Friday, March 31, 2006

Extreme Makeover

Cool story. When I first met Michelle, her life was a wreck--one disappointment after another. She had no job, no money, no family within 1000 miles, and she was living out of her car. In a pile of broken pieces, she made her way to Healing Place Church. Immediately, we adopted her into our family and reached out to her HPC-style. With the help of the Holy Spirit and some caring people, Michelle's life turned a major corner...isn't it amazing how the love of God can transform a person's life!

She took a job that allowed her to travel the world, but she always stayed in touch. In a short time, she met a guy and had fallen in love. They made plans to be married in Louisiana this past August, but a major storm in the Gulf had other arrangements. Katrina destroyed more than houses and property--it also destroyed hopes and dreams. Michelle and her fiance Paul relocated to Ft. Lauderdale with the desire to start over. After months of planning a second wedding, they were once again met with another hurricane--this time named Wilma. With two strikes against them, they were beginning to wonder what God was trying to tell them!

Instead of giving up, they dug their heels in and decided that the power of love could overcome any storm. In the meantime, ABC's tv show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" picked up the news of their heartbreaking journey and wanted to surprise them with the wedding of their dreams. A few weeks later, some of us flew to Miami to be a part of this historic celebration. I had the wonderful privilege of officiating the wedding and Earl Rentz and his family all stood in it! The show aired last night on ABC, and it was a testimony to the resilliance of a people and the power of God's everlasting love.

Thank you, Paul and Michelle, for the opportunity to play a small part in what Jesus Christ has done in your lives! Thank you "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" for placing hope within reach to so many people! The credit belongs to you, the glory belongs to God, and the privilege is all mine!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Going Home

This past weekend, Rachel and I packed up the girls and traveled to my home, southeast Missouri, to lay to rest one of the most precious ladies I have ever known--my Grandmother. Her 88 years on earth were marked by beauty, grace, gentleness, and compassion. My Paw Paw went to be with Jesus back in December, and I knew my MiMi was itching to go there too! What an incredible legacy she left for her 4 daughters, 8 grandkids, 13 great-grandkids, and 1 great-great grandchild! Our lives will be forever marked with her amazing imprint.

I called her on Valentine's Day of this year, knowing that the previous year, she and my Paw Paw had been crowned "King and Queen" Sweethearts of their nursing home in Sikeston. She was so pleased to be my Valentine and always took great joy in the love of her family. MiMi was always full of joy. She never once complained-never criticized, never had a cross word with anyone. She lived her life at an amazing level of selflessness. Even when in physical pain, she went out of her way to accomodate others.

I had the distinct privilege of speaking at her funeral, and of all the scriptures in the Bible, I thought Jeremiah 17:7-8 described her life best: "But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit." MiMi's life was planted and rooted by the river of God's spirit, where she drew spiritual nourishment. The harsh ways of this world--the heat and drought it can bring--never bothered her...she was plugged into a different Source!

Her love for Christ influenced everything she did. Her faith shaped her life--and ours as well. She is Home now--in heaven where she wanted to be--and the testimony of her life serves as a road map for ours. Following it will bring us to the exact same destination!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Jesus at the Country Club

We had a really cool experience last Sunday after church. Christine Caine had finished her fast and furious schedule by preaching her 11th and final sermon in 7 days, so we headed over to the Country Club to grab a quick bite to eat (thank you David and Lisa Mac for making that happen!!). Guess who was there eating lunch with His family and friends? Jesus Christ!! Well, not literally...but if you've seen Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ, you know Jim Caviezel-the man who played Jesus. He is currently in town filming a movie with Denzel Washington. Wow! This gives new meaning to the words we always say, "Jesus is here...and anything can happen!"

I always pictured Jesus wearing a long robe and sandals, and eating fish on a beach...Sunday, he traded in his robe and fish sticks for a yellow suit and some veal cutlets! He was gracious enough to let us interrupt him--like a bunch of star-struck groupies--and take some pictures so we could tell our friends. I told him jokingly, "After 3 incredible services at church, we've been singing and talking about you all day long...nice of you to come join us for lunch!" After listening to him for nearly a half-hour, I could tell he is a man on a mission. The Passion of the Christ was not just another movie for him--he is on a crusade to make sure that people don't miss the reality of the Cross!

Isn't it good to know that regardless of where we are, or what we may be going through, the true King of kings and Lord of lords has promised to be with us!! Being a follower of Christ does not guarantee that everything in our lives will be perfect--it does, however, promise us that we will never take another step all by ourselves!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hurricane from Hillsong

What an incredible week we had with our special guests from Australia, Nick and Christine Caine! It started out on Monday night with over 1300 ladies in attendance at Chick Night, gathered momentum on Wednesday at our One Way night of worship with Rueben Morgan and the Hillsong band, and culminated in a youth blowout called "Amplified." Our student ministry cranked up the volume in a powerful weekend experience where hundreds of young people collided with the Holy Spirit and began to embrace their God-given destiny!

I am constantly amazed by the passion of this next generation, and I feel such tremendous responsibility as a former youth pastor to direct their energies toward the things of God. When I look at our student ministry now, my mind drifts back 10 years ago, when Rachel and I were working with teenagers. So much has changed in the last decade--I feel as old as a dinosaur--technology, music, style. Yet kids are still in crisis, and the only thing that can set them free is the power of God! I'm grateful for our student ministry staff, who work diligently to understand the times and yet stay anchored to the saving power of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

I have to give a shout-out to Chris Caine: thank you for stretching us as a staff, speaking fresh vision to the life of our church, and always challenging us to enlarge our capacity for God. You are definitely a key player in the landscape of my own spiritual formation...rock on sister!!

I have to say one of the most memorable moments of the weekend was when our very own Eddie G. attempted a stage dive that went terribly wrong. You have to check this out!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Enjoying Life

Do you ever feel like your life could be compared to some Hollywood movie script? Does drama seem to follow you everywhere you go? Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself, "Hmm, I wonder what it's going to be today"? If you or someone you love is currently suffering from this condition, I have some very important news for might be related to me! In the Haman household, with 3 determined girls (Rachel included) and 1 predominantly confused guy (that would be me), there is never a dull moment!

Friday night, we attended a wedding where I shared responsibilities with Johnny Green--didn't he do an incredible job preaching this Sunday? As he opened the ceremony, he accidentally said the wrong name for the bride. Watching from over his shoulder, I felt bad for the bride, but I loved that fact that I had fresh ammunition against him--he always harasses me when I get tongue tied. Aren't paybacks sweet!?! At the reception, my daughters took over the dance floor, cutting loose and showing off their superior dance moves they learned from me--I'm an avid student of the choreography of Napoleon Dynamite (not really).

However, we couldn't make it through the weekend without a little sickness knocking on our door. Mikaela ran a high fever last night, and Alexa is battling congestion...again. With all of the unexpected twists and turns involved in raising small kids, being in ministry, and being a great dancer (not!), I absolutely love the life God has given me. I am so blessed to be able to build the kingdom of God, help others, and share this experience with people I love. Peace and contentment seem to escape so many. I can remember struggling and wrestling through many days of doubt and discouragement. It literally wore me out!!

I'm grateful for the touch of God, His patience, and His timing. I'm currently reading a book called, "The Practice of the Presence of God: the spiritual secrets of a humble brother who enjoyed closeness with God" by Brother Lawrence (1600's). Incredible! This man spent most of his time in the kitchen washing pots and pans all day long. Yet he was able to turn the most commonplace and menial task into a living hymn to the glory of God! I pray for the grace and discipline to be able to do the same.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Birthday Blessings

Yesterday was my 32nd birthday, and I was greeted with an early morning song by my 2 daughters. Mikaela (my 3 year old) didn't want me to have all the fun, so she immediately decided it was her birthday too! Wouldn't it be cool if you could wake up and decide whether or not to have a birthday that day? The older I get the more appealing it becomes to not have birthdays!! Is it just me, or does time seem to acclerate with age?! It feels like I was just getting used to the idea of being in my 30's last week.

I received calls and cards from all of my family (I especially liked the cards with money in them!). Somebody once said that from the ages 0-18 you need good parents. From 18-30 you need good looks. From 30-50 you need a good personality. But if you're over 50 all you need is cash!! I'm not 50 yet, but cash works for me! I'm not an emotional person, but the sentimental cards brought tears to my eyes...I guess you get sappy when you get old!

Rachel hit the ground running, dragging me to every store and shopping mall within a 20 mile radius of our house. I had a hard time keeping up with her and had to actually stop and ask myself, "Wait a minute...who's birthday is it?" Her mission--a difficult and daunting task--is to keep me dressed in current fashion. I opt for comfort and's too hard for me to keep up with the latest trends. There comes a time in every man's life, when the fashion train he's on comes to a stop, and he decides it's time to get off. My train stopped a long time ago! Thank God for a wife with style!!

One of the highlights of my day was when I picked Alexa (my 2nd grader) up from school. She made me a birthday "booklet" out of construction paper--I was impressed with her creativity and proud of her artwork. In this booklet, she told me she was glad that I let her friends come over to play and that I married such a wonderful least I know where I stand! She included that she was glad to be a preacher's daughter--I hope she still feels this way when she's 17!!

Thank you Late Nite for my birthday surprise--the cookie cake and sweet tea won't last very long at my house. I'm grateful for 32 years of life and pray that God will give me the grace and strength to serve him for another 32!!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Power of Generosity

Wow! Where has the time gone? It has been over 2 weeks since my last blog, and I apologize for the extended absence. In spite of my degree in computer science, I'm anything but a computer guy--it's a challenge for me to keep up. Ever since we took Late Nite to the Varsity, things have only accelerated at the church and in our home.

Last weekend, Rachel went to California with Pastor Dino and DyLynn, and a team of others from our church for a women's retreat in Danville. Needless to say, I was left with the daunting task of caring for 2 delightfully energetic daughters, maintaining a clean house, preaching the weekend services at HPC, and fending for myself at dinner time! I got an interesting revelation: you never know what you have until it goes out of town!! I tip my hat to all you moms who live in a realm of constant sacrifice--taking care of everything and everybody else before you consider your own needs. I couldn't have made it without the help of my in-laws, who opened up their home and enabled me to cash in on a couple of meals as well as study for the weekend services.

We're in a series at the church called "iLife" and identifying the values that support everything we topic--Giving. Some people get nervous when you talk about giving in church. Honestly, I cannot remember a time when I had more fun! It was a wonderful experience to take a personal look at why Rachel and I give and how that value is shared and expressed in our church. I truly believe that HPC flourishes because it has been carried on the backs of men and women who are fully commited to giving in so many different ways. As a pastor on staff at our great church, I cannot even begin to articulate how humbling it is for me to be associated with such generous people.

After the final service on Sunday, I went to the Piccadilly in Gonzales with Rachel's parents...and wouldn't you know it, I could not walk out of there without someone buying our meal. Guess where they went to church!!! The next day, I bumped into another HPC family at the mall, and the lady told me, "I was in service yesterday--I heard what you said. I'm on a giving mission right now!" How exciting!! Just think: thousands of men and women have caught the spirit of generosity and are intentionally planning random acts of kindness all over this city...all for our Savior's glory! The kingdom of God is being advanced through human hands and human hearts, in something as simple as buying a meal for someone, passing out a bottled water at an intersection, buying a tank of gas for a stranger!! I cannot wait to hear the stories of life-change that come from the seeds that are being planted this week...rock on HPC!!