Can I be honest for a minute??? Man… I’m tired ya’ll… seriously tired! It seems like this past month has been one long whirlwind of a time where much of what i’m doing seems to blend into everything else (which isn’t a bad thing). But I’m tired yo!!! Last time I checked in I talked about a bunch of recent stuff I’d been doing and things we were planning for…well, like I said, it’s been a whirlwind 3 weeks or so and I’m drained… physically drained. I know I’ve been doing “Dos Mucho” or “2 much” for all of ya’ll non-Spanish speaking scholars, so I’m getting ready to set up some healthy boundaries, but first let’s take a selfie… (sorry, bad humor) but first, let me come to Jesus, and there I will find my rest.
I’m sitting in the Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood Airport in Florida right now as I wait for my flight, and realized just how tired I am. I was out here for almost 6 days for a church planter retreat and some training, but I’ll get into that in a bit. But first, let me update ya’ll on what’s been happening in these last 3 weeks or so. The Lynwood Commitment took place on Saturday September 22nd at Lindbergh Elementary, and approximately 200 people from the community, schools, parks, and churches came out to support our beautification project. Here are some pics including a mural more than 60 yards long and close to 12 feet high:
The following weekend we went hard in our Unity Service that we partnered w/ our friends at Greater Emmanuel Temple in Lynwood Park. It was AMAZING!!! White, black, brown, Samoan, Filippinos, and everything in between exalting the name of Christ, taking church out to the streets, combining our cultures and traditions to honor God and then being true to our multiple cultures, we broke bread ya’ll… and it was beautiful. There was BBQ, tacos, fruit, Portos, pan dulce, and even 2 separate forms of communion options. Our friends from G.E.T. had prepackaged elements distributed, and we at RCLA went with a more traditional home cooked bread and wine. It was a beautiful thing to hear our combined worship teams sing some dope Gospel music, solid theological music w/ In Christ Alone, but the cherry on top was hearing our multiethnic worship team sing “Tu Estás Aqui” in Spanish. Check us out:
This video shows our combined worship teams closing out our service with the doxology. Almost 300 persons in Lynwood Park on Sunday September 30th, 2018 coming together from two very distinct and different backgrounds, bringing church to the city, and honoring God. Local government officials such as Mayor of Lynwood Jose Luis Solache was present as well as members of the school board.
And that brings us to now… as I mentioned, I’ve been in Florida for almost a week. There is a large and generous church, Spanish River, in Boca Raton, Florida that invests time and resources into church plants literally ALL over the world. They are awesome!!! My wife and I had the great privilege of hanging out with church planters from Russia, South Africa, Scotland, Manchester, Brazil, Australia, Cuba, Eurasia, United Arab Emirates, Columbia, Canada, and ALL over the United States. We had a chance to be poured into, encouraged, hear stories from the church planting field, and it ended with a date night provided to us and our wives… so dope! Monday morning I was able to get Edna off to the airport and today, Tuesday afternoon I too am on my way back to L.A.
When Edna and I were lounging at the hotel, we were finally able to just connect for a bit and talk about all we’d experienced and she asked, “what’s the biggest take away for you?” and there were so many I didn’t know which to answer… but something a dear brother, Chan Kilgore said, he’s the new Director of Church Planting at Spanish River Church, they’d asked all the church planters and families to stand up and he said something like, “Take a look around. Do you see these people? You have no idea what they struggle with! You have no idea all that they suffer and struggle with!” and for a second I got a HUGE knot in my throat and started to tear up… because it’s true, unless you are a church planter, you can’t even begin to imagine. The late night phone calls and texts, the stress of having IT problems when you’re not there and away in Florida (SMH), the pressure of issues in the congregation that shouldn’t be happening yet they are… the problems with finances/ fundraising, denominational issues, lack of emotional/ spiritual support, not being able to really open up to just anybody for fear of being looked at like you’re crazy, marital problems because at times it seems the church is the wife and the wife the lover… there were so many things going through my mind at that moment when I heard Chan say those things, and I couldn’t help but cry. I thought to myself, “Dang, someone gets it!!!” Of course, Chan is also a church planter! And please don’t misinterpret, this is not a complaint, just a reality… but Chan didn’t finish there, he continued and said something like “They put up with the struggles and hard times because they love Jesus, they believe Jesus, and they care for their church and communities and are convinced that if they know Jesus, they too will work hard to let others know about Him”.
And I’m tired ya’ll… so tired! I’ve let my health go, I’ve not exercised, my back is messed up, my diet sucks, and it seems I’m always stressed and worried about something. But that ends today… I have to figure things out and set up some healthy boundaries, because I love my church, my community, and my family… I need to make sure that I’m around alot longer to preach the Gospel, to tell folks about Jesus… to tell them of the Bad News of what happens when our lives are apart from Christ, to give them the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then to invite them into believe in Him, that they too might find themselve in His family. But first… before I do anything else, I need to come to Him…because He said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” so here I come Lord Jesus, let me find my rest in You; let me find that right combination for hard work and rest; let me lead well and give a great example; let me love you in a way that nothing will ever take Your place; and let not the church become an idol and I neglect You, nor my family.
I heard some great stories from the field, met some dope brothers, recorded some super fun podcasts while I was there too. Check out the “Hood Grace Podcast” this weekend and hear them, or… you can jump on my Facebook Wall and see our live video recordings of them too. Here are some pics of my time in Florida:
Before I close this blogpost out, I gotta give a HUGE shout out to our new friends and family in Christ. Spanish River Church is a large and generous church, but the generosity doesn’t always equate to dollar signs. Many of their members open up their homes to host church planters and their families for this annual retreat. We were blessed to be hosted by Chris and Merryl Reynolds, some of the most amazing and down to earth people we’ve ever met. They opened up the doors to their beautiful home and made us feel so welcomed, that I think that is one of the single best takeaways from this time in Florida. Here’s a picture of Merryl, Edna, and I right after church on Sunday as she took us out to eat lunch on the beach. Chris loves golf almost as much as Jesus (JK) so he was out on the course, but thank you so much Chris and Merryl for the love and trust you showed us.
As I pray to God about how to get myself on a strict time management, diet, and exercise regimen, I ask that you pray for me, my family, and our church. That I’d be a good steward of my health and time, not neglect my family, my personal studies, or my schoolwork and that I would honor God above all else. Why am I being transparent with all this? My homie Aldo, Pastor of Reconcile Church in Miami said in our podcast recording this week, that often Latinos can want a pastor who practically wears a red cape and doesn’t really need Jesus as much as they do. He said, our culture tends to gravitate to the holier than holy pastor that has it all together, and Aldo is right. That’s not me! I need Jesus just as much, if not more, than every single person who walks into RCLA. Lord help me, Lord help us, Lord have mercy!