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Helping People Live for God

Our vision is more than just a statement… it’s a calling. It’s an exciting calling, full of hope and promise. He has called us to be a living church. The calling isn’t about a service or a building… it’s about a group of people seeking life in God and fellowship with one another. There is nothing greater than serving God! We are committed to helping people discover the joy that only comes from knowing God personally.
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Staff Blog

God’s Economy

by Truston Baba on Jan 22, 2015

In the natural world, what you put into something is directly related to what you get out. If you put $50 into a savings account you have $50 in the account. If you plant an apple seed you get an apple tree. If you run on a treadmill and eat fewer calories you lose weight. Whatever you do is correlated to what you receive. If you work 40 hours a week you receive a paycheck. If you don’t brush your teeth you get a cavity. If you run a red light you will get a ticket. Cause and effect is something in the natural world that we all understand. But in God’s economy he works completely different. If you tithe or give you don’t necessarily get money back, but maybe peace, or joy or provision in another way. If you serve and give of your time you may not get more hours in your day, but you may get a life giving relationship, you may sleep better, you may get a raise at work. When you pray or fast there’s no telling what you will get. Over this fast there has been something I have been praying about personally that I wanted answered in a specific way, but miraculously God answered my prayer in a way completely different than I had even thought possible. Not only that, by answering my prayer he, in turn, answered someone else’s prayer at the same time.

So many times, when we have a problem, we know how we think God needs to answer it. I have learned that God is not a math equation to be figured out. He is our heavenly Father who knows what’s best for us. 2+2 with God may equal 4, but it also may equal wisdom, or grace, happiness, or rest or 2+2 may equal 5000. We can never be sure how He will answer, but we can be sure he *will* answer. The Bible says that God directs the steps of the righteous, that He clothes the fields and flowers, that He will never leave us or forsake us. So trust in God’s economy even if you’re not sure how it all will play out. Because with God we know if we are faithful and obedient it will always land in our favor.


Trust and Submit

by Dan Hunter on Jan 06, 2015

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

I am challenged by this verse. I focused on it in my personal prayer time and talked to God about the obvious two actions in this verse… TRUST and SUBMIT. My heart’s desire is to totally trust Him and submit to Him. It’s not always easy to do. As a matter of fact, I can be down right difficult. However, the struggle to Trust and Submit is a fight worth fighting because it can bring victory in every area of life. It shows up in regards to future, dreams, family, finances, plans, desires, ministry, career, actions, attitudes, etc.

If you trust and submit to Him fully, He promises to lead you and take care of you. The thing is, this is a continual thing. It’s not a one time prayer or one time decision. It must happen on a daily basis in your everyday life.

What areas of your life do you need to TRUST in Him more?
What areas of your life do you need to SUBMIT to Him fully?


Tags: Daily, God’s Will, Life, Submit, Surrender, trust

Parenting Advice from Jochebed (Moses’ Mother)

by Christian Conatser on Dec 17, 2014

The true story of the life of Moses is fascinating. Not only because it chronicles the beginning of the forming of Judaism, and thus Christianity, but also because we see the life of the greatest leader in history. Moses lived 120 years, and he accomplished more in his lifetime, under harsh circumstances, than any other leader ever has: opposing a political super-power, leading over half a million people through the wilderness for 40 years, and forming a governance and religion that stands as the foundation for most of this world’s governments and largest religions. It goes without saying that this was accomplished because of God alone and His mighty power, but God’s forming of this great leader began with the family into which he was born and the mother who made difficult but important decisions: Jochebed.

We don’t know very much about Jochebed, but what we do know gives us some valuable insight into parenting our children in a world that is contrary to our values and threatens to steal our children from us.

KEEP THEM COVERED
In Exodus 2:1-10, we read about the terrifying circumstances she is in as a mother. Pharaoh has commanded to have all children under 2 killed and thrown into the Nile river. Jochebed takes her newborn baby, Moses, carefully crafts a basket to place him in, then sends him down the river to where Pharaoh’s childless daughter is bathing. Unfortunately, as parents, we don’t get much choice over the world our child grows up in. Like Jochebed, there comes a point early in a child’s life when we must send them off to interact with this broken world. Moses’ mother had no choice but to send him out, but she was sure to encase him in a protective covering before she did. Today, the threats are much more subtle than what was coming from Pharaoh, but they are no less deadly. As parents, we must be sure to encase our children in a covering of prayer. Although they must interact with this broken world, they do not have to be destroyed by it. We must pray daily for our children. Moses went into the river like all the other Hebrew infants, but because of his covering, he was allowed to grow into the rescuing leader of all Hebrews.   

TRAIN THEM UP
As we read on in Exodus 2:1-10, something remarkable happens. Pharaoh’s daughter takes pity on baby Moses and chooses to care for him. Miriam, Moses’ sister steps out of the brush and offers to help find someone to care for the baby. So Pharaoh’s daughter hire’s Jochebed to take the baby home and nurse him. ISN’T THIS AMAZING?! Rather than the baby being killed by Pharaoh, Pharaoh is now paying Jochebed to care for and raise her own son! In this time, children would be nursed by their mothers for many years. In the 6-10 years that the child remained in Jochebed’s care, she was free to teach Moses about their God, the Hebrew history and culture, and watch him build deep bonds with his two older siblings, Miriam and Aaron. Jochebed knew that the child must be returned to Pharaoh’s palace, but she could provide him with an intimate knowledge of their faith before then.

The beauty of God’s plan is that by having Moses raised in Pharaoh’s home, he was given the best education the world had to offer. Very few people in all of the world were literate, much less given a 5 star education.  Moses was most likely trained in multiple dialects, advanced mathematics, and administration of a large government. Combine that with a deep bond to the Hebrew people, and it is clear that God had the perfect plan for preparing a great leader.

We have the privilege of living in a culture today that has some of the best opportunities for education and development, but these institutions only provide a small part of what our children will need. It is our responsibility as parents to keep our children in a healthy church and raise our children in a healthy home that exemplifies Christ, regularly prays, worships, and reads the bible, and reminds them that living a life fully devoted to God is the only life worth living. 

PROVERBS 22:6 says Train a child up in the way they should go, so that when they grow, they will not depart from it.

Jochebed only had a few years with Moses, 10 at the most. She was probably long passed before he became the great leader we know him as today. It wasn’t until Moses was 80 years old that he took up the role God and Jochebed raised him up for, but let that be an inspiration and challenge to all of us parents and church leaders. Our job is to cover our children in prayer and train them up in serving God, so that when they are adults, 20 years old, 35 years old, or even 80 years old, they have been prepared for who God intends them to be.


Blessings and Peace

by Natalie Salinas on Dec 02, 2014

Each year the holiday season allows me to step back and look at all the blessings that God put in my life that year. He never fails me, and ALWAYS amazes me with how much he blesses me, my family, and the people around me.

This past Sunday, as we were taking communion as a church, I was able to step back and see how many amazing families God has blessed our church with. I was able to see how much He has done in each individual life. He is so faithful and who are we to EVER have doubt in his ability to provide nothing but the BEST for us.

What is different about this year, is that even though everything with family may not be perfect, I am able to fully look at the blessings and the good in my life. It’s not that I am trying to ignore problems; It’s just that I have been able to fully give those situations to God. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

As you go about the rest of this year, take time to step back and give thanks for all the blessings God has put in your life. Fully give him all your worries, and pray that you will feel that peace. The peace that passes all understanding.


Change

by Elisha Garcia on Nov 18, 2014

Change is something every person experiences and few people are good at dealing with. Change, like Texas summer heat, or crazy family members, is something that is inevitable to life.

A few years back I was speaking with a friend who dropped the line, “Change is good, when change is good”. This sunk in and played over and over in mind. Change is good…when change is good. We are okay with change as long as it benefits us. And, if those benefits can happen in a quick timely manner, all the more power to said change.

Ecclesiastes 3 shows an incredible example of the change that is inherent to life, “1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” The truth about change is that it’s inevitable, that much of the time it’s unexpected, and it’s not always “pleasant”.

So, what happens when change isn’t good? What happens when change brings heart ache? Or difficulty? What happens when change leaves us in an uncomfortable place and we’re not really sure where/what to move on to? There are 3 things I try to put into practice when I find myself in a season/moment of big change:

1. PRAY – Nothing can yield greater answers, insight, or peace than spending time in prayer. James 5:16 The prayer of a righteous person has great power. Prayer moves mountains. Prayer caused the sun to stand still and the Red Sea to be parted. Prayer is powerful because of who is on the other side listening. Don’t underestimate prayer.

2. ASK – In the midst of change I ask myself “What is God wanting to show me during this time?” & “What can I learn about myself / about life?” These two questions can bring about clarity, and even a power, to the change you’re walking through. If you knew that your change was bringing about a strength to your faith, or producing a greater trust in Christ, then your mindset about that change can shift. It becomes less about “Why is this happening to me?” and more about “What does God want to accomplish through me?”

3. MOVE – Change can be incredibly paralyzing, especially when the change you’re experiencing is difficult. Though change is inevitable, it doesn’t have to immobilize you. “Easy for you to say. You haven’t gone through what I’m going through.” I may not have experienced what you have/are, but I do know that “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Phil 1:6. God isn’t finished with you. Make a the decision to move forward knowing that God is in you, with you, and for you!

If you’re experiencing change, you’re not alone. If it hurts, is difficult, and doesn’t make sense, then run to the One who understands the change you’re walking through.


Gold-digger

by Ana Horn on Sep 25, 2014

Lately, I’ve found myself busy, busy, busy. Maybe it’s just the time of year: work ramps up, preschool for my kid begins, and my calendar fills up with many social events and obligations. I’ve noticed that the busier I get, the more overwhelmed I get. And the more overwhelmed I get, the less patience I have. And the thinner my patience is, the more frustrating and difficult other people in my life become. I know, I know. I’m the worst. But, you know it’s true! The more hectic MY life gets, the less time and energy I have for YOU and your craziness and your problems.

I hate this. I hate that it’s so easy and natural to be consumed with myself. I hate that I start to see people as problems, obligations, and weights to carry. At the same time, though, I hope people give me grace during this “busy” season, and they overlook my craziness and my problems. So hypocritical, right?

And as I’m trying to scramble through life right now, God quickly reminds me that we are all just doing our best. We are all created in His image, and we all carry worth; we are all valuable. God left the 99 for the 1, you know? Because God saw gold in that 1. And when I get frustrated or annoyed with people, I’ve forgotten that immense value each person has. Ironically, the thing (people) that frustrate me the most are actually the most important part of my life. Not things. Not tasks. Not events. People. I’ve forgotten that people are worth everything to God, and that they should be to me too.

So God nudges me, despite my crazy schedule, to look harder. To dig deeper and care enough to find the worth in someone else. Yes, some people’s “gold” may be more hidden and require more digging to find, but it’s there. And I’ll have to stop thinking about myself for a few moments and my hands will probably get dirty, but He shows me that there is value to be found in all those around us.

I may never see people the way God is able to, but I know that if I can slow down enough to see the gold in others, the more rich my life will be. In the easy times and in the crazy times, always dig for the gold.


Framing Your Failures

by Rachel Hunter on Sep 10, 2014

I know you can learn a lot from your mistakes, but I still REALLY hate making them. So much so, that I sometimes freeze… for… a… long… time… to avoid the possibility of failing. But as I watched the movie, “Mom’s Night Out” with the LC ladies on Monday night, a certain scene really spoke to me. I’ll set it up for you:

The main character was having a mommy crisis. She was overwhelmed in every way and felt like a failure. Her daughter had drawn all over the living room wall and this was just one more piece of the crazy puzzle she felt trapped in. As she sought the Lord and began to breathe, she realized that who God made her to be was more than enough for her role as wife and mother. She let God’s perfect design speak to her and she started to see her life through a different lens. That’s when they pan over to her daughter’s scribbled drawings on the wall and show that this newly refreshed mom had put beautiful frames around each drawing. Something that COULD have been very bitter, became very sweet. Single tear.

What a beautiful way to look at the twists, turns, upsets and mistakes we never intended to make. God does this for us. He somehow works good out of everything. Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God…”

To further confirm this today, my friend “randomly” mentioned an article on Kintsukuroi, (Japanese: golden repair) the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold. It is a symbol of brokenness and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. Basically it is the art of making a mistake into a masterpiece! That is who and what we are! Every single day our failures, our past, our weaknesses are being turned into masterpieces by the power and grace of our God. Isaiah 68:1 tells us that God gives us beauty in exchange for our ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

I’m so thankful that when, not if, I (or those around me) fail, God is faithful to work something beautiful from the pieces. He is oh so good like that.


Tags: failure, Family, mistakes

7 Life-Giving Habits

by Christian Conatser on Aug 29, 2014

All of us have habits of which we are not proud: nose-picking, sleeping late, smoking, nail-biting, bad-eating. There are countless methods people employ to rid themselves of these compulsions, but on a whole, the human race generally loses the battle against bad habits. Many have suggested that this may be because we spend too much time, energy, and focus on the bad habits, and not enough time, energy, and focus on the good habits. If we were more diligent to build the right kind of habits into our lives, these may very well begin to eliminate the wrong ones as a ripple effect. Here are 7 habits that, if added to one’s life, would produce greater success in every other area:

Early To Bed, Early To Rise
The early 20’s version of myself thought this was so lame, but it is absolutely one of the most important habits in the lives of successful people. Don’t let yourself believe that you are either a morning-person or a night-owl. In many cases, you are who you decide to be. We are biologically made to go to sleep just after sundown, and wake up just before sun rise.

Quiet Time
Whether it is reflection time, journaling, praying or reading scripture, adding 15-30 minutes of quiet time in solitude is an important part of sustaining sanity, health, and growth.

Family Dinner
It may be old-fashioned, but it’s good for the soul. Gathering everyone around the table for one meal of the day will be beneficial for the whole family. In an age of primary contact taking place through social media, real human interaction is essential to children’s development… and ours too!

Day Of Rest
Of all God’s commandments, this is one that He emphasized the greatest when sharing it to Moses. Nobody knows our hearts, minds, and bodies like God, and He designed us to function best with 6 days of hard labor, followed by one day of holy rest. This is a real challenge in today’s culture, so you have to make it happen.

“Coffee” With A Friend
The older we get, the easier it is to separate ourselves from quality time with friends. It is vitally important to set apart 2 or 3 times each month to spend with a friend, discuss life, confess issues, and encourage one another. Be wise in your choice of companions, then keep consistent time with them.

Church
Great leaders are always trying to reinvent and reinvigorate the church, but it always comes back to the principles laid out for us by God’s people in Acts 2:

– gathering regularly to worship and learn together (Sunday service)
– frequently breaking bread together in each other’s homes (Life Groups)

Getting together with fellow believers will always be one of the most important life habits you can establish.

Say “I Love You”
There are many ways to show the people in your life that you care about them; writing them a card, giving them a gift, serving them or spending quality time with them. All of these things are great and should be done regularly, but they cannot take the place of actually saying the words “I Love You”. Say it often to your spouse and your children. Don’t leave them with any doubt on the subject!

All of us want to rid ourselves of our bad habits, and we should. Over time, If we focus on adding new habits, they will drive the old one’s away.


Your Camp Moment

by Elisha Garcia on Jul 29, 2014

One of the greatest moments of the year for youth ministries across the nation is youth camp. Every summer students and leaders load up in buses, readying themselves for late nights, early mornings and pitted competition.

A few years ago we began labeling this as the “greatest week of your life”. Whether it was from repetition, or it became true, this line stuck. Every year we’ve seen a numerical increase of students who have attended youth camp, and every year we see students / leaders talking about how camp is “the best week of your life”. It’s fun to listen to the chatter and stories during the weeks leading up to camp. Students recounting their experiences and favorite moments during the 5 days that forever changed their lives. 9 times out of 10 if you ask a student what their favorite part was, they’ll say the services. It won’t be the games or the lake. It won’t be the competition, and it certainly won’t be the food. Most students you ask will talk about the worship where they felt God for the first time. They’ll tell you about the message that spoke to exactly where they were in life. They’ll tell you about the altar call where they experienced God in a new and powerful way. They recount miraculous healing(s) they saw. They’ll talk about their decision to be baptized, and their eagerness to tell the world about who God is and what He did for them.

As a youth pastor, this is my favorite moment. I love spending time with students and leaders. I love the bad nachos, and the team competition, but I LOVE seeing the transformation of a students life, and the faith that is built during this week. Getting to see the life change in a student is incredible. When we say that this is going to be the greatest week of their life, we mean it. July was the month our students had their experience, and the stories that came as a result are continuing to be written. I continue to hear what God is doing in them. I see the evidence(s) of true life change. The very expressions on students face (complacency to passion) is evident.

I share this because it challenges me as a an almost 30 year old man to have my own transformation. God doesn’t just do things in the lives of kids and students during one month of summer. God transforms lives 24/7, and I’d venture to say He’s wanting to do more in our lives than we can think or dream. I have to have my own “camp experience(s)”. You, you have to have your own camp experience(s). We have to create moments where we push distraction to the side, get alone with God, and pursue Him in a life changing way.

Even as you read this, you’re probably asking yourself, “when is the last time I had a moment like he’s describing?” If the answer is hard to recall…it’s probably been too long. But, don’t feel shame or condemnation. Feel encouragement. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Our relationship with Christ is not meant to be cat and mouse. The equation is simple. If you want transformation, life change, healing, power, strength, answers, peace, provision…draw near to God. He will draw near to you.

Go after your own camp moment, and you will find it.


All’s Fair In Love

by Timm Horton on Jul 16, 2014

POGs. Beanie Babies. Comic books.

Like any true child of the 90’s, I had them all. And I just knew that one day, they were going to make me rich beyond my wildest dreams. Yes, as a kids I had many precious treasures, but none I prized more than my Pokemon cards. And not just any cards. Only the rarest and most incredible (like my holographic 1st edition Charizard). And like many of my peers, I was frequently involved in the often unscrupulous and somewhat seedy trading market for these cards. And I was the best. I could wheel and deal with the best of them, and more than once I took advantage of younger, less experienced players, preying on their lack of foresight and trapping them into a “bad trade.”

There are entire TV channels devoted to these kind of “bad trades.” The faces and names change, but it is always inevitably the same story: some sort of shiny, flashy, must-have new object that generally holds no value for it’s new misguided owner. I always had a nose for this sort of thing, so you could imagine my surprise as a young kid when I stumbled upon perhaps the worst trade in all of history in the Bible:

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

My experience in 90’s memorabilia has been no help in this area, and I’ve always struggled with this verse. Before I was profitable, before I was a sure bet and before I was mutually beneficial, God bet the farm on me. He raised the stakes and went all in, giving His most precious possession in exchange for an enemy.

I took the birth of my son to help me understand. On June 7th, Bethany and I were blessed with the birth of our first son, Jude David Horton. And immediately, it was clear to both of us that this was love at first sight. And he hadn’t even done anything yet. Before I knew anything about his quirks and personality. Before he spoke his first words. Before he ever bought me anything or made me a gift. He received my love, and everything I had. Not because he deserved it. Not because it’s even fair. But because he’s my son. All’s fair in love.

For the first time in my life, I understood God’s love, grace and mercy in a brand new way. I understood His love for me in my love for Jude.

I am grateful that God does not see me as a business deal. That He doesn’t size me up based on what I will bring Him or give Him. Scripture tells me that all of His love and all of His power and all of His resources are mine. Not because I deserve it. Not because it’s even fair. But because I’m His son/daughter. And you are too!

And all’s fair in love.