Harvest Community Church/Soul Rio Celebrates….

…it’s 10th Anniversary.

So much of my life has been shaped by the 5 years of my life spent at Harvest Community Church.  I moved to Albuquerque with my family in September 1999.  We arrived not knowing what God had in store for us.  No home… no job… no money… no money… just my good friend Jason who was leading worship at Harvest and let us crash at his house the first couple of nights.  It was a rough start for us but God blessed the ministry and my life tremendously through Dan Lewis (lead pastor), Jason Taylor, and Mike Goff. Thanks guys for taking me in!!

This video tells the story of Harvest Community Church now named Soul Rio.

why 2?

One may ask, “why attend two small groups?”

 I’m glad you asked!  One group I attend is a men’s small group early in the morning.  I have been meeting with one of the men (Randy)  going on 2 years. 

During our time together we have reached out to several men.  We had a couple of other guys join in from time to time but we never really experienced any “numerical growth.”  I know why… it was all about God’s timing.  I was serving on staff in a church while going through a divorce.  That was a lot to go through.  While at the same time trying to cope with the emotions of not being with my children daily (I still deal with that)… this was more than I could ever bare on my own.  Randy saw me through a lot. 

I knew it was time to step aside from “the ministry” (for a season) as I struggled with my personal life.  I told my former pastor Brad (who is still a great friend), “I just can’t do this (ministry) right now because I have nothing to give.”  Every-time I tried to get filled up there was nothing left to spill-over or to give away.

So, Randy and I kept meeting together.  Back in August of ’07, I for the first time in 1-2 years began to experience a breakthrough.  God began to overpower the hurt and darkness that had me bound.  Simultaneously, God was also at work in the lives of several of my friends.  As a result, numerical growth began to take place.

Joel was asked by Tim (our small groups pastor) if we would come and be a part of the small group network of our church.  So here we are.  It’s been amazing to see the guys who have come to be a part of this group.  Guys coming to know Jesus… reunite with Jesus.  Today, we are always on the look out for other’s who may come and get to know Christ.  Through our one-on-one relationships and through the group.

The second group is a couples Journey Group from our church.  Five months ago I got married again.  Me and Lori attend this one together.  This week was our 4th week (I think).  It is something we need for each other.  What a miracle it is to be a part of this group!!  I feel like I have known these folks for much more than 4 weeks.  The great thing about our journey group is that it is not about us.  It’s about Christ.  It’s about the “one”.  It’s about prayer.  It’s about accountability.  It’s about serving our community.  It’s about celebrating life’s victories.  It’s about serving our church.

“Doing life” with other believers is awesome and it is something that I would never forsake.  Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name – I am there too.” 

But we should never forget the “one”.  Who is the “one”?  It is the person you work with that does not have a relationship with God.  It is the neighbor who needs to be reached with God’s love.  It’s the person who waits on our table.  It’s the person at the checkout stand in the grocery store.  It’s the stranded motorist on the side of the road. 

The beauty of building relationships in group life is for the “one.”  On my own, God can use me to lead someone to Christ.  But when I can get the “one” connected with other believers there is so much more that can occur in that life. This person will get a much bigger picture of God through others.

God didn’t call us to come together just to sit, soak, and sour and be a bunch of spiritually over-weight stinky Christians!  He wants us to be filled up with his fresh water so that we may spill over onto others.  To impact other lives in the name of Jesus.  We need to care for the lost.  We need to not only pray for them but we need to be with them.  Make time to be with them.  Matthew 28 tells us to go into all the world…

pride in the name of love

I know a group of guys that just blow me away.  I’ve known some of them for a few months and others for over 20 years.  You know what… more than them blowing me away is what I see God doing in their lives… that’s what really excites me!  I take great pride in knowing them and doing life with them.

Their lives are a beautiful portrait of what can happen when total surrender and focus is directed toward God and to God alone.  The song, the sound, the melody that flows when they are working in unison along with God’s Spirit is a beautiful thing to experience.

I recall Joel making this comment about Dean on a Sunday night a few years ago… We had gone down to watch Dean and Darrell lead worship for a youth group in town.  Joel leaned over and told me, “Dean has found his voice.”

That quote from a few years ago for some reason has come back to me several times this week.  That statement was even the center piece in a dream I had last night. I was searching for my voice… the voice of God speaking through me… the dream was rather confusing yet it ended with me saying… “I think I finally found my voice.”

You know each of us has a voice inside.  Telling us what to do… how to act… how to feel, etc.  Too many times that voice has been conditioned by some negative outside influence from the past.  But yet there is another voice – a gentle voice – we often times neglect. 

Each of us have been given a voice.  A voice given by God that he shaped before we were ever born.  A voice to be used for His glory in the unique way He created us to use it. Have you found your voice?

How beautiful on the mountains  are the feet of the messenger bringing good news, breaking the news that all’s well, proclaiming good times, announcing salvation,telling Zion, “Your God Reigns!”  Voices! Listen! Your scouts are shouting, thunderclap shouts, shouting in joyful unison.  They see with their own eyes.  God coming back to Zion.  Break into song! Boom it out, ruins of Jerusalem:  “God has comforted his people!  He’s redeemed Jerusalem!”  God has rolled up his sleeves.  All the nations can see his holy, muscled arm.  Everyone, from one end of the earth to the other, sees him at work, doing his salvation work. (Isaiah 52:7-10, The Message).

Forever Young

I had an experience last night that has not let go. The experience is as fresh now as it was then. It’s a very personal experience but something that impacted me deeply. It’s my desire that this will impact you the way it has me.

Each Tuesday night I have the opportunity to spend time with my children. I went to their house to pick them up for dinner. Jacqueline is sick and stayed at home. Valerie with much enthusiasm was ready to go. She had her ball glove and softball ready to head to Dad’s house to play pitch as she gears up for a new season. Walker was also very playful as he was trying to hide from me in the yard as I awaited his arrival into the Jeep. I finally got him out of the bushes and into the back seat.

I had no idea that the events of the night would lead me to this. Lead me to be so very contemplative and introspective from the inside out.

We had a great time playing outside before dinner. Alexa my stepdaughter joined us as we played pitch outside as Lori prepared our dinner. (Lucas is sick too and was indoors).

After dinner I loaded Valerie and Walker back up and headed for their house to drop them off. We were in the driveway giving out hugs and kisses to each other. Walker held onto me so tight and didn’t want to let go. It made me tear up. I knelt down to return the embrace and I said, “You know buddy – you really make me smile!” He pushed back and looked at me and just gave me a big smile back. And all the way into the house he kept looking back with that same smile as Valerie hugged me with her cold hands and talked about getting stronger for softball.

I recognized as I was driving home that God wanted to use this tender moment. This moment so wrapped up in love. It was through this that I also began to experience God in a real and personal way.

As I drove home, I was listening to Rod Stewart’s, “Forever Young.” As I listened to it I thought about my children. I thought about all the times I have knelt down hugged, encouraged, cheered, had devotions at night, and loved on my children. I began to think about the time now spent apart due to the divorce. I thought about that separation from my children and how miserable it is. I thought about the love I have for them and how I desire to show it and give it to them physically everyday!

I began to think about God. As I thought about my relationship with God, God began to speak to me. I began to think about the times that I separated myself from Him. I thought about how He feels when I have done things and I have separated myself from Him. I began to think about how many people are now living separated from God. Those who have never decided to trust in Him. They are His creation living separated from God. Living apart from the love He so strongly desires to give.

I meet with a great group of guys each Wednesday morning. This morning Joel read a passage from Romans 8:31-39. I’ve listed part of those verses below. Once we give our lives to God in Jesus there is nothing that can separate us from His love. It is only us who push back from God. But even that can not separate us from God’s loving arms as they are always – always around us.

“I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us” (The Message).

I always want to be with God the way my children were with me last night. I want to be returning the embrace back to my Heavenly Father. I always want to return back to God the love He gives me. I always want to look to God as Walker looked to me last night with a returned smile. I smile of love… I smile of thanksgiving… a smile of worship.

Here is the video to the song I mentioned earlier. Think of your relationship with your children. Think about other relationships you have. Think about God. Who is it that you are trusting to drive your family and those other relationships?