Welcome to the El Camino Baptist Church blog. We wanted a place where our ministry leaders could share things that God has laid on their hearts. Please feel free to comment and join in the discussion as we share how God is moving through His church.Other places to find us on the web are our website, Youtube, and Facebook. You can also check out Hoss' music blog at hosshughes.com.









Saturday, December 17, 2011

Partnering with Parents


Children love gifts. Based on the knowledge of this fact, every time we have an opportunity, we give the children in our ministries a gift bag full of things we believe will help them know who Jesus is and grow in their relationship with Him.

For Christmas this year the gift bag included a Christmas storybook, a candy cane with the Christian story of the candy cane attached, a Bible tract with stickers that tell the Christmas Bible story, Nativity silly bands (silly bands are quite the rage these days), and a gospel tract written at a child's level.

After receiving her gift bag at Moppets Wednesday, our Youth Pastor's daughter, Olivia, asked her mommy to read everything to her. In the gospel tract, it asks children if they would like to pray and ask Jesus to forgive them of their sin and be their Savior. Olivia looked up at her Mommy and responded that she did!

Colossians 4:5b says to make the most of every opportunity. God supplies finances for us to purchase resources for families to share with their children at home. We are thankful for parents who take the time to invest in their children's spiritual lives. It is the parents who have the greatest impact on their children. We are merely a support.

Welcome to God's family Olivia!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sharing God's Love

Last night at the Leadership Christmas Party, our speaker, Dr. Bert Downs, asked us what we did this year to show God's love, so that others would know who He is and what He has done for them. Being tired, I couldn't call much to mind, although I know God has been busy and we have been busy trying to keep up with Him.

This morning I read Psalm 105. It reminded me that God wants us to focus on what He has done, share it, and rejoice over it.

Here are verses 1-5.

Give praise to the LORD, proclaim His name;
make known among the nations what He has done.
Sing to Him, sing praise to Him;
tell of all His wonderful acts.
Glory in His holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and His strength;
seek His face always.
Remember the wonders He has done,
His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced


God is doing so much in and through the people at El Camino so that those we come into contact with will have an opportunity to know who He is and how much He loves them.

Here are a few things that came to my mind this morning. I pray that through all these events and ministries, God's love has been made known to others.

*He brought more teachers and students to our English as a Second Language ministry, Friendship International
*He brought strong, godly, motivated, skilled leaders for our Missions Fellowship group and Missions Committee
*He is growing our leaders to lead with wisdom, enthusiasm, energy, excellence and efficiency
*He has brought strong, growing leaders for our Middle Schoolers. They are investing in them, and in turn the students are reaching out to their unchurched friends.
*He has brought a lot of volunteers to staff the ministries He has called us to, such as Sunday School,media,facility upkeep,music,youth,etc.
*God has brought godly, dedicated leaders for our Elective and Small Group ministries
*God continues to strengthen and unify our Ministry Leadership Team and staff
*God continues to give us His vision for ways to reach out to our friends and community...Good News Club Family Game Night, Youth Pie Nights, Father Daughter Dinner Date, Mother Daughter Tea Party, Mud Bowl, J Walk BBQ, Praise in the Park, Community Christmas Dinner...

What ways have you seen God working this year at El Camino so others will know the love of God?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Salt and Light

A very godly woman in our church mentioned to me that she is so excited to be going on a short term Mission trip to assist some missionaries. She said that when she submitted her time off request, she told her supervisor she was going to help some people who share positive messages.

I wondered why she didn't tell him exactly why she was going there. I know she isn't ashamed of the gospel or of her faith. She is a strong, growing, godly woman. I am sure she had a good reason, but it made me think about me and the times I hesitate to be candid and forthright about my relationship with Christ.

I wonder if we become so careful not to proselytize or offend people we come into contact with in our daily lives, and especially those with whom we work in the secular world, that we forget we can legally share who we are and what we believe. There is a difference between telling people that they need to believe, and telling them what we believe.

Lord, please help us be attentive to opportunities You bring into our lives to bear witness for You. Please give us wisdom to know what to say and when to say it. Please give us boldness to speak up as You bring us opportunities. Please help us be gentle so the listener will be drawn to You. Please help us be salt and light amidst those who have yet to meet You and give their lives to You.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Romans 8:18

Every night Katie and I have been doing our devotions while we've been up with our son Levi (sometimes we're up more times than we'd like). We have been reading through the book of Romans lately and out of one of it's passages came my verse for 2012.

Romans 8:18 (NASB) - "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Nothing this world can throw at me, none of it's pain or disappointment or hate, can compare with what God has in store for His children. All of the things that we endure in this life will seem so minute when we are standing in the presence of Almighty God. As Christians, we are warned that we will be persecuted for our beliefs but it will all be worth it when we begin our eternity with with our Holy Lord in heaven.

Hoss

Stories

I'm currently reading Proverbs and a book on communications. What I have seen in God's Word and from writers concerning communications is that short, clear stories have impact. As I read through Proverbs it is full on very short stories that urge us to be wise not foolish. They were all stories that the people of that time could relate. Jesus, also taught with stories that people could relate to as well. Today were not really any different we all love a good story, whether it's in books, movies, TV, Face Book, etc. That's why we can look back over hundreds of years and still gain wisdom and insight from stories that we read in the Bible. Our challenge today is how do we tell the greatest story of all to our world and our culture. I would like to hear your stories and ideas on how you share.

Blessings
Dick Dillender
ddillender@elcaminochurch.org

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We Can't Do Everything!

Opportunities abound at El Camino right now. As we strive to lead 777 people into a personal relationship with Jesus, and share the gospel with 5200 people, the Lord has led us to several avenues to help us along.

A couple weekends ago we hosted a marriage conference, in which 3 people gave their lives to Christ. What a praise! This weekend we have Picnic and Praise in the Park, next weekend the J Walk Ministry, then comes the Children's Thanksgiving musical. These are all opportunities to invite friends, neighbors and family members to attend something fun and entertaining, and hear about Jesus.

In reality, we don't need events. God has brought into each of our lives people who don't know Him. He trusts us to faithfully share Him with them. But the truth of the matter is that we aren't always faithful. We don't openly share...for whatever reason. I am just as guilty. We have lived next door to a wonderful family for about a decade, and they don't have a personal relationship with Jesus. It is more comfortable for us to invite them to events in which they will hear about Jesus, than to openly share the gospel. And to be honest, we rarely do that! What a shame.

A gentleman at our church said to me last week that he wasn't going to participate in the J Walk Ministry or Picnic and Praise in the Park. He said, "We can't do everything! Weekends go so quickly as it is. We need time to rest and replenish, take care of our home and vehicles, etc." I totally understand. No one can do everything, and I don't think God expects us to.

This morning I again read Mark 12:29-31. It said, “The most important one(commandment),” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘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 mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

If I truly loved God completely, my focus would be on Him and on what is most important to Him. I believe the thing that is most important to God is that no one would perish, live forever separated from Him. And if I really believed that, then my top priority would be making sure I was faithful to share Him with those He brings into my sphere of influence.

I don't need an event to be faithful. I just need to be faithful. But if inviting someone to an event gets the job done, then I hope I will at least make that effort. Lord, please increase my love for you, help me be faithful and selfless, and please help my priorities match yours!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Godly Woman of Prayer

Tonight in Awana our girls T&T Director called me over to see her club during handbook time. For the past seven weeks she has been praying that God would overflow her club with girls, provide a leader for each table of girls and provide extra listeners.

Over the past few weeks, God has been bringing girls, leaders and listeners to her, one by one. Tonight, her prayer for helpers was fully answered. Her club was a well oiled machine. Each table was full and had a leader, and listeners spread out along the walls to assist.

As I walked to my next task, the picture of her room and the answered prayer it represented humbled me. The reality of how much I limit ministry by not praying enough was undeniable. I pray, but not usually daily for weeks for the same request. She prayed for at least seven weeks! And I am guessing since she is still praying for more clubbers, she will continue to pray for more leaders to invest in them.
Pray without ceasing! 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Thank you God for hearing and answering Cheryl's prayers. Thank you for teaching me through this to pray more faithfully. Her joy overflowed and I rejoice with her! May we all be as faithful to 'ask so we will receive, so our joy will be as complete!' John 16:24b

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ignoring God

Yesterday in my quiet time with God, He spoke a verse to me. He spoke it so strongly that I wondered if He was showing my theme verse for 2012.

Proverbs 10:19
When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.


I was in a meeting where a person's opinions were aired. I didn't feel hurt, but I was incredibly shocked.

When I woke up the next morning, there were words and feelings swelling and swirling inside me. I still didn't 'feel' hurt, but the words were ready to burst out. That is when God spoke Proverbs 10:19 to me, loud and clear.

I knew I needed to forgive and move on. But what did I do? I shared with someone, causing feelings and words to swirl inside that person. Had I just obeyed God and held my tongue, there would've been a lot less wasted energy, emotions and words. There would've been a lot less time taken away from loving and serving God and others.

Lord, thank you for speaking so clearly to me. Please forgive me for ignoring Your caring instruction. Please help me obey You more faithfully. It is definitely in my best interest, in the best interest of others, and in the best interest of your Kingdom!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Heaven

While reading "When God Whispers Your Name" I was reminded about the main thing about heaven. With all the blessings of heaven and all that is said about the streets of gold and the gates of pearl and the no more tears and the no more pain, even with all of that and more it's not what we really long for & what we really want. Moses asked to see God, after all God had done and shown Moses what he really wanted was to see God. When we get to heaven all we will really care about is seeing God face to face. What a day that will be!

Pastor Dick

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Motivation to Obey God

What does it take to motivate me? What does it take to motivate you? I have been thinking through this issue of motivation. From my perspective, the greatest motivator for most people is either love or fear. Call it the carrot or the stick - run to the reward/pleasure or run from the discipline/consequences.

When it comes to God, I see a need for both forms of motivation in my life. In my over simplified version of this, the Fear of the Lord keeps me from disobeying (fear of discipline, the stick). Look at Hebrews 12:5 and following.

The Love of the Lord causes me to obey (love, the carrot). Look at John 14:15, 21. I realize that the Love of the Lord should keep me from sin and the Fear of the Lord should motivate me to obedience. But it helps me to understand how the two fit together.

It is not one or the other. It is both-and. We need to love God and obey Him. We need to fear God and refrain from that which would incite His discipline.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Lessons Learned

Tomorrow marks my 9th anniversary serving in Children's Ministries here at El Camino. During that time, God has taught me so many things. Here are a few highlights.

1. God loves me and wants me to walk intimately with Him. He cares more about who I am IN Him, than what I do FOR Him.

2. As I abide, He will direct me. This is His ministry. He sees the big picture. As I listen to Him and follow Him, He will direct every step of the way.

3. Although there will be hard times, He is always there for me. He promises to never leave me nor forsake me. He molds me when I need molding, and comforts me when I need comforting.

4. He wants me to personally share His amazing gospel message with those He brings into my path, and He wants me to facilitate ministries in which other people are sharing the gospel as well.

There are so many more lessons to be learned. May You continue to mold me more and more into Your image Lord. Thank you for never giving up on me!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Laborers

Jesus said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. What is the issue? We have lots of people in church who say they love and follow Jesus. But how many laborers do we have? From my own personal observation, I think less than 10% of all who claim to follow Jesus are truly laborers.

What is a laborer? Laborers are people who work for the Lord because they believe that God is able to do anything He desires, that there is nothing too hard for Him, and that are willing to let Him use them to accomplish His purposes. A key element of labor is work. It takes effort without thought of earthly reward. It involves diligence in doing that which God desires.

Become a laborer: men and women who believe Jesus and His promises, who have a vision to work, who are willing to take risks for the sake for the kingdom, who are willing to share the gospel, who are willing to disciple and serve others, who are willing to yield personal opinions, who are willing to step up and do the work. In my opinion, that is all that stands between us and exponential growth. Then, watch what God does in and through us. Borrowing from the Marines: Be one of the few, the proud, the laborers.

Answered Prayers

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, our staff and entire congregation have been challenged by Pastor Ron to pray specifically, daily, for the goals we believe God has called us to achieve this year. In review, they are: to share the gospel 5,200 times; for each one of us to reach 1, and each one of us to teach 1; and that the Lord would let us see 777 people come into a personal relationship with Him.

Last night, the children's prayer group was asked to put dots on the 'Sharing the Gospel' chart and hearts on the 'Salvations' chart. When they were done, they wanted to count. To date, God has blessed us with 317 of the 777 salvations! We are nearly half way there! And there are 4,150 of the 5,200 gospel presentations! We aren't charting the each 1 reach 1, each 1 teach 1, so I don't know how God is answering that prayer, but I trust He is just as bountifully!

In my quiet time this morning God reminded me from 1 John 5:14-15, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we have asked of Him."

God wants no one to perish. He wants everyone to come to Him. He calls us to make disciples. Because of these truths, we can be confident that He is going to answer our prayers with a resounding,"Yes!" Lord, please help us to be faithful to abide in You; to continue to pray for your help in sharing, recording and discipling those You bring to Yourself; and to be faithful to follow through as You guide, direct and place opportunities right before us!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Faith like the Widow of Zarephath

I am usually a go-getter. When God gives me clear direction, I usually run full force to accomplish that which He has assigned.

Today, I sit here immobilized. Two weeks ago God gave me very clear marching orders, yet I find myself unable to take the first step. I know what to do, but I haven't done it.

I feel overwhelmed. I feel incapable of moving forward. I lack faith that God will supply the minimal volunteers needed to accomplish the task. It looks larger than Goliath, when in reality, the to-do list is much more simple than most of our ministries. In my head I know I am making it bigger than it really is. Yet here I sit.

The past two days God has addressed this issue with me through His Word. Today in 1 Kings 17 and yesterday in Matthew 11.

In 1 Kings 17:9 God told Elijah that He commanded a widow to supply him with food once he got to Zarephath. In verse 13 Elijah told the widow what God said. Did she not hear God? Did she not realize Elijah was the guy she was to feed? Did she not recognize or trust the voice of God?

Daily the widow got to see God work a miracle as the flour and oil were never depleted. Yet it took a more personal miracle...God bringing her son back to life through Elijah, for her to finally believe. Verse 24 records, "Then the woman said to Elijah, 'Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is truth.'"

I cannot even count how many times I have seen God provide...mini miracle after mini miracle. I am confident that I know His voice. Yet my lack of initiative is proof that I doubt His power, His ability to provide. I love the quote, "Where God guides, He provides." Then why don't I budge?

Yesterday from Matthew 11:28-30 God clearly and affectionately said to me, "Come to Me, all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

I hear God saying to me, "The thing I am asking you to do with Me is achieved without great effort, without difficulty. The load I am asking you to carry is of little weight. It is a small amount."

I need to step out in faith. Lord, taking the first step of this assignment that I know will bring you great glory feels huge to me. Is it because I am not correctly connected to Your yoke? Please show me how to make what feels so huge, feel of little weight. Help me believe like the widow of Zarephath finally believed. Please help me move forward with You regardless of how I feel. Please increase my faith and quadruple my initiative. Please make me a go-getter for You!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pursue Peace

Hebrews 12:14a, "Pursue peace with all people." In the Book of Hebrews we are commanded to make peace with others a priority of life. In my estimation, people fall into one of three categories: Peacemakers, Troublemakers, and Bystanders.

Bystanders are "rubber-necks." They turn and look at a conflict but take no part in what is happening. Troublemakers are those who create dissension, discord, and distrust among others. God is not the author of confusion and dissension but peace. Peacemakers are those who try to mend fences between people. They may even be one of the parties involved in the conflict.

To obey God's command to seek out peace, it takes effort on our part. Peacemaking doesn't mean appeasement (give in to another to make them happy). Pursuing peace means doing what is right in God's eyes and helping others know what is right and doing it. This can be hard but it is what God desires. The Church should be filled with people pursuing peace. However, intuitively I think there are probably more troublemakers and bystanders than peacemakers.

Which am I? God says to be a healer, a resolver of conflict, a lover of others. I need to make peace making a priority of my life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Come and See

In the Gospel of John, a simple phrase stands out - "Come and See." When Andrew, brother of Peter, first met the Lord, Jesus responded to his initial inquiry with a simple phrase "Come and See." Later Philip would respond to Nathaniel's questions with a simply "Come and See." The woman at the well would call the Samaritans to "Come and See" a man who told me all things I have ever done.

Sometimes in our efforts to share Jesus with other people we think that we must know the answers to all their questions. In the process, do we make sharing the gospel harder that it really is? Sometimes all our response to another needs to be is to "Come and See" Jesus. In so doing, we allow them to experience and see for themselves the living Lord Jesus Christ.

As sharers of the gospel, our responsibility is to introduce people to Jesus (not necessary answer every possible theological/Biblical question imaginable). Let's not be afraid nor ashamed to invited others to "Come and See" our marvelous and exalted Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On Being Merciful

Mercy is not receiving the consequences which we deserve. Mercy is God forgiving us when we deserve judgment and death. Mercy is God withholding discipline when we have done nothing to merit it. Mercy is God removing the consequences of my actions when by all right I should have been blasted by them all. Mercy is a major characteristic of God. It comprises His very being. God is a merciful God.

I cannot find one example in Scripture where a person humbly calls upon God for mercy and fails to receive it. God loves mercy and He wants us to be merciful as well. He says that if someone sins against us seven times in a day and then says he repents, we are to forgive them each and every time (Luke 17:4). You know, I personally struggle with that at times. God finds it easy. I have all this baggage I bring to the table when people sin against me that wants me to hold grudges and exact vengeance. God has none of that baggage and delights in mercy and forgiveness.

May we all find the grace to be as merciful and forgiving to others as our God is to us. Otherwise, He will treat us with the same unforgiving spirit as we treat others. Matthew 18:35

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

God's Blessings

So...it's been a while since I've posted anything. I want to let you all know how much Katie and I have appreciated your prayers and support through this time. For those that don't know, in addition to expecting our son Levi to arrive any day now, we also made the decision to close the doors of our small business. Tomorrow will be our last day open.

To call God "good" during this time would be the understatement of the year. Over and over again He has shown that He is in control, that He provides what we need (physically, emotionally, financially and especially spiritually) and that opening ourselves to His will is always the best and easiest way in the end.

As I await my little boy coming to this world, I know that the lessons I have learned in the past year will serve me well. I hope that I can pass those lessons along to him as well, though if he's anything like his father, I'm sure he'll have to learn some of them for himself.

On Sunday, Ron talked about God's judgement and how it still exists even if we don't believe it. But there's also the flip side to that. Even when we can't see or don't believe that we are receiving His blessings, they are most definitely still there.

Hoss

Monday, August 29, 2011

So Simple

In January Pastor Ron asked our staff to pray daily for El Camino's goals for 2011...that God would allow us the opportunity to share the gospel with 5200 people, that He would bless us by letting us be a part of seeing 777 people come to a personal, saving relationship with Him, and that each one of us would reach one, and that each one of us would teach one (lead one person to the Lord, and disciple one person.)

Weekly in our staff Bible study, he asks us how many times we remembered to pray. Last week when I saw the pain and disappointment in his eyes because we just aren't following through, I committed there and then to make a conscious effort to pray daily (Yes, almost 8 months later, but better late than never.)

For me, being a list maker, the solution was so simple. I took a little piece of stationary that a friend gave me, and wrote down the 3 goals (and a few other daily items to pray). I put it in my Bible like a book mark. Each morning the first thing I see when I open my Bible is this prayer bookmark. I take a few moments of my quiet time to pray for these important requests, and then put a tiny heart next to it to keep track of my faithfulness. Seeing my progress motivates me greatly to continue.

Something incredible happened in less than one week. 1. I feel a renewed excitement about the direction God has called El Camino. 2. God has led me to my personal 'Reach 1, Teach 1.' 3. God has given me a simple, exciting idea on how we can reach many more people to share the gospel with, who will hopefully accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, with minimal effort and little extra man power. 4. Since this idea includes multiple ministries, it has the potential of being a unifying factor at El Camino. 5. When Pastor Ron holds us accountable again this Tuesday, I'll be able to honestly say I am praying daily. And I love the feeling of joy I feel when I follow through on commitments!

Please join our staff in praying for El Camino's goals. God gave them to us. He will delight in answering them!

2 Timothy 2:2
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Truth impacts Worship

In my devotions, I was reading Matthew 15. Jesus made a rather stark judgment upon the Pharisees. He declared that all their worship was vain (worthless, of no effect, empty) because they were teaching their own rules instead of God's. Here these people went to elaborate ends and had extravagant ceremonies that they used in their worship program. Yet it all the effort meant nothing to Jesus. It may seem like a brutal statement but please understand that the central element of worship is to focus on God in Spirit and Truth (see John 4:24).

This is not an either-or statement. Worship must encompass both Spirit and Truth. So Jesus declared to the Pharisees that it didn't matter what they felt or how they performed. It boiled down to the fact that their worship was worthless because they weren't teaching the Truth about God. This is a tremendous lesson that we as a individuals and church must understand.

When a church or individual promotes or teaches that which is not true, it doesn't matter how elaborate, how beautiful, how exciting, how wonderful worship may feel. God looks upon all of it as VANITY. The word in Greek can mean "fruitless effort." When truth is lacking, God sees no fruit in the worship, no value in what occurs, nothing that honors Himself.

We, as individuals and church, must guard our worship. We must honor Him in truth as well as Spirit.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Are Your Ready for Some Football?

Fall is approaching and if you watch Monday night football, you are familiar with the phrase, "Are you ready for some football?" Football addicts might say, "We are always ready to watch a game." Can we say the same things in our spiritual life? In my devotions this morning I read Matthew 24:44. Jesus said, "Be ready for His coming." "Are we ready for His coming?" Now Jesus wasn't talking football. He was talking about His return to earth to judge it. When He returns, and I believe it could be any time, will He find us prepared, living a life honoring Him and expecting Him to come?

As believers, we need to live our lives as though Jesus was coming today. That doesn't mean we sell our houses and cars and wait on the roof tops. It means that while we plan as though there will be a future, we hope that He makes His glorious appearing today. Spiritually are we prepared to face the Judge when He comes? Is our life in order? Are relationships where they ought to be? Have we shared the gospel with everyone that we love and care for? Have we been waiting to make commitments at a better time? There is no better time to get ready than right now.

We don't know the day nor the hour He is coming. Every day should be lived to the fullest in the hope that today is the day of His coming and I want to be ready when He comes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

From Summer to Fall

Summer officially concluded for us Saturday evening with our Father Son Outdoor Fun campfire and stargazing event. It was heartwarming watching the dads and their sons interacting with one another. Dads and sons have such a unique relationship. I love that little boys want to be like their dads. It looked like they were having a lot of fun!

With no time to waste, Awana begins next Sunday evening. Dozens of boys and girls will converge on the El Camino campus from 4-6 pm to play games, recite Bible verses that they memorized at home, and hear a timely message from God's Word that they will be able to apply to their young lives. Please pray that God will bring each child and volunteer He has handpicked to Awana each week. Please pray that we will be faithful in sharing God's love and His Word with each little one, from 2 years old through 8th grade. And please pray that each heart will be transformed more and more into the image of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Which Child Were You?

After Prayer Meeting tonight, a feisty gentleman in his 70's couldn't resist teasing me before heading out. As a former first grade teacher, I wondered what that gentleman was like when he was 7; this man who now serves God so wholeheartedly, joyfully and selflessly. It gave me the idea to interview adults who love and strive to serve God, to see what God used to help develop them into the men and women that they are today.

We'll start with me. Who was I?

I was the little girl who was invited to church by a friend because I either spent Saturday night at her house, or was invited to be her 'visitor' so my friend could win a prize for inviting someone to Sunday School.

I was the quiet little girl who sat completely still, hanging on the teacher's every word. I was fascinated and absorbed everything that was said. I was shocked that the other children knew the answers to things I was hearing about for the very first time.

I was the attentive little girl who never took my eyes off the teacher. I couldn't understand why he would be so kind to me, or why she took such an interest in me. My world was brighter because they smiled at me when they were teaching or leading. Their smile spoke volumes to me. I felt noticed. I felt significant. I felt loved.

I was the disappointed little girl who cried on the inside when it was time to go home. I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay there where I felt loved and significant and cared about. I wanted to know more about this God. I wasn't done. I didn't understand it was all repeated the next week and that I was welcome to return, even though they said they hoped to see me again.

I was the little girl who was here today and gone tomorrow. My family moved a lot. We lived in 8 different neighborhoods in 5 different states by the time I was 12. With each move came new friends, and new opportunities to be invited to someone's church. Very few invited me; this quiet, scraggly, insecure little girl. But there were a few precious times when people did invite me to a Sunday School class here, or to an outreach event there. I never declined if my parents let me go. And I treasured each experience. I still remember them to this day.

Going to church as a child was a treat for me. It was a place where I got to experience people who loved children in a way that was different for me. They took time to invest in us. They were excited about God and about making sure we knew all about Him. And they noticed us. They noticed me! They looked me in the eye, smiled at me, and said they were glad I was there. And I believed them. They were believable. They showed they cared.

Those Christian teachers, leaders and helpers were Jesus to me. I knew God loved me because those people loved me. I don't know that I ever knew their names, and I can't picture a specific face when I think about those experiences, but I clearly remember their smiles, and I remember the way they made me feel. It is exactly the same way Jesus still makes me feel today.

Hebrews 13:1-2 says, "Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." I'm certainly no angel, but when we show love and hospitality to others, we never know how God is going to use it. I am so thankful and grateful to each of God's servants who reached out and ministered to me when I came to their church.

Today I serve as the Director of Children's Ministries at our church. I pray God will give me many opportunities to reach out to others for Him in return, so they too can experience this loving God, no matter where they come from. What an honor to carry on this legacy of love, one small person at a time.


May I introduce you to our readers? May I tell your childhood story? Please let me know. You are a work of God. Your childhood experiences contributed to who you are now. Please let me share what He did in you. I'd love to hear your story. I know others would as well!

Friday, July 15, 2011

When It's All Said and Done

Today is the last day of our final camp of this summer. Summer Science Spectacular is quickly drawing to a close. Many parents will be attending our finale tonight with their children to enjoy a sample of what we experienced all week. They will also get to hear about this Jesus their children learned about. Our prayer is that they will be in awe of God's Son, and tonight choose to have a personal relationship with Him. At least 32 of their children did. Please pray their parents will as well.

Last night I glanced at the Children's Ministry page on our web site. I saw the list of events and activities that we've held since January. Besides jokingly thinking, "No wonder we're tired!" I sat there wondering if God was truly glorified. Did we do what God called us to do, and only what He called us to do? Did we take advantage of every opportunity to share Him thoroughly and completely? Did we follow up well enough so that if there were any lingering questions or confusions we could clarify and guide? Is our plan to disciple them in the coming months adequate and God led?

I know God cares more about our personal relationship with Him than He does about what we do for Him, and for that, I am grateful and relieved. It is during those cherished personal quiet times with Him that He has the chance to instruct and guide us. I also know that He has called us to go forth and make disciples. I sat there last night wondering, are we being faithful? Lord, please guide our every decision and ministry move. Please help us to reach each person you bring our way for You! And may You be highly lifted up in all ways so our little piece of Your world will know that Jesus is the Son of God, their Redeemer!

"Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent."
John 17:3

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Praising God!

Our group of 22 adults and teens returned yesterday afternoon from our first Family Mission Trip. We went to the Gospel Rescue Mission's Women's and Children's Center here in Tucson. Although probably less than 20 miles from home, God used this trip in each of our lives in so many ways.

This morning I want to praise You Lord for:
*Choosing the location and the time for us to go.
*For knowing each one of us so intimately that you knew exactly what each one of us needed to experience this weekend in order to grow closer to You.
*For using us with our unique gifts and talents so that moms and children would be able to experience Your love.
*For exposing us to what a slippery slope just one poor choice can be. (Exodus 23:2)
*For the team You chose to go; for the friendships started, renewed and strengthened.
*For continuing to work on areas of our lives we haven't wanted to look at.
*For the potential of future ministry with these families.

Psalm 52:8-9 NIV

But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
For what You have done I will always praise You
in the presence of Your faithful people.
And I will hope in Your name,
for Your name is good.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hosea 6:1-3

Every year, each member of the El Camino staff picks a verse for the upcoming year...one to live out, one to remind them of something through the year, etc. Usually, I start looking around September or October for something that might interest me but I have a feeling my verses for 2012 will be Hosea 6:1-3:

Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.

He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him.

So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.

What great promises about God's faithfulness to us in time of need. It is as certain as the dawn so let's presson to know Him.

Hoss

Monday, June 27, 2011

Partnership

Fine Arts Camp was last week. God sent 100 campers, many who were unchurched or from various denominations, and about 55 volunteers. A couple weeks ago Camp E.D.G.E. ended, in which 25 volunteers were privileged to share Christ with 72 campers. Our Children's and Family Mission Trip is this Friday in which 23 volunteers will minister to 50ish moms and children. We will end our VBS summer camps with Summer Science Spectacular in which we are anticipating about 350 campers and are praying for at least 50 volunteers.

The apostle Paul was a strong man, yet he never worked alone. He partnered with fellow Christians. He counted on them for their prayers, financial, physical and emotional support. His goal was to glorify God...to know Christ and make Him known. He rejoiced in their love and thoughtfulness, and he loved them greatly in return.

In my quiet time with God this morning I read Philippians. Chapter 1 verses 3-11 describes the way I feel about our amazing volunteers who work selflessly so that children and their families can know Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him. Like Paul, I am so thankful for each one, and love each one dearly. From the most grateful part of my heart I echo Paul's words:

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."

Many blessings Precious Partners!! You are the best!!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Defining Moments

I continue to read in Henry Blackaby's book "Created to be God's Friend" Today it talked about defining moments. Mr. Blackaby states that "one" of the most important defining moments between God and Abraham was when he told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It took 40 years for God to shape Abraham to the point that Abraham would exercise complete faith in God. Leading up to this moment were many defining and shaping moments in Abraham's life all leading up to this most important moment of all. I'm sure all of us who seek to follow God could look back and see moments where God has tested us and called us to defining moments that would continue to shape us in His image. I encourage each of us to occasionally look back and see the wonder of God's work in us as we look and move forward for Him

Blessings
Dick Dillender

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where are my arrows?

Joel Hibbs is the son in law of Verna Tharp. Joel was El Camino's first paid custodial person. Since then he has served in ministry and until recently was a pastor at a CBA church in Page. Recently he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. This is likely the result of receiving radiation treat for Hodgkin's disease about 20 years ago. His prognosis is terminal.

Just last week Bert Downs, Regional Executive Director of the Southwest CBA, met with Joel whom he has know since their seminary days in the 80's. Bert writes as follows:

In the course of conversation, I asked Joel, "What's your best memory from your years of ministry." Without hesitation he said, "The first person I led to faith in Christ." My "why" question was followed with this answer: "Because he was an arrow that traveled far."

What great imagery! Here was a person Joel took from no knowledge of Jesus to maturity in Him and His ministry, to a life well lived for Jesus and to leadership in the church. An arrow that traveled far, indeed. My guess is that Joel has many arrows like that out there . . . and he left me wondering, who are my arrows? And who are yours?


Joel continues to stimulate each of us to consider our ways. Where are my arrows? How has God used me in the life of others and how far have they gone as a result? Each of us should be continually mentoring and discipling others. This is my heart and passion. I trust it is yours as well.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Spontaneous Worship

In the book I'm reading, Created to be God's Friend", by Henry Blackaby the author is taking the reader through the journey of Abram to Abraham. It's a wonderful book that I would recommend. As I read this morning it talked about God revealing His name to Abraham in Gen. 17:3, Abraham immediately fell on on his face and worshipped. Blackaby states that Worship is a spontaneous response to God's presence. What a person does spontaneously in God's presence indicates the true condition of his heart toward God. The response of God to such heart-worship is overwhelming and immediate. Just a thought as we begin a new week.

Blessings
Dick Dillender

Saturday, June 4, 2011

An Eternal Perspective

Katie and I were talking the other day and she asked me if I thought the angels were praising God in heaven using my songs. Hmmm...I hadn't ever thought about that. I know the Bible doesn't give us all the specifics about what heaven is like so I doubt a verifiable answer could ever be found out. I suppose it's something we'll find out when we get there.

But it did paint an interesting picture in my mind. One of angels getting excited when little old me writes a new song. "Woohoo!!! That song glorifies the Name of God!!! Let's go sing it to our Lord!!!" What a responsibility I now feel thinking that there is even a possibility that this is true.

But it's the same responsibility that we all share. Imagine when you are doing your personal devotion and come across a little nugget in Scripture, something perhaps that few people have ever thought about in the way that you do. No one who has ever lived has ever had the same exact relationship with God that you do. Think about that as you go through your prayer life this week and as you speak with the people around you.

Hoss

Friday, May 27, 2011

Psalm 17:15

So, I've been meaning to post this one for a while now. I recently recorded a new song, Psalm 17, with Katie and posted it on my blog www.hossmusic.blogspot.com. Lyrically, it is becoming one of my favorites. The last verse is the one that has spoken to me most over the past few weeks. The psalmist cries out for God to confront his enemies and the wicked that is surrounding him. For 6 verses, he is in despair but then, in the final verse of the psalm, he says:

As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.

Katie and I talked about what this verse really meant. The thing that I kept coming back to was an analogy of a father and his child. When a little one has a nightmare and wakes up screaming and crying, seeing a father's face brings comfort. So, in the same way, when we are beset on all sides by the evil of this world, we can see our Father's face and be at peace knowing His righteousness.

Hoss

What Are Your Thoughts?

Wednesday MikelAnn and I went on numerous home visits to invite unchurched Good News Club families to attend Camp E.D.G.E. I was amazed at how many people live within a mile of our church...and that was just south! A mail carrier once told me that in just the few apartment complexes within a 1 mile radius of El Camino there were 10,000+ apartments. Mind boggling. And that doesn't even count houses.

If we focused on reaching out to just those within arms reach of us, the impact could be huge! Our little piece of the world isn't little.

I wonder what effective outreach to our neighbors would look like. What are your ideas to help them know who Jesus is?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Living Lord's Supper Outreach

As I have reported to some groups, our presentation of "The Living Lord's Supper" had 1993 in attendance with 223 of them being on line. We had people viewing from South Korea, Hawaii, across the country to New York. What a blessing. Of those that attended locally we had 191 people that didn't list a church home. On Saturday May 14th we had 30 people from the church go out and visit 100 of those prospects. We found that some still had a church home but just didn't mark that box. We did find several that had no church connection and we continue to follow up. I would ask for your prayers that we would see a harvest from this outreach effort. Also, many thanks to those who came out to visit. You are greatly appreciated.

Pastor Dick

Monday, May 23, 2011

The World Didn't End

Well the prophecy was stated, “The World will end May 21.” May 21 has come and gone and the world is still here. According to the Old Testament, the ones who issued the prophesy should be stoned as false prophets. A true prophet’s words, since they are from God, will always come to past. There are many false prophets today broadcasting the end is near. Some are saying it will occur at the end of the Mayan calendar. False prophets come and false prophets go but God remains.

I do believe the end is near. I just don’t know “How near?” It could be today (Come Lord Jesus Come). It could be years, decades away. However, at the right moment, the trump shall sound and the saints will be gathered to be with Jesus. I honestly don’t get upset with all the “End is near” say-ers. God tells us that end is coming so that we will be prepared, ready for the time of His appearance. He has warned the unbelievers that He is coming in judgment. He has encouraged the believers that He is coming to reward.

When He comes, will He find me looking for Him? I prepare for His coming by living in obedience to the Word and telling others about the true God who died on the cross for their sins. In other words, I live as though He were coming today, even if He waits for years to come.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Six Hindrances to Becoming a Disciple Maker

Six Hindrances to Becoming a Disciple Maker

Skip Gray is a friend and mentor. Over the years, he has shared his faith and wisdom with many. In 1978 he published six things that keep people from becoming Reproducers – Disciple Makers. Our goal as a church this year is that each person at El Camino become a person who “Wins One and Teaches One.” In a nutshell that is Disciplemaking. Let me give you in summary form Skip’s reasons why people don’t become reproducers.

1. Laziness – A lazy Christian will never be used by the Spirit of God to be the foundation for spiritual generations. Provers 13:4 “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.

2. Busyness – Individuals can often create the illusion of great accomplishments by appearing to be continually busy. But if you analyze their activities, you may realize that the significance and value of their busyness is minor. God's priority of life is to reproduce disciples. Busyness keeps one from doing what God has commanded to do.

3. Prayerlessness – Jesus when surrounded by pressures withdrew and prayed. When we are pressured, what is our response? Pressure should result in prayer and prayer results in power from God.

4. Shortsightedness – Esau sold his birthright for the sake of a quick meal. He was the founder of the “Now Generation.” We have a spiritual birthright. It is our privilege to be the foundation of many generations but too often many will forsake our spiritual birthright just to satisfy our own momentary pleasures.

5. Indecisiveness – If God is God, serve Him. If there is another god, serve him. Jesus will not let you be indecisive. No man can serve two masters. Serve God or the flesh. Choose whom you serve.

6. Unconfessed Sin – I see, I covet, I take, I hide. That is the pattern of sin throughout Scripture. 1 John 1:9 is the cure but if we don’t, it hinders our prayers and relationship with God and others. Psalm 66:18,19.

How tragic is the Christian who is hindered from his or her potential as a spiritual parent to produce generations of believers. Laziness, busyness, prayerlessness, shortsightedness, indecisiveness, and unconfessed sin can all be hindrances to the Christian. And yet, this need not be so, for God has provided power to overcome these barriers. As we seek His power, we can work toward fulfilling Jesus’ command of making disciples of all nations and become the foundation of generations of men and women. (Skip Gray)

Follow the Leader







As a child one of my favorite games was 'Follow the Leader.' I liked being part of a group, all doing the same thing at the same time, having fun together. There was no competition. Just camaraderie and fun. I loved belonging.

Interestingly though, I didn't like being the leader. There was too much pressure to make the game fun and exciting. I didn't want to ruin the fun or disappoint anyone. I simply liked participating.

I'm still that way. I much prefer following the leaders in my life. It is important to me that they be trustworthy, strong, wise, godly leaders. It is a pleasure to submit to their leadership, and to work hard alongside them to achieve the goals God has shown them we are to work towards, for His glory.

I especially love following God's direct lead. I love when He personally shows me what He wants in particular situations. A few months ago He impressed upon my heart the idea of having our Good News Club families over to El Camino for a Family Dinner and Game Night. He helped us be creative, provided everything we needed, and brought almost 3 dozen families, 2/3 who were unchurched.

It was exciting to watch it all unfold. It was also a little scary since it was our first time doing something like this, and we had no road map to guide us. It felt like playing Follow the Leader blindfolded, on the ledge of a winding, mountain road.

But God was as faithful as usual. The details were worked out, decisions made, and all went well. We learned a lot about how to make things even better next time. But all in all, it was a great event. Our guests appeared to enjoy themselves, and everyone heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know God will use His Word mightily in their lives!

Please pray that the seeds that were planted will grow fully. Like Jesus, we desire that no one would perish, that no one would be separated from God forever. Please pray that every single person who heard the gospel will continue to think about it, and will accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior if they didn't that night.

Isaiah 55:11
"...so is My Word that goes out from My mouth:
It will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Born to Reproduce

One of the sermons (now available in booklet form) that has impacted my life the most was given by Dawson Trotman. He states in "Born to Reproduce" that every person is born to mature and reproduce themselves in the physical realm. There are only three things that keep a person from reproducing: 1) Lack of maturity - we don't expect a 6 year old to have babies; 2) Lack of a mate - it takes two to have a baby; 3) Lack of Health - a healthy body is needed but infertility and disease can prevent a body from reproducing.

In the spiritual realm, the same is true. Every person is born again with God's intent that they reproduce. Only three things keep a person from reproducing in the spiritual life: 1) Lack of maturity - they haven't grown spiritually; 2) Lack of a mate - they haven't develop an intimate relationship with their Savior, Jesus Christ, whose passion was to die for all men and see many come to faith and maturity; 3) Lack of Health - let's just call this sin.

Are we reproducing spiritually? If not, what is the reason and how do we correct it? God has called all of us to be winning others to Christ and bringing them to maturity so that they can reproduce as well.

2 Timothy 2:2 "The things thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

Holy Ground

Wednesday was our final Good News Club (GNC) for this school year. It has been a challenging yet rewarding year. 75% of our students were unchurched. Many of them accepted Jesus as their Savior. The clubbers came each week to learn more about God, His Word, Jesus; and as one little GNC girl put it, to learn about other people who knew and loved God too!

Our GNC staff gathers together to connect and pray before heading out to club each week. I was running late this time, and got there right as they were starting to pray. I walked into the room and was instantly overwhelmed with the presence of God. Have you ever had a moment when you knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, that you were standing on holy ground? This was one of those moments for me. As I sat there listening to these amazing saints pray, I was overwhelmed with God’s presence, protection, and pleasure. Week after week this dedicated group of selfless servants went back to the front lines to share God with His precious little children. It was not easy. It is the most difficult ministry I have personally ever experienced. Yet each week they diligently prepared, faithfully prayed, and selflessly served with excellence.

That morning in my quiet time with God, He kept saying to me, “If you have not love, you are nothing.” This group of servants is God’s love in the flesh. They are certainly 'something' for Him!!

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 says, “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” May God richly bless them beyond measure!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thank you for your prayers!

Many of you know that we have had our house on the market for over a year now and have watch as the price dropped with no buyers . . . until this month! We are set to close the sale of our current house on June 8th - bringing to an end a long road of learning about God's faithfulness and gentle leading.

I'm excited that we can close this chapter in the housing process and I'm eager to see what God has in store for me and my family in the coming days, weeks and months. We have a bid in on a house that is a short sale (meaning a lot of uncertainty and waiting. This has had the wonderful side effect of strengthening my prayer time with God - not just for the "right" house to be found, but really taking a day-by-day approach to His leading down an uncertain path in our lives.

In a strange way I am enjoying the adventure of where this journey will lead us. Thank you, God, for taking us down this road and promising never to leave us alone while we don't see at all what You have seen since before the foundations of the earth were laid.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Divine Appointments

A week ago we were busy getting ready for our Mother Daughter Garden Party. A coworker brought in a tub of scissors for the craft. In the tub were two pair of scissors that cut decorative edges. They belonged elsewhere and I was glad they had been found so I could put them in their proper place for easy retrieval.

That evening I was at the Dollar Store picking up a few table decorations. I heard a lady on her cell phone talking with her middle school daughter. She was looking for scissors that cut decorative edges. They were having quite the 'discussion.' The daughter had waited until the night before the project was due to work on it, and mom was trying to get her the needed supplies. "I don't want to go all the way over to Michael's. How about ..." and mom was naming options available at the Dollar Store, much to the disappointment and disapproval of her daughter. I walked over to her, excused my interruption, told her I worked at the church across the street, and if she wanted, she could borrow ours. I knew just where they were. She followed me over and got the scissors. I gave her our Summer ministries packet, and she shared with me their former 'church' story. Hopefully God will bring them to El Camino so we can help them grow in their relationship with Him since they are looking for a place to fit in.

A couple nights ago I was at an appointment. The single mom technician shared that she had a new(in their first year together), 14 year old adopted son. I asked if he had a Youth Group. They happen to attend the catholic church in the neighborhood of our church. She shared some of their struggles. I shared with her a great web site I recently learned about, The Center for Biblical Parenting. She immediately stopped what she was doing, and brought me paper to write it down on. She was quite interested in God's help as she learned to parent her new son.

There are a lot of people all around us with a lot of needs. If we remain available, God can and will use us to minister to His people as He directs. What an honor!

Galatians 6:2
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Psalm 17:6a

I am currently working on recording a song Psalm 17 (if you don't know about my "Song For Every Psalm" project, you can check out my music blog at www.hossmusic.blogspot.com) and I have been thinking a lot about the first part of verse 6. The psalmist says:

I call on You, my God, for You will answer me.

This became exceedingly relevant as it was National Day Of Prayer yesterday. Notice the verse doesn't say "for You might answer me" or "for You'll probably answer me". It says "for You WILL answer me". Not only can we be confident that God hears our every prayer but that He will answer our every prayer.

Hoss

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Aflame for Christ

As I have been studying in Scripture, I have been impressed with the need to be passionate for Christ. Different words come to mind when I think of what it means to be passionate in my relationship with Jesus - excited, burning, committed, inspired, consumed, and highest priority. But the one thought that keeps coming to mind is that if I am passionate for Christ I will be AFLAME for Him. I see this as encompassing at least two things.

First, when someone has caught fire and is aflame, they become a light in the midst of darkness. If I am aflame from Christ, my light will shine before men and they will glorify my Father who is in heaven.

Second, if a person gets to close to a flame, they catch fire as well. If I am aflame, then those with whom I come in contact will feel the heat and catch fire as well.

How do I know I am aflame? People will see Jesus and people catch the vision for passion for Him.

A Light to the World

Saturday, April 30, 2011

God's Power

In the classroom of my time alone with God this week, He has been reminding me that He is the Almighty, All-Powerful, Loving, Sovereign God. He has been showing me the incredible power, His power, that is available to me, that is already in me, just waiting to be unleashed. I am reminded that I am a very slow learner.

God showed me this week in Luke 4:14 that after Jesus was tempted in the desert, after He fasted for 40 days which had to make Him feel at least physically weak, He "...returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit." That same Spirit that is in Jesus is in us. I can tap into that exact power, for God's glory, any time I want.

But what do I usually do? I depend upon myself and other humans. I work harder and longer and get others to work harder and longer with me. I think and problem solve and organize. Yes, I sit daily at the feet of Jesus and listen for His direction. I genuinely abide...for the moment. But once I get my marching orders, off I go. Even though I have His incredible power within me, and even though all I have to do is talk with Him moment by moment, and listen to Him and believe Him; for some reason I choose to move forward, step by step, on my own power. What am I thinking? That's like the difference in a lightening bolt and static electricity. Complete absurdity.

God shows me time and time again who He is. He is incredibly real in my life. I need to trust Him more. I need to tap into His power more. John 3:30 says it beautifully. "He must become greater; I must become less.” I need to do away with my independent spirit and trade it in for more of His. Moment by moment I need to let Him be God, because clearly I am not!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A New Bible For My Little Girl

Romans 10.17 tells us that, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."

I have seen this illustrated in our family as we have often read and quoted Scripture to our little Emmy, Livy and now Abby. For Easter we gave Emmy her first "Big Girl" Bible - a complete Bible - not just a kids Bible with selected stories or fun pictures. For the past few months, she has been begging for her own Big Girl Bible so she can read about God and Jesus. When we gave it to her for Easter this past Sunday, she was beside herself with joy and since then has been carrying her new Bible (complete with pink cover and flowers) around with her everywhere. Every chance she gets, she begs me to read to her about the disciples, Jesus and more.

God has used my little girl to remind me of how important hearing the Word of God really is in the lives of those around us - and in our own lives. Thank you God for this not-so-subtle reminder of the power we to often overlook in our daily busyness of life - power that we need to be taking time to read and hear.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Miracles

This past Monday, my wife, Katie, and I found out that God is blessing us with a baby boy. His name is going to be Levi Joseph (God has joined together in harmony and will increase). As I sat watching the ultrasound I thought about the miracle of birth. How so many things have to go right at every stage. How the female body adapts to having a whole other person inside of it. How the baby's body grows and matures as the weeks go by.

There are some that say miracles no longer occur. I say they are fools. There are 6 billion people on earth right now because of 6 billion miracles.

Not only is our first birth a miracle, but our rebirth as well. That the Holy Spirit can change my heart and mold my life according to the purpose of the Lord is nothing short of miraculous.

How many miracles have you seen this week, this month, this year?

Hoss

Mother Daughter Garden Party

This Saturday, April 30th, is our Mother Daughter Garden Party luncheon. It is a fun event for women and girls to gather together to eat lunch and chat, make a craft, and hear an inspiring, motivating speaker. This year Chris Bengds will bless us as she speaks on, 'How Does Your Garden Grow?'

It is also a nonthreatening opportunity for women to invite their friends and family members to attend with them. The luncheon is designed to help women see how pleasant and fulling it is to be a part of the Body of Christ, and to meet Jesus personally. Through the casual interactions and the planned out program, relationships can be strengthened, new friendships encouraged and a relationship with Jesus introduced.

The registration deadline was Easter Sunday, but we shopped for extra, so please contact us as soon as possible to secure some of the available spots. We don't want to leave anyone out. We don't want to miss an opportunity to introduce someone to Jesus, or to help someone grow in their relationship with Him.

See you Saturday!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Being Shaped by God

Today I'm continuing my reading in a book by Henry Blackaby entitled "Created to be God's Friend" It's the account of how God worked in Abraham's life. I'm going to share a section of the book that talks about worship, it is as follows: "It is preeminently true that no one can be shaped by God and consistently blessed by God who has not established his heart in worship! It is in worship that God has purposed to reveal Himself, in ever-increasing measure. Continually notice how God shapes the mind and heart of Abraham as he worships. Worship is deliberate, steady, focused time with God. Worship anticipates not only an encounter with God, but also a clear next word from God. Worship is God's way of developing character and directing the life into the center of His will. The ultimate outcome of consistent worship is a life totally yielded to God on God's terms.

Blessings
Pastor Dick

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Sunday

My youngest son heard that in one locale that they were trying to change the name of "Easter Eggs" to "Holiday Spheres" so that no religion is being promoted. Now personally I would like to see the Easter Bunny blown into oblivion because it distracts from the Resurrection and takes a once appropriate illustration of life bringing and transforms it into a fairy tale myth which has no part in the Church. However, I see this attempt to do away with Easter Eggs as just another way the world would like to shove Christianity into the basement and lock it away.

However, I have this to say about why I observe Easter. I serve a RISEN Master. I serve the TRUE God who was crucified, dead, buried, and ROSE again the third day. There is an empty tomb because my SAVIOR LIVES.

Easter celebrates the most significant day in history. It is not the day when God came to earth but the day God demonstrated that He conquered death and sin on our behalf. Now I can live in forgiveness and freedom because I know my REDEEMER lives. It doesn't matter what the world says about Easter or how they try to stomp it out. No one has the power or ability to squash the Almighty God, Jesus Christ. I will continue to Worship and Serve Him and celebrate Easter as the day my GOD ROSE TRIUMPHANTLY FROM THE GRAVE.

Warm Fuzzies

Sunday afternoon my four year old daughter, Emmaleigh, came home from AWANA where she learned something new to her - the Gospel Fuzzies Glove presentation of the gospel. It's not surprising that she would be excited about a new craft project from AWANA - she is a wonderfully creative little girl and being able to sing along to the gospel message while wearing a black glove with colorful "fuzzies" (pom poms) on each finger was certainly a treat for her.

What did surprise me was that when our neighbors (who are not believers) came walking by, she sang the gospel fuzzies song while showing them what each color meant - my daughter presented the gospel without shame - with excitement - to our neighbors without ever considering what they might think or how they might respond. She was so excited about Jesus and this new way to share the Good News, that she could do nothing other than speak out.

The next surprise was how it made me feel - I felt proud as a daddy watching his little girl share about Jesus. But I found myself wondering what my neighbors were thinking while she sang this little song to them. The surprise to me was that I was wondering this at all - while my four year old daughter never gave it a second thought.

I have known these neighbors for over five years and never shared the gospel with them (they do know I'm a pastor), and it took Emmaleigh to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ. God used this incident as a window into my own heart - a heart that needs to be much more focused on sharing, boldly, with those around me.

What are your thoughts as to why we often find ourselves saying nothing to those most in need of hearing about Jesus?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Great Answer to Prayer

As a church we prayed for Asia Bibi. She was jailed in Pakistan for sharing her faith in Jesus. She underwent a tremendous amount of persecution. Muslims wanted her executed. You may recall that we put out petitions that many of you signed that were mailed to authorities in Pakistan. On Monday, a news release stated that the President of Pakistan had pardoned her and that she had been released from jail. Immediately after release, she went into hiding to protect herself and her family from these same Muslims who want her dead. We praise God for hearing our prayers and releasing our dear sister in the Lord! She faced the potential of death, endured separation from children and family, and endured intense persecution. Now we need to spend some time praising God for His goodness and continue praying for Asia that God would protect her and her family.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Are We Ready to Do God's Will

What if an angel of the Lord appeared before you right now? Would you hit the ground in wonder and awe? Suppose the angel said, "God wants you to do this certain thing." Would you jump up and do it? Would you doubt and debate doing it? Would you refuse to do it? The folly of it all is that when God speaks our only response is to obey - not debate nor doubt.

In truth, God has spoken directly to each of us through the Word of God - the living Lord Jesus Christ. He has said, "Go and make disciples through all the world." Every Christian, young or old; frail or vigorous; skilled or untrained, is to individually become a laborer in the harvest of the world. The harvest is plentiful the laborers are few.

God hasn't called us all to go to Borneo to do this. He has called each of us to share the good news of Jesus with our family, friends, and acquaintances. We don't have to go to Borneo to become laborers. We become laborers right where we are. Our harvest field is the group of people we are around on a daily basis. We don't need to go out looking for people to share with. We just need to share with the people we are with. Every person has an circle of influence.

If each person at El Camino would share the gospel with 10 people in their area of influence this year, we could easily surpass 5,200 presentations (520 members times 10) of the good news of Jesus. This is easily attainable if everyone would see sharing the gospel as their responsibility and boldly tell others about Him. We could easily see 777 people in that group come to saving faith in Jesus.

God has spoken to each of us. We are to be His laborers. Let us boldly and unashamedly tell people about Jesus. It is our individual responsibility to do this. Jesus has appeared and declared to those who follow Him to become laborers in the harvest. It is not the responsibility of someone else. It is mine. It is each of ours individually to share the good news of Jesus. I am to be a laborer!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

God's Big Story

I just returned from a national Children's Ministry Leaders' conference. After 8 years of serving as the Director of Children's Ministries here, it has finally all come together for me! I now understand how what we do fits together with God's big plan! I now understand how to help churched and unchurched children understand their role in God's big story!

In every single session at the conference God addressed something specifically with me. He spoke clearly and directly to me about things I need to improve, discontinue or do differently. He even brought people into my path to affirm all that He has recently called me to do!

I can't wait to get to work. It is going to be an amazing year!!!

Psalm 25:4-5
Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long!!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reaching Others

While I was at a pastor's event this week, I was reminded of a very important principle. Several people were talking about having the event again next year and how to get more people on board. The man leading the group said, "It is not the event that is important. It is the change in our lives that we can share that will bring more people."

In terms of growing El Camino, we need to remember that our purpose is not merely to get others to come to church (the event). What is important is getting them to share in the life change that we are experiencing. Whether we are evangelizing or introducing another to the opportunities available at El Camino, we are more prone to impact their lives if we share our excitement and our changed lives. As we do that with our group of family, friends, and acquaintances, we infect them with excitement and expectancy.

This has more far reaching influence with people than by publications and advertising. We will reach more people for Christ and see more people coming to El Camino as we share the excitement and joy we have from believing in Him and as we share the way God is using God's church at El Camino to change and encourage me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

God's Youngest Learners

video

Puggles is our Awana Club for two year olds. Their curriculum is very simple. They learn that God is our Creator, that He is to be praised and that He loves them. Through active play times, simple Bible lessons with accompanying big picture cards and Biblically-based songs, our youngest clubbers learn God's most basic Truths.

Experts around the world in the fields of education, psychology and brain development concur that what a child learns before the age of twelve stays with him/her throughout life. Twelve years is a short period of time. Let's not waste a moment that we could be teaching children about our Lord.

Our God is so good! Let's continue to impart that Truth to young and old alike!

God's Greatest Task in Life

I was talking with Arny Humble this week and he made a comment that struck me like a harpoon in the heart. He mentioned that in some ways his children had felt like his life and ministry had been put on hold for the last seven years as he cared for Wanda after her stroke. He then looked at me and said, "That is not true. I have just completed the greatest task God has given me in this life." He expressed that the most important thing he has done in life for the Lord was to love and care for his wife. No other accomplishment in life meant more to him than treating Wanda as his primary ministry. His life wasn't on hold for seven years as he cared for her after her stroke. His life was being lived for the fullest for God as he loved and ministered to her.

As Arny shared I was moved by his words. How we all need to be reminded that the most significant thing we can accomplish in life is to love and care for our mates and children. How easy it is to think that the important things of life are money, job, recognition by others, or even public ministry. That is not God's viewpoint. He places importance on fulfilling the responsibilities He has given us for our family.

May each of us consider our Biblical responsibilites as a mate and be able to say with confidence and pride, "I am finishing the greatest calling in my life as I care for my mate and children."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

God Knows Our Deepest Desires

Just a word of encouragement to anyone out there that might be experiencing some struggles.

I've been discovering lately that God has given me exactly what I have asked for. It has not been in the way that I expected, the way that I planned or the way that I desired. But He has been faithful to me and He will continue to bless me with what I need. It may not come in the neat little package that I've asked Him for, but it WILL come. Thank You Lord.

Hoss

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hope in the Midst of Marriage Turbulence

A young wife at church is struggling with remaining married to what she defines as a selfish, unmotivated, weak husband. In my marriage, it took 20 years before my husband was ready to be the godly husband God created him to be. I was drowning. A Christian counselor told me to get a godly mentor. Here are the most important lessons I learned in the nine years with my mentor.


Meet regularly with your mentor.
She worked with me for 9 of the 20 years we greatly struggled in our marriage. It was hard but so good for me. One time my hubby was being extremely difficult. When we met that week I shared with her our latest dilemma. She kept nodding her head in agreement, wrote down a few notes, and was so attentive. When I finished recounting the painful episode, she breathed and said, "Wow. You are really hurting!" I was. The fact that he was being 'extremely difficult’ is putting it mildly. I will never forget what she said next. It made me so angry, but once I processed it, it changed me forever. She said,

"He has really, really hurt you again.
#1. You need to forgive him. I hear a lot of hurt, anger and bitterness. I don't hear any forgiveness. God has called you to forgive.
#2. You need to focus on how you are going to show him love. I am sure with the anger and bitterness I'm hearing, that you haven't been very loving toward him. God has called you to love your husband.
#3. You need to pray more regularly and more faithfully for him. He needs a lot of prayer. It sounds like you are spending your energy reciting the ways he has wronged you instead of praying for him. Redirect that energy to prayer."

I was in utter shock. Here HE was being extremely difficult, and I was the one who AGAIN needed to be godly and loving!?! I was angry and even more hurt. She was supposed to be on my side. And she was. She was right. I needed to do what God called me to do, regardless of my circumstances.

Grow your personal relationship with Christ.
By doing so, it made it so that Christ met all my needs. When my hubby did surprise me by being unselfish, kind or loving, it was icing on the cake, not the cake. I did this through uncompromised time in His Word, prayer, meditation of scripture, verse memorization, reading Christian magazine articles, listening to Christian radio programs, etc. It was a process, but I kept at it.

NEVER entertain the idea of divorce. It isn't an option, so don't let your mind go there. My Pastor says that once you are married, he or she IS the right person. I promised God for better or worse, till death do us part. Hopefully this would be the worst, and our marriage would only get better. Once you let yourself think of divorce as an option, you are doomed. Of course if there is physical abuse or sexual infidelity you need to get to a safe place, but divorce should still not be the first thought.

Unconditional love is giving 100%, no matter what we feel we get in return. God will meet our needs, and will continue to work on our spouse. We need to be faithful to God and what He has called us to do. It is that simple. Our hope lies in knowing that God is in control, and will work all things out for our good, in His time.

If I hadn't gone through the rough years in my marriage, I might not have the intimate relationship with God I enjoy so much today. I am so thankful God is Sovereign. I would not have chosen that pain and disappointment. But I would never trade the relationship I have with Christ now for anything!

And my marriage? We just celebrated our 30th anniversary. God has turned it into the beautiful, sacred union He originally designed it to be. We still have our ups and downs. We are two imperfect, sinful humans. But now we are both surrendered to what God wants, and we both work at being forgiving, loving and praying spouses. I am thankful God brought me a mentor who kept me from jumping ship. God designed marriage for life. Trust His design and hang in there. It is worth it!

Psalm 16

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Integrity

Some of you might know that I am a huge sports fan, especially when it comes to college basketball. On Sunday, Pastor Ron taught about maintaining integrity. He used several sporting examples of a lack of integrity (Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, NBA ref Tim Donaghy). I wanted to share a story about the BYU basketball program. Now I know that the people involved believe some very different things than I do, but I still think we can learn a lesson.

For those that don't follow college basketball, BYU has a very good team this year. They whooped up on the U of A when they played early in the season, they have a national player of the year candidate in Jimmer Fredette and recently reached #3 in the rankings. But a couple of days ago, they dismissed their leading rebounder for violation of the school's honor code. It was just announced today that it was because the player had premarital sex with his girlfriend. You see, BYU makes every student, athlete or not, sign a covenant stating they will be abstinent (students are also not allowed to do drugs, drink alcohol or caffeine among other things). The student owned up to it, apologized to his teammates and is not appealing any action by the school at this point.

The thing that struck me was the school's response to this whole ordeal. They immediately removed the player from the team...a player that could be argued was their second most important...no questions asked...in the middle of a national championship caliber season. The landscape of college basketball and sports in general currently is to kowtow to the athletes. DUIs, drug charges and domestic abuse occur frequently and teams continue to let their players play so their team's record is not affected. A college baseball player was recently allowed to continue his run at the consecutive game hit streak record even though he has rape charges currently in the Bahamas (I'm happy to say, he fell 2 games short).

What set BYU apart from all of this? It was Pastor Ron's second point in his conclusion. True integrity is not influenced by circumstances. Many other schools would have kept it internal and withheld disciplinary action or at least waited until season's end. But they didn't. They did the right thing even when it truly hurt. How do we apply that? Psalm 15:4b says that one of the criteria for those worthy to live in God's sanctuary is to keep his oath even when it hurts. It's easy to have integrity on a sunny day, but it means so much more when we maintain it through the storm.

Hoss

Monday, February 28, 2011

God Answers Prayer

On Sunday, Alice Statler (one of the career missionaries El Camino supports) approached me before the service. We exchanged greetings. I hadn't realized she was back from Senegal. She shared a little bit about why she was in the States and then asked for prayer. She was scheduled to return to Senegal on Wednesday but had lost her passport and it was looking doubtful that she would be able to replace it because all of her original birth certificates were back in Senegal. As a church, we prayed on Sunday. We received the following from Alice on Monday:

Dear Friends,
Tom and Judith were able to get my birth certificate in less than half an hour. They went straight to the post office and it is being 'overnighted' to me in Tucson. It should arrive by noon tomorrow. I went to the passport agency and they said to come in as soon as it arrives and they will expedite my passport. So….I should be on that plane heading back to Senegal on Wednesday morning! Praise the Lord! Thank you so much for all you have done by your prayers and your efforts and by giving to meet my needs! I am so humbled by your love and care and by the Lord's amazing power! Love, Alice

God answers prayer! In addition to that, the Sunday before we prayed for individuals who were in the need of a job. This was a bit disconcerting for some when I asked everyone to stand who had that need. After this Sunday's service, one individual came to me and expressed how they stood up when I ask but did so a bit reluctantly. However, they said on the Tuesday following the prayer time they received a job offer that they had been pursuing!!! I heard of two different people who received jobs that week.

God does answer prayer. He is so good. He will answer your prayers - wait on the Lord for He is good and His love is everlasting. He is concerned with all your needs and promises to meet them.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

4' 33"

For anyone wondering about the title of this post it is "4 minutes 33 seconds". This is the title of a "song" by "musician" John Cage. It is a 3 movement piece where the orchestra sits silent for 4 minutes and 33 seconds and the audience is made to listen to the sounds around them...shuffling feet, people clearing the throat, the air conditioner in the theatre. You can watch this on Youtube in several different venues (and be bored to tears I might add).

You might be thinking, what a strange subject to write about. But I use this example to arrive at a quote of Mr. Cage's that I wanted to share with you:

"The highest purpose is to have no purpose at all. This puts one in accord with nature, in her manner of operation."

This is what the world wants us to believe. If we have no real purpose, then nothing matters and we can act however we want. Mr. Cage presupposes that by having no purpose, we will be like nature. But I beg to differ:

"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." - Psalm 19:1

"The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise." - Isaiah 43:21

It seems Mr. Cage is 100% wrong. Allow me to write my own quote:

"The highest purpose is to declare the glory of God. This puts one in accord with nature and, more importantly, into obedience of its Creator." - Hoss

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Around the World

This past Sunday I was blessed to be a part of the memorial service for Wanda Humble. In the short time I knew her I was always blessed by her love for the Lord. I was asked by Pastor Ron about live streaming the service, with Gregg Wright and Stephen Field we were able to stream the service "Around the World" friends from England, Belize, Indonesia, and here in the US were able to be a part of the service. What a blessing God has given us through technology to touch people here and "Around the World"

Pastor Dick

Friday, February 18, 2011

Right Here, Right Now

Wednesday I was invited to read in my friend's public school classroom for TUSD's Love of Reading Week. Being a former first grade teacher, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read to and interact with these little ones.

I took a Max Lucado storybook entitled You Are Special. It is a book about dignity and self worth. The characters in this sweet children's book are wooden people, made by the Carver. It eludes to the fact that our sense of value should be grounded in the opinion of our Maker, not that of the people around us.

I wanted to tell them that they have a Maker. I wanted to tell them that God created them, loves them so much, and wants to spend forever with them. I wanted to tell them that He loves them so much that He made a way for them to live forever in Heaven with Him. I wanted to tell them the amazing story of Jesus!

But I legally couldn't. School children during the day are not allowed to hear the name of Jesus being proclaimed in the classroom. Our personal statistics and those nationally collected show that 75%-80% of children have never heard the gospel. They don't even know who God really is. That is an astounding number!! As I looked into their attentive faces I knew that I held the key to their lifelong joy and everlasting life, and I couldn't share it. It broke my heart.

Afterward as I was driving back to church, I prayed and prayed that God would send us more workers so we could open a Good News Club at that school, just 2 miles from El Camino. THEN those little guys could legally hear about Jesus and have the opportunity for lifetime joy and everlasting life.

Not having enough people available to serve for God's glory isn't new. Even Jesus noticed the lack of workers over 2000 years ago. Luke 10:2 says, "He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'"

Please pray with us for workers, so that every public school child can hear the name of Jesus and know what He did for them. Their eternal destiny is up for grabs. Let's grab it for Jesus!!

Matthew 28:18-20

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Let's obey this great commandment today!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Matthew 5

I have been re-reading Matthew during my morning devotions and I came across this passage from verse 48:

"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

That is one heavy command. But, think about the wording of that first phrase. We are to be perfect. He doesn't say we will be perfect. He doesn't say we can be perfect. If we were able to achieve perfection then we wouldn't have a need for our perfect Heavenly Father. God wants us to strive toward righteousness and holiness. If we are going to be a light to our world, will that be better accomplished sitting in the comfort of where we are spiritually or having a constant and burning desire for purity? Romans 6:18 has the answer:

"and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."

Hoss