Thursday, May 29, 2008

May Mission Trip

This past weekend my church went to help out Abundant Grace Church (AG), located just outside of downtown Dallas in the projects. Pastor Bob had a vision of planting a church where pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, and dirt poor people live… Bob is a friend of mine from Prestonwood that I led my church to partner with this summer. After attending our first of three summer mission trips to AG, I can only stand amazed at what God is doing through this partnership. Here are some written testimonies of some men who went on the mission trip:

“Teacher, what shall I do?” Having gone to Dallas and served this weekend gives me a connection to this question …I’m sure Jeremy and Jason who also went would be of the same opinion. I am a person in a state of expectation…What amazing things God can do if we let him! Getting a chance to walk door to door in a very tough neighborhood that I would never be in otherwise…and having a feeling and sense of peace while doing it…amazing! Witnessing the outpouring of Christ’s love in park while feeding and engaging others…amazing! High fiving God’s children in park, picking up trash; enjoying a long bus ride with family and friends, watching Facing the Giants (which if you haven’t seen is a MUST see!)…awesome! We serve an awesome God – He is able to unbelievable thing if we let Him – Have a great week! – Randy N.

I am excited to go back June the 27th and 28th. A few of those kids were so needy and captured my heart; I can hardly wait to see them again. Thanks you for the opportunity to join you in this work our family was blessed to serve and be Jesus to others. – Trenda D.

This past weekend was unbelievable for my family. Jana and I truly appreciate you guys setting it up where we could take our kids. It was awesome to see our girls interact with those kids down there and to be so excited about going door to door to hand out flyers to people in that community. I wanted to make sure that we were on the team that walked through the neighborhoods and actually met some of the people we would be ministering to. We took Brooke and Britton and they had a blast going door to door hanging the church information and VBS information on the doors. We even had them knocking on doors and talking to people. It was also awesome getting to hang out and actually do God's work with other members of our church. What a neat opportunity for us as parents to see our kids putting to action what God teaches us in His word. If you can, you guys need to make a point to go to at least one of the trips, I think we are going to try and go to the rest of them. – Jeremy R.

The trip was one of the most rewarding things I have participated in for quite a while! I think my favorite moment was when a small girl, maybe six or seven, wanted to play ball with me. We kicked one of the large balls around for about 20 minutes or so and she came up to me and said something like, "Would you like to come and play again soon?" I don't know the girl's situation, but I do know that smile was genuine. It's not often in today's hectic schedule of soccer, work, and youth taxi service that you can focus on letting Jesus shine though your life. Thanks for providing us the opportunity to do that! Jess D.

It sounds like you all had a great time in Dallas last weekend and I am jealous of the blessing I missed out on. Jeremy was telling me about all that happened and it sounded truly amazing! - Chris K.

(This is where Abundant Grace meets; it is an old gym the Dallas Housing Authority basically gave to Bob... it stood abandoned for 7 years)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Whiney Crybaby Spurs

I love the Mavs, they are my favorite NBA team, always have been and always will be. From Ro Blackman & Roy Tarpley to Nowitzki & Kidd (no comment on Kidd), I love my Mavs. We have never won a title, and only have the hope that in about 2-3 years something will happen, because we are not getting there next year... SO, with that being said, I cannot stand the Spurs.

Not because they win and we don't, which is a great reason to hate them (no one hates losers by the way, see the Cubies, "loveable losers"), I cannot stand them because they have made an artform of crying and whining. The Spurs are grown men that look like little girls. They remind me of my daughter at her worst when she fails to get her way, throwing a temper tantrum... ridiculous!

It is my hope the Lake-show knocks them out of the playoffs. I do not care if it is 4-3 or 4-1, just as long as I do not have to watch their whining faces in the finals. Seriously, is anyone else tired of Timmy throwing his hands up, holding tears back, questioning how a ref can call a foul on him regardless of how hard he hits an opposing player with his arms or body... you can throw Manu, Parker, and the rest of the team into that description too as they take on the personality of their cry-baby sissy-boy, tantrum-throwing, dominating-diva-Duncan!

Awakening of Me

Come meet us, King Jesus, oh wind of change blow through this temple. Sweet Spirit of God, come and mend our hearts, for all we have are songs unless you come.

Awaken what is inside of me to my heart to all you are in me even though you are here, God come. May the vision of you be the death of me and even though you have given everything, Jesus come!

Come free us, King Jesus, it's the only way that freedom's given. For you and you alone, in the work you have already done, for all we have are songs unless you come.

Awaken what is inside of me to my heart to all you are in me even though you are here, God come. May the vision of you be the death of me and even though you have given everything, Jesus come, oh Jesus Come!

Here we are, in this place. Crying out for your embrace. To hear your voice, more than songs. Oh please come, Jesus come!

Awaken what is inside of me to my heart to all you are in me even though you are here, God come. May the vision of you be the death of me and even though you have given everything, Jesus come! Awaken what is inside of me to my heart to all you are in me even though you are here, God come. May the vision of you be the death of me and even though you have given everything, Jesus come! May my heart awake. Jesus come.

Powerful words in a song called "Vision of You" by Shane and Shane that have impacted me along with the reading of a book by Mike Breen called The Passionate Church. Although I should by working on my dissertation, I believe God had plans to work on me today instead...

Somehow I cannot help that this is what seminary training should be all about, a renewed sense of passion and purpose for the work God has called me to. In studying for a paper, God wants to expand my love for him and remind me why I am grinding out my dissertation like a golfer struggling to make it into the clubhouse (golf would be good right about now)!

Book Reviews

I've decided it would be good to keep track of the books I have read and my thoughts on those books, so I will be adding book reviews to my blogging life. Without delay, here are my first few reviews:

The Passionate Church by Mike Breen (Finished 5/20/08)

If you are in ministry, this is a must read. In comparison to Simple Church, this book dominates. Breen's understanding of Jesus translates powerfully from his pen, to the paper, to the heart. He uses Jesus as the compass and shapes as illustrations for discipleship. Reading this book makes me want to do more for Jesus, be more for Jesus, and it also clarifies how to do that more effectively.

Simple Church by Eric Gieger (3/27/08)

This is a very good book for enabling insight into one's process of make disciples. One of the greatest mistakes in the book though is the blinding absence of the family (mom & dad) in the process. I cannot help but think that any church that fails to mention or incorporate the family in the discipleship process fails to make disciples. BUT this book should be viewed as a resource to create a discipleship process, and for that everyone in ministry should read it. My fear is that many church will call them simple when they have simply poached the slogans Gieger uses as examples in the book (i.e. love God, love others, to change the world)... something I have already seen in multiple churches around my current setting. Hear is to originality!

The Present Future (2/07)

Solid approach to ministry in our current times… Loved the concept of moving from every member a minister mentality to every member a missionary! If we could think of our current setting in life as a mission field instead of a place where we live, what a difference that would make! Most that dislike it or question its theology probably have questions as to why hymns and boring sermons don't seem to attract new people into the church. A rock solid read for anyone who desires to make a difference for Christ.

The Holy Wild by Mark Buchanan (11/06)

Buchanan is anointed. The Holy Wild should be read by every believer. It provokes thoughts and sparks the reader's imagination as to what God wants from His followers. Trusting God in all things; knowing He is great, mighty, and able; understanding that God will also challenge those who love Him... Great book.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sad News

I am sad. I am sad for my former church, former pastor, and a man/family I have never met. Today a minister at a church I previously served at made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Apparently, there was an online predator sting in Bryan, TX where undercover police officers were posing as a 13 year old girl. Joe Barron was arrested for online solicitation of a minor.

Our first response is to throw stones and annihilate this fraud, phony, hypocrite, and so on for what he did, but I would like to bring up to things before stones are picked up. First, at the heart of the issue, he sinned. Not against Prestonwood, not against Southern Baptist, not against you or me, he sinned against an Almighty God who loves him with an unconditional love. Second, he is now in the same place where Abraham, David, Solomon, Peter, & many other mighty men of God were at one point in their lives.

We also need to remember that every man struggles with the issue of sexual integrity on some level, which is why there is a book called Every Man’s Battle. The problem is that the once entitlement creeps into the picture, some men have the ability to do the unimaginable. It never starts off that way though, it is a slow process. Once we try something and get away with it, we slowly become numb to the guilt associated with sin and we then learn how to diminish the seriousness of sin. Next thing we know, the unimaginable becomes thinkable, then the thinkable becomes doable, and we are so dominated by sin that we cannot see the light… this is a process.

With that being said, this is a sad state of affairs. If anyone can hear this story and not immediately feel grief for his wife, family, and church family, they may not be Christian. If anyone glories in this, they are obviously on the other team than me, because this does nothing to help the cause of Christ. The church suffers because of this, but the church has a history of overcoming great falls in the past. It is my hope that if you have not done so already, you will stop reading for a brief moment and pray for Joe (he should be fired and will probably spend many years in prison), his family, and the Prestonwood family. Pray that God would comfort them and give them wisdom.

Many people will look at this situation and wonder what we should do. What should Prestonwood do? What should his wife do? What should I do? Here are my thoughts:

1. Show the love of God to Joe: Call him and tell him you still love him; let him know you are there for him, when he apologizes for his actions tell him you forgive him as God forgives him; Continue to reach out to him as he will feel alone for years to come.

2. Show the love of God to his wife and remember she did nothing wrong: Joe obviously does not “deserve” to get paid, but the church has an obligation to take care of his family, because they felt led by God to call him there; Be gracious enough to give them time to get some other form of income, so pay him for the next 3 months; reassure her that if God can overcome the grave, than he can overcome, heal, and restore anything, including this huge struggle in her marriage.

3. Get them help ASAP: New Life Ministries would be my first option ( New Life puts on a conference called the “Every Man’s Battle Workshop,” which would be perfect for him. He should also find a counselor to help him work through this huge issue I am sure he has been dealing with for years; His wife and family will also need counseling. She/they may be unwilling to get help, but offer it and then offer it again and again… she needs this!

4. Remember that it is more important to sit next to, cry with, or call and let them know you are there, than to rush in with all the answers: This is what the counselors are for, but if they ask for help or advice, freely offer it. The best thing they can get right now is a group of people who will simply be there, not to ask questions or offer advice, just to be there; Also, be intentional to let them know you are there. Do not think that doing nothing is helpful, it is not, and offering a kind word when you run into them a few months from now will seem shallow; Call, write, or email him in a way that shows God’s grace!

Green for Green

So I am not one who buys into the global warming thing, but we would be foolish not to go green in our new building (my church is about to relocate), simply because we would save so much money… just like if we could buy a hybrid for the same price of a non-hybrid for gas prices.

A church much smaller than mine has saved $200,000 in less than two years. Prestonwood Baptist, obviously much bigger than us has saved 1.5 million in 18 months, by making a few minor changes. Proving it is not only kind to the earth to think green, it saves green. For my church, I will be formulating a plan to save green by going green over the next few weeks. We need this to be instrumental in our new building too (automatic lights, heating and cooling systems, insulation, etc.).

Not only is this wise financially, it will teach our people a great deal about stewardship. Our community will also take notice as they did with the new Wal-Mart in Glenpool, known as the “greenest” Wal-Mart in the world. Here is a story on the topic:

We can start by turning off our computers and office equipment each evening, remove the light bulbs, from vending machines (I will have Diane call them), and adjusting our thermostats a few degrees in the summer and winter. It is good to save money…

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Netty Pot

A while back Oprah (shut up) had a Dr. on who talked about something called a "Netty Pot" (shut up, this is what I get for flipping through the stations). At the time I remember thinking that it was a horrible, torturous thing to do to oneself, then people around me began singing its praises. After listening to my friends rant and rave, I travelled to Walgreen's and purchased one... and it is AWESOME! Never in my wildest imagination did I think it would work or be enjoyable, but if you have allergy or congestion issues, you have got to get one. Here is a picture and a youtube sample video... seriously, it really does work and really is awesome.

This is one of my favorite videos ever!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Laminin, The Cross, and Being Held Together

Today a friend of mine in Houston sent a youtube video to me. I wanted to give you the link as well as a few pictures to go along with the video. Basically, there is a protein that holds our bodies together call laminin. Where this becomes interesting is that laminin looks eerily similar to another image that holds us together spiritually.

For one who is ignorant about most things science, it is great to see science point things towards Christ. Laminin is the major non-collagenous component of the basal lamina, such as those on which cells of an epithelium sit. Basically, laminin is a protein found in the "extracellular matrix", the sheets of protein that form the substrate of all internal organs also called the "basement membrane". It has four arms that can bind to four other molecules. The three shorter arms are particularly good at binding to other laminin molecules, which is what makes it so great at forming sheets. The long arm is capable of binding to cells, which helps anchor the actual organs to the membrane. The laminin protein is made up of three separate parts, called the A, B1, and B2 chains. That gives it a total of six "ends", which accounts for a lot of its flexibility in connecting up various kinds of molecules. Because of this, scientists who create biomaterials are extremely interested in the whole family of laminins. They are a family of glycoproteins that are an integral part of the structural scaffolding in almost every animal tissue. Laminins are secreted and incorporated into cell-associated extracellular matrices. Laminin is vital to making sure overall body structures hold together.

Some might call this a coincidence, but God is wise enough to know exactly what he is doing with something as small as a protein molecule. For me, it is no coincidence that the very thing holding our bodies together is in the very image that holds our lives together as well.