A Weekend Like No Other

I haven’t had time to place in perspective what I experienced over a 3 day period that was so eventful, it has made an impact on me personally. September 23-25, 2016 will be one of those weekends that will forever be one that is talked about for me personally.

On Friday, Sep 23, our family loaded up the minivan to head north to Granary, Texas for a close friend’s wedding. The young woman that was getting married happened to be one of our former youth at one of the previous churches that I had served. No, I wasn’t officiating the ceremony as many of the weddings that I attend. I was going along for the enjoyment of being a regular participant. Pastor seldom are able just to be. We are usually always on and participating in our calling, but not this time. My wife would be the one that was “on” for this exciting chapter of life. She was asked to do the photography for this event. Lucy has a love of capturing moments in time that grasp at our heartstrings. She does photos for fun.

Saturday, Sep 24, was a great morning. We spent time with our 3 grandchildren, and daughter-in-law in the hotel lobby where we were staying. Anytime we get to see our family is a good day! We spent an hour with them, talking, hugging, dancing, and just enjoying each other’s company. Papa (that’s me) was able to groove to some music with our youngest grandchild who adores music. He isn’t yet 2, but has an eclectic palate for music already. That has a lot to do with our oldest son, who is a very talented musician and songwriter.

Then, Lucy was off and running from 11 am through the need of the night, which ended at 9 pm. 10 hours of clicking a camera at every bite eaten, make-up placed, bridesmaids and groomsmen preparing for the big day. At 5:30 in the afternoon, the wedding was on. I was sitting with our children in the middle of many of our closest friends. The pastor did a really great job, mixing in very current aspects of the lives of the husband and bride to be. I learned a lot just being able to participate from the “regular” side. Ceremony, food, and dancing all within a few hours and just like that it was off to the honeymoon for the newlyweds. Our weekend was far from over. We had to get back to the hotel and get some shut eye so we could awake by 3 am to make it back to Del Rio in order for me to preach.

Sunday, Sep 25, 3 am, we leave only to be greeted by downpours of rain on and off throughout our 6 hour journey. We ran over several different wildlife that were in the road and thank God, we made it back just in time for all of us to shower and get prepared for our 11 am service. This service would be different. I was preaching at friend’s church as part of our vision to unite congregations in order to better be the united body of Christ. As time approached for me to preach, we were able to worship with an amazing praise team at the church.

Time, for me to preach. I was preaching a text fr0m John 1 titled “Just Believe.” The congregation of about 350, were totally engaged and God was able to speak through me by the power of the Holy Spirit. During the invitation, 7 lives were added into the Kingdom of God through a saving relationship with the living God! Wow, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratefulness toward God for these new souls added to the Lamb’s Book of Life. The day was far from over.

After church, we grabbed a bite and was able to relax for awhile. During the afternoon, we had our marriage class for our City Church husbands and wives. Then, at about 7 pm, 10 pastors from around the city came together at our house to enjoy a time of fellowship with all kinds of food. We were there to watch the Cowboys do their thing. We ended the evening with a sense of fulfillment that God could bring together pastors from different walks of life, different backgrounds, different denominations, and different languages. Only God!

This was a weekend like no other. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Ordination Service

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This Sunday City Church Del Rio will have the privilege of ordaining 4 pastors into the gospel ministry. 2 of the pastors are on the ministerial staff of City Church, while one is on the mission field, yet very active at City Church, and the other pastor is an interim pastor in Eagle Pass.

in the short history of City Church Del Rio, we have been blessed with so many opportunities to honor God and this is just one more. Ordination of these 4 men will be a milestone for us, and I believe will set City Church up as a church who recognizes the gifts God has already bestowed upon those going into the ministry and those already in the ministry.

I will be preaching from Ephesians 4:11-16, titled Set Apart to Equip the Saints.

E.V. Hill, pastor of Mt Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, CA. for 42 years before he died in 2003, said this: “I had one of those purple haired older widow ladies that was always sitting up front at every church service.” She was always speaking back to me as I preached. She would say things like ‘Amen, and Alleluia, and preach it.’ But the one thing that I admired about her was this. Whenever I decided to get off the path of keeping Jesus lifted up, she let me know. This is what she would say: “Get Him Up There, now Get Him Up there.”

As pastors we are to “Get Him Up There,” which means that we make sure Jesus is the One being exalted, and no-one else.

As you minister where you are I pray you always have someone in your life to remind you to “Get Him Up There.”

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Hacksaw Ridge

Today’s post is from Jim Denison’s cultural commentary. I can hardly wait to see this upcoming film.

Hacksaw Ridge is Mel Gibson’s new film. It tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a World War II army medic who refused to bear arms but received the Medal of Honor after he saved dozens of his fellow soldiers. The movie was shown at the Venice International Film Festival last Saturday. According to USA Today, the audience gave Gibson a ten-minute standing ovation when the film ended.

It was my privilege to see Hacksaw Ridge at a private showing a few days ago, then participate in a discussion with Gibson. I don’t remember ever being as moved by a movie as I was by his film. Looking back, I can identify three reasons for my response.

Part of my reaction was the realism with which Gibson depicts the violence of the battle scenes. Hacksaw Ridge is a cliff-like formation on the island of Okinawa, Japan. It was the scene of a two-week struggle between US and Japanese soldiers. Gibson told our group that he depicted the war violence with such realism in order to demonstrate the atrocities Doss faced and the courage he displayed.

A second reason for my visceral reaction is the fact that my father, a World War II veteran, fought with the Army in the South Pacific. He would not discuss what he experienced with our family. Like so many veterans, he could not put into words what he went through. I have visited several World War II museums and had a sense of what the Pacific theater was like, but the movie brought home my father’s suffering in a way that moved me deeply. It made me realize again the immeasurable sacrifice so many continue to make in defending our nation and our freedoms around the world.

A third factor is the story of Desmond Doss himself. His commitment to his Christian faith and specifically to nonviolence resonated powerfully throughout the film. He risked his life in the most horrific circumstances imaginable to save his fellow soldiers and to serve his Lord. I agree with Greg Laurie: “This is the most positive portrayal of a Christian in a mainstream film that I have seen since Chariots of Fire.”

I hope you’ll see Hacksaw Ridge when it opens in theaters November 4. As I have noted, the war violence it depicts is very realistic. But the story it tells is truly one for the ages.

During our group discussion, I asked Mel Gibson why he chose to make the film. He explained that Desmond Doss’s heroic faith so moved him that he felt compelled to tell his story to the world. He noted that more than 80 percent of Americans identify as Christians, yet Hollywood very seldom presents our faith in a positive light.

Our culture deserves to see authentic Christianity. “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” (Romans 10:14). Desmond Doss was willing to pay any price to follow Jesus. Now it’s our turn.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7

Pastor Larry

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We Followed the Steps – Where’s the Church Growth?

This article really ministered to me today. All pastors should feel this way about their churches.

Church Growth by Karl Voters

There are no guaranteed steps to church growth. Because the church is people. And people don’t come with guarantees.

So, what’s a pastor to do? Here’s the only advice I know.

Faithfulness doesn’t help us reach our goals. Faithfulness is the goal.

Discover what you and your church are supposed to be doing, then stay faithful to that mission and ministry. Faithfulness doesn’t help us reach our goals. Faithfulness is the goal.

Keep doing healthy, contextualized ministry. Remove any obstacles to growth and health. Stop comparing ourselves with others. And quit offering excuses.

Let God bring your church the kind of growth he wants. Even if it’s not the kind of growth you want. Or the church across town has. Let Jesus build his church.

Pastors aren’t called to grow bigger churches. We’re called to makes disciples. Equip the saints. Lead healthy churches to become redemptive communities filled with passionate followers of Jesus. Reach our community and world together, no matter how many people do or don’t end up in our seats on Sunday.

If you’re doing that, no matter how big or small your church is, you’re fulfilling your calling.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Daniel-Defining Moments, New Sermon Series

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September 11, 2016, I will begin a long journey through the book of Daniel at City Church Del Rio. I am super pumped for this because I believe through this teaching, we will be challenged for our defining moments for City Church.

Here is the lineup:

  • September 11, 2016 – Leadership # 1, Daniel 1:1-14
  • September 18, 2016 – Leadership # 2, Daniel 1:15-21
  • September 25, 2016 – The Wrong Way, Daniel 2:1-11
  • October 2, 2106 – The Right Way, Daniel 2:12-23
  • October 9, 2016 – The Revelation # 1, Daniel 2:24-43
  • October 16, 2016 – The Revelation #2, Daniel 2:44-48
  • October 23, 2016 – Never Bow Down, Daniel 3
  • October 30, 2016 – Dreams # 1, Daniel 4:1-18
  • November 6, 2016 – Dreams #2, Daniel 4:19-27
  • November 13, 2016 – Vision becomes Reality, Daniel 4:28-37
  • November 20, 2016 – Thankfulness Sermon
  • November 27, 2016 – Prophetic Writing #1, Daniel 5:1-12
  • December 4, 2016 – Prophetic Writing #2, Daniel 5:13-31
  • December 11, 2016 – Those who Hate God, Daniel 6:1-15
  • December 18, 2016 – Taking a Stand, Daniel 6:1628
  • December 25, 2106 – Christmas Sermon
  • January 1, 2017 – Visions # 1, Daniel 8
  • January 8, 2017 – That is What I Call A Prayer, Daniel 9
  • January 15, 2017 – Visions # 2, Daniel 10
  • January 22, 2017 – The Prophesy, Daniel 11
  • January 29, 2017 – When All is Said and Done, Daniel 12

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Healthy Churches

This is a blogpost from Dr. Thom Rainer:

The 10 signs of healthy churches 10 years from now are:
1.They have the same pastor they did ten years ago.

2.The pastor, staff, and church members have a decade of calling to the local community.

3.The church will be as diverse as the community.

4.The church will have responded to its international mission field in its own backyard for ten years.

5.The church will have had a consistent and strategic outward focus for a decade.

6.All new members the past ten years will have attended a new members’ class.

7.The church will have seen the cultural changes of the decade as opportunities rather than threats.

8.At least 80 percent of the worship attendance will have moved to a small group over the decade.

9.At least 50 percent of the attendance will have invited at least four people to church each year.

10.Every year for ten years these churches will have become more joyous and fun.

Stay in The Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Why we fight in Marriage


I revive weekly emails from marriage speaker Jimmy Evans. This was the latest email. Enjoy!

Gary Smalley is one of my marriage heroes. His books about relationships have been some of the most influential in my life. In one of his books, The DNA of Relationships, he talks about a concept called the “fear dance.”

As someone whose marriage nearly failed because of our fears, this concept really resonated with me. Smalley’s premise is that we all have core fears that impact our decision-making and our responses to circumstances.

Husbands and wives have different core fears.

Men tend to fear things like helplessness, being controlled, failure, and disrespect.

Women tend to fear disconnection, not being appreciated, not being heard, or not being valued.

In my experience, this breakdown of fears is incredibly accurate. I believe every person deals with one of these kinds of core fears.

According to Smalley, the “fear dance” consists of several repeated steps: I hurt. I want. I fear. I react. Then you hurt. You want. You fear. You react. Then I hurt, and the cycle begins again. All of us are hurting because of some issue in our lives. Because we are hurting, we want a solution.

Some people try to solve their fear by working too hard or spending long hours at the office. Some invest too much time into a hobby, or even into their children. Some overeat. Some drink too much. They fear losing control or being disrespected. They react to these feelings, and cause a separate fearful reaction in their spouse.

A perfect example of this comes from a friend of mine who is a Christian psychologist. Several years ago—in the days before cell phones—this man’s wife called him at the office to ask when he’d be home for dinner. He gave her a specific time. A few hours later, he left the office in time to get home.

But on the way out, he encountered a patient coming to see him with an emergency that involved a threatened suicide. The psychologist was a specialist in that area and immediately went into professional mode. It led to an intense, difficult counseling situation, but ultimately he saved a person’s life.

Hours later, the psychologist left the office feeling good about himself. But, of course, he missed dinner. He hadn’t been able to call his wife to let her know about the delay. He’d just saved a life, but when he got home, she was furious. It led to a huge fight.

She had been worried when he didn’t come home. She felt unimportant when he seemingly didn’t care enough to call. He wasn’t communicating with her. His job was taking him away from her. All of these thoughts sent her into a cycle of fear.

From his perspective, he felt another fear: being disrespected and misunderstood. He had just saved someone’s life! The previous hours had validated his entire career, and all he heard was about how he missed dinner.

Both saw a form of rejection in each other’s actions and reacted to it. That’s the fear dance, and it’s the cause of the deepest fights in a marriage.

We have to learn to escape the fear dance. Paul wrote, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Rather than let our fears damage our closest relationships, we need to give them over to God. Acknowledge your fears, take responsibility for the hurtful actions they might cause, then trust God to cover those thoughts with His peace.

Rather than fear, He will fill us with His love, with His power, and with a sound mind. With His help you can overcome your fear, and I promise it will make a different spouse out of you. What do you fear? How does it impact your marriage?

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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