Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Israel Calls to Me...

Got back from the Holy Land this week and thought I'd take a moment to share some of the many things that I've taken home with me.

1. Devotion and Dedication
Perhaps the most moving part of my trip was standing at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem with the many Jews and Rabbis that were praying. I can honestly tell you that I stood in absolute awe. It's the first time that I can say that I've experience such a feeling. I didn't cry...I just took it all in. Absorbing the prayers of the righteous and unrighteous alike that had gone up from that place over the 1000's of years. The wall is just saturated with prayers and I remember thinking to myself as I took my piece of paper and stuffed into the wall, "I am so small. There are so many requests here. And yet God cares about mine so much." It was such a powerful moment.

In case you're curious, my request included prayers for our new building, for all of our partners, for all of my Facebook friends, for all of my pastoral relationships, and my family. So just know, you are covered at the wall. What a feeling that is.

2. Journey into Jerusalem

We actually spent the first 2 days of the trip in Tiberius which actually North of the City of Jerusalem, about an hour and a half away by Bus. Here we visited famous sites such as the Sea of Galilee (one of the smallest Seas I've ever seen), the Mount of Beatitudes and the Jordan River. The Jordan River shouldn't be called a river, it's more like a stream. I could dive into it and swim to the other side in roughly 30 seconds.

So it was Tuesday afternoon when we started our journey into Jerusalem. Kendra and the other Daystar singers went off to visit one of our hosts rabbi's so our bus was mostly vacated but our guide began to play a song called, "Oh Jerusalem" as we entered into the city and it was one of the most incredible moments of my life. The Holy!

3. Saturated with Histoy
I've never been anywhere so saturated with history. Jerusalem is one giant excavated region. The further down you dig, the more history you uncover. The walls of the old City are literally layered through thousands of years. The first 4 rows of stone are from the 2nd temple period, the next 4 from the Ottomatic period, the next 4 from another and so on and so on...

4. Western Spirituality is Weak
I walked away greiving and sick to my stomach comparing Western religion to that world. In Israel, your faith is your life. You will fight by it, die by it and thrive by it. Not only do the Christians there know a lot about the region, but they know their bible and have done much to carefully write the book on their heart so that they may be careful to do everything written in it. It was of great inspiration to me to make my faith my life instead of just involving it as a Sunday hobby like so many Westerners do.

5. Jet lag is real.
I'm telling you, my body has been ROCKED from this trip. From the moment that I arrived to even this day, I feel like I've been ran over 30 times by a herd of roaming antelope. Sick, tired and yet desiring to see everything is not a winning combination. Next time I go overseas to Israel, I'm going to be much more prepared to fight jet lag effectively!

On another note, Tiger Woods: I really feel for you this day. You are just another reminder that regardless of who we are and what we're involved in, all of us are 1 decision away to moral failure. We have to guard our lives carefully and tread lightly. I really am remembering this guy in my prayers. I don't wish the fire that he will now go through on anybody.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The New HC Plans are coming along!!!!

Hey Heartland Family...

Incredible things have been going on around HC this week and I want to take just a second to tell you about some of the meetings that took place.

Last week, Pastor Dan and I sat down with Brad Bowen and talked through the phases of renovation completion. For those of you who don't know Brad, he's a partner of the HC family working as the project manager over the renovation construction. He's put in countless hours on the project and has been working with the general contractor who's currently drawing up the plans for the specific renovations.

We broke the renovations down into three phases:

Phase One: The things that can be done before Heartland has its first services in the building.

Unlike most renovations, this project is a little bit tricky because we're limited to what we're able to work on until Grace Church vacates the building on December 27th, the end of the 90 day period that we are allowing them to lease the space back to us while they find a church home.

But there are some things that we believe will be completed such as the construction of the children's classroom bathrooms, the new HC sign on the building (which I'll show you some pics of later) and the sound and lighting in the sanctuary (there are others, but I'm sparing you for now).

Phase Two: The things that can be done as soon as we get into the building.

One of the major items that will be done when we get in will be the Children's wing. We're working with a company who specializes in the design of churches and their children spaces and the preliminary plans have been incredible. We recently agreed to a contract and they have begun drawing the specs for our KIDZ Blast stage which will be a smash hit!

Phase Three: The things that we have to raise money in order to be able to accomplish.

Heartland has entered into detailed talks about extending our lobby space into another level giving us an additional community space in which HC partners will be able to enjoy one another and hang out. With wi-fi service, a coffee shop and other amenities, we believe that people in our area will just want to hang around some Sunday mornings!

We'll be holding a Carrollton Renovation Update to let you know exactly where we're putting our money on the building and show you some of the plans in greater detail on Sunday, December 6th following the 2nd service so make sure you are there!


Yesterday, we met with our interior consultant who will be providing some direction for our building in the areas of decor, paint and an overall design concept inside the building. She was a sharp lady who's contributed to the design of interiors of churches like Watermark Church in Dallas, Texas.

Craig Penrod, one of our valued HC partners has already purchased our sound equipment and actually has it set up inside of his house already programming and getting it ready for the building! HAHA! Check out Craig who's twisting and tweaking the board below. Craig has YEARS of experince as a sound engineer and will be helping take us to a whole notha' level in our sound!

Finally, we've been bidding out the design of our new HC sign that's going to be visible from highway 121. We are in the finally tweaking phases of the sign (the poor company has to hate my guts because I've made them give me so many design options). I'll give you the inside scoop and let you see what will be popping up on 121 at the end of December/Early January!!! Check it out and let me know what you think! This isn't the final copy and we're working on a di-cut to make the bottom lettering POP but it's getting close!!!

Keep praying for us and get ready to help serve in some way as we're going to be calling on our partners to help us build, move, shake, rattle and roll!!!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

U2 Concert!

I went with Kendra and a ton of other people that I knew from around the office and everywhere else to U2 this past Monday night at the Cowboys stadium. (Kudos to MUSE by the way...they have a new fan!)

This was my second "real" concert experience and I was pretty impressed. However, I wasn't aware that having floor seats meant that you wouldn't actually "have a seat". We were literally on the rail of the second stage that went around the main stage and at one point, we stood probably 10 feet away from Bono as he sang. It was a pretty unique experience, but after standing for probably 4 and a half hours in a small confined space with people screaming and drunk around Kendra and I, we decided that we are "seat people". My legs felt like they were going to fall off.

Greatest moment of the night was when Bono started singing "Amazing Grace" and 100,000 people joined in as he segued into "Where the Streets have No Name" (my U2 favorite). It was an incredible God moment for me as I raised my hands and praised Him for all that he was!

I'm a big Bono fan. His humanitarian efforts are incredible and during the event, he took the time to say, "I want to thank President Bush for the efforts that he made and the lives that he saved in Africa." Say what you want to about the guy, he's not afraid to make political statements in the middle of a concert experience!

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures that my buddy, Seth, took from the evening. It was something that I won't soon forget. Thanks to David, our Productions Director, for the ticket!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Prosperity Less?

It's been somewhat of a bummer of a day in the Dean home today. Last Friday night at a party that we hosted for our college and career ministry at Heartland, we found some wet areas in our carpet and discovered a leak in our dishwasher had created quite a mess.

We called a friend over and he helped us realize that the problem that we had was worse than we initially thought and after pulling back the furniture and then the carpet, discovered mold growing and the area soaked under the carpet with water.

Not the easiest feeling in the world to deal with.

So we decided to file a claim and go the whole insurance route. It took about 5 days, but the adjuster came out today and proceeded to tell us that it was a slow water leak that we could've prevented so the insurance wasn't going to help us at all.

When asked how we could have prevented it other than walking around each day of the week and lifting our furniture to inspect for surprise leaks, the adjuster didn't really have an answer only to tell us that he wasn't going to be able help us.

As he left, Kendra was very upset. I know she was fighting back tears as her house is so important to her and now carpet needs to be replaced in the house as well as the dishwasher and cabinetry, but the finances aren't currently there to make it happen, although through a little saving and extra work, the Lord will provide.

But that's not the really interesting thing that happened. The most interesting thing that happened was the conversation that we had after the fact. As we rallied and began to encourage each other, we acknowledged that the enemy was attacking us and that we didn't need to attack each other. This little tool that our marital and spiritual mentors, Fred and Anna, taught us is so important in marriage. So many times, we blame our spouses and turn them into our enemies over things that either of us really are in control of. Acknowledging that you know who the enemy is, is so important.

There's no coincidence that the enemy has come against us after just starting our small group, hosting parties, as well as ministering to several individuals recently who needed guidance over some pretty significant issues. The timing is too familiar...we know that Satan hates it when people use their home as a blessing to the Lord.

But then our conversation really inspired me when Kendra said that she was surprised that this news was so upsetting to her and the fact that she had even cried over it, stating that she nor I wanted to be controlled by our stuff because stuff is afterall...just stuff.

It was a huge moment for both her and myself as we laid all of our "stuff" before God and said, "we're not sure how you are going to fix it, but we're just going to rest in the fact that you will."

I think of the famous preacher, John Piper, who talks about the prosperity gospel and how it's sabotaged and fooled people all over the world. God is good and only wants good for us and because he only wants good for us, it means that he gives us whatever we want if we have faith. The only problem is that there were people in the Bible like Jeremiah who God gave a mission and from the beginning told him that he'd fail.

Faith in God often is determined often too often by what we have instead of what we don't. But the real gospel of Jesus shows itself to others when someone experiences loss and can stand refusing to be defeated and say, "regardless of what are still enough and I trust in you."

The prosperity gospel is true. But it doesn't show itself in BMW's and shows itself by the family who can prosper regardless of when bad things happen to good people. "God will prosper me even when my finances don't."

The reason why God could tell Jeremiah the end result of his ministry was because God knew that he would be faithful to complete the task regardless of the outcome...because he trusted God.

It's a great prayer for all of us to pray on this day...
"God, I don't know how all things work together for the good for those who love you...and I realize that the finances may not flow richly the way that I hoped that they would on this day. BUT, I know that regardless of what happens financially, I know that the blessing will show itself in some way...and so I trust you, embrace you and look forward to the blessing that comes from either the successes or failures that I experience as I follow you. In this life, I'd rather fail and be yours, than succeed and by owned by this world."