Archive for June, 2009

Using What We Have

Finished Product

I am still recovering from a week in the El Paso sun and heat.  We had a great week doing sports camp and building a home for the Padilla family.  It did not come without its challenges.  The plumbing had to be moved (which means breaking out concrete – thanks Mark and Nathan for your work to get that done!).  The slab was less than square (that is an understatement similar to saying that the Grand Canyon is hole in the ground).  But everyone pitched in and did their part!  It truly was a blessing to see how God worked in and through our team.

On the last day, we prayed with the family and handed over the keys.  We said our good-bye’s, especially to the kids, and it was in that moment that I realized more clearly than at any point during the week, the impact we had in the life of that family – an impact of showing God’s love and compassion.  We may never see all that will come from last week this side of heaven – but really, when you think about it, God does not ask us to do anything more than to be faithful with what we have.  God has blessed us with talents and resources and all we have to do is find ways to use them for God’s glory and in God’s service.  God will take care of the rest.

Be blessed today!

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Out of My Comfort Zone

Middle of Day Three

Middle of Day Three

Mission trips are always packed with wonderful experiences – long days and hard work.  This one has been no different so far.  We have caught up with old friends and made new ones.  We have begun to grow closer as a group and most importantly, we have seen God in action!  We are working with a family in west El Paso, building them a new home and it has been a real challenge so far.  Today, day 3, we began to see a little headway with relating to the family.

I covet your prayers as we strive to not only build a home for this family but also build a relationship with them as well.  We also ask for your prayers as our students minister to local children through our sports camp ministry.

It is exhausting but it is such a rush to be out of my comfort zone truly putting my faith into action.  If you have never done anything like participating in a mission trip, what are you waiting for?  You will never regret it!

Follow me on Twitter to see the progress we are making each day in real time.  Isn’t technology incredible!

Thanks for your prayers and for reading my ramblings.

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On a Mission


Last year's project on day 3

Last year's project on day 3

I am about to go out and load all the tools into the trailer that we will need on our mission trip.  I am really excited about what God is going to do through our teams as we head to El Paso to build a home and do a sports camp.  We covet your prayer as our teams go to minister.  We have an amazing team that God has assembled to do both sides of this trip.  Our sports camp team will be led by Sam Griffin.  He will do an incredible job – this will be his third sports camp so he is quickly becoming a pro.


I will be leading the construction team and I have to tell you, nothing gets me going like walking up on a slab on the first day knowing that in 4 days, we will walk away from a home!  Maybe its a man thing!  (Actually, the fact that it always happens is definitely a God thing!)  We are taking fourteen guys to begin this build.  Some of them will have to return home on Sunday leaving five of us to finish but the experience each will have in just two days will be life-changing – both for each of them and for the family to which they minister.

One of our goals for the fall is to put together a men’s ministry at our church and we want to kick it off with a men’s retreat.  I think this mission trip may just be the lead in for that ministry.  Please pray that God will use our experience to move our church in that direction.

We will be doing something new for us with this trip.  I encourage you to follow both myself – jbrianhill, and Sam – samgriffin, on Twitter.  We will be posting real time updates throughout the week.  Of course you can go to www.fbclevelland.com to check out more pics and details each day but if you want to be connected in real time – look for us on Twitter.

As always – thanks for reading!

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I know I wrote about this topic last week but I had an incredible meeting with a gentleman yesterday the result of which has had my mind spinning ever since.  Matt has a global consulting company that deals with cutting edge ideas in the area of community, marketing and communication.  He is based in London but he was in my office yesterday.  (Yeah, I know, cool huh?)  

He discussed his excitement about the growing opportunities for the church in the social community networks, ie. Twitter, FaceBook, Linked In, etc.  Even though the media has been around for a while, the church (as is normally the case) has been slow to jump in.  So the opportunities are still brand new.  Opportunities such as having the majority of the church using Twitter (Idealistic?  Probably)  But think of the possibilities – a person has a medical emergency and a friend Tweets about it.  Within seconds, prayer is being offered up from all over the city.  People are there in minutes to do what they can.  Now, online communities must never replace face to face time.  But the real value here is the added layer of community that social media provides.

Here is my question for thought (and please comment if you have any ideas):  How do we help our people make the transition to truly value social media and commit to use it?  Any thoughts?

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We, as a church, are gearing up to spend 7 days in the El Paso area on a mission trip.  I am really excited about how this trip is coming together.  There are people signed up for this trip who have never been on a trip like this.  I think this experience will be life-changing for all involved.

We finished up a study on the  book of James a couple of months ago.  The overall thrust of that book in the Bible deals with living out our faith.  Mission trips are a great way to do just that – getting out of our comfort zone and doing for others; not for what we get out of it but rather for what we can give. 

If we truly have faith in God, then the outflow of that faith should, no must be compassion for others.  The Bible says that if we say we  love God  but it doesn’t show in our actions toward others then we are liars.  Hey, I didn’t say it!  Look at it here.

If we have real faith, it will affect how we relate to those around us.  It will come out in love.  Is it possible to serve others without this faith?  Sure – its called social work and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that – in fact, it is one of the most honorable  and rewarding career paths I know. 

Is it possible to have faith and no visible outflow of compassion toward others?  Some say it is – it looks like legalism and empty spirituality.  Based on the Bible, I don’t think it is possible to have an authentic faith and not have visible signs of that faith acted out in the way we relate to others.  Now is it possible to get so wrapped up in our lives and in good things and neglect the best thing?  Sure.  In fact, I think that is what is wrong with the Church (big C) today.

I believe if our lives are to be full and meaningful and if the Church is to grow and flourish, we have to refocus our lives on living out our faith on a daily basis.

What does that look like on a practical level in your life?  I would love to hear your comments.

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Our interim preacher wrapped up his series on the Beatitudes yesterday morning.  He spoke about being a peacemaker.  The sermon was really good but one statement in particular has stuck with me.  In discussing the definition of peace he said, “Peace is far more than the absence of something – war or conflict, it is the presence of something or someone – the presence of God.”

It reminded me that even in the midst of turmoil – whatever that turmoil might be – God is with us and offering a peace that we can’t even understand.  How often do we forget that God is in control.  We get so worked up over the negative all around us and fail to remember the bigger picture.

So no matter what you are going through today or this week, just remember, God is with you and offering a peace that doesn’t even make sense.  It doesn’t mean that your turmoil will disappear but it does mean that it can never overcome you.  Take heart!

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Need Some Rest?

Ahh!  The weekend.  Anyone excited?  I am wrapping up some things at the office this morning and then plan to head up to Capitan,  NM, for the evening to be with our kids at Pre-teen camp at Fort Lone Tree.  Tonight is family night and all the kids put on skits for the rest of the campers and the parents that show up.  I am looking forward to the change of pace.

This week has been insane!  We took at least one direct lightening strike on Wednesday and it took out a phone line, some phones, 5 air conditioners, our lighting system in the auditorium and who knows what we haven’t even found yet.  Yesterday we had workers here from 5 different companies working on things.  I am ready for a break!

I think God knew what we needed (an understatement) when the sabbath was created.  We all need rest.  It is when we rest that God refreshes us to accomplish what we are called to do.  I know the weekend is usually spent running kids around and trying to catch up on projects around the house, but this weekend, set aside a little time to rest – at least some time to rest in God through prayer.  I sure plan to!  Have a great weekend – and thanks for reading.

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We have completed day two of our local sports camp.  Our attendance was much better last night.  We played baseball with the kids and everyone had a great time.  There was one little girl who was there last night who reminded me of why God calls us to reach out.  She had been at the camp the first night as well and was very shy and did not want to participate much but was content to sit and watch.

Last night she came out of her shell and swung that bat with the best of them.  She was all smiles.  As we drew the evening to a close, we were saying our goodbye’s to all the kids and I watched this little girl, who the night before would not participate, go from adult to adult and give each one a big hug.  She didn’t miss an adult.

Somewhere through the process of games, and stories and smiles and encouragement, this little girl had begun to feel loved and accepted and she responded.  Now that is what God’s love looks like!  That is a visible picture of God’s plan in action.

That’s why we are called to show God’s love to those around us –  to give of ourselves. That is where we find real joy!

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Blood and Skin

We had our first night of our local sports camp last night and it was a blast.  We did not have very many kids there but I was really proud of our church folks who showed up to give of their time and to show the love of Jesus to kids.  There will probably be  many stories for the blog over the next few days, generated from this 3 day event.

Last night, when it came to the snack station, the snack crew had all the kids sit around the picnic tables and then served them red coolaid and animal cookies.  One of the little boys, Grady, got all excited and asked, “Is this Jesus’ blood and skin?”  We explained that it was simply a snack, but I had to move away so that no one could see me laughing.  It was great!

I have thought about that question since then and have been touched by Grady’s understanding of communion.  When we offer the sacraments in a service, we try and make it a worshipful experience which normally takes a very serious and solemn tone – and it should.  We state that the worship experience is to remember our Lord’s sacrifice of his blood and body when he died on the cross.

But how often does it become vivid and real to us?  Has it become just another ritual? Grady, so wise at 7, understands.  The sacraments symbolize something very real. They don’t just symbolize something intangible – they symbolize real blood shed, and real flesh that was broken and beaten and pierced – skin that can be touched.

Wow!  Thanks Grady for your wisdom!  It reminded me that Jesus’ sacrifice was very real and very personal!

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To Tweet or Not to Tweet

I had the unique opportunity yesterday to be interviewed by the local Fox affiliate as part of a story they were doing over the use of Twitter in our community.  Dave Quinn has done, and continues to do, an amazing job with the City of Levelland in the area of economic development.  He has been encouraging area businesses and community leaders to become more involved in the social media realm.  So Fox came out to interview him and others in the community who are using social media – specifically Twitter.

All that to say, it has prompted several conversations with different folks about the usefulness and benefit of social media – particularly in the church world.  I am interested to hear your comments on this.  I ask that you take the time today to leave me a comment with your thoughts on the subject.  

I believe that if we are going to stay on the forefront, as a church, with the changing world, we have to learn to communicate with the world.  As I see it, a transition is going to have to happen in the mindset of many of our folks.  What has been seen as a waste of time (blogging, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) has now become crucial.  I believe that what was once seen as a diversion from the daily work we should be doing, this very thing has become (or at least is becoming) our daily work.  

I would not have ever jumped off into the social media scene had I not been convinced that this is the way our world is moving.  Now I am passionate more than ever that this is one way (albeit just one way) that we can reach people for Christ.

I would really love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

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