Friday, March 28, 2008
Once again, I find myself behind on events or things that I have wanted to write about. It's time for a Miscellany blog entry. This is my fifth installment.
Alright, this is crazy. The El Burrito blog reached a new milestone here at frankandlela.com. It is the blog with the new record for comments. We reached 34 comments, which is just unbelieveable! But some of the more surprising comments came in Lela's birthday blog entry. The sentiments were very kind toward Lela and also quite kind toward me! I did not expect to get the props that I got for the tribute that I wrote to my wife. That was pretty cool...actually Lela is pretty cool...She makes a great burrito...maybe we'll break a record...
OUR NEW SIGN
Not much has been said, but we finally got our church sign placed on our building last week. I have to say that I am very proud of it. I love the way that it looks.
Getting this sign took a long time to get done due to various municipal codes, but the finished product was worth the wait. Kudos to SignMaster, as well as Jonathan Moore, the designer of this logo.
It seems pretty silly to be excited about a sign. I can't really say why I am excited about it, but it made me happy to see something go up, look as good as it does, and sit there permanently among all the other business signs around the block.
SPEAKING OF KINGSFIELD
Our staff has been notoriously competitive since I joined just over a year ago. For the most part, our competition has been limited to board games and Catch-phrase. I will say that thanks to a very deep seated need to win at any cost, and being a man, I have been on the winning side each time.
Recently, there has been a slew of competitive jousts that have taken the staff outdoors. For example, there was a tennis game between two couples. Then there was a bike ride. I felt a little left out, so I decided to challenge one of the couples to a 2 on 2 basketball game.
Well, word leaked out, and the other couple on staff, not wanting to be left out, has entered into the fray, counter-challenging Lela and I. So now, we have a three team 2 on 2 basketball, mini-April madness, tournament. It will be happening soon, and I'll keep you abreast of who wins.
Actually, I could care less who wins. I just love that our staff loves to hang out and have fun together. That is priceless...ok, I can't lie...I CARE VERY MUCH WHO WINS!!!! I'll let you know!
COUPLES RETREATS AND RESURRECTION WEEK
Lela and I got to go to, and lead worship for our couples' retreat. We came home inspired and re-energized with some great tools to even further improve our marriage. It's amazing how much you take for granted over 10+ years of marriage.
In the same week, we celebrated Resurrection week. Again, the same principle applied. You can take the most wonderful news in World History for granted and treat it as though it were mundane. Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead, and ascended into heaven after 40 days, with His disciples looking as He rose from the Earth! This is revolutionary information and no matter how long you have been a part of the bride of Christ, when you think about this, I mean really take time to consider this, you are freshly amazed at what it is that God has performed in order to redeem sinners from their fallen state.
One man said this last week, "The resurrection is God's 'amen' to Christ's 'it is finished.'" Jesus, by the resurrection, proves everything that He ever declared about Himself during His earthly ministry, especially that He and the Father, were one and the same. I pray that your faith was freshly stirred again wherever you were for Easter, but even more, that we might be more aware throughout the year of this miracle of redemption that we live and move in, because of our wonderful Savior.
FINALLY...JUST A FEW THOUGHTS
1) Who of you out there have a blog? I have been discovering blogs left and right from people who are our friends. I love reading blogs from my friends and if you have one, please let us know. Email us so we can bookmark you.
2) To the ones who have appreciated us lately: One young lady referred to me as a hero on her MySpace and another group sent us an anonymous gift through the mail and a third person gave us a very thoughtful card. I am still reeling from the generosity and the kind feelings and sentiments that have been expressed to us. Thank you so much. The Lord has used your kindness to bless and encourage us in the ministry.
3) April 1st, I am speaking at the Packinghouse for the Youth Group. I am looking forward to seeing some friends and sharing with the group where I literally first started speaking. If you think about it, please pray that the Lord would use the message that I share with this special group this next Tuesday.
Well, there, I am caught up!!
Blessings...To Our Friends,
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Well, as you can see, we are finally at a place where the kids are going to start to pull their weight around the house. We are going to start receiving these benefits, slowly but surely over the next decade. Then, when the kids become President Renae, Airline Pilot Caleb and Lawyer Lizzy, then Lela and I will be able to retire to Maldives. Until then, we will have to just accept their household chores...
And their outdoor chores! Caleb really got that brake grease out of those tires. Of course, I might have to answer to some authorities somewhere. I am sure that there is some committee for the fair payment of 4 year old children. Before they catch me, I plan on getting a few more car washes done!
Of course, I am sure that when the novelty of just being with Dad wears off, this might just cost me a sugar shake.
Blessings...To Our Friends,
Monday, March 24, 2008
Today is my lovely wife's birthday. I will never divulge the number, but she has again climbed the numbers ladder! I was recounting that we have now celebrated at least 12 of her birthdays together, which is pretty cool. My wife is the best woman in the world to me, and I know that the kids would insert "mother" next to the word "best" as well. She holds her life, our kids' life and my life together with simple grace and beauty. Of all the people that I love to make laugh, she is my favorite. I pray that she will have a wonderful birthday today! Here are some of my favorite photos of my wife...although, I am now realizing that she or I rarely have a photo alone!
Here is Lela on a Spanish beach with our little surprise, Elizabeth. This picture reminds me of my wife's courage and commitment, to go overseas to follow the Lord when this was our smallest child. Not very impressive until you understand the temperment of our children at this age! Lela is a saint!
This picture reminds me that my wife has cooked for 5 people for the last 6 years. This is generally the microcosmic scene where my wife is finally sitting down to eat, only to be interrupted by some little (sometimes big) person! She has had probably only 2 mildly warm meals in all that time!
I know what your thinking: "What does this have to do with Lela?" Let me explain. First, do you seen anything green? Before Lela, my motto was "If it's green, it ain't in me!" You will notice a salad and asparagus. (Every thing goes down better with a t-bone!) Asparagus, as well as a whole host of foods have been introduced to me by my lovely wife and personal chef! Second, you will notice a glass of Apple Cider. B.L., that glass was about 3 feet taller and it was filled with various things that ended with the word "Soda!" Finally, and perhaps the best thing : You'll notice the presence of utensils...ENOUGH SAID!!!
I love my wife! Happy Birthday honey!
Blessings...To Our Friends,
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Just wanted to share this song from one of my all time favorite artists, Fernando Ortega. If you have never been exposed to hymns, I would beg you to check out both his "Hymns and Meditations" and "The Shadow Of Your Wings: Hymns and Sacred Songs" albums, both available on iTunes.
This song appears on the latter album and is a perfect compliment to the week that we are in, walking toward Resurrection Sunday.
Hope you enjoy!
Blessings...To Our Friends,
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
We were in Redlands for a short time Saturday and had the chance to go to my favorite burrito place in the world...that's right! I said "WORLD!" The name says it all: "El Burrito!" That's all that it's about. I have been going there since Pastor Aaron "The Crawdad" Hale introduced me to it. From then on out, we had our Junior High Meetings there as often as our Junior High budget or personal budgets would allow!
I write this, first, as a rebuttal to this thread here. It's a long time in coming, but I had to get it off my chest. Both Josh and Charlene have been good friends for many years, Josh through my relationship with Wildwood, and Charlene from our C.C. Redlands days. In fact, I will say that I've known Charlene most of her life. Her parents were my Sunday School teachers. As you might have ascertained from their blog, Josh and Charlene are planting a church in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Ministry, love for Jesus, and lives devoted to the Lord aside, our choice of burrito might be radically different!
In fact, even Lela and I are divided on this topic! Lela is more of a Cuca's fan, a burrito which I believe belongs on the Pope's New 7 Deadly sins!! I will need to revisit this unequal yoke with my wife when we attend the Kingsfield Couples' retreat this weekend. To be honest, I am not sure that her love for Cuca's is not more connected to the drive-thru aspect of Cucas...anyway, I digress!
All this to say, that in a world of "eat what's good for you instead of eat what's good," El Burrito stands in the gap, flying high the flag of homemade taste, preparing you with a burrito that rightly apportioned, should take a man a few meals to eat! My son is able to finish them off in one meal!
Blessings...To Our Friends,
Friday, March 07, 2008
Many days in ministry are just normal days of "plugging away." Doing the normal things, like preparing messages, counseling brothers and sisters, and making arrangements for the calendar or bulletin. Some wonder, "How come we don't experience what they did in the book of Acts?" Certainly, there is little in ministry today, on a daily basis, that resembles the book of Acts. That is unless you see the book of Acts as the highlight reel that it is.
When you consider that the book of Acts is written with a purpose in mind, namely the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit through very ordinary men, it goes without saying that just like any other story, the authors refused to talk about when the Apostle's slept, prayed alone in their rooms, or discussed the finer points of philosophy that would guide the newly organized body of Christ!
That's when days like today, remind me of the work of the Apostles in the book of Acts.
I only sat at my office for about 40 minutes! I left my desk and begun driving toward the Hospital. On my way, I got on the cell phone with Annette Brown to get an update on her husband Alan's condition. We spent about 35 minutes on the phone, talking about the Lord's goodness and the believer's victory, even in the midst of life and death circumstances. Generally, I feel very akward talking with people who are in such difficult circumstances. I often feel like I have very little to say. But I am always surprised that the Lord gives me words and gives what both participants need. Annette was comforted, and I was encouraged, by the Lord and by Annette's strength and faith.
I finished the conversation in the hospital parking lot, which was located right off of PCH. From the parking lot, I could see the ocean and feel the wonderful breeze. So many people were walking around the hospital and I was keenly aware of the different circumstances that brought us all to this place. I was thankful just to be visiting.
The woman that I was visiting, Laura, is facing her third bout with cancer. She is facing some very challenging procedures. She is also a single mom. I wondered, "What do I say to this woman that can be of any spiritual worth?" I prayed on my way in, asking that I could at least be a sympathetic voice. I entered the room, and Laura was sitting up, making arrangements for a procedure that I would not wish on anyone, but looking at me and smiling at my presence. When she got off the phone, she hugged me, introduced her Father to me, and began talking.
It's what SHE said that ended up being the great encouragement. She said that this cancer was her gift from the Lord and that she refused to be down about it. She recognized that God had used this to open doors of ministry opportunity and that she would continue to exploit as long as she was able. I just kept nodding, thanking the Lord that I was able to be there to be ministered to! We prayed together and I made it back out to the parking lot.
I was reminded then that I had promised a wife that I would call her husband. He has been out of work and was probably just a little frustrated with life. I parked my car in view of the ocean, and dialed the number, expecting to have to talk my brother up from the funk that he was in. Instead, God had already done the work.
He began with what God was doing in His life since the earlier part of the morning. He was infused with a new excitement about ministry opportunities and God's calling upon his life. He shared how God had been doing miracles with His marriage and even his employment scenario! I just kept saying, "Yeah...amen brother...exactly..."
God just kept doing wonderful things in the hearts of these wonderful saints, and I just got to participate and be there, not to minister, though I know my presence and concern spoke louder than any words I could have chosen, but to be ministered to by these faithful people, who are enduring through the most difficult of circumstances and their faith is not only evident, but is indeed flourishing.
This is what Acts is about and how it is continued today: The Holy Spirit, working in the hearts of His people in extraordinary ways. People who should be despondent, are hopeful. People who have every reason to complain, are praising their God. People who should be prayed for, are praying for people in their lives who need to know their Jesus! In the meantime, the one who is sent, just goes away excited and blessed to see the hand of the Lord, doing what I always preach that He will do in willing instruments!
I pray that if my time comes on this earth, to suffer in mind, body or employment, that I will shine as these have today. I am sure that their tomorrows or their "next days" may be less glorious, but today was a highlight for each of them and a highlight for me.
Blessings...To Our Friends,
Just thought I would finish the post that I posted a few days ago. What is a false prophet and what are the signs that we are to look for biblically? I put up a link to Thomas Brooks entire article, but I thought that I might lay out the 7 characteristics that Thomas Brooks wrote back in the 1600's. Here they are:
• False teachers are men-pleasers (Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:1-4). They preach more to please the ear than to profit the heart: "Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophecy no unto us right things: speak to us smooth things; prophecy deceits"' (Isa. 30:10)
• False teachers are notable in casting dirt, scorn, and reproach upon the persons, names, and credits of Christ's most faithful ambassadors. Thus Korah, Dathan, and Abiram charged Moses and Aaron that they took too much upon them, seeing all the congregation was holy (Num. 16:3).
• False teachers are venters of the devices and visions of their own heads and hearts. "Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent then not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophecy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart (Jer. 14:14)
• False teachers easily pass over the great and weighty things both of law and gospel, and stand most upon those things that are of the least moment and concernment to the souls of men. "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned; from which some have swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, and understand neither what they say nor whereof they affirm" (1 Tim. 1:5-7)
• False teachers cover and color their dangerous principles and soul-impostures with very fair speeches and plausible pretenses, with high notions and golden expressions. As strumpets paint their faces, and deck and perfume their beds, the better to allure and deceive simple souls (Gal. 6:12; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rom. 16:17,18; Mat. 16:6,11,12; 7:15), so false teachers will put a great deal of paint and garnish upon their most dangerous principles and blasphemies, that they may the better deceive and delude poor ignorant souls. They know sugared poison goes down sweetly; they wrap up their pernicious, soul-killing pills in gold.
• False teachers strive more to win over men to their opinions, than to better them in their conversations. "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves" (Matt. 24:17)
• False teachers make merchandise of their followers. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (2 Peter 2:1-3)
Again, the entire article is here.
The second blog entry is read today came from a great artist from the 80's who has turned into quite the champion for the purity of the church, Steve Camp. I believe that he really got it right in this article about ministry meeting culture. The article is pretty long and is here. Here are a few "soundbytes" from the article that truly provoked me.
"So much of ministry today is focused on methodology rather than the Master; and everyone is trying to be the smartest guy in the room, trying to figure out new ways to figure out how to breakthrough the postmodern mindset in evangelism today. This is not that complicated beloved. How "culturally-correct" was Elijah when calling down fire on Mount Carmel; when Paul called the Stoic Athenian philosophers to repentance on Mars Hill; when Moses commanded Pharaoh to "let My people go"; when John the Baptist called the Pharisees coming out to see those being baptized as “a brood of vipers”; or when the Lord shrunk Gideon’s armies of 32,000 to 300 against a foe of 135,000, etc.? They weren't; that wasn’t their concern, focus, or preoccupation. They were not concerned with bringing the times into eternity; but brought eternity into time by proclaiming the truth of God's Word and calling people to live in the fear of the Lord."
"here's the plain truth: the rule of faith is no longer the Scriptures, but experience; the goal of faith is no longer holiness, but happiness; the purpose of faith is no longer the glory of God, but being 'in conversation' with the culture; and the object of faith is no longer Christ, but self."
"The right priority of biblical ministry can be summed up in one phrase beloved: It's not about us, it's all about Him."
Again, as we consider what ministry should or shouldn't be in this age, we must face the concerns of God, rather than our disagreement with methodological structures. I believe that these two blog entries give us, without naming names or outing denominations, objective platitudes that we need to be challenged by.
Blessings...To Our Friends,
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I have to admit that I have teetered on the edge of irritation lately at the plethora of websites and ministries designed to warn Christians about other Christians. The Calvinists are warning us about the Charismatics, who are worried about the Pentecostals, who would like you to beware of the Emerging Church! Enough already!
Let me say, that there are churches out there that I would never attend or recommend. But any church beside Kingsfield Church, or to some extent, the Packinghouse, is outside of the realm of my concern. All other churches are Pastored by men, led by boards that must answer to the Lord. I know that Kingsfield must answer to the Lord for her stewardship of the gifts that have been committed to her. I will concern myself with making sure that we are responsible toward that end. Thankfully, I am part of a Pastoral staff that I feel very comfortable serving with. I sleep well each night! But I also sleep well, knowing that other churches and what they teach or espouse are not a part of my concern.
Now, I realize Biblically that we are often warned to beware of false teachers. If you would like a few verses, check these out: 2 Peter 2:1, Matthew 7:15, I John 4:1 and the entire book of Jude. Some of these discernment ministries would site these verses as a justification for their behavior. However, I feel that it's contextually important to note that the culture of the first century church was radically different from our culture today, in that, church gatherings were much smaller, and itinerant preachers would often come into town, asking the churches to allow them to address the local congregation. Many congregations, lacking discernment, would be taken advantage of. That is why there is instruction throughout the New Testament regarding letters of authenticity and delegates from various authorities and a strong emphasis in certain epistles on being aware of false teachers.
Today, churches rarely allow itinerate preachers into the pulpit that they do not know personally. Most of the time, the Pastor of the church or the visiting Pastor is well known, and has over time revealed himself to be Biblically sound and likeminded. So what did Paul or any of the New Testament writers intend? What I do not believe Paul or the writers of the New Testament intended to provoke, was the investigative, almost gossip column, style of journalism which seems to be the earmark of these sensationalized sites.
I believe that the writers of the New Testament want us to know what we believe and why we believe it. Paul sums it up best when he wrote to his protege Timothy.
"Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."
I pray that we as Christians, would be wise and discerning, with regard to what we believe, in the church where God has placed us. When you hear a story about this church or that church, can we begin to say, "I'm really not interested. That is (fill in the name of the Pastor/Church)'s responsibility before the Lord. I will pray that they are responsive to the Lord." What a difference this would make in our hope to be united with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Now, all that being said, I believe that I need to apologize to anyone that has ever heard me speak derisively toward any other church or movement. It's simply not my business and I for one, do not want to be a party toward that kind of spirit.
Finally, I did want to see if I could find a decent description of what the authors of the New Testament meant when they made reference to false teachers or prophets. I remember hearing somewhere that there was some extant document that detailed how to discern a wolf in sheep's clothing. If I find it, I'll post it. However, I found this document that might be just as good. It was written by Thomas Brooks, who was a puritan who lived in the 1600's. If you are interested, you can check it out here.
I'll probably post a few excerpts, but the whole article is a bit much to post. Plus, I'm already pretty verbose!
Blessings...To Our Friends,
Monday, March 03, 2008
I have been fighting the effects of the flu over these last several days. That and the responsibility of studying for Sunday morning this past Sunday, which I gratefully enjoy, has kept me from blogging. I apologize and will return over the next couple of days. In the meantime, I hope that I can help you deal with the problem of our time...Daylight Saving Time. For those unfamiliar with the history and "rationale" behind this hideous practice, you can check out this site here. It begins this Sunday, where we like sheep, "spring forward" and lose a precious hour of sleep, yet gain an hour of daylight, which is cool. DST...it even sounds harmful..."yes, I have DST!... is supposed to save us money. So, what do the latest studies say? Check it out here.
I hope that I have added to your outrage over this practice, if even just to have someone join me in mine. Feel free to comment and add your vote: HATE IT or LOVE IT! I look forward to hearing from you.
Blessings...To Our Friends,