Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Monday was Memorial Day. It was nice to not have to go to work, but to be able to sleep in a little and then spend the day with some friends at the El Paso Zoo:
(Pic link:

We spent all day there, then afterwards I went to visit my grandpa's grave site and thank him for serving our great country:
(Pic link:

- So because Monday was a day off, Tuesday felt a LOT like a Monday. It was weird. I spent the morning at the office, then went to work over at The Bagel Shop in the Northeast for the afternoon, then went to study at Starbucks for awhile when The Bagel Shop closed for the day.

- The Northeast is really starting to grow on me, and I'm really beginning to get to know the roads there pretty well.

- On Wednesday, I worked until about 1:30 at the office, then went to Sam Chatterton Sr.'s funeral and the grave site service which went from 2 to 4:30 pm. It was AMAZING to walk into that church and see it packed full of hundreds of people, so many so that there were people standing around, and the line of cars driving out to the cemetery looked to be several miles long. It must've been so comforting to the family to see so many people there who loved and respected Mr. Chatterton.

- Afterwards, I went back to the office and stayed all night since we had a launch team meeting that evening.

- Thursday was a weird day. I had meetings ALL day, from first thing in the morning lasting until about 3 pm, so I didn't even get to do any work until a little after 3 pm. I was by Bassett when my last meeting ended, so I just went to Starbucks in the Northeast and worked there for a couple of hours, then came home.

- On Friday, I slept in (of course, since it's my day off) then had lunch and ran some errands. I also spent awhile at the Cliett's home, hanging out with Tom and Kim and Kayla and talking about their future. Tom finally found a job, but it's in Dallas and it starts tomorrow, so Tom and Kayla left that afternoon for Dallas. Kim and Terra and Alissa will be moving to the Big D after school gets out in a couple of weeks.

- I'm REALLY gonna miss the Clietts. I've gone through a lot with Tom and Kim, prayed a lot for them and for those beautiful girls of theirs, and they've been good friends to me. I'm really, truly gonna miss them but it's not a "goodbye", it's more of a "see you later" because I know I'll see them from time to time whenever I make my way over to that side of the state.

- After saying goodbye to Tom and Kayla, I went home, watched a movie, then went to go hang out with the youth for a little while since they were getting ready for their yard sale on Saturday.

- I ended up sleeping in late again on Saturday, because I had just been so tired all week. After I got up, I did my stretches (my muscles get very tense and tight after sleeping) then did some work on my computer for awhile, and finally got around to showering around 3 pm. After that I ran some more errands that I didn't get to on Friday and came home and watched another movie, then went to bed.

- This morning was interesting. I enjoyed Craig's music selection for this morning and I think it was good timing for Walter's message about getting out of being stuck in dullness. I went to the 9:30 am worship celebration service, then sat in the lobby during the 11 am worship celebration service. It was an interesting day, and I could tell that the Lord was truly working in people's hearts this morning - there were people who stayed behind long after we finished up, dealing with God individually or praying with friends and family, and there were people crying before the message, during the music.

- It's amazing how music has such power in our lives.

- Sometimes I really take on the load of other people's pain, hurting with them when they hurt, and it wears me out. Today was one of those days hurting with people, praying for them, and encouraging them so I was wiped out by lunch time. I went to lunch with the Pryors and one of their interns, then came home and napped, then got up and spent the evening doing the front lawn.

- I REALLY enjoyed working on the lawn this evening. I'm looking forward to doing the back yard tomorrow evening.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

You're both the perpetrator AND the victim.

Josh over at The Bridge Church posted what's below a couple of days ago on his blog, and I thought it was worth repeating:

A quick devotional thought from my reading a couple days ago…

When we sin, we are both the perpetrator and the victim.

We are both guilty before God and enslaved by sin.

The gospel is both forgiveness and freedom.

Jesus is both our sacrifice of atonement and our kinsman redeemer.

Theologically liberal people tend to view sinners as victims only while fundamentalists tend to view sinners as criminals only. If we view ourselves as only victims, we’ll never confront and repent of our sin… but if we only view ourselves as criminals, God will seem a harsh judge to us and we’ll eventually wilt under the weight of constant guilt.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Five - What I'm grateful for this week

So I know last week I wrote about what I was thankful for, but I'm gonna do it again - because I can. =)

Five things I'm grateful for this week:

1. Old friends. Today I saw my friend Marti, someone I've known for years, someone who just graduated from college and who I hadn't seen in months. It was good to see her and to congratulate her. I'm very proud of here. Also, some good friends of mine - the Clietts - are moving to Dallas in a couple of weeks and I got to spend some good time with them this afternoon. Tom and his daughter Kayla are heading out today because Tom starts his new job on Monday, and I'm really glad he got a good job, but I sure am gonna miss them.

2. New friends. It's hard to say goodbye to old friends, but I'm also glad to make new friends. I'm thankful for the Pryors, the Mosers, the Cossels, Greg Hunt, and John Roman among others. Having new friends to do life together with makes it just a bit more bearable to say goodbye to old friends when the Lord moves them on to someplace else.

3. Having a job. I know I said it last week, but today was payday and I was so grateful to have a paycheck to deposit in the bank today.

4. Air conditioning. Seriously's getting mighty warm these days and in this desertland we call El Paso, Texas, it's good to have air conditioning. There are people in our city who don't have it, or who can't afford to use it because of a job loss or income reduction, and so I'm very grateful to have this nice little perk called air conditioning.

5. Art. Several of my friends are incredible photographers. They get a hold of a camera and they don't just take a picture - they create art. I know others who design graphics and create art with a mouse and some software. Some use a paint brush and canvas; others use a guitar or piano or bass or drums. Some even use lights and light mixing boards to create incredible light shows, or they use a sound engineering board and and sound effects panel. The world is full of art in so many different places and in so many different forms, and I'm so grateful for those who, acting like their Creator, use their creative abilities to bless this world with art.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What Baptists Believe, Part 3

In part 1 of this blog series, we talked about Baptists and our relation to other Christian groups, then in part 2 we talked about how we Baptists believe in the authority of the Scriptures, how they're the final, all-sufficient guide for life and Godliness.

In this third part, we'll talk about something called people and a doctrine called Soul Competency.

The Bible clearly lays out three truths about each individual:
1. Individual worth. Each and every person, no matter how young or old, born or unborn, handicapped or not, has supreme worth (meaning they're the most valuable of all creations on earth) and has dignity simply because they are created by God. Genesis talks about God creating humanity in His image - meaning we are all created with will, intellect, desires, passions, sense of humor, etc. Simply put, all humans are valuable because God is valuable and He created us with value.

2. Individual salvation. The Bible also teaches that salvation is a personal matter, not a corporate matter; in other words, God saves people on a one-on-one basis, not in groups. Yes, Jesus Christ died for all people in all times (sorry Calvinists, I don't hold to Unconditional Election) - but He never lost sight of the individual. To me, that's an amazing thought that when Jesus was dying, He was thinking of humanity as a whole but also of every person in all of history, individually.

Jesus talked about the joy in Heaven over one person who repents, and James also talks about how God doesn't want anyone on earth to live on earth and in eternity after death without personally knowing Him. So each person must on their own - not because of their parents and not because of religion or culture - must consciously and intentionally choose to make Jesus Christ their personal Savior and Lord.

3. Individual responsibility. This is a theme found throughout the whole Bible. From Genesis to Revelation we see that each individual is accountable for themself and responsible for their choices made in this life, and that God will hold each person accountable on an individual basis for how they lived their life.

Because of these three things, you see why we in America and we as Christians have simply had no choice but to stand against the totalitarianism of Asian, European, and South American lands in the last century and even today. That the individual has no worth except what he contributes to the state is wrong because it devalues humanity and it devalues God in Whose image humanity was created in. This is why American forces have, since the Revolutionary Way days, fought against tyranny and oppression: the intrinsic worth of all humans.

Because of these 3 things mentioned above, we Baptists believe in two doctrines called Soul Competency and Soul Freedom.

Soul competency is simply defined as the ability of each person to personally deal with God on their own. This is perhaps our fundamental principle as Baptists, but it's important to note that it is competency under God, not apart from God. Apart from God, we humans could not even breathe! We are competent under God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Two facts imply this competency, as was mentioned above:
1. Each soul is created by God and possesses God-given abilities.
2. Each individual is held accountable to God, because God would not hold someone accountable if they were not competent to deal with God on their own.

There are also two vitally important truths that emerge from this doctrine of soul competency:
1. Each person can read, understand, and interpret the Bible for themself (with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, of course). Nobody has to tell you what to believe or not believe. This stands in stark contrast to what Roman catholics believe; the belief of the catholic church is that individuals are incapable of reading and interpreting the Bible on their own. As we look at history, it can be seen that many, many people died at the hands of the Roman catholic church because they believed that everyone can and should be able to read the Bible for themselves.

Some Protestant denominations don't hold the same view as catholics, but they do emphasize studying the cathechism over the Bible. They study the Scriptures in light of the catechism instead of vice versa as it should be.

2. Each person can approach God on their own. You are a priest unto yourself, totally competent to deal directly with God without the intervention of anyone else (1 Timothy 2:5, Revelation 1:5-6). Nobody can take your place in approaching God and nobody can obey God for you. Sure, you can be taught and persuaded, but just like how only you can prevent forest fires, only you can deal with God for yourself. No priest or parent can intervene for you.

Any and every to intervene with God on someone's behalf (like infant baptism or confession) is a direct violation of the Word of God, is a denial that each soul is competent to deal with God on their own, and is a violation of the rights of an individual. The way to God is open to everyone through Jesus Christ alone, and to intervene (no matter how good your intentions are) is simply wrong. When Jesus Christ died and the temple veil was torn in two, it signified that the way to God through Christ is now open to everyone - no human priest needed because Jesus is our priest.

Interestingly, this belief in soul competency and soul freedom really puts us in major disagreement with the Roman catholic church, which holds to sacerdotalism (the belief that people need priests to go between them and God; priestism). The catholic church believes that the soul is actually INcompetent and that the work of Jesus on the cross was not enough to redeem and that only human, priestly, catholic hands are competent for salvation.

This is also why sacramentalism (the idea that sacraments automatically earn salvation) is wrong. There is no power in baptism or communion or any other sacrament to wash away sin or to give any sort of spiritual blessing or benefit. This doesn't mean the ordinances of baptism through total immersion and the Lord's Supper are useless, just that they are purely symbolic.

Finally, rituals and ceremonies have their place, but not if they become empty and are done out of habit instead of a heart of worship. We Baptists are opposed to any church or person assuming the authority that belongs to the Scriptures alone, or intervening between a person and God. We strongly oppose any sort of church structure that calls for someone somewhere to tell a church what to do.

As each person is competent and free to deal with God for themself, on their own, so each local church must be free and competent to deal with God on their own, answering to no human authority, pledging ultimate allegiance to Jesus Christ alone. While churches and Christians should cooperate for the work of God on earth, each person and each church must remain free to deal with God on their own, in their own way, with no one getting in the way or telling them how to do it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Ahh Monday. It was a good day. A lot of people are down on Mondays, but I think they're just Negative Nellies because I actually LIKE Mondays. On Monday I got into the office just a little after 9 am (which is the earliest I've been into the office in a LOOOOOOOOOONG time) and got a good amount of work done before heading out to Wayside to work the lunch crowd, then caught up with a few friends who were in town from college. After that, I went to the Bagel Shop in the Northeast to work for awhile, then when they close I went to read at Starbucks for awhile. It was a good day.

- I'm gonna miss volunteering at Wayside for lunch on Mondays when summer comes. Next Monday will be the last one until the new school year.

- On Tuesday I got into the office around 10 am (my usual arrival time) and worked for a couple of hours, then booked it to Hanks High School because I was told it was the last Youth for Christ campus club of the year. It wasn't, but it was so great to walk in and hardly recognize anyone because of all the new faces there. After that, I went to the Bagel Shop again for lunch and to work, then came back to the Eastside to look through some leadership development stuff at LifeWay.

- On Wednesday, I spent some time in the morning at the office then went alll the way over to the Westside to meet a friend for lunch and to talk about some Northeast campus business. I saw UTEP basketball coach Tony Barbee and the coaching staff having lunch at Sunland Park Mall's food court while I was there (he's the one on the right end of the table in the lighter blue collared shirt):
Coach Barbee

- I think food courts are pretty strange, but that's because I'm used to Cielo Vista Mall where there's no food court because each restaurant has a small seating place inside of it.

- After lunch, I went back to work at the office and then had a pretty good launch team meeting.

- I was at the office most of the day on Thursday, so I took a break around 2:30 and headed over to Bux in the Northeast to read for awhile and hopefully talk to some people there. That was a big aspiration because I'm so stinkin naturally introverted. I didn't get to meet anybody, but I did get some good reading done. That evening Rick, Kristin, Alicia and I went to Village Inn and were seated in a different part of the restaurant than usual, and the service there was really bad. Next time, they won't laugh when I insist we sit in our normal places.

- Friday was kind of a nice day to rest a little bit. I watched Paul Blart Mall Cop, and that was truly one of those films where the best scenes were all in the previews (which doesn't say much for the film). I ended up staying at home for pretty much the rest of the evening and resting.

- Saturday was a busy but very productive day; first I helped some other guys load up 4 truckfuls and a trailer full of office furniture donations for the youth yard sale next weekend, then went to lunch with them all, then cleaned out my car, then showered, then headed out to the Northeast in order to look for an American flag car flag. I didn't find one, but I ended up having dinner with the MacKays and then playing a couple of rounds of Skip-Bo with them. Fun times, fun times.

- This morning was just a great time being with other believers, talking with some of my church family, meeting new people, having lunch with my parents and the Pryors, then getting a haircut. Now, it's time to go unwind a bit and get ready for bed and for the zoo tomorrow!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Five - What I'm grateful for right now

Today's Friday Five ...five things I'm grateful for right now:

1. Being alive. Seriously. When I went to bed last night, I had no guarantee I'd wake up this morning; when I woke up this morning, I had no guarantee of living through as much of the day as I have; right now I have no guarantee that I'll live long enough to finish typing this post (though I sure hope I do!).

I remember when I was involved in a really bad car crash almost 7 years ago; I was hit, the airbag exploded, and for a moment, I thought I was dead. Thank God, I'm alive - even though it left me with permanent neck and back damage.

Or even just a few week ago - things could've gone very differently when I fell off my roof: I could've landed on my head and died, or been paralyzed, or at the least, I could've broken some bones. God has been so gracious to me, and I'm so very grateful to be alive.

2. Having a job. There are so many people in our city and in our country without jobs, and many more without job security, so I'm very grateful to have a job that I thoroughly enjoy, that seems to be pretty secure, and with great coworkers.

3. What God Says (aka The Bible). God's Word is simply amazing! It convicts, it rebukes, it encourages, it uplifts, it gives guidance, it provides wisdom, it corrects, it's so incredibly relevant for every single thing we'll encounter in our daily lives. It's amazing ...really, really amazing. It's such an incredible book; read more about it in my post from yesterday, then grab a Bible and read it for yourself.

4. Having food. I just ate a sandwich full of meat, with a pickle and some wheat thins on the side. Earlier today I had a good lunch. Last night I had a great dinner, and I had lunch yesterday, and even breakfast in the morning. So in the last 48 hours, I've had 5 full, pretty well rounded meals. Even in America, that's a luxury for a lot of people.

Sure, there are kids over in Africa or in Latin America who are starving and haven't eaten in days ...but that also happens here in America, even here in El Paso county! So when I pray before I eat and I thank God for my food, it's not just a token expression of gratitude - I really am so grateful to have something to eat.

5. Being loved. This one is perhaps the craziest thing to me: I am loved. Seriously loved. By a LOT of people. By some who society would dub really "cool" and by some who would be deemed "not cool". I'm loved, and I don't deserve it, and I'm extremely grateful for everyone - both family and friends - who loves me.

What are you grateful for?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Baptists Believe, Part 2

In part 1 of What Baptists Believe, I wrote about some important differences between Baptists and other denominations, and especially about the difference between Baptists and Roman catholics.

In this post, I'm going to write about a very important Baptist distinctive - the one distinctive that probably separates us the most from Roman catholics. Please don't think that I'm bashing Roman catholics or that I think we're better than them - that's not it at all, but there are some very important differences to note - the biggest being the authority of the Scriptures.

We Baptists believe the Bible to be the authoritative revelation of God. The Old Testament was a partial revelation and the revelation was completed with the New Testament, thus we take the New Testament as the final and all-sufficient authority in all areas of doctrine, life, and polity (how we're organized and run). We have no creed or any other document that we recognize as authority over us - just the Bible. This is something for which we've historically been criticized, misunderstood, and even fiercely persecuted for.

Three of our major beliefs about the Bible are that:

1. The Bible is divine in origin. This means that it's not something that some people one day decided to write, but was conceived in the mind of God. The Bible was written in 3 different languages, over a period of about 1,500 years, by around 40 different men, many who had never met each other and who didn't even live at the same time as each other - and yet there's one consistent storyline throughout every book of the Bible - so clearly there is no way that anyone yet God could have come up with it.

2. The Bible is absolute in its authority. When the Bible speaks, there's an end to all controversy because it is supreme in its authority. For example, when science says something that contradicts the Bible, science is assumed to be wrong - not because of a blind faith in the Bible but because throughout history, the Bible has constantly proved to be more accurate and factual than science. The Bible has never been proved wrong by science; actually, science has only more and more verified the accuracy of the Bible.

Science on the other hand has been proven wrong many times over - such as when science had "proven" that humans could not safely travel in cars at speeds higher than around 20 - 30 miles per hour. Anybody who's ever been on a highway knows that in that case, science was wrong. In the end, when there is a conflict between what the Bible says and what humans say, we take our stand and say that we will trust God over humanity.

3. The Bible is all-sufficient in its message. In all areas of faith and practice, the Bible is the answer. Everything we need to know about life and Godliness and about eternal life is revealed in the Bible. Because the New Testament is the completed revelation of God, we also believe that the gift of prophecy has ceased because there is no need for further revelation. The Bible tells us all we need to know about the past, the present, and the future.

This belief of authority of the Scriptures stands in stark contrast to what other religious groups hold to. For example, Roman catholics believe that the catholic church is the supreme authority - even higher than the Word of God, the Bible. That doesn't mean they reject that the Bible has authority; it's simply inferior to the word of the Pope and the dogma of the church. Both the Council of Trent in 1564 and the Vatican Council in 1870 sealed this belief that the catholic church is the highest authority and that the word of the Pope is infallible and is supreme even over the word of God as found in the Bible.

Other religious groups believe that the Bible is only partially authoritative - that in essentials relating to salvation, it has authority but in non-essentials such as how to live day to day, it lacks any authority.

Still other groups would claim that authority for life lies in the conscience of the believer; basically an attitude of "if it feels good and right, do it" and that the Bible is accurate and has authority in someone's life only in the areas where it agrees with one's preconceived notions and beliefs. In other words, if someone believes something is right, that's what matters; if they happen to find a Bible verse that someway might support their belief, that's fine and dandy but basically irrelevant.

The problem with both partial authority and the authority of the individual is that there's no standard and so there would be utter chaos and confusion if everyone was free to decide for themself what was right and wrong. Murder might be wrong to one person but might be perfectly fine to another. If there's no standard, nobody would have the right to say murder is wrong.

Baptists hold that the Bible alone is the authority for the believer, but one might ask why the Bible is so reliable. Well there are four great reasons why:

1. The unity of the Bible. As was mentioned before, it was written by dozens of men in vastly different areas of the Palestine, was written over an incredible length of time, and was written by men from all different walks of life - shepherds, fishermen, kings, peasants, a tax collector, a doctor, and a religious man who was a murderer of those who didn't believe the same as he did. There is simply no way they could collaborate in producing this one book; they all wrote independently but the finished product formed one complete record with one incredible storyline. Certainly a book like that would have some claim to authority.

2. The history of the Bible. No other book has a history as scandalous, violent, controversial, famous, and repressed as the Bible. No other book has been banned and burned like the Bible. No other book has been the cause of murder for the men who translated it into other languages, courageous men like William Tyndale. So many scholars like Voltaire claimed that the Bible is irrelevant and would be forgotten in their generation, yet year after year the Bible continues to be the all-time best selling book. As a matter of fact, only about 100 years after Voltaire wrote his ridiculous claim, a Bible society had its headquarters in the same town where our friend Volty wrote wrote his fallacious, ridiculous prophecy. Certainly a book with that kind of history would have a claim to authority.

3. The message of the Bible. No other book, religious or secular, has the message that's found in the Bible. It reveals the character of God, it reveals the character of humanity, it presents a standard for living, and it discusses the afterlife. No other book in all of the history of literature could claim to hold the message that the Bible holds. Certainly the uniqueness of the message of the Bible compared to all other literature would merit its claim to authority.

4. The influence of the Bible. Similar to the uniqueness of the Bible is the influence of the Bible. No other book has had a worldwide impact like the Bible has. It has transformed societies, brought comfort in despair, encouraged the downtrodden; everything that is good in society has its roots in the Bible. Monarchs and Americans Presidents alike have declared the importance of the Bible's influence in society; Andrew Jackson said that the Bible is "the rock upon which our Republic stands" and Woodrow Wilson spoke of the supremacy of the Bible in American affairs. This is why from the time that pilgrims landed on the shores of New England to the inauguration of modern day Presidents, the Bible has taken center stage. Certainly such an influential book would have a claim to authority.

So clearly we Baptists have great reason to place such authority in what God says, in the Word of God, in the Scriptures - in the Bible. But what how do we respond to such a book?

If we accept the Bible as our sole authority for life and Godliness, then we'd better know what it teaches. We should recognize how intensely interesting the Bible is and read it daily, being consumed by the incredible message and intrigue of the Scriptures. The message of the Bible is the hope of the world, so not only should we know it, we should make it known through public preaching and personal teaching.

The Bible is our sole authority for life and Godliness and it's message is the only hope of the world, so let's know it and make it known.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Del Sol Church Northeast Campus Update

Here's the latest update on the Northeast campus:

- On Sunday afternoon I was reading through some blogs and I came to the blog for Portable Church Industries and saw this advertisement for a portable church system for sale at a church in Cypress, TX (northwest Houston). This trailer package is selling for about half the price of what it would cost new, and it seems to have pretty much everything we'll need for the Northeast campus. If we buy it, we'll have to modify some of the technical equipment to meet our needs (like getting a better projector and a rear-projection screen, etc.) but the savings would still be incredible if we were to buy this used portable church package and then modify it for our needs.

If we did buy new equipment, I've been wanting to work with Church on Wheels (another portable church system vendor), but this seems to be too great an opportunity to pass up. The savings in freight costs alone would be in the hundreds of dollars, and the savings in multi-media equipment would be in the thousands. I've been talking through email with the contact at the church that's selling this trailer package and I think this might be an incredible opportunity for us to get what we need, help the church that's selling it, and be wise stewards of our finances.

- For awhile I had been meeting with people nearly every weeknight to talk about the NE campus and to invite them to pray about joining our team, but lately that groove I was in has slowed down. That's given me some good time to think about systems and processes, but I really need to get back on track and keep casting the vision for the NE campus.

- I'll be leading a GrowGroup (what we call our small groups at Del Sol) in the Northeast this summer, and so far I've only been able to get one person besides me to join the group, which is great, but we really need to have several more join us so that during this summer GrowGroup, we can raise up a couple of leaders to lead their own GrowGroups this fall. How the group this summe goes and especially how those 3 or 4 groups we need to have this fall go will greatly determine the success of our pre-launch phase this fall and our launch in the new year, so please pray about these groups.

- I talked with someone who is deeply involved with the kids ministry here at the East campus about taking on the role of our kids' ministry director at the NE campus, and she's very excited about it. She talked with Cheryl, our kids minister about it and got her support, so our potential kids director is going to talk to her husband and family about it and will get back to me soon with her decision.

Here's how you can pray this week:

1. Pray for wisdom about whether we should buy the used portable church trailer package from that church in Cypress, Texas. Also pray for wisdom about exactly when to make this purchase if the Lord leads us to buy it. I know this is a great opportunity and from a human perspective it seems like the logical, wise thing to do - but before we make a $45,000 purchase, I want to be totally sure it's the Lord's will.

2. Pray for my health. As I mentioned in my update last week, I've been dealing with some health issues. On Monday, I got a bad migraine that lasted all Monday, all Tuesday, and all day today so far. Honestly, I don't think this is all coincidence; I'm beginning to think that this might possibly be satan attacking me through my body. Please ask God to heal me of all my injuries and to protect me from any further attacks.

3. Pray for open doors and opportunities to cast the vision for the NE campus with more people, and for more people to join the GrowGroup I'm leading this summer so that we can build up good momentum for our pre-launch this fall and our launch in January. Ask the Lord to raise up volunteers and to bring who He knows is best to my GrowGroup this summer and to the groups that we'll have this fall.

Thanks for your prayers - I truly believe they make a big difference.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Update on Debbie Abascal, #21

It's been nearly a month since I last gave an update on Debbie, mostly because it's been almost a month since I'd seen her.

I say "almost" because I was completely shocked in a wonderful way to see her this Sunday morning at Del Sol Church. I was walking in and I noticed someone in the aisle, in a wheelchair. That's not anything unusual so I didn't think anything of it, until I got closer and realized it was her - it was Debbie!

I was overjoyed and gently touched her on the shoulder to get her attention, said "Hi Debbie" and walked on because I could tell that it was a very special moment for her and her family and I didn't want to disturb them.

Walter preached about Heaven, and when He read Revelation 21:3-5 which talks about how there will be no more crying or pain or sickness, I just started weeping, thinking of her, thinking of my parents, thinking of my own self and all the physical struggles I've had and how one glorious day, all our pain will be gone.

Afterwards, I walked out in the direction of the foyer and there she was, surrounded by family, talking to one of her friends at the church. I walked up to her, talked to her daughter DJ for a moment then Manolo greeted me and I asked him how he was and how Debbie is doing. He said she's really making progress and that she had been given a 2-day release from rehab and spent the night at her own home, for the first time since March 27th.

Oh goodness, when he said that I saw the incredible joy in his face and just had to fight the tears back (though I suspect a few got out somehow) and somehow, while being so choked up, said that was wonderful and that I was happy for them.

And then I heard some of the most wonderful words I've ever heard. I heard Debbie say "Hi Ariel", and she motioned for me to come give her a hug.

She recognized me. She recognized me. Do you know how amazing that is? It has nothing to do with me - but the fact that she recognized me and knew my name was just amazing! I'm not family, I'm not one of her close circle of friends, I hadn't seen her in almost a month, so the fact that she remembered my face and name really speaks to the fact that she's making great progress.

This is a picture I snuck while she was talking to some other people:

I can hardly wait for the day when she'll be standing up on stage, singing to the Lord and leading us in worshipping the God who Healed her.

I know that day is not very far away, so let's celebrate all the progress she's made and thank God for bringing the healing He's brought her so far, and let's keep asking Him to continue to heal her and keep believing that He will heal her totally.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Monday was a stinkin busy day! As usual, I went into the office in the morning, went to Wayside at lunch, then went to have lunch and work most of the afternoon at The Bagel Shop in the Northeast. Also, I started running again that morning.

- I spent a lot of time thinking through processes for a portable church, like how to baptize in a portable environment or how to do communion, how to do parent/baby dedication, graduate recognition, etc. I also updated the list of potential volunteers, got some feedback from First Wednesday the week before, and setup some meetings throughout the week.

- Tuesday morning I went running again, but this time I was about a mile from home and I felt this pop, then a very sharp, burning pain in my knee. I somehow made it home, showered up, went to the office with an ice pack on my knee, and ended up spending the afternoon at the doctor because I was in SO much pain! So naturally, I didn't get much work done that day.

- The doctor said I had probably hurt some meniscus cartilage in the my right knee and he sent me to get x rays, get crutches, ice my knee down and take LOTS of pain killers. So I basically spent Tuesday in agony.

- Wednesday morning I woke up in incredible pain but managed to get up and get ready, get into the office, then go get the x rays done on my knee. After that I went back to the office and stayed a little late because I had gotten so far behind from losing most of my day on Tuesday. I was able to go home for a little bit to rest and freshen up, then went back to Del Sol's East campus for our launch team meeting.

- I REALLY enjoyed our launch team meeting on Wednesday. We started out laughing and joking and giving each other a hard time, then shared a bunch of wins, took some time studying/being convicted by the Word, praying, and talking through some details. It felt like everyone there was in a good mood, so it was a good time together. We did miss having Alicia with us though.

- I was on crutches from Tuesday through Thursday. It's not fun being on crutches, and it's a big blow to your pride to have to ask people to help you with EVERYTHING (carrying stuff, opening doors, etc.) when you're on crutches.

- On Thursday I spent the morning in the office, then met with my accountability partner, then went back to the office. Last weekend I spent some time alone with God in Ruidoso and He showed me some things I needed to change and some areas where I was slacking off and letting sin run rampant so when I met with my accountability partner, I asked him to really hold me to some things that I needed to change and to ask me how I'm doing in those areas. That was definitely not easy to do, and was honestly pretty scary to do, but I feel SO free after confessing my sin and asking for accountability.

- On Friday I took some time to rest. This week was brutal on me and I was feeling pretty beat up, so I was glad to have the time to rest. I stayed at home most of the day and then went to our graduate dinner that evening. It was good to be around some of the people I love and to see those graduates and think back on how I've watched so many of them grow.

- I slept in a bit on Saturday, then woke up and spent most of the day working with my dad to assemble a patio set that my brothers and I had all pitched in to buy for my mom for Mother's Day. I must say, I'm pretty please with it (though our dog, Bob Barker, was really confused by it as you can see by the look on his face):

- Afterwards, I cleaned up and went to Abundant Living Faith Center for their Saturday night service. I hadn't been there in a couple of months and it was a great message to come back to. The pastor, Charles Nieman, was in the middle of a series called "Fearless" and he was talking about Benaiah, who struck down two mighty Moabite warriors, struck down a 7+ foot tall Egyptian fighter and killed him with his own 200 lb spear, got down in a pit on a snowy day and fought a lion barehanded, killing that lion. It was just the right timing for where I'm at in life.

- This morning we had our graduate recognition and Walter talked about Heaven. I'm still chewing on my experience from this morning but let's just say I cried a lot and I can hardly wait 'til the day I get to go Home to Heaven and be with Papa God forever!

- Then I had a lunch meeting change so I went to have lunch with the Pryors, then went to a goodbye party for a couple of our youth. After that I came home, read some blogs online, went to Walmart (BIG mistake on a Sunday evening), and now it's time for bed ...

How Humiliating.

A few days ago I was reading in Luke 18, and verses 9-14 really stood out to me - especially verse 14.

It's basically the story of two people, both praying. The first one was a really good, religious man (the pharisee) and the other was a thief, liar, and national traitor (a tax collector who worked collecting taxes for the enemy). The religious guy stood up and loudly prayed, basically saying to everyone around him "I'm so glad I'm not like that stupid tax collector. I'm really good and he's really bad."

The tax collector though, knowing what a sinful man he is, beat himself on the chest out of guilt and remorse because he knew what a horrible wretch he had been, stealing, lying, betraying his own people. He was so remorseful that he couldn't even look up at God while begging for mercy.

So Jesus says something crazy at this point: He says the bad guy - not the good guy - was right with God after this event.

Not the religious guy who went to church and fasted and tithed regularly. The bad guy. The one who was a traitor; who took advantage of his own people; who stole and who lied. The really bad guy left being "justified" or made right in the sight of God.


Surely the good guy, the one who never stole or lied, the one who gave to the church and fasted and prayed and knew the Bible - surely HE would be the one who was right with God.

But no - it was the bad guy.

And you know why? Because he was humble. Because he wasn't arrogant. Because he wasn't full of himself. Like the religious guy was.

Dare I say, like religious people usually are even today?

See, at the end of Luke 18:14, Jesus says "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

To be honest, I must say that I'm pretty prideful. And honestly, that's something I'm ashamed of.

I'm also ashamed to say this but to make a point, I will: a few weeks ago we were praying in staff and as someone else was praying, I remember thinking "I wouldn't pray like that - I'd pray differently." What was really thinking in my heart was this thought: "I can pray better than you."

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine someone being so terribly arrogant? Can you imagine what God must have thought when I thought that???

I was shocked that I could be so arrogant and prideful. I hate that I can be that way.

Back to Luke 18:14. "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled."

WILL be humbled. Let that sink in. You will be forcefully humbled.

If you are proud, you WILL be humbled. It's a promise from Jesus. When you compare this verse to other verses like Proverbs 3:34 that says God opposes the proud, we can figure that God WILL humble you if you're proud.

That should scare the dickens out of you. It sure does for me.

I don't know about you, but I don't want God to oppose me. I don't want God to have to forcefully humble me; I'd much rather humble myself than be humbled by God. I'd much rather to choose to be humble than be forced to be humble.

For a long time I've asked God to grant me wisdom, vision, creativity, and self-discipline - but after I read Luke 18:14, I've added humility to that list because that's something I definitely need the Lord to work into me.

You can be humble, or you can be humiliated. The choice is yours.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Five - Pet Peeves

Today's Friday Five: five pet peeves of mine, in no particular order:

1. The misuse of apostrophes. For example, many people would have written that first line this way: "the misuse of apostrophe's", which is terribly incorrect because I'm not using it in the possessive form. There was a cell phone business in El Paso awhile back called "Classic Communication's", which again is a horrible inaccurate use of the apostrophe. People - please, for the sake of our treasured American society, learn how to spell and learn how to properly use apostrophes!

2. Drivers who don't yield the right of way. For example, if there's a car waiting at a stop sign and there's a car in a turning bay on a divided road like Lee Trevino, who has the right of way? It's the one in the turning bay of course because they're not a controlled intersection because they don't have a stop sign. Or if you stop

3. Double negatives. Ooh, this one chaps my spurs! When someone says "I didn't do nothing!" I kind of want to punch them in the throat. Well not really, but remember that two negatives equal a positive, so when you say "I didn't do nothing", what you're really saying is "I did something", or if you say "I don't got none", you're actually saying that you do have some.

4. Drivers who feel it's their duty to share their music with everyone else on the road. They pump their music up so loud that all you hear is the thump-thump-thump of the baseline and the rattling of their license plates because of the sub woofers in their trunks. Fellow driver, if I wanted to hear the same thing you were listening to, I would've asked you what radio station you were listening to and tuned into that same station, or would have downloaded the same album you're listening to, or something. Let's just say I appreciate your generosity, but please - keep your music to yourself.

5. Reality TV shows. American Idol, America's Next Top Model, Dancing With The Stars, Big Brother, The Real World, etc. Seriously ...reality TV isn't even real! If you're gonna call it reality TV, show something actually has some resemblance of actuality, not some fake reality show you've manipulated so as to create drama and tension and comedy in a lame attempt to drive up the ratings. Oh and American Idol I detest you and how pointless you are. I yearn for the day when you are no more. =)

Side note: I think my use of apostrophes in this post has been accurate.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Del Sol Church Northeast Campus Update

Here's the latest update on the Northeast campus:

- Last Wednesday, I preached at our First Wednesday communion worship celebration. I cast the vision for the Northeast campus and talked about how God has been good to us in the past, how He is being good right now, and how I believe that greater things are still yet to come. I showed some pictures to give people an idea of what we'll be doing and explained some details about what this will all look like. I tried to answer the big what, why, and how questions but I know that I'll still be spending a lot of time clarifying things and answering more questions that people will have.

- At the end of my message, I challenged people to take the next step. I asked them to fill out a communication card and commit to pray or to get more information about being a short-term volunteer for the NE campus. We had 45 people sign up to pray and 9 people indicate that they'll volunteer or want to know more info before saying they'll volunteer. I wish we would have had more people respond in the volunteer category, but I'm VERY please to have 45 people who are committed to pray because that's the foundation of everything we do.

- I was very pleased with the band on First Wednesday. We had some very tough sound issues that we weren't quite able to work through, and they had the fact that they'd never played in a venue like our auditorium and they'd never played together as a band before going against them, but they pulled it together and sought God to be with them, and I think the Lord was definitely honored through their music. I know that for some people it was hard to hear the vocals over the music, but that's something we'll work on. All things considered, there's room for growth with the band, but they definitely did a great job and I'm very proud of them.

- I've been working on some process descriptions for how to do things like baptism, communion, parent/baby dedication, graduate recognition, and GrowGroup signups at the Northeast campus. It's interesting how you take things for granted when you're a permanent campus and how you really have to be creative and rethink things when you're a portable campus. It's easy to baptize when you've got a building with a built-in baptistry; it's a whole different thing to baptize when you're in a portable campus and you have to fit everything - like a baptistry - in stage boxes in a trailer.

- I've been looking through all of our guests this year at the East campus and been looking through lists I made of potential volunteers and potential attenders and it looks like we have a base of around 55 - 60 people to launch with so far, if everyone on those lists says they'll join our NE campus family. We've got a long way to go and need to build some more mass up for the launch because the goal is to have 300 there, but that's a pretty good starting point.

- By the end of the year, we'll have a little over $70,000 accessible for launch expenses, but we really need over $110,000 just to cover our expenses for equipment, supplies, advertising, rent, etc. So to come up with the remaining balance of what we need, awhile back I created a ministry plan (basically a business plan for the NE campus) with the idea of going to other Kingdom-minded churches and businesses to ask them to financially partner with us, either through donating or subsidizing the purchase of equipment, making a one-time donation, or making regular donations each month or quarter, etc.

- Walter will be talking with the church council this Sunday afternoon about the revised timeline and about the idea of getting funds for the NE campus by using that ministry plan. I believe that the ministry plan idea can really help us with our financial lack, and can be a great image of what the Church is supposed to look like, cooperating with each other across denominational and doctrinal lines all for the sake of being the one, united body of Christ and for the sake of furthering the Kingdom of God.

Here's how you can pray this week:

1. Pray Luke 10:2 over Del Sol Church, both the East and Northeast campuses. At the NE campus, we definitely need more volunteers to serve, but since we'll be taking some high capacity leaders from the East campus, we also need to ask God to raise up leaders to take over there.

2. Pray for Walter and the church council this Sunday afternoon as they discuss some very important issues concerning the Northeast campus, among the other things they'll be discussing at that meeting. Ask the Lord to guide their conversation and their though processes as they meet so that everything they say and decide will be what He wants.

3. Pray for my health. About a month ago, I fell off my roof and injured my right ankle and knee. I was all better and healed up so I started running again, but I didn't pace myself and work my way back up to full throttle, so when I was running on Tuesday morning, I injured some meniscus cartilage. It doesn't look like I'll need surgery, but it's still damaged and still somewhat painful, so please pray for total healing for my body and for protection from anymore injuries.

Thanks for your prayers - I know they're definitely making a difference!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- Monday was a busy day of putting some finishing touches on my message for Wednesday, getting all the graphics ready for Wednesday, and doing some reading while at The Bagel Shop in the Northeast. Throw in volunteering at Wayside at lunchtime and travel time, and that took up most of the day.

- Tuesday was a day spent at the office, finishing up some final details for Wednesday, rehearsing my message, then spending the late night (8-10 pm is late night for me! =) ) with the band as they rehearsed for Wednesday night.

- I hardly slept on Tuesday night because I was so excited/slightly nervous about preaching on Wednesday.

- I took a good portion of Wednesday rehearsing my message again for that night, and reworking the timeline for the Northeast campus. I left the office early, at 3 pm, to come home and post a campus update on my blogs (the firewall at the DSC office won't allow me to access MySpace) and take a nap. After that, I went back to the DSC East campus to meet the band for rehearsal at 5:30 pm, and then get things going at 7 pm.

- In the 20 minutes or so between when the band finished rehearsing and when it was time to start, I was SO nervous and anxious. I couldn't sit still and I was ready to get going but once Walter started things up, the Spirit of the Lord just fell on us and the band started going and all my anxiety and fear flooded out of me and a calm just overcame me. Even in the moment when I walked up to the front of the stage and started talking, I felt calm and peace. Sure I forgot some parts of my message, sure I said "uhh" and my tongue got caught a few times when I first started - but I could definitely feel God with us, and I think Walter, the band, and everyone else there felt His presence with us and in us.

- Afterwards I was so self-conscious and had many people tell me how good I was, but I kept thinking "they're just trying to make me feel good, because you always tell a preacher that was a good message", but that was stupid of me because it was all about me. A message is not about the human speaker, but about God being glorified. I trust and believe that He was pleased and that He was exalted, and honestly, that's all that matters.

- I took Thursday off and relaxed, ran some errands, watched a movie, and then went to the Mix that evening. Afterwards, Rick, Kristin, Alicia and I went to Village Inn and chilled for a bit. We spent most of the time trying to see if Jordan Mueller really did leave a profession of love comment on Taylor Swift's Facebook page.

- On Friday I drove up to Ruidoso and spent some time reading, relaxing, and starting to reconnect with God. Honestly, I was pretty close to burning out and knew I needed to get away and begin to heal and start getting things straight in my life. I was kind of at a crisis point. While I was up there, I really struggled with some spiritual temptation, had to face some truths about how the only one to blame for my spiritual condition was myself, and had to start planning ways to get myself out of the muck I had gotten myself in.

- While I know I have to take action, ultimately it's the Lord that pulled me out:
"I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD." - Psalm 40:1-3

- On Saturday early afternoon, I saw a few sights around Ruidoso but spent a good portion of time at Bonita Park, the place where I went youth camp several years in a row and the place where I committed my life to Christ. Memories flooded my mind as I drove around the different parts of the camp and thought back on how God has been working in my life even so many years ago. I was such an insecure, lonely, depressed kid back then but even then, God was with me and was working in me. And as I sat there I knew in that moment that the Lord was with me wasn't through with me yet.

- So as I drove back on Saturday afternoon (getting back in El Paso in time to vote), I just took some time to worship God through singing along with my ipod to some awesome Hillsong songs.

- And this morning, the ladies led our Sunday morning worship celebrations, I got to spend some time reading, and got to take some time to talk with some friends of mine. Afterwards, we had a good Mother's Day lunch at our house, then watched The Express, then it was nap time!

- And now, I'm feeling refreshed and I've reconnected with God, and I'm excited and ready for a new week!

What Baptists Believe, Part 1

So I've been reading this little book published by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1945 called "Our Baptist Heritage" that I got for a quarter, and it's been really interesting and stimulating to me, so I thought that as I read it, I'd write a series of blog posts to explain what we as Baptists, and especially as Southern Baptists, believe and to explain what distinguishes us from Protestants, Roman catholics, and other Evangelicals.

First, it's important to know that we Baptists are not Protestants since we have no roots in the Roman catholic church. We were never a part of the catholic church and we never protested against the sin and abuse of the catholic church. That's not to say that we're in any way better or superior, and it's not to say that other denominations don't have Godly roots; it's just to say that we're best defined as evangelicals.

We Baptists have many different practices than many Protestants (non-catholic denominations that protested and branched out of the Roman catholic church), and throughout these posts, we'll see those differences, but I thought it'd be good to start by writing about the areas in which we agree. Interestingly enough, we share some truths with Jews, Protestants, Roman catholics, and even Muslims - mainly that we all believe in God, we all believe in heaven and hell, and we all believe in the existence of Jesus and that He was more than just a man.

With Jews, we believe that Yahweh is Creator of all things, with Roman catholics we believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and with Protestants we believe in the incarnation, the inspiration of the Scriptures, the atoning death of Jesus, positional and progressive sanctification, etc. Where we agree is FAR more important than where we disagree, but the things in which we disagree are not unimportant.

For example, there are four main forms of polity (how a denomination is organized and governed):
1. Democracy: government by the people (Baptists, Congregationalists, Disciples of Christ, etc.)
2. Republican: government by representation (i.e. Presbyterians, Lutherans, many Reformed, etc.)
3. Oligarchy: government by the few, either chosen or self-perpetuated (like some Episcopals and Moravians)
4. Autocracy: supreme government by one person or source, from which all other inferior officials get their authority (Roman catholicism, with the Pope as the supposed infallible supreme authority)

We as Baptists believe that the Biblical, New Testament form of government is a democracy, where each church is independent and self-governing, taking their orders from nobody except Christ.

Another area of difference is ordinances versus sacraments. An ordinance is something "ordained" or commanded by Christ, and a sacrament is something that is sacred and essentially automatically earns grace (which is silly because be definition, grace is unearned). The Roman catholic church says there are 7 sacraments (infant baptism, confirmation, mass or the eucharist, penance, extreme unction or last rites, marriage) and many Protestants hold to many of those - especially infant baptism and confirmation.

We Baptists, and most other evangelicals, don't believe in sacramentalism; we don't believe you can do anything to earn what is unearned, that you don't automatically get grace by doing the sacraments, and that the only thing commanded by Christ are the two ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. These ordinances symbolize great Biblical truths that are central to the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But they have no power in them; you don't get saved by getting baptized, and you don't earn grace through taking the Lord's Supper (aka Communion) as Roman catholics and many Protestant believe.

When it comes to communion, we hold that all believer can administer it - not just a priest. When it comes to baptism, we believe that Biblical baptism is ONLY for believers (those who have intentionally committed their lives to Christ and have accepted His free gift of salvation by grace through faith), AND we believe the the only Biblical mode of baptism is through immersion (dunking).

In matters of salvation, we believe in salvation by grace through faith. That means works (sacraments, being good, doing right, etc.) is useless because according to Ephesians 2:8-9, salvation is a free gift of God through Christ, not something we earn by being good people who do more good than bad. This is the total, polar opposite of what Roman catholics believe and of what many Protestants imply they believe by being sacramentalists.

As far as the Church, there is NO "Baptist Church" as an organization. There is an organized Roman catholic Church, a Methodist Church, a Luther Church, a Presbyterian Church that are organizations with hierarchy and which have authority over their churches. But there is no "Baptist Church"; sure, there's the Southern Baptist Convention, but it's a totally voluntary organization and the SBC has NO power over any local Baptist church and can't tell any local Baptist church what to do. We don't believe that's Biblical, but others like catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, etc. do practice those things.

We Baptists don't believe the Pope or a bishop or cardinal or anyone is the head of a church; according to Ephesians 1:22-23, only Jesus is the Head of His Church. Oh we'll voluntarily and gladly cooperate with other churches in God's purposes in the world, but nobody tells us what to do or how to do it.

Just like we don't have an organization like catholics and Protestants, we also don't have any creeds or doctrine that guide us; the Bible alone is our creed and guide. We have something kind of like a creed, called "The Baptist Faith and Message", but it has no binding authority over a local Baptist church. It's basically a document that tells what Baptists generally believe - but again, our only creed and guide is the Bible.

Similar to having no official organization with hierarchy and having no creed or head over us except Christ, we also have no one specific founder. Martin Luther was the one specific founder or Lutheranism, John Wesley founded the Methodist Church, Presbyterians came about by John Calvin, but we Baptists hold that Christ is our founder and head. Oh sure there are people who were important in forming out Baptist way of faith (like Roger Williams who founded the first Baptist church in America), but we have no specific founder of our way of faith.

So in review:
1. Baptists are NOT Protestants because we have no roots in the Roman catholic church. We're evangelicals.
2. We have many areas in which we agree with other Christian groups, and while those are far more important than where we disagree, that doesn't mean our disagreements are unimportant.
3. There are several ways for a church to be organized and governed, but we believe that the Biblical, New Testament way of "polity" is a democracy, with each church being independent and self-governing, answering only to Jesus.
4. Roman catholics and Protestants practice sacraments (things that supposedly automatically earn grace, which is unearned); we Baptists hold to only two ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper/Communion.
5. Those ordinances have no power to save or to earn a right standing with God; they're purely symbolic of Gospel truths.
6. The only proper, Biblical way of Baptism is immersion (dunking) and baptism is only for believers (those who have consciously and intentionally chosen to make Jesus Christ their personal Savior and Lord).
7. We believe that salvation, as the Bible says, is be grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone - not by good works, not by sacraments, etc.
8. We have no establishment (there is no "The Baptist Church") and we have no supreme authority (like the pope) but Jesus Christ.
9. We don't have any creeds or anything that is our guide except what God says in His book that we call the Holy Bible.
10. While we have people who are important in the formation of our way of faith, we have no one specific founder of our denomination.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Del Sol Church Northeast Campus Update

Here's the latest update on the Northeast campus:

- I've spent the bulk of my time this week getting ready to preach tonight at First Wednesday, refining my message, rehearsing it, working to get all the slides and songs and stuff ready. Now we wait ...

- As I said in my update last week, we decided to push our launch date off until January. I reworked the timeline today and so our new launch date is Sunday, January 10th.

- We'll order our equipment this summer and our pre-launch phase will begin this fall, when we start doing community outreach and servant evangelism events, and do a practice setup and then a preview service in October. We'll do another practice setup and a couple more preview services in November and December, then launch in January.

- The major goals for our launch Sunday in January are:

> For everyone to have a sense of a genuine encounter with God.

> To have 300 people attend - mostly unreached/unchurched, mostly under the age of 35 - and for several there to
make first time commitments to follow Jesus Christ.

> For everyone present to leave with a sense of hope and joy and excitement about the future God in store for them
and for Del Sol Northeast.

- Another good thing about having to wait until the New Year to launch is that we'll launch, and then just a few months after, we'll have Easter which should help boost our attendance some and make our growth go a little faster.

Here's how you can pray this week:

1. If you read this before 7 pm (MST) on Wednesday, pray for me as I preach and cast the vision for the Northeast campus at our First Wednesday communion service. I'm going to be asking people to join our prayer support team and to consider volunteering for short periods of time, so ask God to do what He's gonna do with tonight.

2. Pray for Walter and I as we think through when our paid staff would start their jobs. We can't start them too early, but I don't want to wait so long that we lose those who have said they'll join us as staff.

3. Pray for me as I lead a GrowGroup this summer, starting in June, that I'll be able to recruit a co-leader and 8 - 10 group members, and that we'll be able to launch 3 or 4 groups this fall. This summer group and these fall groups will be crucial to see how our launch will turn out.

Thanks for your prayer - they're definitely making a difference!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday night mind purge

- So Monday was the beginning of the week, and turned out to be a really loooooong day; we're talking not getting home 'til 9 pm long. First going into the office, then volunteering at Wayside, then working several hours at The Bagel Shop. After that, I went to the hospital to visit a dear friend of mine who had brain surgery that morning, then rushed to the store to get some groceries and rushed home to make a salad to take to GrowGroup that night. A great day, but a long one no less.

- Tuesday was another long day, but this time I got home earlier, like around 8:30 pm. =) I worked at the office pretty much all day, had staff meeting in the middle of that, then ran a ridiculous amount of errands in a matter of an hour before meeting a guy at Starbucks in the Northeast who was our guest at Del Sol's East campus on Easter. We ended up talking for like an hour and a half, and by then I was hungry like the wolf so I ended up eating at Papa Burgers, down on Piedras in Central El Paso. It was pretty good, but not better than Roscoe's. They did however have the SMALLEST bathroom I've ever seen. Seriously, it's like 3 feet wide:

- Wednesday was a great day. I'm preaching this coming Wednesday (May 6th) and knew a basic idea of what I'd preach on (our vision to become a multi-site church), but had a total mental block for the previous 2 weeks whenever I'd try to sit down and write my message. On Wednesday morning before I went into the office. I talked with God and told Him that I really needed His help because I really needed to write my message that day. I got into the office and I cranked it out (I didn't "crank that soulja boy" though ...), writing until about 2 pm.

- I finished just in time to meet with Craig and run through the flow for First Wednesday this week and then rush over downtown to see my doctor about my knee and ankle. He told me that I've got a torn ligament and bad sprain/possible hairline fracture in my right ankle, and that I just need to take Advil, use ice for pain, and wait a few weeks for healing. After that, I rushed back to the East campus and our launch team took a field trip to prayer walk around the school that the Northeast campus will meet at, then went up Transmountain to one of the viewing points and prayed over our great city.

- Leah Pryor gave me a REALLLLLLLY good brownie on Wednesday night; we're talking the kind that just melts in your mouth.

- If you gave me a brownie or other baked good, I'll love you forever. If that means my love is conditional, so be it.

- I REALLY miss running in the mornings. That's the worst part about this injury I have.

- Thursdays seem to be a little more laid back for me lately; this past Thursday I spent some time at the office finishing up a monthly report to give to Walter, looking through curricula for a GrowGroup I'll be leading this summer, then drove around to several Goodwill stores and to Savers looking for mexican style garb for our volunteer fiesta on Friday night.

- Oh Friday ...our annual volunteer celebration! One of my favorite events of the year. It's so amazing and humbling to be surrounded by over 300 volunteers who give countless hours to the cause of Christ by serving at Del Sol Church as parking attendants, welcomers, GrowGroup leaders, ushers, kids ministry workers, youth leaders, and so much more. I loved it because it was so great for us staff to be serving people rather than leading people:
See, usually I lead the charge for volunteers and part of leading means telling people what to do (not in a mean way, of course) - so it's wonderful to have that time each year where I'm not being served by anyone, but am serving those who give so much to make our church who we are.

- I really hope our volunteers recognize how much we as the leadership love and appreciate them and how we know we couldn't do anything without them. A major reason God has blessed Del Sol like He has these past couple of years is because of our self-less volunteers who contribute so much time, money, passion, and love. Thanks, volunteers!

- On Saturday I went to a memorial service, then had lunch with a friend, took a nap, then ended up spending the rest of the evening cleaning out and organizing some bank statements, tax statements, paycheck stubs, and other paperwork that I had been keeping in a big gift bag since 2001. I separated them by year, cleaned out a lot of stuff I didn't need to keep. These were my stacks before I put them into plastic storage boxes:
Yeah, it's kind of nice to be organized.

- This morning I went to the 9:30 am worship celebration at the East campus, then sat in the cafe during the 11:00 worship celebration and read some in Francis Chan's book Crazy Love, then talked with Donna Webb for awhile (it was nice catching up with her), then went to lunch with some of the Pryor family. They told me they really missed being with me, that they enjoy being around me, and that I'm one of the persons in their lives who after being around, they leave feeling refreshed rather than drained. Man, that's great to hear someone say about you!

- I'm so blessed and honored to have such wonderful people in my life, like the Pryors and the Reeds and the Nevarezes and the Mosers and the Cossels and the Lopers and the rest of my family at Del Sol Church. I don't have real close family ties, so it's wonderful to have a church family who might as well be blood family.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Five - Five who respected me

For about 3 & 1/2 years earlier this decade, I was an intern at Del Sol Church, and then for 11 months in 2007 & 2008, I was the interim Youth & Young Adults Pastor and was responsible for leading in that difficult time of transition.

During much of my internship - and ESPECIALLY during my term as interim Youth & Young Adults Pastor - there were people who doubted me publicly and privately and who wrote me off in their minds as just some kid, and there were people who didn't take me seriously and just kind of humored me as the person responsible to lead. I'm not bitter against those people, but I am aware of how they viewed me during that time.

But also during that time, there were some precious people who didn't treat me like a kid and who didn't make me feel like they were just putting up with me until a real leader came along.

So today's Friday Five is this: Five people/couples who have always treated me like an adult and always seemed to respect me as a leader:

1. John David & Patricia Delgado. They invested a lot of time and money in me and gave me the privilege to learn by leading, and I'm forever grateful to them for that.

2. Walter Mueller. As Lead Pastor of Del Sol Church, he took a LOT of risk on me by asking me to serve as the interim Youth & Young Adults Pastor, and I'm sure he took some flack for it - but he always gave me to room to lead as I saw fit and supported me in what I did. He has risked so much on me, has poured a into my life financially speaking, and has always been a very vocal supporter of me. I'm extremely grateful for all he's done for me.

3. Valerie Devine. Right when I was fresh out of high school, I worked with Valerie in hosting Young Life club at the Firehouse. She always encouraged me, challenged me, and respected me as an authority figure.

4. Kim Cliett. Kim has always been an encourager, has always seemed to be genuinely interested in me and how my life was going, tried (along with Lori Wrinkle) to help me out some in my love life (or should I say, lack thereof), and also respected and submitted to me as a leader in the church.

5. Paul & Chung Hi Fleshman. I've always been able to count on Mr. Paul and his sweet wife Chung Hi to encourage and support me. They've fed me, they've encouraged me, they've prayed for me, they've financially supported me. It's hard to find better people than them, that's for sure.

Bonus! 6. Robert & Catrina Cormell. Robert and Catrina entrusted Wayside Teen Center to my hands when I was still just a teenager, and let me be responsible for their cash registers both at Wayside and at The Bagel Shop when I was as young as 13 years old! They really stuck their necks out for me, and they've never been afraid to sharpen me through some "intense fellowship", but I believe I'm better for having known them.

I know there were many others who supported and respected me, but these listed above really stick out in my mind because of their active involvement in my life.