Sunday, June 28, 2009
- I spent Monday night hanging out with the Pryors down at their ranch. I hadn't really hung out with them in awhile so I felt like it would be good to go over there, and I'm glad I did.
- On Tuesday I was at the office pretty much all day. I worked on some more tasks, then got the news that the person I had been banking on to be the kids ministry director at the NE campus decided they wouldn't accept the position. That was hard, that was discouraging, because I've been looking for a kids director since the beginning of the year. I ended up leaving the office around 4 pm and going home to take a nap and get my mind off of it and reconnect with the Lord. After the nap I washed up and went to just sit and read at Starbucks for awhile. It was nice because it was overcast and cool, with a slight breeze; it was a very restful time.
- Wednesday morning brought another PT appointment, working at the office for awhile, having a great meeting with Walter, then having a bad conversation with someone about an incredibly big miscommunication that had taken place between us. That was just like a shot in the gut out of nowhere so again, I just prayed, went home, took a nap, then went back to the East campus to lead a launch team meeting. It was shorter than usual and we spent some good time in prayer and talking about the sovereignty of God. It was a very encouraging time and afterwards, Rick and I went to get dinner at Chick-fil-A and tried their new peach milkshakes.
- I wouldn't hesitate at all to recommend that everyone try a Chick-fil-A peach milkshake.
- On Thursday morning I had a meeting with a personal trainer at EP Fitness, then went to the office for a little bit, then had an accountability meeting with a friend, then went back to the office for awhile. I spent most of my time at the office doing some important things, mainly creating a list of goals for a kids ministry director and working on the ministry plan for the NE campus. Afterwards I went to Starbucks again to go read for awhile and relax.
- I slept in Friday (thank God!), went to the gym, then came home, cleaned up, and spent pretty much the whole day looking for a truck at dealerships and on Craigslist because we're considering getting a little 4 cylinder truck for either my dad or I to drive. Even if it doesn't happen, it's always fun looking at cars and test driving them. =)
- On Saturday I got to sleep in again (which was great!) then went to the gym for a good long time, doing lots of cardio and upper body weights, then came home and ended up doing some things around the house before cleaning up and heading out to Sunland Park Mall to see The Encounter play there as a tryout for the upcoming Activate Music Fest that'll be at Ascarate Park in August. Then a quick run to Rib Hut for dinner and then coming home to rest the remainder of the night.
- This morning I woke up in SUCH a good mood. And then I got to Del Sol East and was SOOOOOO excited and happy to be there with my family. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that many of my beloved youth were back from being gone to Austin all week for a mission trip. The baptism videos were amazingly powerful, the music was great, and I've really learned a lot from Walter's messages on leadership the last 3 weeks.
- During the 11 am hour, I went to youth because I thought they might be sharing stories and pictures and stuff from their mission trip to Austin, but they weren't doing that. I hung around for a little while and right as I was about to leave, Troy, out of the blue, asked me to come up on stage and give an update on the Northeast campus. I shared where we're at, answered a couple of questions, then Troy had the youth come up on stage, lay hands on me, and pray for me. I was so humbled and honored and grateful to him for doing that.
- Also in between all that, I started serving in the parking ministry. I signed up last week to do that because I honestly didn't really do anything on Sunday mornings aside from helping receive the offering (which is really important, I'm not belittling our ushers but just saying I felt I needed to do more), and I know it's a big need and a HUGELY important ministry because it's the very first impression that people have when they come to Del Sol Church. Let me tell you, it's a lot more difficult than it looks but it's cool because you get to help so many people and get to be the first smile people see when they come on campus.
- Then I got a haircut which is wayyyy too short for my tastes, but I had a good conversation with the stylists and told her I'd pray for her about a situation she's going through. Hair will grow back. I can deal with too short hair if it means that I have an opportunity to show God's love to someone in a practical way. Thankfully my hair grows back fast so in 2 weeks I'll go back for a trim and will be able to tell her I prayed for her and ask how things went and hopefully that'll open up the door to further conversation that will lead towards talking about Jesus. =D
- It's been a good week, all things considered. God is still God, He is still in control, and He's gonna do what He's gonna do. I just wanna be open and submissive and obedient to Him.
Friday, June 26, 2009
1. Toro Burger Bar. This is a little bit of a pricey place where you'd spend a good $13-$15 a person for your meal, but I've heard very good things about them. They started out with one location near UTEP but now I think they've got 3 locations: the one by UTEP, one on Zaragoza, and I believe there's one on the Westside now.
2. Crave Kitchen and Bar. I've actually driven by this interesting looking little kitchen and bar and I've seen pictures of the inside, and they've got quite an interesting billboard with their very creative logo up near the Cotton exit on I-10, so this is definitely a dig I wanna try soon.
3. Cafe Central. This famous El Paso restaurant is the kind of place you take a date to and being that I don't have a date to take to schnazzy restaurants like Cafe Central, I haven't yet been there. But someday I'll have a date to take there. As Journey said lo those years ago ...don't stop believing!
4. House of Pizza. Besides, who wouldn't love being in a house made of pizza? If you get hungry, all you have to do is turn and chomp down on the walls! Seriously though, I've heard many, many people talk about this place and how good the pizza and subs are there and I'd like to be the judge of it myself.
5. L & J Cafe. "The Mexican restaurant right by Concordia cemetery?" you say. Yeah, that's the one. And interestingly enough, the New York Times reviewed it and gave it 4 out 5 stars. I don't know if there are any other retaurants in El Paso that've been reviewed by the NY Times - maybe Cattleman's - and I know that many of my fellow El Pasoans have spoken its praises for years, so I'm eager to try it out.
6. Ardovino's. "Which Ardovino's?", you ask. My, you're talkative today! I'm talking about BOTH Ardovino's Pizza and the restaurant at Ardovino's Desert Crossing. Since they share the same uncommon name, I assume they have some sort of link - possibly the same owners or something like that. I just know they're both pretty famous in these parts and I want to experience them both for myself.
Where are some places in El Paso you've never been that you'd like to eat at someday?
Thursday, June 25, 2009
So today I was working on revising a project and thought it would be good to have a brief history of the church in said project, so this is what I wrote (with the help of a pamphlet from 1998 written by a former church member, Shirley Cloud):
THE STORY OF DEL SOL CHURCH
Who we are
In early 1979, the El Paso Baptist Association purchased some property at the intersection of Vista del Sol & George Dieter and partnered with Scotsdale Baptist Church to sponsor a mission church in this newly developing area of east El Paso, Texas. By February of the following year, this new mission now had a name – Vista del Sol Baptist Chapel – and now had a pastor – James Roberts, who served faithfully for several years.
Vista del Sol Baptist Chapel first started meeting in a home, and later met in several different locations – including a realtor’s office, shopping centers, and a middle school – until the summer of 1982 when construction on the original facility was finished. Two years later, the chapel became a full-fledged church and in the fall of 1984, Vista del Sol Baptist Church called Walter Mueller as their pastor and the church entered another building phase a year and a half later.
Since then, Vista del Sol Baptist Church has been blessed by God with steady growth numerically in attendance and membership, physically, as a few building expansions took place in 1989, 1991, and in 2000, and in influence in the El Paso community through many acts of serving the community by showing God’s love in practical ways.
In the mid 2000’s, the leadership of the church felt God prompting them to make some changes both in philosophy and methodology, and in the actual name and mission of the church. So in 2006 and 2007, some methodological changes took place and the mission statement of the church was changed from “Loving God and Loving People” to “Loving God, Loving People, and Serving the World”. In September of 2007, the church body voted to change the name of the church from Vista del Sol Baptist Church to simply Del Sol Church.
While Del Sol Church is still firmly committed to being a Southern Baptist Church, the name change was necessary to help eliminate the negative stigma that the term “Baptist” holds in the minds of some people, especially those from a Roman Catholic heritage, and to make the church more accessible to those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The FutureDel Sol Church is unashamedly an outward focused church, with a bent towards reaching outsiders who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and so in late 2008, the leadership of Del Sol made the decision to expand the influence of the church to other parts of the El Paso community by becoming a multi-site church.
In 2009, Ariel Martinez was brought on staff as the Campus Pastor of this second location, and the decision was made to launch the second campus in a rapidly growing part of far Northeast El Paso – the area north of Transmountain Road, specifically focusing on the North Hills area. This campus will primarily be a video venue, showing pre-recorded sermons, but will be fully functioning with kids’ ministry, small group Bible studies, and eventually, a youth ministry.
The future truly is bright for Del Sol Church.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
- In last week’s prayer update I mentioned that I had been in talks with someone about taking on the role of leading the kids’ ministry at the NE campus and that they would let me know by Tuesday. We talked yesterday and this person told me that after much prayer, thought, and discussion, they had decided not to accept the position. They explained to me some of the reasons why, and I told them that I support them and believe that in their current life situation, that was probably the wise decision to make. I also told them not to worry or apologize because if they had been the one the Lord has chosen to lead our kids’ ministry, He would have made that clear to them. I assured them that it would not be good if they or anyone were to take on this crucial leadership role just because they felt bad and wanted to fill the need, but weren’t called by God to do it.
- It’s getting to be crunch time now since the staff are supposed to start next Wednesday, July 1st. I don’t want to rush God or try to force Him to work on our schedule, but He knows our plans and it’s up to Him now as to how He’ll work things out. I trust Him.
- Last week I talked with the company Church on Wheels to discuss our plants, timeline, and some benchmarks that must be set in order for us to launch on time. We started the process of ordering our equipment from them and to setup a site visit where one of their consultants will come down and meet with us here, look at the site where we’ll be meeting, talk with us about our needs and expectations, and will begin putting together a customized quote for us. This will all be happening on July 21st and 22nd.
- I also talked with someone from the facilities department at the El Paso Independent School District about what the specifics are for renting some of the facilities at Dr. Nixon Elementary School. The person I talked with was very nice, very helpful, and very flexible with us. I take that as a good sign that we’re making progress towards securing the school as our meting location.
- Of course to use the facilities at the school, it has to be cleared with the principal at Dr. Nixon Elementary, so I’ve been talking with his assistant and his assistant has been talking with him about making sure we’re all on the same page and squared away to use the areas we need before I submit the Facility Use and Request Form to EPISD’s central office.
- In the middle of all that, I’ve counseled with some people, been studying and preparing to preach on Sunday, July 19th, and working at organizing the other churches in the 79936 zip code to distribute some multimedia CD’s with the Gospel message from John 3, the Bible in 300+ languages, and video testimonies to every single home in this 36 zip code – all 32,029 of them!
Here's how you can pray this week:
1. Pray for God to raise up the person He has in mind to lead our kids’ ministry at the Northeast campus. Let’s trust Him and believe together that He is God, He is in control, and He is working this out His way, which of course is best.
2. Pray for God to work out all the details that need to be worked out soon, like officially securing use of the facilities at Dr. Nixon Elementary, meeting with the consultant from COW and ordering our equipment, preparing to start advertising and promotion, etc.
3. Pray for me as I balance my responsibilities in launching the NE campus well and working on projects at the East campus, like organizing the churches in the 36 zip code to distribute those previously mentioned multimedia CD’s.
Thanks for your prayers - I truly believe they make a big difference.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
- Speaking of slow, Monday was slow. I went into the office for the morning, then went to work at The Bagel Shop for awhile, then studied at Starbucks for about an hour before going to do my bi-monthly shopping at Walmart. I was able to get some very important things done in that time, namely studying for my sermon in July and creating a list of goals for my staff that begin in July and sending those goals lists to be reviewed our staff at the East campus.
- Ahh Tuesday ...busy you were! You started out with an early morning at the gym, then working at the office, readying for my GrowGroup that night, studying some more for the sermon in July, consulting with the East staff about the NE staff goals lists, and attending staff meeting. After that, you had me taking Bob Barker to the vet to get some booster shots and a heartworm test, then heading down the the Northeast to scarf down a quick dinner at Burger King and then leading my GrowGroup. You had me rushing home afterwards in hopes of catching "The Office", but alas, I missed it. Perhaps next week ...
- Wednesday held an interesting experience in the morning: my first visit to El Paso Physical Therapy Services on Lee Trevino to start PT on my right knee. I was not told to wear shorts so I went with jeans on, which they had me remove when I was in the exam room. Sure, they gave me a gown, but those things are not exactly known for their modesty so 4 different women and a guy ended up seeing me in my boxers. Awkward! Next time, I'm going in shorts for sure.
- Afterwards I spent the day working at the office, verifying some meetings for Thursday, updating my blog with the weekly prayer update for the NE campus, talking with a guy at Church on Wheels about purchasing a customized portable church equipment trailer package from them and having him come down for a site consultation next month. Also, I had a pleasant interruption with some friends and we ended up debating theology for an hour or so - which to me is always fun. Then went to the gym, scarfed down dinner, and met with Josh and Nicki to go through their job descriptions and goals lists for when they come on staff in July.
- Ahh Thursday; you sure were an interesting day! First thing was to go to a meeting at the EPBA's offices downtown to talk about the Multimedia CD distribution project as part of the BGCT's Texas Hope 2010 project, then rushing back to the Eastside to meet with Mark Pryor, then going back downtown to meet with a pastor friend, Alfonso Lopez, who leads a church in that area. We spent the whole day pretty much touring downtown, visiting people, praying, talking, dreaming, visioning, and seeing a whole different side of El Paso than most people - even lifelong El Pasoans - would ever see unless they actually lived there or worked in the barrios of El Paso. Those people sure need the love and life that Jesus gives though, and those of us who live in the suburbs and who have been blessed with much, have a responsibility to reach those in the barrio who don't have much but who need much. It was definitely a perspective-altering experience for me.
- All that was followed by a visit to the gym and dinner at Village Inn with friends.
- Friday had me sleeping in 'til about 11 am - which is not a good thing to do - then heading to the gym for some intense cardio, cleaning up and getting lunch, then chilling at home for awhile. I watched Tyler Perry's Madea Goes To Jail, which was pretty good. I definitely recommend any of those Madea films.
- Saturday was my yard work day, and thank God I finally got around to trimming those dang oleander bushes on the side of my house. This is how bad they had gotten: I honestly thought there were 5 of them, but it turned out there are only 4; they had just grown so wild that it looked like 5. My dad and I loaded up the truck and headed off the the landfill in Clint, barely making it before they closed at 4 pm, then came back and quickly looked at the dealerships on I-10 to see if they had any interesting deals on mid-sized trucks. Then we headed home, I cleaned up, and relaxed the rest of the evening.
- I woke up this morning really excited to go to our Sunday morning worship celebration. It was so wonderful to see hundreds of people coming together from all walks of life, with all sorts of things going on, just to worship God and to find hope and healing and conviction and direction from Him. Of course it was also wonderful to see my church family (though many were missing as they're in Austin at the NAMB's PowerPlant church planting experience for youth). I went to high school youth at 11 am instead of hanging around Cafe del Sol - mostly because I had forgotten to bring a book to read - and enjoyed seeing a few of the youth again. I say "few" because there couldn't have been more than a dozen people there, but it was all good in the hood.
- I must confess, it's been hard for me to stay behind as so many people - from Del Sol and from other churches - go to summer stuff like PowerPlant, Super Summer, Centrifuge, foreign missions trips, etc. Honestly, though I'm confident and secure in the calling God has given me for this time in my life and though I'm fully committed to it and excited about it ...I miss youth ministry. I really do. I feel left out, and I know that's not anybody's fault and it's not a bad thing - it's part of life and change - but it's still hard and still sad, and it still sucks.
- But I rejoice that God is doing great things in our youth through these summer activities, I rejoice that He's given Troy the vision for what he's doing with the youth now, I rejoice that God has so graciously and mercifully put us as Del Sol Church in a place where we have the human and fiscal resources to do such things, and more than anything, I rejoice because God is God, HE is in control, HE is good, HE cares about us, and HE is making me more like Him. And in the end, that's what matters most, not my comfort or happiness. I rejoice and I remember that God didn't say He wants us to be happy; God said He wants us to be holy.
Friday, June 19, 2009
1. Former President George W. Bush. When he was running for Governor of the Greatest State of Texas in 1994, my family was a big supporter of his and we campaigned hard for him. He made a campaign stop here in El Paso and I had the privilege of meeting him and shaking his hand. I wish I had a picture of that and I wish could download that time from my mind and show it to you because it was awesome! I'm fully convinced that had I not campaigned for him, he wouldn't have become governor and wouldn't have eventually become President of this great country. Thus, he wouldn't have become President if it weren't for me. =)
I kid, of course.
2. David Crowder. Back in May 2007 I went to a conference at North Point Church in the Atlanta area and one of the lead worshippers was David Crowder and the David Crowder Band. After his time leading worship through music, another group took over to lead the music and he along with his band walked off the stage and served communion. That was awesome to see the humility of such a big name Christian musician. Later on I met him while my friend John David was talking with him in the hallway and then I had a pic taken with him after they did a show that night:
3. Bill Hybels. In April of this year, Rick, Kristin, and I went to a conference in the Chicago area and we went to Willow Creek Community Church's Saturday night worship service. Afterwards, I went up to talk to Bill Hybels and thank him for his passion for the local church and for what he's done to help encourage and equip young leaders like myself. That was so awesome and humbling to meet him - I just love his passion for the lost and his passion for the Church.
4. Randy Phillips from the Christian music group Phillips, Craig, and Dean. It was the day after Thanksgiving in 2006, I believe, when myself and a few others from the church went to Juarez work with dozens of other people from throughout the United States to partner with the Hands of Luke ministry and feed 10,000 meals to people in the colonias of Juarez. Our group was small, I think just 4 of us, so we were put with a church from Austin, Texas named PromiseLand Church. At the time, Randy Phillips was an associate pastor there; now he's a pastor of their second location, PromiseLand West in west Austin. It was pretty cool serving alongside him and his church to feed the people of Juarez, Mexico.
5. You. Who knows what the Lord will do and how he'll use you?! You've got potential to do incredible things, from being famous lawyers, doctors, and politicians to being famous pastors, missionaries, artists, and scientists. Even if you don't become famous by society's standards, you're famous to me; I'm glad to have known you and I'm excited to see what you'll become.
Have you ever met anyone famous?
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
- Last night we had the second meeting of the Northeast GrowGroup for the summer term. It turned out to just be myself and another guy, but since it was just the two of us, we had some great, honest discussion and were able to spend some good time in prayer before we went our ways. I was just about to call him and cancel the group for the night because I was having problems with the DVD player and was tired and hot and didn’t have the beat day, but I’m really glad I didn’t because we had a good time together.
- I spent Sunday evening going through the staff policies & procedures manual with Josh & Nicki Sattelmeier, who will be joining our staff on July 1st as the Northeast GrowGroups & Outreach Director and Worship Director, respectively. We read through it together, discussed it, I answered their questions, and we spent some time talking/dreaming about the future. It was a really great time and even though we were doing business, it kind of felt like we were just hanging out. It was also their anniversary (they chose to meet that day, even though it was their anniversary) so it was cool to be able to bless them by buying them dinner.
Here's how you can pray this week:
1. I started physical therapy this week for my right knee, which is still hurting from my accident/injury nearly 2 months ago, so please pray for God to use the therapy over the next month to bring healing to my knee.
2. I’ll be contacting an organization today called Church on Wheels to begin the process of ordering the trailer package which will include nearly all of the equipment we’ll need for portable church meetings. This will be a purchase that will be between $40,000 and $50,000 and will include a couple of site visits from the people at COW, so I definitely need wisdom, vision, and insight about how to proceed in making this purchase.
3. Like I said, Josh and Nicki start July 1st, so you can pray for them and for our staff here at Del Sol East as we go through this transition time and begin to orient them and equip them in their new responsibilities.
Thanks for your prayers - I truly believe they make a big difference.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
- I spent most of Tuesday at the office, in staff meeting, working on some projects, and getting ready for my first GrowGroup meeting that night. In the evening I led a GrowGroup, hosted by some friends of mine at their home in our target area for the NE campus. Including myself, we had 4 people and we also had some technical difficulties with the curriculum DVD, but I figured out how to remedy that for this week.
- Wednesday morning was the graduation for Hanks High School. It was great to see so many youth I've known for years finally walk across that stage and receive their diplomas. Afterwards I went to lunch with a graduate and their family, then went to the office and worked all afternoon, with a meeting that night.
- On Thursday, Eastwood's graduation was in the morning and afterwards I went to lunch with the Loya family to celebrate Briana's graduation. Afterwards I was so tired that I ended up taking the rest of the day off.
- Now that I'm not in youth ministry anymore and am not getting to know more youth, I don't think I'll be going to any graduations for a couple of years. This graduation season was kind of like another hit with the reality that I'm not doing youth ministry anymore.
- Friday was my day off, and it was a blessed time of just resting, running a couple of errands, watching a movie, and just being refreshed.
- Saturday was an interesting day; I woke up really early and met with some other guys from Del Sol East and we went to work with a couple of other churches to help re-roof a building owned by Paseo Christian Church that's being transformed into a community center. We were out in the sun working from 8 am 'til 2 pm, and though it was tiring and very dirty, it was so great to get our hands dirty, get cut up and bruised, and work our muscles 'til we were sore - all knowing that someday that building would be used to make a difference for the Kingdom of God.
- I'll tell you what - as we picked up old roofing, swept up nails, hammered plywood into place, and did all the things we did - it was so worth it knowing that every nail we swept, every nail hammered into plywood, every shingle we ripped off would someday make a difference in someone's eternity. That's about the most fulfilling feeling you could ever experience.
- On Saturday night I went to a surprise graduation party for one of our youth and it was such a blessing to be a part of that and celebrate her in that way. I was honored to be asked to pray over the meal and over the party.
- This morning I went to 3 different churches: Beth El Bible Church to see my friends lead worship, then as I was driving back I saw a sign that said a church called The Rock Church met at Eastwood High School, so I dropped in there for about half an hour, then went to Del Sol East's second worship celebration at 11 am. After that I went to lunch with the Pryors and with my parents, then came home, took a nap, went to SuperCuts to get a trim, then had dinner with a couple of my staff members that are starting on July 1st to go through the Del Sol Church employee manual.
- All in all, it's been a REALLY great week. Like Relient K says: it's funny how you find you enjoy your life when you're happy to be alive.
Friday, June 12, 2009
1. Play football, basketball, or baseball. I never learned how to play any sports besides soccer when I was a kid, and I don't really remember how to play that anyway.
2. Speak Spanish. I can speak some Spanish, but it's very limited. I'm definitely nowhere near fluent, nor able to hold an intelligent conversation in it.
3. The splits. I don't know any guys that can do the splits. Somehow I just don't think God intended for men to be able to do the splits. =)
4. Fight. Though I often jest about fighting, punching people in the throat, and killing people, I don't think I'd be able to fight someone unless it was over something really important and worth physically fighting for - like defending someone defenseless, defending my family, of defending my own life. Perhaps as I grow in physical strength I'll feel more confident about my fighting abilities.
5. Science. Man, I know science is important and I have HUGE respect for science and scientists - but I just struggle so much with things like biology and physics. They are definitely not my thing, because I happen to love history.
What are some things you can't do?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
- Last night I had my first GrowGroup meeting in the Northeast. We’re going through a couple of 4 week studies from LifeChurch.tv called “Practical Atheist” and “Urban Legends”. We had eight people sign up to be a part of the group, but last night there were four of us – three others besides myself. I’m very grateful for those that were there, and we had some good, honest conversation and prayer, but I’d really like to have more people there because a larger small group (yes, I realize that sounds like an oxymoron) of 8-10 people tends to have a different dynamic than a small group of four. Also, two of the guys there said that they can’t commit to be there every week (which is understandable, being that it’s summertime).
- I found out this past week that the church council gave the ok for NE campus staff to join our staff starting July 1st. Out prelaunch phase, with monthly gatherings and outreaches in between those gatherings, doesn’t start until September, but the time before then will be a vital time for the NE campus staff to work side by side with the East campus staff in learning more about their respective ministry responsibilities and in ensuring that the Del Sol DNA in engrained in them so that they’ll carry it over to the NE campus when we launch.
Here's how you can pray this week:
1. Pray for the Lord to send a few more to the GrowGroup this next week and to use this group for His purposes, whatever they may be, in Northeast El Paso.
2. Pray for me as I think through and list the goals, tasks, and other responsibilities for the NE campus staff as they begin in July.
3. Pray for us as we work on the re-roofing project this Saturday, that we’ll be safe and be able to work efficiently and quickly and can get it all done that day and be a part of blessing the community there by helping renovate the facility.
Thanks for your prayers - I truly believe they make a big difference.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
My heart is broken over sin, over injustice, over abuse of power, over miscommunication, over plagiarism, over selfishness and self-focus.
My heart is broken for the Church. Not my local church family, Del Sol Church - but THE Church. The universal, worldwide, global Body of Christ; Church with a capital C.
Sin destroys churches, it destroys the witness of churches, it hurts people and it smears God's reputation. When a local church is fighting within itself , or when the leaders abuse their power or commit sexual sin - it hurts the Church.
Do you get that? When one church (little c) hurts, the whole Church (big C) hurts. In other words, when one church hurts - we ALL hurt.
So today ...pray for my parents' church, Exciting Immanuel Church, here in El Paso, Texas. Amidst a horrible, ugly scandal involving lies, plagiarism, and lots of anger, the pastor announced his resignation today. I know there are a lot of opinions about the situation, a lot of "he said, she said" and gossip going on, so if all you can do is gossip, then stop reading this now and forget you read about that. But if you can set aside judgment and just pray for Pastor Rix Tillman and his wife Sally, and for Exciting Immanuel Church, then read on and pray.
Also, pray for Revolution Church in Canton, Georgia. Their pastor, Gary Lamb, has been a very influential voice in Christianity ...and now ...he too has resigned as pastor, admitting to having an affair with his assistant. This is the link to his blog post with the resignation announcement, and know that I'm not posting it to gossip but to ask you to let your heart genuinely break over it and to let that brokenness cause you to fall on your face in prayer.
Christians, pray for the Church right now. Pray specifically for Exciting Immanuel, pray for Revolution Church, pray for First Baptist Church El Paso (a very important symbolic church in the borderland that has been in struggle and strife for years).
Pray for Del Sol Church. None of our staff - Pastor Walter, Dag, Craig, Troy, Isidro, Cheryl, Teri, Sandra, Terry, Nancy, Lydia, Monica, or myself - are above falling into sin that can devastate our lives and greatly harm Del Sol Church. Any of us could fall into sexual sin or financial sin or pride that causes us to abuse our power or a myriad of other sins.
ANY of us.
Staff of not. Leader or not.
Remember, Biblically we are the family of God and when one of us hurts, we ALL hurt.
As you pray, pray about whatever God lays on your heart, but three things I think it'd be good to pray for are:
1. Wisdom for church leaders. All sin that causes the downfall of a leader starts with one stupid decision that leads to another, and leads to another, and leads to another, and then one day you're stuck in a self-created pit of sin. Pray for those of us who God has called to lead in the Church to lead and to live wisely.
2. Protection, both physical and spiritual. John 10:10a says that the devil roams around looking to steal, kill, and destroy. That dummy would just love to get his foot into the door of a church and into the life of a leader through distractions, discouragement, and destruction. He can distract us from our mission, discourage us in the work of God, or destroy peace and unity and many other things. Pray for the Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Husband of His Bride, the Church, to protect His Church.
3. Grace to prevail. Yes, sin needs to be exposed and brought out of darkness into light; yes, pastors and leaders should take full responsibility for their sin and accept the consequences, yes church discipline should be practiced swiftly and strongly - but through it all, God's grace MUST prevail. Grace must win. If society can show grace to and forgive Britney Spears and Robert Downey Jr., then we in the Church certainly can show grace to and forgive fallen, disgraced leaders in the Church.
So as my heart is broken tonight and as I cry and pray for the Church and for Revolution Church, Exciting Immanuel Church, and First Baptist Church ...won't you let God break your heart and cry and pray with me?
Friday, June 5, 2009
1. My health. Many people know I've been dealing with a knee injury for the past couple of months, but I've also been dealing with other health issues like insomnia, headaches, muscle aches, gastrointestinal issues this year as well. In general, I just have overall sense of not feeling well, and that really affects my attitude, my emotions, my energy level, and my everyday life.
2. Doubting my leadership abilities. The time for us at Del Sol Church to launch our Northeast location is quickly coming on us; oh I know that January seems far away, but everyday the sun rises and sets is one day closer to our launch. In July - less than a month away - our staff should be starting up and I'll be responsible for leading them. It seems weekly I have people from Del Sol East telling me they want to join us at the Northeast location, and that's a big responsibility as well.
I've had several people tell me that they know I'm the right man for the job and that I've got the skills, abilities, and gifting to do this and I know the staff and Walter and church council believe in me ...but in the dark of night, when I'm alone with my thoughts, I wonder if I can do this. Not wonder really; doubt. Constant doubting if I can do this. How can a 23 year old guy like me lead a staff of those much older than him, with more ministry experience than him, and give vision to dozens of volunteers and lead this location in a way that brings honor to God?
3. Concentration. I think this probably ties in directly to my health issues, but these past few weeks especially I've had a terrible time concentrating and thinking straight - which is not a good thing being that I'm in a phase in my job where I need to be able to concentrate and have clarity of mind. I joined a gym this week and I've started working out, so I hope that revitalization of my body will also refresh my mind.
4. Being an encourager. The month of May held SO many illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths in the lives of people I love, and while it's been an honor to minister to them, care for them, and mourn with them, it's the fastest way I know how to drain yourself. I'm not complaining - God called me to this line of work and I chose to obey Him, so I'm not whining - but it's still draining. And when your emotions and spirit are drained, you find it hard to encourage others ...so I'm constantly finding myself looking for ways to be encouraged in the Lord and to relax, refocus, refuel, and rest my soul so that I can continue to give out.
5. Relationships. The more people I meet, the harder it is to maintain healthy, strong relationships. I find it harder to be cordial, friendly, and accessible to those new to my life, while still investing into the closest relationships in my life that really matter and that need attention. I'm really struggling through this tension of trying to find the right, wise way to handle my relationships.
What about you - what are you struggling with right now?
Thursday, June 4, 2009
After work I had to run an errand out in the Tierras, and I knew they had a nice library out there so I thought I'd try to find it whilst I was out there. So as I drove down Pebble Hills, I saw this:
It's the Esperanza Acosta Moreno Regional Library, and it's the coolest looking library I've ever seen!
It was getting close to dinner time so I went to get some dinner at Dickey's Barbecue Pit on Joe Battle by the new JC Penney. I had gone there before right after they opened and thought it was pretty good, so I thought I'd try it again. This is officially one of my favorite restaurants because they have good customer service and because they have an unexpected perk of free ice cream! I highly recommend you check them out:
Finally, tonight I went to Eastwood High School for their year-end musical review and enjoyed it - even though there were some awkward moments with some of the songs and singers. This is senior Briana Loya playing a song for her parents:
It was a good day.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
- For a couple of months now, I’ve had a couple of people committed to join our NE campus staff as worship and GrowGroups/outreach directors, but I’ve had a very difficult time finding a kids ministry director. I’ve met with some great people who were very excited about the work in the NE, but for whatever reasons just could not commit. So I took some time off from searching for a kids' ministry director to regroup and re-gather my thoughts, and in my last update I mentioned that a few weeks ago I approached someone else about this position.
- I’ve been investing a lot of my time lately in the Northeast. Thanks to the wonders of technology and wireless internet access, I’m able to go to The Bagel Shop on Transmountain and have lunch there, work, and start to get to know people there. I also spend time at Starbucks over there, though I can’t do too much work besides reading because they don’t have free wifi. So I’ve been investing time in the NE with the intention of being a presence there and getting to know people there – but I haven’t been too successful at that lately.
It’s not that I haven’t tried; it’s just that there haven’t been any natural segues into any sort of meaningful conversation. That had been frustrating me so I had been praying for open doors of opportunity, and on Monday I had conversations with three different people, two of which were pretty significant. I’m excited about that because as I foster these new relationships, in time and with love I’ll be able to speak the Gospel into their lives and hopefully see them come to know the Lord in a personal way.
- Another thing I had been frustrated about was the fact that I had been planning to lead a GrowGroup in the NE this summer, but had only one other person committed to the group. Again I prayed about it and on Sunday there was a couple that signed up to be part of the group, and as I’ve called some more people this week, I’ve had 5 other people say they’ll be part of the group, so it looks like we’ll have a good showing for group, which starts next Tuesday evening. Because I’ll be leading this group every Tuesday, I’m going to change our launch team meetings for the summer from meeting every Wednesday to meeting every other Wednesday night.
Here's how you can pray this week:
1. Pray for the person I’ve been in conversation with about becoming our kids’ ministry director. Ask the Lord to show her what the next step He has for her is – whether it’s to stay in her current career or to join us as the NE campus’ kids ministry director. Ask Him to give her wisdom and peace about what to do.
2. I’ll be meeting with Walter tomorrow afternoon to update him on where we’re at with the NE campus and to talk about some pretty important things, like hiring staff, starting the process to secure our location and sign contracts, and about the idea of purchasing the trailer I wrote about in my last update.
3. Keep praying for open doors and opportunities to meet people in the Northeast and begin conversations that would lead to talking about the Gospel in a compelling yet non-confrontational way. Pray also for more opportunities to cast the vision for the NE campus with more people from Del Sol and for God to raise up more volunteers as we prepare to launch the NE campus.
Thanks for your prayers - I truly believe they make a big difference.