Does this happen to you? Looking back over the last few years, it seems like God often chooses to speak to me, while I am on vacation. I can be in Dallas, in a wave pool at Disney World, or somewhere just relaxing, enjoying life and time with Jayda and my family, and God will speak into my life. I guess, since He is God, He can do that. Maybe on vacation, I am actually slowed down enough, that I pay attention to Him better than when I am going through everyday life. Perhaps, the obstacles and busyness of life are not pressing in on me during vacation. Whatever the reason, God always seems to speak to me during a vacation.
It happened again during spring break. We normally don’t go anywhere during spring break, but Jayda kept begging me to to take a short trip. Finally, I gave in, and on the last weekend of spring break, we took a trip to Carlsbad, New Mexico. Carlsbad is a nice little 3-hour drive from Lubbock, it could have easily been a day trip, but I decided to spend the night in Carlsbad. The main reason we went was to go to Carlsbad Caverns. Jayda was excited. On a side note, if you ever go to Carlsbad Caverns, don’t stop and have lunch at the Pizza Hut in Carlsbad, it is not a good combination. After eating a “wonderful” pizza buffet and waiting a few minutes for parking spaces to open up to park at the caverns, we finally made it into the visitors’ center. I had looked at their web page before we left Lubbock, and looked at the different options for enjoying, I mean experiencing the caverns. Unfortunately, when my eyes saw the long lines for the elevator, my brain told my mouth to tell the park ranger, that we wanted to take the natural entrance.
WHAT WAS I THINKING? My first concern was the bats, we saw some, but I guess for some reason my mind was thinking the bats were going to “attack” us, but they didn’t. We started walking, and walking, and walking, and turning, and going up and down walking paths. We looked up and saw the entrance, and we were already a long, long way from the entrance. We kept walking more, and more, and more, there were even times when I had to duck, I decided a stalagmite upside the head wouldn’t feel very good. We would pass people coming back up, and ask them how much longer, until we reached the bottom. We never got clear answers, but someone said it was a two hour wait for the elevators going back up. We walked more and more, rested some. I didn’t think we would ever get to the bottom. Jayda was having a blast, no worries on her part, while I was hanging on to the handles on the path for dear life, and just hoping that we could make it to the restroom, before the Pizza Hut lunch made a return visit on my stomach.
We finally reached the level where the bathrooms, snack bar, and elevators were. I was excited to be there. We used the restrooms and saw the lines for the elevator, and those line looked they would never end. We decided to rest for a while and get some drinks. While Jayda rested at a table, I went to get some drinks at the snack bar. The guy in front of me, looked at me, and suggested that we wait for the elevators and not try to use the “natural exit” to the cavern. I guess the dripping sweat and amazing physique told him, I had had enough. I shared the news with Jayda, and I could tell she was disappointed. So we decided not the heed the nice man’s advice, and begin heading towards the natural exit. We passed a few distance markers, and rested, then we passed another marker, and then I realized that I didn’t want to find out what would happen if the journey to the exit became to great, so I convinced her that we needed to turn around and go wait for eternity, I mean the elevators to take us to the top. And that is what we did. The wait went pretty smooth. I just dislike waiting in lines behind a bunch of people. People take too long, they talk, have to sit down, or take pictures. Don’t they know that if they can move up and inch, they need to move? We finally got to the top, and bought some souveneirs. It was nice to rest at the hotel. My legs hurt for the next few days. I enjoy walking a lot, (as some of you know, I walk a lot each day for exercise) but walking in my pool room or on the flat lands of Lubbock, is a lot different than walking up and down the slopes in the caverns.
Even while experiencing the caverns, God began to speak into my spirits a few things, and as I have thought about the experience after that, God has laid a few things in my life, that I want to share.
The path you are on is very important.
After we chose to enter the natural entrance, we had to wait for another park ranger to give us further instructions. He reminded us that it was very important to stay on the paths that was marked for us, and that leaving the path could lead to serious injury and or death. Actually those words of wisdom kept rolling through me head as we descended further down the caverns. I am reminded of two Bible verses. The first is Matthew 7:13-14 which says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate, and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” The other verse is Psalm 119:105 which says, Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. I can’t imagine being in the cavern, with no light. I think I might have been frozen in fright if I were there, at least until I heard a bat fly by. As we walked the caverns, it would have been nice if there was a big sign with bright lights letting us know where the rest stop was, or where the finish line was. But that wasn’t the case. It is the same way with God, we would like to know where and what lies at the end of our present journey. We want to know when a particular trial will end, while God is telling us to trust in Him day by day, and to let His Word and love guide us step by step.
As Jayda and I traversed the cavern that day, every so often, we would pass a path marker, some were numbers and some were letters. I have never figured out what those markers meant. I came up with two options, first it could be for you to mark your progress. Perhaps letter Z was at the very bottom (I will never know, I don’t plan on every reaching the lowest point of the cavern). The other possibility is that if you did run into trouble such as health situations, the emergency response team would know where to find you. Kind of like, if you have a flat tire on the highway, the tow truck or tire repair might ask you the last mile marker you saw. As many of us know, our life is often referred to as a path or a journey. I think we need to do a better job of not only remembering but celebrating the times that God intervened in our lives. Throughout the Old Testament, we read where God’s chosen person or people had an encounter with God or accomplished something big, and they would build an altar at that place. Upon leaving the Ark, Noah built an altar (Genesis 8:20), when the Lord appeared to Abram (Abraham), he built an altar, Moses built an altar in Exodus 17:15 and called it “The Lord is my Banner”. When the children finally got to enter the Promised Land, the Lord stopped the flow of the Jordan River, and God ordered Joshua to select a man from every tribe to take a stone from the Jordan River and placed them on the other side. The stones were to be reminder to God’s people of what God had done (Read Joshua 3 & 4). The point is that these altars and “memorials” were not only places of worship, but also places of remembering God’s love and provision. Yes, God calls us to have no idols, but we need to remember and celebrate the times that God intervenes in our lives. Just as God directed Joshua and the people of Israel to tell their children what God has done, we need to tell our families and those around us about the times that God did great and mighty things in our lives.
I go back to the man I met at the snack bar in the cavern. Did he judge me, or insult me? No, not really. Was his advice good? Yes, I am glad I finally listened. Did he have experience? Yes, I didn’t mention it earlier, but his comment was along the lines of “I have worked as a roofer (implying his work had his body trained to grueling tasks, which I agree) and that he had trouble making it back to the top when he had tried in the past. Did I have to listen to him? No I didn’t have to listen to him. I had a choice, and even though I briefly ignored the advice, I quickly realized I needed to take his advice. What would have happened if I had tried to go all the way to the top? We may never know, I just knew I didn’t want to take a chance.
There are many verses in the Bible about Godly counsel. Proverbs 12:14 says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice”. Proverbs 13:6 says, “…but wisdom is found in those who take advice”. Proverbs 24:6 says, “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers”. The main counsel we need to seek is the Lord’s advice. His ways are flawless. How do we get the Lord’s counsel? First is through reading the Bible, and meditating on it, and learning the principles that God has laid in His word. Second is through prayer, not only call out to God, but to be still and listen to the Lord as He speaks into your life and situation. Third, seek out and listen to the knowledge of those around you. God has placed or will place people in your life who have gone through the same or similar situations that you are facing. These people have seen and know how the Lord provided for them, and will be able to give us great advice. Again, we have a choice to make, we can choose to listen and accept the Godly advice given to us, or we can choose to ignore that advice, and do whatever we want to do.
Don’t miss out on the adventure
Isn’t it strange how two people can experience the same thing, but have totally opposite reactions to the experience? Jayda loved the hike down the mountain, and like I said earlier she kept going ahead of me. Again, that was not my experience. I am surprised that my hands didn’t hurt that day, from holding on to the rails so tight. Looking back, I wish we had taken more time on the way down to view the different aspects of God’s creation. I know there were a lot of beautiful geological and ecosystems that we missed because we didn’t take the time to enjoy them. This is a lot like life, we sometimes get so focused on our goals for life, that we don’t slow down and truly take in the experiences of life that God brings to us. Perhaps we need to be obedient to God’s commands and have regular times or rest and refreshment.
In closing go back to the scripture in Matthew 7. Notice Jesus says the path that leads to life is narrow, He doesn’t say it is smooth, straight, or that there are no bumps in the road. Wouldn’t we all enjoy a smooth, straight, and bump free path to Heaven? As many of us can testify, that won’t happen. It didn’t happen for Jesus, it didn’t happen to Peter, John, Paul, and the other apostles who started the early church, and it won’t happen for us. God allows our paths in life to be challenging. It is during those twists and bumps that God reveals Himself to us, and does a great and mighty work in our lives. God’s wish is that during those bumps we will learn more about Him and ourselves in the process.
It may seem strange for you reading this article, what I am about to write. Jayda and I would like to go back and experience the cavern again. One reason is that I don’t want the cavern to beat me, I want to go back and try walking back out. I may not do it the next time, but I bet I get closer than I did this year, and maybe eventually I might make it out. I now have experience that I will use. First, don’t visit Pizza Hut, so that I won’t feel rushed to make it to the restrooms. Second, slow down and pace ourselves, and experience and absorb the experience and God’s creation. Third, prepare and train for the experience. I walk a lot, but maybe before I go back, I spend more time going up and down stairs. I will make sure to be prepared to hear from God, because I am sure I will learn something about life and God the next time as well.
Thank you for taking time out of your journey to read this article and newsletter. I hope God has spoken to some one through this article. If God did speak to you, please feel free to share it with me. My goal in these newsletters is to not only inform you about what is going on in Living Abundantly Ministries, but to encourage you as well. Enjoy the rest of the newsletter and God bless you abundantly.
ANNUAL GOLF TOURNAMENT Our annual golf tournament was held on April 22nd. We moved the tournament up a week from when we normally have it. I am glad we did, the last Saturday in April would have been bad for golf, it was very cold and wet that weekend. This year we had 10 teams (39 players) in the tournament. Half of those players had never played in our tournament. Through the golf tournament and silent auction, we had a net profit of just over $5,000. It was a good weekend. It was good to see old friends, and to make new friends. We would like to acknowledge the following who played in our tournament. Eddie Avery, Keith Barbour, Joe Brown, Ty Caffey, Sam Caskey, Carlos Chavira, Cindy Clark, Brent Coffey, Chuck Colbert, Bailey Delevan, Kyle Elliott, PD Guerra, Tony Guerra, Gary Horton, Jimmy Johns, Pamela Knighten-Jones, Milton Lee, Jon Lowe, Danny Lucio, Al Manny, Cullen Manny, Mark Monette, Carson Phillips, Risk Postel, Tom Rask, Greg Ricks, Gleen Samuels, Jeanette Swanson, Tom Tebo, Ryan Torres, Bill Waller, Ken Wearden, Patrick Wearden, Josiah Whiting, Greg Wilks, Randy Wolcott, Rick Wolcott, and Roger Wolcott.
We would also like to acknowledge our tournament sponsors: Our Bronze Sponsors ($100) were: Durango’s Mexican Restaurant, Windmill Financial Services, Scarborough Specialities (did out tee box signs), Brent Coffey & Scott Goodrich, Southwest Regional Wound Care Center, and Lighthouse Fundraising. Our silver sponsor ($300) was First Bank & Trust. Our Gold sponsors ($600) was ABC Bank, Aldersgate Church, Al & Nancy Manny, and Craig & Ann McDonald.
We were also blessed to be able to give away great giftbags and doorprizes to each participant. The following donated items for the giftbags and door prizes: Abuelo’s Taqueria, Back 40 Grill, Bahama Bucks, Blue Sky, Bone Daddy’s Campisi’s Cheddar’s, Chop Chop, Chuy’s Cotton Patch, Dixon Golf, Fire House Sub’s, Freddy’s, Giorgio’s Pizza, Golden Corral, Golf USA, Hayashi Midtown, Jersey Mike’s, Keva Juice, Longhorn Steakhouse, Mamarita’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes, On the Border, Picabbo, Pot Belly Sandwiches, Qdoba, Raising Canes, Rockfish Grill, Rosa’s, Rudy’s, Schlotzky’s, Slim Chicken’s, Starbuck’s Coffee, Teddy Jack’s, Tide Dry Cleaners, T-shirt Tribe, United Supermarket, and Wendy’s.
As I mentioned earlier, we also had a silent auction. We made over $600 off the auction. We would like to thank those who donated for the silent auction: Cullen Manny, FC Dallas, Dallas Stars, DSC Consulting, Panera Bread, Texas Rangers, and West End Table.
We plan on having our tournament again next April. We plan on begin working on getting sponsors for the tournament this fall. If you know someone who might be interested in being a sponsor, please let me know. We plan on having new and different levels of sponsorship available for next year’s tournament.
All-Star Sports Camp
All-Star Sports Camp is quickly approaching. This year, our camp dates are July 17-21, and will be held at OL Slaton Middle School again. We will have the same activities as always. The theme for next year is #Unashamed based on Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: First to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” We haven’t set the order of the daily themes, but here is where we plan on going: Unashamed Love John 15:12-13, Unashamed Worship 2 Samuel 6:14, Unashamed Service Romans 12:1, Unashamed Devotion 1 Corinthians 10:31, and Unashamed Witness Acts 1:8 and Acts 2:42.
We already know there will be changes. One of the major changes is in our volunteer orientations. The Saturday before camp, we are also having a luncheon for all sports camp volunteers. Another major change, is that our core group (camp leadership) has decided we need to be out in the community before. We will take a few Saturdays starting in April to go door to door to hand out camp information. We also plan on handing out camp information at some of the local libraries and grocery stores.
We are in need of volunteers like always. For those who don’t know, we require all of our volunteers to go through an orientation, where we learn about recognizing and reporting child abuse, as well as how camp operates. Also, we perform background checks on all the adult volunteers, and do reference checks on our youth volunteers. To be a volunteer, you don’t have to be a sports person. We need help with registration, snacks and meals, and camp support. Below is a table showing the number of volunteers that the camp leadership team feels we need for each areas, the numbers of volunteers we fill are coming back, and the number of volunteers we need for each area.
|Activity||volunteers needed||Volunteers committed||Volunteers still needed|
|Arts & Crafts||8||6||2|
|Snacks & Meals||6||6||0|
|Volunteer Check in||1||1||0|
As you can see, our need for volunteers is still great. It always seems to work out with the volunteers we bring. Please prayerfully consider being a volunteer.
As mentioned above, all volunteers are required to attend a volunteer orientation. Here are the times, dates, and locations of the orientations;
June 10th 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Hope Community/Asbury UMC, 2005 Ave T (lunch provided)
June 24th 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Hope Community/Asbury UMC, 2005 Ave T (lunch provided)
June 29th 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Hope Community/Asbury UMC, 2005 Ave T (dinner provided)
July 15th 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Hope Community/Asbury UMC, 2005 Ave T (snacks provided)
In addition to the orientations, we also have these meetings that will be important
July 15th — All-Star Camp Walk-Through, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., OL Slaton Middle School
July 15th— All-Star Sports Camp Volunteer Luncheon & Child Safety Training Presentation 11:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m., Hope Community/Asbury UMC, 2005 Ave T
Also, like always, we provide our camp free of charge to the families that attend camp. It obviously takes money to make camp happen. We have to rent the school, provide a sack lunch to each camper, and each camper receives a backpack, pencils, a camp t-shirt, a wristband, and a Bible. To help with the camp costs, we have sponsorships available at $25 per child. We have many coupons left over from the golf tournament, so I am going to make a deal for my Lubbock friends. (Sorry out-of-towners, my coupons won’t apply in your area, but you can still sponsor a child, and we will figure out something nice for you.) For every child you sponsor, we will give you one of our remaining coupons. Coupons are for things like free appetizers at selected restaurants, or a free Bahama Buck’s shaved ice.
If you are interested in volunteering for camp, being a camp sponsor, or interested in sending your child to sports camp, please visit www.livingabundantlytx.com. We are encouraging everyone to use the computer to register, volunteer, or sponsor for camp.
I CAN’T BE AT CAMP, BUT I STILL WANT TO BE INVOLVED We understand that due to work or other obligations, some can not be at camp. Some of you would still like to help with camp in some way. Good news, I have some ideas just for you. Let me offer three suggestions. First, we would like to go door to door in our targeted neighborhoods to get more children registered for camp. This is something new, but something I feel it is important. This allows us to perhaps visit with the people in that neighborhood, but to also pray over that area, and claim that neighborhood for God. (If you don’t feel comfortable, I won’t force you to.) We have set aside 4 Saturdays for this: Saturday May 27th, we will start at 10:00 am and will meet in the parking lot of Rising Star Baptist Church (2420 E Cornell). June 3rd, we will start at 10:00 am and will meet at One Way Church of God in Christ (1510 E 15th St). June 17th, we will start at 10:00 am at Asbury Church (2005 Ave. T), and the last Saturday will be July 1st at 10:00 am and we will meet in the OL Slaton School Parking Lot (1602 32nd St.).
A second way you could help is going to the United Supermarkets (Parkway Dr, 50th & Q, and N University) on selected Saturdays to hand out camp information, and get some children signed up for camp. At this time, we don’t have specific Saturdays scheduled, but if you can help with this let me know.
A third way that you can help is with the sports camp cookout and clean up. The cookout is held on the Friday night when camp is over. Normally one of our volunteers have to be in charge of the grill, and our snacks/meals volunteers have to serve. It would be awesome if we could get a group to come and do the cooking and serving, so the volunteers could just enjoy the evening. Also as the cookout is going on, we have to take down the worship area in the auditorium. We start with a time of worship at the cookout, then go outside to eat. So we have to clean the stage, take down all of our speakers and other technology needs and load them up. After a long week, some of our youth volunteers aren’t much help at this point.
The most important thing you can do, whether you volunteer at camp or not is to pray. Pray that the Lord begins moving on the hearts of the children, so that they can learn about God and begin a relationship with Him. Pray that the families of the campers will be impacted. Pray for the volunteers: strength good attitudes, the number of volunteers we need, and that we be aware of the opportunities to share the gospel during camp. Pray for all aspects of worship, and the speakers, that we share the Gospel with boldness and clarity, so that the Lord can make Himself known. Pray for the camp leadership team, that when the enemy attacks the camp (he always does, in one way or another) that we not lose focus. Lastly, I would ask for prayers for the OL Slaton neighborhood. Since January, the neighborhood has been on the news for a murder, a suicide at the school, and a shooting close to the school.