Sunday, January 27, 2008

Members Meeting

This afternoon at 3:00 we had one of our two our annual meetings for members of Christian Challenge. Every January we go over the financial report for the previous year and every July we select new members of our Board of Counselors which assists our Board of Directors and Pastoral Staff in providing leadership to the ministry. The January meeting also gives me a chance to review the previous year and talk about the direction for the upcoming year. Here's a little of what I shared today:

2007 was a year of transition and growth since I assumed the duties of Senior Pastor on December 16, 2006. We started several exciting new ministries, including our CARE Team (water distribution, etc), Angel Food Ministry, and Cenla First Class Homeschool Coop. We expanded our worship team, licensed one trained disciple to the ministry (Lane Fletcher) and added 15 new families! We also saw our missions and outreach giving increase exponentially! It was a very good year!

I shared with our folks this afternoon that the Lord has been faithful to give us an emphasis for each of the past couple of years. In 2006 it was "Youth and Fellowship". In 2007 it was "Outreach". In both of these years we saw significant growth in those areas of emphasis. We want to continue these things but in 2008 I feel the emphasis is to be "Relationships!" We're going to continue our growth but we're going to pay special attention to activities that foster deeper relationships to one another and to our Lord. I anticipate adding more small groups and seeing them become an integral part of our connection to one another. I look forward to seeing how the Lord is going to lead us to implement small groups into our discipleship oriented ministry. I believe it's going to be a win!

There's a lot more in store for 2008 - missions trips to Mexico, a VBS Sports Camp, more innovated outreaches and we're also forming a building advisory commission to help us determine the specific need and plan for a Family Life Center. All this while continuing the exciting activities already in place and become more connected to one another. Buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be a GREAT ride!

I LOVE serving Jesus with YOU!


P.S. I "borrowed" the graphic above from my good friend Joel Dyke up at Life Church West Monroe. Check out his blog!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Too long

How much time is too long between posts? Well, six months is definitely too long! My last update was July 20, 2007 and here we are on January 26, 2008 and I haven't posted a single item in the preceding 6 months and 6 days. Nada. Zilch. Cero.

It's not like things haven't been happening. The last 6 months were filled with just as much, if not more, excitement as the prior 6 months. I guess I was just too busy to slow down to type a quick little blurb. And that is too busy.

So, here's a post that tries to catch up without being ... "too long". ;)

When I got back from my trip around the world (Philippines, Nepal, Pakistan and India) we immediately packed up for our youth mission trip to the Benito Juarez orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico. About a dozen of us headed down for a week of demolition, painting, dry-wall floating and lots of fun with the kiddos at the orphanage. We have visited this orphanage on many occasions and have been involved with the construction of their new dorm from the ground up. They are now tearing down and remodeling some of their old buildings and we were happy to help. Here are a few more pics:

Some of the kids at the orphanage playing with coloring books and other gifts. A lot of our youth taking a break in the heat of the afternoon. We got to enjoy a delicious taco supper at a local street-side cafe. Mmmm ... don't those tacos look yummy?! Some of the guys putting together a scaffold so the girls can paint. The ladies painted the whole 2-story house in just a couple of days - way to go!

The Mexico mission trip was a great experience, but it was definitely fatiguing, having just returned from my trip around the world with Patrick Calhoun of Christians Sharing Christ. I was one tired globe-trotter! On top of all that, the first part of August we got a report back from my dad's oncologist that the cancer had returned with a couple of "hot spots" in his upper abdomen and signs of cancer in his bone marrow. This was not good news ... at first.

I'll admit that this threw me for a loop. Dad had already walked through the cancer treatments and every report had been good. This report came out of the blue. But during this process the Lord spoke to his heart to "expect the unexpected" and to be assured that God would get glory out of this.

Sure enough, after repeated trips to Houston to take tests and get set for treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center we got the report that the tests they ran in Houston showed absolutely no signs of cancer! We waited a bit to run the tests again and again, no signs of cancer!!! What a miracle - documented proof that God can, AND DOES, heal!!! We definitely got the unexpected!!!

The rest of the year continued with quite a bit of busyness. On August 19 my precious wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary with a quick weekend trip to Houston where we got to worship with her dad and mom at Second Baptist Church. That was spiritually exhilerating!

As we headed toward the end of the year things seemed to pick up pace. The church continued to grow with new people visiting every service. We improved our online streaming and saw more people visiting us that way. I taught a couple of series in November and December that really seemed to connect. In November it was "What Animal Planet Can Teach Us About Life" and in December it was "Old Carols in a New Light". We looked at some of the beloved old Christmas Carols and examined their message. Sometimes we get so familiar with things we miss how awesome they are.

We wrapped up the year with an incredible Christmas Eve service called "Carols and Communion by Candlelight". We had a New Year's Eve party up at the church where we watch "Flywheel" from the makers of "Facing the Giants". Then a couple of weeks later a bunch of us gathered at the church to watch LSU beat Ohio in the BCS Championship! That was a lot of excitement!

On top of that, I've been in a teaching series on Sundays that we'll wrap up tomorrow - it's called "Taking AIM" and we've been talking about not just shooting randomly at life but focusing on our target (goals), being intentional about changes and adjustments and measuring our progress. I believe it has helped us get off to a good start in the new year.

Tomorrow is an exciting time as well. We will have our annual January church membership meeting when I will present the financial report for 2007 as well as individual giving records. We'll also be voting to confirm our Board of Directors and I'll be sharing about our vision for 2008. I believe that God has great things in store for the body of believers called Christian Challenge! I'm so excited to get to lead this incredible congregation into the future.

Thanks for reading this far. I know, it was too long. But I won't let 6 months go by without updating again. My next entry will be much shorter, I promise! Until then, remember ...

I LOVE serving Jesus with YOU,