Wednesday, April 29, 2009
So tomorrow, April 30, I will begin 40 days without eating any sugar. Now before any of you super-Christians show me that Matthew 6:16 says I better not let anyone know when I'm fasting, let me tell you why I'm writing this tonight.
I need you help. I need your prayers. I know it's very important for me to do this, but I don't feel incredibly confident in my ability to follow through. So, I'm asking for your prayers tonight. Thanks. I love you guys.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Luke 18:1-8 - One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up. 2 "There was a judge in a certain city," he said, "who was a godless man with great contempt for everyone. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, appealing for justice against someone who had harmed her. 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she wore him out. 'I fear neither God nor man,' he said to himself, 5'but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!' " 6 Then the Lord said, "Learn a lesson from this evil judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don't you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?"
I've been regularly amazed at the insight I've gained into the heart of God by becoming a father myself. It seems that I understand more and more of God's perspective as I deal with my own children. Yesterday, I had a particularly challenging day with my three oldest boys and by the end of the day I was so frustrated with their constant complaining, bickering and asking me for everything under the sun, I just told them to stop asking me for things. As I uttered those words, it occurred to me that I must have stumbled onto another one of those insights into God's heart. The lesson, I reasoned, is that God just wants to be our father and be with us and He must get really aggravated when we ask and ask and ask and complain and ask and complain, etc. You get the picture.
Well, I believe this morning, that is wrong. God is not a man. His love and patience for his kids far exceeds mine and the scripture above teaches the exact opposite lesson that I thought I gleaned last night from my experience as a dad.
Have I learned many good lessons from my own fatherhood? I sure have. But this particular episode reinforces to me how absolutely important and authoritative God's Word is. If I don't know, understand and apply God's Word, my “wisdom” is the most foolish of all thoughts.
I want to be a man of faith, a man after God's own heart. What Saul did probably looked like good leadership back then. However, the best leadership is being faithful to what God has spoken, not taking God's responsibilities and making them mine.
Yesterday, I listened to Jeff Leake's teaching he did at FV's catalyst meeting on March 17, which was the day God called me to go to Tulsa and plant the church, coincidentally. I was so challenged by the whole teaching, but the “moment of truth” was Jeff's statement, “All of us are either working for God or we're asking Him to work for us.” I've been guilty of asking God to work for me way too often. Lord, the only way I can do the things You've called me to do is if I am working for You. I recognize that I'm in way over my head and I'm glad to be, as long as I'm working for You.
By nature, I'm way too much like Saul, but by God's grace, I am becoming much more like David – a man after God's own heart.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
We had our first launch team meeting this evening at our place and it was great. I'm really feeling more and more confident about the things that God is doing and what He is calling us to as a new church. We still have a good number of people who are interested in moving with us to start the church and they are praying it through. I do feel like there are still some more that will decide to join us on this adventure for God. Wow, there's nothing like living a adventurous life for God. I could get hooked on this :)
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Today was probably our most tiring and most productive day yet! We met 2 new friends today who both confirmed the calling we believe God has on us here in Tulsa, OK.
We started the day with our normal planning session at Starbucks, which is another location of our church office now :) - I've included a picture of our "conference table" outside the store.
Next we met Eddie Stephens from Lifechurch.tv's Owasso Campus for lunch and he was so helpful with our questions of culture and style in Tulsa. He was also very encouraging to us and helped us see another level to God's calling us to Tulsa, of all places.
After lunch, we hit the long road (see picture) to Oklahoma City to visit with our AG district office, more specifically Lindell Warren, the district director of Missions and Men's Ministries. He asked a few questions and I shared my story with him and why we feel called to Tulsa and what we feel called to do and he was pretty blown away that a bunch of people would uproot their lives and move across the country. It was a very positive meeting and I found myself (still feeling it) in awe of the Holy Spirit giving us favor and "plowing a path" for this church to launch very successfully next year.
We closed the night out with Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope. It was classic Dave Ramsey - just awesome. I was tweeting quotes all night. I also knocked out 40 emails during the event (loving the smart phone). Well, I guess that is about all for the report on today.
So, this trip is about closed up. I gave the guys (and myself) tomorrow morning off. We did a tremendous amount of work and need a morning off before we travel back to PA. Daniel and Jake could not be better partners in ministry or better friends. I love those men like brothers.
If you are at all interested in seeing if you may fit into God's plan that is developing in Tulsa (and I think many of you may), please make every effort to attend the information meeting I'm holding at my home this Sunday, April 26 @ 6pm. / 87 Elk Drive, Hanover, PA 17331 /If you come, try and bring some food to share with everyone. I'll be sharing, photos, stories, vision and my expectations, should you decide to join our launch team. It's just an info meeting, so coming does not commit you to anything in any way. Hope I see some of you on Sunday.
Thanks for the prayers over the last few days. They have truly moved mountains!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Wednesday night, 11:18pm and we're back in our hotel room. Today was a great day of vision and confirmation. We began the day with some planning and strategy time at Starbucks. (You can see the deep thought on our faces).
Next, we traveled to lovely Catoosa to meet Ricky Van Pay for lunch. One of my prayers at the outset of this trip was that "contacts" would become friends. I believe that happened today with Ricky. He told us his story and we told him ours. God has blessed Ricky. He's been doing weekly services for about 8 weeks and his attendance is solidly over 100 weekly and spiked to 350 on Easter Sunday - in a community of 18,000!
After lunch, we went back down to the River walk area and surveyed some strangers about their take on their community. My quick observations are that Tulsans are frustrated with the condition of their roads, like their schools and don't think much about church. Although one person Jake talked to almost ended the interview when he mentioned church! Only 6 interviews, but interesting that we saw trends develop in so few interviews.
After a working dinner at Mazzio's Pizza and a very sinfully delicious brownie fudge sundae at Braum's it was on to Guts Church. It was interesting. It's unusual for us to get the outsider's perspective on church. We sure got it tonight. You can see from the photo that Guts is a real "in your face" kind of church. Notice their billboard in the background that says "tougher than hell". It definitely connects with a certain group. We decided we're not in that group :)
After Guts, some debriefing time at Starbucks and then a trip downtown, followed by some great conversation at the River again. Today it began to dawn on us just what God has in store. Although I don't see the whole picture, what I do see is wonderful and exciting.
Tulsa feels like home and I feel humbled and honored to be part of the plan God has here.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
It's very late, but I need to report that we made great progress on our strategy this evening. We worked at a wonderful place called Riverwalk, which is now our new church office. Tomorrow is a morning of more prayer and strategy, then on to lunch with Ricky Van Pay. After lunch we will return back to Riverwalk for some interviews with people we meet and some more prayer and planning. I believe we will top the day off with visiting Guts Church. Yes, that's really what it's called. Jordan Kelly told us it's a great place and I'm looking forward to it.
Thank you so much for your prayers. I can feel that God is directing us into a new level of clarity; exactly what we've been asking for.
By the way, did I mention that Daniel and Jake are the best guys in the world!
It's 4:36pm CST and we're pretty wiped from a day of prayer, fasting and exploration of a new city God has called us to. We explored three main parts of the city: south central Tulsa, Broken Arrow and the south hills/riverside area. I was thinking that these three would be three very distinct communities, but it doesn't feel that way after our day checking out all three. This is a good thing in the development of our vision.
We connected with Jordan Kelly, an old friend and current student at Rhema Bible Training Center. He is very excited about working on our launch team. We also found a very interesting pick up that Jake is considering buying (see picture).
We are inching closer and closer to a name for this new church, but we're not ready to let he cat out of the bag yet. After we rest for a little longer, we'll find some dinner and get to work on some boot camp pre-work and a strategy session. Enjoy the pictures. Daniel is our photographer and is doing a great job!
April 21, 2009
Wow, we're in Tulsa! The photos I added are (1) our first church office (hotel room), (2) the morning sky outside our hotel, (3) the aerial view of Tulsa as we flew in. The skyline is way in the distance.
I read this scripture this morning and I know it was not written to us in our situation or time, but it still is a cool parallel to what we're walking into.
Ruth 2:11-12 -I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully."
We're in our humble hotel room this morning getting ready for a day of seeking the Lord. Our objectives for the next few days are threefold:
Direction on a location (which part of the city will we target?)
Networking (meeting key people who will become key friends)
Strategy (who will we reach and how will we do it?)
Today, our schedule is filled with prayer, fasting, planning and some interviews with local Tulsans. My prayer today for our team is that we would have clear spiritual eyes for both vision and opportunities. We don't want to just plan on this trip, we want somebody to get saved this week through our work too!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Rambling of a man who got about 1 hour of sleep last night over.