Thursday, December 17, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Even though we may feel He is distant at times of difficulty in our life, He is not. Jesus says, "I will be with you always even until the end of the age."
What many of us need to realize is that there is a real enemy out to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) Sometimes, when we are "attacked" by our enemy our natural response is to blame God. As believers, we know that all things happen for the good for those that love Christ Jesus and are called to His purposes. In fact, in the "dark times" are periods in our life, however painful, that we can grow the most if we continue to trust God and search for Him.
Read and believe Isaiah 43:1-2 and let that encourage you if you are going through a difficult season in your life.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Looking forward to another year of God's amazing grace and the power of the Holy Spirit expressed through His people planted in His house.
Thank you all so much for what you are doing. Never underestimate the impact we can have for the Kingdom when we unite together for the cause of Christ.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Most of the activities our children are involved in require the parents to be in the audience or in the stands, away from their children, participating in a passive way. One of the great things about ministry is that you can "do ministry" together. Side by side, whether in the community or in the mission field we have the joy and privilege of serving alongside each other as a family.
No titles, no superiority, just brothers and sisters in Christ reaching a hurting world with Jesus-style compassion. I'm not too worried about what people may think; rather enjoying each precious moment with my family serving a loving God!
Monday, July 6, 2009
1967 was known as the "Summer of Love". (My parent's must have gotten a head start.) The best selling albums were Jim Morrison's "The Doors" and The Beatle's "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band". Wow...do I feel old. LOL
I have seen so much in my life, not the least of which going from Albums to nano-pods and typewriters to laptops; but my biggest headline was when I decided to go "All in" for Jesus Christ about eight years ago at the altar inside Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge.
So much has happened since then, we are now a wonderful family of five, shepherding a new church plant in El Paso, Texas and two new churches in Juarez, Mexico.
With God's favor, a lot of sacrifice, and difficult days...we are truly living the Dream!-Thanks God...
Thursday, June 25, 2009
We were able to pray for dozens at the altar call and to finish the evening off, we fed about 350 people good ol' American hotdogs and chips. Advancing the Kingdom is as easy as meeting the need and sharing the story of Christ with people that are hungry!
Friday, June 5, 2009
This beautiful girl represents hope in a land of hopelessness. We loved on each other, but she marked me for life. It is for this girl that we strive to run the race marked out for us.
So many opportunities to help bring the message of hope to a country that is reeling in hopelessness.
Swaziland is one of the most hurting countries in all of the world. They have lost 1/3 of the population of the entire country in the last five years due to HIV Aids.
Almost 1 person out of every two is infected with the virus. Leaving a country full of orphans with little hope of survival.
God cares for the poor and brokenhearted and uses us to reach them with the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. We can truly make a difference for The Kingdom as we live out the mission of Healing Place Church, "to be a healing place for a hurting world".
Saturday, May 30, 2009
We have been able to minister to and train pastors at our first Go Global African Leadership Conference at HPC Swaziland. We have served and spent time with the children and volunteers at many Children's Cup care points. (10,000 orphans are fed, medically treated, discipled, and have their education paid for due to a partnership with HPC/Children's Cup/other great ARC churches like Household of Faith, Celebration JAX., and Life Church of Memphis.)
I have spent time with some incredible missionaries that have left "everything" behind and committed their lives to caring for these children and serving at HPC, Swaziland. I look forward to continuing serving alongside Ben and Susan, Lad and Crystal, and Mark and Kay! I have much love for you all!
I have been left with a sense of awe and heartache all at the same time. I look forward to bringing a team from HPC El Paso as soon as God permits.
Friday, May 22, 2009
We are in Africa because we are a healing place for a hurting world and Swaziland is hurting. Life expectancy in Swaziland is lower than any other place in the world, 29.9 years. This country also has the highest HIV rate of any place in the world, 42.7% of the people in the country are infected with the virus. This terrible disease has left a country full of orphans...We are there because that's where Jesus would be.
Healing Place Church helped to provide 2.6 million meals to orphans in Swaziland in 2008 through a ministry called Children's Cup. We also care for 28,000 orphans a day in Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. When you give your tithes to HPC El Paso this is just one of things we do to accomplish our mission of being "a healing place for a hurting world". There is a lot of hurting in this world, but God is doing great things through His church!
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus has always had a heart for hurting people. This why we seek out and minister to His people with Jesus-style compassion. He said to Go into the nations and that is why we cross borders. Our God is great and His mercy endures forever and He is with us to the very end of the age!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Esther and I have been a part of a marriage life group for almost seven years now. So many great couples really committed to going ALL THE WAY in marriage. We share our struggles, challenges, and good times in our marriage. Our marriage is better and stronger than ever because we are a part of our HPC Life Group. We don't lead it, we just enjoy it! We honor our spouses with our intentionality and commitment to doing what it takes to have a successful marriage. Thanks God for so many amazing couples committed to honoring You through their marriage.
Monday, May 4, 2009
As a church, we have been blessed with so many great leaders and I am looking forward to seeing them unleashed along the path to our destiny. The Bible says, that without vision the people perish, but with a God-given vision the people flourish!
There are so many hurting people in our communities. Together, we can and will reach the world by serving one!
Thursday, April 30, 2009
We just got back from the ARC Conference today. ARC is a group of church planters that plant churches around the country. So far, we have planted 104 successful churches that have given 8.5 million dollars to world missions just last year!
ARC churches are churches that plant other churches. We give part of our overall budget to do just that. Even though we are a new church, HPC El Paso has given about $10,000 that has helped to plant 30 new churches in the last three months. Talk about return on your investment! 30 cities and thousands of people being reached by the love of Christ!
ARC was my first ministry job. Brother Billy Hornsby, President of ARC, gave me an opportunity to work to help these amazing couples plant churches. I will always be appreciative to Billy for taking a chance and letting me live the dream!
At ARC conferences, we learn a lot, connect a lot, and hear and tell the stories...incredible stories of what God is doing around the country. I respect and admire these couples so much! ARC is a kind of fraternity, if you will, of people advancing the Kingdom through the local church.
Everyone at ARC has gone "all in" which means, making great personal sacrifices, going through pain and betrayal, and staying up late crying out to God for a city of hurting people; all the while living the dream that God has called them to: to reach a lost and hurting world with the simple message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The people at this conference are more ALIVE than anyone I know. I believe it is because God goes "all in" for the people that go "all in" for Him. Praise be to God!
You don't have to be a pastor or even in ministry, as a vocation, to go "all in". However, God wants ALL of you to love ALL of Him. When you do that, your heart for people will grow and you will never be the same. Moreover, you will not be able to let your life slip by, even another day, without doing something significant for HIM and OTHERS.
"Whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
I pray that you begin to let go and lose your life for the sake and the cause of Christ. For in Him are all things and in Him is a life beyond our dreams. A life of sacrifice and pain to be sure, but a life of vigor, passion, and meaning beyond your comprehension. Go for LIFE in Jesus Christ. It is the only way to truly live. Seize your destiny today, by going "all in" for Him.
Monday, April 27, 2009
God is moving so greatly through HPC El Paso. I am honored to serve the people of HPC and our great communities of El Paso and Juarez. Yesterday, I was able to preach in an authentic mexican Lucha Libre ring. (Like Jack Black in Nacho Libre. I have been told I look a little like Jack Black, lol)
Pastor Carlos has launched his new campus in downtown Juarez. He and his wife Emma are such a blessing to the Kingdom. I was fortunate to be able to spend the day with my brothers and sisters across the border.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Contact the church for more information.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Remember, your kindness can be someone else's miracle!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Healing Place Church is advancing The Kingdom in our great community. It is great to see God move in such a mighty way in El Paso and Juarez.
A dream comes to pass with much business and painful effort.
A dream that was planted in the heart of a man 7 years ago is beginning to come to pass. Through much business and painful effort by the HPC El Paso team, combined with the prayers and relationships of so many others--a community is being changed...one person at a time. We truly are "a healing place for a hurting world"!
Esther and I are honored to serve you and we are grateful to be living the dream with so many incredible people! We love you!!
These are some pictures from last night's Bar outreach and today's Mexico outreach and hospital outreach
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
"I know that it pushed me out of my own comfort zone to serve others in this manner, but I will tell you that while serving in this manner I feel we all truly were able to live out Mark 10:45 - "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve..." Dr Jason Johnson
These next 7 days are going to be amazing! God is good.
Again call the church and leave a message if you have any questions! 915-833-3333
Thursday, April 2, 2009
We are so blessed to serve a chruch with a group of people who love to serve others!
Buck and Esther
Thursday, February 26, 2009
1 Corinthians 1:21-25The Jews of the time demanded a sign that Jesus was who he said he was. The Greeks needed to reason out what he was all about. What did Jesus do? He offered neither a sign nor reason to unbelievers. He offered salvation for those who believed. Today is no different. Christians have been labeled "anti-science" and portrayed as brainwashed buffoons in the news and popular culture. Yet we are still here. We still endure. There are still those who believe in spite of how unpopular it might make them. God's promises still ring true.
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Matthew 16:18So take heart, stand strong and never be ashamed of the Gospel. God is on the move. Let's go with him. Even his weaknesses are stronger than we can imagine. The gates of hell cannot defeat us, the Church of Christ.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Most of us will immediately think of things like getting something we wanted or being content with life, but if I think hard enough, the most joyful people I know struggle more than anyone. Having what we'd like doesn't cut it. Neither does accepting our circumstances. No, it's something deeper.
I traveled to India last year. A team from Healing Place teamed up with Joyce Meyer Ministries. We had an incredible time, but of all the sights, smells and sounds one has stuck with me more than anything. We visited a feeding center full of dirty little kids living in the worst sorts of poverty. They were excited to sing songs and tell us the few English words they had learned. And there was one girl that radiated a youthful glow of happiness. I couldn't help but being taken aback by it. Here she was in this slum, and she couldn't stop smiling. When I got back to the hotel, I still saw that smile. It almost haunted me. Maybe it was because I couldn't figure out why she was so happy. Maybe I was feeling shame for not being happy with what God had given me. Either way, it changed me.
Joy isn't dictated by what we either have or don't. Our only true joy is a gift from God. The more we trust him, the more joy he is willing to lavish upon us. The more joy we share with others, the more God will give back to us.
8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Monday, February 16, 2009
One of our core values is "Reach". We believe in reaching outside the walls of the church and touching people right where they are.
A man with leprosy came to Him and begged him on his knees. "If you are willing you can make me clean." Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing.", he said, "Be clean!"
You would think that Jesus would have healed him first and then touched him. Jesus knew that this man was an outcast and hadn't been touched, even by his family, maybe in years. This man would have to shout, "Unclean, Unclean" on rare occassions when he went to town from his isolation. People would scatter, stare, and shudder. Jesus, filled with compassion, reached out his hand and touched the man.
There are many people with leprosy in El Paso. They are known as prostitutes, drug addicts, convicts, homosexuals, homeless, adulterers, pornograhy addicts, strippers, the sick, the poor, illegal aliens, widows, and even single moms. People that most people avoid for fear of catching their "disease".
These are the people we are called to touch. We are called Healing Place Church because we are "a healing place for a hurting world". We seek out, find, and minister to these people because they are the very people that Jesus came and died for. Let us not be known for our videos, guitars, or pastor...let us be known for being a church that is "filled with compassion" and does something about it.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Day 30: Love Him
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied with this. Love God, and the second was love your neighbor as yourself.
So, as we close out this 30 days of prayer and fasting, meditate on this word. We don't love God or others because of our goodness. We love because we were loved first by a boundless and infinite saviour.
Let's end with this simple truth. Love God. Love others, and you won't be disappointed.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Our God is very different than gods that were created by man. Instead of having to try and please a god to receive favor for rain, or harvest etc. Our God wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to serve us and love us. His story is a love story, many times of unrequited love, but still He pursues us to this day.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
Prayer Focus: Pray that you begin to understand the depths of His love and that you begin to love Him for who He is, your loving Father in Heaven.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
God's eternal perspective is so much different than ours. He sees things we do not see. Although our questions are valid, God's purposes and plans are so much bigger than our own. We need to continue to "walk in faith and not by sight" even in the most difficult of times. One day we will have a different perspective than we have today. When that day comes we will rejoice in the righteousness and wisdom of our God.
Prayer Focus: Pray that we can walk in faith through the most difficult of times. Also pray for members of our extended church family who need your prayers today-Celia Calvillo, Phil Heick, and Cheryl Young.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
We should wake up every morning shaking off any negativity, all the naysayers’ voices and all the doubt - and instead start each day with the decision to believe God and simply take Him at His word. And we should be obedient to that word. It’s easy to look at negative signs and get depressed. But our confidence is in God, and we look forward knowing who we are in Christ. Because of that, we can expect the best.
The beginning of Joshua 1 gives us some great thoughts along these lines. Check out verse 9 in particular:
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
As Kingdom Builders, we can believe that our lives have a legacy, that we are changing the world, that we’re doing something that matters, that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Because we guard our hearts and deliberately put our confidence in God, we are able to dream, hope, expect joyfully despite the issues around us. Now is the time to be courageous, to realize that God is in control and is with us. Ask Him today what He wants you to commit, then obey Him with confidence and great expectancy.-Pastor Dino Rizzo
Prayer Focus: Pray that we can truly leave a legacy in El Paso/Juarez and beyond
Monday, January 26, 2009
One of the raddest characters in the Bible would have to be Elijah. He was a prophet of God. These were the men that spoke for God to the people by divine inspiration. Probably the craziest story about Elijah was when he faced off with 850 pagan prophets on top of Mount Carmel.
He presented a challenge for them and the people of Israel.
Elijah told the pagan prophets to call down fire from heaven to burn up a sacrifice. After hurling some unique insults at their powerless gods, he prayed and the true God sent down fire that even burned up the rocks of the altar he had built. Then the people knew that Elijah's God was real and chose to listen to him.
1 Kings 18:20-21
20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him."
But the people said nothing.
Isn't that a sad story? They had to wait for God to send fire down from heaven before they would actually believe. Jesus had a similar group to deal with.
Matthew 12:38-40"But the people said nothing." Those words are unsettling. I would hate to think that given that chance I would make the same mistake. Yet sometimes, I too demand a sign before acting on what I know is right. My hope is that we as Christians make our minds up now whom we will follow. Let's not wait for angels to tell us what to do. Jesus already gave us the sign of Jonah. He died and three days later rose again. Let's believe that is true. Let's share that with others. Let's decide to follow Him with our whole hearts.
38Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you." 39He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
9And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.
We can never forget that God sees our pain and hears our cries. God's people were being oppressed in Egypt, and from their point of view, I'm sure it almost seemed like God had forgotten all about them. If you read ahead though, God sent his servant Moses to free his people from the bondage of slavery.
Be encourage that God still answers prayer, and He still moves on behalf of his people. So, don't give up in the face of insurmountable odds. Keep crying out to him.
Prayer Focus: Keep going to God with your petitions and believe that He will answer your prayers.
Friday, January 23, 2009
2 Chronicles 20:1-5 says “Moab, Ammon, and some of the Meunites came to make war against Jehoshaphat.” Upon hearing what he was about to potentially face, Jehoshaphat became alarmed. He was moved by the news of a war. Jehoshaphat found inspiration to move toward God because he needed God to fight this battle. He faced a time and a situation where he felt small, weak, and inadequate, but Jehoshaphat would overcome by the following principles:
1. Jehoshaphat Overcame by Making God a Priority.
He turned his attention to seek the Lord. Like a laser beam, Jehoshaphat became focused on God. Every situation in life can cause us to refocus on Christ in a new and fresh way. In our twenty one days of prayer and fasting, hopefully you have come to know Christ better and deeper than ever before.
2. Jehoshaphat Overcame by Making Fasting a Priority. (2 Chronicles 20:3)
He disciplined his life to seek God by detaching himself from everything that would preoccupy him from what was really important.
Nothing makes us focused like fasting. Fasting for me has always caused me to see how strong the world’s pull and food really is. It’s amazing how preoccupied we are about our next meal and when we’re going to eat it. Fasting has always caused me to trust God more for strength and energy. In God, we are never stronger than when we are weak. I believe fasting signals to God that we are serious about His involvement in our lives.
3. Jehoshaphat Overcame by Fasting and Praying with Other Believers.
2 Chronicles 20:4 says, “Judah gathered together to seek help from the Lord; they even came from all the cities of Judah.”
How pleased the Lord had to be, and how pleased He is to see hundreds of cities and churches gather together like Judah for twenty one days of fasting and prayer. Jesus said where two or more are gathered, He is in the midst of them, and I believe God has been in the middle of this fast. He may be more pleased about our coming together than He is our fasting.
As we come to the end of these twenty one days, I pray the same peace that came upon Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:30) would come upon us all as we continue to seek God together.
God is moving and will continue to move as we pray and fast.-Pastor Joe Champion
"Come close to God, and He will come close to you."
"God opposes the proud but favors the humble. So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor."
When we truly and deeply repent for not coming close to God because of our focus on our own world rather than His, in this state of humility, we can approach the throne and He will lift us up in honor.
Prayer Focus: Ask forgiveness of the things you have done that break the heart of God and pray that you can come closer to Him and that He will come closer to you.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Our God is referred to as "Father" over and over in the scriptures. Some of us may not like the comparison quite frankly. The concept of a wonderful and gracious father may be completely foreign to anyone who has had a strained relationship with their earthly dad. Yet God thought it was important to reveal himself as a heavenly patriarch watching out for his kids.
Here in the scriptures Jesus implores his followers to simply ask, seek and knock. When we turn away from prideful arrogance and humble ourselves before God, He answers our cries. The answer may not be what we expected, but just like a loving Father, he will answer without fail.
With that said, you still have to ask. Such is the importance of prayer. Present God with your needs. Leave them at His feet.
And then, don't forget the "do to others" part. If God supplies your needs, how much should you give back to others?
Prayer Focus: Ask God to supply your needs and to show you ways you can supply others' needs as well.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
In case you haven't figured it out yet, the Bible is a book full of failures. The Bible never fails to show us the true humanity of the figures we've grown to hold in high esteem. Whether it be Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Peter, Thomas, Paul or any number of characters, they all were completely fallible and failed often. Yet despite all of their faults, God still found a way to use them.
One of my favorites is the story of Jacob. He's seen as one of the three Patriarchs of our faith (Abraham & Isaac are the others), but let's look at his early life. He cheats his brother out of his birthright, lies to his father to get the blessing of the first-born and runs away in fear for his life. That's not the best start one can make. Still, he made a decision to follow God and listen to his words, and for this faith he was blessed to be the father of a great nation. It's not how you begin, but how you finish.
If we look at another person from the Bible, David, we'll see the opposite of Jacob's story. He started out with things going for him. He kills a giant and becomes famous, and even though he has hard times he always does the right thing. It isn't until he was king for a while that he committed the sins of adultery and murder. He paid the price for his sin the rest of his life. When we look back on his life, it becomes a cautionary tale. Again, it's not how you begin, but how you finish.
Perhaps you've had a rocky start in life. Maybe you are living for only yourself. The good news is, no matter what you've done, your story isn't over yet. Get back in the race, and you too can finish strong.
Prayer Focus: Pray that you can persevere to the end despite your failures.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
What a great day in our nation's history. Whether you call yourself a republican, a democrat, an independent or something else, we are all Americans. Today was a great day to see an African-American take office, but more than that a common man. A man with very humble beginnings, great disappointments, and significant faults being elected to the most powerful office in the free world. Whether you agree with him or not, scripture calls us to pray for him.
To see a peaceful transfer of power by the inauguration of another President of the United States never gets old for me. I am a patriot and I am proud of our country. We truly live in the greatest nation on earth. Not because of our greatness, but because of the greatness of our God.
Below are the words of John F. Kennedy that were echoed today by President Barack Obama in his inaugural address. See also below a quote of Martin Luther King, Jr. and an excerpt from the Mayflower Compact.
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe--the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God...Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah "to undue the heavy burdens...and let the oppressed go free." ...The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it--and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.-JFK
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.-MLK, Jr.
In the name of God, Amen...Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia.-documented by William Bradford
Monday, January 19, 2009
38 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
If you read the Old Testament, you'll notice a repeated theme over and over again. God is constantly reminding the nation of Israel that he was the one that brought them out of Egypt. It may seem strange or even pretentious of God at first to keep replaying the same message, but I think it represents an important idea.
Present situations can cloud our memory. When you're in the heat of the moment important details get quickly overlooked. Maybe you've been in an argument with your spouse and at the time couldn't remember why you got married in the first place. Your current situation clouded your judgment. There might be some things said, in the heat of that moment, that you'll regret later in the day. Often times, our immediate issues cloud out any sense of history. We forget too easily.
The Hebrews were no exception to this rule. They had to constantly be reminded of what God had done for them. We need to be reminded too. God has done a great work for us by taking away our sins. It would be very easy to look at any of our situations and forget what God has done for us. This is why we need to give thanks to God, especially during the hard times. I love how Paul puts it.
2B)And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3)Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4)perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5)And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
"And hope does not disappoint us..." This is probably my favorite piece of scripture. That promise is so visceral, so tangible. We all have hopes, and often times they end up crushing us with disappointment. But there is one hope that will never disappoint. Just don't forget that hope. Don't let the worries of today cloud the promises of tomorrow, and never forget what God has already done for you.
Prayer Focus: Give thanks to God for what he has done for you today.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Yesterday, Jerry Trevillian and I did an impromptu outreach to a new friend of ours, who is homeless. He is currently living under a bridge with his wife Cathy. He called me and explained his situation and I asked him what he needed. He said they were hungry and cold. So Jerry and I packed up a few things we had lying around the house and went to meet the need. John and Cathy were happy to see us and we hung out and talked underneath the railroad tracks. Their dogs had food, but they didn't. There are so many needs that need to be met. I pray that God will use you to meet the needs of hurting people in your life.
Prayer Focus: Pray for Big John and Miss Cathy. Pray that they are warm, have a full stomach, and are in the hand of The Father that loves them.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does."
Friday, January 16, 2009
Now that I’m in my 40’s (as hard as it is to believe I admit “yeah I’m in my forties”), one of the things I am learning to really enjoy is a passion for practicing reflection. I truly believe it is hard to chart a good future and keep the wind of His Spirit in your sails if you’ve never taken time to look back over the sea of life you have just covered – whether it is for ministry, family, friendship, or seasons of life.
Stopping for reflection is a key to understanding this life in the Spirit. Check out 1 Corninthians 2:10 where Paul reminds us that “God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.” To see life by His Spirit – now, that’s the journey I want.
So for me, one of the essentials of all this is the fasting we have been talking about. I need it in my life. These are days to seek a laser focus on what God is saying by the Spirit and the Spirit of His Word that can be amplified by our dedication to a fast.
My prayer for you today as you sail across this 2009 is for your faith to be strengthened as you reflect on what God has done – on what He is doing now during this personal devotion time – and on what He is going to do with you on this amazing voyage called life.
So set your sails. The wind is blowing. And the seas are calling. -Pastor Dino Rizzo
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.'
As I was asking the youth last night "How can we hear from God?" I heard some very good answers and some out of the box ones as well. Overall, I was trying to get them to think about the simple ways of stopping and listening to God's voice.
Reading the Old Testament like the scripture above can easily give someone the impression that in order to hear God speak, they need to hear an audible James Earl Jones-esque voice. No matter how hard you try or how long you wait, you may never have one of those experiences. But nonetheless, God still speaks today.
Have you ever just stopped and tried to listen to what God is saying to you? There are all sorts of ways to hear his voice. Let's get back to that conversation I had with the youth, and see some of the ways they said God can speak to us: friends, other Christians, dreams, the Bible, praying, quiet time, and on, and on, and on. We serve an infinite God that speaks to us in infinite ways. So, my encouragement is to take the time to try and improve your hearing. You may not have a chorus line of angels dancing on your duvet, but he will speak to you if you listen.
Prayer Focus: Pray for God to reveal to you ways of improving your spiritual ears.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God."
Prayer Focus: Pray for what you can cut out of your daily life, maybe Starbucks, that you could take and give to the poor.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Personally, I think journaling is a good exercise. Writing down your prayers, thoughts, and events in your life can be simple yet profound. The act of writing them down is beneficial, but the best part comes in reading them afterwards. You can see how you reacted in a difficult time, remember how God has blessed you, and see how you have matured throughout your walk.
I will put an excerpt from my journal in March 2008. This excerpt was when we were just beginning the initial stages of HPC El Paso. We had no building, no worship leader, and very few people on the team. This was the day before our very first team meeting when Esther and I first shared the vision of HPC El Paso.
At this point in my life, I was unemployed but with a dream that God placed in my heart. I normally journal about one scripture, but this day for whatever reason I journaled after I read two passages of scripture. These are short entries but they need not be long. I typically journal my prayers and sometimes record events from our lives that are special to me.
Read Mathew 26:57-68
"Jesus, you were rejected for being the Messiah. I pray that you strengthen Esther and I so that we can stand with you...whatever the cost!"
Read Psalm 46:1-11
"Lord, I thank you for being my fortress. I shall not fear what happens on Earth for you are in control. We (the church) are secure in you! Be with us, inspire us, encourage us, protect us, and fill us with your Spirit as we preach the Gospel to the nations!
Monday, January 12, 2009
The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
"The way of the righteous is light; Christ is their Way, and He is the Light. The saints will not be perfect till they reach Heaven, but there they shall shine as the sun in His strength...as those that walk in the light. It is as morning light, which shines out of obscurity and puts and end to the works of darkness."
God has called us as believers in El Paso and Juarez to begin to shine. The darker it is, the brighter the light shines. Darkness cannot overcome the light, rather it is light that overcomes darkness. As you draw closer to God, you will begin to reflect His glory and so shine. As you grow in Him, you will shine brighter and brighter like "that of the rising sun"!
Prayer Focus: Pray that you truly begin to shine so that others might see the glory of Christ through your life and believe.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Here is a truth I've learned, how we manage our time (just like managing our money) will reveal our priorities in life.
Where does your time go?
My time gets wasted more often than I'd like to admit, but one of the best things I can do is prioritize reading God's word. Anything we prioritize, we will find time to do. No matter how crazy our lives are, there is almost, always time for the important things. No, it's not always easy to do, but it can be simple. Just cut out the fat and eat the meat. Find what's not so important in the grand scheme of things and replace it for what is eternal.
A great resource for any of you that want to prioritize getting closer to God this year is the One Year Bible. They have online reading plans or you can pick one up at a local bookstore. In one year, you'll have read through the entire Bible. You'll be amazed at all of the things you've missed out on once you read the whole book.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
Hide the truth in your heart. Don't just try to figure everything out on your own, but rely on God's word to see you through this year.
Prayer Focus: Pray that God will reveal what excess you can cut out of your life in 2009.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Let's use our imaginations for a second. Jesus has just died. Here is this guy that we've been following for a few years now. He was the one that was supposed to change the world, make everything wrong with the world right and turn our lives upside down. But now... Now he just dies?
Think of how his disciples must of felt for those three days before he rose from the dead. Just look what they decided to do after they found the empty tomb. According to John's account, they went back home and locked their doors in fear.
But as suddenly as he had left them, Jesus returned to bring good news. He was alive and well and would be sending his spirit soon. In his final moments with them he gives some of the most important instructions we Christians will ever hear.
He tells them to GO, which stands in stark contrast to the disciples hiding in fear. We the Church must never forget this commandment. God is not in our buildings. He is not in our programs. He is in us and we shouldn't be stingy with him. We can't just try to make people meet us where we are. We have to GO to be able to share him with others.Matthew 28:19-20
19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Friday, January 9, 2009
So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
“Look! I (Jesus) stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
Through spending time with God in prayer, reading the Bible, and through connecting with Christian friends, you can begin to improve your relationship with Him. And then one day, you can look forward to Jesus knocking on your door and sharing a meal...maybe even some enchilada's montanas, :)
Prayer Focus: Pray that your relationship with God gets Closer as you come to know Him more.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Through the death of Jesus, we have victory over sin in our life. Jesus' last words were, "It is finished." If Jesus stops there...we win, because we already have forgiveness of our sins. Thank God He didn't. He rose to a new life! So then, as we die (to our sinful nature) with Christ we can also live. After His resurrection, Jesus' first word's were, "Why are you crying?" No longer is there a reason to be afraid, no longer do we need to cry, for we have new life!
2 Timothy 2:11:Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him
Prayer focus: Pray that you begin to live the life found only in Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I have been reading the book, Humility, by Andrew Murray. Andrew Murray was born in South Africa in 1828 and was a pastor, missionary, and author. His book is one that is a must read for those that want to get closer to God. Murray shows how humility is the very essence of Christ in His coming to this Earth, His life, and His death and contrasts that with how, as Christians, we seek not this virtue. If that were true of most Christians in the 1800's, imagine how much more so today. I mean it's hard to be hip and humble at the same time!
I've always thought that humility was my greatest virtue. (For those that need an explanation, that was a joke) I must have a problem with humility because God has given me so many attributes to keep me humble. I am humbly reminded of my inadequacies daily.
Here are some quotes published in Murray's book that you may enjoy:
"Humility is the proper estimate of oneself."-Charles SpurgeonSo as we work to get closer to God this month. Let us not forget, but emulate the essence of Christ--humility. Allowing yourself to become nothing so God can become ALL.
"Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil's reach as humility."-Jonathan Edwards
"...humility is the very essence of holiness. It is the displacement of self by the enthronement of God. Where God is all, self is nothing."-Andrew Murray
"Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."Prayer Focus: Pray that you truly become humble so that God can use you greatly for His glory.