Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mi viaje al Juarez hoy (My trip to Juarez today)

Today, I went to Mexico. The city of Juarez in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.

I was kind of hesitant to go because I didn't feel a peace about it until late last night while I was worshipping at the Chris Tomlin show. I had peace and knew I had to go, but I just could not get rid of this nagging feeling that I was going to be killed today if I went. Thankfully that didn't happen today; I'm very grateful to be alive right now.

Even this morning when I woke up I still felt peace, but I also had that nagging thought in my mind. I honestly thought "maybe I shouldn't go" - I mean I had good reason not to, but then I started getting texts from people telling me they were praying for us and I was like "dang it, I really have to go", so I finished up reading the book of Nehemiah and headed out to meet Chris and Troy.

We went into Juarez and the first thing that happened as soon as we crossed the bridge was that we were pulled over by federal soldiers. It's kind of disheartening being pulled over and watching your car be searched by armed soldiers while a couple of other armed soldiers stare at you with their machine guns pointed in your direction.

After they let us move on, we went through the heart of the city and saw a several mile stretch of a main road where there was just an incredible amount of military and police force lining the street. I mean, we're talking hundreds of policemen and soldiers lining both sides of the street for miles and miles. Turns out that several federal officials, like the country's secretary of defense, were in the city for a security meeting, so that's probably why all that force was there.

Anyway, it was incredibly eerie driving through Juarez, in the middle of the day, and seeing business after business shuttered closed, nearly empty streets, and drivers following the law to the letter - I'm talking no speeding, no swerving in and out between lanes, no honking. It was so incredibly surreal that all I could think is "this looks like Juarez, but this can't be Juarez." Sadly, it is. It's a city overcome by fear and a lack of leadership.

It's a perfect example of how true the Bible is when God says in Proverbs 29:18 that "where there is no vision, the people perish."

We made our way to a church in the desert just off the Casas Grandes highway, not too far from Santa Teresa, NM and spent some time with Pastor Tino there and Jim & Barb Hetzel, who are church members of ours that run a building ministry in that part of Juarez. We talked with them, listened to their stories, prayed for them, and headed off to a large church in the city that's just about the size of Del Sol Church. We met for a couple of hours with two of their pastors and just listened to them, let them vent their frustration, and talked with them about how we as the American Church can support the Church in Juarez.

Now this is a very difficult area to go into. How do we help the Church in Juarez without making them dependent on us, and how can we help them while still being wise in light of the raging violence there.

We came away with some great ideas, felt like we had received some solid direction from God, and were excited and a little overwhelmed at it all. We understand now that this drug war is so much bigger than we had understood, and most Americans probably don't understand the scope of it either. We heard over and over that this is the greatest crisis Mexico has ever faced - even bigger than the revolutions or anything else it has faced.

We saw how we as the great nation of America caused most of this problem and now we've washed our hands of it when it started getting ugly. We as the Church have, for the most part, abandoned our brothers and sisters in Mexico, basically saying "we're brothers and sisters in the good times, but when it gets tough, you're on your own".

More than anything, we came away seeing the need for a continued relationship with our fellow Christians in Mexico. It'll look very different; it probably won't be large groups going to build homes and do outreaches for kids, it probably won't involve kids and youth, but even if just two or three would go to the orphanages and churches and say "we haven't forgotten you, we're still with you in this" - well that would just make a world of difference to them.

We came back to the church office and Troy and Chris talked with Walter about some ideas, and now we're looking at taking some more pastors back with us in 2 weeks and starting to build some good relationships with that. That's just the beginning - we're trying to figure out what the next steps are. Right now we need prayer, we need courage, and we need direction from God about what to do next.

It's funny because I've often heard people come down to Mexico and talk about how they left changed after seeing what they saw there; I had never felt that way before, until today. I suppose I was de-sensitized but after today, my heart was broken for Juarez and the Church there, and while we as Del Sol Church try to figure out what we need to do, I as an individual follower of Christ am praying to see what I need to do next. Not everyone is called to go to Juarez and be the light of Christ there, and that's fine - but some (myself included) are.

I just can't sit around and do nothing anymore ...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday night mind purge ...

- Monday was Presidents' Day in these great ol' United States of America. I spent most of the day reading and studying, and watching History Channel specials about the Presidents of these United States. It was a great day that you can read about here if you'd like.

- Tuesday was a beast of a day ...I was at the office ALL day. Literally. From first thing in the morning 'til 9 pm at night. All I worked on was my message for Sunday about the Gospel. I've NEVER worked that hard on a message before (not that I'm lazy in my sermon prep), but I felt God calling me to do it, and I knew it would be worth it.

- I slept in just a bit on Wednesday because I was so worn out from Monday and Tuesday. Gosh, I did SO much on Wednesday though. I worked on launch timelines and job descriptions for the Northeast campus, returned emails, made calls, setup a meeting for a GrowGroup I'll be leading this semester, and much more during the day.

- On Wednesday night I met with Mark & Candi Pryor to talk and dream a little bit about the future and the possibility of launching a Del Sol Church campus out in the Fabens/Clint/San Elizario area in a few years. I try to always look towards the future without getting ahead of myself, but that's not always easy. I'm glad Mark & Candi have a vision for their community there.

- On Thursday I spent most of the day working on job descriptions for my staff at the NE campus. I also made some minor tweaks to my message for Sunday, met with Terry Gooding (our Prayer Ministry Coordinator) to talk about a prayer strategy for the NE campus, met with Walter to catch him up on what I've been doing and to think some things through for the launch, and then I spent the latter part of the afternoon writing a report for the church council and getting ready for a presentation at the church council meeting that night.

- The presentation to the church council went great! These men know me and they know my heart somewhat, and I think now they know that I know what I'm doing and am able to get this done, and done well.

- Thursday night was Village Inn night with Rick and Kristin. Seems the past few weeks we've just been pretty tired when we go there. I always enjoy it though.

- Friday, for the first time in a LONG time, I felt somewhat rested and refreshed on my day off. I was able to just relax at home and watch a movie and enjoy myself. I love people, but I get stressed out if I don't have some time to myself to decompress.

- Friday night and Saturday 'til mid-day I went to Coronado Baptist Church for the BGCT's Engage XP evangelism conference. I was so glad that the state convention actually took the time and money to invest into El Paso. Because we're so far from Dallas, we usually have to get people from New Mexico for anything we do, so it was great having people from the Dallas office come spend the weekend with us.

It was also great to be around Baptists. Usually I go to conferences and they're not very Baptist (not that there's anything wrong with that), and so it feels great to be with my people. I mean some of the practices and philosophies of Baptists - Texas Baptists especially - are kind of hokey, but they genuinely love the Lord and love the Gospel and at the end of the day, they're my people. I love being a Baptist, and I love my Texas Baptist family. =)

- Also Saturday, I had the first staff members commit to the Northeast campus. I felt SO honored and humbled and excited to have Josh & Nick Sattelmeier commit to join our staff. God's brought them to our staff - now I'm asking Him to provide a kids' ministry director, and the money to pay salaries. I'll tell you what though ...when they said "we're in!" (their exact words), I felt like a thousand pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Gosh, my eyes are welling up with tears right now as I remember that moment. To have two incredible people like Josh & Nicki say they're in Thank you, Papa God.

- Went to Cracker Barrel on Saturday night with the Pryors to celebrate Mark's birthday. I'm so glad to have them in my life. Mark and Candi really are just great, great people and I'm blessed and privileged to have them in my life.

- Sunday morning. DANG! God's Spirit was with us at the Firehouse and He worked in the hearts of many people tonight. I had this message in me all week and was just dying to preach it! It was like a fire in my bones just itching to get out of me! I had several people pray for me before we got started, then I got up there and preached it, and by the end of our time together, God had stirred the hearts of about a dozen junior and senior highers to give their lives to Christ.

- THAT is what it's all about! Our million-plus dollar budget at Del Sol Church, the thousands of hours each year that our staff work, the tens of thousands of hour our volunteers give doing things from leading GrowGroups to welcoming guests to working the parking lot to taking care of babies ...THAT is what it's all about! It's all about people who were once spiritually dead and are now alive in Christ!!!!!!

- After preaching that message today and seeing the response, I could die a happy, very content man tonight.

- God is so great. So awesome. So mighty to save. So victorious. So ...WOW! Words truly cannot even come close to describing Him!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

13 years today.

It's been 13 years today since you passed away, grandpa. Wow, how the world has changed! How your family has changed.

Here I am about to launch a church campus this fall. I wonder what you would think of that.

I wish you were still around so I could have gotten to know you better. I miss you.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Five - Feelings

Today, a simpler Friday Five ...five things I'm feeling today:

1. Hopeful

2. Discouraged

3. Tired

4. Tense

5. Optimistic

Yes, I realize it's oxymoronic to feel those opposite ways, but that's how I feel. It's weird.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The hope of theology.

Lately I've been really craving some theology. Well, I've been craving to learn more about theology. I know theology can be dangerous because some people use for wrong reasons, like manipulating God's Word or focusing on knowing theology instead of focusing on knowing Jesus.

Yet I still love theology (which is the scientific, systematic study of God) because I'm a systematic thinker. When I get into the different divisions of theology like Bibliology, Pneumatology, Soteriology, Hamartiology, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, etc., I feel closer to God. It's amazing how my mind will soak up the details and intricacies of theology and translate it into a heart yearning more and more for God.

Not that I could ever comprehend God, but it's like the more I comprehend even a little bit of God and how He works, the more my love for Him grows.

Today I've been reading up on the Gospel and the wrath of God for Sunday morning. I've been reading up specifically on Christology (the study of Christ) and Hamartiology (the study of sin), and it has been so convicting and humbling and encouraging and hopeful, all at the same time.

I've been convicted of how my natural bent is to turn away from God in rebellion and put a break in my relationship with God, and how there is NOTHING I can do to bring reconciliation. But the encouraging and hopeful part is that Christ can and DID do something about it and because of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, I know my future is secure in Him.

I knew this morning that I would be studying what I have today but I didn't know how I would respond and how deeply all this would impact me.

So I think it's interesting that this morning in my time with God, I read Ezra chapter 10 and was really struck by Ezra 10:2, where Shecaniah said to Ezra "We have been unfaithful to our God ...but in spite of this, there is still hope ..."

Isn't that the message of the cross? It's the whole message of the Gospel - that we have been unfaithful to our God, but in spite of our unfaithfulness, there is still hope: Jesus Christ.

Wow! Thank You God. Thank You for theology. Thank You for Your Word. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to die for my rebellion against You. Thank You for raising Him from the dead. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to live in me and to direct me to You. All I can say is thank You.

President's Day

We've had some great men, and some not-so-great men lead our great country. Regardless of what we think of them, they're all OUR Presidents.

In honor of our Presidents, especially the great ones Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, I present the educational rap "44 Presidents":

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Monday was a pretty interesting day. It was a flurried mix of being in the office and being out and about, of sending emails and making phone calls and meeting with people and volunteering at Wayside during lunch. I ended up leaving the office around 4 pm and drove out to the Northeast for about an hour and a half, just thinking and praying and asking God to show me His will for the NE campus.

- In the evening I went to Troy's for a bi-monthly youth ministry leadership GrowGroup, which was a great experience. I'm looking forward to the next group meeting there.

- On Tuesday I made some minor revisions to my notes for the Mix on Thursday and created an outline for the handouts. I also did some other office work, read a few chapters in some books I'm reading, and in the evening I met with some friends to talk about their possible involvement in leadership at the NE campus. It was kind of discouraging because I had thought they would have had an answer for me by then, but I ended up putting a little pressure on them and giving them a couple more weeks to pray and get back to me.

- On Wednesday I was at the office ALL day. I mostly worked on job descriptions for staff at the NE campus, timelines, and rehearsed my message for Thursday night.

- Thursday was pretty cool. I spent the morning in the office doing some tasks and then met with my accountability partner after lunch. It was pretty cool to catch up with him since the last time we met, it was only for about 15 minutes. I went back to the office after that and did some more work, then went home for a nap since I was pretty tired and had the privilege of preaching that night.

- At the Mix on Thursday night, I had so much fun preaching about dating. This month we're in a sex and relationship series, talking about sex, dating, marriage, and homosexuality. It's interesting because the Bible has things to say specifically about all of those except dating because dating is not something done in Biblical times. So I had to really think it through and ended up basing my message off two principles: 1) Give God first place in our lives (Matthew 6:33) and Live Wisely (Ephesians 5:15).

- Man, that was fun though talking about dating!

- Friday was my birthday. It was an ...interesting You can read about it here.

- Saturday was Valentine's Day (also known as thanks-for-another-reminder-that-I'm-single day). My big exciting romantic plans were to sleep in, go for a long run, shower up and go run some errands, then come home and have dinner, go run another errand, then come home and watch a movie before going to bed. Yeah ...that was about it.

- And today was our church gathering. I don't know what it was, but it was ...strange. Youth was pretty exciting; it's good to see how Troy is setting the bar high and how our youth are responding to that in such incredible ways. Also it was cool to hear about Brenda's trip to Ghana earlier this month.

- Afterwards I went to lunch with the Pryors and through my sneakiness, I was FINALLY able to buy them lunch. I'd been wanting to do that for a long time and I'm glad that I was able to bless them in that way today. Since then I've just been chillin here at home. Tried to take a nap but that didn't really work out.

- Tomorrow, the office is closed for President's Day, but I'm leading youth on Sunday so I need to start getting ready for that. I'm SO pumped about what I'm talking about on Sunday, but it's going to take lots of studying and prayer to be finished and ready to go by Thursday.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Birthday recap.

So yesterday, February 13th at 1:20 am, I completed my 23rd year of life and began my 24th. In other words, yesterday was my birthday.

It started out a really great day: I slept in 'til around 10 am, got cleaned up and went to meet the Mosers and Mark Cossel at Great American Steakburger for lunch. See it was also Mitch Moser's birthday; he turned 16.

So we had a great time at lunch, eating lots of beef and cobbler for dessert. Let me just say that Great American has some great food, but make sure you check your utensils for cleanliness; we had to exchange 4 or 5 utensil sets because they weren't clean. But the food was definitely worth it, I thought.

Anyway, it was great and as I drove home I was thinking about how blessed I was to know the Mosers and to have such incredible people like them in my life. I felt so happy and relaxed and ready to go home and relax and watch a movie.

It's amazing how quickly a good day can turn into a not-so-good day.

I got home and found that rather than being able to relax, I found that my mom was having one of her students over so I had to either hole myself up in my bedroom or in the garage, or leave. Needless to say I was extremely frustrated that on my only day off (which also happened to be my birthday), my mom had been so inconsiderate as to do that.

I was angry. REALLY angry. And frustrated. And I felt very disrespected because I have asked my mom over and over to not have people over on Friday so that I can rest. Usually she has people over literally everyday except Friday and it can get pretty stressful not knowing who will be at your house and hardly ever being able to relax in your own home.
So I was upset, and I left to run some errands like going to gas up my CRV and stuff like that - just so I could be away and not say or do something unwise. After awhile I returned home and when the student left, I was able to start watching that movie I had rented.

My parents and I had made arrangements to go have dinner around 6 pm, and so I freshened up and got ready to go, and I thought that I should tell my mom that I had been frustrated with her. She told me she was sorry but she had to do it. I told her she didn't; she could have said "no, it's my son's birthday and we'll have to do it later" or something but she didn't. She got frustrated back and started talking about how she has to do these things to pay the bills. Now I know that since my dad is out of work, my mom has to do odd jobs to bring in some income, but all I wanted was a little consideration. She left to her room go get ready to go, but she was pretty upset.

Crap. Even though I felt like I had been wronged, I realized that perhaps I was being somewhat selfish and when she came out, I apologized and just told her that I was frustrated at this whole situation we've been in since last summer. I can't tell you how stressful and frustrating it's been and I think sometimes our individual frustrations just collide like that.

So we went to Cattle Baron and had a great meal and enjoyed each others' company quite a bit. For some reason we spent lots of time talking about my grandpa Martinez's last days and the funeral and all that, but it wasn't morbid; it was sweet.

When we got home, I brushed my teeth then went out to the Pryor's ranch to hang out with them a bit, and I ended up staying there 'til just past midnight. It was so nice! I didn't expect them to, but they had gotten me a cake and ice cream and like a dozen small, very random gifts like a box of cereal, candies, playing cards, and lots of gum. We talked and laughed and took pictures and ended the night with everyone watching Sarah and Candi have some newborn bunnies feed on the mother bunny.

I never, in all my days, ever would have expected to see a bunny get milked, but I suppose there's a first time for everything, right? =)

So in the end, I had a pretty great birthday. Thanks to everyone who texted me and called me to wish me a happy birthday and to the Mosers and Pryors for letting me share my birthday with them. It's so great to have family like them.

Dear Grandpa Martinez,

You would have been 95 today. I wish you had been around longer so I could have known you better.

It was nice talking about you with your son, my dad, last night at dinner though. =)


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

President Lincoln, you are one of my favorite Presidents ...actually, probably the favorite one. You were a great leader and today this great nation is proud to celebrate your 200th birthday. You were one of the greatest Presidents ever; you're up there with with the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and our former President George W. Bush.

If only my mom would've popped me out 81 minutes earlier, I would shared your birthdate with you. =)


Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States - born February 12th, 1809.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Last Saturday I hurt my back really bad. I was in agony all weekend, so I was glad when Monday came around because I was finally able to go to the chiropractor for some electroshock therapy, a massage, and an adjustment. It was the best $30 I've spent in a LONG time.

- Tuesday was Pastor Walter's birthday so we threw him a surprise lunch before staff meeting. I'm so glad to have him as our leader, and it was just great to bless him in that way.

- I love staff meetings; it's so cool to hear the stories of life change and how every week, people are taking steps towards life in Christ. You wonder if miracles still happen these days? They do - every time someone without hope finds the hope Christ offers. When a broken marriage starts on the road to reconciliation - there's a miracle. When people with hurts, habits, and hang-ups move towards recovery and wholeness - there's a miracle.

- Wednesday was one of those days where I was at the office all day. Those days are so mentally taxing, so I'm really glad we had First Wednesday that evening. It was the building team presentation.Thank God, we're finally ready to build!

- Thursday was an all-day-at-the-office day again, but in the evening I had dinner with the Torgusons. I wrote about that in my Friday Five this week. Wow, what an encouraging night that was!

- Friday was finally my Sabbath day off. I went to Peter Piper Pizza for the first time in about a month, then came home to chill for a little bit and watched the movie Lakeview Terrace. I was just going to stay at home and relax but Savannah Reed invited me to dinner with her mom and the Pryors, then we went to LipSync at Eastwood High School. I'm SO glad I decided to go out instead of just staying at home. It was really some good clean fun.

- Saturday. I cleaned out my car and went to the mall. I've decided that I really do NOT like going to the mall. And honestly, I do not remember what I did that night (not that it was anything naughty or something - I just simply don't remember).

- This morning I went to check out Paseo Christian Church, from setup to tear down. They meet in a portable school and I've been getting to know their lead pastor Greg, so I thought I could really learn a lot from them. I did. And I took lots of pics with my phone. And it was a great worship experience with them. I'm still processing it all, but I pray and hope with all I am that God tremendously blesses Paseo in really great ways.

- Sidenote: when I was at Paseo, I saw several people I hadn't seen in awhile like the Devines and Ryan Guzman, and Tiffani Torres. You should know that Tiffani is really beautiful, and when she saw me she shouted out my name and told me that it was really good to see me and that I look good. I told her she looked beautiful as always and we made some small talk before the gathering began. I felt so welcome after that experience with her.

- Other sidenote: when a beautiful girl is so excited to see you and tells you that you look good, it's hard not to have a good day after that. =)

- Tonight I went to the Senior Adult Fellowship at the East campus and talked with them for awhile about what it means to be a multi-site church. I was REALLY nervous about it, but I just surrendered it to God and ended up having a really great time with them all. Mark and Candi Pryor came to offer some moral support, and I really appreciated that.

So I got up and just shared some of my story and some of what I've learned about our launch, and then took their questions. They had some good questions and I enlisted them all as prayer partners, giving them 3 ways to pray for the launch. Afterwards they had some songs and giveaways and then we all started to go our separate ways, but several of them told me they felt so informed and encouraged after my presentation, and one even said he wanted to do what he could to help the launch. A potential launch team member? Maybe. =)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Five - Interesting Experiences

Today's Friday Five - Five interesting experiences I had this week:

1. On Sunday morning I was walking across the parking lot at the DSC East campus and I had someone stop me just to tell me that my facial hair makes me look "sophisticated".

2. On Thursday I had dinner with Glen & Laura Torguson and had a great conversation with them. I asked them to pray about joining the Northeast campus team. I told them that I'm aware of the possibility that we might fail and Laura stopped me and said "uh uh, no - it won't fail".

Have you ever had someone tell you something and you just knew that you knew that what they were saying was true? This was one of those times for me. Thanks, Glen and Laura.

3. After the Mix on Thursday night I went with Rick and Kristin to Village Inn. Around 11 pm, ADT security services called me to alert me about a burglar alarm at the Firehouse. I told them not to send the police, that I would go check it out. I quickly paid my dinner bill and rushed over to the Firehouse to check things out.

We've had several false alarms over the years so I didn't really think anything of it, but I knew there was a first time for everything. As I was driving over, I was thinking about what would happen if I walked in and interrupted a burglary. I mean what if they shot me or jumped me and beat me down or something?

I went in and looked around and saw that nothing was missing. Apparently the back door had been left unlocked and someone opened it up and was probably scared away by the alarm sounding. As I looked around, Rick walked in. Apparently he came in to make sure I didn't get murdered or jumped. Thanks, Rick. It's good to know he's got my back.

4. Today I went to Peter Piper Pizza for lunch. As I was walking out, this family with little kids walked in. I smiled at the kids as they looked at me and then I smiled at the mom. She was smiling as she walked but when she made eye contact with me, she stopped smiling and gave me a dirty look. That was strange.

5. Eastwood High School puts on a production every year called Lip Sync, where they have the students do a song and dance, lip syncing Ashley Simpson style to almost 30 different songs. I'd heard of it for years but had never been before. It was really cool! Thanks Savannah for inviting me - it was definitely worth the the $8 admission.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Time to build!

After years and years, it's finally time to build!

Tonight was First Wednesday. We worshipped through music and giving, took communion together as a church family, and had a presentation given to us by Dan Swanberg, the leader of the building team.

After years of raising capital and 2 years of the building team meeting together, we finally have the plans for the building drawn up:



This is SO exciting!!! God's been so good to us, and I know that as we use this building to help people Love God, Love People, and Serve the World, He will continue to bless us because we are honoring with all we are and with all we have - even buildings.

Monday, February 2, 2009

This is crazy!

Two men are accused of kidnapping someone in El Paso and taking them to Juarez to hold them there for ransom.

These kidnappers lived on the Eastside - right by the Del Sol Church East campus! Check out the story here:

We need to pray. We really, really need to pray for God to demolish the hand of evil in Juarez.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday night mind purge:

- Monday was a weird day because we had our staff meeting then instead of on Tuesday. It threw my whole week a day off - I kept thinking it was the next day (for example, all day Friday I was thinking it was Saturday). Aside from volunteering at Wayside for lunch and staff meeting, I spent most of the afternoon at the office working on some projects for some things we're planning for this summer, reading, talking with other staff members about potential team members for the Northeast campus, and of course, thinking about the launch.

- Walter and I went to Leadership Network's Innovation3 Gathering in Carrollton (just north of Dallas) Tuesday and Wednesday. It was AMAZING. I loved the format of having 3 different speakers speak on the same topic from different perspectives in 45 minutes and the Bent Tree Bible Fellowship campus was really amazing. I mean, I've been to many nice churches but that is definitely one of the nicest campuses I've ever been to. It was also pretty great to get to know Walter better and think through some specifics with him.

- So I'll be preaching in the adult gathering pretty soon at the Del Sol Church East campus. I'll probably preach on a First Wednesday and Walter asked me to preach on a text, rather than do a topical sermon, so I'm thinking and praying about what text to preach on.

- Lots to think about after Innovation3. Lots to process, pray over, filter through the Word and the Spirit, and then figure out what God wants for our church and for the NE campus.

- Had a great lunch meeting on Thursday with some people that are thinking of joining the launch team. I cast the vision, answered some tough questions, and learned a lot about how I specifically need to keep refining the vision. I also started working on my notes for the presentation I'm giving to the senior adults next Sunday afternoon. I'm pretty excited/slightly nervous about that.

- I also talked to John Silva from the BGCT (Baptist General Convention of Texas) about the NE campus. He was really interested in what we're doing and kept saying over and over that Walter and our church are known for taking risks, and he wants to meet with me to talk more about it.

- It's kind of cool (kind of really cool) that we're known not just city-wide, but state-wide, for taking risks for the Gospel. That's exactly the kind of reputation I want us to have - that we'll do anything short of sin to reach the lost and help people find their way to God. Whatever it takes.

- Friday felt like Saturday all day. Not a very relaxing day, either. It's been a LONG time since my Sabbath day off was actually restful, and that's been bugging me a lot.

- Saturday was down the chain! I went to the Texas vs. The Nation game with Rick, Mitch, and some of the Pryors down at the Sun Bowl. After that we hung around for awhile, ran stairs, and in a moment of stupidity, I decided to foot-race David Pryor. I threw my back out really bad in that race to the car. Dang low back pain!

- Since it was sundown when we got back to the Eastside from the Sun Bowl, my 21 day fast was over and I was able to eat meat again. We got some pizza then chilled at 'Bux for awhile until the Pryor parents picked the Pryors up. Even though I hurt myself, it was a really great day.

- Rick and Kristin brought down the house this morning with their song set in the worship celebration gatherings! I really like the way Rick engaged the crowd and how the songs had a good flow between them. Walter started a message series based on Celebrate Recovery in preparation for the launch of our CR gatherings in March. I'm really excited to see the comments and commitments tomorrow that people made today.

- God is still working. He was working in the past, He's working today, and He's working in the future. I love to serve and love Him! I love to see Him change lives! Man, there's just nothing better than that. =)