Hungry for Some Knowledge

Hungry for Some Knowledge

Yesterday was my first experience fasting. I was hoping it would be a deep and profound experience spiritually, but it was not.

Lee and I started the fast at 6:00 PM on Thursday evening, right after having carbo-loaded for the night. We rolled out of bed around 8:00 AM (Lee took the day off), and we just lounged around the house, abating any sense of hunger with lots and lots of water.

We drove into town to do some shopping, and it seemed the running around and staying busy kept us from focusing on the fast. When I did think about being hungry, I would try to focus on having a quick conversation with God. Still, Lee and I ran into an issue with our house, and in the scrambling to get the issue resolved, any resolute sense of intentionality went out the window.

To say I got Hangry is an understatement. I was short with my realtor. I was short with my wife. Every driver on the road immediately became my enemy. It got so heated in my head Lee told me to just stop and pray. Believe it or not, my initial instinct was to tell her no, but I knew it was just the enemy taking advantage of my being hungry to try and drive a wedge between me and Jesus.

We got home and I was hit with an avalanche of yawns. I think the Holy Spirit gave me a break in this fasting experience and blessed me with a two-hour nap. Following the nap, it was time to get ready and head over to CrossPointe for their Good Friday service.

The service started at 6:00 PM and I did not think I could extend my fast an extra hour, so we stopped at Starbucks on the way to church and got a couple of Venti drinks to have when service started. Perhaps it was a cheat, but it was a much-needed cheat. For the record, the first sip was taken at 6:01 PM.

But once the service started, I could feel the Holy Spirit take over. I’ve been to several services that I felt were just next level in terms of solemnity and focus on worship, and tonight’s celebration at CrossPointe was one of those services.

Without diving into all the detail, the service was profoundly moving for me. I found myself in tears, singing about as loud as I’ve ever sung before at any previous worship service. What had been a twenty-four hour period lacking real focus and intention culminated in a worship service that left me crushed in such a good way.

For me, this fasting experience was a reminder of humility. It was a day that pressed on my heart the biblical truth of Christ’s suffering for me. I felt hunger and I became angry. He felt whips and stones and punches and so much more, and all He did was forgive. He became love by dying. On Sunday, we’ll celebrate His becoming grace by rising from the dead.

I am not worthy of His love. None of us are. But we’re forgiven anyways because we place our faith in Him. That’s the gospel of Jesus, and it’s a knowledge we’re called to share with others. I am hungry to share that Good News as often as I can.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” – John 11:25

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Rev’d Up

Rev’d Up

It was a strange and almost surreal experience, standing up in front of the congregation while my Pastor spoke loving, kind, and supportive words about me and the faith journey I am on. It was all part of the process of being ordained through my church and carrying with me the fully certified and recognized authority that comes with the title.

My new faith journey began in June of 2009 when my wife and I attended Relevant Church for the first time. Since then, Lee and I plugged into service ministry, small groups, volunteer efforts, and mission trips. I feel our spirituality has grown exponentially since we discovered: faith is about a relationship and not religion, faith is meant to be done in community, and that through our individual faith in God we are stronger together as a couple.

So as Pastor Paul completed the presentation of the certificate of ordination, I felt Lee’s name deserved to be on that certificate as much as mine. I would not be the man of Christ I am today if not for her guidance, direction, and support. I would not be on the cusp of moving to the Dominican Republic if not for her shared enthusiasm and determination to do God’s work. I may have attended the classes at Trinity College of Florida, but Lee was with me every step of the way.

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It is an honor and a blessing to be able to celebrate this milestone in my life, and I owe a world of thanks to everyone who also helped make it possible along the way. I feel I am a reflection of the collective love and support I’ve received from my friends and family, and I hope I will continue to be a positive representative of this loving community in the years to come.


On a completely separate tangent, I sent a photo of me to our Technical Director Jarrett asking him if it could be included in the service. It was a picture from my First Communion, and no, it did not end up as part of the service. Although Jarrett wanted to use the pic, Pastor Paul was not on the same page.

Those in attendance at Relevant may have been deprived of this glorious artistry, but you won’t be. So please, enjoy!

Gil FC

Being There

These last several weeks have had me reassessing the relationships in my life. My wife’s surgery left her physically limited for a period of time, but it brought us closer together as a result. My kids spending an entire week with me full time as their mother was out of town allowed me to appreciate anew the young adults they’ve become, and how much I cherish my time with them. Throw in the Thanksgiving holiday, and it’s been, for the most part, a re-evaluation of the priority people in my life.

I received from a dear friend a copy of the notes she took at church leadership meeting, and many of them have hit home in terms of this season in which I find myself. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Life is not measured by collection but connection.
  • Fullness only comes from connected relationships.
  • No matter how much potential my device has, if it goes dead, it’s worthless.
  • A church can be full of people, but without chargers, the church is dead.
  • We don’t have to be perfect. We aren’t the charge.
  • God only wants to know if you’d be willing to be a cord, to connect people.
  • God uses us broken folks to connect those needing His power.
  • What a blessing to be able to connect with someone from our own vulnerable places. He isn’t looking for us to be the solution, just the connection.

I know I am far from perfect, and my life is a continuous journey in search of daily betterment. In looking back on the road I’ve traveled, I clearly see the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve leaned along the way. More importantly, I see they are not without value and opportunity. My mess ups serve as an example and reminder to others that through God’s grace, we can overcome the weight in our lives, a weight that oftentimes seems insurmountable.

God uses us broken folks to connect those needing His power.

I was at dinner recently with my cousin and her husband. They were in town visiting, and we had the chance to sit together and get caught up on life. As we started going back to stories from our respective pasts, we realized there was so much about each other we didn’t know. We were connecting new dots in the fabric of our relationship, and helping each other as a result. My pains and anguishes from the past help put into perspective some struggles they were facing, and vice versa. We were there for each other, connected in God’s presence, learning from His plan for all of us.

It was no accident that happened. I’ve always maintained that coincidence is God showing off, and God wanted us to come together in that moment to connect, to be a resource to one another in terms of how we overcome the challenges in our lives. The answer, of course, is His love and mercy. Still, we need to be reminded of that. We need to be able to rediscover that truth in our lives, and we do it by connecting with others; by being there for those we love and allowing them to be there for us in return.

What a blessing to be able to connect with someone from our own vulnerable places. He isn’t looking for us to be the solution, just the connection.

Your challenges, your experiences, your struggles; they not only make you stronger, they allow for the opportunity of someone else to make it through their tough time. Don’t be too proud to share with someone else the crap you’ve been through. After all, when going through a storm, no one wants to hear about someone else’s perfect beach vacation. They want to be reminded the tempest is temporary. They want to feel connected to something real. They need to be recharged to life and His word. Don’t be afraid to be that connection for them.

Storm

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

Feet on the Ground

There are so many things that come to mind when I think about the word Mission. I think of an elite group of soldiers making their way through a South American jungle, en route to a specific location. I think of wordy statements corporations place on their websites, most of which go ignored by the companies’ employees. I think of a style of architecture popular in the Southwest.

…and yes, I think of Ethan Hunt precariously dangling from a cable in a sound and temperature sensitive computer room.

You've got the theme song stuck in your head now, don't you?
You’ve got the theme song stuck in your head now, don’t you?

But for the purpose of this particular post, my mission is to set you on a mission to help us take part in a mission trip.

In January, my wife and I will be joining other members of our church family in the Dominican Republic as part of a faith mission trip through Relevant Church. We’ve always wanted to be a part of a mission team, helping others in need, and Kingdom building here on Earth. Now we have a chance to do it, to be ‘feet on the ground’, and the part of something so much greater than we could offer as individuals.

But we need your help to get there.

We have a very modest goal of $2000. This will provide for the both of us to take part in the mission trip, and also covers our travel to the Dominican Republic and accommodations while we’re there.

If you’re interested in sponsoring us, Lee and I have set up a GoFundMe fundraising page at www.gofundme.com/gileeDR. Please note all donations made through our GFM page go directly to Relevant Church (we don’t hold any funds). If you prefer, you can donate directly through Relevant Church at bit.ly/Relevant_DR. And if you consider yourself old school, you can send a check, made payable to Relevant Church, to 1704 N. 16th St. Tampa, FL 33605. (Please be sure to include a note stating the donation is for Gil and Lee).

If you’re in a position where you can’t support us financially, you can still help us out by keeping us in your prayers. Additionally, you can share this post with your friends, as well as online via Facebook, Twitter, etc. Lee and I are blessed to have such a wonderful network of family, friends, and peers, and even if a small percentage of that network donated just $5 each, we’d easily reach our goal.

We want to thank you in advance for your time, generosity, and prayers. We hope we can be a reflection of your love and inspiration to those most in need in the Dominican Republic.

DR Mission Trip
Please help us reach our goal so we can be a part of something great for His Kingdom and His glory.

Roadmapping Passion

We had our church small group today, and the focus of tonight’s group was matching our personalities with our passions. Who knew that asking, “What are you passionate about?” could so easily stump a room of adults?

When it comes down to it, it’s quite difficult to pin point what is your passion. Much of the conversation centered on situational experiences. It’s easy to be passionate in the moment, but in general, what drives you?

Personally, I have some work to do in order to determine and understand what drive me. I ask myself for what causes am I willing to donate time or money. For what issues am I willing to take a stand to the point of being arrested or mocked by others? Outside of my kids, is there anything about which I am truly passionate?

I am probably going to spend the rest of the night reflecting on that question and praying for wisdom and guidance as I look to answer it. Whatever the answer may be, I hope it is found in the arena of doing service to others.

Be Passionate

 

“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions in a way that server the world and you.”

– Sir Richard Branson

204/365 Audacious Expectations

Today we had a meeting at church in preparation for our upcoming growth group semester. Lee and I are so excited we’ll be covering Steven Furtick’s Sun Stand Still in our group. The book is about having audacious faith in God. Here’s a description of the book from the author.

This book is not a Snuggie. The words on these pages will not go down like Ambien. I’m not writing to calm or coddle you. With God’s help, I intend to incite a riot in your mind. Trip your breakers and turn out the lights in your favorite hiding places of insecurity and fear. Then flip the switch back on so that God’s truth can illuminate the divine destiny that may have been lying dormant inside you for years. In short, I’m out to activate your audacious faith. To inspire you to ask God for the impossible. And in the process, to reconnect you with your God-sized purpose and potential.

193/365 Good Fortune

Tonight we got together for dinner with the members of our growth group from this past Spring. It was great to see all those loving and familiar faces, and it felt like more than just a couple of months since our group concluded in early May. I feel like I’ve been in a personal funk since the group wrapped up, like when you do well on a diet and then let yourself go all over again. Being with the group was a reminder of how I can always do better with my life, both in small and big ways.

In addition to the wonderful food – we always have such wonderful food at our groups – the fellowship that was shared, as well as the loving spirit that filled the room, was just the kind of positive uplift I needed in my life at this time.We also took the time to discuss and plan for the next semester of growth group. I was thrilled to see we all were in agreement to use the same model we followed last semester, with Renee and Mark hosting and Lee and myself leading the group. I think we even settled on which topic we want to cover in our next group.

Getting back to the food, someone had brought, as their contribution to the pot-luck dinner, some fried rice and fortune cookies. I am a big fan of fortune cookies, and I opened mine with giddy anticipation. The message?

Getting together with old friends brings new adventures.

As I’ve said before, coincidence is just God showing off.