Sunday, July 18, 2010

moving the blog

so i like blogspot. I really do. But its lacking a few things that I need. Wordpress has them though it's going to take a little getting used to. I'll try and transfer these older blogs over there but we'll see how it goes.
The new blog is:

Hope to see you there.

Friday, July 16, 2010

oh yes you are

This is from my journal on June 19th 2009.
Place: Aldama Base Camp

God you are powerful.

God you are beautiful.

God you are more than I can imagine.

God you are intricate and architectural.

God you are loving.

God you are wrathful.

God you are jealous.

God you are satisfying.

God you are outside of time.

God you are too much for me to comprehend.

get out

So there are things in my head that seem to be stuck there.
I could use a really good crow bar to get them out.

There are things in my heart that seem to be stuck there.
I could use a really good piece of dynamite to get them out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

come alongside me

I look into the crowd.
What are the stories here?
What are the lives that are behind those faces?
How did they end up in front of me on a Sunday morning?
What happened this week?

Who lost their jobs?

Has someone suffered the loss of a loved one this week?


Did someone runaway from home?

Middle of a divorce?

How am I supposed to do anything that will affect their lives for eternity.

At the same time, I have to ask:

Who started a new job?

Were there any births this week?

A clear report from the doctor?

Did the prodigal come home?

Marriages reconciled?

These are just a few questions that would unmask a world of joy and pain behind the facades that show up on a regular basis.

Man this is tough.
Just go up there and preach.
Sure. Ok.
Praise God.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

simple enough

Be a good kid.
Do the right things.
Here's a list.
Just follow them.
If you were bad, don't be bad anymore.


Follow after Christ.
Love people.
Give of yourself like He gave of Himself.
Disciple others.
Run to joy and don't settle for less.


Friday, July 9, 2010

you give birth to nothing

Now before all the mom's out there get mad at me and start talking about the hours put into labor and pain etc.
I'm talking about spiritual birth.

If you have ever been to the Big Feed or done a mission trip with Way of the Cross Ministries this is an important story to read. It’s a little long but it explains an answer to a question that many of us leave with after doing a mission trip with WOTC.

You see, the mission trips and Big Feed are only a few days long but in the span of those few days, hundreds, if not thousands of people will pray to follow Jesus.

The question is a question about discipleship.
I’ve heard it many times at the Big Feed.

“What happens to the new Christians after we leave?”

In fact, my first year at the Big Feed me and Mr. Valdes talked about this very topic.

It seemed like we came in as a Christian whirlwind and then took off leaving the new believers to fend for themselves.

It just didn’t seem right.

I hope that I have done justice in my retelling the story shared by Bro. Ben during a church build at the Way of the Cross Ministries Aldama Base Camp. Also a special thanks to Ms. Katy Spence for editing the story.

The group (Christ Community Church and WOTC missionaries) was wrapping up morning church service after hearing some awesome preaching by Pastor Tiburcio en espanol (Indira translated for us) and Bro. Ben started to tell us a story…

He said that many people ask what is done about the people who receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior AFTER everybody leaves from the mission trip.

Bro. Ben told us how a very prominent preacher and the staff from a mega-church came to use the WOTC facilities for some very important church meetings. They told him that if he was quiet he could sit in and listen in on the meetings.

He was very happy about this.
He looked up to this pastor.
He felt privileged.

So for the first few meetings he served them in their meeting room. Bringing them water, food and doing odds and ends for them. And finally they asked for Bro. Ben to show them what he did for the people in Mexico.

He said sure, I’d be glad to.
So they loaded up in the bus (kind of an RV with a stage that would come off the side and it had a custom cross that could be propped up on top of the bus along with a thrown together PA system) and they went on a preaching run.

They had several meetings that day.
The pastors were ecstatic and all got up to share the gospel at the different sites.
It was incredible.

Bro. Ben was overjoyed. It was a huge harvest; so many people giving their lives to the Lord and as Bro. Ben puts it, “I just drove the bus, I didn’t preach that day I just drove the bus. God told me to drive the bus so that’s what I did as I carried these mighty men of God.”

Big things happened that day.

The next day Bro. Ben went to their meeting and the well known preacher man in front of his staff told Bro. Ben,

“Ben, yesterday I was disappointed in you.”

Bro. Ben thought he was joking, after all, many people came to know the Lord in just one day, surely the man was joking!

But he wasn’t.

He told Bro. Ben,

“Ben, yesterday a lot of new Christians were born.

They’re just babies in the faith.

By leaving and not teaching them you’re leaving them out on the table to die.”

This crushed Bro. Ben.

He respected this man and he had just told him that what he was doing was a disservice to the Mexican people.
It hurt.
He stopped attending their meetings and eventually, they packed up and left for their church and left a very sad and crushed Benjamin Butler in Harlingen.

He felt rejected.
He felt that the work that he was doing was now in vain.
He knew that he was doing what God told him to do.

He walked around sad and depressed and for those of you that know Bro Ben, you know that that is not the type of man that he is.

Shortly after this incident a friend of his brought a group down from his church in Oklahoma to do a mission trip and they were staying at Ben’s house.

His friend recognized immediately that Ben was not happy.

Finally he said, “Ben, what’s the matter? It looks like somebody has stolen your joy.”
Bro Ben told him what happened with the preacher and how he was just so upset that he was leaving all those new Christians out there with no one to fend for them as baby Christians.

The man looked at him and said,
“Ben, look at me.
That is the most arrogant thing I’ve heard you say.
You need to realize something, when you go out there and drive that bus and preach the gospel,

You give birth to nothing.

That is the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives and those babies…
They are God’s babies.

God doesn’t leave his babies out on the table to die.

He is going to take care of them.”

At this point he looked at Pastor Tiburcio (the man who had just shared a passionate and loving message about Jesus as Messiah) and told us that he was one of the first converts that WOTC had evangelized.

Pastor Tiburcio taught the WOTC Bible School for many years.
Now he’s a pastor of different churches in the area.

You see, God doesn’t leave his babies out to die.

God has trained up men and women in Mexico to serve the church and grow them from spiritual infancy.

So the next time that you go on a trip with WOTC and you see hundreds of people coming to know the Lord and you wonder, what’s going to happen when we leave here and there’s nobody here to take care of them?

There is somebody taking care of them.
The One who saved them to begin with.
We can’t grow them with our teaching no more than we can save them with our words about the Bible.
That’s the job of the Holy Spirit working in their lives.
God will raise up men and women there to minister to them.
WOTC says this confidently after years of evangelizing in Aldama, Mexico where they have seen many pastors raise up from among the people to minister to their needs.

It’s awesome.
God is moving.

We give birth to nothing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

connecting the dots

Ever feel like there are times when things just come together?

I know we spend most of our lives feeling like things will NEVER come together but then there are those moments when you just kind of sit back and say:

"Hmm, that's pretty nice"

This afternoon was one of those moments.

I was reading in Psalms and the little letter deal on the verse (you know the little letters that mean go to the bottom of the page and most of the time you ignore it because you know that if you go to the bottom of the page its just going to tell you to turn to another part of the Bible and you know that if you do that then you're going to forget about what you're reading at that moment but if you do follow it then you go on a quest through scripture and it's awesome. Phew. ok. done with that. Longest parenthetical statement ever.) and it led me to Isaiah 40 and I was struck with verse 8
ESV style:

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever"

That was cool just by itself.
But that was just dot #1.
Earlier in Isaiah 40, verse 3 specifically it says
"A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God."

If you're familiar with John the Baptist this is the passage that he quotes when he says that he is like a voice crying out in the wilderness. So my wheels (metaphorically speaking mind you) were already turning thinking about John the Baptist and the gospel of John.
Dot #2.

Then in verse 7 of Isaiah 40 it says
"The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; sure the people are grass."

Ok, so people are grass.
We wither.
We die.
We don't last very long in the grand scheme of things.

There have been many great people in the past who have changed the world.
Yet they all have died and have been mostly forgotten.
Thats Dot #3

Last night me and Jake were talking about one of his textbooks from his New Testament class at HBU. In the book it mentioned that Jesus Christ, whether you like him or not, has had a tremendous impact on history over the last 20 centuries.
2,000 years.
He has withstood the test of time and still manages to be a central part of society despite his departure from earth over 2,000 years ago.

So why is this?

Like I said, my mind was already thinking about John the Baptist and the gospel of John and I remembered that John 1:1 says

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
if you fastforward to verse14 it says

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth"
and that would be dot #4

So lets see.
The Word of our God will stand forever.
People are like grass so we wither and die.
We don't stand the test of time.

In the beginning was the Word.
The Word was God.
The Word became flesh among us.
He is killed.
He rises from the dead.
He stands the test of time.
The Word of our God will stand forever.

"That's pretty nice."

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

just a little somethin somethin

Summer school finished today.
Can I get an amen?


Cool. Thanks.

So I've been thinking.
Scary right?
I hope it doesn't hurt me.
I hear you're supposed to try and partake of thinking at least once a day.
Something about mental health.

What have I been thinking about?
Lots of things.
Too many things.
Big things.
Little things.

Things that make my heart feel like it's going to explode and my mind feel like it's not even mine.

Good things.

So I'll stop now that I sound enough like a Dr. Seuss book.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jesus and Apple products

A few weeks ago I met with one of my mentors (Jim Stern and you can find his blog here) and we were talking about how God brings situations into our lives that will give us the opportunity to share Jesus with people.
Jim was walking out of a coffee shop and his iPhone hits the ground and it shatters.
2 reactions can happen:
1. Be really angry and try to fix the problem.
2. Realize that there must be an iPhone repair person that needs to hear about Jesus.

When he took his iPhone to get worked on he shared the gospel with the repair guy who happened to be Muslim. He wasn't converted to Christianity but Jim did have the opportunity to talk to him about Jesus and that was huge.

Fast forward to last Monday.
Jim and I were having a conversation about how God brings people into our lives at different "relational intersections".

Meaning, God is working in the lives of people around us (and in our lives) so that when we "run into" people it is no accident, it serves a purpose.
We need to ask the Holy Spirit what that purpose is and respond to it.

That night I was sitting in Starbucks getting ready to type up what I thought was supposed to be a very important message to a friend of mine.

I go to turn on my laptop (a Mac) and behold, nothing came up on my screen.

My screen was out.

At this point I realized I had two choices:
1. Be really angry and mad about the situation and go home.
2. Realize that God has a reason for this happening and maybe there's somebody who needs to hear about Jesus at the Apple store.

So I made the appointment at the Apple store for 11:30am the next day.
I got there at 11:15 checked in and was told to wait.
At 11:20 another guy comes and sits next to me and come to find out his appointment isn't until 11:50.
That intrigued me, seemed really early for him to be here.

That was my first clue that there was a reason for us meeting.

We made small talk and we talked about iPhones and different apps.

I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to talk to this guy about my life and share my testimony with him.

So I said, ok God, I don't know how we're going to do this but lets do this.

After talking about where we grew up we were able to segue into talking about my church Meadowcrest and he said, hm, that place sounds familiar. I didn't think anything of it and we just kept talking and I shared my testimony with him about growing up in church and relying on myself instead of Christ. We talked some more about church and how Jesus changes lives and it was a really encouraging conversation for the both of us.

He remembered at this point why the name Meadowcrest sounded familiar.
Turns out his aunt and uncle attend our church.

In fact his uncle beat me numerous times at Ping Pong at the men's retreat I went on a couple months ago (an embarrassing fact I shared with this guy).

So look at this.
Me and this guy met at the Apple Store in Baybrook mall.
20 minutes from my house.
25 minutes from his house.
20 minutes away from Pasadena where Meadowcrest is located.
My laptop broke.
His iphone broke.

At the same time.

What were the chances of us meeting?
Me 15 minutes early for my appointment.
Him 35 minutes early.

At the end of our conversation I told him, "I know why my laptop broke. It was so I could meet you here today" and he agreed it was not chance that brought us there.

We exchanged information and him and his dad came to church this last Sunday (which was really awesome by the way if you read this).
I hope he continues to come and we can grow in our faith as brothers.

I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

what is this peace you speak of?

Today I posted on my facebook status that I was at peace, at least for now anyway and I wanted to thank God for it. This prompted a friend of mine who I haven't seen for a long time (since the San Jac days) to ask the question:

"What is this peace you speak of?"

I wanted to answer him thoroughly but succinctly because facebook only allows you to have so many characters in your comments and I didn't want to be to lengthy.
However, this is a blog.

I can be lengthy here.

So below is my response to his question in quotation marks and then below that I will add details and verses that I was thinking about when I answered the question.

"The peace I speak of is not my own peace."
Jesus gives me peace and rest, it is not mine, on my own I am a mess.
I have sins in my life that build up and weigh me down.
On my own merit, I can do nothing.
Matthew 11:28-30
28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

"It is not peace I deserve."
I am a sinner.
On my own I sin.
This separates me from a Holy and perfect God who cannot be in the presence of sin.
But only in His presence is peace.
So there is a problem here.
I can't be in His presence and have peace because I am a sinner.
So what's the solution?

Romans 5:6-12
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

"It is the peace I have because of my Jesus."
Jesus is the one who goes on my behalf in front of God the Father.
Amber Martin posted this verse early this morning and it was in my mind today so I thank her for letting God use her and putting this verse up.
1 John 2:2
1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

"It is a peace I have because I know who I am."

My identity used to be in my good works.
I was a great youth group kid.
Sunday school, I was there.
Wednesday night, I was there.
Small group, I was there.
Prayer team, I was there.
Leadership team, I was there.
If I could have played an instrument I would have done that to but my body freaks out with uncoordinated movements when it comes in contact with a musical instrument, it's horrible.

2 1/2 years ago God took what I thought was my identity (my list of all my accomplishments) and showed me that I was putting my trust and identifying who I was by that list.

And He crushed me.
So what is my identity?

"I am a co-heir with Jesus."
I am Jesus' brother now.
Because of His sacrifice I know have access to the Father.
I've been brought into the family.
God's family.
My spirit (my innermost being) has been made alive by the Holy Spirit and has affirmed me as one of God's kids.
Romans 8:16-17
16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

"I'm an adopted son of God.

He is my Father and I am His son."
Because of my adoption I am now part of God's family.
What does that mean?
I came across this passage last year when me and Hank (the head pastor at Meadowcrest Church where I attend) were preaching through 1 & 2 Peter.
It has been stamped on my heart ever since.

1 Peter 2:9-10
9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

"That gives me identity."

That verse flows into this point as well.
I am part of a royal priesthood.
I am part of a holy nation.
I am part of a people belonging to God.
I belong to God.
My identity doesn't come from my list anymore, it comes in who God declares me to be.

"He is in control."

God is in control.
I'm not.
I can either submit to His will and be a part of His story for His glory or I can not submit to His will and I'll be a part of His story for his glory.

Phillipians 2:10-11
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

"He is sovereign so I can find my refuge in Him.
My hope is not in me and what I do but in my Father."
God is big.
He is powerful.
More so than I.
He is there for me to rest in.
To be my refuge.
And I do feel blessed that I can do that now.
Psalm 34:7-8 says,

7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

"That takes a huge burden off of me."

Back to the top.
Jesus says He gives rest to those who are weary and heavy laden.
Is that you?
Do you need to rest?
Are you doing all the right things racking up the perfect good list and really it's just weighing you down?
Are your sins piled up so high that you're being suffocated by them?

Allow Jesus to give you rest.

"That is the peace of which I speak."

-Thank you Jason Thompson for the prompt this afternoon. I've been praying for you since we met (believe it or not). I know I'm not perfect and you saw some of my imperfections come out during our workout sessions however my identity is not in my sins, not my good deeds, but who God has called me to be.
and that gives me peace.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

and so we begin

I have always wanted a blog.
Ever since the days of Xanga I've been interested in writing and publishing my work.
So it begins tonight, a Saturday at the end of June 2010:

I spent this last week in Aldama, Mexico with a group from Christ Community Church (Chicago Illinois) and the faithful staff of Way of the Cross Ministries

it was beautiful.

We shared the gospel with villages that are very poor by our standards.
A church was built.
VBS was done.
Evangecubes were utilized.
Testimonies were shared.
Children and adults alike put their trust in Jesus Christ.

While we were in Aldama we stayed at a camp in the mountains, a very peaceful place that you can get away from day to day distractions and hear from God.
Tonight I wanted to share a journal entry from the morning of June 24th.
I wrote this entry after struggling with my calling in my life.

I was wondering if I was selling my life short by not surrendering to full time mission work.

God answered me that morning.
This journal entry is the catalyst for this blog:

"I may not be a Missionary but I am at the front lines of people's souls every Sunday morning.
Every meeting.
Every phone call
Every conversation.

There is eternal life in the balance.

You (God) haven't called me to the mission field to pioneer new areas 24/7 but to try and reconcile those who have ran away from You and live in the world.

My job is to proclaim You as Supreme, as the ultimate thing in life.

The culmination of our joy.
The epitome of our being.
You are God.
I am a mouthpiece.

People sometimes love it, other times they hate it.
Don't let my age or background be a hindrance.
Don't let me be a stumbling block.
Let me preach with joy and let me live my life with the joy that You have given me Father. Thank You! Thank You! I shout and say thank You Father! Amen! Amen! And amen!"

I was on a mountain top (literally) as I wrote this and it seemed so simple to follow what God has planned for me in my life.

...if it were only that easy...