A Tribute to Craig Jutila

The urgent prayer request by Venture Christian Church was unexpected. The tragic news that followed not long after left all of us in shock and disbelief.

Craig Jutila met Jesus and their son, Blake, in heaven on December 26th. Initial reports suggested it was a snowboarding accident, but later Mary shared that the autopsy report found a sudden heart attack was the cause of his passing.

My wife, Cailey, and I share a special friendship with Craig and Mary. It all started when Mary agreed to have coffee with Cailey while Craig was speaking at a CPC event in Orlando about 8 years ago. It was almost an instant friendship. Their relationship led to Cailey and I volunteering to support Craig’s speaking and EmpoweredLiving for the next 5 Orange Conferences in Atlanta.

 

 

Craig initially coached and mentored us in our KidMin and FamMin roles. Both of them poured into us, professionally and relationally. Craig took extra time out of his schedule to guide me in preparing my notes for 3 sessions at a conference in Kentucky 3 years ago.

Craig was the life of the party. And if there wasn’t a party, that changed when he arrived. His personality…MAGNETIC! And as a couple, Craig and Mary are the most humble, generous, trusting people you could ever meet.

And I mean ‘trusting!’

I helped Craig with broadening his Twitter and blog platform for a couple of years. My involvement required me having access to his Twitter account. I remember vividly our phone call when I was just starting this partnership. Craig very nervously said, “You know, I’m trusting you with my career right now. You literally have the power to destroy me with one wrong post!”  Then we laughed.

Did I mention generous? They had us stay with them back in August after illness prevented us from flying back to WA from a leadership training we were in town for in Compton. And yes, we always volunteered to support them at Orange Conferences. But they would manage to take us out to eat, buy coffee, and give us warm ‘Thank You’ cards with various gift cards enclosed. They really just loved blessing others.

And while I’m on the topic of the Jutilas blessing others, they wrote a book together. It’s titled, ‘From Hectic To Healthy: The Journey To A Balanced Life.’ 

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This is one of the most authentic, open, and painful books on marriage and ministry you will ever read. For that reason I encourage you to do just that. Please read it! Carey Nieuwhof also recorded a powerful interview with Craig on the topic of ‘When leadership ruins your family: How to live and lead differently.’ If you’ve never had the privilege to hear Craig speak, this would be a wonderful way to experience his heart.

Craig’s passing has caused me to reflect on my own life. He was an incredible, loving husband and father. He was a faith-filled, obedient child of God. He took what the Lord gave him and ran with it. And if you knew Craig, he probably ran with a lot of ideas/callings before God actually released him to (alluding to Craig’s self-disclosed ADHD behavior). His energy and creativity were contagious.

Craig was at the height of his personal life and ministry calling (in my opinion). Why? Because the platform and range of influence God had given him was constantly growing and changing. I have tried to model my public speaking style more after his creative energy than anyone else over the years. Now he’s telling stories and entertaining all of heaven. What a sight this must be!

Lastly, to Mary, Cameron, Alec, and Karimy I offer this prayer.

May you be blessed by the tangible feeling of Jesus’ loving arms wrapped tightly around you in this time of heartache. Lord, bless this beautiful family’s season of mourning with support, quiet time, joyful memories, laughter, comfort and strength. Amen!

 

 

In Loving Memory

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How Do You Define ‘Worship’?

Worship is not a church service. It’s not a spiritual song. Not a moment in prayer.

Worship is a condition of the HEART. It’s a constant mindset of GRATITUDE toward our creator and savior, Jesus.

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And in my own personal experience, the some of the most POWERFUL seasons of worship have been the seasons filled with challenge, pain, and loss of clear direction. It’s in those seasons, when we’re able to STAY CONNECTED to the Father…remembering ALL the ways he has been faithful and provided…that re-directs our attention away from our own circumstances and onto the countless blessings that we so easily overlook.

I’m going to refuse to let my ‘Thank You’ be silenced today. I’d invite you to join me!

Join the discussion and LEAVE A COMMENT below.  You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

 

 

3 Things to Avoid When God Begins to Speak

The other night, I sat down to have what I assumed was going to be 20-30 minutes of prayer and reading in one of my devotionals.

Then, God showed up and decided to join me!  What a novel concept.

I read one random page in my devotional book containing one particular scripture verse.  Next, I felt prompted to check out the verse of the day in YouVersion.  This was a different passage, but same theme.  Huh?

I then decided I would pop my earbuds in and experience some worship music.  You want to know something?  The bridge of the song I chose relayed the exact same message as those two scripture passages!  What the heck?  You know God’s trying to get your attention when he puts the same thing in front of you 3 different times.

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When God takes you down this sort of path, it goes without saying that it would be wise to pay attention more than usual.  I would suggest, however, 3 things to avoid when he starts speaking this clearly.

  1. Avoid DISTRACTIONS – Remain in that moment as long as possible.  But sometimes God catches us just as we are on our way out the door to work or an important engagement.  In these times, it is critical that we come back to this moment and word with God as early as possible to allow him to continue speaking.
  2. Avoid HURRY – Don’t jump to conclusions trying to quickly decipher what is being said.  The things of God are often quite large and can take time for us to truly gain a grasp on the specifics of what he is either telling us or asking of us.  Be patient.  Meditate calmly on his voice.
  3. Avoid PRIVACY – Shortly after you’ve had a bit of time to process what you are experiencing with God, go ahead and share it with 1-3 people.  These should be individuals who you know love Jesus and who honestly care about you and your future.  Ask them for their thoughts on what God might be saying.  Then, look for a common theme.

What have your experiences been when God starts communicating in such a bold way that your mind and heart are simply taken captive?  I’d love for you to leave a comment below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

How To Listen When God Begins To Speak

I’m just being real with all of you here.  In the past 5 days, God has intentionally placed the same passage / theme right in front of me.  Different messages.  Different devotional books.  Some might chalk it up to coincidence after 2 or even 3 times.  But FIVE?

I wrote about it just a few days ago when it first hit me.   Have you been there before?

When God sends me multiple signs, speaking the same thing to me over and over…..my natural instinct is to work hard at trying to figure out WHAT and WHY behind the message.  But I continue to learn that this is not usually effective.

Here’s what I AM learning, though still not perfect.

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  • God rarely yells.  He whispers.  What do you and I tend to do when someone is whispering at us.  We cup our hands next to our ear, turn our head toward them, and try hard to block out all other distractions to decifer what is being communicated.
  • God’s timing is NOT going to accommodate our need to know now.  We try to figure out what God is saying and then get frustrated when we don’t understand right away.  He reveals whatever it is to us at the right time…NOT the desired time!

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Pause, Priorities, & Purpose

Do you ever feel like the picture below?  Too many things (projects, ideas, tasks, relationships) going on at once?

balance

Me too!  There are seasons in all of our lives when we need to work really hard and multitask through it all to accomplish something.  But, there are also other seasons in which we need to PAUSE enough to evaluate our current PRIORITIES to make sure we are still on course with our PURPOSE in life.

Sometimes this means temporarily giving up things we enjoy to put more focus on the most important things.  For most of us, this moment becomes pretty obvious once we take on one more thing that threatens the balance of all of it.

Recently, my wife and I decided to take a huge step of faith and co-write our first book!  It will be about living a life of faith and healthy service in the Church while continuing to nourish a thriving marriage and home life.   Personally, I am also working, finishing up my Sociology degree online, and starting a church leadership consulting ministry.

Unfortunately, this means I need to take a break from blogging for a while.  This blog is more for me than anyone else.  It’s been like a journal.  But for those who read it, I do encourage you to stay connected with me on social media.  I’m much more active in these places anyway.   The book is scheduled to be complete by the first part of 2017.

Follow me at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Enough about me.  What about you?  Is your current balancing act going well, or are there ‘plates‘ as risk of crashing to the ground?

Please comment below or interact where you saw it posted.

 

photo credit: http://www.lcius.com