Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We are moving

Hey beautiful people just wanted to let you know that we haven't forgotten about you. We are hard at work building a brand new blog that we know you're gonna love. This is The Thing is going to another level so stay tuned for updates!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Treasure Within

This is an short excerpt from a sermon I preached at Jubilee... TO ADULTS!

Be blessed and

The Treasure Within (Short) from This is the Thing on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


One of my favorite people in the entire world is a two-year-old boy affectionately named “Buhlee”. Buhlee is the first child of two of my closest friends and he’s all around awesome. He’s cute as hell, tons of fun, and even though he is just beginning to speak in full sentences I’m convinced that we are close… close friends. Sometimes when I’m with him, we play catch, or we chase each other, sometimes we even both strip down to our diapers and run around outside and take pictures (j/k, j/k that hasn’t actually happened… yet).

One of the reasons I enjoy hanging with this two year old boy so much is because he reminds me of the days when my spirit was just like his. He helps me remember the good old days, you know what I mean...

when you trusted your environment and the people in it so much that I could leap first and ask questions later,

when everyone was your friend and playmate,

when you weren’t concerned with the pressures or worries of tomorrow but you could fully embrace ever moment,

when your imagination was so vivid that a cardboard box or a plastic bag could be the source of entertainment for hours.

Those were the days, and today when I have a paper due, a test tomorrow, an 8-hour work shift tonight, plus a 2-hour commute, I lonnnnnng for those days, and my longing for those days goes much deeper than an escape from a busy schedule.

When I think about Buhlee I think about Jesus, especially because Jesus said things like, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” and "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these". Wow, what a thought. Jesus isn’t saying that we should always act like little children and never mature, he’s saying that there are qualities in children that are necessary for us to experience God as He is and life as He intends it.

Jesus is urging us to bring our imagination, our ability to love and trust freely, our ability to enjoy each moment, and our ability to experience true contentment regardless of circumstance from childhood into our adult years. These qualities are not those of a child, these are qualities of a human, whole and free. That is the plan of God for us, that we may be whole and complete not lacking any good thing. Thanks Buhlee.

Love, Life, Christ,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Big Baby

When people are pregnant it seems to be a popular thing to take pictures of the mom every week or so to show people the progress. So consider this post an inside look into my pregnancy, or something like that.

From not getting a visa on time and missing multiple flights, to family issues, the Enemy has tampered with this process in more ways than I can share. Which means this must be a big baby - one too big for him to have ignored (By big, I mean important.)  But this seems to be how he operates, there are tons of big babies throughout the Scriptures and there seems to be a common thread...Adversity

Moses is almost killed as a baby.

Hannah is barren before having Samuel.

Abraham and Sarah are pretty much old as tree bark when God says He will give them a child. Sarah actually finds this hilarious as would any normal human, but all of a sudden you got Isaac running around looking like Abraham should be his grandfather's grandfather.

Not only does King Herod try to kill baby Jesus, but good ol' Mary was a virgin. There's no other way for me to describe this besides God simply showing off.

Rachel, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Samson's mother... you get the point right? 

Big Babies get Satan's attention... I've gotten used to it. The alternative is to just have small babies. There are lots of Christians with small babies... small vision, small dreams, small goals, small lives, small impact, small risks, small faith. They don't bother Satan and I actually think he leaves them alone too. Big babies draw attention, and they also hurt more, so I've heard. Not only does Satan attack, but our humanity rebels against our faith when we begin to carry a big vision.

Satan's attack on my life and my family has not stopped and if I know him well he will probably try HARDER. But if I know myself this means I'll become STRONGER and if I know God that means this baby is going to get BIGGER.
Walking by Faith, from Across the Pond
Manny Arango

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Will They Say?

A couple days ago I went to a funeral. A friend of mine’s grandmother passed away at the age of 88. Usually at funerals you can adequately gauge what the deceased person was like by the mood in the room. I’ve been to funerals where the person being remembered has been murdered and the anger in the room has been palpable. I’ve also been to funerals where the person being remembered was simply a terrible person and you could feel an odd sense of relief in the room. This funeral was neither, because the woman being remembered was a legend in her community.

She was well known for her generosity and devotion to the children in her neighborhood. She had been a mother to generations of children in her community. Her joyous spirit and sustained faith in God left an indelible impression on so many lives. One man even pleaded for more women like her to step up in these difficult times because the community is desperate for them. As I sat there and heard all the heartfelt words and saw all the tears I couldn’t help but wonder…

What will they say about me?

When my life comes to an end and my heart and flesh depart this place…

What will they say?

Will they speak of my love and commitment to those around me?

Will they throw out words like integrity, compassion, strength, and wisdom?

I’m not exactly sure what people will say but I know that I am often guilty of taking my time here on this earth for granted. I’m guilty of thinking that even though tomorrow is not promised to me, I’ll always have another chance to do better. We easily forget that time is the one resource that we can never replace, we take it for granted. Once it’s gone… it’s gone. I don’t know what tomorrow will hold; in fact I don’t even know that I will see tomorrow. What I do know is that I have today, and today I can decide to do and be everything that God has called me to be. Today I can give each moment the value it deserves and love, encourage, give, and inspire with urgency and abandon. 

So what will they say? I’m not quite sure. What I do know, is that if I treat every moment like the gift that it truly is, and recklessly show the unconditional love that God has shown me, to others in my life, it will have to be something epic.

Love, Life, Christ

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

9 Months//New Birth

As many of you may know, in 2 days I'm leaving to spend 9 months in England to study the Bible in an intense program. I'll end up reading the Bible cover to cover, reading each book 5 times, and studying each book in depth.

As soon as I knew for sure I was leaving I began making jokes about it being just enough time for me to have a child, and nobody know about it. Trust me... I was only joking! I love Jesus way too much to knock up a really hot European girl and then flee for the States once the baby is due to arrive. I love having great stories to tell, but I don't think that's a story anyone would appreciate, including Jesus... and I like it when He laughs at my stories.

Like I said, I was only joking, so I wasn't expecting what came next. I was having some time alone with God, and He began to speak to me about this next 9 months of my life. He said that 9 is the number of birth, and that He was going to use this next 9 months to birth something inside of me.  He would birth within me a love for Him and His Word. The Holy Spirit would impregnate me with a vision and dream for how youth in the city of Boston will be won for Christ. He would birth within me a hunger for revival, and a way to speak His revelation to my generation.

I may have thought I was joking about having a child, but now I'm serious. This 9 months will be a season of new birth for me. Just like 9 months is just enough time to drastically change someone's life physically. It seems like it's just enough time to change someone's life spiritually as well.

I don't know the exact details or exactly how God will change me, but I know the next 9 months will be a drastic and intentional time of growth; of new birth. My question to you is what will God do in your life in the next 9 months? What are you believing God for in this next 9 months? Am I the only one who God is  impregnating  with a vision for the city of Boston? Am I the only one that God will birth something through in this next 9 months? I don't think so...

My challenge for you is that you make this next 9 months as intentional as possible. Become pregnant with something as well, and give birth to something that will radically change your surroundings. And follow me on my journey as I discover what all this will mean.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Three Dolllars Worth of God

In light of our sermons at the RUINED conference we thought this piece would be great to use this week. Most Christians are simply content, comfortable, poncho-wearing, and stuck. 
Three dollars worth of God is all most Christians want... here's the piece that inspires us to want more.

I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.

I would like to buy just a little of the Lord. Not enough to explode my soul and disturb my sleep. Not enough to take control of my life. I want just enough to equal a cup of warm milk. Just enough to ease some of the pain from my guilt.

I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please. I would like to find a love that is pocket-sized. I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. Not enough to change my heart. I can only stand just enough to take to church when I have time. Just enough to equal a snooze in the sunshine. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, but not a new birth.

I would like to purchase a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. If it doesn’t work, I would like to get my money back.

I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please. I would like to hide some for a rainy day. Not enough for people to see a change in me. Not enough to impose any responsibility. Just enough to make folks think I am ok.

Could I just get three dollars worth of God, please?
Wilbur Rees

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ruined For The Ordinary

Ruined For The Ordinary from This is the Thing on Vimeo.

We are forever ruined, and we simply want to share that with you.
Be blessed... and RUINED.

Riis and Manny

Monday, August 16, 2010


Hey people, this past week we had our annual youth conference entitled "Ruined For The Ordinary". It was an amazing time of inspiration and growth and we had to share it with you. This is the first clip with Riis preaching and one of the videos we made with our amazing group of kids. Please be blessed, inspired, and RUINED!!!!!!

'Ruined' Youth Conference from This is the Thing on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Every year about this time I start reflecting on the year that has just gone by. I know it’s not January 1st but because I’ve been in school pretty much forever, the natural rhythm of my life runs in seasons from September to June, with July and August acting as a summertime launch pad. I remember last year at our annual youth conference I had a defining moment that God made sure I would never forget.

We begin all our nights with worship and worship ends with a prayer. I grabbed the microphone to pray and I got really excited, because that’s just how I roll. I was going at it pretty good and my hands were getting excited, and my head was excited, and somehow my hand hit my face and I chipped my front tooth on the microphone. Later that night Trent Sheppard preached a message about growing into maturity that absolutely ripped me up inside. Sitting there that night listening to Trent was like hearing all of the thoughts, frustration, and longings I had experienced over the previous few months converge at his lips. Every word pierced my heart and by the end of the sermon I could only respond in tears. Trent invited anyone desiring to grow into spiritual maturity to the altar and before he was done talking I was already there. I didn’t care that their were 800 hundred people there, I didn’t care that I was leader, I didn’t care about maintaining some image that I have everything together all I cared about was answering God’s call and getting everything out of that night that I was supposed too. I just knew that night was the beginning of something new in my life.

August 13, 2009 was a turning point for me, and I will never forget it. Every time I feel the chipped tooth in my mouth I remember the day God urged me to “throw off everything that hinders” and “run with perseverance the race” he marked out for me. That night he birthed in me a hunger for His word, a hungry for His presence, and a hunger for righteousness. Since that day I have made mistakes and honestly some days I “run” harder than others, but no matter what, through joy, pain, success, and failure I press… “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

I feel like we all have had those seasons in life where we can feel God poking and prodding at our heart. We can feel His spirit urging us to lay aside some things in our life, to close one chapter so we can start another. What is God saying to you? More importantly, how are you going to respond? Are you going to let your public image or your pride dictate your level of surrender or are you going to lay everything aside and answer the call?

P.S. follow me on Twitter @TheRiisLewis :)
Love, Life, Christ,

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Dad Is Like Jesus.

The Pursuit from This is the Thing on Vimeo.

Pastor Mike and I just finished a series about relationships, sex, and dating at Revolution143... this is one of the clips. I'll keep 'em coming. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"If We're Going To Win... It Should Be Hard."

I like things easy. People try to tell me that I shouldn't, but the reality is that I do. People say things like, "Easy come, easy go" or "You'll appreciate things more if you have to work hard to get it." And I always think to myself... "Suuuure... But you wouldn't say that if you won the lottery."

Last night I was watching the Celtics get embarrassed by the Lakers. At halftime ABC showed a recap  of the entire series. One of the clips was of Doc Rivers. He was walking toward the locker room after Game 5 and he said this, "We gotta win one in LA. It's going to be very hard. But if we're going to win, it should be hard." And it hit me. Winning should be hard.

God doesn't place things in our hand, but rather places them within our reach and makes us stretch and fight a little for them. This is the first time in my life that things aren't simply falling into my lap, and although I hate it, I love it. I love it because I feel dependent on God. I love it because I'm praying more. I love it because it's making me evaluate what I really want and what I'm willing to fight for. I love it because it's producing character within me. I love it because I'm learning how strong and weak I am. Challenges reveal the truth. How strong or weak a person is can't be determined when God is showering down blessings, but rather how a person overcomes adversity and wins despite the odds. 

Don't look for the open doors. Look for the ones that are cracked open just a little bit. All through the Bible God calls men and women to overcome the most insurmountable odds. It never looks like it's going to work out at the start. It always looks like a closed door at the start. But then God shows up, and His power becomes evident in light of human weaknesses.

Many of the challenges that have been placed before me seem impossible. But instead of focusing on my weaknesses I've chosen to fixate on His power. Maybe there are challenges befor you that seem impossible...

Letting go of a toxic relationship.
Getting over a heartbreak.
Getting the girl that rejects you all the time.
Ending a habitual pattern of sin in your life.
Becoming the man of God you know you should be.
Becoming the husband, or wife you know God has called you to be. 
Chasing the dream that haunts you.

Indeed impossible. I will never say that any of those things are possible. What I will declare though is that I worship and love a God for whom nothing is impossible. I will declare that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

Doc Rivers was right. Winning should be hard. That's why people that win the lottery go broke. Chase the impossible, God is on your side. And that makes all the difference.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Live Dangerously.

The other day I overheard a group of old people talking after church. I wasn’t really paying attention because I’m not nosy, but fortunately I happened to catch a few lines of their conversation. They’ve been bouncing around in my mind ever since and now they've landed here.

Ever since I was young, I've always thought I would do something great. I thought I was going to be the first black president (someone beat me to it), and fly fighter jets for the air force, and play in the NFL, all while being a successful stockbroker. I pretty much had it all worked out in my head. Even as a kid all that mattered was that I did something significant with my life, something that was going to leave an impact on the world, something that would remain long after I died. I never wanted to be ordinary… because honestly, nobody remembers ordinary people.

So about that conversation...  One of the old men remarked, “I don’t remember anywhere in Scripture where God says you have to wait for some church to give you a bunch of money before you go and do what He’s called you to do”. The conversation those old people had on Sunday reminded me of those childhood dreams. The snippet of their conversation reminded me how much I don’t want to be ordinary. I daydream about traveling the world, preaching to the masses, seeing lives changed, and cities transformed… then I come to back to reality and I’m reminded of everything I don’t have and all that could get in the way of my dreams, I’m reminded how far fetched my dreams are and how it would just be easier to do something safe.

That old guys' statement reminded me that with dreams come risks. If your going to dream you got to be willing to live dangerously. You have to be willing to cast aside security in order to run after everything that has been put in your heart. Generally I’m a pretty calculated individual, the majority of the things in my life are planned in advance because I’m not a huge fan of failure or surprises, but the thought of dreams unfulfilled is making me more and more comfortable with the idea of living dangerously. I would rather fail chasing after what's in my heart than settle for a life that's ordinary and safe.

Lately I have been really thinking hard about my next step in life. I graduate college in six months and I’m far from certain about what the next chapter of my life has in store for me. I don’t have a serious job, I don’t have significant debt, I don’t have a girlfriend (I’m accepting applications though...), but I’m terribly unimpressed with the idea of living a normal life.

All I really have… is DREAMS.
But maybe that's all I really need.
Maybe my dreams are from God... what a wild thought. 

What are your dreams?
What dreams have you cast aside as too far fetched?
What would you do with your life if you knew you could not fail?
Have you settled for the ordinary?

Maybe it's time to live dangerously... for Jesus of course.

Love, Life, Christ,

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Friday night at Revolution143 (the youth group I work with) we decided to have praise and worship for three hours. No sermon. Just music, dance and shouts of joy. As I sat in the back of the dark sanctuary and watched our kids krump and dance in true freedom I was almost moved to tears. The way they worship seems to explode from within them, pouring out from the well in their souls. It's beautiful.

Saturday I had the priveledge of catching up with some old friends at a dance studio and sat in on thier practice. Four of my friends are steppers and two of them tap. I watched them practice for a while then began wandering around the studio watching other groups and teams practice everything from modern and contemporary to ballet and tap. After that I went to church and watched the last hour of Revolution143's dance team as they rehearsed a routine for Sunday morning. Their good. Their not like most churchy/liturgical dancers... their actually good. And it's beautiful.

It's beatiful.

There's something about dance that moves me, that stirs something within me and intrigues me... and so this post is dedicated to dance and all those who stir my soul and make me want to shake what my mother gave me. 

Why do we even do this thing called dance?
Why do we feel the need to express ourselves physically?
Are words not enough to communiticate what we feel?

Because there is something about the human spirit that cannot merely express with words the transendance and glory of God. There's something about the granduer and glory of God that moves us... literally. Christian and non-Christians alike are trying to express that there something "bigger than themselves".

For some reason all throughout the Old Testament people are dancing. David even dances to the point of indescretion? God instructs His people to worship Him in song and dance. There's an underlying assumption that it is impossible to express ourselves with mere words and logic... it's almost as if God is saying, "I'm the God that moves you."

So often in Western culture we seek to cognitively understand this mysterious and great God instead of just being moved by Him. My host mom in Uganda was far from a theologian, I'll never forget going to church with her and seeing her dance and be moved by God's presence.

Where words can no longer express what the Spirit feels... we dance.
With hearts filled with gratitude towards a God who loves us and knows us... we dance.
With clumy movements or with intricate detail and control... we dance.

There's a rythm to the universe that God has created. A rythm to life. Have you ever seen someone dance off beat? Have you ever heard a bad drummer? Or heard someone rap that doesn't know how to flow to a beat? Have you ever seen a white gospel choir try to sway back and forth while clapping and singing? Have you ever seen or heard someone that simply lacks rythm? It's irritating to watch. It's distracting. It's hilarious. It's almost painful sometimes.

So it is with people that live outside the rythm that God has established for relationships, and family, and career, and every other aspect of life. Our lives were built to fit inside a certain rythm. Our hearts were meant to beat to a certain drum. A life that is outside of God's rythm is like watching someone clap and dance of beat. A life of worship is a life lived in rythm with God in obediance and submission to His Way, The Way. Once our inner lives are in rythm with His life (John 15:5), our public expressions of worship and dance and praise will follow suit. And it will be beautiful.

An inability of words to fully describe something is felt in this very post. I can try to explain the goosebumps I felt the first time I saw our guys Krump to "Hosanna", but you would still have to see it. I can try to explain Benito's heart as sweat poured down his face on Sunday as He danced his heart out before God, but you would still have to see it.

I leave you with this video. Rami this post was especially for you. The way that you work with our kids is beautiful. You should have your own studio. I love you. You move me.

Inlet Dance Theatre from John Carl on Vimeo.