Archives For Jeremy Copeland

DSC0991629703894408_2934faf6a0_k(pictured: our moving crew, then and just last week for the 10 year reunion tour!)

A decade. Wow. 10 years ago today we packed it all up, pulled out of our driveway in Southern California and left everything we ever knew to go on the adventure we call Story Church. My daughters were 4 years old and 7 months old. My son was still just a dream. We had NO IDEA what we were doing or what we were getting ourselves into. We had some financial support, some prayer support — but not enough of either. I so quickly realized I was in over my head that I started reading voraciously. Church planting books, entrepreneurship books, leadership books. It was such a surreal time. There were so many dreams and ideas of church in my head but nothing in reality. The steps between dreaming it up and seeing it happen were so uncertain.

When I think back and try to feel or remember that time I can definitely recall lots of uncertainty, a feeling of “this is crazy!” But there was excitement. I knew we were walking in faith. It was a courageous moment. In the face of fear and the unknown, we were doing it. We had resigned a steady job and paycheck. We left family and friends and support systems behind. We only knew one person in the entire state of North Carolina. Every interaction we had was a hopeful connection.Every trip to the mailbox was expectant (did someone remember us today and send us a letter or…. Money?!?!). Every prayer was faith-filled. Some were desperate prayers.

The truth is, sometimes I really miss those first years. Today our lives are different. It doesn’t feel like we are hoping to survive anymore. We’re established. We have a wide circle of friends and contacts here. There’s a church, with a building, filled with stuff. We have a board and a staff, ministries, a Dream Team of volunteers. We have traditions. But make no mistake, this church was birthed through courage and faith. I’m so proud of that fact. We’re not yet everything I dreamed of — and that’s ok. The road has been longer and more difficult than I ever could have imagined. But’s it’s been the adventure of a lifetime. I’m so grateful for how God has provided. He’s never failed us. These ten years have been hard. painful at times. Lonely. Filled with insecurity and self-doubt. There’s been loss, failure, stress, depression even. But God hasn’t let us go. We are more blessed today than ever.

It’s impossible to imagine where the next ten years will lead us, just like I never could have imagined how these last ten years would unfold. But I’m confident that some things will forever be true: God will be faithful. He will provide. He won’t abandon us or forget us. A life of courage and faith is better than one without.

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Black History Month

February 12, 2018 — Leave a comment

I grew up in a small community in southern CA. It was mostly white with a growing hispanic population as well. There were very few black families. I don’t know specific demographics, but if I had to guess I would put the number well south of 1% of our city.

Today I live in a city without a majority population. It’s roughly 45% white and 43% black with a collection of other ethnicities as well. I absolutely love it. I love that my daily interactions in the world are always going to include people different than me.

That being said, I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to Black History. It wasn’t exactly a topic we spent a lot of time on in my city growing up. In fact, there were very few voices in my life from people of color at all (if any?). So one of my goals the last couple of years has been to really grow in this area of my life and one of the best ways I know to do that is through reading. So here’s some of the authors I’ve been reading the last couple of years. I’d encourage you to check some of these out!

  • Rod Hairston – Cover Her (Rod’s a friend, a pastor and a real mentor to me)
  • Derwin Gray – HD Leader (former NFL player turned pastor)
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu – The Book of Joy (the funniest Archbishop you’ll ever read)
  • Lisa Sharon Harper – The Very Good Gospel (holy smokes. Incredible.)
  • John Perkins – Dream With Me (a legend in the civil rights movement)
  • Tony Dungy – Uncommon Marriage (NFL guy, commentator with an incredible ministry to dads)
  • Michelle Alexander – The New Jim Crow (One of the most important books in the world right now, in my opinion)

 

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Well, after a whopping 2 blog posts in 2017, here’s my first of 2018 – an annual tradition for me of posting the books I’ve read in the prior year.

  1. Dare to Serve – Bachelder
  2. Art of Neighboring – Pathak
  3. Jesus Feminist – Bessey
  4. The Sabbath: It’s meaning for Modern Man – Heschel
  5. The Power of Your Words – Morris
  6. Open (Audio) – Agassi
  7. The Worship Pastor – Hicks
  8. What is the Bible? – Bell
  9. Bonhoeffer (Audio) – Metaxas
  10. Love is an Orientation – Marin
  11. Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World – Grant
  12. How’s Your Soul? – Smith
  13. Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues (Audio) – Feinstein
  14. Macbeth – Shakespeare
  15. Leading on Empty – Cordeiro
  16. Uncommon Marriage – Dungy
  17. Born Standing Up (Audio) – Martin
  18. Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike (Audio) – Knight
  19. The Book of Joy – Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu
  20. Living in the Light – Piper
  21. Finding God in the Waves (Audio) – McHargue
  22. Steve Jobs (Audio) – Isaacson
  23. The Storyteller’s Secret (Audio) – Gallo
  24. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Audio) – Tyson
  25. The Soul of Shame: Retelling the stories we believe about ourselves – Thompson
  26. The Everything Store (Audio) – Stone
  27. Meet Generation Z – White
  28. Braving the Wilderness (Audio) – Brown

This was the year of the audiobook for me. I spend a lot of time in the car apparently (and I did a lot of housework painting and installing floors!), so listening to books became a great option for me. I can’t imagine listening to books that I would really want to read carefully or take notes in, but listening to biographies or just good stories seems like a pretty good fit.

I had a goal to read more biographies this year and that ended up being the highlight for me this year. I was fascinated by Andre Agassi’s story, of Bonhoeffer, Steve Jobs, Phil Knight, Steve Martin and Jeff Bezos.

I think one of the more significant books of the year for me was “The Book of Joy.” It was fascinating to read about the secret to a joyful life from two old spiritual giants. Their friendship and joy despite (maybe because of?) their hard lives was profoundly impacting for me.

Did you read any of these? What was your favorite book of 2017? What would you recommend I read next?

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These are just a few random things that have become a part of my life and have helped me, so I thought I’d share them with you:

1. Slack – This is an app that runs my work life communication. I can’t imagine doing what I do without it now. It has virtually eliminated email between me and my team. It’s where we share ideas, plan things together and touch base on everything from the major to the minor. We can share documents, links, photos and more.

2. A treadmill – It was this time last year that we made the big purchase. Every once in a while I’ll still go outside and run but then I remember why a treadmill is so nice. Mainly, I don’t hurt as bad. My joints and my feet thank me. I get to watch Netflix to forget that I’m running, and I get to dress the same every time – no special arctic running gear necessary. I don’t run for the joy of it like some crazy people, I run to be healthy. So anything I can do to turn a discipline into something more enjoyable is worth it to me.

3. VidAngel – Well, this app is currently not available because of some legal issues. But if it ever comes back, it’s something you should know about. It allowed us to “rent” movies via streaming for $1 each. Before watching users got the chance to filter anything they wanted to filter out of the movie. It really helped to be able to feel good about what I was showing my kids, but I appreciated the filtering option for me as well.

4. The 5 year journal – I heard about the idea of a 5 year journal on a podcast. I’ve never been able to keep the habit of journaling, mostly because I felt this pressure to write a lot. This journal has a few lines per entry. It’s a place to capture a quick thought about the day, about something I learned, a prayer, etc. I’ve found that writing in it at the end of a day works best for me. I still don’t do it every day, but it’s more than ever. And the cool thing is that you keep using the same journal for five years, so at some point I’ll start seeing past entries and what was happening in prior years on that same day. Pretty cool. (The one I purchased is by Levenger and is linked above.)

5. Podcasts – I know, it’s not anything new. But I don’t know that I understand people who don’t use these as a primary way of learning and growth. Last year I added a few that were more storytelling than anything else. I binged my way through Serial, as well as Revisionist History. But my regulars include the Relevant podcast, the Andy Stanley Leadership podcast, the Craig Groeschel Leadership podcast, The Matt Keller Leadership Channel.

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Time to dust off the blog. This is my annual list of the books I read and a little commentary on some of the highlights.

  1.  Jesus’ Son – Johnson
  2. Our Story Begins – Wolff
  3. The Heroic Path – Sowers
  4. Defining Moments – Heath (not yet published)
  5. How to be Here – Bell
  6. The most excellent way to lead – Noble
  7. The Divine Conspiracy – Willard (re-read)
  8. Girl at the end of the world – Esther
  9. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Lencioni (re-read)
  10. The Emotionally Healthy Leader – Scazzero
  11. The Ideal Team Player – Lencioni
  12. Band of Brothers – Ambrose
  13. Addicted to Busy – Bloye
  14. The Customer Service Revolution – DiJulius
  15. I don’t care if we never get back – Blatt & Brewster
  16. Intentional Living – Maxwell
  17. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality – Scazzero
  18. The Very Good Gospel – Harper
  19. Rooted – Liebscher
  20. Crucial Conversations – Patterson, etc.
  21. The New Jim Crow – Alexander
  22. The Bible Tells Me So… – Enns
  23. The Pastor – Peterson
  24. When your father dies – Veerman and Barton
  25. Extreme Ownership – Willink and Babin

So many good reads here. (Speaking of goodreads, see below if you want to connect there.) The theme of the year seems to be going deeper inside myself. I read a lot about emotional health (Scazzero books), about healthy rhythms and rest (Intentional Living, Addicted to Busy, How to be Here), and about calling and purpose (Rooted, The Pastor, The Heroic Path) and ultimately about grief and understanding loss (When Your Father Dies).

I love to read leadership books and this year was no exception. Probably my favorite in that department was a less traditional leadership book – Band of Brothers. I had finally watched the show by the same name this year on Netflix and so reading the book was me wanting more. I gleaned so much from the real life examples of this incredible group of men.

I tried to be intentional this year in learning and growing in my understanding of injustice. I’ve only just begun that journey but I was so moved by The New Jim Crow and The Very Good Gospel. The first was an incredibly eye-opening journey into inequality and injustice in current day America and the second was a more theological journey. Both have left a lasting impression on me.

I think my favorite book I read this year was “The Pastor.” It was written by Eugene Peterson (The Message translation author). It’s a memoir of his life and calling and the ways he wrestled with the role God gave him as a pastor. It’s packed full of wisdom from a man who has done this a very long time. I’m deeply grateful for his wisdom and insight and will come back to it a lot I’m sure.

So there’s the list. What would you recommend I put on my list for 2017?

**Connect with me on GoodReads here.

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Some Monday mornings I wake up and wonder “Did I really say that yesterday?” Usually it’s more of a situation where I wish I had made my point clearer, or maybe not said that one joke that seemed to bomb. And then there’s today.

Yesterday at STORYCHURCH I shared the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. Somewhere during the message I went out of my way to make the point that the Sunday school song and story we had all learned about the little boy offering his lunch was, in fact, not real. In my preparation for the message I read through Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s account of the story and the boy is nowhere to be found.

But then this morning…. I started having doubts. Something seemed… fishy. A very quick (embarrassingly quick) google search pointed me to that pesky fourth gospel writer – John.

John 6:8-9
Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

So there you have it. That dang little boy. Right there in John. With his five loaves and his two fish and his puppy dog eyes.

Gripes.

So here I am on a Monday morning, thankful for grace and laughing at myself. Hope that gives you a little laugh today as well!

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Hearing God

April 25, 2016 — Leave a comment

I love the story of Samuel in the Old Testament. As a young boy he ends up serving in the temple under the priest Eli. Eli had grown old and his sons were out of control, but there was Samuel – faithfully doing what the priest should be doing.

There’s an interesting line at the beginning of 1 Samuel 3:

1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

The word of the Lord was rare.

Ever felt like that? Like the word of the Lord was rare or even absent in your life? I’ve gone through seasons where I wondered if God was still listening. Or whether he was even present at all anymore.

In the story, Eli the priest seems to have given up hearing from God. The last time he heard from God it wasn’t good news and it’s almost as if he’s quit on everything. And so we see this interesting detail:

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Did you catch that? Eli is in “his usual place” while Samuel is lying down “in the house of the Lord.” And guess who hears from God?

Here’s the thing. If the word of the Lord is rare in your life, maybe it’s because you are doing what you usually do. Maybe your “usual place” isn’t where you need to be. The truth is that if you do what you usually do, you’ll get what you usually get. 

For me, I find that I hear most clearly from God when I get out of my usual routines and do something different. It’s when I get out on a lake to fish. When I go to another city and get away from my normal work for a few days. If the word of the Lord is rare in your life, break a routine. Fast, pray, change something. Take a different route home. Turn off the radio. Silence the social media. Go to a conference. Sit on a dock. Go for a walk.

I’m praying for you this week to hear the voice of God in your life.

*For a full message I did on this subject, check out this podcast.

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New Song

March 17, 2016 — Leave a comment

A few days ago, Alastair Vance shared this song with me as we were working on planning our Easter services. It’s been on repeat ever since. I hope you’ll listen and if you’re a STORYCHURCHer I hope you’ll learn it – we’ll be singing it on Easter!

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Sometimes the familiarity of something makes it lose its power. Psalm 23 is pretty familiar to many of us. So the other day I asked the question – “What if the Lord was not my Shepherd?” For me, it came alive in new ways.

The Lord is not my shepherd, so I lack a lot of things.
I rarely lie down in green pastures.
I’m parched for thirst.
My soul is dry.
I end up down the wrong paths, trying to make a name for myself.
When I walk through the darkest valleys,
I’m terrified and feel completely alone.
There’s no one there to comfort me.
I’m hungry and weak and my enemies seem to know it.
I’ve got no purpose of calling.
My cup is empty.
Surely goodness and love have left me and will never return,
and as far as I can tell there’s no future for me at all.

 

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Seattle Mariners batter Ken Griffey Jr. connects for his 40th home run of the season off Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher Wilson Alvarez during the fourth inning Tuesday night, July 21, 1998 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

Those that know me well know that one of my favorite things on the planet is baseball. And my all time favorite player is Ken Griffey Jr. Today as I write this the vote will be revealed and Jr. will be headed to the Hall of Fame. So it felt appropriate to tell my favorite Ken Griffey Jr. story today:

It was right in the middle of his prime. Ken Griffey Jr. as part of the Seattle Mariners was coming to Anaheim to take on my Angels. The stage was set for an epic battle. Randy Johnson on the mound for the M’s. Chuck Finley on the mound for the halos. Two great lefties and arguably the greatest player of a generation roaming center field.

I knew I had to be there. So I gathered some friends together, bought some tickets and headed to the “Big A.” Now you have to realize, this was 1995. The Angels were still a long ways from their first World Series so the fan base was a little thin. All that meant for me was that despite my cheap seat ticket, we were able to make our way to about 8 rows behind the Mariner’s dugout.

Randy Johnson was dealing. But so was Chuck Finley. And he appeared to have Ken Griffey’s number. A strikeout in the 1st inning. The fans around us were all over Griffey. Another strikeout in the 4th. Now one particular fan was giving Griffey all kinds of grief. Every inning as he’d leave the dugout to head out into the field this guy would heckle as loud as he could. When the inning was over and Griffey would come back to the dugout – more heckling.

“Hey Griffey, Finley’s going to strike you out again!”

“Griffey, you’re going to strike out for a third time!”

Now, these guys are professionals. They are paid to tune this kind of thing out. It happens everywhere they go all the time. So as funny as it is and as much fun as we’re all having hearing this guy who has probably been a bit over-served, if you know what I mean, no one expects Griffey to even acknowledge this guy.

But that’s where the fun started. As Griffey is coming off the field we all know he’s due to lead off the 6th inning. This guy is laying into him with everything he’s got. “Griffey, if you strike out again you gotta give me an autograph!” And suddenly Griffey looks up, makes direct eye contact with the guy, and with a big old smile says “If I strike out again, I’ll give you the keys to my Mercedes.”

WHAT?!?! Did that just happen?

Of course, everyone around us is going nuts. We love it. Griffey is having fun and so are we. So when he makes his way up to bat our section is out of control. One strike. The taunting begins at a whole new level. Two strikes. Mr. Heckler is losing his mind. The rest of us are watching this moment as if it’s the most important moment in the history of baseball, when it reality it’s kind of a meaningless game in May. Chuck Finley goes into his windup, he delivers – STRIKE THREE. Griffey doesn’t even swing – he was totally fooled and strikes out looking. By now, my man in the stands and all the crowd around us have gone into a frenzy.

What now? What’s going to happen? What’s Griffey going to do? Did this guy really just get Griffey’s Mercedes?

Two more batters come up and are retired and out pops Griffey from the dugout on his way to center field. But just before he heads out to his position he stops, looks up at our section and tosses a ball to his loudest critic that day – autographed and personally delivered.

Ken Griffey Jr. hit over 600 home runs. He’s probably one of the top 3-4 baseball players in the history of the game. If it weren’t for injuries, he might have been the greatest. I saw Griffey play minor league ball in San Bernardino CA. I saw him hit homeruns and crash into walls making catches on TV. But the day I’ll never forget is when he struck out three times and still managed to be the most entertaining player on the field.

 

**After much digging, I found the box score to this game here.

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