While my buddy Jmob (check out his blog here) were floating out in the lake, I made this observation: At one time the only thing along this part of the lake were rocky cliffs. But then someone had the vision to place incredible homes along this cove. And that vision transformed rocky, jagged, useless land into some of the most expensive real estate in the Austin area. I know people who would kill for these homes. Seriously.
So what most people saw as useless land, someone saw as one of the most coveted places to live on the lake. And that vision has paid off...big time. It is a great example of how when vision is followed, it always pays off. It may not be monetarily, like someone selling plots to build million dollar homes. But following visions always pays off. The benefits at the end are always directly related to the willingness to seek, cast, and follow the vision from the beginning.
What about you? Got any thoughts on what it means to follow vision. If so, let's here them.
There's a passage in the Bible (1 Samuel 15:22) that simply says this: "Does the LORD really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn't want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him." Sounds simple enough doesn't it? But sometimes obedience is hard. Sometimes following God is difficult. When I read the Bible I see story after story of God calling people to do crazy, insane, difficult, tough things. And simply asking them to obey.
And when you read the stories through, you see that every time God calls someone to obey and they step up and follow Him, God proves himself faithful. Every time. No exceptions. God is faithful.
I don't know about you, but there are days when obedience is harder than others. There are times when it is more difficult. But when we obey, we allow God to do things that only He can as He works in us and through us. And God is always faithful. That's the one thing that never changes.
Helicopter Fishing - Coolest Sport Ever - Watch more free videos
We're at youth camp this week with our Junior High students. We're at a campground that is "out in the sticks" so the internet access and cell phone service is a bit limited. In light of that, I've set a couple blogs to post this week and I thought I'd start out with some link love. Here's some stuff off the web that I thought worthy of passing on. Check it out.
- Check out the blog Stuff Christians Like. Absolutely hilarious! This is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs to read.
- I have the ABSOLUTE BEST student worship leader on the planet. He is insanely talented and does a great job serving in our ministry. Now he's started blogging. Watch out world, Michael Pittman is coming! Check out his blog here.
- Ben Arment had a post about "slow motion decision making" that really resonated with me. Check it out here. I think there is something to this.
- Perry Noble, pastor of Newspring Church in Anderson, SC, shared this post about leadership environments that he wanted to be in. It's really good stuff and it challenged me to evaluate my relationships with those who've been where I've been, who are where I'm at, and who are where I want to be.
- Cole Phillips, pastor of The Connection Church in Kyle, TX, shared the following video. I grew up enthralled by The Wonder Years and this Joe Cocker tune was the theme song. I know it by heart. And this is also one of my dad's favorite songs of all time. I can remember growing up hearing him sing (yell) it from the other side of the house. But this video takes a "different" approach to the song...Hope you enjoy.
This past Thursday the Lockhart Post Register printed a story in the newspaper about what our students were doing to serve others and to share God's love. They interviewed me and some of our students and put together a pretty cool little article, including some color pics of our group working. In Lockhart, getting color pics in the paper is a big deal!
Anyway, if you want to check it out you can do so by simply clicking here. Enjoy!
"If you are willing to satisfy people with good enough, you can make just about everybody happy. If you delight people and create change that lasts, you’re going to offend those that hate change in all its forms. Your choice."
For the past few days leading up to today I've given Jo small gifts for her birthday. Today I suprised her with an Ipod Nano, some flowers and balloons, and we spent the evening in Austin and had dinner at Chuy's. It was a great day spent with the most amazing woman on the planet.
I absolutely love to celebrate Johanna's birthday. It's not only a celebration for her, but for me as well. It's a celebration of the day that God brought into the world my partner for life, my best friend, and my wife. It marks the day of God's incredible gift to me. If that's not reason to celebrate I don't know what is. Happy Birthday Babe! I love you!
- Jo and I spent Friday having "the hottest, coolest time in Texas" at Schlitterbahn water park. We enjoyed getting to hang out with the family and it was cool to get to spend some time with my nieces and nephews. That said, we missed you Jerry, Ingrid, Lilliana, and Diego!
- I spent Saturday morning in a meeting. Gotta' love meetings like this one! I'm pumped about what's in store for the future! But you'll have to wait to find out...
- I took the longest nap I have taken in a long, long time Saturday afternoon/evening. Not sure why I've been so exhausted the past few days...Maybe summer youth ministry has something to do with it...
- Had church this morning. The new drummer rocked it. We also sang the new Tomlin song "Jesus Messiah." It's good.
- Jo & I had lunch and hung out all afternoon with a couple of my interns. We watched some TV, played some NCAA Football on the 360, and went for a swim. Now we're just all chillin' at the house.
- That about wraps up the weekend. Hope yours was as relaxing and as good as ours.
I think they focused too much on one genre of music and even in that missed out on some great bands. When I think of music and performers that bring me to my feet, there are more misses than hits on Yahoo's list.
But what about YOU, my faithful readers (ok...my mom)? What bands bring you to your feet? Comment away...
We've painted houses, helped demo houses, landscaped, lead Backyard Bible Clubs at apartment complexes, and still have more to do. Through our words, our action, our work ethic, and our sweat we have said over and over to our community "God loves you and we do to!" That has been the message we have hoped and prayed would be communicated this week. And I think it is being heard.
On Wednesday morning I had a great conversation with one of the apartment managers where we are doing one of our Backyard Bible Clubs (We call them Rainbow Express - Thanks Mission Arlington!). She was new to this complex and at first was a little hesitant about the whole deal. But since we arrived on Monday she has really been blown away by what is going on. She shared with me that on Tuesday morning the owner's rep was there inspecting the property and watched our Rainbow Express team work with the children at the complex for a while. She was so impressed she contacted the owners and they asked us to go to another complex in town that they own and do the same thing next week! Of course we are all over that, so we'll be doing another Rainbow Express next week at a new location. The manager also told me that they have been so impressed with how our students have served that they are open to other ministries we might want to do at these complexes as well.
Wow. God is good. He knows exactly what he is doing. Last week we weren't even sure if we would be allowed at this apartment when Monday morning rolled around they were so hesitant of what we were doing. Now they want us here every week. God is moving. And it is amazing to just get out of the way and enjoy the ride.
One of our work projects this week is helping a family whose home has burned. The shell of the house is pretty stable and the family is wanting to rebuild around the walls, floor, etc that are left. But to do that there is literally TONS of demolition that needs to be done. So far this week we've torn out all the sheetrock in the walls and ceiling and scraped up burned carpet and tiles from the floors. It has been messy and hard and hot but our students have busted their tails in order to serve this family and be a blessing to them.
Our students and our youth ministry have become the talk of the neighborhood. People are amazed that our students would not only give up a week of their summer to work in our community for free, but that they would pay to do it in order to provide their own tools, resources, etc. And then when they see the work ethic of our students, they are really shocked. We demand A LOT out of our students. And that only intensifies when we are on a mission project. We believe that most students will give you exactly what you expect from them, so we expect big things from our youth. And they deliver.
So today one of the men from our church was driving his tractor down the street from the house, bringing it over to help us load some debri into a dumpster. As he drove by a house a man went into the street waving his arms to get his attention. The man lived in a home down the street from where we are working and he started asking Mark (the guy from our church) about why our students would do what they are doing. Basically, this led to Mark telling the guy how our youth want to show the love of God to others and this is one way they do it. That led to a presentation of the gospel. And that led to this man praying to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ right there on the spot.
I am constantly amazed at how God works. I am blown away at what he uses to draw people to himself. But I am SO PUMPED that he lets me be a part of it. And when God leads and you follow, be prepared to see incredible things. Because God is in the business of incredible and amazing. As I type this I am still blown away by this story. But I know one thing: That's why we do this...
A big group of our student ministry, along with a few youth workers, will be doing tons of stuff to help connect the people in our neighborhoods with the God who loves them. We'll be ministering to children and teens in backyard Bible clubs throughout apartment complexes and neighborhoods. We're helping a family clean up after a fire has wreaked havoc on their home and their lives. We'll be painting some houses, handing out bottled water, cleaning up some yards...basically, we've opened ourselves up to do whatever we can to serve the people of our community and show them the love of God.
In a blog a few days ago Perry Noble talked about the calling of the church to "serve people into the kingdom." That is what we are about this week. And my prayer and challenge to my students and our ministry is not that serving others would be something we do. Rather, it would be who we are.
One of our freshman girls told me Monday afternoon that what we were doing (tearing down burned sheetrock) was way more fun than sitting at home and watching tv. It's a lot more important too. I couldn't agree more.
- Got to spend time with my Papa, my parents, my brother and my sister-in-law. I love it when we can all get together.
- My brother, dad, and myself all joined some cousins and old high school friends for a round of golf at Par Country Club on the morning of the fourth. The course was PACKED, so we decided to play a little two-man team scramble, which my brother and I dominated of course...mostly thanks to him!
- Johanna, Justin, Christie, and I spent the evening of the fourth eating Italian food, watching Hancock, and then watching the fireworks from the Stephenville Family Fun Fair with my parents. My Papa's house is literally half a block from the City Park where the firework show is, so we had some PRIME seats!
- Justin and Christie decided to come to Lockhart with us on Saturday evening. We all went out and ate some tasty seafood at Clear Springs Saturday night and then spent Sunday afternoon shopping at the outlet malls. I hate going to the outlet malls on the weekend, but it was great to get to hang out with my bro, and as a bonus I got some $9 flip flops!
That about sums it up. Like I said, it was great to spend time at home with the fam. This week is gonna' be super busy. We started our annual Mission LTX today. There'll be more about that later, but now I'm gonna' grab some supper after a long day of work...
"The biggest need we have in the world is not lower gas prices…and our greatest tragedy is not that Starbucks is closing 600 stores…the world needs Jesus…and it is OUR JOB as HIS CHURCH to do all that we can to take HIM to the world." - Perry Noble, Pastor, Newspring Church
"Jesus didn't die to keep us safe. He died to make us dangerous! The will of God is not an insurance plan. It's a daring plan. In fact, the will of God doesn't get easier. God gives us more difficult, daring, and dangerous things to do!" - Mark Batterson, Pastor, National Community Church
"Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell." - C.T. Studd, Missionary to China, India, & Africa, Quoted by Mark Batterson
- Great post by Perry Noble sharing a story about how we are called to serve others into God's kingdom. Check it out here.
- Cole Phillips shared a great paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 on his blog this week. It really challenged me in what it really means to love others.
- My boy Jmob moved his blog over to Wordpress. Check it out here. He's in the process of moving my site over there too but with all the craziness of summer student ministry it might take a little time...
- My college roomate Michael Norwood is one of the most creative and artistic people on this planet. Seriously. He can do it all. And his photography rocks. Last week he and a few of his photo buds got together for a "man road trip" and set up their own blog including pics they took along the way. Check it out to see some amazing pics. Go to http://www.mammothmen.com/ and prepare to be amazed.
- My friends at Commonground Community Church went live with their new website. If you're in the Bridge City or Golden Triangle area check this church out! It rocks!
- Several weeks ago I ran across the blog Stuff Christians Like. This week they compared famous pastors to Comic Superheroes. Let me just say this. Mark Driscoll = Hancock in this one. For a good laugh check out their website and scroll through some of the past entries.
Hope you find these links challenging, insightful, funny, or whatever else they were intended to be...
On another note, Johanna and I are leaving at some point tomorrow to go to the Stephenville/Ft. Worth area. We are planning to go see family, but my grandfather is also having some health issues and may have a heart procedure done on Wednesday or Thursday so keep him in your prayers.
Right now I've got a meeting scheduled with my bed and some sleep so I'm out...