He Is Here!!!

On Tuesday morning (or really, really, really late Monday night) Johanna gave birth to our son Hayden Russell Burleson. He came into our world at 1:40 am Tuesday morning, April 28th at 7 lbs, 14 ozs and 21 inches long. People told us it would be amazing. People said it would instantly change our lives. Let me just say this: It is indescribable. There are no words to describe it. All of human language is incapable of explaining this feeling. Now I understand why people say you just can't put it into words.

Everyone's been asking to see some pictures and we finally got an adapter for our memory card here at the hospital so here are a few pics to hold you over until you can meet the handsome little fella.


It All Changes...

Tomorrow everything changes. For Johanna and I, life as we've known it will be forever altered. We are scheduled to be at St. David's Hospital at 6 am on Monday to induce baby Hayden. He just seems to be so happy where he's at right now, the doc says he needs a little encouragement to come on out. We've been told life will be different. We've been told it will all change. And while we know it (in our heads, rationally at least), I know experiencing it will be something else entirely. So while we go through this incredible change, which is in each and every way nothing less than a complete blessing and miracle from God, we'd love to have you pray for us. I believe in prayer big time. I've seen it work. So while we're heading into this next phase of life, we covet your prayers.
  • Pray for Johanna's health and for labor and delivery tomorrow.
  • Pray for Hayden's health.
  • Pray for us as parents - that our actions, words, decisions, and lives would reflect to our son a God who is madly in love with him.
  • Pray for Hayden. Not just that he's healthy and everything goes well for him, but that he would grow up with a passion for His Savior Jesus and for those people in his world that might be far from God. Pray that he becomes a mighty man of God used to reach those who've not yet heard of God's love.
  • Pray for me. I want my son to be able to say his earthly father modeled for him and showed him the love of his heavenly Father. My parents gave that gift to me. I want to be able to live in such a way that I pass it on.


Making Porn Part of The Past...

Yesterday at The Connection Church, our lead pastor Cole Phillips continued our series The Ultimate Fighter: Beating Men's Toughest Battles by talking about The Eye Gouge. You can watch his message here. Basically, Cole talked about sexual temptation and how it can destroy men, families, marriages, and more. He was upfront and honest about the temptations men face and he spent a good bit of his message talking about the "elephant in the room of every church": Pornography. Most churches, for reasons I don't understand, rarely address these topics. But statistics show us that most men, churched or not, struggle in the area of dealing with pornography. Here are a couple tips to follow up Pastor Cole's sermon on some practical ways you can win the battle against an addiction to pornography.
  1. First of all, you need to GET HONEST. Find someone who you trust and with whom you can be 100% honest and share your addiction and struggles with them. So many times men live in unnecessary guilt and shame in this area because they are afraid to get honest. When you get honest about your struggles you do two things: First, you can begin to learn from people who have been there and might have previously gone through the same struggles you are now facing. Second, you realize that there are a lot more people out there who've fought similiar battles and you are not alone in your struggles.
  2. Second, you need to GET ACCOUNTABILITY. Once you've got a person you can be honest, open, and accountable with, you need to get some real online accountability. There are tons of sites that are great at providing online accountability or filtering for you in your struggle with pornography. Filter sites block certain objectionable material and allow someone to place a password on your computer to block these things. Most accountability sites take a record of any questionable websites you visit on your computer and send that list out to your accountability partners, via email, on a regular basis. These sites provide you with real, 24 hour accountability because you know that whatever you see online will be seen by others who are helping you through this struggle. The best website, hands down, for any online accountability, or anything dealing with porn addiction or sex addiction is XXXchurch.com. In fact, if you struggle with pornography, I encourage you to go to their site RIGHT NOW and click on the "Get Help" button.
  3. Third, you may need to GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. For many men who've become addicted to porn, finding accountability through a trusted friend and through online filters or accountability websites just simply isn't enough. The addiction to pornography is real and can, like any other addiction, begin to control one's live to the point where trained, professional counseling is needed in order to beat this battle. If that's the case, find a Christian counselor in your area or call a local church in your area for a recommendation on counseling services. Whatever you do, don't let the addiction win. Get the help you need to beat this battle!

Here are some resources you can check out for fighting the battle against pornography and sexual temptation. Check these out for more help. Just click the title and it will take you right to the resource listed.


SafeEyes Internet Filtering

Central Texas Sex Addiction Ministry

Every Man's Battle - Books & Resources from Stephen Arterburn

Questions You Can't Ask Your Mama About Sex by Craig Gross & Mike Foster


How He Loves Us...

I am getting pumped up about Beach Bash, our annual summer camp for teenagers on the beaches of Port Aransas, TX. It will be here before we know it. This year Mark McConkey is going to be leading us in worship for the week. I've served alongside Mark in the past and there is a passion that oozes out of his every pore for God to be made famous and for people to connect with Him. You can check out Mark's music here. And in the meantime, I thought I'd share Mark's version of a song that I am absolutely lovin' right now. It's called How He Loves Us.


The Weekend Update...

Here's a recap of the whirlwind that was Easter weekend. Check it out:
  • My parents came in on Friday and spent the weekend with us. They helped me do some cleaning and organizing before Hayden gets here...it's just too bad they couldn't have stayed longer. I could've kept them busy!
  • TCC's Easter festivities kicked of Friday Night with a Good Friday service. Burgundy Road led worship for the service and it was absolutely incredible.
  • Saturday was The Big Hunt. Over 1700 people showed up to hunt eggs, jump on inflatables, and have an all out blast. It was a great event that showed how absolutely awesome our TCC Volunteers are! Great job everyone!
  • Saturday afternoon and evening, Johanna, myself, and my parents went shopping for baby stuff that we still needed. My parents hooked us up and blessed us big time by purchasing a ton of last minute stuff for us.
  • Sunday was an unbelievable day at The Connection Church. The vibe was incredible as we celebrated the fact that we serve a Savior who is ALIVE. We kicked off our Ultimate Fighter series and Cole knocked it out of the park! We had 835 people show up for church and 29 people made the decision to follow Christ with their lives. UNBELIEVABLE day.
  • I spent some time Sunday afternoon painting furniture for the nursery. I've still got some work to do to finish that up.

What an incredible weekend. Worshipping God. Serving God. Showing God's Love To Others. What a celebration of the fact that He Is Alive.


Tell The World...

Don't want to stand here and shout Your praise
And walk away and forget Your name
I'll stand for you if it's all I do
Cause there is none that compares to You

And all I want in this lifetime is You
And all I want in this whole world is you, is you

Tell the world that Jesus lives
Tell the world that, tell the world that
Tell the world that he died for them
Tell the world that he lives again

No longer I but Christ in me
Cause it's the truth that set me free
How could this world be a better place?
But by thy mercy, by thy grace

And all I want in this lifetime is You
And all I want in this whole world is you, you, you

Tell the world that Jesus lives
Tell the world that, tell the world that
Tell the world that he died for them
Tell the world that he lives again

C'mon, c'mon we'll tell the world about You
Tell the world that Jesus lives
Tell the world that, tell the world that
Tell the world that he died for them
Tell the world that he lives again

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!
Luke 24:1-6



Easter Reflection #1...

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,

yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:2-6


Pick The Date...

Johanna and I have decided to have a little fun with everyone who's been trying to guess when Hayden Russell will show up. And we've decided to make it fun that pays off too. It's this simple: Leave a comment on this blog with your guess as to the date and time of day that our son, Hayden Russell, will be born. The person closest to the exact time and date wins a Starbucks gift card. Just so everyone's on the same page, the actual due date estimated by our doctor is April 20th. Let the games begin. Comment away!

BIG Weekend @ TCC...

We've got a BIG weekend coming up this weekend at The Connection Church. And when I say big, I mean enormous, huge, massive, gigantic...well, you get the point. And all the fun starts Friday. Here's what's going on and how YOU can be involved!
  • FRIDAY - We are having our first ever Good Friday Service at 7:00 PM at Tobias Elementary School. This service will be a time of intimate worship, praise, and celebrating Communion as we allow God to prepare us for what He wants to do in and through us during Easter weekend. Burgundy Road will be leading our worship time. How can YOU be involved? Show up and allow God's presence to fill you for the weekend ahead!
  • SATURDAY is The Big Hunt. We'll have two HUGE Easter egg hunts with THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of eggs, pictures with the Easter Bunny, a live band, inflatable games, puppet shows and race cars on display. All the action takes place from 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle. How can YOU be involved? If you regularly attend TCC, then be sure you find a place to serve during the Big Hunt. We need you on the team! If you live in the Hays area and don't regularly attend TCC, please come be our guests at The Big Hunt and have a blast with your entire family. And don't forget...it's all free!
  • SUNDAY - We will be having two Easter Celebration Services at The PAC at 9:00 AM and 10:30 AM. We will be kicking off our new series The Ultimate Fighter and this will be a day at TCC that you won't want to miss. Come celebrate the Easter season and the resurrection of Christ with us as we examine what it means to be a real man by looking at the life of Jesus, the one who conquered death and is the living King of Kings! How can YOU be involved? If you don't normally attend a church, please be our guest on Easter Sunday. It would be such an honor to have you join us on this special day. If you normally attend TCC, you can help by doing three things. First of all, don't come alone. Bring your friends and neighbors with you and let's pack the PAC! Second of all, consider attending the early service to make more room for our guests at 10:30. Third, find a place to serve. We want our guests to feel valued and at home as they experience TCC and we need all of you serving to make that happen!

Like I said, this weekend is BIG for The Connection Church. If you are a part of the TCC family, know that we can't do this alone! Spend time this week and this weekend asking God to use our efforts to change lives and do what only He can do - draw people to Himself!


Impact Weekend - It Took A Team...

This past weekend was our first ever IMPACT weekend here in TCC Student Ministries. And to be honest, the weekend was rockin’! We had almost forty students come together for a weekend of growing in their faith and growing in the friendships and we all had a blast!

But, like all things at TCC, it wouldn’t have been possible without the team. It took tons of people to pull this weekend off! Bryan and Jamie Moore were jacks-of-all-trades all weekend long, doing TONS of stuff to serve our students and God like crazy (and like they always do in our Connexion Students ministry)! The Ojedas, the Geigers, and the Barnes all opened their homes to large groups of crazy students…the weekend would not have happened with those host homes! Rico Ojeda even taught his group’s sessions – that’s whole nutha’ level! Our group leaders, Jordan, Jenna, and Kaylen all gave up a weekend of their lives to come and pour into our students…for free…and they rocked it! Amy DeFillipi helped drive students all over town all weekend and the Smith family donated their big blue van to the TCC student ministry cause once again. And my incredible, lovely, 38 ½ week pregnant wife hosted the High School girls' group in our home and hung out with them all weekend long. Seriously babe…that is amazing. To top it off, almost forty students spent a weekend learning what it means to love God and love people and lives were changed. And that’s what it is all about.

No one person can pull a weekend like this off on their own. It’s too much. It becomes too hectic. And it’s too important to do half-heartedly. So thanks for a great weekend team. YOU made it happen!


Just Checking In...

It's been a while since I've posted and especially since I've posted with any regularity. I guess I'm in a blogger-funk right now...but hopefully I'm on the way out. Just wanted to post a quick update on life while I'm sitting in the office waiting for all of our Impact leaders to show up. Here's what's going on in our world:
  • This weekend in our Impact Weekend for our students at The Connection Church. Impact is sort of like a Disciple Now and our students will spend the weekend growing in their faith and their friendships. We're pumped about the opportunity for live change this weekend as student come face to face with the love of Jesus.
  • Next weekend is another crazy-busy weekend at TCC. We have our Good Friday Service on Friday, the Big Hunt on Saturday, and our Easter Services on Sunday. By the way, if you live in the Kyle/Buda area, you don't want to miss out on any of it, so come check it out!
  • During the midst of all of the craziness that has been our lives lately, Johanna and I are trying to do everything we can to get ready for Hayden's arrival. We are pumped. We are excited. We are overjoyed. And we are a little nervous too, to be honest. And to say there aren't enough hours in our days to get everything ready would be the understatement of the year.
  • For the last month, we have had some kind of event or something every night on Sunday through Wednesday. Dang.
  • I'm also in the midst of planning the 5th annual Beach Bash Youth Camp at Port Aransas, TX. I am super excited about the churches we have lined up to participate this year and I think this will be the best Beach Bash yet. Our tagline for Beach Bash is, "The most incredible week of your summer." It takes a lot of work to make that happen!
  • Did I say I am pumped that my son Hayden Russell Burleson is about to be born? April 20th!
  • We had two showers - one in my hometown of Gorman and one is Kyle - and Johanna and I were BLOWN AWAY by the generosity, kindness, and goodness of our family and friends. We're loaded down with so much baby stuff...I don't even know what half of it does or is for!
  • We got lots of diapers at the baby shower...hoping Johanna gets to use those more than me!
  • If the due date was guessed correctly, my son will be born two weeks from Monday. WOW.
  • Our leaders should be arriving shortly for our orientation for the weekend...they're all already late, but I guess that's all for now.