Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Missions Ops!

Hello, Friends...

Here are some upcoming missions opportunities for you to consider:

The Vista is partnering with Altrusa International to provide calculators for homeless children in the Belton ISD. Calculators can be purchased for $50.00 each. If you would like to contribute to this project, please make check payable to Altrusa International Inc. and designate it "Add it all up campaign". Designated contributions can be put in the offering baskets or in the Connections Table basket.

The Vista will be providing Christmas gifts for the children at Cedar Crest Hospital & RTC. We will have 16 Christmas wish lists and available on the Missions Table. Please pick one/some up if you or your COM Group will be participating in this project.

The Vista is continuing to collect sleeping bags, blankets, and coats for the homeless on the streets of Temple. If you would like to donate any of these items, please bring them to church on Sunday or to the Vista office during the week.

Christ is all,


Monday, June 30, 2008

Joe Update


Read the latest from Joe in India. Let him know that your praying. - Tim

To my loving community,

It has been a very eventful week for me in Bangalore. Every morning I went out with Sana my guide and he showed me most of the to get my bearings mostly straight in this very populated city. This was fun and interesting but somewhat frustrating at sometimes. I really wanted to hit the streets and start doing my work but He took me around the fun areas of the city. Sana speaks very little English so it can sometimes be trying but there are reasons and if anything has been good fro me to see so much of the city because I get a better view Bangalore and it's amazing people.

Then for the afternoons I spent the time with three to two muslim women. This time was to teach me the quran and in a conversational setting start asking more about Isa. The time we have spent together has been amazing and has filled me with more of an understanding of muslim culture, and also made them dig deep in their faith to bring me answers many of which they can't explain without blind devotion and no real reason why it is done or backing from their holy book. Luckily though they don't seem to be disappointed at the questions but willing and ready to set the time for the next day to keep discussing islam. This last time we met as a group we started reading "The Torn Veil" which is the story of Gulshan Esther coming to Christ and how God moved in her life to become her beautiful Savior. And then we discussed the chapter. All three ladies this day seemed very interested so I can't wait to see how God will move through this time in their lives but also in my own training.

So things to pray about are to pray for God to move the ladies closer to Him and his unconditional love. Pray for the words coming out of my mouth are of him and not me. And pray that tomorrow when I talk with some more Islamic leaders tomorrow at the mosque that eyes are opened to a light that leads to Christ and his salvation. Finally pray for rest and quality time spent with the father for myself because I can do nothing with out Him but am granted to walk beside Him as he works in the hearts of man.

So I leave you with good glad tidings, my loving community

Monday, June 23, 2008

Our Boy in India


Here's an update from Joe Giles, one of our Vista family members on mission. Please pray for Joe as God works in him and others around him.

- Tim

Well it was along flight and with some of the layover and delays I sometimes wondered if I would ever get to India. I am doing well and loving ever minute of life in Bangalore. Today I start talking with Muslims and learning about the Qur'an. so pray for my daily meetings with them. Next I will be going around Bangalore in a Muslim area finding all of the mosques, video stores, and churches, to be able to reach the Muslim community. My prayer request are boldness to just share the good news of Christ with my Muslim teachers, and good communication between Suna and myself because he speaks Bengali and understands some English. It is good to be working with what God has already started so let our praise and Glory always flow to him.

In love,


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Our Girl in Guatemala

Hi, Guys...

This is an update from Lindsey Zwerneman. Please continue to pray as God changes lives in Guatemala...including hers.


Hey Tim! I´ve been in Guatemala for almost 2 wks and I have been able to serve and worship God like never before! This is such a beautiful country, and it is safe to say that I have seen almost all of it. Sunday, June 1st we left the Buckner office and traveled 6 hours away to Huehuetenango. Driving in Guatemala is like a constant roller coaster! At one point we were driving on the left side of a dirt road, at 120 kph, around a mountain. I literally had to hold on to my chair in order not to fall over sometimes. In Huehuetenango we served at an orphanage called Fundacion Salvacion. At the orphange there are around 95 children ages 0-17. During the mornings last week, while the older kids were at school, we helped out by doing odd jobs such as packaging wheat and painting doors. During the afternoons we led vacation bible school for the children. We were really touched by the children of this orphanage and since we were there for 6 hours a day for 6 days we got pretty close to some of them. I got really close to one very very precious girl named Zulma, who is 7 years old. Before I left I gave her one of my bracelets -¨para recordarme¨- in order that she remember me. And not even expecting it, later she gave me one of her baby dolls! It is the most precious and memorable gift I have ever received in my life. I love her and I am glad that I have this doll because I always want to remember to pray for this sweet girl. There was also another child at the orphanage named Sablo who had a donated wheelchair that was in bad condition (it was a least 15 yrs old!), and the orphanage had not been able to save enough money to buy him a new one. His wheelchair had no place on it for him to rest his feet and he was no longer able to push himself. So, God laid it on the guys and the translators (who, by the way are in a really famous christian band in Guatemala. Mosquito Farm- check it out) in our group that we should buy this child a wheelchair. And, I don´t know about the other girls in our group, but I was a little skeptical. I didn´t want to just give the orhpanage money and not know how it was spent. So we went out shopping in rural Huehuetenango for a wheelchair. There were 3 possible locations we could possibly find a wheelchair. The first store was closed. And I prayed to myself ¨please Lord please Lord please Lord¨. Then we went to the second possible option, and there was no such luck. Finally at our third location, because God seems to like the number 3, we found a store that had ONE wheel chair left! It was the best answer to prayer I have witnessed! We each contributed 200 Quetzales, or $27, and bought the wheelchair. That evening we went to the orphanage for the last time and gave him the wheel chair. He was SO happy! It was a very great moment that can´t be expressed in words. We ended our time there with the kids doing a show of traditional Mayan dances for us. I am so blessed to be able to serve God here! Your prayer means soooo much to me! I see the fruit of the prayer of the people of the Vista everyday while I am here!

-Lindsey Zwerneman

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Galatians 2:20-21: Part 4

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

Paul closes this verse with a very strong statement. He basically says that if we try to please God by striving to do good (keeping the law) rather than by simply accepting God’s grace: i.e. the new life which is Christ in us; then Christ death was meaningless. We can actually work our fingers to the bone serving a cause that we think is God honoring, but all the while we are simply making Christ’s sacrifice a waste. Why? How? Because we are still failing to access the new life…the abundant life…the freedom that the death of Christ provides for us. We reject the gift and therefore we reject Christ himself. We would rather do “what seems right to a man(18)” than to submit ,be broken(19), and let Christ be displayed in our lives. We refuse to get give up control and get out of the way. We refuse to believe what God says is true rather than what we can figure out. We refuse to live by faith.

Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.



18. Proverbs 14:12, Colossians 2:8
19. Luke 20:17-18

Galatians 2:20-21: Part 3

“The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

One reason this passage can seem confusing is because it tells us things that are obviously not so. It contains paradoxes: I am crucified…but I live. I am alive…but it’s not me, it’s Christ. Huh? A person could easily read this verse and think “I am obviously not dead” and “I still look like myself, not Christ”. And they would be right, but they are talking about what they see in the physical world. Paul on the other hand is talking about what is true in the spiritual world. As followers of Christ we are called to believe in what God says is true even when we don’t see it(12). We see the physical world through physical eyes, but God’s truth resides in the spiritual world. The Holy Spirit must give us “spiritual eyes” so we can accept what we cannot see. We see glimpses of truth in the physical world but we will never see the whole picture until what is true in heaven is true on earth. Until then, we are called to live by faith. Faith is believing what is not obvious…what we cannot figure out. I’ve heard jokes about people saying “I’d have faith if I could just see some proof”. That’s impossible…proof eliminates faith. How small would our God be if we could figure him out? If I could explain all the attributes of God then I’d be like God. Seems like we’ve changed very little since Eden(13).

Someone also could say, “I want to believe that sin is dead. I don’t want to sin anymore. I want to live in freedom. How do I make it happen?” We naturally want a series of steps or a formula to make this happen. The problem is that a formula eliminates faith. A formula for living the Christian life can actually be counterproductive because it let’s us remain in control…and that’s why we want one. In the book Searching For God Knows What Donald Miller writes:

“…life is complex, and the idea that you can break it down or fix it in a few steps is rather silly. The truth is there are a million steps, and we don’t even know what the steps are, and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them; and still worse, they are different for you and me and they are always changing. I have come to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us not to rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather in His guidance, His existence, His mercy, His love.”

The danger in teaching that a person can please God by simply performing spiritual disciplines is that the disciplines themselves are just actions…i.e. works…i.e. law. According to Galatians 2:20 there is only one way for what is true in Christ to be displayed in our lives; There is only one way to access this new life (Christ in us) that is totally free from sin: Faith. We must live by faith. Faith in what? Faith in Christ being God’s Son? Yes, but that’s an incomplete faith. Faith is his substitutionary death? Yes, but still incomplete. In order to live a life pleasing to God, we must have faith that what he says is true in our lives is actually true. We must have faith that we’re dead to sin…it doesn’t control us anymore…we don’t have to sin(14). We must have faith that we have been given a new life that is actually “Christ in us”. We must have faith that when we submit to “Christ in us” that results in a life that is pleasing to God. The actions are not what please God…the faith is what pleases God(15). In fact, that is the only way to do so. Will true faith result in certain qualities and actions being displayed? Absolutely(16), in fact, where told exactly what true faith looks like:

Galatians 5:22-26
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Notice that we don’t call this “The fruit of the Christian trying hard”. We call it “The fruit of the Spirit” because these qualities can only come from the Spirit (Christ in us). Also, notice that it doesn’t say “acting lovingly” or “acting good” or “trying to have faith” (those would be the “fruit of the Christian trying hard”). It simply says “love…goodness…faithfulness”. Something else to note here: according to scripture faith generates more faith. By faith we allow(17) Christ to be displayed in our lives, and when he is displayed one of the qualities is faith. Faith produces more faith, which produces more faith, etc.



12. Hebrews 11:1
13. Genesis 3:5
14. Romans 6:6-7
15. Hebrews 11:6
16. James 2:14-17
17. By allow I do not mean that God cannot do something without our permission. God can do anything he wishes. God does not force us to submit, however. He calls us to submission. This does not undermine his sovereignty because it is simply how he has chosen to work in our lives.

Galatians 2:20-21: Part 2

“But Christ lives in me.”

Here is the answer: But Christ lives in me. Just as Christ took us with him to death in order to free us from bondage, he took us with him through his resurrection to give us a new life that can live in freedom. Does this sound familiar? Isn’t that what baptism is all about. Baptism is just a symbol of what Christ has already done in the life of every believer. We are the body of Christ. What happened to his body, has happened to us(7). We died with him so he could free us from our bondage to sin. We were buried with him to put away our sins. We were raised from the dead with him and given a new life that is totally equipped to live in freedom and please God. What does this new life look like? Christ(11). Guess what: Christ pleases God every time. He’s the only one who can, and he does it naturally. We please God when we stop trying to serve the best we can (and failing)…when we stop doing what seems right to us, hoping the God will jump on board and bless it…when we allow God to show us what our best efforts look like to him(10) and let him break us of ourselves. Most people who will read this want to serve God. We want to please God. That is not the question. The problem is, we want to do so without first allowing ourselves to be broken. Without giving up the control that we think we have (which is actually just bondage to sin). Works that are the result of us trying hard to please God mean nothing to him(10). The only way our actions can please God is when they are the direct result of our submission to God. That submission will lead to brokenness. And brokenness gets us out of the way so Christ (the new life) can be manifested in our physical lives.



7. Romans 6:1-7
8. Romans 6:17-19
9. Ephesians 2:3-7
10. Isaiah 64:6
11. Colossians 3:3-4

Galatians 2:20-21: Part 1

Galatians 2:20-21

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

Galatians 2:20-21 is one of my favorite passages of scripture. It is so rich in meaning and contains truth that is vital for living a life that honors God. If the New Testament only contained John 3:16 and Galatians 2:20-21, that would be enough to convey the whole Gospel. Thankfully, God provides more insight to expound on these truths. I know that I can use all the help I can get!

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live”

To many, this is a very strange saying. All who read this probably accept the fact that Christ was crucified over 2,000 years ago on a Roman cross outside the city of Jerusalem. As Christ-followers we believe that he willingly allowed himself to be placed in that position in order to pay the penalty for our sins so we could experience a life with him for eternity. This belief is referred to as “Substitutionary Atonement”. He who was without sin became our sin:

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

But Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ” not “My sins have been crucified with Christ”. You may ask “So, what’s the difference?” The difference is that if Christ only died to pay for the sins that we commit, he just put a band-aid on the problem. The real problem is that we want to sin. Whether we commit sins openly that people can see, or we hide them inside, in our hearts…we are all sinners(1). That is our nature. We are all born wanting to sin and we are totally unable to fix the problem. This belief is referred to as “Total Depravity of Man”. So a subsitutionary death that only forgives my outward actions but does not change my evil heart does not get to the root of the problem. Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ”. Paul is saying that somehow in some way that I cannot fully understand when Christ was nailed to the cross, I was there and you were there. Jesus took us to the cross with him. We were united with Christ that day and we hung there and died with him.

Romans 6:3
Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:5
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

In order to make God’s plan complete, Christ had to die for our sins and we had to die to sin. If my sins were paid for, but I had not died to sin then Jesus’ death was like treating cancer with aspirin. I may feel better on the outside, but inside I am still as diseased as ever…I just get to go to heaven when I finally succumb. This gives us hope for tomorrow, but what about hope for today? Are we just waiting for our life to end so we can then be changed? Because of the substitutionary death of Christ we have the assurance that we will spend eternity with him, but what about now? Why are we here on earth right now? How can we please God in this life if even when we do good things, in our hearts we still want to sin? We still have a problem with our will.

Philippians 2:13
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

The work of the cross was not limited to providing forgiveness for our actions. It also had to change our “will”. It had to set us free from the part of ourselves that wants to sin…that lives in slavery to sin.

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

We are called to live in freedom. In the book Changed Into His Likeness, Watchman Nee writes:

“Some of us force ourselves to do things we don’t want to do and live a life we cannot live, and think that in making this effort we are being Christians”.

Although the way of life described above is familiar to most Christ-followers, it is not living in freedom.

John 10:10 (NIV)
I have come that they may have life, and have it too the full.

John 10:10 (NLT)
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

A lifetime of trying to force ourselves to do the impossible is not “a rich and satisfying life”. That is not the life Jesus died to give us. That is why it is so important for us to understand that on the cross Jesus did not die alone. We were there. More specifically, the part of us that makes us want to sin was there. It was also put to death in the person of Christ. Paul calls the part of us that makes us want to sin “sin”(2). In this case it is a noun, not a verb. Sin is not an action, sin is a person. Sin is also sometimes called “the natural man”, “the old self” or “the sin nature”. Sin is who we are naturally. It is the birthright we inherited from Adam and Eve. It is us without Christ. Before we knew Christ, we lived in slavery to sin. That is all we knew. But now, if we take God at his word, we know that sin is dead and we are emancipated. Something that is dead cannot have power over you or control you:

Romans 6:6-7
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Romans 7:1-4
Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.
So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

Romans 6:6 says that our old man (sin) was crucified to free us. Romans 7:4 says the law also died. Paul uses the analogy of a widow. A widow is free to marry another because she is no longer bound to what is dead. The death of sin and the death of the law are synonymous because the law only exists to reveal sin in us. That was and is the sole purpose of the law(3). The law was never meant to be fulfilled as a way to please God. The function of the law has always been to reveal our insufficiencies. It is a mirror that shows us how we truly look apart from Christ. The law is by design impossible for man to keep. Where the Holy Spirit is at work, we see him using the law as a tool to break us.

What does it look like when we try to force the old man (sin) to serve God? It could look like the Watchman Nee description I quoted earlier. To the ones who have looked into the law and seen themselves as they really are, it can be incredibly frustrating. They know the depravity of their own heart. They may live in guilt and shame because they want to please God but know that in their hearts their will is to sin. Then there are those who are deceived into believing they can actually keep the law well enough to please God. This is what I call “The Rich Young Ruler Complex”(4); they are blind to who they really are. They believe that by doing good deeds they can please God, when their hearts are far from him. Jesus addressed this attitude in the Pharisees when he called them “white-washed tombs”5. In other words they looked good on the outside, but on the inside they were dead. Paul also addressed the worthlessness of our outer righteousness apart for the work of Christ in our lives:

Philippians 3:4-11
…If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

So what are we to do? We are asked by God to do the impossible(6). Even if we take God at his word that sin is dead and we are free…what then? Do we just sin away because we are no longer under the law? Do we say “I am free” so anything goes? Those who would say that have misinterpreted their freedom(7). We are never told we are free to sin. We are told we are free from sin. So if we are free from sin, where does this freedom take us? What are we to do with this freedom? Our freedom from sin frees us to serve righteousness(8). Christ death broke our bondage to the law and sin and calls us to live in freedom: a place where we can experience joy, peace, and love…a place where we can truly be righteous. How do we do it? We don’t. Christ does it…in fact, he has already done it(9).



1. Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21, Matthew 5:28, I John 3:15
2. Romans 7:17
3. Romans 7:7-11
4. Mark 10:17-23
5. Matthew 23:27
6. Luke 6:27-36, Ephesians 5:24-25
7. Romans 6:1-7
8. Romans 6:17-19
9. Ephesians 2:3-7

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I was listening to the Insight For Living radio broadcast this morning (8:00 a.m. on AM 1010 in Temple/Belton). I actually didn't even know it still came dad clued me in. When I was a kid, we used to listen to this program on the way to school. Chuck Swindoll's clear and unassuming teaching style made an impression on me even as a child. Staci and I had a chance to visit his church in Frisco a few years back...what a great experience. Anyway, this morning Chuck (we're tight like that) was teaching on Philippians 2. Verses 3-8 really hit me. I'd studied these verse before...they're even underlined in my Bible...but this morning they were fresh:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!'

In this world we are told to make something of ourselves.
Christ made himself nothing.

In this world we are told to stand up for our rights.
Christ gave his up.

In this world we are told to look out for our own interests.
Christ was only interested in serving others.

Who's standard do we accept?



Strength In Weakness

Here's a quote from the book The Rest of The Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out by Dan Stone and David Gregory. It has really meant a lot to me. I thought it may help some of you as well:

"People can relate to you through your warts and blemishes. They can't relate to your holiness. You're too slick there, too greasy. You've got it too together. They can relate to your warts though. We come to a place where we say, 'Lord, even though that thing is still in my humanity, I'm going to praise You for it'. You know what I discovered? The minute I started praising God for my impatience, I didn't see it anymore. I don't mean it disappeared, but I didn't have a fixation on it. I wasn't anxious about it any longer. That's the way God moves on in us, when we accept ourselves as He does. I'm not advocating sin, by any means. I am saying that when we shift our focus from ourselves - some neutral aspect of our personality that we don't like, or, yes, even some flesh pattern that keeps on recurring - and instead focus on Christ in us, God does His work in us. We are transformed into His image as we behold Him, not as we behold ourselves (2 Corinthians 3:18).
God takes those things that are fixations in us when we're flesh-oriented and turns them into blessings when we're spirit-oriented. What I despised became a blessing in somebody else's life. Those things become the years the locusts ate that God restores, the dung that God makes into a compost pile. He lets it sit there until it's work is done in us. Then we can take our humanity back and say, 'It's perfect to God right now. If He wants to do any altering of it, He is at work in me to will and do of His good pleasure. If He wants to change it, He who began a good work in me will bring it to pass. He can finish what He started'."



Friday, April 25, 2008

Mad Hops

Disclaimer: This has nothing to do with spirituality...but it might just be one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Had to share!

It's gotta be the shoes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

You Need To Do Better...Not.

Here's a guy named Steve McVey. He has a blog called 101 Lies Taught in Church Every Sunday. Most of his stuff is right on. Check out his link in my blog list.

What is Real?

As Christ followers we live in two seperate realities. We live in the physical reality where we breathe and eat and go to work. We get our butts kicked some days and some days are great. The physical reality is like a swing. It swings back and forth...good and bad. It's not ment to be stable. It's a swing not an anchor. It's suppossed to swing...not keep steady. God made it that way becauses he uses the physical reality to shape us and grow us. For those who don't know Christ, this is all there is. But Christ followers, thank God there's more! As believers, our bodies and souls still live in the physical reality, but our spirit lives in a completely different place...the spiritual reality. In this reality we are united with Christ...our spirit to his. We are dead to sin...Christ is our life. We are his righteousness. We are holy and perfect in his sight and everything he wants to accomplish in us has already been taken care of. So we can rest in him. This is were the abundant life resides. This is were truth resides. As we grow in Christ, the physical reality becomes less and less significant and the spiritual reality becomes more and more real. Let us have faith that what God tells us is true reality, not what we see with our eyes, but what we see with our hearts.

In him and through him,


Friday, March 14, 2008

Loving The Unlovely I've been a little busy lately. This blog has felt very neglected. Here's a video I came across and cried my eyes out. I thought we should cry together.

If you've been broken, remember...he was broken first.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

(Re)Understanding Sin

So I've been fighting with Hebrews 2:17-18 and Hebrews 4:14. When I read these passages I can help but think "How could a holy God be tempted in the same ways that I am? I (when left to my own devices) am wretched and filthy and evil. He is beautiful and pure and good. How could his perfect and beautiful mind have ever held the thoughts that enter mine every minute of the day?" I suppose I'm fighting against these scriptures because they go against my initial understanding of God from my formative years: A loving and yet somewhat judgemental God who loves me and wants the best for me but really has no idea what the world is like these days. An "out-of-touch" God who can't relate but tries to in lame ways...sort of like the father of a teenager who uses expressions like "hip" and "groovy" and "wicked" trying to connect, but in actuality just reinforcing how disconnected they really are from the world today. I don't believe this anymore (at least I hope not)...but old habits die hard. It's difficult to's a may take years...or a lifetime. Scripture (which I believe is truth) tells me that I have a holy and perfect God that knows every sinful thought in my mind...he knows my wicked heart in a way I never will and not only that...he understands. He doesn't condone. He doesn't wink. He doesn't except my sin as inevitable. But he understands the context of my sin. He knows the condition of my own heart better than I do. He understands my situation and the culture I live in better than anyone. My sin is much more real to him than it could ever possibly me to me. To me it may be a source of shame and remorse...momentarily. To him, it was the cause of ultimate humiliation, and unimaginable pain.

How could he still be God and be tempted "in every way" like me and you? How can he know the depths of my depravity and still love me? I'll probably never fully grasp the answers to these questions. I do know this: when I look at myself I see the grotesque disfigurement of sin. Somehow, when he looks at me he sees only the beautiful countenance of Christ. May what is real to him become real in me.

Friday, January 25, 2008

True Love

I recently recieved an email that contained the following:

What Love means to a 4-8 year old . . . Slow down for three minutes to read this. It is so worth it. Touching words from the mouth of babes. A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love."
> Rebecca- age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth."
> Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other."
> Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs."
> Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired."
> Terri - age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK."
> Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss".
> Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."
> Bobby - age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,"
> Nikka - age 6

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday."
> Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well."
> Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared
> Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night."
> Clare - age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken."
> Elaine-age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford."
> Chris - age 7

"Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day."
> Mary Ann - age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones."
> Lauren - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." (what an image)
> Karen - age 7

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross."
> Mark - age 6

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget."
> Jessica - age 8

And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry".

A glimps into love felt in innocence. Do you remember innocence? A time before we actually believed the lies?

"I make all things new." - Jesus

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


We have a couple of college COM Groups that are using the "Nooma" video series. Here is an excerpt from the latest one entitled "Name":


Hey, if you haven't checked out the missions table in a while you might not know that The Vista is planting new churches locally and globally. We have partnered with ServLife International in supporting a training center to equip indigenous church planters to take Christ to various people groups in Nepal. I will hopefully be traveling to Nepal this year to see this first hand. I thought you might enjoy this video about the mission of ServLife:

Vista On The Move/New COM Groups

Okay...I'm back. Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. Things have been hectic with getting all the new COM Groups up and running and planning the move of our church's Sunday meeting place. As for COM Groups, they should all be up and running this week or next. Check with your COM Group leader an update on that. You can find the COM Group information on our website:
Let me just throw out one more reminder to those who attend The Vista. WE WILL BE MOVING TO CTCS ON FEB 3RD. I'm not yelling...just capitalizing for emphasis. We'd hate for you to forget and show up at Sparta that Sunday. You may be thinking "Why are we moving?" There are several reasons really. One is that BISD is not willing to give us extra time on Sundays. Since we were anticipating the need for a 3rd service, this was problematic. At CTCS we will have a larger meeting area that will seat 400, so we will not need to add another service in the short term. When we do, CTCS is willing to let us have extra time on Sundays. Another reason is that we are unable to use classrooms for Vista Kids at our current location. We have made due with hallway space, the teacher workroom, and the library. At CTCS we will be able to use classrooms which will help tremendously. Still another reason is that our rent at Sparta has increased significantly since we began meeting there in January '06. CTCS will be charging us less rent and we will be able to keep our trailers on the property. We currently park them at a storage facility that charges for that service. All in all we feel that CTCS will be great transitional location as we prepare for our permanent location in West Temple off of FM 2305. Please continue to pray for The Vista staff and leadership as we oversee these changes in the life of our church. May we always seek Christ alone.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dennis and Asa Update #3

Here's the latest update from our friends Dennis Greeson and Asa Crow. Please continue to pray for the Lord's guidance a protection. - Tim

As I attempt this last update, I struggle to write for my heart is failing to hand any words to my groping fingers. This letter might be much longer in the making than my last ones. I center myself; quiet the turmoil that has been birthed from the contagious restlessness that hangs in India’s every breath. And as I do this, I find that I have great reason to rejoice: the fog is clearing and I can see the road we have just traveled, and I am thrilled at where the Lord has taken us.
Asa and I arrived in Bangalore yesterday at around 9:30am, having left Kolkatta that morning at around 6am (meaning we woke up and left for the airport at around 3:45). Asa has heard me say this many times, but there is nothing that allows one to appreciate Bangalore more than a week in Kolkata. It feels good to be here. There is silence for the first time in over a week—Asa sits across the desk from me here in the office enjoying the peace and taking advantage of the rare solitude.
Our time in Kolkata since the last update was a mixture of weariness, eventually giving way to rejuvenation; time spent combing the streets, ending in wonderful rest at Matt’s house with much-needed fellowship stirred in; a sense futility, growing into a marvelous faith in the goodness of God and the blessing of knowing He planted seeds through us.
After I sent out the last letter asking for prayer for us, specifically for Asa and his stomach, Asa got better. He was put on some heavy antibiotics and slept pretty hard with the sedatives we gave him. Continuing to eat, his health quickly returned to normal, and he seems to be back to his normal self. Praise God; it was not a crippling experience, and he seems to have journeyed through with little bitterness towards India and all she has to offer. Definitely he did not walk away from Kolkata slighted in the least, he received the complete experience.
The guy that you prayed for, Saleem from the university, met with me at the scheduled time. He brought two friends, all brandishing boldly their traditional beards with pride, and we decided it best to meet in my hotel room rather than in the crowded coffee bar. Isa, one of the two national brothers who worked with us throughout the week, was there with me.
The conversation teetered on the edge of being called an argument; however it remained peaceful and composed, full of love by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and therefore I think a better term for it would be “discussion”. We jumped right in, sharing our views and such, and talked long into the night. They left three hours later, shaking hands with smiles on their faces. It turned out to be a great conversation, no one lost their dignity, and they heard the true gospel several times.
I walked away feeling like we had just spun around in circles, not really getting any where. We all were very set in our ways, believing our beliefs to be undoubtedly truth. However, I know it is not us who change people, but only Jesus Christ who turns even the hardest hearts to flesh. These guys heard the gospel, which I know has power, and it will be all the Holy Spirit’s doing now. They were what we would call apologists for their faith, two of them leaders in Islamic movements on their campuses: very much men like Saul, who we all know became Paul by the miraculous workings of our Lord. Please pray for these guys, pray their hearts would be softened and drowned by the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of Life.
The rest of our days there in the downtown part of the city involved a number of great conversations, with many people receiving booklets and material in their own language about our message. Seeds were planted, all I can do now is trust God will be faithful to cultivate them, working in their lives and sending people likes us to follow up with them.
We spent the last three nights at Matt’s house, which is out on the outskirts of town in an apartment complex. It was a great time of being filled up, pouring into the families out there, playing cards, eating together, doing church together, and diving into deep conversations with people who speak our heart-language. Our last night there we had dinner with two journey-girls, Heather and Kayla, which sincerely encouraged all of us. Sharing our stories, our passions for Jesus, and a Western meal filled us up—physically and spiritually, giving us a taste of community that we’ve hungered much for.
I feel I have no words in which to conclude our time in Kolkata with but that our God is both loving and faithful, He leads and takes cares of His children. We were used by Him in ways we’ll never know or understand, our reason for being there is too great for me to grasp; yet I rejoice knowing that He is present, active, and intimately working our lives.
Christmas at the Greeson’s house this morning was a wonderfully simple time. We awoke to cold toes on marble floors, since a cold front had settled in over night. Breakfast was cooked and enjoyed, as well as steaming cups of tea. Then the whole family, Asa included, squeezed into a small breakfast nook where the tiny Christmas tree was hidden by small mounds of colorfully wrapped presents. Presents were opened, laughs were shared, and paper was strewn about the floor since there has been a shortage of trash bags at the house.
It’s been a quiet Christmas day, in the sense that though there is the constant clamor of life in India screaming all around us, we haven’t done much. And we don’t plan on doing anything much the rest of the day either. Asa and I are working on getting caught up on computer stuff, and might go grab a cup of tea before the afternoon is over.
Tomorrow we will drive deep into the Nilgiri Hills, a jungle-blanketed range of mountains nestled in the heart of southern India, and stay there for three days. We hope it to be somewhat of an escape, a time away from the city and the uncomfortable edge that gives life; yet we also hope it to be a time well spent in each other’s company, as one big family again (with a new addition).
Afterwards we will return to Bangalore for a few more days before we fly to Chiang Mai, Thailand, beginning our journey back to the States. We might send out another update in the next couple of weeks, but then again we might not. It somewhat depends on the access we have to a computer with internet, and our willingness to use it.
Still be praying for the work done in Kolkata, the seeds that were planted and lives that had an encounter with Jesus Christ through the lives we’ve lived and the words we’ve spoken. Pray also for the families of Kolkata, and the work that they are doing there. I have a new-found respect for them; please give them the support and encouragement of knowing they are remembered before the Father.

Merry Christmas,

Dennis and Asa.