Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sunday, July 25

One of the several objectives of doing a VBS so early in our history as a church was to reach families in the community through their children.  With all the excitement towards the end of VBS, I couldn’t wait to see what God was going to do on Sunday morning.  Sunday morning it seemed like new families just kept pouring in!  You could feel the excitement among the people in the sanctuary.  We had 126 (35 of those were kids) coming to worship with our Paragon family today.   That is the second largest Sunday we have had in our short history. 

I think many of us were actually surprised.  It was pretty funny because as I walked out to the parking lot to get something from my car and saw all the cars out there, all I could say to myself was “God, please help me not to mess things up this morning.”  Then I walked inside and was greeted by Scott saying, “I just don’t want to be bad this morning.”

It was a great morning and I think we (mostly “I”) should have learned from our July 11 experience that it is not about us, but instead it is all about Him.  He is what makes things great, not us.  I know God has A LOT in store for Paragon and I am glad that He is including me in it.

VBS 2010

For three months, Scott, Laura and I have been talking about Vacation Bible School.  We talked about the who’s, the what’s, the when’s and the where’s.  After all the planning and preparation, door hangers and work days, the week finally arrived.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect as the doors opened on Monday Morning.  As all of the volunteers arrived the excitement grew.  Kids started to pour in to the final tally of 105.  We did crafts, games, heard Bible Stories in a giant Hefty Sack Space Bubble, and had a lot of fun with the Lads.  During our Worship Time, Scott and I threw out a challenge for the students to bring in money for Mosquito Nets to protect kids across the world from malaria.  Our challenge was if the kids could bring in $250 (the amount it would take to buy 25 nets) Scott would shave his head.  If they got $300 I would shave mine and Scott would also take a cream pie to the face. It could not have been a better day for Paragon in our Rookie Season doing a VBS.

Day Two arrived and we had 15 more students register but about 20 were no show’s from the day before (giving us an even 100 for day 2).  It is hard to “not” think about numbers in a situation like this.  Thoughts go through your mind on why people didn’t come back but in reality, you have to think on the positive side – why did 85 return and have 15 more come with them.  By the time it was all said and done, it was another great day of fun and excitement.  The kids were really warming up to the Lads Band and starting to know the songs and the motions to them.  You could feel the energy starting to build.  Also, the kids brought in over $50 on the first day for Mosquito Nets.

On Wednesday, more kids came (107), and we finally used the hefty sack black light bubble for the Bible Story time.  It was a whole new excitement that got going and the kids loved it.  (Honestly, who doesn’t love black light and the way it makes your clothes glow?)  We had fun playing dodgeball with the older kids and tag with the younger ones.  The snack of the day… OTTER POPS.  What a great day.   Oh, BTW, The kids stepped up the plate on day two for mosquito nets and brought in $169, bringing the total to $219 and making it very real that Scott would be bald by Thursday Night.

The Final Day arrived and it seemed like the week had flown by.  We had such a great time.  We went through the day waiting for the final Worship Time for a couple of reasons… (one) Mark of the Lads was going to give a gospel presentation… and (two) we were to see how much money was brought in for those mosquito nets.  Both events were definitely worth waiting for.  When the Gospel was presented, over 50 kids stood to respond to the message and we know that at least 26 of those accepted Christ as their Savior (THAT IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT).    Secondly, after the $$ was tallied, we not only reached our goal of $300, the kids DOUBLED it!!!  We were able to present Compassion International with a $600 check to buy 60 mosquito nets for kids in need.

The wrap up concert and cookout on Thursday Night saw over 350 kids and Parents show up to have a good time and wrap up a great week of blessings from God.  We really could not have asked for more as this week exceeded ALL expectations.

And now for my Award Winners Speech… I would like to thank every volunteer who helped with every aspect of this Vacation Bible School.   From door to door to publications, from WalMart to Set Up/Tear Down and of course all of the teachers and helpers, you were all amazing and it was a huge help.  Without you, this week would not have been able to run as smoothly as it did and would not have been the success that it was.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What a Sunday...

Notice anything missing in these photos?
Curtains... Sound Board... Speakers... Coffee...

staging... lighting... draping...
projectors... screens... almost everything...

This morning (Sunday, July 11) was like any other Sunday morning over the last 4 months… wake up, shower, get dressed, help Christy get the family ready and head out to Sandia Vista Elementary School.  Then a text message came to my phone from our associate pastor, Scott Brownson.  The text read “Who’s getting the trailer today?” and I thought it was a joke.  You see, if you don’t attend Paragon Church, everything we have is stored in that trailer… it is our “church on wheels”.  Without it, we are up a creek.  After calling Scott and realizing it was not a joke, I began to panic, sweat, and make calls to figure out who was getting the trailer.

It turns out that nobody was assigned to get the trailer this morning.  It was completely my fault in the scheduling department and when I tried to locate a quick back up driver, none were available.

All I could think was “what are we going to do?”  No Sound System.  No Video projection.  No staging.  No cool lights.  No carts full of supplies and toys for the nursery.  No coffee for those who can’t survive without it.  We didn’t have any of the things we “needed” to hold a church service… or so I thought.

Knowing there was nothing I could do, the fam grabbed some toys from the playroom and we headed to our church home.  When we arrived, outside sat the group of men that would normally be setting up all of the equipment.  I walked into the gym where we meet and it was bare except for some chairs.   As I stood there looking over the situation and trying to figure out how to “salvage” this Sunday morning, Matt Petre came to me.  He said this was going to be great and to remember that there are groups of people meeting in the jungles of Vietnam with nothing but the Word of God… and Christians meeting in a house in China afraid for what might happen to them during their service.  That really opened my eyes to what God could possibly do this morning.

And He did exactly what He wanted to do.  He opened the eyes of our congregation.  He reminded us of why we really meet in this school.  He let us know that, while all the stuff we have is great and can be put to good use, all we really need is Him.

Our time of worship through song was better than it has ever been.  Just a guitar, a bass, and our voices.  Pure.  Authentic.  Real.  Worship.

The message wasn’t long.  It was not eloquent.  As a matter of fact, it was probably just short of rambling.  I put the message I had prepared all week long for on the shelf and just “went with the flow.”  God was moving and I didn’t want to get in the way.  He brought our congregation back to the roots of why we started this church in the first place…  it was not because we wanted something different, not because we didn’t like what was going on at any other churches we were attending… but because God called us to Enchanted Hills to reach people and we are answering His call.  He reminded us that all the stuff we have doesn’t impress visitors, and it doesn’t lead them to Christ.  It is not about the presentation or show we put on, but it is ALL about the love we have for others – no matter who they are, where they’ve been, or what they have been through.

I had this morning all planned out.  Thank you God for ruining my plans and implementing yours… 

Isaiah 55:8 (NLT) “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fourth of July Weekend

The fourth of July weekend was a blast (literally and figuratively).  It all started off with the Annual Rio Rancho Parade where we hooked up the trailer, the kids grabbed their bikes, and we passed out candy and VBS information.  While it was hot, we had a lot of fun and have already received registrations from some in the crowd.

Later that evening, we had a party at our house to watch the City of Rio Rancho's fireworks.  There were about 70 people who dropped by to eat some food and have a good time of fellowship.

We wrapped up the weekend with a service on the morning of the fourth.  It was a great time of worship as we talked about the FOURTH commandment (probably the most broken commandment) and the freedom God gave us from constant work.  That is what the Sabbath is all about... rest.  When was the last time you just sat back and chilled with God?