Monday, January 14, 2008

Love. Connect. Grow. Serve.

If you come to Hope Fellowship you will be very familiar with the words Love, Connect, Grow and Serve. But I realize that many of you who read this blog don't attend church here in Frisco, and might be interested in some of the things that we're doing here.

Over the last five months, I've had the opportunity to be a part of our staff as we re-defined our mission as an organization. In the fall, we had a staff retreat where we asked the question, What would a fully engaged attender at Hope Fellowship look like. We wanted to rewrite our mission statement so that it would be more explainable and attainable. We wanted those who call Hope their home church to be able to share with others more easily what our church was about. Not only that, but we wanted our mission to include not just WHAT we want to accomplish, but HOW we were going to go about doing it. So, each of the words (Love, Connect, Grow, Serve) also corresponds to the ministries that are in place to allow these things to happen.

I'll give you a snapshot here, and then I plan to expand on these a little more in future posts.

Love God.
Our weekend services are designed for people to experience God's love and allow us to express our love for God together.

Connect with Others.
People can connect with our church in membership, come to a Connecting Point event (more on that later) to join a life group, or other events that we will have throughout the year that give people opportunities to meet others.

Grow in faith.
Life groups are small groups of people (8-12) that provide an environment where people can develop authentic relationships with each other while growing in their relationship with God. (We have refined our strategy for life groups. I will be giving more detail on this later.) We will also expand our "Grow" area to include Discovery (a four week class for new believers), as well as support and recovery groups.

Serve the World.
People can serve by being involved in a ministry team at church, serving the community through a local outreach, or going on a short term missions trip. The church also makes sure that 10% of the money donated to the church is given back out to support missions.

Even though it sounds simple, it took us a lot of conversation and prayer before we felt good about making it our new mission statement. Now, every ministry is being organized with these four words in mind. Our children's and youth ministries are using the same language so we can create continuity throughout the church. It also helps us to be focused on what God has called us to do, and is helping us not to be sidetracked by things that may be good, but will take energy away from our primary mission.

I have really enjoyed the process that we have gone through in developing this. I was also excited by how willing our staff was to take this on, and how they are committed to seeing it come to fruition.

Cheesy G

I hate to say it, but I was seduced by clever marketing...

If you haven't tried one yet...go to Taco Bell and get the Cheesy Gordita Crunch! Excellent with Po' Boy Lemonade!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Po' Boy Lemonade

I was reminded of this when I ordered water with lemon at lunch today...

My first job out of college was traveling full time with a musical group called the Spurrlows. It wasn't very glamorous, but I was living as a full time musician and traveling all over the country. Every week they paid me $150 in cash. (Actually it was $128 after they took taxes out.) We were provided housing (usually a crummy motel room that I shared with 3 other guys), but were responsible for our own food. As you can imagine, $128 can go pretty quick if you eat out every meal. At the time I was also dating my future wife, Anne, and needed to save money for an engagement ring. So, I decided to take $75 every week and save it, and then live on the rest. I had to come up with some creative ways to save money. In my bunk on the bus, I had a small shelf. I would keep some small groceries there and eat one meal a day on the bus. That usually consisted of crackers with tuna, or crackers with goober grape peanut butter/jelly, or soup heated up in a electric mug thing. Then one meal a day I would eat out. But I realized that if I paid for dinner and a drink then my money didn't go as far. So, I got into the habit of ordering water with lemon. When it was served, I would drop a bag of equal in it, stir it up and call it Po' boy lemonade! The funny thing is, I still make Po' boy lemonade! Sometimes I actually prefer it to soda. Through the years, Anne and I have come to an, ahem, agreement. She is ALWAYS able to order soda at dinner. If I want to remember my Po' boy roots, I have to do that on my own. :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Back in Time

It's been great having my parents in town for the last few days. Yesterday, we took a little trip down memory lane and drove about an hour south of Frisco to Waxahatchie to visit my dad's old stomping ground, Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Of course, it's changed quite a bit in the 50 years since my dad attended. But some things haven't changed...I was surprised to learn that the dorm my dad lived in is still there and being used. I mentioned it to John McKinzie this morning, and he told me he lived in the same dorm when he went there! I haven't been out of college as long as either of them, and all of the dorms that I lived in have since been torn down! (I guess I was a little harder on them than they were). I enjoyed meeting one of dad's college buddies, Earl Moore, who has retired and moved back. When they were in school together, Earl's father was the Dean of the school. It was fun hearing stories about how they would "bend" the rules together. Of course, sometimes the rules weren't bent. My dad tells that he went over to Earl's house to hang out one night, and came back to the dorm late. When he was asked where he had been, he said he had been at the Dean's house. His connections didn't matter that time, and he was forced to stay on campus the next day. But my favorite story of the day was when my dad was awakened by the assistant dean telling him, "Get your car out of the women's dorm lobby!" The dorm he was talking about is still in use, but it is no longer a women's dorm. There are stairs leading up to the front door. I guess that a group of guys had decided to pick up his car (it must have been small) and place it in the lobby of the women's dorm. He had to get up, go to the lobby and ease it down all of the stairs. Later in life he found out that the assistant dean was actually in on the prank.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year!

I'm a couple of days late, but my new year's resolution is to get back to blogging, working out, and other good things. :)

We had a great Christmas, highlighted by Anne's parents coming in from Tampa. Papa saved Christmas for our family by securing a Wii from a crowded Target store early on a Sunday morning. I'm not sure who loved it more, the kids or the grown ups. Anne's brother Thad and his family came down to spend a couple of days with us...and challenge us to Wii bowling.

Sunday afternoon we drove up to Little Rock to stay at their house for a couple of days. One of the big highlights was driving to Pinnacle mountain state park for a little hiking. We were only going to go part way up the mountain but my daughter Samantha (9) and my nephew Wilson (6) would not stop. They were determined to get to the top. Of course, that made me want to keep going too, so the three of us finished the mile and a half trek together. I don't think Wilson was even breathing hard, which was amazing because the peak of the mountain was literally rock climbing. Coming down was actually a little scarier than going up because there were no guard rails or anything. I told Wilson I had to hold on to him tight or his mom would never forgive me. :) Here's a picture of Sami and Wilson at the top.

The lowlights of the new year included my USF Bulls getting trounced in the Sun Bowl. Thad was bummed that the Razorbacks got routed in the Cotton Bowl. Hopefully the Bucs can lift our spirits this weekend. :)

Now, I'm back to work getting ready for an incredible 2008. Our church is having a prayer emphasis this week, and as I was praying last night, I was reminded how good God is, and how much He has blessed me. I'm glad that I'm able to know Him, and this year I want to share His love with more people and in more ways than ever before.