Monday, December 31, 2007

New Beginnings in 2008!

I've been thinking about what I'm asking God for in 2008. In doing so I was reminded of what Paul told Timothy:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Tim 1:7)

What new possibilities, what new breakthroughs, what new experiences does God have for you in 2008?
What about new passion for Jesus? New lions to chase? More courage than ever? A better marriage than you've ever known? Pouring into others in ways you've never imagined?

Don't be shy. I encourage over the next few days to boldly pray and ask God for more of Him and more of His power and love and motivation in 2008!

Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!" (John 14:12-14)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

One More Day!

There's one more day left in 2007 for you to give!

Just a reminder that the Oso Creek office will be open tomorrow (Monday - 31st) from 9am to Noon for any of you who need to catch up on 07' giving or just to bless as you've been blessed!

It will also be the last day to give to Advent Conspiracy.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Week Away From Celebration

A couple of folks have asked me why we don't have our regular Sunday Celebration on the last Sunday of the year.

Rest and family. Those are two of the primary reasons. We want to give our staff time to truly enjoy their holidays. There is no way to give support and pastoral staff the week off if we are planning, preparing for and pulling off Celebration.

And just as important is time off for our volunteers. Many of our volunteers in many different areas - Praise Team, Greeters, Children's Ministry(that right there is 30+ !), Sound, Multimedia, Creek Reps, and many others I've missed - give their time nearly every week! We want every single one of them to have time to rest and be filled.

So enjoy the holiday and your family. And if you want to worship on Sunday morning, I encourage you to check out another Corpus church and see what God is doing there!

21 +

Yesterday (27th) was our 21st wedding anniversary! I am so very blessed to have such an amazing wife!
And 4 amazing children!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

7 Mile Mark

I hit a big running milestone on Christmas Day -- 7 miles. I'm increasing my 'long day' by a mile each week (which happened to fall on Christmas).

To be honest I was a little nervous. I haven't run that far in many years (15 ish!) and it also marked being over the half-way point for the half marathon.

It was hilly (out by Lake Corpus Christi) and a little windy, but I made it!

Pressing on . . . Chasing the lion . . .

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Slow Down . . .

We had a great time spending a couple of days without internet and cable, etc at Lake Corpus Christi. Just playing games, watching movies, eating, hanging out and sleeping (a lot!) .

The highlight was probably just watching our kids play - haven't seen that in a while when we were all together with no distractions.

It was just like old times here as the girls roped poor Luke into some kind of cheerleading game! (But I think he secretly loves the attention!)

Praise God for my family. They grow up so quickly . . . .

What did your family do for Christmas?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas & Checking Out!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We pray that your days are filled with His joy!

I'm checking out of the blogosphere for a few days as I'm going to go spend a couple of days away with my family. It's gonna be great to get some down time with all my kids and my Mom who is in town with us.

Eve Eve Thanks!

Thanks to our 'fantastic five' quintet of Tom Adams, Bo Kratz, Chris Gregory, Clif Johnson and Will Thornton who rocked out 'old school style' at our Christmas Eve Eve gathering. Thanks for leading us guys.

We were also blessed with a great crowd on such a busy weekend with so many folks out of town.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bible Reading

It's impossible to deal honestly with God's Truth and not be changed (or flat out reject change).
As I've been continuing to read in the book of James here is some of what God has been showing me:

James 2:14-16 - Is it possible to have real faith in Christ and consistently look past the very real needs of those around us? Hmmm......

James 2:17 - Jesus said that a tree would reveal it's true nature by the fruit it produced. No matter how much makeup you put on it and how nice of clothes you dress it up in, a corpse is still dead!

James 2:18-19 - There is a cerebral - or theoretical - faith that never travels beyond mental assent and into the realm of abiding in Christ and obeying His commands. This is no different than Satan's belief in God (i.e. mental assent in the reality of).

James 2:26 - I take it that since he said it about 10 times in the last couple of hundred words that God isn't real excited about folks who talk about Him (and/or show up at church) and whose lives don't reflect Him.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Possibly the Best Video Ever!

Alright, I showed this video in worship back in January and probably watched it 10 times then. But someone just sent it to me again and I watched it and got inspired tears in my eyes again!

The combination of the story and the video may make it the best video ever. If you've got a better one please send it to me!

Check it out and be inspired!

New Family Pic

Here is this years new family pic . . . it seems like we rotate between serious one year and silly the next!
Emily looks like she could be in pain and poor Luke just wants to escape (it's tough being 13)!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas EVE EVE!

A few years ago when Christmas Eve fell on a Friday and Christmas on a Saturday and we found out that half our church would already be gone on Christmas Eve, we said: 'Hey why not do our 'Christmas Celebration' on Eve Eve!' Brilliant!

And so this Sunday night (23rd) the untraditional tradition continues as we Celebrate the birth of Christ together at 7pm!

And I want to encourage you that this is a once-a-year opportunity to bring friends, neighbors, and co-workers to a time when they can be re-connected to their spiritual Christmas roots. So many folks are looking for a way to renew what they once knew or maybe just witnessed. And as we sing the traditional music and worship in uplifting ways, you're going to give them an opportunity rediscover what they've been missing.

And, oh yeah, if they come, I promise that they'll have more fun than this guy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday Thoughts

Really loooooooong, busy day.
Then tonight both our girls King teams (JV & Varsity) took it on the chin to our rival Carrol. Ouch. Maybe winning isn't everything . . . . .

But my YCA boys beat Annapolis!

Please pray for families . . . this holiday season is a really hard time in the lives of many families because of broken memories and/or the stress and pressure of the season. I've seen lots of evidence the past couple of weeks and many folks around you are hurting. How sad in what should be such a joyful season.
Be watching . . . and praying for the peace of Jesus to break through hearts.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Chasing a Lion!

A couple of months ago I told you that one of the lions that I wanted to chase was running a marathon. Well I have officially moved towards that lion. I'm starting with a half-marathon and I'm now signed up to run the AT&T Austin Half-Marathon on February 17th!

For the past 3 weeks I've really picked up my training - thanks to the guidance of my cousin/trainer John Wilson, an avid tri-athlete and marathoner. Today I went over 6 miles for the first time and ran almost an hour (56 minutes). It's been a looooong time since I've run that long. Nearly half-way to 13.1!

What lions are you gonna chase this next year? Tell us about it . . . .

Giving More!

I can't wait to sit next to the leaders of the ministries that we are going to bless through Advent Conspiracy and hand them the checks that are going to blow them away! That is going to be a blast!

And I'm excited to hear about the lives that are blessed with fresh drinking water, and a hot meal and clothes, and a new start in beating an addiction, and a new thirst for the eternal water that Jesus gives . . . because so many of you made the decision to spend less and give more!

As I told you in yesterday's message, I want to share the websites of those ministries that we are going to bless through our giving - here they are - please check them out:

Living Water International

Mission 911

The Wenholz House

Remember, for the compassion giving that you want to pour out as you spend less - please write 'Advent Conspiracy' on the check memo or envelope - and 100% of those dollars will go to these ministries.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Foreign Country?

Like most Saturday nights as I'm going to bed, I'm excited about what God is going to do tomorrow and wonder about the folks who will come - maybe for the first time - seeking something, seeking change in their life, seeking hope.

And I wonder what will someone who lives completely outside 'church culture' think about when they come to Oso Creek? Will it be weird or inviting? Confusing or comforting?

Tim Stevens has a great blog on this subject after going to a India and then wondering if people who come to our churches feel like their going to a foreign country. Click here to read it.

Do you remember what it was like for you when you first showed up at church? If so, please hit 'comment' and share those feelings and how people's response to you affected those feelings? If it's been so long that you don't remember, then you probably really need to go back and read Tim Steven's post again.

Boys and Guns

I've had a great Saturday -- met with the Lion Chasing men this morning . . . had a good but tough run in the 100mph wind . . . and then Bo Kratz took Luke and I out shooting guns this afternoon.

Luke had been wanting to shoot my guns (sorry, it's a boy thing if you don't understand) and we had a great time just plinkin' at bottles and cans and telling stories (I can't say for sure if any of the stories Bo told were true :)

While we were out there I was thinking about, as I do often, my 13-year old boy and how quickly he's growing up. I also thought about how young boys are in some ways like guns. Guns can be used in positive and productive ways when they're properly cared for, but when they're not handled with wisdom and discernment they can be equally dangerous.

How our young boys need us. How they need our time, our wisdom and our care. And how if we don't supply those needs, they'll be met somewhere. And 'somewhere' may not know how to handle guns (or boys). And we already see so many young lives that are dangerous.

This is a battle I refuse to lose. I'm gonna fight for that boy. How about you? How are you fighting for your boy?

Be Careful of Too Much Holiday Fun!

My sister-in-law baked a cake last night for a neighbor and while it was cooling off in the kitchen their dog helped himself to a holiday treat.
Looks like puppy needs some Rolaids!

Friday, December 14, 2007

God's Prophetic Call to the World

I've been reading in the book of James the past couple of weeks as we've been in the midst of Advent Conspiracy and the holiday season.

James 1:22 says: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says."

How easily we just become spectators - listeners - of truth. And the truth is we're just fooling ourselves. Thinking that because we show up to church - or to a small Group - or drop a few bucks in the basket - or go to a Christmas Eve (Eve) Service - that we're living the life. God says, 'DO IT!' Do it man! God's not looking for our vote of confidence, He wants our lives!

And as we journey together through this holiday season, we want to do it! To be those who are pointing the world to the Risen Christ. To be those who are celebrating this season in a way that honors a King.

To that end one of the ways that I'm going to encourage us this Sunday to give ourselves away sacrificially is by giving to Living Water International.

How are you going to live it out? Will we BE God's prophetic call to the world?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Merry Christmas from My Kids!

If you wanna watch something funny then click on this video and watch my kids dance! (Their gonna love their Mom for doing this :)

They All Made it Here Last Night

Emily made it home last night and the cool North winds finally hit . . . life is good!

Isn't it amazing how a 30 degree drop in temperature can change your outlook?

"Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom."
How much more God's Spirit changes our lives as we allow Him to control us.
I pray that the fresh winds of God's Spirit are blowing over you today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Spend Less!

Last Sunday Nathan Lindell did an awesome job bringing the latest message in our Advent Conspiracy series - Spend Less. (If you weren't there, you can click here and listen.)

Our heart is to focus this holiday season more on Compassion and less on consumption. And Nathan encouraged us to find ways to spend less on gifting by being creative (and personal!).

My wife has done awesome at this for several years. Just yesterday she finished up a DVD of our kid's year - some video, some pics of them playing sports, hanging out, working, etc. She sets it to awesome music and the grandparents love it! It gives them another way to be part of their grandkids lives and collect memories.

Another thing she has done is make calendars for an upcoming year with pics of our kids above each months calendar. She just cone binds it and again the grandparents love it as they get to look at their (genetically driven) beautiful grandkids all year!

The Advent Conspiracy has some other great ideas - click here to check them out.

But now we want to hear from you. What great gifts have you created for folks? Please help us and inspire us!

Emily's On Her Way Home!

As I type Emily is driving home from Hardin-Simmons and getting close to San Antonio! This is her first time to drive by herself on the road and I've talked to her about every 30 minutes! (Any of you other parents ever done that?)

It was snowing this morning when she left Abilene and she better be bringing the cold with her . . . I for one am tired of our stinkin' hot & sticky winter!

Monday, December 10, 2007

What a Week!

What impact a week of solitude can have! I praise God that I was able to spend last week in the Hill Country listening to God.

For the second year in a row I stayed at an awesome bed & breakfast that gives free nights to pastors, but is an incredible place for anyone to stay. Because of how they have impacted me I want to encourage you to check them out (take your wife their for a weekend guys!) - it's the Haven River Inn in Comfort, Tx.

Here's just a few of the places that God was speaking to me during the week (I'm sure that I'll be talking more about these in the future):

- Mark 4 - What kind of soil are you?
- Romans 15:13 - Am I missing joy because I'm not able to trust?
- Luke 1:46-55 - How is my soul glorifying God?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Guest Blog - Tim Lawley

Today's guest blogger is Tim Lawley. Tim is on our Elder Team, the husband of our Children's Pastor Audie, and a leader on our Greeter Team.

I'm always amazed at the reaction people have to the greeter's waving in the parking lot on Sunday mornings. Something as simple as a wave and a smile can brighten someone's day! Every one of us is a greeter, every one of us have the opportunity to bless another with a kind word or helping hand. What's stopping you? Go ahead, loosen up and say hello. I guarantee you'll feel better for it! Have a great week and I look forward to seeing you in the Oso Creek parking lot!


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Guest Blog - Mike Ilse

Today's guest blogger is Mike Ilse - one of our Elder Team members and a leader on the Praise Team. Here's what's on Mike's heart and mind:

What’s the most money you have ever spent on a Christmas gift? Or, how about this, what is the greatest gift you have ever given or received?

This year Nancy and I seem focused more on getting to Germany to visit our daughter Jessica and son-in-law Phillip than we are Christmas shopping. The thought of crowded malls, traffic, and salesman peddling their wares is especially unappealing to us this year. Most of the time you don’t even see God and compassion beyond the glitz.

As you’re faced with giving gifts and following Pastor John’s message of More Compassion, Less Consumption, consider this:

Our good friend’s Greg and Erin Richmond introduced us to a ministry called “Gospel For Asia”. Through this organization you can purchase, for an underprivileged family or missionary in another country, an animal ie.. pair of goats, pig or milking cow, in the name of a friend or family member. Gospel For Asia will send a card to that family thanking them for the gift you gave in their name. (How about a Pig for a Pastor). How awesome to bring a Christmas to a family that might not otherwise have one and replace the Glitz with a Savior.

There are other ministries that do the same as Gospel For Asia. More Compassion. Less Consumption. Check it out!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Guest Blog - Audie Lawley

This week as I'm away listening to God, I've asked several of our staff and elders to be guest bloggers. We start today with our awesome Children's/Creativity Pastor Audie Lawley.

Last week as i was pondering a question for the nametags....i was reading and rereading the paragraph about the shepherds on the night of Jesus' birth when a thought crossed my mind...How far where the shepherds from Bethlehem?
I knew the NIV says nearby and i then thought how cool it was, that not only where they 'nearby' physically, but they also must have been 'nearby' spiritually, because it was an immediate response they made... somehow they had to have had hearts that where primed to receive the news of the birth of Christ, because it says they ran, not walked or thought about it they said let's go and then took off and then 'told everyone' in ways that amazed people after seeing Him....
And what was it that so impressed them when they arrived and say just a tiny newborn wrapped in dirty stable rags, and two young dirty tired parents who had just had a baby. What was so amazing about that scene, that would cause these shepherds to leave that stable unable to even contain the wonder of what they had seen? What did they see that actually affirmed the message of the angel...that this little baby was the Savior that they had been waiting all their lives for?
So it made me think again.....what a weird conversation that must have been between Mary & Joseph & the shepherds.

M & J resting, or trying to in a nasty stinky stable with their little fella and then some shepherds come running in wanting to know if he was the promised Savior, is this the Messiah. Then taking a look and seeing how it really was just a little itty bitty baby....i'm sure then M& J told their story and it amazed the shepherds and affirmed the angels message and of course we know it affirmed for Mary what her heart all ready knew...her son was indeed going to Rock this World!
So it made me think close am I to bethlehem or even how far am i from bethlehem? am i like the shepherds who are ready to to receive an unexpected and strangely delivered message from God? would i drop everything and run towards that message or would I drop everything and run away? the honest answer is I don't really know!

I hope if while I was dragging my nasty green trash can to the street tonight, you know just doing a normal chore in my normal life, and an angel came and said I got some news your gonna wanna hear and i got a place your gonna wanna go check out, cuz there is something you need to see....that i would take off running to the message. my normal every day life, i need to be prepared to hear such a message, by staying in His word, by seeking His will, by doing all i can to draw nearer to Him so that I am ever ready to run when asked!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

This Week

I've expressed to you before my rhythm of having time to be in God's presence in solitude.

I need it every morning.
Monthly, I need a day and night away to clear my thoughts and focus on Him.
And yearly, I need a week to go away and remove all the distractions and reconnect with God in a deeper way.

This next week is my annual week away. I've done it the first week of December for 3 years now. I'll be gone to a small place in the Hill Country, leaving all my technology behind (OK, I take my cell phone but only turn it on at night to call my wife).

Just the other day I was emailed a great little article on the discipline of solitude. I encourage you to read it - click here - because it's something that not just pastors, but ALL of us need.

And I ask you to pray for me this week. That I will humbly listen . . . and hear.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Golden Compass - The Right Direction for You and Your Kids?

Over the past several weeks I've received many emails about a much advertised movie that is going to hit the theaters on December 7th - The Golden Compass.

As you know, I normally don't spend time critiquing cultural events. Largely because if they emanate from popular culture we should expect them to have the perspective of the world. And then depending on our conviction, we should either use them to better understand our world and those around us; or leave them in the newspaper.

That being said, from the perspective of a Father and a Pastor, I am concerned about what I've read about the underlying direction of this movie. And much of my concern has to do with the target audience being children.

We cannot and MUST NOT bury our heads in the social sand when it comes to our children whose young hearts and souls need our guidance.

With that in mind I have collected several articles below that talk about Philip Pullman himself (author), the trilogy of books which this movie is based on, and the movie itself.

I encourage you to be as 'wise as a serpent' and use the below before 'inhaling.'

The first three links are different websites and then the last portion is part of an email also with links in it.

And then, please comment back and let us know what you think . . . . .

There is a new movie coming to theaters December 7. You should be forewarned about The Golden Compass. The target audience for the movie is children, and it is being promoted in some schools. The Golden Compass is based on a book trilogy that promotes atheistic views, likely to be reflected in the movie.

For more information on The Golden Compass, click here to read the column by AFA's Rebecca Grace. You might also want to read an article from Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship. Click here for the article.