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Archive for the ‘Adoption/Foster Care’ Category

The government has asked the church to help out with the foster care/adoption crisis going on in the U.S. There are over 14,000 foster care kids in the foster care system in Arizona alone. Mission Community Church, Redemption Church and City of Grace Church have joined together to help solve this problem by spearheading a movement called Arizona 1.27 (based off James 1:17). Learn more on how you can be a part of abolishing this need.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27, ESV)

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I enjoyed PhoenixONE tonight. I got to worship with all my friends under the stars. I also got to catch up with some dear friends that I have made over the years while on mission in other countries. I met Pastor Joseph “Jojo” while in Kenya at an orphanage. He was brought to the orphanage at a young age and is now the Pastor there. I got to hang with him a couple of times this week and we had some great talks. I also chatted with Suresh Kumar from Harvest India for a little while. He gave a special prayer over us and I’ve always appreciated the role he has played in my life. I have had many great God moments with Suresh over the years. Jeff Gokee interviewed some friends of mine that recently got married – Johnny and Criselda Sweet. They have a great testimony and it’s awesome to see a couple that is sticking it out and doing marriage right. My good friend Ryan Axtell led worship and Jeff gave a pretty awesome message on relationships. After years of working under him in 5th/6th grade student ministries, I have never heard him speak on dating and was pretty impressed with his talk. He was pretty hard on both the guys and the girls, but I felt he did it in love and it was a sermon many of us here needed to hear. Ryan and Sara Senters gave their testimony of having foster kids afterwards and I enjoyed them sharing their heart. It was a beautiful night and a blessing to spend with good friends!

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Pastor Jojo

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Suresh praying for us

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Ryan Axtell leads worship

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Jeff Gokee interviews the Sweets

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Ryan and Sara Senters

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Photo by Vintage Blush Photography

Photo by Vintage Blush Photography

A few of my friends shared their testimony in this video. I’m excited to see how PhoenixONE helped them get connected in the church community. One of the things I am loving that PhoenixONE is doing is promoting some of the wonderful organizations out there. I have always felt this is the generation to make a difference in the world. Christian Family Care is an organization that provides adoption/foster care/counseling to kids in crisis. It’s a wonderful organization and lately there has been a growing movement within the local churches to abolish the number of kids in the foster care system (over 12,000).

Ladouceur

Ladouceur

Another awesome organization that has been doing great stuff for many years is Compassion International. Robbie Seay Band led worship tonight and Robbie talked about what they are all about. Compassion provides child sponsorships to the many orphans around the world. For as little as $38 a month, you can make a difference in the life of a child by sponsoring them monthly. It provides food and clothing for the an entire month. I started sponsoring my child Ladouceur from Haiti back in 2006 when he was about five. He is close to teenage years now and I love getting letters from him. Tonight close to 40 children were sponsored by the PhoenixONE community. It’s funny that Compassion was brought up tonight because I have been praying about going to Haiti to visit my sponsored child. Tonight was also special for me as Aaron McRae from Hillside Community church was the guest speaker. He was a Pastor from my previous church and it was great catching up with him and Brian Wurzell – who is now going to be leading worship there.

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Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.

James 1:27

The Foster Care movement is growing. 13 churches agreed to work together today to be a part of the solution to the many kids without a home. I will admit I haven’t thought much about the crisis of Foster Care/Adoption until recently. I more and more have met families that are stepping up to take care of these kids. Having kids of my own, I can’t imagine what kids without parents go through. I really feel it is up to the church to spearhead this movement and I love that many churches are coming together to do this. Esther’s Hope is one of these organizations that are helping out. I recently ran into my friends the Lassiters and was excited to hear that they are looking into foster care. They are recently married and I love that they are willing to take in a child to help out. It’s encouraging and I want to do my part in making sure I contribute to a solution.

Esther’s Hope stats:

  • There are over 13,500 children in the Foster Care System, an increase of 1,000 children over the past year.
  • About 1,500 children are living in shelters or group homes. The average stay for a child in a shelter or group home is now 115 days – even for children as young as 4 years of age.
  • There is a need for about 1,000 additional foster homes.
  • The highest need are for children age seven and older.
  • More than 350 children have an immediate need for adoption.

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I only know a few people in this Experiencing God small group (I would hardly call 25 people small..) that I am in. But tonight I shared my testimony with them so they could get to know me. A lot of them go to Cornerstone and to meet someone who had Pastor Linn as a youth Pastor and then to also meet someone who was a part of the beginning days of the church was interesting to them. They of course had lots of questions for me. For me, it was a time of reflection of my roller coaster life. Not that it has been bad, but I can see where God has always been present and how he has always been calling me back to him all throughout my life.

This week’s study has been focused on joining God where he is working and to be a servant for him. For me, I have always interpreted that as a service project or an event, etc. I have had so many opportunities that have come my way lately that I could easily jump on board with. I have been very careful about not keeping myself too busy or ignore where I am at in life. So I just commit to pray about each opportunity and to make sure it is part of Gods plan. Other than be father to my kids, God keeps telling me to be still. He doesn’t mean to just sit and do nothing, but to really take the time and build my relationship with him. I know it is because he is molding me for something bigger and better in my life. I have experienced things the past six years that only I can attribute to God, but I truly feel he has something even bigger than my puny brain can ever come up with. My relationship with the Lord is so rich right now, I can’t ever imagine walking away from it.

God has taught me so much about his sovereignty and the power of prayer. I always find myself in situations where I want to control my environment. But I am in a place right now that I know praying is more than enough for God to do his work and I don’t have to anything more. It takes the power out of my hands and teaches me to trust God. Last year, I left my last church looking for community to apply the gospel to my life. At that church, my life was mainly about me and my accomplishments (not to say there wasn’t good things.. but this was my idolatry issue there). There are a lot of people who like to pat themselves on the back there and I got caught up with that. I have learned the importance of community at my current church and I now have that and it has become a big part of my life. But now God is teaching me another part of the gospel – the cosmic part of it. This is the part where we look at all creation and trust God is in charge and that he is at work. This is huge because we all want to do things our way because our faith and trust in God is weak. This is where in my Experiencing God study that I feel God is wanting me to look at and join with him.

At church today they nominated Mark Durban to be a deacon. You know, Mark has stuck to me like glue these past few months. I have had many great mentors (I can’t tell you how important having older wiser people in your life is for growth. You will never get that from younger people or people your age), but Mark seeks me out each week to see how I am doing. My last counselor was great and he helped me with a lot of things. But what I have learned is counseling is a process that process needs to keep going, even when things are great. Mark has been counseling me each week for the past few months with the material from CCEF. This stuff is so rich with the gospel and is truly material for life long change. I have taken some courses myself, but to have is applied has been amazing. I’m not going to lie to you, I fought God long and hard my first month of counseling. Our tendency is to finger-point, blame everyone for our problems and simply to avoid them all together (I hate it when I fall into this trap). It is such an exhausting way to live and one will simply carry those burdens their whole life and look to quick fixes to get by. True change doesn’t even begin until you have a desire to change first and that you are willing only to look at yourself and your own heart issues and not anyone elses. We spent a lot of time re-visiting my childhood and I did not like seeing myself as that scared little boy in the corner watching my parents fight and my father abusing me. Or being picked on in school or going through divorce. But after a few weeks, I finally gave in and repented my crap to God and I have experienced so much freedom since. I quit blaming all these people and circumstances for who I am today and remembered who I was in Christ. Just learning about the gospel and my need for a Savior has so enriched my life. I have never had this much peace in my heart and I feel the changes going on in me will be life long changes. I am so thankful for Mark, my church, my MC and the scores of support from friends for their commitment to me and the changes God is doing.

So today the plan is to be still and allow God to mold me. I’m growing, learning and I love my life! I am so thankful I am choosing to go through the fire and trusting God as I face my problems and not side-step or hide from them. God has something huge in store and I want to be ready for it. And the glory part of it comes with how he used this broken guy who loves Jesus for his purposes.

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