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.

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.


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.