This morning we opened our Bibles and read the last reading of the year, completing our journey this year through God’s route 66, the 66 books of the Bible. I’m so proud of so many in our church who read through the Bible for the first time!Â If you fell a little short, celebrate that you read the Bible more this year than you did the previous year. That’s a good thing!
2008 was an incredible year for Palm Valley Church, and much of it is due to our growth in God’s Word. Let’s keep striving forward as we read through the Bible again in 2009, adding the element of journaling, using the S.O.A.P. acrostic.
So, as January 1 hits, let’s open to Genesis 1 and start again, growing in our understanding and application of the Bible!
After some time off to recover and reflect, here’s some thoughts from our 6 Christmas Eve services…
- So proud of all our volunteers, many who served multiple services to make it happen!
- Sean Smith did an incredible job pulling together all the creative elements. I loved the stage design with 3 huge video screens and Christmas decorations.
- So proud of so many PVC’ers who invited people to come!
- During our first service all the video stopped working, creating a major mess, since our songs were tied by clic-track to the videos.
- Derrick and the worship team kept plowing forward and didn’t let it stop the service, they did an awesome job!
- The Felix testimony is one of the most moving stories of hope I have ever seen. You can watch it at the beginning of my message, click here.
- Thanks to all the Home Teams who brought cookies. I personally tested as many as possible, and they were all good.
- Adam Waltho and Lilly Hughes nailed their solos on Christmas, they both moved me to tears at different points of the worship.Â
- Good to have Fernando and Eileen back on stage. Glad they escaped from Arkansas!
- 6 services is a lot of preaching, I was fried Christmas morning
- Can’t wait to kick-off “LifeCoach” this weekend, great way to start the new year!
Today Lori and I are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe how quickly time has flown, it seems like just yesterday we were walking down the aisle with great expectations. We’ve experienced a great deal in 15 years…
- A wonderful youth ministry that still produces fruit today.
- 3 years of marriage w/o kids where we built a deep and abiding friendship.
- The birth of 4 children, truly God’s greatest blessing is our family. Watching our children grow physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually brings us great joy.
- Starting Palm Valley Church together in our home. This was easily the biggest step of faith, yet our greatest faith-growing experience.
- Developed great friendships, many which have remained a huge blessing to us today.
- Experienced great sadness at close friends who have chosen to walk in sin and wrecked their lives, leaving us feeling hurt and helpless in the wake of damage.
- Learned great lessons in how to communicate love to each other and avoid the pitfalls of marriage.
- Learned huge financial lessons, the hard way, that have drawn us closer to each other and to our Lord.
- Realized how blessed we are that God brought us together, and have fallen more in love with each other every day.
To my bride, Lori…
- You are my beloved wife.
- You are my best friend.
- I love when you laugh, even when you’re laughing at me
- I love your passion for Jesus, and that you’ve always walked with Him.
- I’m grateful you saved yourself for me, it makes me feel special.
- You’re the most incredible mother ever; our children are blessed by you.
- Your faith encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Without that, Palm Valley Church wouldn’t exist. Every changed life at PVC can be traced back to you!
- Thanks for believing in me when everybody told you to run.
- You’re more beautiful today than the day I married you. You defy logic.
- I want to grow old with you
- You’re the best little help-mate ever
- I thank God every day that He brought you into my life!
- The first 15 years have been amazing, I believe the next 15 will be even better.
Through 15 years, with ups and downs, nobody will ever know how hard we’ve worked at our marriage, but Lori and I do, and that’s what matters. I love you honey!
It was good to be back at Palm Valley after my travels, but jet-lag is still working me over.Â Here’s some thoughts from the weekend…
- Glad I wasn’t teaching, I was so tired I could barely do announcements.
- Wayne Cordiero’s message was awesome. Video teaching works!
- I loved the praise team’s leading of “Let Me Sing”. Very worhshipful!
- Video team was right on cue all weekend.
- Nate rocked the sound board, it was crystal clear.
- Lots of excitement for Christmas, it’s going to be awesome.
- Route 66 has been the best thing we’ve ever done. Most of our church has read the Bible more this year than they did last year. That’s a win!
- December cracks me up. People are so busy with Christmas stuff (the birth of Christ) that they can’t make it to church to worship Him.
- Big things in the works that I hope to be able to share in a week or two.
- I mean really big!
- Had our staff Christmas party at our house Sunday night. I love our staff!
- The highlight of the night was the white elephant gift exchange. Somebody brought Derrick’s new monitor as their gift. You should’ve seen the stress on Derrick’s face when he realized what was going on.
- Some gals from PVC put together all the food and decorations, as well as serving. Thanks to Kathleen, Michelle, Jane, Judi, Kim, Toni, and Nancy.
- Don’t forget to invite people for Christmas Eve services, 6 great opportunities to see your friends meet Jesus!
We woke up at 3:15 in Cairo to begin our long journey home. At 4:15 we all met for breakfast, and asÂ I walked in the whole group sang happy birthday to me. It was a surprise, but great to know they cared By the way, I celebrated one of the longest birthday’s ever. Due to the 9 hour time difference and travel, I actually celebrated my birthday for 33 hours today on 3 different continents. Top that!
Our flight from Cairo to London was extremely empty, which allowed us to spread out and relax. Very nice. With a 3 hour layover in London, Lori and I had lunch with friends at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant in the airport. We’re big fans of his, so it was cool to eat there. Our last flight was 11 hours from London to Phoenix. It seemed like an eternal flight, but we finally made it home about 7:00 pm Phoenix time.
Side note: the long flight allowed me to read Craig Goershel’s book, “IT”, which was an awesome and challenging read, especially for pastors.
It was so nice to get home and seek our kids, I can’t explain how much we missed them! So concludes an incredible journey, one that I’ll never forget.