Thursday, April 30, 2009

Del Sol Church - Northeast campus update

Well after a 3 week (I think) hiatus, a 10 foot fall off my roof and subsequent ankle and knee injury, and a doctor's appointment that took wayyy too much time yesterday, I'm finally going to post another update on the progress of the Northeast campus.

I promise you that I'm really going to try to keep doing these on Wednesdays to keep up a regularity, but for now - it's Thursday and here's what's going on with the Northeast campus:

- Much of my days these past couple of weeks have been filled with meeting with people, getting ready for my message next Wednesday night, and trying to heal from my injuries from my fall. Somehow, by God's grace, I've been able to get a lot done while being somewhat of a cripple. =)

- I talked with the principal at Dr. Nixon Elementary, and he sad he just really does not feel comfortable about the idea of us or anyone besides teachers using the classrooms. That leaves the cafetorium, and adjacent meeting room, and a gym/community room out by some portables for us to use. So we'll have our adults meet in the cafetorium with the babies/crawlers in that adjacent meeting room, and the grade school kiddos meet out in the gym/community room.

I do think, based on what Rick, Kristin, and I saw at Community Christian Church's Romeoville campus, that it will be doable having the grade school kids in a separate building than the adults and babies/crawlers. We'll just have to be sure to be very intentional about how we welcome people and how we explain the setup, and take people to drop off their kids rather than just point them to where the kids are at.

- The biggest news about the Northeast campus is that we've decided to postpone our launch until the beginning of next year, instead of launching this fall. There are many reasons why, like where we're at globally as a church, facing a big construction project and seeing explosive growth that is causing us to needing to start a 3rd Sunday gathering and expanding our missions programs. Also, things are taking longer than we had anticipated as far as financing and enlisting volunteers for the NE campus, so basically it came down to this: we can launch lame this fall, or we can launch LARGE in the new year.

- One our unwritten values at Del Sol is excellence, and so whatever we do, we want to do it well thus pushing back the launch date to January. I'm looking at the calendar and thinking and praying it through, but our new launch date will probably be either January 10th or 17th, 2010.

- Our staff will still come on board most likely next month and will begin working alongside our East campus staff to prepare for the Northeast campus and to really get indoctrinated with the Del Sol way of doing things.

- For this Summer GrowGroup semester, I'll be leading a GrowGroup at a home in the Northeast and will try to really get to know, in the context of community, several of our people who live out in that area of the city. When we launch the Fall semester of GrowGroups, I hope to have raised up a leader out of my Summer group and with a couple of other leaders, have 3 or 4 groups this Fall and meet together once a month or every 6 weeks as a way to bring the groups together, reminding them that we're part of Del Sol Church and that at that time, we'll be preparing the launch the Northeast campus.

- I think the Lord has led us to push back our launch date to give us more time to build up a following in the Northeast and have a better launch in January.

- I've been thinking through how to recruit volunteers, and what I think we'll do is ask for short-term commitments of 6, 8, or 12 weeks, and at the end of that term, our volunteers would have the option to stay and serve for another term or move back to the East campus - no guilt, no hard feelings. I got this idea from Chris Mavity at North Coast Church in the San Diego, California area, and I think we'll probably get a much better volunteer response doing it that way, rather than asking for long-term commitments like I had been planning on doing before my teleconference with Chris.

- Since we've been having such a hard time finding a kids ministry director, I'm even thinking about asking making that a flexible commitment, maybe asking someone to commit for 3 months at a time and have someone apprentice under then, and then after that, they can stay on or we can have their apprentice take over. I don't know ...still thinking that through.

So you can see there's a lot going on, so there's a lot to pray about, but here are a few ways I'd like to ask you to pray for me and for the Northeast campus this week:

1. Pray for my right ankle and knee to heal quickly and fully, as this injury has slowed me down quite a bit. It takes me a lot longer to walk, it's harder to drive, it's making my back hurt now, and it's totally disrupted my sleep cycle so I've been very tired this past week.

2. Pray for open doors in the Northeast community, and especially that this Summer GrowGroup will go well because how it goes will be a crucial measuring guide of how the NE campus will likely go. Ask God to send people to the group and to raise up new leaders for the Fall semester, as that semester will also be crucial for a successful launch.

3. Pray for First Wednesday (next Wednesday, May 6th) as our team leads the worship through music and as I preach and cast the vision for the NE campus. I'm going to be asking people to take their next step by either partnering with us in prayer or expressing their interest in volunteering - or hopefully, both! Please pray God will let many catch the vision and be interested in praying AND volunteering.

Thanks for your prayers! I truly believe they do make a difference.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Night Mind Purge

- Monday morning I went into the office for a little while, then volunteered at Wayside, then went to work at The Bagel Shop in the Northeast for a few hours. After that, I had an impromptu meeting with a someone who might attend the NE campus this fall, then ended up driving around the neighborhoods of the Northeast for awhile before coming home to relax a bit.

- I was at the office pretty much all day on Tuesday - 'til about 6 pm - and then came home to help my dad setup the AC's since it was supposed to be in the low 90's on Wednesday. I had a little incident happen that kind of slowed me down the rest of the week; an incident which I'm still recovering from today.

- On Tuesday, I found out that the church council shifted some budget designations in such a way that we had about $20,000 made immediately available for the NE campus startup costs, and another $15,000 or so available in the coming months.

- On Wednesday, I spent another day being at the church building literally all day. I did have a GREAT and very informative/thought provoking phone conversation with Chris Mavity from North Coast Church in Vista, California about multi-venue and multi-site churches. I also talked with the Principal of Dr. Nixon Elementary and found that there's just no way we'll be able to use classrooms for kids' ministry there; so, we'll have to find a way around it and make do with what's available. As Craig Groeschel said, "sometimes God guides by what He doesn't provide."

- Because of my fall on Tuesday afternoon and how the pain really tired me out and slowed me down, I didn't have the chance to post a NE campus update on Wednesday. Sorry!

- I went running again on Thursday, and it was a pretty painful experience for me. I think I'll be running with a knee brace for awhile.

- Thursday was also a day of working and mentally resting; I went out of the office for a lunch by myself so I could just gather my thoughts, then meet with my accountability/encouragement partner at Bux afterwards. Then I went back to the office for a bit and was trying to get some work done, but was pleasantly distracted by several guests to my office before I had to head home. I also did something Thursday evening, but I forget what it was; you forget things when you get to be my age. =)

- Friday was a typical Friday lately: supposed to be restful, but not really. I did get a new stereo installed in my CRV so now I can listen to my ipod once again. And our youth did an INCREDIBLE job putting on their annual dinner theater and silent auction fundraiser that evening. I enjoyed just being in the audience (instead of running around backstage), watching the show with Josh & Nicki and the Pryors. Here's a pic from the finale, with all the youth who took part in the production:

- I spend most of Saturday cleaning out my car, my parents cars, and doing some other chores around the casa before cleaning up and spending the evening at a surprise birthday party for a friend. My friend is a big fan of horses, thus the wicked awesome horse-shaped cupcakes:

- This morning was interesting; I attended part of the first worship celebration at Del Sol, then jetted to go to Paseo Christian Church to see someone lead the worship through music (but then found they had to cancel last minute), so then I stayed for awhile and then went back to Del Sol and caught the last part of 11 am worship celebration. At the every end, Walter had several soldiers in full dress uniform come on stage and we prayed for them as they prepare to deploy this week. I'm not gonna lie - I started cried tears of gratitude for those soldiers and their families. If there is one thing that just messes me up, it's thinking of our amazing military people who sacrifice SO much for you and for me.

- Afterwards, Rick and Kristin and I went to Corner Bakery Cafe (which has AWESOME customer service and great food) and we saw those soldiers that were on stage at Del Sol's East campus. I tried to pay for their food, but their commander wouldn't let me; instead, he tried to buy my lunch! It was mind blowing! This man - who has lived a life of utter sacrifice for me, and who has many times laid his life down on the line and risked dying for me, and who is about to go again to Iraq to defend our freedom - wants to pay for my lunch!!! This is the man who just minutes earlier on stage at Del Sol's East campus clapped for us regular Americans and thanked us for our support. Crazy. What in an incredibly selfless servant he is!

- And then this afternoon, the highlight of my week and the highlight of my month happened: I had the privilege of visiting my dear friend Debbie Abascal in the rehab hospital she's currently at. I hadn't seen her in a couple of weeks and though I had heard about her improvements, I desperately wanted to see her for myself. They wheeled her out of her room to the waiting area and she stuck out both her arms towards me in a "give me a hug" motion, which was a good sign because it meant she remembered me!

I ended up being with her and a few others visiting with her for about 2 hours, and she taught me how to play Skip Bo - and she beat us all at it(trust me, we weren't letting her win either!). After the game, we could all tell she was getting pretty tired so we walked her back to her room, talked a few minutes with her, and then I gave her a hug and told her I was so glad to see her. It was WONDERFUL to see her and I hope I'll be able to visit her again sometime this week.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Five - What makes me angry

It is REALLY difficult to make me mad, but for today's Friday Five, I'll tell you five things that make me angry:

1. Men that hit women/people that hurt kids. There is NOTHING more low, more despicable, more lousy, more detestable than a man who hits a woman or a person who hurts a kid. There is no excuse - NO excuse - at all for ever hitting a woman or intentionally hurting a kid.

If I saw a man hit a woman or saw someone intentionally hurt a kid, it would take every ounce of self-discipline for me to not grab that person, punch them in the throat, and then beat them to a bloody pulp.

2. People who talk about the people I love behind their backs. If you have a problem with someone I love, you've got a problem with me. If you talk about them behind their back, it's like you're talking about me. Don't you dare ever speak about someone I love behind their backs - you talk to them face to face and work things out, or shut your mouth. But whatever you do, you'd better not dare talk smack about my friends and family.

3. Not telling me the truth. It's a pretty common thing for someone to tell me what they think I want to hear, but what I always want to hear, in every situation, is the truth! I can usually tell when someone's lying to me, and I instantly lose lots of respect for people when they lie to me. Just tell me the truth; I'm not gonna be shocked or over-react; I'm not gonna lose respect for you; I'm not gonna love you any less.

If anything, when people honestly tell me what's going on - no matter what it is - I automatically respect them more for being courageous enough to speak the truth, and I love them more for trusting me with that truth. So please, don't lie to me - just tell me the truth and it'll be much better than if you try to lie to me.

4. Injustice. This one makes me really angry ...furiously angry, really ...when I see injustice. I've experienced injustice, I've seen family be acted against unjustly, I've suffered the long-term consequences of someone else acting unjustly against someone else - and let me tell you that as much as I hate seeing a woman or a kid get hurt, I can tolerate that a thousand times more than I can intolerance.

Those who have power over someone never, never, NEVER have the right to abuse that power at the expense of those under their power. I will be damned to hell before I will sit by and do nothing about injustice in our world. I may not be able to go and physically intervene against the hand of the wicked who commit injustice, but I can and must prayerfully and financially support those who do risk their lives to intervene and hold back the hand of the wicked.

5. When people put themselves down. I hate when wonderful people don't see that they're wonderful. It makes me feel very frustrated and upset when they put themselves down and say things like "I'm stupid" or "I'm ugly" or "Nobody loves me" because that's always a lie. You may not have the highest IQ, but you're not stupid; you may not make be someone who makes heads turn, but that doesn't mean you're ugly; you may not feel loved by many, but you ARE loved - by God, if by no one else. So stop putting yourself down and start seeing yourself as God sees you.

What makes you angry?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Fall.

So today I was working on setting up the AC's with my dad and I got on my ladder to climb down and do something, but instead of scaling down the ladder safely, I ended up falling off my roof.

I don't know what happened, but the ladder just slid out from under me. Actually, it's weird because it actually felt like the ladder was pulled out from under me. It was so weird, it was like slow motion; all I remember was feeling the ladder fall out from under my legs and trying to grab onto the roof to hang on and not fall.

That didn't work out too well.

I ended up falling with most of my weight landing on my right leg, which buckled under me and caused me to land on my rear. I had my wallet and my iphone in my back pockets, but thankfully I landed mostly on the right side of my rear which was where my wallet was, instead of on my left side which was where my iphone was. That could have been bad if I had landed on my iphone.

So this is the ladder I was at the top of:

And these are the scuffs from the legs when they slid out from under me:

So I don't know what this was all about, but I'm just glad I didn't break anything. I just have a badly bruised rear and a really painfully sore knee and ankle; that doesn't make for a good story and definitely didn't increase my coolness level at all, but at least I didn't have to spend any time in the hospital.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Plethora - state of being overfull; excess; superabundance.

Today, I've felt a plethora of different emotions and feelings:

- I've felt incredibly excited and joyful, knowing that a baby was born to some great friends of mine.

- I've felt happy, having a good meeting with someone and getting to know them better.

- I've felt amazed, seeing an awesome old waterhouse that's made of solid rock and is well over 100 years old, right in the middle of the Northeast.

- I've felt in absolute awe, discovering a neighborhood in the mountains of north-central El Paso that reminds me SO much of the mountains around Los Angeles.

- I've felt shocked, seeing a head on collision involving two trucks and a motorcyclist. That impact was about the most horrible sound I've ever heard in my life.

- I've felt horribly sad, hearing about some deep distress and trouble that very close friends of mine are in.

- I've cried tears of sadness about the distress and sadness my friends are in.

- I've cried tears of joy, reading about Debbie's progress on her CaringBridge website.

- I've been overjoyed, reading the comments on Debbie's site and thinking about how loved she is.

- I've prayed for Martha Mendoza and her family, knowing that they'll be in much the same state that Debbie's family has been in for awhile when Martha has her brain surgery next Monday.

- I've felt pumped that the Spurs beat the Mavs 105 to 84.

But more than anything, I've felt secure in the Lord, knowing I can trust Him because He is Lord over all things big and small, because He said in His word these things:

"Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other." - Deuteronomy 4:39

"The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD is on His heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; His eyes examine them." - Psalm 11:4

"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." - Psalm 18:2

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped ..." - Psalm 28:7

"For the word of the LORD is right and true; He is faithful in all He does." - Psalm 33:4

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him." - Psalm 34:8

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18

"Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me." - Psalm 54:4

"For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods." - Psalm 95:3

"Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal." - Isaiah 26:4

"For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is He who will save us." - Isaiah 33:22

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom." - Isaiah 40:28

"The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him ..." - Lamentations 3:25

"The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him ..." - Nahum 1:7

"But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him." - Habakkuk 2:20


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Monday ...a day that will live in infamy. Well, not really - but it was pretty cool; I worked on a leadership development and reproduction system for a presentation to staff meeting on Tuesday. I think I learned a lot more about the leadership pipeline we're looking at emulating, and I think that I helped the rest of the staff understand the amazing possibilities if we constantly raise up new leaders.

- I spent most of Tuesday at the office, since we had staff meeting. I had a great but brief meeting on Tuesday night with a potential kids' ministry director for the NE campus. After that I went to a couple of stores and started looking for a new stereo for my CRV.

- For some reason, I was pretty discouraged most of Monday and Tuesday. Dang spiritual warfare ...

- Wednesday was a pretty cool day. I spent the morning at the office, then went to The Bagel Shop in the Northeast to study some, and I got to meet a couple of people from the neighborhood there. I was able to get a lot done in just a couple of hours there. On Wednesday night, I had the privilege of sharing my health & fitness story with a ladies GrowGroup, then had our launch team meeting (with a new team member - shout out to Alicia!).

- Lately I've been sensing a wave of discouragement among the Christian community in El Paso, and in some of our team members, so I tried to encourage the team a bit by remind them that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us, and so we, in Christ, are overcomers and conquerors over worry and frustration and discouragement.

- I had a great lunch meeting on Thursday with a friend who is considering joining the launch team. Afterwards, I met with Craig (our worship pastor at the East campus) and looked at some equipment we've got that we might could use at the NE campus. After that, I did some more work at the office, put together a brief presentation for the church council, and then went to Walmart and did some shopping for some wares. And then, Village Inn with Rick, Kristin, and Alicia afterwards!

- Friday. My day off. That means the only day I get to sleep in. And my day to have Peter Piper Pizza's lunch buffet. And I also watched "The Day The Earth Stood Still" with Keanu Reeves, which I thought was pretty good.

- Yesterday we had a half-day CPR training at the East campus. It wasn't mandatory for me, but I wanted to go so that I could become trained in CPR, just in case I ever need it. I must say, it was really interesting and educational and tiring. Afterwards, I came home and took a nap, then went for a really long run on a new route, then cleaned out my car and showered up and got me some dinner. After all that, I watched "Doubt", which I can only describe as gripping. I definitely recommend that movie!

- Oh goodness, there's not much better than driving around in a freshly cleaned car:

- This morning I went to First Baptist Church El Paso for their "contemporary service" at 9 am. First is a very important church in the El Paso Baptist community; they're a symbol of sorts of how God has been at work in El Paso for a long time and how He has blessed the Church in El Paso over the centuries. It's such a beautiful facility there, and it feels so great to be there in the place where we as Baptists got our start in this great city.

It was also really sad, because you walk into this big, grand facility and its apparent that it used to be packed full of people, but now it's sparsely populated, is pretty much inward focused, and is in serious decline. I literally almost cried when there I was, in the auditorium of First Baptist Church, singing "God Of This City" and dreaming about the impact FBC could be having in El Paso.


Oh Lord, please revive that church! She can't die - she just can't! There's no way satan can have that win, there's no way he can take that ground. Lord awaken that church and let her be the beacon for You that she once was and could be once again.

- After that, I went over to Del Sol's East campus and attended the 11:00 am worship celebration. Walter's message was pretty inspirational and I left pumped up to seize the day and live my life, everyday like it was my last - because who knows, it just might be. Then I came home, had lunch, and tried to nap but wasn't too successful since my parents decided to go outside and do some gardening while I tried to nap.

It was cool hearing them interact as they worked, and then sat down together afterwards and enjoyed their work and talked about what it'll be like when the fruit trees bloom and the vegetables are ready to be picked, and planned to lounge out there and have cookouts and stuff. I'm really glad they're working on the yard and are taking pride in their land. It's pretty cool. =)

Update on Debbie Abascal, #20

So I know it's been 10 days since I last updated on Debbie, and that's been mostly because I haven't been able to see her since she was released from Sierra Medical Center and taken to Highlands Regional Rehabilitation Hospital.

She's going through therapy basically all day and they're limiting her visitors to basically family and the closest of friends so that she won't be overstimulated, because too many visitors and too much stimulation could actually set her recovery back instead of helping her go forward on this journey to being totally healed.

So, I haven't been there - but Debbie's sister Dorie was here in El Paso for several days and did a great job posting updates on Debbie's Caring Bridge website. I'd encourage you to check out her most recent updates here:

In general, it seems like Debbie's making steady progress, and everyday I hear good progress reports from those who have seen her.

So let's keep praying for her and let's keep believing that God will heal her totally and will provide for all of her and Manolo's needs - especially financial needs, since I know how expensive hospital stays are, even with the best of insurance plans.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Five - Five favorite foods

Today's Friday Five - My 5 favorite foods:

1. Pit-smoked Barbecue. It just doesn't get much better than some smokey brisket (the smokier, the better) with some tangy barbecue sauce and some homemade potato salad and rolls ...and maybe some good ol' apple pie afterwards for dessert. YUM!

2. Mashed potato tacos. I know many of you have made fun of me about this one, but I just LOVE mashed potato tacos. It's simple! Just fill some home fried taco shell with mashed potatoes, add salsa, lettuce, tomato, and cheese and you're good to go!

3. Grilled chicken broccoli alfredo. Mmmm ...a plate of that with some toasted garlic bread and I'm good!

4. Pizza. Not just ANY pizza, and especially not Little Caesar's Pizza - but good pizza like Peter Piper Pizza or Pizza Hut, or better yet ...Giordano's Pizza in Chicagoland.

5. Breakfast platter. Oh man, there's no better way to start the day than with some scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and hash browns ...and some fresh orange juice, of course.

What are some of your favorite foods?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Del Sol Church - Northeast Campus update

Usually I do these on Wednesdays, but this week I'm a day late. Sorry! Here's the latest update on the Northeast campus ...

- I've been meeting with a lot of people lately - potential volunteers - to share the vision of the NE campus with them and ask them to pray about joining our launch team. It seems like every night I've been meeting with people and talking about our campus, and it's been tiring but also exciting as I see people catch the vision and get excited and commit to praying about joining us. We've still got a long way to go in enlisting around 100 volunteers, but we're definitely making progress.

- On Sunday, I put a very brief blurb in the handout about what we're doing, and I had probably a dozen people come up to me and ask about the campus, so I think that helped raise awareness about the campus. I'm gonna put an update in there regularly, like every other week, to keep the East campus updated on our progress.

- On Wednesday, May 6th, at our next First Wednesday communion service, I will be bringing an inspirational vision-casting message to our church family and I think that will help raise awareness about the NE campus. Our Northeast worship director, Nicki Sattelmeier, will lead worship through music on that night. Hopefully we'll be able to enlist some new volunteers there, and will open up the doors to have more conversations about the possibility of having more people join the campus.

- I had a meeting today with a man who is the unofficial leader of a group of a dozen or so people from First Baptist Church El Paso who are considering joining our team. We hadn’t talked in awhile, so it was good to catch up, to update him on where we’re at, and to again clarify that if they join us, it’ll be a Del Sol Church work and that we’re not looking for people coming from other churches with baggage who will hurt our potential. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes …

- I also met with Craig Sikes, worship pastor at our East campus, and talked about our technology budget and looked at the equipment we have at the East campus that we might be able to use at the Northeast campus. He had some great suggestions on how we could save some money and still do things well, and there was probably enough equipment available to allow us to trim at least $3,000 from our launch budget.

- And I also talked with one of the co-owners of Arrow Building today and he told me that we can use one of his trucks to pull our storage trailer with all our equipment, once we get it. Honestly, that’s been in the back of my mind all year, so it’s a huge relief to know that we’ll actually be able to pull our trailer when we finally get it.

- The administration at Dr. Nixon Elementary is set on NOT letting us use any classrooms there for kids. Not using classrooms is simply not an option. I’ve been trying to setup a time to meet with the Assistant Principal to find out what the concerns are and explain several ways we want to address those concerns and make sure we’re a blessing, not a burden, to the school. We’ve been playing phone tag, but hopefully I’ll be able to get in touch with someone next week.

So even with that, clearly the Lord is working things out in our favor.

So here's how you can pray for me and for the Northeast campus this week:

1. Keep praying for the Lord to provide the rest of the financing for our launch expenses.

2. Pray for me as I prepare to preach on May 6th at First Wednesday. I know the Biblical text I’m going to use, but please ask the Lord to handle that text appropriately, to give me the exact words to say, and to open the hearts of the people who will be there and to continue to send committed volunteers to help us launch this fall.

3. Ask the Lord to work it so that I can meet with the AP at Nixon and talk about the no-classroom issue, and ask Him to work it out so that we can use the classrooms.

Thanks for your prayers!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lindsay, you are not alone.

I saw this while I was in line at Target today:
Dumped, humiliated, broke & crying: "Everyone's turned on me." Friends fear she's suicidal. "I AM SO ALONE."

If I could say anything to Lindsay Lohan right now, I would say this: you are not alone.

Lindsay, I would tell you about the God who loves you with all His heart. I would tell you that there are people like me who love you, because you are a beautiful, magnificent, wonderful creation of that God who loves you so much.

I would tell you that you are deeply cared about, that I care about you and pray for you, and that God wants to be your perfect Father.

I would give you a Bible of your own and underline this verse and tell you to claim it: "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:18.

More than anything, I would try to be there for you and would try to connect you with some women I know who would love you and care for you in such a way that you would see the love of God through them.

Lindsay Lohan, you are not alone.

If you would, please take a moment and pray for Lindsay right now. Ask God to show her how much He loves her and to send people with pure motives into her life who will love her unconditionally and will care about her, no strongs attached - not because she's a celebrity, but because she is a person who matters to God.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Last weekend I was in Chicago with Rick and Kristin at NewThing Network's "Hitchhiker's Guide to Multi-Site" event, and since I didn't get a day off, I took a half day off on Monday. After volunteering at Wayside, I went down to The Bagel Shop's new Northeast location for opening day and spent a few hours there working because they have free wifi there! I think I'll be spending a lot more time there because of the good food and free wifi.

Corner Bakery Cafe also opened on Monday, so I went there for dinner. Yum! I will definitely be frequenting that place too. Now if only we could get a dang Panera Bread down here in El Paso!

- Tuesday was a super busy day! Pretty much the WHOLE day ('til 7 pm) was spent working at the office catching up on work from the weekend and from taking half of Monday off. And honestly, I don't even remember what I did that evening, but don't worry - I'm sure whatever it was, it was wholesome and clean. =)

- Wednesday was another long day at the church building; I went in at 10 am and didn't get home 'til nearly 9 pm because I had lots of work to do, a couple of daytime meetings, then I helped someone with a project afterhours, then had our NE Campus launch team meeting that night.

- Oh also on Wednesday, I had a GREAT lunch meeting with Pastor Tony Lara and his wife Charissa from
River's Edge Church. Man, those two are just awesome and so Kingdom minded. They gave me some GREAT feedback and great ideas about how we need to prepare and what we need to think through for the NE campus launch. I also got to share some ideas and names of vendors with them, so hopefully I was some help to them too.

- Thursday was pretty good. I met with Jeremy, my friend/accountability/encouragement partner at Bux and caught up on things and gave him some advice, received some advice from him, and we prayed for each other. Then I was at the office the rest of the day,

- Friday ...ahhh, my day off. I loved it. I slept in, had a nice, relaxed lunch at Peter Piper Pizza, then came home and watched some TV, read a little bit, then went to a Good Friday service at a very traditional, liturgical church in the Northeast. That was ...different. Afterwards, I drove around looking for somewhere to eat that wasn't fast food, and couldn't find anything, so I started driving.

Sometimes I drive and have no destination; it's just a drive. So I ended up in central somehow, and went up to Scenic drive (mental note: Friday nights at Scenic drive is not the best time to go - too many people, and most of them making out in public. Eww...). It's beautiful up there!

I was there for awhile and prayed over the city, prayed for the NE campus, and prayed for Juarez, then ended up Downtown in Kern Place. Have you ever been to Kern Place? If not, wow, you're missing out. That's one of the oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods in El Paso. Then I finally ended up eating at Jaime's Cafe, a little dive down on Alameda, then went home and went to bed. It was a good day.

- I was so mentally worn out from long nights and lots of deep thinking all week that I rested most of Saturday. I slept in again, went for a good long run, did some more reading, watched Slumdog Millionaire, and then went to Life Church for their Saturday night service at 7:30 pm. By the time it was over and I got home, all I had time to do was iron my shirt for Sunday, and then crawl into bed.

- I was incredibly restless on Saturday night; I just could not fall asleep for the longest time! It must not have been 1 or 2 am until I finally fell asleep, and then I had to be up at 6 am anyway this morning.

- So I was at the church just before 7:30 this morning, and served as an usher/welcomer in all 3 worship celebration services this morning. The 8:00 am service was pretty empty; I mean, REALLY empty. The 9:30 and 11:00 am services were packed, but the 11:00 am service especially. We ran out of seats at 11 and had to add about 20 or so chairs inside the worship center, and we had a bunch of people who didn't want us to accommodate them inside and just sat in the cafe watching. It was just a great time of worship.

- I saw a LOT of our regular Del Sol family park in the parking lot today instead of parking across the street. I even saw one car that was a DSC regular parked in a guest spot for all 3 services! Oh my goodness, was I upset! I don't know why people just don't seem to get it - if you are physically able, park across the street! It was SO heartbreaking to be out in the cafe and see several cars drive in, drive around a few times looking for a place to park, and then drive away because there were no spots. Rawr!!!!

- Jesus said in John 12 that when He is lifted up, He would draw all people to Himself, so I know that His Spirit was at work this morning in our church and in so many other churches in El Paso and in the country and in the world, and I believe He drew many to Himself this weekend.

- The GREATEST part of today, the part that made me SO proud to be a part of Del Sol Church, was at the 11:00 am service when us ushers were seating people well into the service, and a mom and her young son came up to me and said "our seats are over there; we're going to go sit outside so that you can give our seats to someone else." Wow. Wow. WOW!!! That woman and her son definitely knew what it meant when Jesus said He came to serve, not to be served, and when Philippians 2:5 said our attitude as believers must be the same as Christ Jesus.

- Wow. Thanks, lady and son. I'm SO excited to get to Heaven and see how God is going to reward you for that simple act of serving others and showing God's love in a practical way.

Good marketing

Very rarely, a TV commercial will stop me in my tracks and make me go "wow, that is some great marketing!" In a world where marketing, for the most part, is bland, passionless, and lacks any semblance of creativity, I love it when I find some good, creative marketing.

The new Sprint Now Network commercial is one of them. I think gets the facts across in a very clever, creative, and witty way:


What do you think of it?

Were you there?

Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?

"He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay." - Matthew 28:6

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Were you there?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they pierced Him in His side?
Were you there when they pierced Him in His side?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!
Were you there when they pierced Him in His side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble!
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?


Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Five - Sermon Series'

Today's Friday Five - The 5 sermon series' that I want to preach:

1. "The Gospel". Above all else, I love talking about the message of the Gospel - whether on stage or one-on-one at Bux - and so I'd love to do a message series where all we talk about is the Gospel. We'd talk about what it is, what it isn't, how it affects our everyday lives, why it's such a big deal to Christians and why we put such a high value on telling others about it, etc. I mean, we'd just talk all about the Gospel every week, and every week we'd give people an opportunity to respond to it.

2. Something about Jesus (like "Missing Jesus", "Re:Jesus", etc.). Really, this should be number 1 also because it's on the same level as the Gospel. As much as I love talking about the Gospel, I equally love talking about Jesus. I mean, there's no Gospel without Jesus, and Jesus is all about the Gospel, so they really do go hand in hand. So this message series would probably be like what Troy's doing with our youth, where he's talking about misconceptions we have about Jesus and is revealing the true Jesus of the Bible.

3. "Storyline". Life is a story, and all of history is a story, so I'd love to talk about the storyline of the Bible: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. I know I've talked about it before, but I can't help it ...I just love the storyline of history that is woven through every verse of the Bible, so I'd love to take like 4 or 6 weeks and just talk about it and weave in the hearer's mind a tapestry of how God has been at work since before the beginning of time up 'til this very moment right now.

4. "Junk in the Trunk". So that I'm aware of, nobody has done anything like what I'm thinking of with this message series. This one I'm pumped about, because I think I'm actually doing something original with this one; it'll be about the crap we have in our lives that we try to hide (our "junk in the trunk") and how God wants us to bring it out in the light and process through it in community and find healing and forgiveness and release as we surrender to God by taking our junk out of the trunk and give it over to Him.

5. An expositional message series. Craig Groeschel over at did a series awhile back on Habakkuk - with the ridiculously creative title "Habakkuk" =) - which was basically an expositional (verse-by-verse or chapter-by-chapter) teaching series, but rather than just reading the verses and "exposing" them, he did that, but he did it in a way that each section of Scripture had a theme or topic.

Walter does a pretty good job at that; when he taught through Philippians, he did a great job at that. Expositional preaching is not something I'm good at, and I want to challenge myself and force myself to grow as a leader, so that's probably the best way for me to grow as a communicator at this point.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Update on Debbie Abascal, #19

More good news! Debbie was released from Sierra Medical Center and was transferred to Highland Regional Rehabilitation Hospital this evening.

Update on Debbie Abascal, #18

Debbie is now in room 335 at Sierra Medical Center, but I don't think she is taking visitors right now, except for her family of course.

She did well in physical therapy today, and they're hoping to move her to Highlands Regional Rehabilitation Hospital either today or tomorrow, which will make things much easier for Manolo since it's much, much closer to home for him than Sierra.

So she's making great progress! I'm just amazed that two weeks ago, she had major brain surgery and then an emergency brain surgery shortly after that, and now she's awake and pretty aware and is eating and is ready to go to rehab! It's just amazing how God has healed her so far. I know He's heard our prayers so far, so let's keep praying!

Also, don't forget to check out her Caring Bridge website and leave some encouragement for the family at

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday campus update

Wednesday means it's time for an update on the progress of the Northeast campus. Here goes ...

- Over the weekend, Rick, Kristin, and I went to Chicagoland to Community Christian Church for the NewThing Network's Hitchhiker's Guide to Multi-Site experience. It was a great experience, but because of that, this past week has been kind of slow, work wise. I've made some more contacts with other pastors in the Northeast, some potential volunteers, and with other community members. We'll see where the Lord leads things with all these contacts I've made.

- I've been working on a list of potential volunteers. We need around 70 - 90 volunteers and right now we have about 15 or so probable volunteers. This is something to keep working on, so I'm going to have to get the rest of the DSC East staff to help me think of some volunteers. We as a church are talking about our leadership development and reproduction system, and I think as we talk through this, we'll be able to better think through our volunteers.

- I feel like we're making progress, but it's a lot slower than I'd like it to be happening. I don't want to get ahead of God, but at the same time I don't want to go too slow and not be keeping in step with the Spirit. I feel like we're lagging behind, but I don't know. We really need to get some more team members soon. I'm just praying for God's wisdom and guidance in all that we're facing.

So here's how you can pray for me and for the Northeast campus this week:

1. Pray for God's wisdom and guidance about financing and timing for the Northeast campus. I don't want to get ahead of God, but don't want to fall behind either. I don't want to be a bad financial manager of the Lord's money and overspend, but I don't want to underspend and have the Lord's work suffer because of that. I just want to be in His will.

2. Pray for God to encourage the launch team members we have already, and ask Him to work in the hearts of future team members. Ask God to show me and the other current team members who we might ask to pray about joining our team. God is working in people and raising them up, but we still need plenty more, so please pray about that.

3. Pray for encouragement for me. I've felt really discouraged lately, and it's been slowing me down. I don't want satan to have a foothold in my life, but he certainly knows how to attack me with discouragement. Please pray against the work on satan in my life, in the life of our team, and in the life of Del Sol Church and our leadership.

Thanks for your prayers!

Update on Debbie Abascal, #17

More great news about Debbie - they've moved her out of the ICU unit and into her own room. She's on the third floor of Sierra Medical Center in room 330, but is still not taking non-family visitors.

She's still very tired and needs lots of rest and minimal stimulation, but my goodness what progress she's made in these 13 days! They're arranging for her to go to a rehab hospital, probably Highlands (on George Dieter near Rojas) pretty soon.

It seems like everyday she is making more and more progress, and I believe that she is making such great progress because of God working through our prayers and being merciful to her, so keep praying and keep believing that God will continue to heal her.

Also, don't forget to check out Debbie's Caring Bridge website and leave some encouragement on the guestbook for Debbie and her family:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Could pride actually be a good thing?

So we've all heard that it's not good to be proud. Pride is a form of selfishness, and nobody like selfish people, right? So naturally, we're not big fans of prideful people.

For those of us who are Christians, we hear plenty of sermons and teaching about not being proud, about humility and service and that sort of thing. Pride is looked down upon; it's a bad thing that should be avoided, right? It's a sin. Verses like Proverbs 16:18 that say "pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" and James 4:6 where we see that Scripture says "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Surely, we see that Biblically speaking, pride is bad, pride is sin, right?

But yet I wonder there such a thing as good pride?

Consider this quote from a Thanksgiving Day prayer by Peter Marshall: "O help us to appreciate all that we have, to be content with it, to be grateful for it, to be proud of it — not in an arrogant pride that boasts, but in a grateful pride that strives to be more worthy."

And also consider Galatians 6:4: "Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else ..."

How can the Bible condemn pride in one place and then praise it in another? Could it be that what Peter Marshall implied is true, that there are two types of pride: arrogant pride and grateful pride?

Think about Moses, who wrote in about himself in Numbers 12:3 this: "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." How can a man be humble, and yet write about himself that he is the most humble person on the face of the earth?

Surely there must be more to this issue of pride than what we think. Perhaps it's not pride in and of itself that's sinful and that God opposes; perhaps it's the wrong kind of pride - an arrogant pride - that He is against, rather than a grateful pride which causes us to strive to be more worthy of God our Father.

What do you think?

Update on Debbie Abascal, #16

Debbie is doing great today. They removed her feeding tube, she is eating on her own, and is sitting in a chair. I'm constantly amazed at every bit of progress she is making everyday, and I'm so grateful to the Lord for bringing her more and more healing each day.

Debbie's husband Manolo was in very good spirits when I saw him yesterday, but I can only imagine how tired of being at the hospital he must be. He said that they might release her to a rehab hospital on Wednesday, and that they're looking at what will be best for both Debbie and for her family - probably something closer to their home.

I know God hears your prayers and is working through them, so don't stop praying for her, for the doctors, and for her family.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Update on Debbie Abascal, #15

I received a text today saying that Debbie doing much better. Today, the doctor said she has turned a corner in her healing and is going in the direction of being released for rehab.

Let's keep celebrating these small steps of progress and let's keep praying!

Also, don't forget the Caring Bridge website that was setup for you to leave comments for Debbie's family:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Update on Debbie Abascal, #14

I've been out of town this weekend and most of the places I was at didn't have free WiFi or didn't have WiFi at all, so I haven't really been able to update.

Since I've been out of town, I haven't had a chance to go visit Debbie in the hospital, but I was told by someone who was able to visit that she's making progress. She's making slow but steady progress.

She recognizes people and can squeeze your hand as a way of communicating, but for the most part she just sleeps - which is probably good because it gives her body time to heal. Her right hand is working now, but still weak.

So while we'd all love to see her make progress faster, the important thing is that she IS making progress. Let's celebrate the progress and let's keep praying for her, for the doctors, and for her family as they've basically lived at the hospital for over a week now.

Also, don't forget the Carind Bridge website that was setup for you to leave comments for Debbie's family:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Update on Debbie Abascal, #13

Great news about Debbie! They removed her breathing tube today and are thinking of moving her into rehab on Monday!

God's working in this situation. Let's keep praying!

By the way, one of Debbie's sisters set up a "Caring Bridge" website where you can leave comments on the guestbook for her family - you can check it out here:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Update on Debbie Abascal, #12

More good news! I just received a call about Debbie - the doctors say she is breathing on her own and they want to take her breathing tube out, but they're concerned that her muscles may not be strong enough to hold her airways open, so they're gonna give her 24 hours and see if she continues to do well and if so, they'll take the tube out.

So today, please pray that her muscles will be strong so that when they take out the tube, she will
be able to keep breathing on her own.

Also, she's still able to respond with her hands and feet, so those are good signs as well.

It seems like things are looking up for Debbie, but she and her family and the doctors still needs our prayers. Keep praying because clearly, God is answering our prayers for her to be well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday Update

Wednesday means it's time for an update on the progress of the Northeast campus. Here goes ...

- The main project I've been working on this past week is a ministry plan for the Northeast campus. It's basically a business plan for the campus, with goals, processes, timelines, etc. in it. It's amazing how stretching this journey to become multi-site is; I'm doing things I've never done before, like the ministry plan, and job descriptions, and that sort of thing. It's pretty interesting, stressful, and exciting doing this as we go. It's kind of like not knowing how to swim and bring thrown in the pool and learning how to swim while you're flailing around in the water. It's very interesting.

- As part of that ministry plan, I've been reworking a launch budget I'd been given. The budget was around $260,000 and I really want to stay at $100,000 or less for start up costs. I was able to pare it down today to just about $130,000 for launch expenses, but that's still too much. I really feel that we can do it for $100,000 or less, and it's just a matter of figuring out what a barebones budget would be, what we need and what we can do without, and how we can still facilitate an excellent worship experience with what we have. Again, I've never done this before, but I believe God is leading me as I think it through and rework it.

- On Sunday, March 22nd I had met with a couple to ask them to pray about the wife joining as the kids ministry director. This past Sunday, the wife called me to let me know that they had prayed about it and felt God leading them in a different direction, so now I've gotta talk with the next person on my list and give them time to pray. Honestly, I'm kind of discouraged about that right now. I know God has someone perfect in place for us, but I just want to know who it is right now. It's amazing how God seems to know where I'm at emotionally and knows how to bring encouragement to me. Today, Buddy posted a single sentence that really helped put thing in perspective for me; I'm still kind of discouraged, but I'm encouraged knowing that (as Buddy said): "Before your greatest victory comes your greatest discouragement." So that means a great victory is just around the corner, and I'm claiming it now and thanking God in advance for what He's doing.

So here's how you can pray for me and for the Northeast campus this week:

1. This weekend, Rick, Kristin, and I are going to the NewThing Network's "Hitchhiker's Guide to Multi-Site" event in a suburb of Chicago. We leave mid-day Friday and come back Sunday night. Pray for us for safe travel of course, but also pray that God will open our eyes and our minds to process our experience, to learn whatever it is there is to learn there, and to really hear from God about what the next steps are.

2. Like I mentioned above, I'm reworking a budget and it's pretty mentally intense work. Please pray for God to show us exactly what our budget needs to look like and to provide the money we still need to cover our launch expenses.

3. Also pray for God to bring to us the person He has in store for us to lead our kids' ministry. Like I said, even though God is in control, it can still be pretty discouraging to be turned down by person after person when you really need someone to join your team. God's in control, but still I'd appreciate your prayers about that.

Update on Debbie Abascal, #11

I was told that Debbie's had a good day, and that she is beginning to respond to verbal commands and is able to squeeze with her hands.

All good signs!

Praise God, and keep praying! =)

Update on Debbie, #10

Good news! Debbie had a CT scan done on her and that scan showed that the bleeding has stopped, and she is in stable condition. She was able to open her eyes for the doctors, but they cannot stimulate her anymore for awhile so that she can continue to heal.

It will still be a long process of recovery, but thank God for the good news that the bleeding has stopped and that she's stable.

Let's celebrate that progress, and lets continue to pray over this situation!