Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Five - Five Favorite Smells

Today, my 5 favorite smells:

1. Women. Ok, I know that sounds kind of weird and slightly creepy but I promise you I'm not a Chester. Trust me, if you've ever been to an all-man event like Promise Keepers, you'll realize that although Dr. Pepper may make the world taste better, women definitely make the world smell better. =)

2. Fresh baked bread. Oh my goodness, this is definitely a close second to women. Oh my goodness, the smell of fresh baked bread!

3. Fresh cut grass. Mmmm of the best things about Spring and Summer is the smell of a freshly manicured lawn. I love to roll down my windows and drive down the Lee Trevino bridge that's right over the Vista Hills Country Club whenever they mow the grass there.

4. A freshly painted room. I love the way a room smells when it's just been painted. So fresh and so clean, clean! (If you know what that cultural reference is from, I'll be very impressed.)

5. Roofing tar. I love when someone's getting a new roof and they've got the tar all hot and boiling. [Whether or not charred human ashes are mixed into it, Atlanta and Leah ;) ]

It's a bonus!
6. Gasoline. Hrmm ...there's just something about the smell of gasoline that does it for me.

So tell me, what are some of your favorite smells and why?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thoughts from the first day of Innovation3.

These are the quotes I'm chewing on right now at the close of the day:

"Real failure is ministry that's empty, characterized by impure motives, manipulation, people-pleasing, flattery, and masks." - Pete Briscoe

"You have to go after God and wrestle with Him for a blessing. Getting His blessing will leave you crippled." - Tim Keller

"Are you promising more in the showroom than what you have in the stockroom?" and "Healthy competition is one church sharpening another." - Stacy Spencer

"Try, fail, learn, and adjust." and "Fail aggressively, not passively." - Craig Groeschel

"There is no way you can be creative if you're not connected by the Holy Spirit to the Creator." - Dave Gibbons

"Play your part well and be faithful." - Matt Chandler

And the two biggest "DANGGGG!" quotes I'm chewing on:
"The greatest hindrance to a new move of God is the last move of God." - John Jenkins

"Only in America would we say that you have to fail so you can win. You may just fail." - Mark Driscoll


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. day. I was up late last Sunday night watching a History Channel special on that man. I think this was the first time in my life that I really, fully recognized and appreciated what he did. I had never fully understood his impact on our country until now - this man was not just a champion of civil rights for blacks, but for American Indians and for hispanics as well. Time was that someone with my skin color wouldn't be allowed to do much more than manual labor and janitorial work, but now I have the opportunity to lead a church campus. Wow. I'm so thankful for the doors he opened and I'm so thankful to God for the gift He gave us in Dr. King.

- I also met with friends on Monday to ask them to consider being ministry directors for the Northeast campus. They said they wouldn't accept because they are pretty committed to their church, but they were very thankful for and humbled by the offer.

- Tuesday ...well everyone in the world knows what the big hubbub was about Tuesday:

- On Wednesday morning I met Greg Hunt, pastor of a really awesome church here in El Paso called Paseo Christian Church. That guy is AWESOME! That church is AWESOME! I'm so glad to have people like him and a church like that in our great city. I had known that man a little less than an hour when he gave me free office space at a facility they have in the Northeast. Wow, what a blessing!

- At lunch on Wednesday, I had a meeting my good friend Daniel from Harvest Christian Center's "Reality Youth Ministry." It was cool to reconnect with him, give him advice and encouragement, and pray for him and for Harvest.

- I absolutely love encouraging people and praying for them. If I could, I'd just talk with people and encourage them all day long.

- Wednesday night I had another meeting ...a dinner meeting with my friends Josh & Nicki Sattelmeier. I've asked them to pray about and consider joining the NE campus launch team as staff director positions. We talked through some of the details and dreamed together a little bit, and they gave me some great feedback which was awesome.

- I talked with my good friend Dave Schubert from Glen Ellyn Bible Church on Wednesday afternoon. It was SO good to talk with him even though it was only for a few minutes.

- Oh, throughout the week I've also somehow been able to get a lot of admin and detail work at the office, even though I've had so many meetings this week. Thursday helped with that, as I was at the office pretty much all day. Thursday night was the Mix, and Levi preached. Sure, he's got a long way to grow, but I'm very proud of him for having the courage to get up on stage and share God's Word with us.

- Village Inn with Rick and Kristin until 1 am on Thursday night/Friday morning. Somewhere in our time there, they committed to the campus and became the first people to officially say "yes" to being on the team. Wow ...I'm still just blown away by that!

- Friday night we had our staff Christ-mas party at Cattleman's Steakhouse waaaaaaaaaay out in Fabens. Oh man ...I missed you, meat! =)

- Saturday ...I just pretty much chilled and watched Swing Vote (which is a really good movie, I thought), then I started to make my way down to Abundant for the Saturday night service, but I didn't go because I felt God telling me not to - and I didn't know why. Well it turned out that I was able to go with Rick, Kristin, and Savannah out to the Pryors and welcome them back from being gone for nearly a month. Oh man, we surprised Candi Pryor (the mom) and she screamed SO loud. It was HILARIOUS! I only wish we had thought to videophone it.

- Today, it was so good to worship again with my Del Sol Church family. Walter really brought it, talking about "Our Life Together" as a local church. Then I went to lunch with some of the Pryors and Savannah and Cheryl, then we went to Montwood to go see Rebecca's play but they wouldn't even let us in the building because the play was sold out. So I went home, lay down on my bed for a bit, then went back to the church building for the membership class (which I was attending with Josh & Nicki so they wouldn't be alone).

- I love hearing Pastor Walter talk about our vision and values and I love how he gets so fired up about outreach and serving and about reaching the lost.

- Some hackers keep attacking the network at the church. They've been attacking my user for several weeks now and they got into Walter's today. Thankfully, Creighton (our awesome director of technology) has put up some serious protection on our network, but I honestly think satan is trying to get to us through our online network because he knows how that would make things really difficult for us at the office. Pray against his attacks on our system, will you?

Goodbye, Margaret.

For awhile, the El Paso Times has been following the end-of-life story of Margaret Hussmann, an Westsider who had cancerous tumors and was told a few months ago that there was nothing more the doctors could do for her.

On Saturday morning, after putting up a brave fight and enjoying the way-too-little time she had left of her precious life, she passed away.

You can read about her journey, up to the end, by going here:

I've been following her story and I've been so inspired by her and her family, been touched by the love for each other as a family, the feverish dedication of Margaret's friends, and the joy and hope that she lived with, even though she knew she would soon die.

Gosh ...I'm fighting back tears as I think about the Hussmann family and how they must be feeling right now. I'm so thankful that they let El Paso in on the privilege of enjoying Margaret by proxy in these last few weeks.

Father God ...Papa ...I pray for the Hussmann's right now. I pray your peace and healing for them. I pray that You will bring healing to them with every tear they cry. I thank you that their community has surrounded them with so much love and support, and I pray that the love and support will continue in the months to come as they learn to go on after saying goodbye to their Precious Margaret. Be their Papa in this time, oh Lord.

And Lord ...even though I don't get the impression that Margaret was a Christ-follower, I pray that her example of what it means to truly live will be an example to those of us who are Your children of what Jesus meant in John 10:10 when He said He came to give us a full life.

More than anything Lord, may Your grace and mercy abound and may You get the glory in this situation.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Five - Significant happenings this week

Today's Friday Five - Five significant happenings that occurred in my life this week:

1. I had a meeting on Sunday with some friends of mine who live in the Northeast side of El Paso, and they gave me some great feedback about the culture there and some things I need to think about as we get ready to launch out there.

2. Mr. Obama became President Obama, and President Bush became Mr. Bush. Of course that didn't happen only in my life, but it's still a pretty significant event. It's kind of weird though not having George Bush as our President. I mean, even if McCain had won, it'd still be weird. I had personally met George Bush and I've shaken his hand, and it's weird that we in the Greatest State of Texas no longer have a connection in the White House.

3. There's a couple that I had asked awhile back to join the launch team as worship and GrowGroup ministry directors. They all but committed to join the team - which would be GREAT! They're not from Del Sol but I've known them for years and they definitely have the chemistry, character, and competency. They're planning on coming to the membership class this Sunday afternoon to get a deeper look at our mission, values, strategy, etc.

4. I had the very first people commit to join my team!!!!! A couple, who have committed to be volunteers in the worship ministry. WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Talk about a boost of encouragement! I'm so honored and humbled that they trust me and are committing to join me on this ride!

5. I ate meat and had sugar today - for the first time in 2 weeks. I'm fasting 'til the end of the month, but tonight was our staff Christ-mas party at Cattleman's Steakhouse, and I'm pretty sure it would be a sin to go there and not eat a steak. It was a GREAT break-fast =)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama

Today, at 12:05 pm EST, Mr. Barack Obama took the oath of office and became President Barack Obama.

Now I know that many people are really happy to have him as our President; I also know that many are not very happy at all to have him as our President. Regardless of what you think of him, he is just that - OUR President. He's not the Democrat's President; he's not the black community's President; he's not the liberal's President - He is OUR President. He is the President of all Americans, black and white, Democrat and Republican, religious and atheist, northerner and southerner, west coast and east coast citizens.

He is OUR President - period.

Funny thing is, he's not really in charge. From a human perspective, he is not Congress - which means he simply cannot fulfill many of the promises he made on the campaign trail because he cannot make any laws. But more importantly from a spiritual perspective, Romans 13 makes it clear that God allows men and women to be in positions of authority and leadership.

Before he took the oath of office I saw a camera shot of him while he was sitting there, and I could see that he is beginning to feel the full weight of being the President of a country at war, with a struggling economy, and bordering on the south a nation that is on the verge of implosion. He is a man we need to constantly bathe in prayer.

So right after he took the oath and became our President, I went to my room, got on my knees, and prayed for Him. I prayed that God Almighty would govern our President's heart and mind as our President governs our great nation.

And as I took in the fact that he is our President, I remembered some words of wisdom from God in His book, the Bible:

"... the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes." - Daniel 4:25b

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." - Proverbs 16:9

"The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases." - Proverbs 21:1

Monday, January 19, 2009

My favorite time of day:

My Favorite Time of Day

Do you know why that's my favorite time of day?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- What a long day Monday was! Another one of those days sitting at my desk for hours at a time, talking on the phone, reading articles and books, etc. Thank God for Wayside though! See, on Mondays I volunteer at Wayside Teen Center during the lunch hour, and that was my salvation on Monday. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and it's great to learn - but it's so mentally taxing and it was great to have a break at lunchtime.

- Tuesday: another mental work day, but this one was with our weekly staff meeting in the middle of it. On Tuesday I wrote my message for Sunday, ordered some invite cards for Walter's upcoming message series, and started reading The Volunteer Revolution by Bill Hybels.

- It's funny ...I don't remember what I did either of those evenings. I wouldn't even remember what I did if it weren't for my day planner that I write my daily schedule down in.

- Oh wait, now I remember ...kind of. On Tuesday I went to Walmart and Albertsons to get some groceries, and I talked with Candi Pryor on Tuesday night while I was at Albertsons.

- On Wednesday, I was at the office all day - and I mean all day reading, studying, writing, and emailing. I left at 4:30 pm for about 15 minutes just to go down to Collectible's and get this sweet 2009 calendar that features the architectural works of Henry Trost in El Paso. In case you didn't know, I really appreciate old architecture.

- After I got back, a bunch of people helped Troy and I set everything back up at the Firehouse since the floors were finally dry enough to move stuff on. I hadn't seen the refinished floors, and only one word can properly describe them: SHINY! I can't believe how shiny they are! It looks SO good in there right now while the floors are still all shiny.

- Thursday was yet again a day of being at the church office all day. In case you haven't figure out the pattern yet, I spent a lot of time at the office studying and researching in preparation for launching our Northeast campus. On Thursday night, the Mix resumed at the Firehouse and it was great to see Stephen giving the message for the night. Sure there were some things to work on, but all in all he did a really great job. I'm very proud of him!

- Friday. My day off. Much needed mental day off. =)

- Saturday was an extra day to sleep in because I didn't have anything pressing to do. I ran some errands, watched a movie at home, then went to Abundant for the 3rd part of "For This Cause." It was definitely a great worship experience.

- Today Troy preached at the main worship celebration service so I had the privilege of preaching in our youth gatherings. I was waiting all week to say "if you don't agree with the mission of our church, then get the hell out of here" ("hell" being anything that would make us more concerned about ourselves than about the lost). After that I went to lunch with the MacKays. Let me just say I am so glad to have friends like them!

- Then I went to the Northeast and drove around for about 3 hours through the neighborhoods, just praying and thinking and dreaming and visioning and praying. I didn't realize how big the Northeast is! It is so spread out and all I could think and pray as I drove around was "God, how can we ever reach all these people?!?" And I realized that we can't. Only He can. And that was such a sobering and surreal, yet awesome thought.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Oh man I just got back from a nice long run. It's pretty warm out and I ran for about 3.5 miles, so I'm kinda sweaty right now - but man I feel SOOOOO good!

I love this commercial because it perfectly explains how I feel when I run:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Five - To-be list

So awhile back I was reading a blog post somewhere (I'm pretty sure is was Jason's blog), and this blog talked about making a "to-be" list instead of just having "to-do" lists.

Even though it's halfway through January, it's still the New Year in my mind. Thus, for 2009, my to-be list:

1. A passionate lover. Life is way too short not to love people. I feel like I didn't love enough in 2008 ...or if I did, I didn't let it be known enough. So in 2009, I want to love God passionately, I want to love people passionately, and I want to make that love known. I don't care if people think I'm emotional or sappy or whatever - I just want people to know I love them.
More than that though, I want to passionately love God with all I am - way more than I could ever love anyone else.

2. Less selfish/self-centered. As I've thought back the past couple of weeks on 2008, I felt like I was wayyyyyyyyyyyyy too self-centered and selfish. I feel like things were more about me than others way too much, and that has got to end. Ugghhh's just disgusting how selfish I was last year. All my thoughts, all my desires, all my plans - they need to be about God first, others second, and myself third.

I'm so tired of it being all about me, and one of my big goals is to be God-centered and others-centered instead of being so self-centered.

3. A servant. This one kind of ties in to number 2. It used to be that people described me as a servant. It used to be that I wouldn't think twice about doing something to serve. It used to be that I would wake up thinking about how I can serve someone else. Lately ...not so much. So that's something else that's gotta change - I need to be a servant. Not so that I can feel better about myself, not so that people can see me serve, but because Jesus Christ was a servant and He told us to serve.

And because I think serving people is the greatest way to earn the right to be heard in their lives. Thus, I want to be one whose first reaction in everything is to say "how can I serve here?"

4. One who delights in the Word of God. Psalm 1:1-3 says: "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."

I want to delight in God's Word - absolutely delight in, rejoice in, take great pleasure in, gorge myself in, indulge myself in - God's Word.

5. In the gutter more. I don't want to be all about having people come to a church gathering. I mean that's great, we want to see many people come to Del Sol Church every weekend - but the truth is there are many who will never darken the doors of a church building, and those are people God cares about just as much as the ones that will walk into a church gathering. We're having around 1,000 people every weekend at Del Sol, and that's something to celebrate ...but in a city of nearly a million, that is just not enough.

I mean, I doubt a prostitute would feel comfortable coming into the DSC building. A practicing, "loud and proud" homosexual would probably not want to come in. Or a bruised woman whose husband just beat her the night before would surely not want to show her face. Or an alcoholic who destroyed his family with his addiction and got smashed the night before because he was in so much pain ...he would probably not feel like he'd be accepted.

So I don't want to wait for them to come to us - because they never will. There are some people who will never walk into any church in this city, and unless we the Church go out to them instead of asking them to come in to us, then they will live their lives separated from God and will eventually spend their eternities separated from God. And that can not be. It just simply can not be! So I want to go out to the lost more than I ask the lost to come to me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do ya thing, God.

Yesterday I was reading in 1 Chronicles 28. King David was getting "old and full of years" as chapter 23 puts it, and was making preparations to hand the kingdom over to his son Solomon. David had long before wanted to build a temple for the Lord but God told him that he wouldn't be able to do that; instead, his son Solomon would be the one to do it.

As I was reading it, verse 19 really stuck out to me because of where I'm at in life:
"All this," David said, "I have in writing from the hand of the LORD upon me, and He gave me understanding in all the details of the plan. - 1 Chronicles 28:19

I'm in charge of leading up and launching our first off-site campus of Del Sol Church. I'm the campus pastor and that means I'm responsible for this campus. I spend most of my days thinking about, reading about, and studying up on things like leadership, how to do multi-site, how to lead teams, how to do church in our North American context, sound systems, trucks, trailers, church systems, kids ministry, budgets, salaries, raising support, and on and on and on ...

This is a HUGE endeavor. I get home after being at the office all day and my mind is exhausted. See I like tangible things. I like to start something and see it done a little while later - that's why I like yard work because you start working and a couple of hours later, it looks totally different. Right now I'm in the research phase, so to spend pretty much all day everyday doing such mind-taxing tasks is a really big stretch for me. I pray a lot that God will help me synthesize everything I'm reading into something that makes sense.

So when I came across this verse, I was just stopped in my tracks. I feel totally overwhelmed and under-equipped to lead this campus (which is a good thing because it keeps me humble). I can't even imagine what it would be like to be the king of a nation and to make plans to build a temple for the living God Almighty, the God of all Creation, Who would dwell in that place for hundreds of years. If I think I've got a big job, I can only imagine how overwhelmed David must have felt.

But this verse was so encouraging because it reminds me that this is a God thing. Just like God was the one who gave David understanding in all the details of the plan, I know God will do the same for me. I'm claiming it as a promise for me.

I claim that He'll give me understanding about budgets. I claim that He'll give me understanding about team members. I claim that He'll give me understanding about systems. I claim that He'll give me understanding about leading teams ...

I claim that He'll give me "understanding in all the details of the plan" - not some, not a few, not the biggest details - ALL of them. I believe that God is passionate about the multi-site church revolution because it is a movement that's bringing many people into a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ - and I know that if He's passionate about it, then He's responsible for it.

Do ya thing, God ya thing.

What are you believing God for today? What promise from His Word are you claiming?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday night mind purge ...

- So Monday was a mentally exhausting day. Lately, most days have been pretty mentally exhausting because all I do is research, read, think, and talk with people. It's all good and it's all necessary - but it's still pretty taxing. I showed Kim and Troy how to do a lot of the admin work that I used to do for Fire Youth Ministry, then I had about 2 hours to design, proof, and order some "30 Days to Live" message series invite cards in order to make sure they'd be here in time for this Sunday.

- We had an all-day staff meeting on Tuesday, where we talked about pretty much EVERYTHING we're gonna do until the fall. It was an awesome, humbling, amazing, creative day can read about it here if you hadn't already read about it.

- Wednesday was another day of reading, thinking, etc. I did start the day be meeting with a couple of the other staff members and they gave me some much appreciated counsel about some people I was thinking about asking to join the NE campus launch team. They also gave me some ideas for some others that I'm praying about and hopefully will give the "big ask" to pretty soon.

- Thursday was a good day; I read a lot, thought a lot, and talked to some people about potential launch team members and some other launch details, and I got to meet with my accountability partner Jeremy. It was a very encouraging time. This week was very lonely and discouraging, so it was a great booster shot of encouragement.

- Friday was nice because I didn't have to think about anything. Sure, my mind was still running but it was more of a time for me to just relax and let my mind be renewed. I also started watching "Eagle Eye" (which was REALLY good), then had dinner and hung out with Rick and Kristin.

- Saturday was crazy. Every now and then I get on this cleaning craze, and Saturday was one of those days. I cleaned out all the cars, checked all the fluids, filled up the tires, cleaned a little around the house, then cleaned up and went to Abundant for week 2 of Charles Nieman's "For This Cause" message series. All I can say is ...WOW!

- Today was amazing. The music set Craig chose today was definitely "down the chain", Walter's message was like ...woah ..., and Cindy's bilingual song at the end was really creative. I'm still just chewing on what Walter talked about because it was crazy awesome. I'm so glad to have him as our pastor.

- Tonight we had our bi-annual leadership summit, and we talked about some of the details of our "in house, in the city, in the world" missions and ministry plans for 2009. Then we watched a message from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit by Craig Groeschel on "It." Again ...woah!

- So all in all it was a hard week last week, but it was a good weekend - a good time to reconnect with others and with Papa. I'm thankful for my church family, for my friends, for my fellow staff members, and for God's faithfulness. Because of those, I'm ready to face this new week! =)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Five - Things I've been called this week

It's Friday and that means Friday Five. Today, 5 things I've been called this week:

1. An eligible bachelor

2. A good catch (it was kind of strange because a very Godly male friend of mine called me this)

3. Submissive (in light of the context of the conversation in which this term was used and the person who said it, I was absolutely honored to be called that)

4. Wise beyond my years

5. Your turn! The week's not over yet; how would you describe me?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Kids can be so dang funny!

MOPS just let out here at the church's East campus, and so the moms are all picking up their kids. Right outside my office is a hallway intersection, so I get to see and hear most everything that goes on with those kiddos.

So there's a mom with two adorable little girls, who has them use the restroom and wash their hands, and when they come out, she asks "do you want to go to Chick-fil-A?"

The girls pause for a moment and I could see that they were processing the question, then they start jumping up and down with excitement. The older daughter screams "yeah!", and the other starts screaming over and over "chicken meat, chicken meat, chicken meat!"

Ha ha I thought that was pretty cute. =)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Random thoughts at the end of the day ...

- I love staff meetings. We have them almost every Tuesday.

- Today we planned out pretty much everything up until August, and even got into a bit of planning for Christ-mas Eve. The creative juices were flowing like crazy today was AWESOME!

- I really hope we can go back to Mexico this summer. I know people are predicting worse violence this year than last, but I'm praying and speaking against that.

- Teri (our Missions and Ministries Coordinator), Brenda (one of our youth leaders), and Martha (the chairperson of the finance team) are going to Ghana, Africa at the end of the month for some medical missions work. I must admit, I'm jealous.

- Del Sol volunteers ...can you say FiEsTa?!? You'll know what I mean towards the summer. [I'd never seen Terry Gooding get that excited. Ha ha that was funny!] =)

- We as staff will start reading through the book "The Multi-Site Church Revolution" in preparation to launch the Northeast campus. I'm pretty stoked about that.

- I logged onto Amazon and I have 49 items in my "Saved Items - To Buy Later" thingy and about 40 of those items are books. Man I really need to start reading faster!

- Someone gave me a $25 Walmart gift card on Sunday at the church. It was someone I never would've expected. Not that there's bad blood - it's just someone I'm not close to at all.

- I went to Walmart today to buy a new carry-on luggage for some trips I'm taking at the end of the month. It was $50, but the register rang it up at $36 (the cashier told me that was the correct price after I told her it said $50 on the price label), and with the $25 gift card, I only spent $11 for a super sweet piece of luggage.

- I'm still trippin out about/processing Walter's message from Sunday.

- I'm also thinking about my "to-be" list. I'll probably post it tomorrow.

- I've enjoyed the weather this week - it's actually felt like winter, but it won't last. It's supposed to get into the 60's again by this weekend.

- My stomach has been so upset today. I hate that I don't really enjoy eating anymore.

- The new ABC show "Homeland Security USA" is probably going to be one of my favorite shows this year. They didn't feature any El Paso action in tonight's show, but I know they will in time.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- On Monday I went back to the office for the first time in a week, ready to get back into the swing of things. I spent most of the day cleaning out my desk, doing some admin stuff that had piled up, and updating my notes on the new campus.

- I've spent almost every waking hour this week thinking about, dreaming about, talking about, and praying about the new campus.

- Tuesday I did some more admin work, updated my planner for 2009, and created a protective foam insert for our mics and presentation clicker. I'm pretty proud of it; I should've taken a pic so you could see. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow.

- It was nice to get back into the swing of things - i.e. being back at the office. Too bad it was only for 2 and a half days.

- On Wednesday I went into the office for a couple of hours and lo and behold, Pastor Jackie Fendley, his wonderful wife Chris, and their very lovely daughter Ashley came for a visit. They were in El Paso to visit friends for New Year's. I went to lunch with them at Jaxon's, had some GREAT conversation with Ashley, and then took her shopping at the mall. It was such a short visit and I really wish I could have invested more time with them, but I'm also really grateful for the time I had with them.

- After that visit, I realized how much I missed Ashley's friendship, and I realized how I really need to be a better, more encouraging friend to her.

- So Wednesday night was New Year's Eve, and while I'm glad that we at Del Sol don't have services that night, I like to go to worship on that night. Usually I go to CrossPoint Church for their New Year's Eve services but this year I decided to go to Abundant Living Faith Center instead, and boy do I not regret that decision! It was one of the most amazing worship experiences I've ever been to, and it was great to finish off the year by worshiping God with other believers, even if they're not my own church family.

- Usually I go out to the county, around Montana Vista, to watch people shoot off fireworks and set the dry brush on fire, but I was so tired that I just went to bed around 11:45 pm. I was just falling asleep when Mrs. Candi Pryor called me and her and those in her car wished me a Happy New Year. As I was on the phone with her, Shannah Pryor texted me, then called me after I hung up with her mom. I talked with Shannah and Leah and Kayla and Mark (sort of) for like 30 minutes on speakerphone until I finally expressed my deep desire to sleep, what with it being nearly 1 am and all.

- But that was THE greatest wakeup call I've ever had. I don't know if I've ever felt as loved as I did then.

- New Year's day was spent sleeping in, going for a nice long run, buying a sweet purple dress shirt (I've been wanting one for YEARS), and hanging out at my crib.

- As I was out running, I was listening to the NewSpring Church podcast where Perry Noble reviewed what God had done through them in 2008. As I ran, I was talking with God about how awesome it is how He's been working at Abundant and Del Sol and NewSpring and so many other churches in this great country. I was so overcome with awe that I was crying and almost fell down on the ground as I ran. I made it home, rushed into my room, and literally collapsed on the floor and just cried tears of gratitude and prayed for a long time. I was just absolutely overwhelmed with God's goodness in 2008, and was so ready for what He's going to do this year.

- Friday was a pretty chill day too. Slept in again, went running, cleaned up, got lunch, then spent the rest of the day taking down the Christ-mas decorations (*tear*) and cleaning/organizing the garage.

- Saturday was another sleep in day (come on - it's the holidays!). I did some more cleaning/organizing, then met Josh and Nicki at Starbucks to catch up and talk about the new campus, then went to Abundant for the first part of Charles' new series called "For This Cause" (which was AMAZING!!!!).

- Today, Sunday, I went with Rick, Kristin, and Stephen to check out Healing Place Church's El Paso campus that meets at the Carmike theater on the Westside. It was an interesting, cool experience. I learned a whole lot, and I'm even more pumped about our Del Sol Church Northeast campus! After that we rushed back over to the East campus and got here just in time for the beginning of Walter's message. All I can say is ...DANGGGGGGG!!! I'm still processing it, but it was great to have communion with my church family on the first Sunday of the New Year.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday Six - Descriptive Words

So I've forgotten to post Friday Fives again for a few weeks (sorry Rick!). Thus today, I'm posting a Saturday Six and hopefully this coming Friday I'll get back into the swing of things.

So today - six words that describe my 2008 experience:

1. Humbling. More than anything else, 2008 was a humbling year. God has blessed Del Sol Church SO much more than we could ever have imagined at the beginning of 2008, and it's nothing of ourselves. We didn't have some cunning strategy or compelling advertising campaign or anything - we simply focused on our mission and stayed open to the Lord. I have so much admiration for Walter who so many times in our staff meetings talked about how we need to be open to what God wants and that we need to remember that it's Christ's church and Jesus said He would build it - not us. So 2008 was humbling.

2. Victorious. Personally, 2008 was a year of victory for me. There are some sin issues I've struggled with for years and have prayed about and sought accountability about for the last 2 years or so, and it was finally in 2008 that God brought me great victory in those areas. Like the hymn says, 2008 truly was about "Victory in Jesus" for me.

3. Educational. I learned so much in 2008. I learned about myself, I learned about God, I learned about the global Church, I learned about our local Del Sol Church, I learned about my fellow staff members, I learned about my youth volunteer staff, I learned about my youth, I learned about delegation, I learned about my strengths, I learned about my weaknesses. Man, it was a year of a sick amount of learning for me.

4. Relational. All year, but especially towards the end of the year, I really tried to focus on people more than projects. I don't want to be known as an administrator - I want to be known as a lover of God and lover of people, so in I really focused on growing closer to God and closer to others - and that's something I want to continue now in 2009.

5. Surprising. So many things happened in 2008 that I never would have guessed. I never would have guessed we would have a lawyer as our Youth & Young Adults Pastor. I never guessed that I would be out of youth ministry so soon, let along be given the honor and privilege and responsibility of being a campus pastor. I never would have guessed I would've met some of the incredible people I've met, or grown so close to others that I knew but not well. So many surprises in 2008!

6. Honest. I asked for it. Right before the summer, I asked my volunteer youth staff for a "brutally honest" evaluation of me as a leader - and boy, was it brutal. It hurt, but it was a good hurt because I saw how I had hurt those I wanted to hurt the least and how that affected the ministry, so I'm glad that my leaders said what they did. I tried to live as honestly and as openly as was proper in 2008, and I believe God honored me because of my authenticity. Again, something I will continue doing in 2009.

What about you ...what are some words you would use to describe last year, and why would you choose those words?

Friday, January 2, 2009

I've been trippin' out lately.

My good friend and mentor John David used to say the term "trippin' out" all the time. I've been trippin' out all day yesterday and all day today over some verses in Psalm 1:

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." - Psalm 1:1-3 NIV

Yesterday morning - New Year's morning - the very first thing I did when I woke up was roll out of bed onto this spot:

I've spent hours on this spot. I like to sit here on the floor with my back against the mattress and read what God says in the Bible, and talk with God in prayer. Yesterday morning was another one of those times, but yesterday I read, and reread, and reread Psalm 1:1-3, and talked with God through prayer for a loooong time. It was a great time with Papa, and for some reason He's had those 3 verses stuck in my mind.

They start with "Blessed is the man ..." I want to be blessed! I want to go forward in God's favor, and live in His blessing and anointing.
"... who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers." There is a way that those who don't know Christ live, and that is not the way that I should live. I want to live sanctified. I want to be set apart. I want to live holy.

"But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night." Do I delight in God's Word? Do I actually take pleasure in what God says in the Bible? Do I get joy from every word and principle and precept and rule in the Word of God? How much time do I spend meditating on it, thinking about it and asking God to show me how to apply my life to what it says? I want to be one who delights in God's Word.

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." I want to be strong, with a sturdy foundation like a tree whose roots go down deep into the water. Like the water is the source of life for the tree, I want God to be my source of life. But I also want to prosper in whatever I do.

So I prayed and asked God to sanctify me. I asked God to give me passionate, burning desire and love for His Word. I asked God to be my source of life and to prosper me in every area of my life: prosper my relationships, prosper my work, prosper my finances, prosper my character ...everything.

I'm still trippin' out on these verses in Psalm 1, and I'm still praying about it and asking God to show me how to apply my life to this portion of Scripture.

Papa God, I desperately want Your favor and anointing on me and I desperately want to live sanctified and holy so that in whatever I do, You will make me prosperous.

I don't like New Year's resolutions.

So it's a common practice for people to make resolutions for the New Year. Things they want to do, or stop doing in the next year, changes they want to make in their lives, etc. Honestly (and I'm sorry if you make New Year's Resolutions), I think that making resolutions is a pretty silly thing to do.

First of all, don't resolve to do something - commit to it ...and then do it. The main reason I think New Year's resolutions are silly is because very few people actually keep them. They're just sort of the thing you do at the New Year but never follow through with. Why not make commitments, tell trustworthy friends about your commitments, and have them journey through your commitments with you?

My second issue with New Year's resolutions is this: why make them only at the beginning of the year? Why not change or grow whenever you recognize you need to, regardless of what time of the year it is?

Ok ...I'm off the soap box now. =)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

It's been a year.

John Barnett
"John C. Barnett, 80, passed away January 1st [2008]. He was a WWII veteran who served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater. He is survived by his wife Betty, of 60 years, his sons Michael and Rick, and his grandson Aaron. Memorial services will be held at 10am Friday the 5th at Vista del Sol Baptist Church. In lieu of flowers Mr. Barnett requested that donations be made, in his name, to the missionary service JAARS Inc., P.O. Box 248, Waxhaw, N.C., 28173."

That's Mr. John's obituary and today has been a year since he passed away. I have his obituary laminated and I keep it in a place where I can see it everyday because it's a reminder to me of what a man of God looks like. Mr. John is the kind of man that I yearn to be.

Mr. John Barnett was a man of God, a man of integrity, a man of honesty, a man of skill, a friendly man who made everyone feel welcome. More than anything, if I could describe Mr. John in one word, it would be "servant." I had known Mr. John for about 8 years and I never saw him do anything but serve God and serve others. He was a servant even to the end, donating his body to be used for scientific research.

In his last days, we were in the process of many changes, the biggest being changing our name from Vista del Sol Baptist Church to simply Del Sol Church. For awhile, he was against this decision - and he was on our church council so he could have made a big deal about it and he was so respected that people would have listened to his opinion ...but he didn't. Just a few days before he went Home to be with the Lord, Walter went to visit him in the hospital and they talked for awhile, but then Mr. John got very serious, looked Walter right in the eyes, and started weeping as he apologized for being in the way of what God is doing. This man ...oh gosh I'm getting choked up just thinking about it ... this man never wanted to be in the way of God. He was a man of integrity, he was a servant, he was faithful.

A few days ago I wrote about how my greatest fear is that when I face God, I would not be found faithful. Well everyday I see this obituary card and I remember Mr. John, and I remember his example of what it means to be faithful to the Lord, faithful to one woman for life, and faithful to a church no matter what. I remember him and I know what it means to be a man of integrity and what it means to be a servant.

So Mr. John, I miss you - but thanks for the legacy. You've not only impacted your family and left a great example for your sons and grandson, but you've impacted this young leader even a year after you went Home to Jesus.

I look forward to seeing you again and personally thanking you when I go Home.

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." - Psalm 1:1-3 NIV