Monday, July 27, 2009

My Time in El Salvador

Last Saturday, a group of 11 individuals from First Colony Christian Church set out on a mission trip to El Salvador.  Our mission: to build a well and provide clean water in the name of Jesus.  The community we would be spending our week with was a small village called “Santa Rosa” which consisted of just the most wonderful people ever.  I will spare the technical drilling details, but we did successfully get a well built and set up!!!  We had many obstacles along the way (such as hitting a rock for almost 2 days) but were able to persevere with teamwork, excellent leadership, and God’s blessing.

I’ll briefly share two of my favorite memories from the trip.  First, the time spent playing with the children and interacting with their parents was easily the most rewarding part of the trip.  By the second or third day, all the kids were calling me “heffe” (“boss” in spanish... =).. ) and we had so much fun playing different games like soccer, tag, keep-away, and more.  The picture below is of me and my favorite amigo, William (“Big Will!”).  

Another one of my favorite memories from the trip was at the well dedication service on Friday.  We had an opportunity to address the entire village and I spoke on the behalf of our group and the rest of our church family back in Sugar Land.  I expressed that we loved the village and saw our work as a small part of the Kingdom of Jesus growing.  I also expressed that we genuinely felt as though each and every one of them was a part of our family.  After the service, an El Salvadorian dad came up to me and firmly shook my hand and said “Gracias.”  I returned the smile, handshake, and expression but he would not let go of my hand.  He then made eye contact with me and said, “de mi corazon” which means “from my heart.”  It was very touching to receive that heartfelt sentiment from one of the members of the community.

God taught me so much on the trip and there were of course many other great memories and inside jokes.  Somehow, I ended up being frisked at the airport on the way there (that will be another blog post), among other things.  Have you ever been on a mission trip?  Where?  What was your favorite part?  Please comment and share!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Off to El Salvador!!

Dear faithful readers,

I leave tomorrow morning with a group from my church to go to El Salvador with the hopes of drilling a well and providing clean water to a village that desperately needs it.  We are going with Living Water International and will be gone until late Saturday night.  I covet your prayers over our group and our trip and I will be sure and let you all know how it went!

When I get back I will finish up the series on my favorite sayings of Jesus as well as start up a new series.  If you have any ideas for posts and/or series; or just anything you would like to read my thoughts about- let me know!  I will be glad to cater my posts to your interests!

Until next week- stay strong in Christ!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

My 5 Favorite Quotes from Jesus: #2 Luke 15:4-7

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

This story is easily my favorite story EVER.  Not just favorite parable, favorite passage of Scripture, but favorite story.  I like it more than I like the Bourne series, the 30 Days of Night movie, or any other story I have ever heard/seen.

There are many reasons I love this story.  One is the intense, one-way pursuit of that which is lost.  I understand salvation to be Christ chasing after us and finding us.  Another thing I love about the story is his response to his finding of that which is lost.  He (in joy!) puts in on his shoulders and carries it home.  A farmer once told me that when you find a lost sheep, you break its legs so that it cannot run away again, and then sling it over your neck and carry it back to the flock.  What a cool picture of Christ’s pursuit, rescue, and even loving discipline.  Lastly, I love the brutal attack against self-righteousness that Jesus throws in at the end of the parable.  I am reminded that God wants honesty and humbleness and a dependency on the Cross from us, his little lost (kind of dumb) sheep.

I’ll be preaching on this story on August 2nd and am really excited about it!  What are your thoughts?  What is your favorite parable from the lips of Jesus? 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summer Book Reviews: #5- "Comeback Churches" by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson

As a young and mostly un-trained new pastor, I am always looking for good pieces of advice or “nuggets” of wisdom on how to faithfully lead a church.  I have also been chosen by God to lead a small church that is (hopefully) on our way up.  We average anywhere from 45-65 people a Sunday and are hoping that this number grows over the next couple of years as we reach out to Sugar Land and see more life-change and Jesus-worship happening.  I am by no means turning into a “church growth fanatic”, as I still despise Pastors who lust after numbers, but I have recognized that for us to be faithful as a church we must be constantly reaching out and bringing in new people, baptizing others, and leading community change.  

I kept seeing this book recommended or referred to, so I put it on my summer reading list.  It was a great decision and definitely worth my time.  It is a research-driven book, so it won’t keep your attention like a novel or story; but it was filled with great truths, ideas, and encouragements.  A few things that I digested from my time spent in this work- the art of creating and casting a vision, the art of giving away ministry to others, the art of seeking excellence during services, and the art of praying long and hard for life-change.  

I also learned a few things from seeing how some of the other 300 churches did things during their “comeback”- and gleaned a few ideas that we will be implementing in the next few months.  If you are a church leader or someone deeply invested in the well-being of a small and struggling church, this book is worth your time.  If you don’t have a church home or don’t know Jesus- come check us out at Fc3 (  We are young, welcoming, and we want to know Jesus in a real way.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Nothing Too Small

This past Sunday I made a point in my sermon that I wanted to unpack some more here on the blog.  Thursday I will continue my series on Jesus’ sayings, but for now please enjoy these thoughts and let me know what you think!

One of my favorite promises of Scripture is found in 1 Corinthians 15:58 at the very end of the most majestic argument for the Resurrection that I have ever read.  Paul ends it all by saying that we should be immovable and steadfast and that we should know that in the Lord our work and labor is not in vain.  I understand this to be teaching that all acts, big or small, seen or unseen, that are undertaken for God’s glory will be used by Jesus for his Kingdom project.

I had a life-changing experience a couple weeks ago at Camp Barnabas, TX, a summer camp for kids with special needs (I blogged about the experience here).  I spent hours that week swinging on the front porch of our cabin with my little autistic buddy.  We would just swing and swing and look out at the sunset, trees, grass, and animals.  It was easily my favorite part of camp- not because of the scenery, the relaxation, or the escape from the heat, but because every five minutes my little friend would look over at me and give me a huge smile.  To understand how much this melted my heart, you should know that he is not a huge smiler (He is uber-content, just doesn’t show much emotion).  

Because of 1 Corinthians 15:58, I am very confident that the time spent swinging will be made eternal and used by Jesus for his new creation.  I feel that those moments are just as Christ-centered and God-glorifying as any sermon I have ever preached or any Bible Study I have ever led.  I love the fact that nothing is too small to be received and used by our Savior.

I want to close with this quote from my favorite author, N.T. Wright.  Please enjoy and let me know your thoughts:

“Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings and for that matter one’s fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world- all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.  That is the logic of the mission of God.” 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My 5 Favorite Quotes From Jesus: #1 Mark 2:17b

"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

For the next couple of weeks, along with my reviews of books I have read recently I will be doing a series titled "My 5 Favorite Quotes from Jesus" where I will list, in no particular order, 5 of my favorite things that Jesus said (and was recorded in Scripture).

This morning's quote comes from Mark 2:17 and is given in the context of a dinner party.  The scribes and Pharisees started mumbling to the disciples about the.. um, questionable (at best) guests reclining with Jesus.  He answers them with this haunting phrase.

I love this quote so much for many reasons.  One is there is a bit of sarcasm here since Jesus is fully aware that the "righteous" in question (the scribes and Pharisees) are not indeed righteous (as is part of the point).  Another reason is because I am a sick person.  It's true.  I am broken.  There are so many things that misfire in me and over and over again I fall- only to hear Jesus whisper these words into my soul.  He came for me.  Not for a future version of me.  Not for a holier, more mature me.  He came for me.