick for a week with awful congestion, a forever running nose and had woken up with a 102 degree fever. The doctor simply sent us on our way. When I took her back a week later, she had all the same symptoms (except that her fever had spiked to 105 degrees that morning) and she had a double ear infection. This time, we were prescribed something. Yay! And she is immediately feeling much better. And we are looking for a new doctor.🙂

Teaching planning. For the first time in 2016, I have been planning a sermon for Eagle’s Landing alongside someone who is planning the same sermon for Westridge. It is a really fun and enriching process to plan alongside someone, to glean their wisdom and to share any insights you have. Also, it will be fun to have a “preach-off” this Sunday with that someone, Jeremy Gardner. JK.

The house that could have been. I will preface this next paragraph with a “this is dumb” but it is what it is. Katie and I stumbled upon an incredible old house for sale at the end of our street (with the help of my creepy old-house-stalker sister Katie). It is very much so a fixer upper, but it is also amazing. Built in 1885, right off the square, front porch for days, screened-in back porch, multiple fireplaces, 4 bedrooms and three bathrooms. And quite affordable given its condition. For a solid 24 hours we dreamed about the possibilities of God keeping us in McDonough and giving us this house and us only having to move our stuff 200 yards from house to house and, well, all the dreamy things. And then we found out it was in the process of being sold. To our friends from church. So a dream has just turned into all the emotions. Pumped for our friends, sad it didn’t work out for us, freshly anxious about what the end of our residency holds, wondering where the heck we will live, trusting God. You know, all the things.

How you can pray: For the continued health of our family. That I would lead our WIN team and FaithBridge team well. That I would prepare well for teaching at Calvary’s spiritual emphasis week (January 25-29). That I adhere to my schedule for teaching preparation in 2016. For clarity in our next steps (where to live, what our employment will be, you know minor things like that) when our residency ends in July. That Katie and I would be intentional in all we do. That we have unified clarity on what’s next. – LM

Jan 14 | Keller’s “The Songs of Jesus”

For the first two weeks of 2016, we will be posting daily devotions from Timothy Keller’s new book The Songs of Jesus. We think this will be a great daily devotional for us in 2016, and since those can be hard to find sometimes we thought we would share so you could “test drive” it then potentially buy it. We hope you enjoy!

Keller’s 3 journaling questions:

  1. ADORE | What did you learn about God for which you could praise or thank him?
  2. ADMIT | What did you learn about yourself for which you could repent?
  3. ASPIRE | What did you learn about life that you could aspire to, ask for, & act on?

Taken from Timothy Keller’s “The Songs of Jesus” which you can purchase HERE. – LM

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Jan 13 | Keller’s “The Songs of Jesus”

For the first two weeks of 2016, we will be posting daily devotions from Timothy Keller’s new book The Songs of Jesus. We think this will be a great daily devotional for us in 2016, and since those can be hard to find sometimes we thought we would share so you could “test drive” it then potentially buy it. We hope you enjoy!

Keller’s 3 journaling questions:

  1. ADORE | What did you learn about God for which you could praise or thank him?
  2. ADMIT | What did you learn about yourself for which you could repent?
  3. ASPIRE | What did you learn about life that you could aspire to, ask for, & act on?

Taken from Timothy Keller’s “The Songs of Jesus” which you can purchase HERE. – LM

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