Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Walk Down Memory Lane

This is the last day of my Study Break. I've spent the last week at my parents' place in Royse City, TX, with the exception of the wekeend spent in Austin. I blogged about that in my last post.

Today, after dropping Dad off at work (Wal-Mart), I enjoyed a "Boots" Burger, downright best and most homemade tasting burger ever. And yes, for us Californians, even better than In 'N Out!!

"Boots Burgers" is literally run out of a backyard shed in the middle of a neighborhood right off the town square in Rockwall, and has been in operation since 1968. The fun part of this town is that when you're in the square, you literally get the feeling that Andy Griffith and Barney Fife are going to walk up to you at any time!

I had the burger on the way to lunch with a friend. "Boots" is only open Tuesday - Saturday until 1:00 pm (or until they run out of burgers, which are never frozen, always fresh), so it was my only chance to get one this week. For lunch with my friend, it was salad only!

After lunch, I traveled to Heath Baptist Church, where my family attended when I was saved in 1979. The Sunday School building was open and I got to walk the halls that seemed so much bigger when I was a kid. Wonderful memories flooded my heart and mind.

It's a traditional Baptist Church in Texas, meaning it also has a cemetery alongside it. My oldest nephew, who lived for only one day in 1981 and has the same name as my oldest son, is buried there. I visited his grave and thought much about the memory of his dad, my oldest brother, Leroy, who passed away in 1994.

After that, I drove a couple miles down the road and saw the houses our family lived in back in those days. It was quite nostalgic, and fun to do again.

Tonight, I'll head home, and I'm looking forward to that! I miss Colleen and the boys. But it's been a good week in every respect. I'm thankful for how the Lord meets us when we set aside time for Him. I'm thankful for how He uses people in our lives, and that He uses us in theirs. I'm thankful for a good spiritual heritage my parents allowed for, and for the time I got to spend with them.

Finally, I am excited about what the Lord has ahead of NewHeart. We are in exciting and challenging days! See you at home!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

An Awesome Weekend

What a joy it was to be with Mike Barker and Eric Mejia last Sunday. Mike & Eric are former Youth Pastors at NewHeart who are planting a church in Cedar Park, TX, just north of Austin. The church is called City Life Community.

I drove in on Saturday to complete plans to lead worship and speak at City Life on Sunday morning. We had a great time together at dinner, retiring for the evening at the Barker's house with their three kids: Cole, Lauren and Emma. They were a blast to be with! Lauren stole her big brother's starter guitar and played along with me as I put the worship list together.

Sunday morning was overwhelming for me. Just to watch what the Lord is doing through these guys was awesome. They've been meeting at Cedar Park Middle School since September and the church has about doubled in that time to an average attendance of 60. HALF of their church are kids 5 years old and under!

It was a real treat to lead worship, speak, and spend time with the "saints" and the "seekers" of City Life. The Lord is doing a GOOD thing in Cedar Park, Texas, and we at NewHeart have a small hand in it! Exciting!

Sunday afternoon, the church was invited and many responded, to the Barker's for Super Bowl in their garage with several comfortable chairs and a giant 9 foot screen. Yeah Steelers!

Monday, I traveled with the Barker's to San Antonio, where Stacey Barker's father, Dan Hicks, planted The Church at Stone Oak almost 10 years ago. Dan has spoken at our church in the past and we have a good acquaintance. It was good to be with him and see the new building they completed two years ago.

After dinner at the Mejia's, with their two kids, Abram and Grace, and the Barker clan, I headed out for my parents place, arriving late last night.

I heard your weekend at NewHeart was wonderful and that Wendy Cox did a marvelous job opening God's Word to you. I knew she would!

I'll blog more later ....

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Great State of Texas

Well, I'm here. In the great state of Texas, on my first Study Break of 2006. I arrived around 1:05 this afternoon, after a slight delay in taking off from LAX that was actually quite funny.

As we were rolling out to the runway, a flight attendant asked a lady a few rows behind me to turn off her cell phone. This was apparently her 3rd request, and the passenger was not cooperating.

Her argument was that she had a Nextel cell phone that has an "airplane" setting that would allow her to keep the phone turned on while not being any potential disturbance to the plane's navigational equipment. The flight attendant politely stated that the setting didn't matter, she would need to turn the phone off.

At this, the passenger became embarrassingly beligerent and refused to turn the phone off! When the flight attendant warned she would have to call the Captain if she didn't get cooperation, the passenger declared, "Go right ahead!"

I kept thinking, "I am NOT hearing this. I am still asleep waiting for my alarm to go off. This is both embarrassing for her and hilarious to the rest of us."

Sure enough, as we're waiting to take off, the Captain comes back to talk to the lady, who repeats her conversation regarding the phone, urging the Captain to "call Nextel and take it up with them!" Still no cooperation. The Captain warned her that if she didn't comply, he would have her removed from the airplane. Digging her heels in, she exclaimed, "Go right ahead!"

I don't think she believed he would do it. A few minutes after returning to the cockpit, he expalined on the intercom that we would have to return to the terminal to deal with a problem passenger. She let loose with a few choice words as the plane turned around!

Anyway, that was the excitement of the day! Flight was smooth and time with Mom and my sister Patty and her husband Gary was rich.

For any wondering, this is not a week of vacation for me, though it is a good time to kill two birds with one stone. Since my parents' place is a restful one, it's a good place to take one of the Study Breaks that I build into my calendar. I'll spend the next few days resting, reading, praying, writing, working out. It's a good and regular time to get away from the everyday and seek the Lord for where we're headed next and how we'll get there.

Additionally, though I try to not do much ministry activity during these breaks, I am speaking this weekend in Austin (about 6 hours drive south of here) at City Life Community, the church that our former Youth Pastors, Mike Barker and Eric Mejia, have planted. That will be a real blast!

I'll try to keep blogging as the week progresses, so check back with me soon!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality ... Now What?

Since September, we've been actively exploring the issue of "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality". Our premise has been that you cannot separate your emotional health from your spiritual maturity.

Experience tells us that when we do, we end up emotionally dwarfed, thinking we are spiritually mature. In reality, we may have lots of Bible knowledge and even have obtained some good Bible study skills or spiritual disciplines. Unfortunately, these things alone do not lead to a well-balanced spiritual maturity.

This teaching series was inspired and drawn from my own life's journey through the pain of burnout and back again. Both of those venues, the series AND my journey, were greatly aided by the book of similar title, The Emotionally Healthy Church, by Pete Scazzero. Pete is Pastor of New Life Fellowship in Queens, New York.

Pete and his wife, Geri, planted New Life in 1987. Somewhere around 1995, Pete found himself burned out and Geri having decided to leave the church due to his lack of leadership and ability to confront and deal more healthily with people. A crossroads to say the least.

Where the Lord led Pete and Geri was a journey that brought Pete to this place of discovering what he calls "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality". When I came across his book almost three years ago now, it triggered some pretty deep transformation in my thinking and living.

I mentioned at the start of this teaching series that this set of teachings would not be kind of "come and go" or "just another series." It's not that any series or teaching I bring is viewed that way in my heart. It IS that I believe this issue of walking out a relationship with God, a spiritual life, is to be one that takes our emotional health in hand to see it grown rightly and strongly.

It was five years ago right now that I found myself spent, not knowing which way to turn or where to go - burned out. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did.

I had given and given and given, denying my own need to be refreshed and cared for. Many of you know what that's like because you've been there yourselves. And, like me, you've been trained to just "pull up your boot straps" and move on.

What does it mean that this concept of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality will be more than just another series for us? What does something that is part of our foundation even look like?
Well, for starters, it means we keep interacting with it. We don't allow each other to live without its consideration and implementation into our lives. We look at issues we face in light of it. We refuse to keep denying the emotional part of our lives and how it impacts our spiritual lives.

You will also find it working its way into our decision-making processes when we talk about what, where, when and how of ministries we offer. I think it will especially be relevant to different small group opportunities, where relationships are impacted at a deeper level than most other ministries.

I am extremely excited about what the future holds. You'll be hearing more of that this month. Change is upon us. We are planning to move our Sanctuary to Township Elementary School right after Easter while our current Sanctuary is expanded, our breezeway is enclosed (no more wind tunnel) and handicap-accessible restrooms are added.

It will be a very exciting year at NewHeart. Stay tuned for more, and as you give your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family open and warm invitations to come discover what the love of God is all about, prepare yourself to let your invitation be, "Welcome Home at NewHeart!"