Glory in Sorrow

For the past few months, our staff has encountered some of the most unbelievably gut-wrenching suffering that I have ever experienced. Even though not all of us have directly suffered, we have all borne the burdens as much as a family as possible.

On May 13th, 2016, Blake officiated his older brother’s funeral service. Even through all the tears and writhing internal pain, he stood in front of a multitude of people, and proclaimed the goodness of God the Father. I sat a few rows back from the stage and I was so enamored by the grace and providence of the Lord as I listened to Blake. And as I sat in the splendor of grace, all I wanted to do was share those words with everyone who could not be there. What Blake said is the Lord’s perfectly scripted letter to us and everyone else in this specific hard season. This is the manuscript from his sermon:

So many good stories and good times to reflect upon of my brother, Keith. I’m so grateful for those things and so grateful for the time we had with him. Even the weekend before he collapsed, he was here for my dad’s birthday and he stayed at my house and we got to go to Aggie baseball games and share meals and drinks and have fun all together and that time was so incredibly sweet; because just five days later, he would pass. What a sweet gift from the Lord to have that time.

And even as hard as that week was in the hospital in New Orleans, it was a gift from God. And the fact that these guys here in the Navy did CPR on him for an hour and twenty minutes…you don’t do that; you just don’t do that. But their friendship and love for Keith was so deep that the hour and twenty minutes wasn’t futile, it was worth it.

That week was really really sweet for my family because we got to pray together more than we ever have before. We got to read the Scriptures together and we got to bond with some deep, meaningful conversations. I don’t know if this is the case for you, but sometimes family can be real surface level and it takes these kinds of things to get below that surface and start dealing with things and taking care of some deep stuff. And seeing one another cry and feeling one another’s pain…you just don’t go back up to the surface after that. When you love somebody that deeply, you just don’t go back to the surface. It was a really sweet time for my family.

Even in the frustrating times of the neurologists not coming in when they said they were, it just gave us another day as a family. It was a gift from God. But finally when that neurology team showed up and said, “Hey listen, Keith will never be the same. He’s just not gonna recover from this. Even if he wakes up, he’s just not gonna recover.” I remember, it faced us some really tough decisions.

I remember we prayed together in that room and all talked and discussed and read Scripture together and prayed again and talked and discussed again and I just remember my dad getting up and saying, “Okay. We have to do this.” And as he walked out into the hallway to talk to the doctors, I followed him out and I put my arm around him. And my dad in that moment had to have a conversation with the doctors to say, “Hey, I’ve gotta give up my son…I’ve gotta give up my son…” That’s weighty. Can you imagine? Some of you have lost a child before, but to say, “I have to give up my son.” That’s huge. And my dad in that week I got to see his faith grow and he led our family well and he’s a giant of the faith. I was proud of him and my mom and brother. Through all this pain and through all of this we knew he couldn’t live like that.

In the midst of all this, you know what the situation reminded me of? Do you know? It reminded me of another father who had to give up his son. God the Father had this separation from us because of our sin. Isaiah 59:2 says our sin separates us from God and creates a chasm and the only way to bridge the chasm is if God the Father gave up his son, Jesus. Not because of his sickness, but because of ours. Not because of something wrong with him, but because of what was wrong with us. And God the Father chose to give up his son Jesus. To put him on a cross on our behalf so that we could be reconciled with God.

Listen, when things like this happen — when tragedies happen — it’s really easy to ask, “Why?”. There was one night in the hospital when Heath and I just sat in the hallway hugging’ each other and just asking “Why, Lord, why?” and to be honest, I don’t know why. And I don’t know that there’s one particular reason why. But what I have gotten to see: I’ve gotten to see a lot of good come out of this.

Romans tells us that God works for the good of those who love him. Our family loves God and God’s already been doing things since we got that phone call on April 29th, and he’s gonna continue to do things today, tomorrow, and the next day. Why? Because God is good. I don’t think it’s this one thing that we can pinpoint and say, “That’s why.” But here’s what I can say, in the midst of pain, in the midst of tragedy we can always look and find the Gospel. On that day, in that hospital, in that hallway with my dad, I got to see a glimpse of the gospel. I got to see a glimpse of the pain that God the Father felt giving Jesus up so that we could have a relationship with Him. I’ll never look at the Gospel the same.

Church-people, the gospel is not just for people who don’t know God or don’t come to our church buildings. It’s for all of us. That gave me a depth and an intimacy with the Gospel that I’ve never had and I’m so thankful. So, I don’t know why, but maybe it’s so that we might see God more closely. Maybe it’s so that we might understand the sacrifice of the Gospel. Maybe it’s so that some of us can reconcile relationships. I don’t know. But I’ll be looking for it and I hope you will too.

Shotgun Selfishness

I love to have fun. This affinity for fun runs deep, even within my home. My kids and I love to play games and compete with one another. We turn everything into a game or a competition; it doesn’t matter if we are cleaning the house, jumping on the trampoline, or simply getting into the car to go to school.

Every morning, my kids jockey with one another in order to be the first to call “shotgun” and get the distinct privilege of riding in the front seat, or more affectionately known as “shotgun.” We have set up rules for this special privilege. For instance, you can only call “shotgun” on the way to the car as we are actually about to load up and leave. Another rule is that you have to have all your stuff with you and be completely ready to leave at that moment. And lastly, everything must be cleaned up, you cannot run out of the house with your breakfast still sitting on the table either.

This started out as a fun game, until this morning when I stepped outside the door to find all of my school-aged children fully equipped with backpacks and lunch boxes, anxiously awaiting my presence to signal the official time to scream out, “SHOTGUN!” Then, they all began bickering about who actually called it first and positioning themselves at the front door of my truck. As I was thinking about who had actually earned this privilege and how to award the victor, I realized that I had not created an atmosphere of fun, but rather a celebration of selfishness. I immediately told them all to get in the back seat. As I pulled out of the driveway to head to school, I looked in the back seat at three disappointed faces. I then repented to them for setting up such a system that awards selfishness. All in the name of fun and competition, I had unknowingly cultivated in my children, “shotgun selfishness.” I then started thinking about all the other ways that we might promote and even reward selfishness in our home. This is not like Jesus at all. After all, Jesus came to serve others, not to be served by them (Mark 10.45). Jesus came to die, so that others might live. This whole thing had become very anti-gospel.

As you look through the book of Acts, the most blaring thing that you notice is the power of the Gospel that was going forth in the first century Church. The early church did not walk in power because they were educated and extraordinary people. No, the early church was extremely potent because they were incredibly self-less. They gave. They shared. They sacrificed. They considered others first. We cannot expect to partake in 1st century church power, if we continue to pursue 21st century priorities. May we die to our selfish games, which only give us more of ourselves, and take up the cross and gain more of Christ.

Why we do not have a building…

People ask us more often than you would think, “When is Declaration Church going to get their own building?

Being in a western church culture, there are many reasons people could be asking that question…How much money does your church have? Is your church growing? Is your church plant going to make it? Some people might have even asked the question wondering when we’re going to get air conditioning that works, because they’re tired of sweating on Sunday nights. Some may have asked, hoping for less noise floating into service from the nursery each week. Or some may be asking, hoping for more room for DC Kids one day… The reasoning behind the question might depend on who’s asking, but we get asked often.

None of those thoughts are bad to have, and none of those solutions that a church building could offer, are wrong to hope for. We would love a building here in Bryan. We would love a building further north, and some day a building way way further south in College Station. Having a facility is not evil at all. Being a church with the building is just not the goal, or really a goal, of Declaration Church.

To clarify, here are a few thoughts on why working towards a building is not high on the priority list.

Kingdom Minded Stewardship

At this point in our church story, getting a building is not a financial reality. Without going into massive debt or doing a big long building campaign, we couldn’t acquire a building if we wanted to given our current resources. Instead of paying interest on a “nicer” building space, we would rather fight to be a people, that is appropriately grateful for what has been provided, trusting that the Lord will meet our needs as they come. Second, driving into the poorer parts of our town, make it hard to want to do a fund raising campaign to allocate money for Sunday evening air condition, when hundreds of people don’t have AC year round, or food, homes, or even family. Instead, we long to pray, wait, and move resources towards the people God wants to reach with His Gospel. Luke says it in chapter 12 of his Gospel, “from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Every dollar (really every cent) is God’s money, entrusted to us for His mission of advancing His Kingdom. We want to make every dollar entrusted to us, stretch and count towards the Kingdom of God. Someday a church building might be the right direction for our resources, but for now we’re trying to reach the city through acquiring a laundry mat.

The Church is a People, not a Building

We don’t need a building to be the church, we need only to be gathered under His headship and in His name. Of course, the early church met in the temple (daily in Acts 2), but they were also more know as family than an audience (Acts 4). Their knowing and meeting of one another’s needs, the sharing of food around their tables, their worship and prayer, their oneness, brought a powerful sense of awe to everyone who saw it. It was like this Gospel Gravity, that everyone in surrounding communities wanted to be a part of. The lost were saved, because the people of God were united and empowered by the Spirit of God, not because of the space they claimed as their own and used once a week. Not since Solomon’s temple in the Old Testament, do you hear of the beauty or functionality of a building having an essential role in corporate worship. It was in the deep and rich relationships, lived out everyday, that made the church, The Church. We are the same. We need only be together.

Again, a building would be nice, but it’s not the goal. Just as much, may be lost, as gained, when we shift our resources and focus from our living rooms to a physical church address. Paul’s first letter to Corinth started like this, “to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” How much different would Paul’s greeting have been, if it had been to a specific address?

Let’s share our tables with those in need; let’s be the church in every building we walk into; and when God gives us a building to put our name on someday, let’s pray it will have it’s own Gospel Gravity too.

Generosity

This week’s blog post is written by Rudy Grimaldo, Declaration Church’s Local Missions Director. Rudy is married to Ashley and they have five beautiful children. 

Most of us enjoy talking about generosity and how we, as the Body of Christ, are called to serve each other. But we skirt around exactly how we should be generous. Is there a certain percentage of money we need to give? How many nights each week should we serve? Am I doing “my part”? These and other questions quickly pop up when we start talking about giving.

But the reality is generosity looks a lot more like receiving, rather than giving. “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” If your green thumb is anything like mine, gardening is a sweaty, laborious, repetitive job…that yields zero fruit, if I even touch a plant. It’s boring and always needs tending to. I either water too much or too little, never adding fertilizer at the right time of the year. Lowe’s has banned me from purchasing anything green and living, because of my bleak track record.

But what God has promised in Luke 10:2 is that He has already grown the fruit. The ground is tilled, seeds planted, ripe fruit is just waiting to be picked. It’s nothing like my pitiful, dead herbs at home. The only challenge highlighted in Luke 10:2? There aren’t enough people to pick the fruit! And Jesus calls that a serious problem. Through the lens of that metaphor, it becomes utter joy to reach up and pluck perfectly grown fruit, not the tedious work that we generally associate with toiling in the garden. Each one of us has that opportunity, time and financial gifting to join the Body in picking good, ripe produce through practicing generosity.

Being generous means we step out and start doing what God has asked us to do. Period. And, as He describes in Luke 10:2, he’s already prepared us for the task ahead. If you’re feeling stretched thin, like there’s no way you can possibly serve him in the way He’s asked you, consider cutting the fat from your day. Do you watch TV? Do you eat out regularly? Do you spend lots of time on Facebook? The opportunities around us to serve and give are as easy to spot as ripe fruit (that you didn’t even have to grow!).

But, more than likely, aren’t we all struggling to let go of something that is keeping us from serving and giving? Maybe it’s an addiction to food. Maybe you’re in eight bible studies. Maybe you’re hooked on Netflix. Maybe you’re holding tightly to your purse strings, in fear of the future? Kick those things out of your life so you can participate in Kingdom of God through generosity. And when you do, don’t broadcast it via social media or “casually” mention it to everyone. Just be the gardening tool God has designed you to be and point to him as the master Gardener. We experience the most freedom when we give without keeping a record of the cost.

The reality of our church’s generosity is that 15-25% of the people in our body are giving and serving around 80% of our needs. Essential functions like ministering to children in the nursery, running our crazy parking lot, greeting people and making an effort to know them, cooking food for home group, engaging in prayer nights and setting up/tearing down each week at church—and, a big one, giving money to pay for these things and our desire to fund more church plants. All of these tasks represent opportunities, not obstacles, to follow Jesus and become one Body.

And there are many more outlets for generosity that have been laid on each of our hearts. We strive to be a family that loves well, invests in each other and gives generously. The question is: what will it take for you to full-heartedly join us in serving the church? God asks us–for all our heart, soul, strength and mind–to follow him and love people well. We have bushels of low-hanging fruit just waiting for us to reach up and grab.

Let’s get to pickin’.

Jesus Loves the Little Children

“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…”

Do you remember that song? Maybe you grew up in Sunday school, singing it in church, or maybe you sang it with your parents before bed, or you might have just picked it up somewhere along the way growing up. Either way, the reality is the same – Jesus loves the little children, very very much. At the beginning of Matthew 18, one of the disciples asked Jesus, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And Jesus points to a child saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:1-5, paraphrased) Jesus cares deeply for the children, the lowly little ones, and so do we at Declaration Church.

In Declaration Church’s Children’s Ministry, DC Kids, we strive to do our best to partner with parents to help build a gospel-centered foundation for every child that walks through our door. Our hope is that the time that we spend with your children on Sundays, would be far more than just entertainment meant to keep them distracted during service, but that it would be a time of building true excitement about the gospel and their savior Jesus Christ.

Each of our lessons from nursery to elementary aged children, are all centered on the Word of God, with teaching straight from scripture and activities to reinforce learning. Our nursery and preschool aged children walk through different lessons each week that reinforce 5 different foundational truths; God is good, God made everything, God is in charge of everything, God wants to talk with us, and Jesus Came to save sinners. Our elementary aged children walk through different series, changing every few months, that teach about the promises of God, how to walk to like Jesus did and other gospel-centered truths. Our hope is that every elementary aged child would come to understand the condition of their sinful heart and the true love and grace of their Savior Jesus. That they would hear and believe that he came, lived a perfect life, died and rose again, so that they could know forgiveness and eternal life with their Creator and Father, God.

If you are a parent at Declaration Church, thank you for the opportunity to invest in your children. Thank you for bringing them to church each Sunday and training them the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). We count it a true privilege to be able to partner with you in the discipleship of your little ones.

but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

DC Internship-Residency Program

I first felt a call to vocational ministry during my senior year in High School. Although I grew up in the church and was privy to a few of the lives of the pastors within our church, I had no idea what this meant to be called to vocational ministry. So I took off to Bible College in hopes of learning what it meant to serve in ministry. There, I learned a lot about ministry but not much related to actually doing ministry. Then, an older man, who I greatly respected, introduced me to another pastor in town. I met with him to interview for an internship and it transformed my life. For the next several years I would follow this guy around, watching him do ministry then taking my turn at preaching, counseling, discipling, leading, etc. He would always follow up those occasions with some coaching. What was supposed to be a 10-hour a week internship turned into about a 30-40 hour a week gig and I loved every minute of it. This Pastor had become my “Paul” and I his “Timothy.”

In Scripture, we see this great relationship between Paul and his younger protégé, Timothy. Paul was faithful to mentor Timothy with strong admonitions such as “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Tim 2.15)” and “as for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Tim 4.5).” This was the goal – to see to it that this younger minister fulfilled his ministry.

This is our goal with the Declaration Church Internship-Residency Program – to see to it that all of these younger prospective ministers fulfill their ministry that God has called them to. We want to help them clarify their call to ministry, as we know that can be cloudy at times. Within that, we want them to see how God has wired them for specific tasks within the church. We want to help them find their strengths and see them grow in those areas. We want to give them opportunities to serve within the church body and then follow those instances up with coaching. We want to continue to stir their passion for serving the people of God and then launch them out to serve all over the world. We talk all the time at Declaration Church about being a sending church and this is yet another way that we want to send – to send to the harvest as Jesus says, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest.” May God do great things through us and send out many into the harvest for the advancement of the Gospel!

Come All Ye Sinful

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms

 Joseph Hart compiled a book of hymns called “Hart’s Hymns” in the 18th century including the song, “Come, Ye Sinners Poor and Needy.” He knew that he was a poor and needy sinner. And though he was sick and sore, he believed Jesus’ arms were wide open with grace. And from the overflow of this reality, he wrote about how sinners are welcome into His embrace.

Sadly, most unbelievers I know do not feel this same “arms open wide” sentiment from the church. Instead of a safe and warm place for the hurting and tired, the stigma of the church has become a place for only the moral and well behaved. People who drink, smoke, or chew tobacco or even associate with those who do are not welcome. Even more unwelcome to the church are people with addictions, people with pasts that haunt them, homosexuals, people from broken marriages, bi-racial marriages, doubters, people of different religions, and basically anyone that does not behave like a Christian should. They feel uncomfortable and rejected by the Christian church. This reality is so prevalent that it is becoming more common for people within the church dealing with any of the aforementioned conditions to hide the truth about their lives for fear that who they really are would not be accepted among the well behaved. In light of the Gospel story, where for our sake Jesus became poor, died in our place, and rose victoriously over death, the church shouldn’t keep sinners at arms length. Nor should it be a place where you must get your act together before you join.

The church should be a place where all the wounded run to for bandages, where the dirty and foul-mouthed find true friendship, where needs are met, and where kindness and grace saturate every soul. The church should be a haven where all sinners feel at home. It starts with those who are saved. When the people who make up the local body remember that they were once impoverished by sin and destined for eternal separation from our Lord, God will begin to make room in our hearts. A few believers with room in their hearts will begin to make room in their living rooms and space in the pews.

Our prayer for Declaration Church is to never forget our original poverty and stay nestled in Jesus’ rescuing embrace. With both of these realities in clear view, we want to bring heaven to earth. We want to be filled with members that have space in their heart and in their living rooms for the lost and hurting, we want our church to be home to sinners.

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come…. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. Matt 22:1 -3, 8-10

One Year, One Chapter

It was not until my sophomore year of college that I really began to enjoy reading. This began with a rebuke from a guy that discipled me at the time. He told me that if I didn’t start reading, I was going to be an idiot. Stubborn people like myself need straight-forward communication sometimes. I began reading and guess what, I actually enjoyed it! I noticed that good authors captivate you within the first chapter. It grips your attention so that you can’t put it down. You can’t wait to see what happens next. As we celebrated one year of Declaration Church this past weekend, I was reminded of what a great first chapter that this has been. The Lord has beautifully authored our first year together. He has captivated us with his continuous favor. He has been gracious to provide for us in so many ways. It began with the incredible graciousness of LifeChurch. It is rare to see a Kingdom minded church like them that would allow another church to use their space and resources every week. The Lord did not stop there, He continued to meet needs and provide for us. He sent us a team! We were able to hire Travis and Marissa full time in the summer. Then we were able to hire Johnny and Rudy this past Fall and Spring, respectively. We firmly believe in doing church as a team and the Lord brought us a team! One of my greatest joys of this past year is to see how the Lord has brought us men, real men to be a part of the church and to lead the church. Declaration Church is a place that men want to be a part of, and that is the grace of God.

The Lord gripped our attention with the number of people that flooded our worship services and community groups. It’s evident that people are hungry for the grace of the Gospel. We were able to baptize over 20 people, and over 150 people became covenant members with our Body this year. All of this support enabled us to give away over twenty thousand dollars in our first year to church plants and mission partners!

And there’s so much more! Remember, this is the first chapter! What will God have in store for us as we continue in our story within His grand story? Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians come to mind, “What eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (2.9). May we see waves of people come to know and share this Gospel of Grace right here in Bryan-College Station and to the ends of the earth. May we be a part of planting hundreds or even thousands of churches and sending out many to declare and demonstrate the Gospel. Let’s dream big, for it is the King of Glory authoring this story, there is nothing He cannot do.

Meeting Together

This weeks Blog Post is written by Mr. Mark Stone. Mark is a founding member of Declaration Church, Husband to Debi, father of 6 grown kids, community group leader, advisory board member, college football aficionado, and faithful partner in the gospel with us at Declaration.

She was not yet four months old. She was listless. Her fever was spiking — and quickly! The dreaded thought of meningitis was real. Fortunately, the tests came back negative. She had an aggressive form of pneumonia and antibiotics did the trick. Unfortunately, we were told that her weak lungs would mean that she was — more or less — quarantined to the home for six months! No shopping. No crowds. No Santa Claus (it was the holiday season). And no taking her to church.

This was child number four. I was a fifth grade Sunday School teacher. My wife was involved in a women’s Bible Study. More importantly, we understood the author’s admonition in Hebrews 10:25 to “not neglect meeting together.” What were we to do?

For the next six months, my wife took the healthy children (not all three were healthy each week) to the first service in the family car. I then met her in the parking lot between the first and second service with our “quarantined” daughter in my car. She went home in my car. I taught Sunday School and then returned home with the children in the family car.

Did we feel obligated to do it? Yes and no. Did we feel like we would be sinning to not do it? Yes and no. Did we enjoy doing this? Absolutely not! Why did we do this?

We understood three important biblical principles. First, as stated above, we are “not to neglect meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25). We were to called to “encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25). Second, we understood that “the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Cor. 12:12). We were a part of the body. A part, that if absent, caused the body to suffer (“if one member suffers, all suffer together” — 1 Cor. 12:26). Third, we understood the value of being taught from the Word by gifted men on a regular basis (“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” — Rom. 10:17).

There was a sense of obligation. There was a greater sense that our presence was needed by the body as a whole. There was a sense that we might be sinning by selfishly staying home as a family for six months. There was a greater sense of needing teaching and fellowship (particularly my quarantined wife!). There was no interest in going through these car changes in the middle of the parking lot. There was real interest in serving and growing with our local body/assembly.

How does this apply to members of Declaration Church? Are some of your children sick? Is one child in need of special attention? Take care of those family members. Allow them to stay home with no shame or guilt. Has one parent been home all week with sick children? Allow that parent the freedom to go to church. Does one parent have responsibilities for greeting, working in the children’s ministry, or assisting with facilities? Allow that parent to attend one of the services while the other parent cares for the ill/needy children.

Just remember — we have two services! Two services make it possible for each parent to attend church each week. Parents can take turns caring for the ill/needy children on Sunday night. This ensures that each parent has the weekly opportunity to hear the word taught, serve the body by using their spiritual gifts, and “not neglect meeting together.”

A New Favorite

It’s hard to us to find a word superlative to “favorite” to describe something. My favorite kind of ice-cream changes depending on what might be available at the moment. Can someone really have two best friends? Or can a mom really have two favorite children? Every day we have the opportunity to have an experience that trumps one from before… And so it goes with Declaration Church. It seems like the Lord continues to generously give me new favorite memories with this family of believers.

As we strive to ENGAGE God and ENGAGE one another in 2015, we decided to kick it off with our first official elder led Night of Prayer (and BBQ), and a new “favorite” experience with Declaration was posted.

Calvary Baptist Church in Bryan generously let us use their sanctuary to gather in on a forty-degree Wednesday night. Children under age four sequestered in the entryway around a Veggie Tails movie and toys from my sons play room, and about 80 of our church family gathered to engage the Lord together in prayer.

We prayed for a church family whose son was in the middle of a lung transplant surgery. The refrain “Hallelujah our God reigns” shook the chandeliers as we sang To the King with the lights on. In random groups of families, close friends, acquaintances, and even strangers, we prayed toward the following:

 

Engage God

– Praise Him for his nature, and attributes

– Prayer for each other’s walk/relationship with Jesus (to the right)

– Against Sin

– To develop Spiritual Disciplines

 

Our Church

– Groups/Deeper Relationships

– College Students

– Leadership

– Future and growth/provision

 

Our City

– The Poor

– The Lost

– Unity in the Body of Christ

– Thy Kingdom Come

And in good Southern Baptist form, we ended the service by singing the Doxology acapella with our brothers and sisters.

The projectors didn’t work exactly right, the lights were on, we started late, and kids were banging on toy pianos in the back of the room. But as a church family, we met with the Lord on January 14th, 2015. And when we thought it couldn’t get any better, we all drove a few blocks and took over C&J’s BBQ for a family meal together.  It was my new favorite.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

-Travis