Mickey Mouse and the New Year
Jan 4 2018

Mickey Mouse and the New Year

Several years ago, our family visited Disney. We waited in line for an hour to see Mickey – all the while preparing our very excited and antsy three-year-old son, Micah. When we neared the end of the line, Micah slipped under the carefully placed ropes and made a beeline to Mickey. Disney cast members yelled “STOP!!” as we looked on in embarrassment. Mickey, on the other hand, stepped forward and received my ecstatic Micah with wide, open arms. My wife and I promptly took 350 pictures, to be exact.  

Disney trained Mickey to embrace the three-year-old, even if it messes up the order. You can’t put “ropes” on love. 

As we gear up for the New Year, I find myself reflecting on the year gone-by. My distant walk with Jesus in 2017 makes it on the “Disappointments” list. My flesh still drives me to do things to please God, and not to trust Him. Though there were times of closeness, my year was characterized by busyness, self, and more self. 

My relationship with Jesus. The ropes of excuses and expectations must go.

Read More By Oscar Benavides
Christmas 2017
Dec 22 2017

Christmas 2017

1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Christmas creates a variety of emotions in pastors and church workers.

  • Excitement over seeing faces you haven’t seen in a long time.
  • Disappointment those faces stay away most of the year.
  • Anxiety that the message and worship elements come together just right.
  • Joy from sharing Jesus and all that His birth opens for the world.

For these servants of Jesus, we share the scripture above, reminding you: Your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Especially when such labor involves sharing Jesus.

Jesus always works.

Read More By cmattes
What Are You Waiting For?
Dec 15 2017

What Are You Waiting For?

In the season of Advent, we await the birth of Jesus, or rather we await the remembrance of Jesus’ birth.

Why wait? Why not skip Advent and jump right to Christmas? What’s the point in waiting?

Waiting makes the heart grow fonder.

Waiting prepares us for what we hope for.

Waiting forces us to examine ourselves (our motives, our wants, our desires).

Waiting grows our patience.

Waiting builds our trust in God.

(What else would you add?)

Read More By Craig Mattes
Ready...Set...GO!
Dec 8 2017

Ready...Set...GO!

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) He gave us a green light, but He didn’t tell us how to go...If you want to reach people no one is reaching, you might have to do something no one else is doing. To be clear, the gospel doesn’t require gimmicks. In the same breath, irrelevance is irreverence. Innovation is a form of incarnation. And anything less is laziness!" ― from Mark Batterson's "Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It's Too Small"

The above reflects the sentiment of FiveTwo Executive Director & President Bill Woolsey's words, “We need a variety of Christian entrepreneurs to launch a variety of new expressions of the gospel today.”

Read More By cmattes
Anticipating Awe
Nov 30 2017

Anticipating Awe

The running family joke is that dad should have been a civil engineer.

I love to figure out how things were built – especially spaghetti overpasses and crazy high bridges. How the spans meet up perfectly, the angles not off by degrees.

I suspect my fear of heights leads me to pedestalize those individuals who not only design but then also scurry around at altitudes where gravity always wins.

But below the fear in me there lives a sense of awe.

Awe is where wonder and curiosity merge into a sort of giddiness resulting in “How?” and “Wow!”

Awe flows most freely from Yosemite’s majestic El Capitan and Dubai’s megatall Burj Khalifa, stunning divine and man-made creations.

But I’ve only been to Yosemite once and have yet to visit Dubai, so if I’d like my awe in daily doses, I need eyes that see awe everywhere.

For Christians, the big awe flows from Jesus’ crucifixion on Calvary; that the Creator of the world became the Redeemer of the world. God became man to rescue man from the power of death and the fear that fills every crevice of life.

For Christians, that awe kicks off this Sunday, December 3, with Advent, the annual journey to Calvary through the stable at Bethlehem.

Read More By Bill Woolsey
Bringing Presence, Love, and Hope
Nov 17 2017

Bringing Presence, Love, and Hope

As we look at the big picture in our preparation to Launch 30 new ministries in 2018, let's remind ourselves of that intimate look of bringing Jesus' presence, love, grace, and mercy into the community...into the life of a single family in need of knowing Him.

It happened on an early morning, I walked into a hospital room…surrounded by a loving family was the small bundle of a baby. What should have been a room filled with smiles and joy was rather immersed in contemplation and watchful sadness. It was not a tense situation, don’t get me wrong. The room had the air of hope but also had been saturated with a life-altering reality – the baby was stillborn. Instead of anticipating days and moments of life, the mom and dad and their extended family were embracing the wrap of swaddling clothes that encapsulate a lifeless, their lifeless, child. I looked at little Olivia and I didn’t see those newborn’s eyes that are searching, trying to make sense of their new world…I didn’t heart the groans, coos, and squeaks that normally accompany such joy-filled seconds of new life. What I beheld was that of a lifeless body…that “look” that is unmistakable – death.
As I walked into the room, I thought to myself, “why am I here?”...
Read More By Bill Woolsey
Why I'm Excited To Help Lead FiveTwo?
Nov 3 2017

Why I'm Excited To Help Lead FiveTwo?

Last week I was in a basement of a church with our FiveTwo leadership in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Brooklyn. I witnessed a young pastor lovingly addressing homeless and the poor in the neighborhood in English and Spanish. They had just given out free meals and was introducing them to his church and to Jesus. As the new FiveTwo Vice-President of Strategic Initiatives, I’m thrilled that God led me to this great organization at this time. After spending twelve years as a pastor in a church and ten years at LINC North Texas, FiveTwo is perfect for me! Why?

I love the vision, character and person that leads FiveTwo, President Bill Woolsey. We have been friends for over ten years and I have closely watched him in public and private settings. He leads with authenticity, passion and a great strategic mind. I look forward to learning from him. 

Read More By Oscar Benavides
Go and See: Basketball on Wheels
Oct 26 2017

Go and See: Basketball on Wheels

“It’s a classic FiveTwo story,” wrote Rev. Larry Courson, pastor of Peace Lutheran in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “They [Michigan Adaptive Sports] wanted to start Wheelchair Basketball, but had no gym or idea how to do it. We offered the gym. Great, but now no coach. Not sure what to do. Then God stepped in to provide everything.”

By “FiveTwo story,” Larry was referring to the feeding of the 5000 and how Jesus had placed the resources to feed the crowd, in the crowd. The disciples just needed to “go and see…” (Mark 6:38)

Every chance we get we remind ministry leaders of this truth: everything you need to reach the community is in the community. We need but to go and see.

Read More By Bill Woolsey