November 10, 2009

Thank you friends!

It has been a great day!
I may be one of the only ones that has not told myself that familiar prase, so here goes, "Happy Birthdhay to me!" Haha!

The only sign of me getting older and wiser (?) is me losing some hair... gotta talk to my dad about that (I think it's in the genes, know what I mean?)

Having a birthday on a Tuesday is not THAT bad..
I had to work today and I am at school, about to hit my Gospels class thats starts at 7 PM and goes all the way to 10 PM. I thought about skipping it, but egggh, you know... Ill party this weekend. Hmmm.
Let's celebrate!

I would like to thank all my friends, family and acquaintances that have wished me a happy birthday today..

I was tempted to respond to every comment (I'll probably do it later) that you guys left me on Facebook, but then I thought I would just write a blog... Easier :)

It is a great feeling to know that people wish good things for you, I tell you.
I am grateful to have you guys in a facet of my life.... somehow.

The Apostle John in his second letter said, "I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father."

The greatest, bestest (just made up that word) gift that I would be able to receive is to have friends that walk in truth.
That makes me happy and I rejoice in that.

Well guys, pick up your glass and let's do a toast. A toast that... OK, never mind.

Stay strong, friends.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.
Remember to pray for me when you think about me, and that may not be often.. :)

Thanks once again for your birthday wishes.
Luke 9-16 is calling me to class.

September 17, 2009

Matt Chandler - The Enduring Gospel.

I had a great time at the Acts29 church planters boot camp here in Houston, TX. One thing that I love about this network (even though I'm not in the network as a church planter), is that in every session, the speaker pointed out your sin and then pointed you to Jesus.
That is amazing to me.

Without the help of an instrument or of the speaker's attempts to cry in his conclusion of the message to draw you to repent, there were men in there that were convicted by the Holy Spirit to change their ways and Endure for the long haul in ministry.. I sure felt it.

Starting with Matt Chandler - "The Enduring Gospel"
He walked us from Genesis 1, through Joshua 4, through 1 Kings 8, through Psalms 8, Isaiah, Acts 15, where the whole idea that God has was to reconcile all things to Himself.
God tells Abraham in Genesis that all the nations were going to be blessed.
In Psalms, he says, "Let the nations be glad."
In Isaiah, he says, "Turn to me and be saved... all the ends of the earth."
In Matthew 28, Jesus tells us, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."

Matt Chandler told us to be careful of elevating ourselves.
"The Kingdom does not need you."
"You are not the answer to America's Christianity problem."
"You are just a blip on the radar."
This speaks to to church planters big time...
Even if you want to appear humble and meek, please, man.

Church planters have egos... Lets face it. I have faced it and will always face it.
At times, you can ask some people close to me, I have said, "I can do it better than that pastor."
I'm being honest.
And at those times that I've said that, I've been sinful.

I want to be surrounded with men that, with christian love, can hold my heart in check and help me.
Matt Chandler closed it with this.
Hebrew 12:1-2, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus..."

Read it closely.
I am not the next big anything.
I am not the next Mark Driscoll or the next Steven Furtick .
God has set MY race for ME.
I cannot race somebody else's race.
I gotta run my own race.

I will make it.
I will finish my race.... when I look to Jesus. (Hebrew2 12:2)

I was called out to repentance and thanks be to Jesus that when he laid down his life, I was forgiven.

I love Jesus, man.

September 14, 2009

College of Biblical Studies and Church planting Boot Camp.

It has been a while that I don't post on my blog... I need to start being more consistent with this (not that many people read this anyway).

I have started my classes at the College of Biblical Studies again. It is frustrating to think that if I would have continued, I should have been done with my Baccalaureate degree. I came to CBS in 2005 for 1 year, accumulated some credits and quit. Not a wise thing to do.

But I'm back.. I actually started last week with my classes. I'm loving it, man. Here is my schedule:
-Monday night: English 1
-Tuesday night: The Gospels
-5 Saturdays of this semester: Theological Foundations of Biblical Counseling.
and 1 class of Christian Ministry.

I have been doing a lot of required reading and I am enjoying it. I don't want to get behind, so I have already figured out when can I read and do "homework".
I'm a student again.

In other news:
Last year in November, I went over to Dallas, TX and attended a Church planting Conference at The Village Church. The Acts29 network puts out several of these a year across the nation and also overseas.
This week will be an exciting week for me.
I am taking off Tuesday and Wednesday from work to go to this conference.
It will be held in Houston, TX and I will be there!
Here is some info.
This conference will mark history in my life and I am anticipating it.
Not only do I want to start a church, but I also want to endure in ministry.
What does it matter if you don't endure... if you don't persevere?

I will be posting articles, recapping the conference here on my blog.

There is a dream inside of my heart that I know will be coming to reality in the coming months and years...
I will be psting more of that as the days go by.

I hope that you pray for me.

Stay tuned.

July 27, 2009

Wise words...

I would like to share some of the stuff that I read online...
These are guys that have had an impact in my life...

Here they are:

Jonathan Herron on Prodigal Thoughts.

Perry Noble on Increase my Faith.

Steven Furtick on The Vision Veil.

John Piper on Why There Are No Perfect Pastors.

The Resurgence website on Hometown Church Planter by Jeremy Carr.

Enjoy some good reading..

July 13, 2009

My future father-in-law and me.

It's Monday...
What do you expect?
Not one of my favorite days at this time of my life.. Maybe later, because I'll probably have it off.. (that's the pastor in me talking).

One of those Mondays where you really don't know how you got to work because you were asleep in traffic on the Beltway 8. Ugh.

I had a productive work day today and my boss really likes that.
You see, my boss is my future father-in-law.

Some friends of mine have joked with me that I am like Jacob in the bible working 7 years for his future father-in-law, Laban, to be able to marry Rachel.
Funny. Very funny, but not so.

I met up with my boss, my girl's dad after work because I wanted to talk to him about something important.
I went over to his house and told him that I loved Ruthie and it had been 5 years this month that I had asked him permission to date his daughter.

I remember him telling me that night that I better respect his daughter or he would bring out his gun... then he laughed. He was joking.
It was not funny to me.

You see, I've been dating the same girl non-stop for 5 years...
That is an accomplishment in this society, but I won't stop there.
We are nearing the time where I make the decision along with her to spend the rest of our lives together... and it gives me great joy.

Although, there has been pressure from everywhere to tie the knot, I know its one of the biggest decisions of my life and cannot take it lightly.
This marriage thing is for life, homie.

I asked for advice and he gladly gave it to me..
We talked about marriage... about money in marriage, about life in marriage, about owning a home and about other things.
It was a great afternoon for me, really.
I feel like there will sped up progress from now on. Hint hint.

I recommend you to check out this book by Voddie Baucham Jr. Its a really great resource for those that want to please their future in-laws... Since, it a good thing to do.
What He Must Be: ...If He Wants to Marry My Daughter.
Here is a summary of the book:

"All parents want their daughters to marry godly young men.
But which qualities, specifically, should they be looking for?
What will you say when that certain young man sits down in your
living room, sweaty-palmed and tongue-tied, and asks your permission
to marry your daughter? What criteria should he meet before the two
of them join together for life?
What He Must Be . . . If He Wants to Marry My Daughter outlines
ten qualities parents should look for in a son-in-law, including
trustworthiness, a willingness to lead his family, an understanding
of his wife's role, and various spiritual leadership qualities."

I am excited of reading through this book so I can learn a thing or two... or three..

I am finding myself not stuttering when I talk to my future father-in-law about me wanting to steal his daughter from him and keeping her for myself (in other words, marrying his daughter).
That's some progress. Hehe.

June 29, 2009

The smoking Apostle, Charles.

OK, check this out! I got a story for ya... I was at Starbucks on Saturday.. The one that never closes by the Galleria (if you are from Houston, you'll know which one I'm talking about) I was re-reading my highlighted notes on "Comeback Churches: How 300 churches turned around and yours can, too," surfing online (where else?) and writing a blog post entitled, "Where am I at in life."

Umm, not at the same time, but at different... You get me.

Anyway, in the middle of my spontaneity of my last post, I saw this old guy approach my table. He wanted to sit in the table next to me.. So, I did not look up and continued to write (type). He came forward and just stood there. After about 10 seconds, I slowly looked up and he was looking at the book that I was just reading moments before.

In that book, Ed Stetzer has some great insight on how to revitalize a declining or dead church. Dead? Yes, dead. He researches hundreds of churches and comes up with factors that have helped plateaued churches. Ill give you a short list of chapter titles in his book... not all of them... Get the book.
Chapter 2: Rising with Leadership.
Chapter 4: Worship and Preaching Matters.
Chapter 7: Motivating and Mobilizing People out of the Pews.
Some really good stuff from Ed. I really like his research. He's good.

Anyway, so I look up at this stranger.
Never seen him. Never met him.
He's a tall white guy, has not shaved in a while (which is cool by the way), and is wearing a white t-shirt and jeans.
OK... cool.

Without a formal greeting and before I say, "Hello."
He points at the book and says, "Why don't they (dead, declining churches) just put their face on the floor and pray?"
Long pause and I actually smiled... smiled big.
I was laughing so hard inside.
That was hilarious!
He was right... but come on... know what I mean? Hehe.
He smiled with me and proceeded to sit down next to me..

"Great, now I have an old man sitting next to me at Starbucks," said my inner, worldly, selfish, sinning self.
I really wanted to finish my "interesting" blog post.
But I rebuked (um, scolded) myself and decided to engage him in some conversation.
Note: How many times do we have an opportunity to talk to someone and end up talking about Jesus. It seems that our conversations throughout the day are only limited (other than talking to friends) to order fries at Burger King or to tell the guy behind the counter at the gas station, "10 on number 4, please"? Huh, huh?

So, lets recap our conversation.
Me: Hello.
Him (getting serious): My name is Charles. I'm an apostle and I'm on a mission.

Me (smiling bigger): Cool, I'm Tony. What mission are you on?
Apostle Charles (thinks for a bit, narrows his eyes): I have been called to start a church.

Me: (have not wiped that smile off my face): Awesome. Where at?
Apostle Charles: All over.

OK, by this time, I just stare blankly and don't ask anything so my new friend, the apostle, can talk.
He says, "God called me over 30 years ago to start a church and I'm 50 now and 7 years ago (when he was 43) I decided to go ahead and obey the Lord."

I don't get all feely-feely and start jumping up and down, get down on my knees, kiss his hand and say, "This must be God! He is telling me something!"
But I nod and don't disregard this a simple meeting.

I don't tell him that he was speaking to a future church planter.
I don't tell him that I constantly am dreaming of a group of people taking the Gospel and living it out, showing God's love to a community full of need.
I don't tell him that I was writing a blog post on that certain topic of church planting.... before I was rudely interrupted. Hehe.

I just listen.
He tells me that he is homeless and that God always ends up providing for him.
He does not ask me for money.
He tells me that one day, "he will pastor a church of thousands,"

We end our conversation and he goes outside of Starbucks.
I finish my blog post and its time to go home for me.
I walk outside and find my new friend, Charles the apostle, chilling on a chair, smoking a cigarette.
So, apparently, my apostle friend Charles is a smoker.
How cool.
He is kind of shocked and tries to play it off...
I smile, (mainly at the thought of what would a religious person in this situation?)
They would probably lay hands on him and pray that demon out. Then, getting in their car with the "Honk, if you love Jesus" bumper sticker, mutter how unbelievable people can be.
Because we know that good Christians do not smoke right? Hehe.

I tell him, "Ill be watching out for you and your church. Have a goodnight, Charles."
"Ill be watching out for you too," he tells me.

Getting on the 610 loop (freeway) on my way towards Hwy. 290, I think of the grievance that I would have in my heart if I would reach 50 years of age and look back 27 years to a vibrant, young, inspired kid that wanted to be part of the plan that God had in transforming a community, with believers alongside him.

I don't know if my new friend was "called" to start a church 30 years ago.
I don't know if he was an apostle. Well, actually...
I don't even know if his name really was Charles.

But this I know, that at the end of my days in this earth, I want to say, "I glorified God in my youth. I followed His promptings." and like Paul said in 2 Timothy 4, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

Say a prayer for me tonight, will ya?

June 27, 2009

Where am I at in life?

I just hung up with a friend of mine that his words gave me goosebumps (or was it the cold a/c at Starbucks?)
He told me, "You need to stop talking about it and start doing it."

We started talking about Church Planting (one of my favorite topics).
He questioned me in a friendly way where was I at regarding the vision that I had..

I told him that I needed to get going with this work of planting a church..
He proceeded to tell me things that I had wondered aloud and was actually comforted by having someone else say them back to me.

He asked about what kind of church would it be..
He asked about where I would plant this church..
He asked me if it would be an English or Spanish congregation..
He talked about me getting "under a covering". In other words, selecting a pastor that I would be accountable to.

I shared all these things with him and my heart skipped a beat.. I tell you, it's certainly the best topic for me.
I read church planters blogs almost daily when I come home from work.
Sometimes on my way home, I stop at Barnes and Noble or Starbucks (to avoid traffic) and read books ranging in topics like church growth, church government, theology, how to launch a church..
I podcast guys "talks" at church planting conferences..
My life revolves around listening on how to take the gospel into the community.
And I still don't know how to do it. Hehe.. Ironic, I know.

Until it begins to make sense... I don't need to know how.
We have examples in the Bible of guys that did not know how to do what God had called them to do.
They did not have a clue.. At least I have books, blogs and conferences.
The only thing that they had was that powerful phrase, "The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" When they said that, everyone knew what was up.

Consider Exodus 3 when God shows up to this educated guy that grew up as a prince in the land of Egypt. He told him, "Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.'"
Moses felt unqualified at the start of his mission.
In verse 11, Moses expressed his doubts on this mission that God was sending him to do. He told God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

I've come to realize that I don't need to be perfect.
It's not about me.
It's not about having a large church.

Although some people tell me to get married, have a few kids, own a home, have 2 or 3 "good" cars, enjoy life a bit before I commit to starting a church, I am starting to despise that attitude.
I don't want to waste my life.

Yes, the character of the planter must be in check.
Yes, things need to be in order.
But, let's never take that position as an excuse to not do what God has called you to do.

I'll tell you what's in my heart.
Yes, I'll share it with the whole World wide Web.
I have wanted a little more money in my pocket.
I have wanted a little more stability in my life.
I have wanted a better car before I start a church..

As I read what I just wrote... it's laughable now.
I wonder if John the Baptist had a newer horse chariot when he ministered.
I wonder if Jesus was rich when he started his ministry.
Does having more material things equal to the loud voice of Jesus saying, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me?"

Don't take it too the other extreme... just think about it.