Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1 Year Ago Today.

Sunday, September 30th, 2007 - the day we showed that we mean it when we say we will do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ.

Sunday, September 30th, 2007 was the day

voted to become

Why did we do that? Why change the name that name "worked" for over 25 years?

- Because 25 years ago, the term "Baptist" didn't mean what it does today.
- Because over and over and over and over and over again, we had people who would invite friends, family, and coworkers who wouldn't come because of the Baptist label.
- Because of the dozens and dozens of former Catholics who would come but were nervous to let their family know they come to a Baptist church because their families would make them feel like they betrayed them.
- Because having the term "Vista" confused people, since there are 3 other churches within a 5 mile radius that have the term "Vista" in their names.
- Because ...and this is the main reason why ...because the name of a church should NEVER get in the way of the mission of a church - and that's EXACTLY what was happening when we were Vista del Sol Baptist Church. That name was long, wordy, confusing, and worst of all was a barrier to non-believers.

So did we think that the moment we dropped the "Baptist", we would see tremendous growth? No. Was it some ploy to try to manufacture growth? Absolutely not.
Was it something that we as the leadership firmly believed (and still believe) with all our hearts would make it easier for the lost to come to a place where they could become found by Jesus? Yes!

Did we lose some people because of it? Yes, a few. Have we seen any numerical growth because of our new name? Actually ...yes. We've constantly seen significantly higher attendance ever since the name change.

So thanks, Vista del Sol Baptist Church, for being willing to step out of your comfort zone and do what we need to do to reach the lost. Thank you for adjusting to our new schedule and our new GrowGroups system in order for us to be more effective at reaching the lost and discipling the found.

1 year ago today was the day when more than ever, I saw that my church family is serious about reaching those who don't know Jesus. It's been an amazing journey, and I believe that the brightest days for Del Sol Church are just ahead of us.

I'm proud of you, Del Sol Church!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My week in pictures.

So awhile back I learned that my cell phone's camera actually takes some pretty good pics. This week, I decided to start taking pics of some of my daily experiences; thus, a picture blog:

On Tuesday, Cheryl Reed (our Children's Minister at Del Sol Church) was presented with an award from LifeWay's Bill Banks for leading one of the top 5 VBS programs this year in our region of the country. We had some REALLY good cake and Cheryl got a super awesome hand-made boomerang:

Last weekend my lawnmower and weed trimmer both gave out. We repaired the lawn mower but had to buy a new trimmer, which we did on Wednesday. This time we went with a gas-powered one (the orange and silver one) instead of another electric one:

When my dad brought home the trimmer, I showed it to Bob Barker ...and as you can see, he didn't like it too much:
(In case you can't tell, he's pretty nervous and is opening his mouth to bark and then run away)

Awhile back I had seen this sign as I was driving around, so I stopped on Thursday to take a picture of it:
Maybe if whoever made this sign could spell "Democrat" correctly, I'd take them seriously. =)
(Disclaimer: By posting this picture I am not making a political statement about or endorsement of any Presidential candidate - I'm posting it simply because I thought it was interesting and kind of funny)

Thursday night we had the Mix at Fire Youth Ministry, and there was a group of several girls surrounding one of middle school guys, Alex Ancil - so naturally, I whipped out my cameraphone because I just had to capture this scene:

On Friday morning, I went outside and saw a sign that fall is now here - fallen leaves and yellowing grass:

Friday night in Texas means football (of course)! I went to the Hanks High School homecoming game where they played El Dorado High School:

The band performance is my favorite part of football games, but since it was homecoming they had the ceremony and the honored ex this year was an El Paso firefighter.

I don't remember the man's name, but I do remember that he was in the final stages of terminal cancer and so the El Paso Fire Department sent some fire trucks and fire officials to receive the honor in the man's stead:
El Dorado won, but it was one of the best high school football games I've ever seen!

Finally, today after our Sunday morning youth gatherings, I found these crushed beer cans in front of the Firehouse, our youth center:

I took this picture because I thought it was really cool that geographically speaking, we at Del Sol Church's Fire Youth Ministry are not separated from culture. We're in a shopping strip with stores, a bar, and a party hall and we have to deal with the issues that come up from being right in the culture.

I like this pic because to me it represents where we're at as a church: we're trying as best as we can to be in culture without being of it. We're being light in darkness, good in evil. We're being influencers in our culture and though it's messy sometimes, it's always worth it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday means ...

... another Frrrrrriday Five!!! Today - my five favorite YouTube videos:

1. The Gene Simmons military tribute. Without a doubt, this is my favorite YouTube video of all times. I didn't even have to think about which one would be #1 on this list - I knew it would be this one. If you don't swell up with pride for our great country and for our brave soldiers when watching this, then I don't know what:

2. The Bible in a minute. So even though I don't necessarily recommend the website that this video came from, this video is pretty cool:

3. And honestly ...singing animals + a Jeep = brilliant:

4. Consider this a public service announcement. In case you ever find having to fight a bear, you'll learn the winning move at the end of this video:

5. If you're not a fan of "The Office", you might not totally get this one but even if you're not a fan of the show, it's still pretty hilarious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLeI-V9h6EY

- Copycat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWisZKWRUOY
- Another video montage from The Office: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7PHL4HXm1o
- I bet you can't laugh without smiling (this one cracks me up!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xLRQohZtuo
- Ha! Good one, President Reagan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh2DeQtVyJM
- Another good one, Mr. Reagan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpARv7vsBpA

What are your favorite YouTube vids?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I just talked with my Liberty University advisor and he audited me and told me that everything looks in order for me to graduate when I finish my last courses in about weeks.

I still have to apply for to become a graduate and there's a process that I have to go through in order to graduate - but pretty soon I'll be a graduate!!!



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Something I've been thinking about lately.

Ben Arment recently said: "At the end of the day, our biggest frustrations with the church can be seen right in the mirror."

How true. Every now and then, I get frustrated with the way things are going at Del Sol Church, or in Fire Youth Ministry. I think "If only we did things this way ..." or "Why isn't this working like it should?" or "Why do we have to put so much work in to get such little in return?" and I'm constantly thinking about how we can do things better or how we can be better at whatever we do - an at the end of the day I have to remember that the buck stops here, with me.

If we're lacking in a certain area, I have to take responsibility and admit that I've dropped the ball. If things aren't the way they should be, others may be indirectly responsible but as a staff member, I have to be the one to take the blame.

The church will never rise above the level of us staff members. If on a scale of 1 to 10, I'm at a 7 in my spiritual maturity, most of those I lead will reach level 4 or 5 - maybe even 6 - but the law of the lid says that nobody will reach a 7 or 8 until I get there myself.

So while ultimately it's Christ who grows His Church, as one of the leaders He has entrusted His Church to, I must take responsibility, look in the mirror, and be constantly growing - or else those under me won't be growing.

What a big responsibility, and an even bigger privilege!

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service." - 1 Timothy 1:12

Monday, September 22, 2008

I think God must be trying to teach me patience.

"Why is that, Ariel?" you ask. "Well because I have had the most terrible time lately doing business with certain companies" I reply.

Exhibit A: I ordered a couple of new shirts and they were supposed to be delivered to my house through the good ol' United States Postal Service on August 18th.

That's 35 days ago. And I still don't have those shirts. And I've been to the post office 6 times and talked with the postmaster 3 times to try to find my package. Interestingly enough, we're now on a first-name basis and I have his cell number. Anyway, when I talked to him today he said he was gonna get to the bottom of this. So I guess we'll see if that happens or not.

Exhibit B: Awhile back I had bought some Spira running shoes - the uber-cool running shoes with springs in them - and ended up returning them and was given a store credit. A couple of weeks later I went back to get some different shoes and was told by the employee that she could not "release the shoes" to me because she didn't know how the store credit worked. She said only the manager knew how to do that. So I went back, talked with the manager, and got fitted for a new pair of running shoes but they didn't have the ones I wanted in my size. So he put an order in for them and told me they'd "be here on Saturday" and assured me that anyone could handle the store credit exchange.

So I go back on Saturday and the shoes aren't there. "They'll be here on Wednesday" I'm told. I go on Wednesday and they're not there. The manager calls me on Thursday and tells me the shoes are in. I go in that afternoon and the manager isn't there and surprise, surprise: only the manager can handle the store credit thing.

I call back today, talk with the assistant manager, and he assures me that my shoes are in and that he can release the store credit. I ask him "are you sure that if I go down there, I will leave with the shoes?" and he assures me that I will. So I go down there, he gives me the shoes, and as he's working on releasing the store credit, I open the box and find that there are some stains and glue on the shoes. The assistant manager tells me those are the only ones they have left in my size.

At this point, I'm about ready to freak out - but instead I stay composed and bite my tongue, wishing the man a good afternoon and walking away with my new, stained running shoes.

The only explanation I can figure for all of this trouble I've been having is that God must be working on my character, making me more patient - which is a good thing.

But it's definitely not fun.

"You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had." - Philippians 2:5, NLT

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Five - Fascinating People

It's Friday, so that means it's time for Friday Five! Today, the 5 most fascinating people I personally know:

1. John David Delgado. So this guy has led quite a life. Ex-druggie turned pastor. Lived in Houston, New York City, El Paso, and Juarez among other places - now living in Atlanta. Started as a staunch legalist, now a grace junkie. He was in college campus ministry, worked as a small groups pastor then a youth pastor at Del Sol Church, and is now a youth pastor in an Atlanta suburb. If you ever get a chance to spend some time with this guy, do it. It'll be a great time for you. And his wife Patricia? She's a whole 'nother character all on her own - a great character though.

2. The Wood Family. These people, now living and serving in Tucson, Arizona, have been all over the country and have even spent a good chunk of their lives in Venezuela and in Colombia. They've learned so much about foreign ministry and are trying to use what God is blessing in South America to grow churches in Tucson. Like John David - these are great people to be around.

3. Jordan Mueller. This guy is so cool ...and so weird. He's a junior (I think) at Texas Tech University and is quite the character. I don't even know where to begin describing him except to say that he is definitely eccentric, but strangely mature also. He's a lot of fun to be around, fo sho.

4. Rick Lovelady. He's just beginning his second year in college, but this guy is an incredible musician. I am blown away at his musical talent and his guitar skills. I'm fascinated when I watch him play and lead other musicians, and I only wish I could play guitar like him but I just don't have the eye-hand coordination it takes. He's really an amazing musician and everyone else seems to know it, except him because he's very humble about it. He's a rising leader who I know is gonna go far in life and lead others to Jesus along the way.

5. Faith Brown. She's a senior at Montwood High School and though I barely know her, she is fascinating. No, not fascinating in a Ariel's-really-a-Chester-the-Molester type of thing but in a totally platonic type of thing. I'm amazed to see her be so young and yet so mature and Godly - but not in the weird, super-spiritual, head in the clouds type of Godly, but very grounded in reality. She's a rising star, going far in life and she's also leading others to Jesus along the way. Maybe I'll become like her when I grow up.

Of course I know plenty of other fascinating people, but these were the top 5 people I thought of when I started writing this list. Hopefully as I go on, I'll meet more fascinating people and add them to my list ...and maybe you'll be one of them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Are you serious about this?"

If you read my blog post on Sunday, you'll see that we talked at our Leadership Summit about the issue of justice and that we are pursuing what we can do as a local church and as GrowGroups and as individuals to be involved in matters of justice in our worlds and in THE world.

Through a series of God-ordained circumstances, today at staff meeting we had someone present something to us that would require us as the leadership of Del Sol Church to take a risk, trust God and the word of a key leader in our church family, and take immediate action in this justice issue to assist a person whose name we don't even know in gaining asylum in this country. We know nothing about this person, have never even seen him, and his story was passed down to us 3rd hand (from someone who had heard it from someone else, who had heard it from the man).

It was like God saying to us "Ok, you say justice matters to you. Are you serious about this? Prove it."

But because of the legal circumstances and the timing, we had to take immediate action on this issue. We couldn't talk about it and pray for a few days about it - we had to act right then and there.

So we did. And we'll find out tomorrow and in the coming days what happened, but I believe that we have an opportunity to completely change the life of someone who has faced serious injustice, to give him an opportunity to connect with Jesus in a personal way.

All we know is that he spent several years under the harsh hand of cruel injustice, has suffered more as a 22 year old than most people will suffer their entire lives, we know that he believes in God but is not a Christian.

We don't know his name; we only know him as "Client."

So please take a moment and pray for Client. Ask God to be merciful to him and ask Jesus to reveal Himself to Client. Pray that by meeting his needs and showing God's love in practical ways to Client, he will be attracted to Jesus and will turn to Him.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Leadership Summit

Today was our Leadership Summit at Del Sol Church. This is a time for all of our leaders to come together to look back and celebrate where we've been and to get energized and look forward to the future of ministry and missions as the Del Sol Church family. It's rare for me to be around other non-youth ministry leaders, so I absolutely love these summits because I'm able to rub shoulders with some of the greatest people and greatest servants in the world - the volunteer leaders of Del Sol Church.

Tonight we focused on how we're doing at Serving the World and how we can continue on into the areas of compassion and justice as a local church family.

As part of the review portion of the Summit, our Missions and Ministries Coordinator Teri Valdespino shared a long list of all the ways we as a church have been involved in local, national, and international missions this past year. Then we looked forward to justice issues and how we can become more involved in matters of justice in our world.

I'm so humbled to look back and see what God has been doing through us this past year as far as ministry, missions, growth, and system-building, and I'm pumped at the prospects we're looking forward to in the future: becoming a multi-site church, expanding missions endeavors to Africa, and becoming involved in justice issues throughout the world.

Everyday it seems like I fall in love with Del Sol Church again - not because we're anything special on our own, but because collectively, we as a local church family are open to doing whatever it is God calls us to do, whether it's something as simple as changing the name of our church like we did at the beginning of the year, or going to Africa and getting involved in justic issues like we're looking to do next year.

Put your sunglasses on, because the future's bright for Del Sol Church!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday Five is temporarily Saturday Six.

Yesterday was Friday and silly me, I forgot to post my Friday Five list. Since I also forgot the previous Friday, I thought that this weekend I'd make it a Saturday Six, just so I don't break the habit.

That having been said, this weekend my Saturday Six/Friday Five list is my favorite places to travel to. These are not listed in any specific order, so #1 is not necessarily my favorite place to travel to:

1. Austin, Texas - I've been to Austin 4 times in my life, which makes it the one place I've traveled to the most in this great country. I absolutely love ATX - the culture, the arts, the music, the folksy feel, the landscape, and of course, THE HISTORY. Austin has a way of just grabbing your heart and never letting go. It's a great place to be, and I'm sure that I'll take many more trips there in my life. Gosh ...now I want to go back! =)

FYI: TECHNICALLY, I've been to Ruidoso, NM and Cloudcroft, NM many more times than I've been to Austin but since those places are so close to El Paso, I don't really count them as traveling because they're only a few hours away. They're the kind of place you take a day trip to, not places you really "travel" to from El Paso.

2. Atlanta, Georgia - I've been to Atlanta twice, and loved it both times. I don't think that Atlanta and the surrounding area is the kind of place I'd want to live in, but I really do like it. There's so much to do, to see, and plenty of good churches to visit and learn from in the ATL.

3. Dallas, Texas - I've been to Dallas once, and it's definitely one of those places I want to go back to again. The 6th floor JFK museum was fascinating, and the attractions around Dallas are also pretty cool. The Dr. Pepper home in Waco, Grapevine Mills mall, and a whole gamut of other things in and around Dallas (like my favorite church, Fellowship Church in Grapevine) make me want to go back again soon.

4. Chicago, Illinois - I've been to Chi-town once, about 4 years ago for a Willow Creek conference and it was a pretty great experience. If you ever get a chance to go up to the viewing floor at the Sears tower, do it! And the ferris wheel at Navy Pier is another don't miss in Chicago. I like Chicago, but it's not necessarily the kind of place that I feel a desire to go back to frequently, like Austin or Atlanta or Dallas.

5. New York City (and its boroughs), New York - I've never actually been to NYC so perhaps but I'm listing it as one of my favorite places to travel because it has always been my dream to go there. If I could, I would move there for several months just to be able see EVERY sight and soak in all the history and architecture and culture that is New York City.

6. Los Angeles, California - I've never been to Los Angeles either, but it's on the list because like NYC, I've always wanted to go spend a good amount of time in LA. The closest I've been to LA was about an hour away in San Bernardino. Los Angeles is also full of history and culture and architecture and art - all of which I can hardly wait to go experience and soak in some day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Go Knights Go!

I love high school football season. Tonight was the first game I was able to go to this season, and it was well worth the $5 ticket price.

It started with a beautiful sunset cast over the stadium ...


... and as the night went on, Hanks kept the scoreboard busy, shutting out Bel Air in the first half and scoring 4 touchdowns. Then came half-time and my favorite part of the game - the band:


Sure, Bel Air scored a touchdown and got 7 points on the board, but Hanks kept the upper hand and ended the game with a score of 42 to 7. Win or lose, the best part of the game is when it's over and you finally get to stop sitting on those hard steel benches and get to sit down in your nice, cushy car seat.

42 to 7; that makes for nearly 100 points scored in the past 2 weeks by the Hanks Knights. Next week, Hanks takes on Montwood High School and ordinarily I would expect a shut out by Montwood, but Hanks is actually doing REALLY good so far this season and Montwood is NOT. I could be incorrect, but I believer after last week's win over Gadsden, Hanks was actually rated higher than Montwood.

So I'm pretty excited about the Hanks season this year. Go Knights!

Hanks Knights

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Have you ever seen one of those movies ...

... where you know what's going to happen, but the people in the movie don't, and you yell at the TV screen as if they could hear you and you could stop them from certain tragedy?

A little while ago I was watching a History Channel special where they're showing amateur footage from the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, 2001, and as one of the guys is standing next to a policeman filming before the second tower was hit, the policeman says something and I found myself screaming at the TV, trying to talk to this policeman from 7 years ago.

The policeman was on his radio, telling his commander to send every available ambulance and fire truck to Tower 1, the only one that at the time was on fire.

"STOP! PLEASE!!! DON'T GO OVER THERE!!!!" I yelled at those emergency workers with the deepest sense of despair, knowing what was in store for them as they rushed towards the Twin Towers.

Mr. Policeman, if only you could know that in a few minutes, another tower would be hit, and that not long after that, the towers would start collapsing.

"Oh God, please make them stop!" I was thinking to myself. I wish I could jump through the TV screen, go back in history, and stop this.

In movies, we yell at the actors and actresses to stop. We tell them not to open that door or not to go down that dark hallway - but at the end of the day, those actors and actresses get to go home.

But what happened in September 11th, 2001 was not a movie. The emergency workers did not dust themselves off and walk into their trailers once the "movie" was done. The people jumping out of the burning towers were not stuntmen with parachutes. This is real. And this is evil.

That day was a day when evil and sinfulness was shown at its fullest. And yet the selflessness and bravery, the best in humanity was also shown in those brave men and women who rushed into those burning towers.

Oh God, it's 7 years later, and I still don't understand why September 11th, 2001 happened. I don't understand why evil seems to triumph sometimes. But yet, when I see firemen rushing into burning buildings and police officer standing brave when everyone else is panicking, I know that You are still in the midst of the worst of situations. Though it's hard, I see You still in control, still on top of the situation. Lord, won't you be a comfort to the families of those who even 7 years later are still hurting. Won't You be with our brave soldiers and their families who are now deployed all over the world because of what started with September 11th, 2001. Most of all, be victorious. Good HAS to win. YOU have to win!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Youth Leadership Team

Tonight was the beginning of something great - tonight was the first meeting of our brand-spankin new Youth Leadership Team at Del Sol Church's Fire Youth Ministry. I was in a room with some incredible high school students, talking about how God through me and through some incredible leadership resources, and mainly through His Holy Spirit will encourage and equip them up as leaders, as teachers, and as preachers.

Their task is to be leaders - at Del Sol Church, at their schools, in their families, and wherever they go in life. Their task is found all over 1st and 2nd Timothy - to teach, to preserve sound doctrine, to rightly handle God's Word, to preach the Gospel to the world because of their love for Christ and because (Lord willing) I have done my best to raise them up to do what God calls them to do.

I am SO excited about the next year with these youth, and I am completely confident in each of them. God is going to do some ridiculously amazing things through them, and I'm humbled to be a part in their development.

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." - 1 Timothy 4:16

"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." - 2 Timothy 2:2

P.S. - On a completely non-related note, Geoff Surratt from Seacoast Church left me a comment on my blog post from yesterday. He's a huge role model to me and I'm so honored that he would leave me a comment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Quotable quotes.

In case you didn't know, I love Christ's Church. I am passionate about the worldwide Church and about making her look good to the world and buidling her up however I can.

I truly believe that "church planting" is no longer the wisest way to do that, but that multi-site churches are. Nothing against church planting, and I certainly don't think we should stop planting churches - but in general, I think existing churches spreading through the multi-site church movement is the wisest way to further the Church.

That having been said, I just finished a book called "The Multi-Site Church Revolution" by some guys from Seacoast Church, based out of South Carolina. These guys are kind of like the experts on multi-site churches.

What struck me though was this sentence from the last page ...:
"Imagine the power of a church not built around a personality or facility but instead built around a mission!"

... and this closing paragraph:
"If we are to truly go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations, we can no longer hold onto the comfortable thought of being a church that meets in one location under one roof. Empowered by God's Holy Spirit, we must cross boundaries into other neighborhoods and cultures. We have to open our doors to other churches that may be more effective at reaching the lost and making disciples than we are. We need to put aside our preconceptions of what a church is, what a pastor is, or how the good news should be delivered. And when we do so, it will be said of us that we too have turned the world upside down."

What do you think of these quotes?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Death is an interesting thing.

Yesterday was without a doubt the most important day in the history of sports in El Paso, and one of the most important days in the history of the city of El Paso. The UT Austin Longhorns football team played and beat the UTEP Miners last night in what was the biggest event in El Paso's history.

And tonight - nobody seems to care. Coach Don Haskins passed away today and I've been glued to the news all afternoon since the news first broke. The funny thing is, I have barely heard anything about that game last night. KVIA ran a brief story about the game in the sports, but you could hear the deep, deep sorrow in the voice of the sportscaster. KVIA dedicated the whole newscast to Coach Haskins and several times throughout the broadcast, you could hear the voices of the reporters cracking and see their eyes turning red as they fought back the tears.

For 2 years, El Paso has been waiting for that game; all week long, El Paso has been counting down the days to the game. The UT Austin/UTEP game should have been the biggest topic in the news today - but right now, nobody really seems to really care. It's almost as if the game never even happened.

Let that soak in for a moment: the biggest event in the history of El Paso - and tonight it's almost like it never even happened.

Why? Because of a death.

I was not alive yet when President Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, Texas or when his brother Robert Kennedy was killed in Los Angeles, so for a long time I just could not fully understand exactly why older generations were impacted the way they were. I could not understand why my mom would still get choked up when she talked about the Kennedy brothers.

Now tonight, I understand. I understand how the death of such a history-changing person can affect someone so deeply.

Wow. Death is such a funny thing, the power it can hold over a person, a people group, or even over a whole city. As I think about the passing of Don Haskins, as this community of El Paso, Texas is in mourning, I pray for Mary Haskins and her family.

But as I think about the magnitude of Coach Haskins' passing, I thank God that through Jesus Christ, those of u who are believer don't have to fear death. We can be sad, but hopeful. We can mourn, yet still be joyful. In God, through Christ Jesus, we can confidently echo 1 Corinthians 15:55 and say "Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?" We can know that for those who are in Christ, death is not the end but is a transition, a graduation if you will into life the way we were meant to live, with our Father God and our Lord and Savior and Friend Jesus Christ.

We'll miss you, coach.

A legend has passed away.

Read about it here.


Coach Don Haskins, 1930-2008.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I think I'm going to cry now.

UT just scored another touchdown. Now the score is UT Austin 42 and UTEP 13.

It's over ...

And I'm not even kidding about the crying thing.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

A BIG win.

On Tuesday I went the retirement celebration for a friend of mine who also happens to be one of our adult youth ministry leaders. 27 years he served our great country in the Army and now he's ready for some incredible years of ministry, leading up the Celebrate Recovery program at Del Sol Church. We've been praying for years for Celebrate Recovery to take at Del Sol and I think that Bob is the man to make it happen.

If you knew Bob's story, you would know that is definitely a win - but that's not the big one.

Bob's family had come into town to be at his retirement celebration and since they had come in over the weekend, they worshipped with us at our Sunday morning worship celebration. So at the dinner on Tuesday, I was sitting with Pastor Walter and while we were eating dinner before the program began, Bob came up to greet us. He told us something that blew me away.

He said that his brother-in-law had come to our worship celebration on Sunday morning. He also said that his brother-in-law was extremely anti-church and that ordinarily, he would never dare to darken the doors of a church for anything.

But he came to Del Sol on Sunday because of Bob. And afterwards, he told Bob that he really liked it and that if he could, he would move down here just so he could come to Del Sol.


I've been thinking a lot about that. Bob had a messed up life. He was hurt by others and he made some unwise choices and hurt himself and those closest to him. Bob met Jesus Christ, surrendered his life to Him, and is now an incredible husband, father, friend, and leader.

Bob has really been through a lot in his life. He's had more than his fair share of suffering, and what I've been thinking is this: what if God allowed Bob to go through everything he went through for the sake of his brother-in-law? What if God let Bob suffer like he did so that one day Bob would repent, turn to God, and years later when he retired, he would bring his brother-in-law to church and his brother-in-law would meet with God?

What if everything Bob went through wasn't even about Bob; what if everything he went through was for something bigger than himself? What if it was for the sake of his brother-in-law?

What if everything YOU have been through is not even really about you? What if it's about setting the scene for someone else at some time in your life to meet with Jesus?

If you could know that's what your suffering was about - would knowing that make it worthwhile to you?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Wednesday.

Tonight was First Wednesday at Del Sol Church. In case you don't know, First Wednesday is a time for us to come together as one church family and worship, sit under preaching, and celebrat communion, remembering what Christ did for us with His death, burial, and resurrection.

Every first wednesday of the month (except January and July), we come together for this very special worship experience. I've been attending First Wednesday services ever since I became a part of the Del Sol Church family nearly 13 years ago. Something happened tonight though that I have never before experienced.

Something that left me perplexed, not knowing what to do. Something awkward.

"What was it?" you ask. My cup ranneth over. =)

The little plastic communion cup broke slightly and as I was sitting there, it started leaking all over my hand. I sat there trying to figure out if I should drink it prematurely (we usually all take the cup and eat the bread at the same time), or if it would stay together long enough to take the cup with everyone else. In the end, I decided to get up and go to the back to get another cup.

I honestly have never experienced that before, and hopefully never will again because even though I washed my hands, my fingers still smell like grape juice. =)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Firehouse expansion.

So in case you didn't know, we're expanding Del Sol Church's youth center, the Firehouse. We'll be renting the suite next door to the current Firehouse and making it a game room. We'll put the pool tables, the foosball table, and the video games in there, plus making a couple of seating areas with couches, rugs, and all that stuff.

It's gonna be pretty tight (for all of you older than 30, that means "cool").

Out landlord, T-Group Properties, has been bending over backwards once we first said we might be interested in renting it out. That little suite is too small for a stand-alone business so it's been empty for over 4 years, but it's perfect for our needs. I'm sure they're happy that someone is finally renting it out, so they've reduced the rent, cut our security deposit in half, put in a new HVAC unit, new ductwork, and a new drop ceiling.

Here are some pics:


We're meeting Thursday with someone to get some plans drawn up for the minor renovations we'll be making to the suite in order to make it part of the Firehouse.

I'm SO excited about this addition, and I'm very hopeful about the future of Del Sol Church's Fire Youth Ministry!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Thanks, Dave Ramsey.

Several years ago, I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. Before FPU, I couldn't tell you where my money went - I would get my paycheck, it would be gone, and then I would count down the days until the next check.

I had no budget, no spending plan, and in hindsight I really had no respect for the money God had entrusted to me. In my mind, the money in my wallet was MY money - not God's - and as long as I had a check coming in 2 weeks, I'd be fine.

But I went through the FPU experience and learned about handling money God's way, budgeting every penny (even your non-designated expenses), saving for the present AND the future, and not letting credit be my master.

It was a fight paying off my debts, it was not fun saving when I wanted to spend, and it's never easy to say no to yourself - but I did those things. With lots of prayer, with the Holy Spirit giving the self-discipline I needed to get control of my finances, I can celebrate today that I have no outstanding consumer debt, have over $4,000 in savings, and am investing a good chunk into a Roth IRA for my retirement because Lord knows I'm not counting on Social Security (which was never meant to be a retirement account anyway).

So after working these past few years to save, after saying no so many times, after lots of prayer and self-discipline, it felt SO good to log onto my credit card account just a few minutes ago and see my current balance:
Citibank $0 Balance - September 1st, 2008

Thanks, God ...and you too, Dave Ramsey!