Monday, June 30, 2008


We had a great weekend. Last night my mother-in-law took our oldest son with her for a three week visit to Arizona. They rode the bus together. I'm sure he'll remember this special time for the rest of his life. It was such a blessing to have Angie's mom here for two weeks. I'm thankful that my father-in-law was so gracious about her being away for that long.

Sunday I was preaching from Luke again (Luke 7:1-10). Eric will be picking up where I left off next weekend.

There is much to oversee as we make our transition into Goynes Elementary School next Sunday. Today we visited the campus and checked out the sound system that we'll be using. Everything worked well. I still can't believe how helpful the school staff has been for us as we get settled in. What a great thing!

I met a man today named Steve. He doesn't have an ID because his wallet was stolen from him in Georgia. He is waiting on family in California to send a copy of his birth certificate this week so that he can get a new ID. He says that he has much experience in the construction trades, primarily as a boilermaker. I hope that I can get him connected to someone in the city soon who can help him get some work and a place to stay. I asked him if he had been staying at one of the shelters downtown. He told me that he prefers the sidewalk because at the shelter he doesn't feel safe. What a sorrowful thing--certainly no fault of those manning the shelter. This is the second man I've met in his condition in four days. I wonder if there is a way to provide short term housing for smaller numbers of men in various locations. I need to give that some more thought.

We will be receiving new members again at City-Wide Redeemer in two weekends. That means that Eric and I are visiting with those people and hearing more of their story and their faith. Today we met with a man who encouraged me so greatly. I walk in a privileged position to have these windows of sight into the lives of people so precious to God.

Our new neighbors are moving in next door. They seem like a delightful family. I'm looking forward to getting to know them soon. Our youngest took over some cookies tonight. I love watching the children show kindness in their own ways. I'm also thankful that he took over the ones he hadn't already bitten.

Friday, June 27, 2008

New Place

All over town there is an odd thing happening. People are erecting these fully enclosed, wooden shacks on top of the blazing asphalt in grocery story parking lots and filling them up with fireworks--explosives--to sell. I won't be parking near any of those.

Our dear friends, Russel and Jennifer Jung spent the night with us last night. They are on their way through to California where Russell will begin serving at a church this Tuesday. It is so good to see how well they both are, and to see how God has prepared them for his service in this new place. Our children have had a blast running through the house with theirs.

We were able to get confirmation on our new place of worship Wednesday. We will be at a local elementary school. The new location has more space for worship and for children's ministries. We'll begin meeting there July 6th. This Monday I'll get a full tour of the facility. God's hand has been so evident through this process.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Debrief

It's about 45 minutes until I fall face first into my pillow. I hope not to move from that position until 6:00 A.M. tomorrow morning. Our kids should be crashing soon too. We spent the afternoon at the home of some great friends from City-Wide Redeemer. Don and Martha threw a great pool party and about half the families from the church showed up. John Cherne cooked. That is always a bonus.

I preached the final of four sermons on the book of Jonah this morning. What a book! I am in awe at the steady path God has taken since the call of Abraham to bless all the nations, and to make His name known throughout the earth (Yes, I know He's been on the move to work out our salvation since before the dawn of time). So often we are drawn to learn from the main character in a given narrative, such as Jonah. And there are many things that are exposed in our hearts as we engage in his story. But I'm a Ninevite and I call God my Father. That is amazing grace.

Our great pumkin is still getting greater. I still need to get a photo and post it.

The search for our new worship facility has not ended, but we might have turned corner number 4 to head down toward the finish line. The location that we've landed on would be very accesible for all already involved in City-Wide Redeemer, and for many of the new friends that we've been inviting to join us. Only the principal of the elementary school needs to sign off on our request, and that will hopefully happen this Saturday. Our capacity for worship will increase from 110 to 275 at this new facility, with pretty much the same amount of rent costs. Rooms for children's ministry will also be better. I'll post a facility update on Thursday.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


"Huh?" That is my favorite thing to say lately. There are things happening all around for which I have no explanation. Most of them I can't share on this blog because of their sensitive nature. Actually, I can't think of anything that I can share right this minute in this category. About now you are saying, "Huh?" Sorry.

Tonight my youngest had a difficult time. This time of the year is my favorite for its long daylight hours. But this morning it meant that my little guy arose from bed after only 7 hours of sleep. This afternoon and evening were not pretty. He wants a Doc Oc costume to be dressed like the character from Spiderman. In his pleas for me to do something on the order of making one appear out of thin air I realized in a moment that he is growing up on a different generation than mine. Just before bed he groaned, "Dad, tomorrow can you go on your camputer (not a misspelling, just the way he says it) and look up to find the outfit?" This was on the heels of asking me to go to Funny. In compassion I had to hold back my smile.

Our pumpkin that is growing in the garden is huge. I can't wait until we get some pie out of that gourd. We should be able to harvest it in two or three weeks. I'll be sure to put up a picture when it's orange.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Day Two

Our day of meetings and meals here in Dallas with several folks from around the country is winding down. My feet are killing me. It feels as though somebody tied my ankles together, laid me down, and smacked my heels with a 2 x 4 for a couple of hours. That's probably not fair to say since I haven't actually experienced it. I'll just stick with saying that my feet are killing me.

Today we saw a few pastors who represent church bodies that are supporting our work from Florida and Arizona. It was great to connect with these guys. They were encouraged to hear about what God has been up to in Las Vegas. I could not imagine what it would be like to do this work without the sense of their support at many different levels. This is true of the many individuals from around the country who also support us.

I just looked out my hotel window. We are staying in downtown Dallas. The lights are on in 40% of the offices in the skyscrapers to our east.

I have enjoyed the way that the wind blows through the city streets. It is so refreshing as one walks along.

Yesterday I saw the x that is painted on the road where JFK was shot in the back of the head. I took a moment and tried to imagine what that day must have been like. It must have been a horrible mess for so many who were there along the streets.

We'll be starting a new bible study on the topic of marriage this Friday. It will be hosted by some new friends of ours in North Las Vegas. I'm looking forward to the new relationships that will form as well as the work that God's word will do in hearts. I'll write with an update next week.


It is exactly midnight here in Dallas. No, my computer is showing Nevada time. It is exactly 2:00 a.m. here in Dallas. Looks like tonight will be my fourth night running with less than 4 hours sleep. No. I think I'm going to skip breakfast and get a few more minutes of sleep.

Today I was able to catch up with many friends, most of whom I have not seen in over a year.

Eric and I had to grab a cab tonight to get back to our hotel. As we pulled in I noticed what looked like a Koran on the floor of the cab. I asked our driver about it. He also had a Bible in the passenger seat. He is a Muslim. He has been reading the Bible for about one month. His familiarity with the Biblical texts is astounding. He struggles to believe that the Bible is God's word for a variety of reasons. First, if there is anything mentioned that would be contrary to the Koran he will go with the Koran. Secondly, he struggles to understand how God could allow sin to take place while not doing anything about it (in his opinion the cross is not a display of God's active engagement in justice for evil). To make his point he mentioned Lot's daughters who got their dad drunk in order to have sex with him. Thirdly, he can't believe that the Bible is God's word because of the explicit command to kill men, women, and children in certain countries when God's people were settling the land. These are difficult issues. He wants to have more conversation in the months ahead. We had 35 minutes of dialog in his cab in front of our hotel tonight.

The irony is that the last time I was in a cab--late April in southern Florida--Eric and I had a conversation with our Muslim cab driver. He was a very dear man, and was very open to understanding the Bible.

These conversations have served to sharpen my own faith and have also been a help to make me a better listener to the faith statements of others.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


This past Sunday afternoon Eric took the baton again as we work with the first two sets of members at City-Wide Redeemer to talk about God's work in the world and our individual roles to play. At Sunday afternoon's session Eric led everyone through a typical spiritual gift inventory. After some great discussion everyone revealed what they perceive to be their top three or four gifts. As we went around the room there was one gift that kept showing up over and over again. It is the gift of faith--being able to trust God with an unusual sense of confidence in Him. Of course! Why wouldn't God put together such an abnormally faith-filled group except that hardly anything else is more needed during the early days of a church plant such as this one. I was, and remain, very encouraged to see yet another way that God's hand is in this work.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Good News on my Head

I was able to see the doctor on Friday. He told me that all of my problems were in my head. "Thanks, Dr." The conversation was actually quite funny in retrospect. He asked me to tell him why I was there. I explained as best I could the nature of the aches and pains in my head. He asked a few diagnostic questions such as, "Have you hit your head on anything lately?"

Then he asked me what I do for a living. I told him that I serve as a pastor. He paused.

"Oh, OK. I know what the problem is."


"Yes, you have muscles that extend from your neck almost to the top of your head. When you carry stress in these muscle groups you will feel the kinds of discomfort that you are experiencing. See? It is all in your head."

I left with a relief that brain cancer does not appear to be in the immediate future. (I'm praying for Sen. Kennedy's surgery today.) I also left with a prescription to play at least nine holes of golf each week and to take two or three walks along with a moderate bike ride.

Sunday morning didn't help with my stress relief. I'm typically the first person at the school before set-up begins. When I got there the custodian wasn't there. It was already 1/2 hours past the time he would normally arrive. I started to think of all the alternatives. We could meet for worship at the park down the street. We could get a PA system and have worship in our cars like at the drive through. We could go to Eric's house. Finally at 9:26 the custodian called me back.

"Rob, I have been calling to let you know that the custodian you assigned to be here this morning didn't make it yet."

"Philip, that was supposed to be me. Well, actually it wasn't. They told me that church was over."

"Interesting," I thought, "Church is over and nobody thought to tell the church."

"But the school took our money for June. What does that mean?"

"Philip, I can be there in 20 minutes."

I love this guy. He has always been so helpful for us. His wife is a dear person too.

So there we all were--about 60 of us yesterday--standing out in front of the theatre, ready to barge through the doors like a high school football team runs through the paper banner after half-time.

I need to go take a walk.

Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010