Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Open Ended Questions???

Great fun! I was sipping on coffee with a friend this morning and we had one of our very transparent and inspiring conversations about life (A side note: How important it is to be around people who inspire you to think and live better!) . . . . .

At some point we slipped into a conversation about questions - closed-ended questions vs. open-ended questions.
It made me think out loud about how I'm really comfortable with closed-ended questions -- they're either (most of the time) easily answerable or easily dismissible.

On the other hand open-ended questions leave a lot of wiggle room - and much of the time make me wiggle. They take time and thought, aren't as neat and tidy in their process or their answer, and may not even have a 'right' answer.

But then we talked about how vital it is that our life is filled with open ended questions. How important that the we dream and wonder. How necessary it is that we DON'T have all the answers and are OK with that, but are always seeking what's over the next horizon.

So . . . What open-ended questions will you begin 2009 with? Maybe just being open to open-endedness will be a good way to start?

Another New Years Eve Audie Update

Praise God that Audie is doing incredibly better as of noon today and hopes to go home this afternoon!

She and Tim are so thankful for your prayers and kindness!

I give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will sing your praises before the gods.
I bow before your holy Temple as I worship.
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
by all the honor of your name.
As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength. (Ps 138:1-3)

Update on Audie

Yesterday evening Audie had some relatively minor surgery (although as a wise person told me long ago, the only 'minor' surgery is surgery on someone else!) to correct the blood loss issue and it went well --- even though post-op was painful.
Her fever was also down yesterday and she was feeling more like her chipper self. Today they also hope to have the infection under control.

Praise God that she is improving! Please keep praying for her and her family --- for God's strength and power!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mexico Mission - Pray . . .

A group of Creekers left last Friday and is in Queretaro, Mexico at the Pan DeVida Orphanage. God has made their entire route smooth to this point.

Tim Klaus is leading the trip and emailed me asking for you to pray in this way: "Please pray for us during this week that we will reflect God's love well to these orphan children as we spend time with them and get things fixed up around the orphanage."

Please Pray for Audie

Our Children's Pastor - Audie Lawley - has been in the hospital a couple of days now fighting an infection and dealing with issues that are preventing her from producing blood to fight the infection.

The Dr.'s still aren't sure of the cause of the infection and are running many tests . . . Please pray for healing and peace . . . and pray for her husband Tim to be encouraged and blessed.

"I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.
Fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." (Psalm 34:1-4, 8-9)

Finishing the Conspiracy!

I'm excited and thankful about all of you who have given to Advent Conspiracy!

And even more excited about how God is going to spread compassion in our City and around the world with those resources!

If you still haven't had an opportunity to give your Advent Conspiracy funds . . . . . Or, need an opportunity to finish your regular giving for the year to Oso Creek - the office will be open Wednesday (Dec 31st) from 9am to Noon just for you!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Best Decision I Ever Made!

OK, spiritually speaking my decision in 1982 to follow Christ was the decision that has impacted my life the most for eternity . . .

But the decision that I made in 1986 to marry Cynthia Jean Barnett was right behind it. Today we celebrate 22 years together.
It's kind of funny, we're staying in the same hotel that we stayed in on our wedding night (hey quit it, we got 4 kids with us OK!)

Has it always been easy? No. Has it been worth it? Heck yes! And it gets better and better every year.

A couple of thoughts of encouragement after 22 years:

1) Fight for it - When I've wanted to give in or quit - or just be jerk - nothing makes me fight harder than to think about the generations of influence we can have as we seek to be faithful in the good times and bad

2) Keep Dating - We do that on Thursdays at lunch right now - Find regular time for just you two alone - keep it fresh, keep it real.

3) Stand in the gap for your spouse - Nothing brings me back to thankfulness for Cindy more than when I pray for her - for God's power and blessing in her life.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Amen Dan

My friend Dan Morris blogged about an encounter we had a few days ago with a lady in Starbucks.

I couldn't say it better . . . so click here and go read Dan's post.

It's what life is really about.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

To The Hub

That's Lubbock's nickname . . . . We're off to West Texas today to be with Cindy's family . . . and to see some old friends . . . It's awesome to have Emily with us and be traveling again with all 6 of us! The things we so easily take for granted . . .

Have a blessed Christmas!

Doggonit

OK, I have a confession to make. I haven't posted again about our new dog that we were trying to name because I didn't want to be named 2008 Bad Dad of the Year. I was feeling sad and a little ashamed.

Here's the story. We had the awesome little dog for one night and Laura and I woke up the next morning and couldn't breath and had noses running full bore. We both have asthma and allergies, although mine have been under control for quite some time. I knew I was allergic to cats but wasn't aware of what dogs could do to me.

As Cindy started looking the next day, our little dog was a Jack Russell Terrier and she found out that they are one of the worst kinds for allergies because of their continual shedding. (Go figure, intuitively it would have made sense to me for short haired dogs to be better for allergies . . . but no, they actually shed more - and ours was a smooth coat which sheds the very most.)

So Cindy & I felt terrible, but yesterday we had to take our little just named ('Dash' had won) doggy back to Pee Wees Animal Shelter. O' man did that stink. He had slept with Luke and Luke loved it. But all the kids were great sports and understood.

Now the good news is that Pee Wee's had a cute Westie (West Highland White Terrier). Westies are one of the best dogs for allergies and we took her! (She even came named - Abby)

This is her although I was having a hard time taking a good pic as she isn't feeling too good - long day as she not only got a new home but got 'fixed' at the vet today :(

So we are thankful . . . and now I feel confessed up.
And if you need a last minute Christmas present, Pee Wees has a great little Jack Russell Terrier.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thanks Lord!

What great Christmas Eve Eve Celebrations we had tonight! Several folks told me that it was the best Christmas service they had ever been to! Great music and reading -- and a great heart.

And I'm proud of all of you who brought guests to introduce to Christ! Way to go!

Give a big high five to Steve when you see him . . . He coordinated it all tonight!

Monday, December 22, 2008

One More Day!

Tomorrow night we celebrate Christmas Eve Eve at Oso Creek!

2 Services -- 6:30pm & 8pm

I'm excited to share how One Night can change our lives, with our friends and neighbors.

I encourage to keep inviting those you care for . . . or you can forward this page.

If you received this from a friend, Fellowship of Oso Creek is located at 7402 Yorktown (Yorktown at Rodd Field). Click here for our website.

Criticize or Create?

I really think what Mark Batterson is saying in this quote is so true. Let it sink in. What do you think? Is he right, or not?

One reason Christianity has a perception problem is because we tend to criticize culture instead of creating culture. We are more known for what we're against than what we're for. We need to aspire to something Michelangelo said: criticize by creating. Let's not just complain about what's wrong. Let's celebrate what's right.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Your Vote Please . . .

Today we got an Advent Conspiracy dog for the kids for Christmas! All the kids got one gift together -- this pup (actually 1 1/2 yrs old) from Pee Wee's animal shelter . . .

Now we need your help. We haven't yet decided on a name and decided to take a day to pray and think . . . and get your input .
The two nominees at this point are:

1) Raider
2) Dash

What's your vote? Or do you have some other spectacular name??

Friday, December 19, 2008

Emergency Relief

This afternoon I got a call from our oldest daughter Emily that she had a blow out on I-10 between Junction and Kerrville - a desolate stretch of road. And I couldn't get there to be with my daughter and help her. That's a sick feeling. Very sick.

I was so thankful for the TXDOT service vehicle that changed her tire and got her going (I had already called the State Troopers to come to her rescue and was about to call the Marines!)

The entire episode reminded me of a friend in Dallas who had a passion to love people and share Christ with them - and mechanical skills. So he equipped a truck with all kinds of supplies for fixing tires, batteries, etc and a cooler of soft drinks . . . and he would cruise I-30 and LBJ in Dallas on the weekends searching for stranded motorists. He would fix their car, give em' a cold drink, and let them know how much God loved them!

That's awesome!

What's your 'Service Vehicle'? How are searching for the stranded?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Contagious!

We're in the last week of giving for Advent Conspiracy and I pray that you still seeking to give all you can to compassion.
What a blessing to be able to bless those in need!

And the impact of living compassionately is contagious. Check out this story of one of our Creekers - Jenny McDermott - when she shared AC with her family . . .


Over thanksgiving we had gone home to Chattanooga to spend time with our family and I began to tell them all about how our church was doing this advent conspiracy thing. I went on to tell them how we were spending less on presents this year and having more compassion on those who need it the most. I told them how were giving the money we saved to living water international and to mission 911, a local shelter. I also told them that Matt and I were going to give money in all our families name's instead of givng presents to them. They were all fine with this and we soon came back to TX. About a week or two ago I got a phone call from my sister telling me that she thought that what we were doing was awesome and let me know that she and her family were giving money in our names to samaritan's purse. My mom also called and my parents are now doing the same for us and her brothers. My sister in law (Matt's sister) also called and told me that they are giving money to the local homeless shelter in Chattanooga in all our names. And this is all from me spreading the news about advent conspiracy to them. So, we are now all giving the money we would have spent on each other to different ministries. It feels great that we all are in this together.


Way to go God!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Funny



OK, this is funny . . . Thanks Lauren Garcia for creating such a great show(and making fools of us!)

Click here to check out the staff elf dance and then see if you can outdo it!

One Week!

One week from tonight is our Christmas Eve Eve Service . . . We want everyone around us to hear how One Night can change our lives.

I'm asking God to make me a 'courageous inviter' this next week and give everyone I know an opportunity to experience the King!

Who are you bringing?

"And there were shepherds living out in the field nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night . . ." (Luke 2:8)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Staffed Up!

Took our staff to lunch today to celebrate with them and let them know how much they are appreciated.

We are blessed that every single one of them is a part of what God is doing at Oso Creek!
Give them a high five when you see them and thank them for sacrificially giving of themselves for the Kingdom of God!

Christmas Love

Michelle Needham leads an Oso Creek outreach to expecting and new Moms and families. She is an incredible blessing!
She also faithfully sends them an encouraging email every week and I thought that what she said last week would be great encouragement for ALL of us during this season . . . So I challenge you to check out her email below . . . and follow her encouragement this week!


Hi Ladies,


I know this is somewhat late in the week to be receiving this, but I didn't want you all to think that I had forgot. This week has been filled with much busyness. It is so easy to forget the reason for the season when your running around like a crazy person trying to find that one item that is sold out everywhere. I'm sure God is looking down at me thinking, "O.K. Michelle, there are people who could us your help right now, but you are busy hunting down a toy that you will probably have to pick up at least a hundred times before it ends up in a garage sell." As always he quickly helped me to put things in perspective when I received a call for help from an expecting mother.

Christmas doesn't stop the troubles that we encounter everyday. I think sometimes we think that during Christmas all is Merry. It is a beautiful season we celebrate and I believe that satan gets jealous of the attention Christ gets, so he works twice as hard to make some peoples lives miserable. I believe that as women of God we are blessed with the gift to encourage others. If we use it or not is another question. Sometimes it's hard to find the right words to say, so I try to leave that work up to the Lord.

In Hebrews 10:24 it says, Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.

If there is someone in your life, be your children, neighbor, spouse, friend or someone you casually meet out and about, or maybe someone you don't even know, think of this verse and try do what it says. By doing so, you will be a blessing to others in this blessed time of year. God will look down on you and smile, because you are doing his will.

Lord, I thank you for your son Jesus and for bringing him into this world to be with us. May we be willing and obedient participants in your plan for our lives. May we cease this opportunity that you so loving put in our paths, to be an encouragement to others. Help us to keep our focus on you, Lord. Show us your ways of love and good deeds. May we honor you in doing so. If we are the ones that need the encouragement, Lord, may you so loving provide us those needs. Help us to think...pause...then speak, so that your words will come forth. Thank you Lord for these women and the precious little lives they carry. I pray that you will be with them all the days of their lives and that they seek you first in everything. We love you Lord and praise your glorious name. In Jesus name we pray.

I love you all and continue to pray for you regularly. I am hear for you.

Your Sister in Christ,

Michelle

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Living Hope

I had an awesome time away last week for rest and solitude. Every time I'm away - whether it's for a day or several days - I'm so powerfully reminded of my need to take time to be still. My life tends to get so cluttered that I don't hear God like I so desperately need to.

I was at this great camp called Living Hope Retreat. It's part of Westwood Ministries . . . you can check it out here, they're open to individuals or families or groups.

It was also awesome to be back this morning . . . The week away recharged me, but it's always great to be back . . .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Spend Less . . . Give More

I pray that you are still seeking ways to spend less on consumption and give more to compassion!

If you missed Sunday's message on how we are going to redistribute the resources you give to those in need, you can click here and listen.

I'm excited about giving all we can - locally to Mission 911 - and globally to Living Waters International! (Click on them and check out their websites)

How are you going to enter the Great Reversal?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eve Eve!

We like to be different. At least if it means a greater opportunity to tell the story of Jesus to those who need Him.

Several years ago when we we're talking about a Christmas Eve service we started thinking about how many folks like to spend Christmas Eve with family, or are already traveling. And also how there are already many opportunities for Christmas Eve services.

So . . . we said how about Christmas Eve Eve . . . why not! And so this Christmas we'll have our annual Christmas Eve Eve services (2 identical services) on Tuesday, December at 6:30 and 8pm!

The theme is One Night . . . and we'll explore, with great music and a traditional flair, how One Night can change our lives!

Start praying now about who you are going to invite! They're ready for you to ask!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Away . . .

I'm heading out this morning on an annual trek of solitude.

I've talked about the rhythm that I need in my life to stay centered on Jesus: Daily I need to begin with time of solitude. Monthly I need to take a day to go pray and listen. And then Yearly - as I'm doing this week - I need to spend a week away retuning my soul to Jesus.

It usually takes me a day or so just to decompress and get still . . . I appreciate any way you can join me in prayer while I'm away . . .

Great Stuff!

Discovery Dessert last night was awesome! It's always fun to hear the excitement of new Creekers . . . And to hear the stories of their journeys . . . to hear how they found Jesus and how other Creekers have had huge impact on their lives!

I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
about his power and his mighty wonders. Psalm 78:2-4

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Great Job Staff!

What a beautiful Saturday! For all you poor suckers up north somewhere, it's 70 degrees, sunny, and barely a stitch of wind. Amazing . . .

And we had an amazing Volunteer Banquet last night! Thanks to our great staff . . . Audie was the glue in putting - and holding - things together, Steve did fantastic with the music and video, while Jenny, Jason, Amber and Linda did incredible amounts behind the scenes. Way to go!!
And all to honor our incredible Creeker volunteers!! I'll have some pics coming later . . .

Friday, December 5, 2008

Love and Discipline

I read something earlier this week that is so true:

Discipline does not produce love. But love produces discipline.


Think about it. You don't start loving your spouse through 'discipline' (I'll just think good thoughts about him, I know he's a jerk, but if I just think love thoughts three times a day . . . . .)
No! But if you truly love your spouse, then you discipline yourself in finding ways to communicate that love and in caring for them in ways that matter.

Same with our relationship with God.

We don't 'discipline' ourselves into a relationship with God. Nor does grinding out discipline alone bring back the fire when we're in the valley.

But, in the midst of that love relationship with God, we seek those disciplines that increase the depth and width of our love. It's those disciplines that help to continually move our journey to new and exciting levels.


"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Tim. 1:7

Meet Roger!

Roger picked a cold day to start his job . . . and was a little reluctant to let me take his pic . . . but he was a good sport.

The City of Corpus Southside Recycling center is open at Oso Creek and Roger is working 4 days a week to help care for God's creation!

Come and give some Oso Creek love to Roger and bring your recycleables!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What's in You?

Check out this video . . .




'Christ in you, the hope of glory!'

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Economic Problems . . . or Possibilities?

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

One of my core convictions is that God has called us to live differently. So much of the way we live is just reflecting the substance and style of the world. That's not following Jesus. That's not being salt and light in the world. That's just having Christianity as a side bar to access when it's convenient.

On Monday night at our Leadership Meeting I talked about the current economic crisis and the opportunity that God has given us to respond in a way that honors Him AND blesses others.
I am full-on excited about what God is going to do in this season as we seek Him in the ways that I talked about.

We recorded my leadership talk from Monday to make it available for you to listen to. (It's around 25 minutes) I hope you'll listen to it. I also copied the fill-in-blank outline that I gave the leaders below . . . you can click here and listen to audio and follow along with the outline.


1) Ask God to give you ______________________________

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philip. 4:11-13


2) S________________

“But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” 2 Cor 11:3


3) G__________ G______________________

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:10 NIV


4) Get out of ___________________

“The borrower becomes the lenders slave.” Prov 22:7


5) Expect _______________________

“For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will.” 2 Cor. 8:3







Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Islam and Prayer and Me

Wow, I was convicted and inspired by the post below!
(It came from here: http://www.independentmail.com/blogs/take-it-man/2008/nov/08/take_it_man/)

What do you think? Where are your priorities? What are you sold out to?



Take it like a Man

Muslims

Posted November 8, 2008

This evening after watching Clemson get so far behind the Seminoles it no longer mattered, I headed over to Target for some bibs for Ella.
Nothing spectacular. Just a random Saturday evening errand.
Little did I know I was in for a sight that very nearly knocked my flip-flops off.
As I was leaving the Target/Lowe's ginormous parking lot area, I noticed a small man, curled up on a towel on the driver's side of his small car.
At first, I thought the man was sick, or perhaps even injured. Or, perhaps he'd dropped his car keys and was groping around in the fading light in search of them.

Pulling closer, I realized this small man was not sick, injured, or searching for his car keys.
He was praying.
He was facing east. It was dusk. And, he was praying.

Obviously, the man was muslim. The towel was his prayer mat.
He was following the muslim ritual of evening prayer, facing Mecca, before the sun fell below the horizon.
It was undoubtedly the fourth of five prayers this man will pray today before he turns in for the night. Muslims pray at first light, at noon, in the early afternoon, at dusk, and once again after full darkness.

As I sat in my car and watched him, I noticed he paid no attention to anyone, or anything else. Cars passed, gawkers gawked, and this simple man prayed until his prayer was done.

I was at Target to buy bibs. And, he had obviously been at Target to buy something, too. But, when the time came, he stopped dead in his tracks to pray.
I was just hoping to get home in time to watch Alabama finish off LSU.

As a Christian, I do not agree with the theology behind Islam; however, as a man of faith, I cannot help but respect this man's discipline, purpose, and total disregard for what other's might have thought of him.

He was going to pray. Location, circumstance, and outward appearances made no difference to him.

I guess you could say that it had a profound impact on me.
I hesitate to raise my hand during worship. Don't wanna look stupid.

If I dropped to me knees in the Target parking lot and began pleading for the souls of my lost family members, I bet my wife would call 9-1-1 thinking I'd had a stroke.

Yet, this man's wife sat quietly in the passenger's seat. She was not the least bit surprised her husband was stopping everything to pray.

I guess what I'm getting at is that, while I do not envy this man's belief system, I'm somewhat envious of how much he is sold out to it.

And I struggle to come to grips with the fact that, while this man believes he must work his way to heaven, I am freed by the work my Savior has already done. And yet, it's that man who is willing to act out his faith in the parking lot of Target.

What would happen if I stopped in my tracks in the parking lot of Target, fell to my face, and prayed for the guy here in my apartment complex whom I know is searching for the Truth?

God help me. I'm worried about what people think and how it might look. And my friends are dying spiritually.
Lord, help me. My knees are weak. My priorities are completely whack.

Thanksgiving Video

Some of you asked about the great Thanksgiving video that Steve put together with the kids . . . you can check it out again - or for the first time - by clicking here

Monday, December 1, 2008

Discovery Amnesty!

Maybe you've been coming to Oso Creek for a while and have NEVER been to the Discovery Dessert!
Then this is the week you've been waiting for! We're offering complete amnesty from any and all guilt and judgment this week!

Kidding aside, if you haven't been to the Discovery Dessert, then you need to come so that you can get to know the staff up close and personal and hear our hearts and vision for Oso Creek.

You get to Discovery Dessert by completing Discovery Online . . . just click here and start reading and at the end you'll submit your info and then receive your invitation to Discovery Dessert.

Volunteer Rich!

We are blessed at Oso Creek to have so many people who give their time and energy so that Jesus will be glorified and lives will be changed! From the nursery to the parking lot to the praise team to the prayer team --- and everywhere in between --- we have over 200 folks who gave of themselves this last year!

This week we are doing something that we've never done before to bless our volunteers. On Friday night we're having a Volunteer Banquet!
The staff has been working hard to put together a time that will bless all of those who have given of themselves . . . it's gonna be awesome! I'm thankful to Audie who has continued to push this ball and encourage us to do it. Those who selflessly give of themselves need to be thanked and blessed!

And one more appeal to the blessee's: If you've volunteered this year (whether or not you received an invitation) we need to know asap if you are going to be there! We have a great meal that's gonna be catered and we need to get the numbers in to the caterer. So if you haven't given us a thumbs up yet (or regrettably a thumbs down) please give the office a call at 993-4463.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Flowin' in the Holidays . . .

Steve Sjogren either invented, or just uses a lot, the term acts of random kindness.

And in his - and my - theology they are only random in who they may impact . . . but they are very intentional in their purpose . . . to be the Light of Christ in the world.

Do you know how much incredible opportunity we have during the Christmas Holiday season? It's all designed to be out me/me/me, but the possibilities are huge when we make it about HIM (Jesus) and THEM (others)!

Click here and check out some of Sjogren's ideas for spreading the hope of Jesus during the Christmas season. He inspires me to to give myself away!
Get inspired! Get your group inspired!

While so much of the 10 o'clock news is bringing people down, let's be great news and lift people up!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving & Football (& Futbol)



Yesterday Luke and I drove down to Austin (we're in Sherman w/Cindy's family) and compliments of my Dad went to the UT / A&M game . . .

It was fun and huge --it was the largest crowd EVER at a football game in the State of Texas - 98,621 stinkin' people!
(That's my Dad and Kai, my step-brother's son, with Luke & I)


Then we got up early this morning to get back to Dallas to watch Sarah & Laura's soccer games --- and they got rained out today :(
More futbol games tomorrow . . .

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks . . . With Anticipation!

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:4

There's a lot of room for thanks around here. For grace and hope. For family and friends. For incredibly abundant provision.

I've been thinking how real gratefulness should lead to generosity. God's been generous to us . . . SO THAT, we can be generous to others.

The last couple of days as we've been visiting friends and relatives it seems that everyone is talking about the economy. I hear a lot of concern and some fear.

A couple of weeks ago when I was talking to Tony Reyes who leads Mission 911 (an outreach to the homeless and hurting in Corpus) -- he expressed a deep hope for the resources to impact those in need. He told me that in hard times what many times happens is that the need multiplies (more homeless and hungry) and the support decreases. A double whammy.

What a great opportunity! I pray that in the coming months of need that we will double our support. That we will live wisely and generously, and give more away than ever before! It's in the deepest darkness that the light shines the brightest.

So instead of thanks mixed with anxiety or fear. Let's give thanks with anticipation! Anticipation for what God is going to do as we give ourselves to Him!

"We thank you, O God!
We give thanks because you are near.
People everywhere tell of your mighty miracles." Psalm 75:1

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Avoiding 'Weird' Relationships

Our family went through some hard stuff together last week. It was about relationships outside our family and how without communication - and real gut level honesty - things can get weird.

It wasn't fun (at all) - but God taught us some great stuff.

Here's one of the main things was driven home and we got to talk about: To live with one another as Christians does NOT mean that we are called to live perfectly with one another, but to have a commitment to reconciliation and renewal.

Sometimes I hear Christians express this expectation that when followers of Jesus live with one another - whether at a church or a Christian school or in a Group or whatever - that we should all be perfect. (i.e. 'Your kid should ALWAYS be like Jesus to my kid!')

Huh??

The difference in 'Christian community' and any other 'community' is NOT that we don't sin and hack each other off. No. Remember 'No perfect people allowed at Oso Creek.'
But the difference is how we deal with our relationships. It's the willingness to be lovingly honest and talk & pray with one another, and to work through struggles together!

Because THAT's how we grow! The fruit grows in the valley, not on the mountain top! We grow as we see the darkness in our hearts, humbly repent, and ask God to change us!
When we do this we grow into being more like Jesus and into unity with one another.

When we are not willing to do this, we separate ourselves and create that layer of weirdness between us and others.

"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Philip. 2:12

Baggage Handling

We're leaving in just a little while for Cindy's sister's in Sherman for Thanksgiving.

As the father and 'packer' I'm about to go through the same ritual that many men in this country have endured for decades.

This is some of what I'm expected to cram in a very small space in the car. I know that this doesn't include at least Luke's 'checked luggage' (and maybe more) . . . nor does it include the 6-8 'Carry Ons' per person! I should somehow charge extra for 'carry ons' as they seem to produce the greatest amount of stress.

I'm praying for little stress and much Jesus as I go pack the car now . . . I pray the same for you this week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On Mission . . .

God has mission for every one of us, right where we are! I know it. He says it. It's just a matter of whether or not we're willing to look at life through our spiritual eyes, or if we only see through our earthly eyes.

My good friend Dan Morris (preached for me just a few weeks ago) had an awesome post the other day about a divine appointment, and God showing him that he was 'on mission' right where he was.

I encourage you to click here and read it . . . and to keep your eyes on 'things above.'

Way To Go Creekers!

Yesterday we blew away our Operation Christmas Child record for boxes - 275 boxes of the hope of Jesus . . . and counting!! Way to go!

I'm so proud of the way you gave of yourselves and to be your pastor! Awesome!

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven."

btw . . . If you forgot, it's not too late . . . they will be collecting boxes at Second Baptist Church until 9pm tonight (Monday)





Saturday, November 22, 2008

Creation Care - Part III

"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all." 1 Chron. 29:11

It's ALL His. The question is how can we be the best stewards possible of all His creation?

When I started digging, it seems overwhelming. The issues are huge. I think we know that there are so many ways that we are wasteful and destructive - we just like our conveniences to much to do anything about it. Our environmental policy is 'Don't ask, don't tell.'

Take bottled water. (Which my grandad who died about 20 years ago would roll over in his grave about . . . 'You buy what? When you can turn on the faucet and get it practically for free!')

Not only is it crazy that we pay a buck for a few ounces of water . . . not only do we use 1.5 million tons of plastic each year to bottle water . . . not only is their the environmental cost of manufacturing and transporting 100 billion liters of water each year . . . but 80% of the plastic used ends up clogging up our landfills.

And all of this for water that 25% of is simply re-processed municipal water. Interesting.

If you want to check out some stuff yourself, you could start by clicking here or here.

Remember I'm not in this to start worshipping the earth. But just to ask the question, how can we most honor God in caring for His creation.

Some of you have much better ideas and thoughts than me . . . Why don't you hit 'comments' and share em' with us . . .

OCC Dedication Tomorrow!


Don't forget your Operation Christmas Child boxes tomorrow as we'll have our OCC Dedication!
Who are you bringing with you to show what it looks like to love families around the world?

We're also going to begin Advent Conspiracy tomorrow! It's gonna be an awesome day of Celebration! Don't miss it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beveridge Family Fundraiser

Just a reminder that this Saturday (22nd) there will be a waffle breakfast at Monclair Elementary School (on Alameda behind St. John's UMC) between 8 and 11am to benefit Matt Beveridge's parents and the costs they've incurred in the past two years.

The tickets are $6 and you can get them at the office on Friday or at the door on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Creation Care - Part II

Re*cy*cle [ree-sahy-kuhl] - to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse.

As I said on Sunday, in the past I've been a
recycler only when it's very convenient, or there's a lot of peer pressure (like my neighbors seeing that I never put my green bin out :)

I'm rethinking how a lot of my small efforts will go a long ways in caring for God's creation. I think for many years the evangelical church has disconnected following Jesus and blessing our society. But again, it's not just that - it's worship to care for what God has given us.

I mentioned Sunday that there are over 130 million cell phones retired every stinking year!! I'm also told that can also "potentially create 65,000 tons of dangerous electronics waste.”

So why needlessly waste? There are recylcers on the internet that will give you cash for your old phone. I plugged in my year-old Samsung in the website today and they would give me $13.78 - and they would pay the postage!

What if . . . someone at Oso Creek took on collecting old cell phones - wherever they could be found - and made it a ministry. Collected them and sent them in and then the resources were used to feed the poor or build water wells or pour into an under resourced nation.

That's just one example -- but as we recycle we're not JUST good neighbors - but if we're creative we can find ways to create inroads to the Kingdom of God coming to earth!

[These are the new signs that will go out by the recycle bins at Oso Creek!]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Creation Care

"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all." 1 Chron. 29:11

On Sunday I preached for the first time ever on caring for the creation. It was long overdue.
Adam & Eve began in a garden where they were charged to keep it and care for it. Our role is that of stewards - to return the creation better than we found it. I hope that you are asking God what the small ways are that you can care more for God's creation.

Below is the website I promised and this week I'm going to blog about more practical ways to live in the blessing of this kind of obedience:

http://savinggodsgreenearth.com/

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Runoff . . .

Wow, what a long - but good - weekend we had . . . and it's run over into Monday . . . it's nearly time for my leadership meeting tonight and I don't know where the day went . . .

Here's the weekend numerical recap:

- 4 hours with friends on Friday night
- 5 kids stayed at our house on Friday night
- 1 carwash on Saturday morning (KHS soccer!)
- 2 Grandparents came and visited us Sat & Sun (thanks for coming!!)
- 2 sermons preached (the elephants herded away for now . . .)
- 5 baseball games! (fun . . . but whew!!!)
- 3 meals at ballparks or Whataburger (because of the above)
- 1,000 (approximately!) tamales made in our kitchen for the student's camp fund raiser
- 0 times mail box visited (we decided this morning that we were too busy when Cindy went to put something in the mailbox and figured out there was about 3 days worth of mail we had never retrieved)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

SURGE!





This is the logo of our new select baseball team . . .
We're hoping to SURGE through a tourney that we're playing in this weekend!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Herd is Moving On . . .




This is the last week of the Elephants in the Church series . . . This has been an awesome series and this last week I'm gonna tackle this: 'Is God Green?'
Who do you need to bring with you on Sunday?


And don't forget that NEXT WEEK - November 23rd - is Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Dedication Sunday!!!
Are you inviting your neighbors and co-workers and classmates to join us in blessing the world?
You've got one more week!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Emily



Our beautiful Emily. I love her. I miss her.
And I am so thankful to God that she loves Him and follows Him with all her heart.


My heart is steadfast, O God;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
and let your glory be over all the earth.
(Psalm 108:1-5)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mission 911

This afternoon I had the privilege of hanging out with Tony Reyes for a couple of hours and hearing his heart for Mission 911.

I love this guy because he's doing it! He inspires me. He gave up his hat as an Office Depot executive 9 years ago when God called him to care for the homeless and hurting and love an entire broken neighborhood. He's on mission - it's written all over his life.

Mission 911 is one of the ministries we are going to support as we give to compassion through Advent Conspiracy. I'm pumped that we get to engage with guys like Tony as they seek to change the world right where they are!

Treasure Principle

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

On Sunday I talked about the elephant of greed and how it rots away our soul - from the inside out. BUT, how generosity loosens the grip of greed. How investments in eternity transfer our interests from earth to heaven, from self to God.

At the end of Celebration I gave everyone a book - The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. One of the best, most concise, books I've ever read about our resources. One of my favorite sections says this:

"'Store up for yourselves.' Doesn't it seem strange that Jesus commands us to what's in our own best interests? Wouldn't that be selfish? No. God expects and commands us to act out of enlightened self-interest. He wants us to live to His glory, but what is to His glory is always to our good."

When we use our treasure for God's good . . . it's ALWAYS for OUR good!

If you weren't here on Sunday and want a copy of The Treasure Principle, stop by the office - or ask on Sunday - and we'd love to give you one.

Waffle Breakfast For Matt Beveridge's Family

On Saturday November 22nd at Monclair Elementary School (on Alameda behind St. John's UMC) there's going to be a waffle breakfast to benefit Matt Beveridge's parents.

The costs associated with Matt's sickness and death were astronomical and this act of generosity will be a huge blessing to Gary & Laurie.

The tickets are $6 and we'll have them available on Sunday . . . or during the week at the office.

"You are generous because of your faith. And I am praying that you will really put your generosity to work, for in so doing you will come to an understanding of all the good things we can do for Christ." Philemon 1:6

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Make Em' Cry!






OK, I just got this and it's admittedly a little late . . . but I just couldn't help myself!

(If you don't get it, look at their jerseys!)

Surfside Update - 11/11

Did you know that Ike was the third most destructive hurricane to ever hit the US?
It killed 164 people - with still over 200 people missing in the US - and did an estimated $31.5 billion in damage!

It's been nearly 2 months since it hit and has faded from the frontal cortex of many of our minds.

And yet folks so many folks are still hurting and digging out.

Some of you knew Maren Harding and may have seen her at Oso Creek on Sunday. She lives near Houston (Shoreacres) and took a direct hit and she is just now getting any construction started while living in a trailer (and she's one of the first!)

All that to say, the need is still great and we are still seeking ways to help in Surfside!

The next stage of reconstruction at Surfside is helping with home repairs -- tearing out sheet rock, cleaning, painting, etc . . . Are you or your group ready to go?

We will be taking another group either this Saturday (15th) or the next (20th). Please email Rick Thornton (click here) if you need more info or are ready to go!


"Never let loyalty and kindness get away from you! Wear them like a necklace; write them deep within your heart."
Proverbs 3:3




What Are You 'Showing Off'?

It's been a busy couple of weeks, packed with some good things, and packed with some things that can be a distraction from the great things. I battle just like you with making my life count for eternity . . . and I tell you this just to try to stay real.
Below is a journal entry I made a couple of months ago that I was reading again this morning and reflecting on. I thought that it might speak to some of you:


It seems like being sick - as I've been over the past week - always lends itself to contemplation. I don't know if it's the reality of wrestling with my mortality, the drugs that mess with my head (and make me feel tingly), or just the insecurity in not being able to 'do something.'

It's seems like recently as I've skidded towards my mid 40's I've dealt with this general malaise of being at (or beyond) the half way point of life . . . not necessarily the Billy Crystal kind from City Slickers of feeling the need to use Grecian Formula or buy a red Vette . . . But more of a spiritual discomfort.

This statement by Jesus jumped off the page at me today as I've been reading through Matthew and sent chills of reality up my soul: Matthew 10:32-33 "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."

As I reflect on my own heart condition, my continual stirring is a great desire to glorify God - to 'show Him off' in every circumstance and moment. And yet it's so easy to live and breathe for self. What am I 'showing off' before people? Me? My strength & wisdom? My hard work and busyness?

O' how I want the next years - and remaining years - to count for the Kingdom of God! Help me God to resist the pull of the distractions of this world and the panderings of self that lead to isolation and darkness . . . and help me be firmly planted in the Vine and in the power of Your Spirit's control!


I pray that all of us would fight . . . that we would fight to 'show off' God to the world and for every moment of our lives to count for eternity!

Hog Chasing!

Last night Luke & I (along with John & Connor Richerson and Tim Klaus) were driving in the Lakes (neighborhood in Corpus for you out of towners) and up the street I saw something(s) in a yard and said, 'What are those, pigs?'
Sure enough three feral pigs rooting in a yard! They had come out of the wild around the Oso and torn to shreds about 5 yards!

But here's the cool part, we started chasing em' in the car and we were all laughing so hard I almost wrecked . . . We chased em' up and down streets and finally back out into the wild by the Oso. Almost ran over em' near the end because they got tired and stopped in the road. Great male bonding time!

Kind of like being back in West Texas - hog chasin' on Monday night in the car!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rummagee or Rummagor?

King HS Soccer (where Laura & Sarah play) is having a very large rummage sale tomorrow (Saturday) from 8am to Noon. (click here for map to King HS).

If you have some rummage you want to get rid of and bring it by the school between 5pm and 8pm tonight (Friday), we'd love to get rid of it for you!

And if you want to find some good rummage the sale is Saturday morning!

Cell Phone Challenge

How many names of people who don't know Christ are in your cell phone?

Another blogger challenged me to put 2 new folks in my phone this week who don't know Jesus. If we put them in our phone, chances are greater that we'll give em' a call or text em' when we have a few extra minutes.

Living for the Kingdom is about giving God all of ourselves and every piece of our lives (including out technology). Asking Him to use every moment and every contact.

So I challenge you - Put 2 people in your phone this week who don't Christ. Pray and call.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Bringing the King to Earth

Dan shared a verse on Sunday that's been rattling around in my mind since:

"Then at the resurrection of the godly, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you." (Luke 14:14 NLT)

Jesus is talking here about those we reach out to bless. Those who we invite to the King's party.

My heart has been burdened the last couple of weeks with how much of the time I stay in my selfish world, and I miss opportunities to tell people about the King.

Paul said, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation. . . "

I'm asking God this week to put people in front of me who need Him. . . And to give me the wisdom and courage to love them. I so want His heart to be my heart.

How about you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voted

Did you vote? I did. Waited . . . zero minutes! I was in and out in 6 minutes! Sorry for those of you who I've heard are waiting an hour . . .

Keep praying as we wait, and remember that God is sovereign and in no way is His power furthered or diminished by any man or woman who holds an office or leads a government . . .

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses
[i.e. the power and strength of a kingdom], but we trust in the name of the Lord our God [i.e. the power and strength of THE King and THE Kingdom]. (Psalm 20:7)

Pray and anticipate how God might use those who are elected today:

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Tim. 2:1-2)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Warriors!!

We had an awesome time at the Men's Retreat this weekend!
We spent the weekend digesting 1 Samuel 14 (and Jonathan's courage) together --- and also just having a lot of fun.

Great job, to the guys organizing and leading --- especially Greg Richmond and Steve Garcia -- way to go guys!

Thought might enjoy some of these pics of your warrior heroes!

Survey Says?

Thanks to my good friend Dan who served us in an awesome way yesterday as he filled in for me and hit it out of the park!
He encouraged us to 'hang tough' and keep our hearts and minds focused on our future and the reward that God promises in eternity. I could hear that every week. (Minus the snot! OK, you had to be there!)

This week I'll g0 back to the Elephants --- 2 more to go . . .

I've really enjoyed the Elephants and gotten a lot of great feedback. I can see us talking about other 'Elephants' in the future and so I've got a question for you while it's on our minds . . .

What other Elephants in the Church would you like to hear about? What else is lurking out there that no one is talking about?

Your 'comments' on this post will really help me to plan in the future!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wow!


Did you see the Red Raiders and Longhorns! What a game!

And now the Raiders are #2 in the Nation!!! Go Raiders!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pray for Our Men . . .

. . . As we are going to begin our Men's Retreat in just a couple of hours . . . Pray that the Holy Spirit will birth unity and passion for Jesus that we have never known. Pray that men will make new decisions to follow Jesus. Pray that new relationships will form that will lead to new spiritual adventures . . .

Maybe Potlucks Aren't So Bad . . .

Many of you know that I'm on the local board of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). We sponsor 47 huddles at area schools (a huddle is a 'group' at that school that meets weekly to encourage athletes in their walk with Jesus) . . . and one huddle on the North Slope of Alaska. A local coach went there this year to teach and coach as an 'FCA Missionary.' Here's a recent email:


"Some of my players said they had to miss volleyball practice to go help their whaling captains as the slush came in. And then I got the story . . . When the ocean first starts to freeze each year it's like slush ( ice and water mixed). When that happens, it's traditional for the eskimos to take out the tail of the whale from last April and have a feast on it.
They keep the Tail in underground coolers in the tundra. The problem is that even though it is cold like a refrigerator, it is not frozen.
Are you getting the picture?

It stays in there for 6 months and it is massive and they get it out now and it is completely fermented. They put it all out on the floor in the town hall.

[Yes, these are pics of it and notice the size of the people in the pics compared to the tail!]


I went to see it yesterday and it was one of the most horrible sights and smells I
have ever witnessed. I could smell it way before I got into the building. There is no way to explain this sight or smell. . . It is like raw meat that has been left in your freezer when your freezer goes out and you find out 2 weeks later. And today is the feast. I don't know, but I think I will try one super small bite . . . 3 years ago someone died as you are not supposed to have sugar and someone had drank a coke and ate this fermented meat and something exploded in him and he died pretty quick."

Gary is definitely on mission for Jesus!