Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Night Mind Purge

- Man it's been a crazy week, and this new week is gonna be intense and crazy and busy and rushed! I've got several important deadlines to meet for some print publications in order to have them ready by Sunday, so if you would, please ask God to help me focus and get things done well and in time.

- On Monday I took a half day off and slept in since I wasn't able to take a day off the week before, so I woke up, cleaned up, and went to volunteer at Wayside for lunchtime. Afterwards I had to go meet the gas company people at Del Sol's Northeast campus to get the gas turned on, then went to work for a bit at The Bagel Shop, then did some reading at Starbucks for awhile before coming home around 7 pm after a long day in the Northeast. Thankfully I had a good conversation with someone at The Bagel Shop and started to get to know a manager at Bux. I hope that those relationships develop in coming weeks.

- Then on Tuesday, I spent some time in the office, we had a good staff meeting, and then I had a great meeting with John MacKay, one of our church's elders, then met some peeps to carpool out to the Northeast campus for a casual, low-key time of worship through prayer, music, and Bible study. I asked the people there for ideas about how we can reach out into the community and show God's love in practical ways and got some great feedback. I'm excited for what God's got in store for the future of Del Sol Northeast!

- On Wednesday morning, I met Isidro Contreras, our East campus' property manager out at the NE campus to talk about what work needs to be done and so that he could see what we needed to get some new, sturdier industrial locks put in. I like Isidro - he's got a good vision for property and how to do things well. He provided some great feedback and I'm very grateful that he took the time to meet me out there.

- After working all day on Wednesday, I met Rick and Kristin for dinner at Chick-fil-A. I love CFA, especially with good company like them.

- Honestly, I can't remember off hand what I did on Thursday. I do remember meeting with Jeremy and then Walter in the afternoon, but that's really all I remember.

- Friday was a strange day. I woke up with pretty much every muscle in my body tensed up and all my joints were cracking as I moved. It was very painful and uncomfortable but thankfully I was able to get stretched out and get going, but that didn't prove for a very restful day at all.

- Thankfully on Saturday, I was feeling better when I woke up so I went to the gym for awhile and got a good workout in, then went to a birthday party at the park for a couple of friends and spent most of the afternoon there. After that I came home, relaxed for awhile, then had to run to Walmart to get dog food and a couple of other things. That was kind of a bummer because it was like 9 pm, but I was able to get home in time to get to bed around 10:30 pm.

- I didn't fall asleep til well into Sunday morning though because I could not seem to make my mind stop running. I did get some good ideas that I took note of, so I guess it wasn't totally a waste. While I was up, I watched some of the British version of The Office, which is not nearly as funny as the American version of The Office, with Michael Scott, Jim, Dwight, Pam, Stanley, Phyllis, Stanley, and the rest.

- Today was my dad's birthday so after our church gatherings today, we had the Pryors over for a brisket lunch and just enjoyed time together, celebrating him. I love my dad, I'm glad he's been around for 64 years, and I hope we have him for many, many more years.

The land of miracles.

Today I finished reading a book by Thom Rainer called "Surprising Insights From the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them." It's a big book with lots of research, so it took me about 3 months to finally finish it, but I'm so glad I took all that time to read it and really soak it in and think on it.

This book takes an interesting approach in surveying the unchurched; most research on the unchurched is based on conversations and interviews with people who are still unchurched - that is, they're still not attending a local church. Rainer, though, interviews the formerly unchurched - that is, those who are new Christians or are new to church, those who have just recently made the move from not attending church to regularly attending church. In this book, he interviews the formerly unchurched about what it was that drew them to the church, and he interviews pastors of churches that are successfully reaching the unchurched and non-Christians, asking them about themselves and their churches.

So because of that twist on the research, and mostly because my good friend Josh recommended the book to me, I took the time to read it. And I'm SO glad I did.

At the end of the last chapter, there's a line that really resonated with me, that really touched me in the deepest part of my heart. You need to know that I have a greatly broken heart for those who don't know Jesus, and I have a deep-seated passion for Christ's Bride, the Church.

So as Rainer wrote about reaching those who don't know Jesus Christ, and about how many churches in our country (and ESPECIALLY in my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention) are in serious, dangerous decline, he found hope at the end of his research - even in the midst of the serious anemia in the American Church, overall. He saw that there are churches and pastors that are reaching the lost in droves, and that are focused on God's Kingdom, and that are "making hell a less crowded place" as Perry Noble from NewSpring Church likes to say.

After thinking on churches that are making a difference for God, this is what Rainer wrote on page 234:
"I have entered the land of miracles, and I do not wish to return. Too much is at stake. Too many lives hang in the balance. Let us storm the gates of hell. And let us see, in God's power, more of the unchurched become the formerly unchurched. To God be the glory!"

He's seen the land of miracles and doesn't want to return. I agree. I hear so many self-professed prophets talk about how the church is dying and how churches that grow and are seeker friendly only water down the Gospel to tickle people's ears, as if the choices are either be friendly or be antagonistic to seekers!

NO! I refuse to throw in the towel, I refuse to raise the white flag, I refuse to give up, shut up, or stop. I'll freakin storm hell with a half-empty water pistol, and do it alone, if I have to!!!

Like Rainer said, I've seen the land of miracles, and I don't want to go back to ordinary. I've seen the Gospel transform lives and I don't want to be anything but a part of that. I've seen people who were ready to take their own life, and then Jesus saved them both spiritually and physically. I've seen people who once were living in chains, in bondage to drugs or sex or alcohol or rage or a myriad of other things find those chains fall off and find healing in community. I've seen people so in love with Jesus Christ and so committed to the cause of Christ that they would choose to sacrifice immense amounts of money, time, and even their own lives because of Him.

So just like Rainer, I've seen the land of miracles in my 9 years of being in ministry, and I don't want to return to a regular, ordinary life.

And now, I'm gonna go fill up my water pistol halfway with water and then I'm headed off in the direction of hell. Feel free to join me if you'd like - but even if you don't, it's going down son ...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Del Sol northeast prayer update - 09/23/09

Here's the latest update on the Northeast campus:

- A lot has gone on since my last update 2 weeks ago, so in order to keep this update brief, I’ll try to fill you in on the major things that have happened.

- Last Wednesday, the 16th, I went out to the NE campus with a couple of men from the East campus who posses the know-how about contracting and construction, and we looked at what our options are for the kids ministry area and what we need to do as far as minor repairs and renovations to the facilities there. I really appreciate Jim Hetzel and Butch Villarreal for taking the time to go out there and give me their input, because that really helped clarify some things for me.

- During that week, we also worked to get all the utilities turned on for our workday on Saturday the 19th. Much thanks to our financial secretary, Nancy Contreras, for helping us with that!

- On Saturday, we had a workday at the Northeast campus. We were there from 9 am ‘til 3 pm, and spent a lot of time cleaning the buildings, doing yard work, and starting to prime the walls so that we can paint them soon. I invited our youth, my GrowGroup, and several adults from the East campus, so we ended up having 21 people come to work, most of them staying to work the whole time. We got a LOT done, and I’m very grateful to everyone who showed up.

- There’s still more work to be done, so we’ll have another workday out there on Saturday, October 3rd from 9 am – 3 pm. If you’re interested in coming out to work with us on that day, please let me know right away. The more, the merrier.

- Yesterday evening we had our first gathering out at the NE campus, and 14 people showed up and brought great attitudes and great ideas for outreach. I think we started to “build the mo!” (build up some momentum) with last night’s gathering. So, we’ll meet every Tuesday evening from 6:30 – 8:30 pm to bring together anyone and everyone interested in helping launch the NE campus. It’s a casual, low-key time to worship through music, prayer, and Bible study, to prepare to launch Sunday worship celebrations, and to reach out and show God’s love in practical ways to the community. If you’d like to be a part of these gatherings, please let me know. Those of us who live on the Eastside will meet at the East campus at 6 pm sharp to carpool to and from the Northeast campus on Tuesday evenings.

Here's how you can pray this week:

1. Ask God to help us build momentum through the Tuesday night gatherings, and to show us how we can get more people from the community involved to help us build up momentum so that we can really make a big impact for the Lord in the Northeast community.

2. Pray for those who have committed to help Del Sol Northeast launch, that God will bless and honor them for taking a risk and being obedient to Him by joining our launch team. And as Luke 10:2 says, ask the Lord to send out more workers into the field to help us reach Northeast El Paso for Him.

3. As we meet on Tuesday nights and as we prepare to reach out into the community, ask the Lord to work on hearts, giving us favor and open doors with the people in the neighborhoods around the NE campus so that we can really make inroads there for the Gospel.

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

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday night mind purge, 09/13/09

Ahhh, what a week!

- Monday was nice. It was Labor Day weekend so I didn't have to go into the office or do work. I ended up sleeping in, hitting up the gym, spending most of the afternoon doing yard work, and then doing some reading and watching TV to round out the evening.

- I get tremendous amounts of satisfaction, pride, and happiness from doing my yard and having a well-trimmed lawn.

- Funny thing about holidays though is that while you get a day off, work tends to pile up afterwards so that you need a holiday from your holiday!

- So I spent most of Tuesday at the office, trying to catch up on some stuff I was already behind on from the previous week and getting ready for my GrowGroup that evening. Interestingly enough, nobody showed up for the group, so I took Becky and Alexa MacKay (who host the group at their home) out to the future NE campus property to show them the facilities and get their input about what reasonable updates and renovations we might need to do. So that was fun and it redeemed the evening.

- Wednesday was a CRAZY day - it was LITERALLY one meeting after another after another. First thing in the morning I had a breakfast meeting, followed by a drop-in meeting at the office, then a lunchtime meeting, then about an hour or two break between another meeting. It was a good day though, with a lot of relational stuff accomplished. We sure have some good, good people in our community of El Paso, Texas.

- Thursday was another long day at the office. After working there in the morning, I had three meetings, one after another, and ended up staying for awhile at the office to get some work done (since I had meetings pretty much all week!) and then rushed off to City Hall to pickup a copy of the blueprints for the Angora Loop property where the NE campus will be meeting. After that I hit the gym for a bit and then cleaned up and met Rick for dinner at CFA. All in all, it was a good day.

- Friday was hard. Not only was it the 8th anniversary of one of the most horrible days in our great country's history, but that morning also held the funeral of Bruce Bannon, a very good, Godly, irreplaceable man from the church. He's one of those people whom nobody can ever seem to speak against and whom you can't seem to speak highly enough of. It was a hard morning. He was only a few years older than my parents. Those sorts of things, combined with my parents' declining health ...they're just ...hard. I don't know how to explain it, but it's just hard watching my parents grow older. It's just really, really hard.

- Thankfully, Friday was also the birthdays of two friends of mine, so I was able to celebrate that and tried to rest the remainder of the day.

- I had wanted to get more done yesterday than I did, but I ended up spending a couple of hours at the gym getting a good workout in, then doing some reading, going into the office for a few hours to get ready for the Leadership Summit this weekend, then went to Starbucks to read for a little while before going home and heading off to bed.

- This morning, Walter really brought it in his message on sex, straight from what God says in the Bible in Song of Songs. I think he did a really good job of handling the topic in a very blatant, honest way but not in an inappropriate or sensationalist manner. I'm very proud of how he handled such a precarious topic, and I believe that there were some people there who began to rethink their perspective on sex and that those who have impure sexual backgrounds hopefully began the journey towards healing and wholeness that only Jesus Christ can bring.

- After both worship celebration services, I was up by the stage to pray with anyone who might come up, as I'll be doing more frequently on Sunday mornings. Nobody came up to me for prayer at the first service but after the second service, I had a couple come right up to me as soon as the gathering was over and ask for prayer. I was so honored that they would trust me enough to share part of their life with me and to ask me for prayer. I count it a privilege to be able to pray for people in times of need.

- Afterwards I rushed home, made myself a quick lunch, went to get my haircut at Supercuts

- There are SO many details to be worked out regarding the NE campus, and I have SO much to do this week, but I'm really excited about what God is doing and how He's leading. I just wanna stay humble, obedient, and submitted to Him.
(and had a good conversation with the stylist), then came home, showered up, and went to our bi-annual Leadership Summit. I REALLY enjoy anytime that we get to be together with so many of our volunteers. I led a breakout session for the NE campus where we talked about a bunch of the details and answered some questions.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Del Sol Northeast prayer update, 09/10/09

Here's the latest update on the Northeast campus:

- Yesterday was a day with literally one meeting after another after another from first thing in the morning to late night. I didn’t end up getting home ‘til nearly 10 pm, so needless to say, I didn’t have much time to write up and send out this update yesterday. Yesterday was very busy, but also quite productive.

- On Tuesday, my GrowGroup grew from 5 people to 3: the hosts and myself. So, rather than doing our study this week, I took them out to see the NE campus facilities and listen to their perspective about what we might could do there. It’s always kind of a bummer when nobody shows up for something you’ve planned, but I think God redeemed the time through our “field trip” out to the Angora Loop property. I think it helped those two that went with me see the actual facility and catch a little more of the vision for a Del Sol Church location in their part of the community.

- Yesterday afternoon, I took some ladies from the church and met my parents at the facilities where we’ll meet for Del Sol Northeast. It’s a property 2 miles north of the Loop 375 & Railroad Dr. intersection, at 6815 Angora Loop S. I wanted them all to be there to look at it from a different perspective than mine, to look at the property with some fresh eyes and to brainstorm some ideas as to how we can do some freshening up and modernizing of the property. We made some good progress, talking about pain colors and about some other options of what we need to do there.

- Afterwards, I talked with Troy, our Youth & Young Adults Pastor here at Del Sol East and we set a work day for next Saturday, September 19th to go and start priming the walls, cleaning up weeds & overgrown grass, etc. in order to begin getting it ready for us to meet there soon. It feels SO good, after nearly a year of planning, to finally stop talking and actually take action, and to be getting so close to actually launching the location!

- If we’re able to get things in order there and get our supplies in time, it really looks like we’ll be able to have our first monthly worship service there (called a “preview service”) in November! This isn’t written in stone, but right now I don’t anticipate coming across any reason why we wouldn’t be able to do so.

- This Sunday afternoon is our bi-annual Leadership Summit at Del Sol. Pastor Walter will talk about where we’ve been this year and where we’re going this fall and next year, and after a large group sessions, we’ll have ministry-specific breakout sessions. I’ve invited most everyone who has expressed interest in the Northeast location to come. If you’re part of the Del Sol Church family and I haven’t yet contacted you to invite you, please know that you're invited to come to the summit this Sunday, September 13th, from 4 – 7 pm and to come to the Northeast location breakout session after the main session so that you can learn more about Del Sol Northeast and how you can be a part of it, if you so choose.

Here's how you can pray this week:

Keep asking God to prepare the way for the Northeast campus by opening doors for conversation with people in the Northeast community and by preparing the hearts of people in the Northeast so that they’ll be open to invitations to come to Del Sol Northeast.

2. Ask God to lead me as I lead the Northeast GrowGroup, to bring the people He knows should be there, and to help us be a presence, make an impact, and gain momentum in the Northeast as we prepare to launch the NE location.

3. Pray that God will lead myself and my team members as we work out all the details for what needs to happen to prepare the Angora Loop property for DSC NE (paint, landscaping, renovations, equipment orders, etc.) and as we organize and mobilize people for workdays there. Also, ask God to lead people at Del Sol East to be eager to help us prepare the facilities by working at the upcoming workdays.

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

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday night mind purge.

- So Monday was a very busy day for me - I knocked a whole bunch of important tasks off my to-do list, prepared for the first week of my GrowGroup which was on Tuesday, got some good reading time in, and talked with some other staff members at Del Sol about getting some volunteers for the NE campus working as apprentices in some ministries at the East campus.

- Tuesday was a long day. Working all day, with staff meeting in the middle of the day, then heading over to the Northeast to lead my GrowGroup at the MacKay's home. I wasn't sure if anyone would show up, and I was SUPER nervous about it, but it ended up turning out pretty well. There were 5 of us total, and hopefully we'll have several more join us this coming week. If you would, pray for my group because how it turns out is gonna greatly determine how well it looks like the Northeast campus will turn out. In other words ...there's a lot of pressure on me for this group to go well, so I'm just trusting God to do His thing here.

- Wednesday was a long day spent mostly working at the office, followed by First Wednesday that night. It was so great to hear the reports from the Spain and Slovakia missions trips that our church took this summer. I'm really excited about what it seems God is leading us to do in the future in the area of international missions.

- On Thursday, I went into the office in the morning and worked on a couple of projects but then spent the most of the afternoon running errands and doing research for some things we're working on for this fall at Del Sol. I also took a little bit of time to finally try out Crave out in Kern Place and do some sightseeing at UTEP.

This is the inside of Crave:

And the Sun Bowl:
Sun Bowl

The Don:
The Don

- Friday was a nice, restful day. I hit the gym, then had a nice relaxed lunch, ran a couple of errands, went for a drive, then came home and watched the movie 17 Again (which wasn't as cheesy as I thought it would be). Since Hanks wasn't playing a home game, I just went to have dinner at Chick-fil-A and then stayed home for the evening, resting and relaxing.

- On Saturday I slept in a bit, went to the gym for a nice long workout, then had lunch, did some cleaning around the house, and got ready for the UTEP football game. I went with some guys from the church and had a great time at the game (even though the Miners lost because of a bad call by a ref in the last few seconds), then went to get some food afterwards. We didn't even get to the restaurant until about midnight, and I didn't end up getting to bed 'til close to 1:30 am. Needless to say that even though it was fun, it was not the wisest of decisions.

- So this morning, it was pretty hard to wake up but I did it. Interestingly enough, my parents were listening to Andy Stanley so I didn't wake up to my alarm but to Andy Stanley's voice. Weird. I also woke up feeling pretty sick, but it was a GREAT worship experience this morning, and it was really great to run around serving, taking care of things and helping people feel welcome during the 11 am service.

- After that I went to lunch with my parents and had some great conversation with them, then came home and took a little nap. I had planned on doing yard work, but I've just been too tired from staying out so late last night. Thankfully, the office is closed tomorrow so I get another much needed day to rest my mind.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday Five (a little late) - Five Things I appreciate about Terry

This week's Friday Five (just a little late): five things I appreciate about Terry Gooding, our Prayer Ministry Coordinator at Del Sol Church:

1. Her heart for prayer. She's the prayer coordinator, so of course she's got a heart for prayer - seems a no-brainer, right? Well, I wouldn't say so since throughout history there have been many pastors who weren't even Christians, so I really respect and appreciate that for Terry, prayer is not just her job, but her passion - a passion that's extremely contagious.

2. Her leadership abilities. Terry's a meek, mild-mannered, unimposing character. She's not an up-front, must be in the spotlight kind of person. She's a faithful servant, often in the background - but there's an interesting characteristic about her: she's a great leader. Most people think to be a leader you have to be visible and vocal, but Terry seems to do just fine leading the prayer team her way - out of the spotlight, letting God get the glory.

3. Her desperation for God. Part of her unimposing character comes from her desperation for God. She does not at all try to pretend she's got it all together because she knows that she - like the rest of us - are all messed up, sinful, broken people who need God's grace to live in a way that is both pleasing to Him and beneficial to us.

4. Her caring heart for people. Being the prayer ministry coordinator, Terry deals with some incredibly sensitive, personal prayer needs and handles them in a very wise, careful way. Also, she is extremely approachable and caring and gentle, and she makes you truly feel the love of God when you're around her.

5.Her willingness to help. There have been many times in staff meeting where we're discussing a matter and Terry offers to help, or makes a helpful suggestion about someone else who might be able to help with something. She's extremely helpful, and always eager and available when you need something, no matter how big or small.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Del Sol Northeast prayer update - 09/02/09

Here's the latest update on Del Sol Church's Northeast location:

- Last week I mentioned that we’ve finally found a location to meet in, on a road in the Northeast called Angora Loop (which is just about 2 miles north of the Loop 375/Railroad Drive intersection, just off Railroad Drive). I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at our options as far as making it into an environment that’s more welcoming, friendly, and functional for what we’ll be doing. I’ve also been thinking about and looking into advertising, promotion, how we can serve the community there, etc.

- Last night we had the first meeting this fall of our GrowGroup that meets in the Northeast. There were 5 of us there, but hopefully we’ll be able to get some more people to come next week. I challenged the group members to bring someone with them next week, and I’ve printed some invitation cards that we can use to invite people to the group. I’m excited about the people we have in the group, and about those who told me they couldn’t make it this week but wanted to come next week. I think if we can get people excited about what’s going on with the group, then that excitement will help us build the momentum we need in order to launch the Northeast location in the coming months.

- It seems every week I have at least one or two people (sometimes more) come up to me, without any spurring or solicitation on my part, to ask me when the Northeast location will open up. They’ll tell me that they live in the Northeast, or that they have family or friends or coworkers that live out there and they want to get them connected. That tells that God is up to something with Del Sol Northeast, that He wants us out there, and that even though we don’t have a large base of people from Del Sol who live out in the Northeast, we are still wanted by the people of Northeast El Paso. I’m very excited to see what God will do when we actually start meeting out there soon.

- In addition to preparing to launch the Northeast location, we’ve also got quite a lot going on at Del Sol East, and all of us on staff are busy getting ready for the rest of the year and are already planning for next year, so we’re definitely very busy bees around the office.

Here's how you can pray this week:

1. Ask God to continue to open up doors for me for conversation with people who live in the Northeast, and to even now be opening up the hearts of people who live in the Northeast so that they’ll be open and receptive to the Northeast location when we launch.

2. Please pray for the Northeast GrowGroup that just started. Ask God to do a good work in each group member, to send more people so that we can grow numerically, and to use the group to build excitement and momentum as we get closer to launching the NE location.

3. Please pray for Pastor Walter and our staff here at Del Sol Church, as we prepare for what God has in store for us the rest of this year and next year. Ask God to give us grace, encouragement, joy, patience, strength, endurance, and everything we need to lead and to be able to encourage and equip our church family.

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