Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hume Lake 2011: Decision Night

Tonight was an amazing night at Hume Lake... amazing may not be the best word to describe what happened tonight so let me share the story with you.

I love that Hume Lake is all about students growing in their relationship with Christ.  Part of growing means starting a relationship with Christ and that is exactly what tonight was all about.  Chapel started around 7pm and the worship set was really good.

After worship I just felt the need to head outside so I can pray for some students.  I listened in the pastors message while I prayed for some of the students in our group.  That lead to praying for some of the leaders in our group who would be talking with these students later.  See when I was praying I was expecting God to work in these students lives.

After the message I headed back into Chapel and the pastor had already asked students who made a choice for Christ to stand up.  I looked over to my right and saw a handful of students who were standing up.  In that group was a young, 16 year-old, who is in my cabin.  I have been praying for him for the last couple weeks and I was so excited to see that he had stood up!

For the next thirty minutes I was able to talk with this young man, cry with him and just listen.  I am so proud of him and the choice that he made tonight.  It was great to listen to his story and just hear how he was reluctant to come to Hume.  It was great to hear him say how he was fighting with his mom for sending him up here this week and then to hear him say how thankful he is for his mom sending him.

Now that part is the best part of the story but it gets better.  When this young man left chapel there was a group of about forty students waiting for him when he left chapel.  When he opened the doors they cheered for him, hugged him and encouraged him.  They didn't do this for just this one young man but for the other six students who stayed back tonight to make a decision for Christ.

I love seeing High School students being the church!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No Pushing

I can't tell you how many times I heard that when I was growing up.  I was a rowdy kid when I was growing up and being the fact that I am a boy that can add to the ruckus.  Little boys like to push other kids. We get upset and we don't know how to control our emotions so we do the only natural thing: we push.  Then when we push an adult typically approaches us and reprimands us for our actions.  We get upset because we are emotional and now we have been caught acting naughty and that can embarrass us.

With all that said we are raised in a society that tells us that pushing is bad.  I want to say that we need to push people more often.  I think we live in a culture that has a tendency to become spiritually lazy.  When we become spiritually lazy we fail to take the time that we need to so we can grow in our relationship with God.

One thing that I have been committed to in life is to push people to grow spiritually.  I want to see adults and students grow into their full potential.  Two weeks ago I pushed one of our students leaders out of her comfort zone.  We were hosting our mid-week service together and I was the one who was supposed to pray for our Compassion offering.  When it came time to pray I passed it off to Chandler to let her pray.  My throat was kind of hurting but more than that I knew that Chandler was ready to be pushed for more.

I knew that I would get one of two responses from Chandler.  See one thing I try to assess when I'm going to push someone is how will they handle this push?  Will this push be something that helps them to grow in their walk with Christ or will this push be something that upsets them?  To be honest I get it wrong every now and then and I hurt people's feelings but that night I was right.  I knew it was a good call to ask Chandler to pray on stage because I knew off stage she would say no.  I know it can be a risky call and I was totally putting her on the spot but I just knew in my heart that it was the right call.  After that night I sent Chandler a text thanking her for praying and this is the text I got back from Chandler.

I have two questions to ask in life:
  1. Are you pushing people in your circle of influence to grow in their walk with Christ?
  2. Have you placed people in your life that will push you to grow to be a better Christian?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Swimming and My Spiritual Growth

This may be a new thing to you but I took a swimming class in junior college.  I could already swim but I needed two P. E. credits and swimming fit my schedule.  I got in the pool that first day and almost died.  I'm not sure I even owned a pair of swim goggles.  Over time I listened to the teacher.  I improved on my stroke.  I learned a few more strokes and at the end of the semester I swam a mile.  Yep, the final exam was to swim a mile and I'm pretty sure I ended up doing it in just under forty-five minutes.

Well as I have grown older and I used to swim quite frequently for my cardio workout but that had diminished over the years.  Just recently (like last week) Charity had bought some goggles at Costco so I figured I would take a swim at the gym.  I did my normal workout and then headed to the pool.  When I got done with my first two laps I realized that I am out of shape.  After swimming six laps I was standing in the water, straining to get my breath and it hit me: "This is what is like when we fail to grow spiritually."

Many of us have had great times in our live that we have grown spiritually and we have seen growth in our lives.  God has found favor in our lives and has used us to do some amazing things for His glory.  Then, for whatever reason it may be, we stop growing spiritually.  We get married, have children, or just decide that is not something we are going to focus on in our lives anymore.

Something happens in our lives and we want to be back at that place we were in live.  We realize how desperate we are for the relationship with The Lord that we once had and we jump back in and try to pick up where we left off.  The sad thing is we are out of shape; spiritually.  We are spiritually out of shape and cannot maintain what we once we able to do... and that becomes hard for many of us.

This is a reminder for me that I have been out of shape for swimming and that will take time to get back to where I was but I was also convicted that I have gotten spiritually out of shape and need to spend more time listening to the voice of God in my life.

Remember what it says: 
“Today when you hear his voice, 
don’t harden your hearts 
as Israel did when they rebelled.” Hebrews 3:15 (NLT)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Benson's are Moving

The rumor is out so I figured its time to let you all know that we are moving!
We are actually moving out of Las Vegas... and heading over to Henderson!

Now that I got your attention, and maybe scared you a little bit, I can let you know the facts about the move.  Charity and I have been praying for about two years that we could move into a bigger place than we currently live.  I tend to fall into the American trap and say things like: "Our condo is so small." or "I need more room."

When I actually take the time to step back, and slow down, I realize that I have a beautiful little condo.  I realize that I don't need more room but that I would like more room.  I would love it for the girls to have their own bedrooms but in reality they like to sleep in the same room.  I want an office to do my seminary work at while at home (its tough on the kitchen table).  I would love to have a garage to store our seasonal items but we just don't have that where we currently live.

So through all our prayers, and my whining, God has answered our prayer to bless us with a bigger place to move in to.  We are pretty stoked to have a guest room (slash office) for our friends to be able to stay in when they come to town.  I'm excited for the girls to have the loft to use as a play room.  I am really excited to have a little backyard where we can BBQ and play with the girls outside.  I am more excited to have a place where we can have people over and it wont interfere with the girls taking naps or sleeping.  We can hang out with people at night, do ministry, and our girls will hopefully not be bothered.

These are just a few things that make me excited about our new place.  Now we aren't buying the place.  We are actually short selling our condo (and I would like to blog on that in the future) so this has been a long prayed out process in our lives.  Will you please join us in prayer as our move gets closer?  Please pray that our new home will be a place of ministry and life change for all that enter and that God will guide our thoughts and action in that home to honor Him!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Princess Bed

Last weekend I set up my first toddler bed...
It was a big day for Sophie and for Charity and I.  I listed Sophie's crib on craigslist and didn't expect it to sell for a couple weeks.  Its a pretty nice crib and I wasn't about to just take a low ball offer.  Within 45 minutes of listing it we had a call and the lady wanted to come over and get it.  Needless to say I was thrown off and once it sold we had to go get Sophie a bed to sleep in. 

We had been prepping Sophie for this so she had already chosen the bed that she wanted.  We zipped over to Toys R Us and were able to get the exact bed that she wanted.  So after an hour and a half of me putting the bed together Sophie was ready to get some sleep and see what I was doing.  There were a few times that she peeked her head in and confessed that she was peeking and so excited!

Here is her reaction to her new bed.  The first picture is my favorite because she just stood there for about 10 seconds staring at her bed!

She loved snuggling in her bed for the first time

Of course she had to show me how she could jump out of it!
I just can' believe that our little girl is growing up so much that she is in a toddler bed.  I am so stoked to see how much Sophie loves her new bed... the crazy part is seeing how much Leah loves it too!  I have a feeling that I will be setting up another princess bed in the near future.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sophie's First Flowers

I want my daughter to know that she is a princess in my eyes!

I like to grab Charity flowers every now and then so that she has something to look at on the table.  Its also nice for your wife to know that she is loved.  Well the last couple times that I've brought Charity flowers home Sophie has asked me: "Are those for me daddy?"

Every time I had to rely with a "no" these are for mommy.  So the other day I decided that I would be the first man to bring my little girl flowers.  I walked in the house and Sophie asked her typical question.  I finally was able to tell her that "Yes, these flowers are for you!"  Sophie was so happy to get flowers.  She got on the table every morning to smell them.  She watched them as they opened and then finally she let me take a quick pic of her with her flowers.

A lesson that I learned from this is that my little girl wants to be treated like a princess.  There is something that is ingrained in Sophie that she wants my approval. Sophie wants me to love her and that is exactly what I plan on doing in life.  I want Sophie, and Leah, to know that I love them both so dearly.  I want them to know that I care for them.  I want them to know they are my little princesses.  I want to give them my approval in life for the choices they make.  I want them to trust me in my actions and know that daddy loves them.  I am thankful to have such a precious little daughter how loves me so much.

I never knew how happy it would make her to get flowers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I Never Expected This: Part Four

This blog series was supposed to be finished last week but I got a surprise that has extended it a week.

Seminary has been a roller coaster for me...
I love learning but there is a word in my life that can change everything: "FUN".  Anytime there is something presented to me as being fun I tend to leave what I need to focus on and seek out the fun in my life.  Now seminary hasn't always been fun.  There have been courses that have rocked my heart, shown me how selfish I am and literally made me want to quit being a pastor.  There are also courses that I have had prof's that love Jesus, are living out the call on their life and want to invest into the younger generation of leaders.  This post is dedicated to two men who have helped me in these last two years of ministry.

Dr. Bill Randall
I met Dr. Bill Randall a few years prior to taking "Spiritual Formations" with him in the summer of 2009.  It was a crazy summer for me!  My lead pastor had just resigned a month prior to me taking the course and knowing about Bill I decided to switch classes to be with him.  I knew that I needed some serious spiritual help on my heart to handle the next season of ministry that I was facing.  Bill, and his wife Jill, took some time with Charity and I while we were in Redding that week and were amazing to us!  Jill hung out with Charity while I was writing papers and going to class.  For the last two years Bill has spoken into my life, prayed for me, and hung out with me as a spiritual leader.

Dr. Rod Casey
I met Rod last summer while taking a preaching class from him.  One of the first things Rod said to me was "I'm sorry to hear about your speeding ticket."  I was freaked out!  Rod had taken the time to search my name and found out that I had got a speeding ticket on my way up to school that week.  During the week I just fell in love with Rod's teaching style, what he was saying and how he was saying it.  Rod challenged me in my speaking and in my church leadership.  I asked Rod to go to lunch with me so we could talk ministry one on one and ever since then he has been a key voice in my leadership growth.

See the funny thing about seminary is that I never expected that the men who were leading the courses would take this much interest in my life and care for me the way these guys do!

Friday, July 08, 2011

I Never Expected This: Part Three

This week I have been sharing some thoughts about thing that I never expected from seminary.  Today I'm going to add one to my list because of something that happened this week.

This week I received and email that the dean of my seminary has resigned (at least that is how I read it).  Now I am not completely sure of everything that went down and for me to say anything more than that line would be speculation on my behalf.

But here is what I do know; Tozer is my third seminary that I have attended.  I started out my degree is San Diego attending Azusa Pacific University and I LOVED it!  I was in one very cool course and then I accepted a call to Las Vegas to be a Middle School Pastor at a growing church called South Hills.  I took a break from seminary to focus on building the ministry and then found a local seminary that I could attend.  Fuller Seminary really isn't a local seminary but they had a program that I could start attending locally to work on my education.

Well about half way through my degree it became evident to me that I was not going to be able to finish my degree here in town because of how Fuller is set up (I wish I could have).  I started talking with guys and ran into a man named Rob Redmann who told me about Tozer Seminary up in Redding, CA.  I loved the idea and finally had the guts to transfer (again).  After I transferred I found out that Rob was leaving the seminary.  There was an intern dean by the name of Leron Heath and he is a STUD in ministry.  The guys loves Jesus, has a pastoral heart and is an amazing man (he also helped me with ordination).

Well Leron was the intern dean while Tozer found the right person for the job.  About eighteen months ago they brought in Dr. Sarah Sumner to lead the seminary and I thought she was doing pretty good (I can be judgmental at times).   About a month ago I had a conversation with Sarah that fired me up on higher education and the direction of Tozer.  The email I got on Wednesday was saddening to my heart but I trust that God has a plan for Tozer and He is still the leader of the seminary.

On a personal side I just never expected that I would transfer so much, have so many deans and attend so many schools to complete my degree.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

I Never Expected This: Part Two

This week I'm taking some time to blog about what I never expected to learn while in seminary.

I knew that going to seminary I would begin to get a better understanding of scripture but I never imagined that I would get this good of an understanding.  Now please hear me that I am not saying I totally understand everything in the Bible; that is not what I am saying.  I am saying that I am beginning to see how scripture fits together better.

For example I am currently taking a course on Old Testament Kings and Prophets.  I am loving this course because for so long I had NO clue how the Kings and Prophets fit together.  I am finally getting an understanding of what is happening in the Old Testament history.  Now to give you a glimpse into my past I was the guy who dropped out of high school my junior year.  This is a huge step for me when I am seeing the unity in scripture and how the word of God is complete.

I never expected that I would learn so much in seminary and just not learn it but enjoy it this much!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I Never Expected This: Part One

This week I'm going to take some time to share some thoughts that have been stirring in my mind from seminary.  Now I know that over a month ago I was ready to quit seminary but this month has been very good for me in my studies and thinking about what I am gaining from seminary that I never thought would happen!

This last Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at my favorite church in the country; South Hills Church in Henderson, NV.  I have been on staff at SHCC for over six years now but this was a cool Sunday.  I was able to kick off a three-week series on the book of Jonah.  Now something that was a huge blessing to me was having my best friend there, Mark Salazar, to see me preach.

Mark has been key in my growth in my walk with Christ.  Mark is like a "Barnabas" to me.  He has been there through so much and we have both grown in ministry greatly over the last almost eleven years I have known him.  I think that Mark is the kind of Christian man that every pastor needs in their life.

After church Mark brought his family over to my house for dinner and some hang time with the family.  While he and I were sitting at the table he was very encouraging about how my speaking style has grown (Mark has known me for a long time).  He was stoked to see how well I handled the text, how I enunciated my words and how I made sure to engage the crowd.  I was so encouraged to hear that from Mark and get that affirmation from him.

I thought about it and I never thought that seminary would help me in my preaching at much as it has.  I really give a bunch of that credit to Dr. Rod Casey and the course he taught last summer.  I think that course has helped m with my communication style in a huge way.  Rod helped me to get my thoughts together, to keep the message to one main point and to not be scared to leave great wisdom on my desk that just didn't fit into the message.  I guess I just never expected that seminary would help me grow in my preaching as much as it has.

Here is the message if you want to judge for yourself

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Little Hands: Part Three

Yep another picture of me with my shirt off

So if you have been watching the progress of my tattoo I went down to the shop a week ago and sat down for another session with Johnny Five.  Johnny filled in the frames with some cool blues behind the hands to make them pop out.  Then we added some purple to the frame in the corners.  Johnny did the jewels in the frame with the girls birthstone colors and the coolest part was to put a drop shadow around the entire frame to make it stand out more.
I am loving this tattoo more and more every day!  One more session (after summer) to get the girls names down on the bottom.