Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 16, 2020

On Social Distancing

Social distancing is a term that is now a part of our vocabulary thanks to the Coronavirus. In an effort to “flatten the curve” (another new phrase that has made it into our speech) or slow the spread of the newest virus to plague the planet, public health officials have called on us to practice social distancing.

Social distancing measures address when and where people can gather in order to stop or slow the spread of the highly contagious Coronavirus. Practicing social distancing has resulted in the cancelation of events and gatherings and closing or limiting access to buildings, businesses, and restaurants.

Quarantine is the most extreme expression of social distancing. Those infected with the Coronavirus have to undergo quarantine for a specified period. Others who fear they might have the virus can opt to self-quarantine for at least the incubation period of the virus.


The Coronavirus scare has created lots of fear, and understandably so — thus the call to practice social distancing.

Fear always creates distance — that’s what fear does best. Most folks generally try to keep a safe distance away from the things that frighten them. Distancing ourselves from things that frighten or can harm us is not all bad. Parents teach their kids to not play with fire and to stay away from strangers. That’s good advice!

Although we can’t see it now, the day is coming when things will get back to normal and social distancing will become a thing of the past. Or will it? I read one meme that said, “I don’t like to brag but I’ve been avoiding people since way before the coronavirus.” Some truths are said in jest.

The kingdom of God is all about closing the distance rather than creating distance. When we were at our point of greatest need, Jesus closed the distance between heaven and earth by moving in our direction. He set the ultimate example of what closing the distance looks like.

After the Coronavirus chapter is behind us, and it will be, let’s make sure that we do not allow fear to continue distancing us from people. In order to fulfill the purposes of God we must move in the direction of our fears and then push past them.

Every advance that has been made for the kingdom of God has been made by those who had the courage to press on in spite of their fears. Rather than allowing their fears to paralyze them, these intrepid souls closed the distance that separated them from people in need. And that changed everything for the people in need.

One thing is certain, the most amazing adventures await those who close the distance between themselves and their fears. Peter understood that when he left the safety of a perfectly good boat to take a walk on a stormy sea. Paul experienced that when he left the shores of Troas at the urging of a Macedonian man in need who had appeared to him in a dream.

For the time being, keep on practicing the social distancing that will help to flatten the Coronavirus curve. If you have to stay home, then factor in time to close any distance between you and God. Deepen your relationship with Him by spending time in His Word and in prayer while you have more discretionary time to do so.

And when the days of the Coronavirus pandemic are finally in the rearview mirror, look ahead and determine to close the distance between yourself and others. Draw near to others and offer them the healing and hope that can only be found when we draw near to God.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 2, 2020

Caring for Katy 2020 Video

Caring for Katy 2020 was a great day of loving and serving our community. For the thirteenth year in a row, we closed the doors to the church on a Sunday morning to go out into our community to be the church — to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And what an amazing day it was as we served so many people in need throughout Katy and beyond.

Mother Teresa once referred to herself as a little pencil in the hands of a writing God. I like that. God used each of those who participated in Caring for Katy to write a beautiful narrative and to scribe His signature of love throughout our community.

Our presence did more than meet practical needs in a tangible way. Because we moved in the direction of people in need we brought smiles, refreshed tired hearts, lifted heavy burdens, and restored hope. God showed up through His people and made a difference.

This year’s Caring for Katy video highlights a few of the 59 initiatives that we did around Katy. I hope you will take a moment to watch it and to rejoice. I especially like the fact that Caring for Katy always gives families opportunities to make memories of serving together. You will see that in the video.

 

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 25, 2020

Coolest Things About CFK

This past Sunday, we closed the doors to the church for the thirteenth year in a row and went out into our community to be the church. Caring for Katy is always an amazing day as we corporately move in the direction of people in need to demonstrate God’s love in practical ways. Here are the ten coolest things about Caring for Katy.


10. We worked together.
| We engaged in and completed 59 service initiatives on Sunday. That’s more work than one person can possibly do in a single day. However, by working together, we addressed multiple needs and touched many lives throughout our community.

9. We got our hands dirty. | In order to meet needs throughout our community, we had to leave the church building. We became the hands and feet of Jesus throughout Katy and beyond. Adults and children used their hands to plant flowers, pick up garbage, spread mulch, work on homes, and do a multitude of other tasks — including hugging lots of grateful recipients of our acts of kindness.

8. We lived our purpose. | Kingsland’s purpose is to invite all people to experience true fulfillment in Jesus Christ, one home at a time. That’s exactly what we did this past Sunday. We showed and shared the gospel throughout our community. Every act of kindness paved the way for the truth of the gospel to be shared.

7. We built community. | We encourage every member of Kingsland to be a part of a small group and we work really hard to build community. This past Sunday we strengthened our small groups while serving the people of our community. Those who normally sit together in Bible study and worship worked shoulder to shoulder to care for those in need. Caring for Katy strengthened the bonds between those who are members of our small groups.


6. We encouraged our kids.
| One of the best things about Caring for Katy is that it allows parents and kids to serve others together. This past Sunday our families made special memories as they served others. Our kids learned that loving and serving others is important and must be a part of who we are as followers of Christ. Serving others is a great way to raise kids that care about the welfare of other people.


5. We met practical needs.
| Many people in our community are suffering because they have lost their jobs, are battling illness, or have suffered other unexpected setbacks. Our practical acts of kindness reminded many people that they matter to God and are not forgotten. Our small groups did a great job of talking to people in need and arranging to meet those needs. Those we served expressed their gratitude through smiles, hugs, and tears — the very best Hallmark cards we could ever hope to receive.


4. We inspired people.
| At our Caring for Katy planning meeting, I challenged our leaders to add “a little balm and a little honey” (Gen. 43:11) to their materials list. We served many people in desperate need, others who have suffered painful setbacks, and some who feel alone and forgotten. Our presence was like healing balm and refreshing honey to those we served. Our acts of kindness inspired many to persevere and to not lose hope.

3. We caused others to think about God. | One of the coolest things that happened at many of our work sites was the curiosity of neighbors. Many neighbors approached our folks to ask what they were doing and why. This gave us an opportunity to talk about what it means to love God and love people. Many who never attend any church on Sunday saw a living sermon in their own neighborhoods. That’s a really good thing!

2. We will continue to help people. | Our folks made meaningful connections with others in our community. Many of our small groups will continue to serve the people they assisted on Sunday throughout the coming year. They will continue to care for widows and single moms and others who have ongoing needs. They will continue to be Jesus with skin on and to do for others what Jesus would do.


1. God was glorified.
| The very best thing about Caring for Katy is that God was glorified. Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The common response from those who saw as well as those who benefited from our many good works was the same — “Thank God” or “God is good” or “Praise the Lord.” Our desire is to continue to glorify His name as we care for the people of our community through unconditional acts of love and kindness.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 19, 2020

A Restless Heart

Movement is an essential component of searching for God.

The movement of our lives is a reflection of our choices. Christian writer Erwin McManus observed, “The most spiritual activity you will engage in today is making choices. Our choices either move us toward God and all the pleasure that comes in Him or steer us away from Him to a life of shame and fear” (from “Seizing Your Divine Moment”).


Saint Augustine (354-430), the early Christian theologian, would agree. He wrote what many theologians consider to be one of the greatest sentences ever written: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

These words are recorded in Confessions, one of Augustine’s most well known writings in which he discussed his long journey towards Christ and his conversion to Christianity. This restlessness, whether we recognize it or not, is a desire to know God and to have a relationship with Him.

Written in Latin, Augustine’s sentence reads: “Fecisti nos ad te, Domine, et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te.”

The Latin words “ad te” are usually translated into English as “for yourself.” However, the preposition “ad” actually expresses dynamic movement towards an object. In other words, God has made us “toward” Himself. We exist “toward” or “in movement to” Him. The preposition “in” as in the Latin “in te” signifies rest in an object — in this case, rest in Him.

Apart from God, Augustine’s heart was restless and homeless. The story of his life is the story of a homeless person’s journey toward his new home. It was not until Augustine came to Christ that his heart found its true home.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said that God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecc. 3:11). These words anticipate Augustine’s words: “You stir man to take pleasure in praising You, because You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”

The writer of Ecclesiastes affirmed that God created us with a longing for eternity. Augustine called attention to the restlessness we experience apart from knowing God in Christ. May we be sensitive to those whose wandering hearts are homeless and longing for rest. And may we encourage them to move toward God and to find much-needed rest in Him.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 27, 2020

Kobe Bryant’s Death

The report of NBA Star Kobe Bryant’s death on Sunday sent shockwaves around the globe. As the news continued to unfold, we learned that Kobe’s 13 year-old daughter Gianna was among those killed when the helicopter they were in crashed en route to a sporting event. The report that there were no survivors just added grievous weight to the already surreal news.


Kobe Bryant’s accomplishments both on and off the court are off the charts. He was incredibly gifted. The 41 year-old sports mega-star had won the hearts of his teammates, the respect of his opponents, and the admiration of his fans. Even more important than all of this, he loved and was loved by his wife and daughters.

The response to the news of Kobe’s death was instantaneous. Social media was on fire with tweets and posts expressing shock and disbelief and “this can’t possibly be true” kind of reactions. And rightly so! The grief that has followed Kobe’s death is in direct proportion to how much he had endeared himself to others. You will find grief only where there was once love and admiration.

Kobe’s death has put the thought of death on a lot of people’s mental radars. We tend to not think much about death until death happens. And then, we are forced to deal with its reality, to contemplate again what our respective worldviews teach about what happens after death, and to consider our own mortality.

One thing is certain, no one will be exempt from death or having to deal with its aftershock when it happens to someone we love, admire, or even hate. In thinking about Kobe’s death, I offer the following considerations.

First, Kobe was extremely talented but he was not perfect — no one is. He did however, try to live wisely. He loved his family and he cared about making a positive difference in the lives of others. Each of us have only one life in which to do the same.

Second, Kobe endeared himself to others. That’s why the outpouring of grief has been so great. In contrast to Kobe, the Bible records the story of King Jehoram of Judah (2 Kings 8). He was such a wicked ruler that when he finally died no one cried at his funeral. In fact, the writer of Chronicles records, “he departed with no one’s regret” (2 Chronicles 21:20). How sad! At the very least we should live in such a way that someone will grieve our loss.

Third, we do not know the hour or the day of our death — but that hour and that day will come. Most of us are guilty of making two mathematical mistakes: failing to understand the brevity of life and the length of eternity. We must be prepared to meet God today, for we may meet God today.

My heart is sad for Kobe, his beloved daughter Gianna, and the others who perished in the helicopter crash. May Kobe’s life inspire us to invest in those who will cry at our funeral and may his death remind us of our own mortality and the need to be prepared to meet God.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 25, 2020

Mother Teresa Understood

Eleven years ago this month, I took a trip that, in many ways, significantly changed my life.

After a season of prayer and seeking God about how to close the distance between myself and suffering humanity in late 2008, He reconnected me with a woman I had long admired — Mother Teresa. In January 2009, I was on a flight to Kolkata to serve at her homes for the destitute and dying. Kolkata is home to more than a million homeless individuals.


I was amazed that so many years after Mother Teresa’s death, volunteers from around the world continued to pour into Kolkata to serve at her homes. They too, were drawn there because of how Mother Teresa had lived her life in service to the least of these.


I was assigned to serve in the mornings at Prem Dan, her home for the destitute. I spent afternoons serving at Kalighat, her home for the dying. The experience changed the geography of my spiritual life. The borders that had defined the farthest I had ever been and the most I had ever done for God and His purposes were redrawn.

One of the most memorable experiences was watching how Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity served. Every morning, these selfless servants begin their day with prayer and worship. Amazing experience to worship with them. But then, a key component of their service is pausing to pray at predetermined times of the day.


To be honest, I was so into serving that I did not want to take time to pause. There was so much to do in caring for the destitute and dying. But I learned that it was precisely because there was so much to do that the Missionaries of Charity paused to pray for a few minutes several times a day — just enough to be reminded that the divine work that God has called them to do can only be done in dependence upon divine strength.

Mother Teresa understood the power of pausing.

I returned home with a renewed determination to close the distance between myself and hurting humanity by compassionately moving in the direction of people in need. And I returned home convicted that I had crowded pausing out of my life — justifying it because I am always so busy. As with the Missionaries of Charity, the busyness was precisely why I needed to pause.

Tomorrow I will end an extended period of prayer and fasting. As with previous seasons of prayer and fasting I scheduled daily times to pause to connect with God in prayer and to develop greater intimacy with Him. This time I used an app that my friend Gil Harris had told me about and that I had already started using.


The app was developed by Christian writer, adventurer, and New York Times best-selling author John Eldridge and is simply called One Minute Pause. The app is based on the One Minute Pause chapter is his latest book “Get Your Life Back.”


The app offers one, three, five, and ten minute pauses in which Eldridge guides you through the practice of releasing everything to God, restoring your union with Him, and inviting Him to fill you. When I first started using the app the one minute pause seemed like it was ten minutes long. Now, the ten minute pause seems like it is only a minute long.

I am grateful for how God used this app to help me to better focus on Him through my fast. Loved every minute. Now, I have to pause. I have been reminded once again about how important a simple discipline like pausing is in the process of spiritual formation. I have scheduled my pauses in my app and get a reminder so that I don’t forget.

Mother Teresa indeed understood the power and value of pausing. I believe it is one of the things that made her so effective and helped her in the never-ending work of caring for the least of these — something that can easily lead a person to experience compassion fatigue or to burn out. By taking time to pause, she reconnected with the strength she needed to fulfill God’s great purpose for her life. May we do the same.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 20, 2020

Safer To Be A Dog

If California Governor Gavin Newsom has his way, then California will become the third no-kill state in the country after Delaware and Michigan. To be clear, becoming a no-kill state has absolutely nothing to do with the sanctity of human life. Instead, no-kill measures extend only to dogs and cats.


Newsom wants California to stop euthanizing animals. He believes that no adoptable or treatable dog or cat should be euthanized. To that end, his new budget calls for a $50 million one-time general fund allocation to the University of California’s Koret Shelter Medicine Program. The center would then develop a grant program for animal shelters.

Promoting the protection of animals from being needlessly killed is not objectionable. But, as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council observes, “What is objectionable is the fact that they don’t extend this same compassion to living, breathing babies.” For example, California’s attorney general has argued that killing abortion survivors does not qualify as infanticide.

Newsom is a strong supporter of abortion. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, at least fifteen percent of all abortions in America take place in California. Newsom has even extended an invitation to women from across the nation to come to California to “fully exercise their reproductive rights.”

In addition to having one of the largest taxpayer-funded abortion operations in the country, California legalized assisted suicide. The state allows encouraging suicide to the terminally ill and promulgated a regulation that allows doctors to prescribe death to dying patients who are involuntarily committed in psychiatric hospitals due to mental illness.

Misplaced priorities have led to an inverted morality in California. Sadly, Newsom’s actions are not the first example of what can happen when people lose sight of God’s creative order and fail to understand that human beings exclusively are made in the image of God.

In January 2018, the Swiss passed a law making it illegal to boil a live lobster because these crustaceans can sense pain. And yet, while the government acted in response to the pain of lobsters, it left its abortion laws intact. No consideration for the child in the womb that can feel pain as intensely, if not more so, than lobsters and adults.

Governor Gavin Newsom and his administration have misplaced priorities because they do not understand the sanctity of life in and out of the womb. By working to stop the euthanizing of animals and failing to extend the same consideration to people, they are making California a place where it will be safer to be a dog than a human being created in God’s image.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 17, 2020

Pull Into God’s Garage

I saw an interesting thing while stopped at a red light. I could not help but notice the fellow in the lane beside me. He was a big guy sitting on a big motorcycle — a big and very loud motorcycle.

While the light was red and traffic in other lanes was speeding by, the motorcycle man calmly leaned back to make some sort of adjustment to his rear wheel with a pair of pliers!

What?

Every few seconds he would glance forward to check the status of the light while trying to tighten or loosen or adjust or readjust whatever it was that was locked between the jaws of his pliers. I watched with great interest. When the light turned green the big dude sped on to his destination on his noisy steed.

Now, I don’t know much about motorcycles. In fact, I don’t know anything about motorcycles. But I do have a healthy measure of common sense — which makes me wonder why a fellow riding something with only two wheels would make adjustments to one of those wheels at a stop light.

I could not help but wonder if Mr. Goodpliers continued his repair work at the next traffic light, or if he even made it to the next light.

The more I thought about the motorcycle man, the less uncommon and unusual the whole thing seemed. In reality, there are lots of people who are just like him —

• people whose lives are in need of adjustments but who are too busy to stop and properly make repairs.

• people who insist on trying to fix problems on the run.

• people who will not stop to make minor tweaks and corrections.

• people who feel that as long as the wheels keep turning and the motor makes noise then everything has to be ok.

• people who feel no urgency about pulling off the road to make repairs until a wheel falls off and they come crashing to a horrible halt. And then it takes more than a pair of pliers and thirty-seconds at a stop light to fix things. In some cases all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put the pieces back together again.

Yes, there are many people who are just like the motorcycle man —

• people whose marriages are not running right but who will not take the time to stop for repairs. Instead, they run their troubled marriages at full throttle hoping to make it to the next light.

• well-meaning folks whose parenting is not running properly and are struggling with kids whose obedience is seriously out of alignment.

• parents and kids who are too busy to stop to talk about their problems.

Just plain good-intentioned folks who try to make repairs on the run or who have convinced themselves things are not really that bad. Until the wheels fall off. And then fingers point, tempers flare, voices are raised, accusations are made, feelings are hurt, and damage is done.


What’s in need of repair in your life?

Don’t wait until your wheels start to vibrate to get serious about repairs. And don’t try to make repairs all by yourself. Sometimes you need to spend some bucks to go see a mechanic.

And always remember that God is willing to roll up His divine sleeves to help you. If things are not running properly and you hear the annoying rattles that signal bigger problems, then pull off the road and into God’s garage before you end up in the junk-yard. He can do amazing things with a pair of pliers!

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 10, 2020

A Cheap Christianity

The childhood story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is, among other things, a story about mediocrity. Goldilocks was a fastidious little girl who wanted everything to be just to her likes — to be just right for her.


Goldilocks didn’t want porridge that was too hot or too cold. She didn’t want to sit on a chair that was too big or too small. She didn’t want to sleep on a bed that was too hard or too soft. Goldilocks found comfort in everything between extremes, which is exactly where many Christians prefer their commitment to God.

Webster defines the word mediocre as meaning: “of middle quality, neither very good nor very bad; ordinary; commonplace; average.” Goldilocks Christianity can best be described as mediocre Christianity, or Christianity that is bland and blah.

Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle, who lived in the 19th century, observed: “There is a common, worldly kind of ‘Christianity’ in this day, which many have — a cheap Christianity which offends nobody, and requires no sacrifice — which costs nothing, and is worth nothing.”

Why do some choose to embrace a common and cheap Christianity?

For some, the cost of a cheap Christianity is just right. The price is not too high and not too low. This kind of Christianity is affordable because it does not make too many demands nor does it risk offending people by asking too much. It asks just enough to make people feel good.

One of the most attractive things about a cheap Christianity is that most people can work it into their budgets and calendars. It gives people enough of a sense of God to make them feel good but not so much that they feel convicted about the shortcomings and compromises in their lives. It does not ask so much that people take offense or so little that people feel insulted.

Like Goldilocks, a cheap Christianity is concerned about comfort — not too soft or not too hard. It is easy Christianity. It is Christianity by name more than by deed, by confession more than by expression.

Cheap Christianity is anemic and passionless. It does not appreciate being held accountable for being and doing less than. It is a dull Christianity that does not make others thirst for God. It does not pierce the darkness. It has no urgency but rather prefers to move at its own pace. It is a Christianity void of earnestness, enthusiasm, and intensity. It is essentially powerless.

Cheap Christianity is fueled by a lower-shelf commitment — the kind of commitment that is within reach but that does not require one to strain in order to grasp. It is characterized by a just-enough kind of commitment that makes no unsettling demands and stops short of being painful. It produces no martyrs, inspires no great deeds, and leaves no memorable legacy.

This new year offers us an opportunity to go beyond a cheap Christianity. Each of us must take inventory of our own lives and become more keenly aware of the line that defines the farthest we’ve ever been and the most we’ve ever done for God and His purposes.

And then, we must step across that line and put ourselves in a context where God can do more in and through us than we ever imagined. Let’s embrace greater intimacy with the Almighty this year and allow Him to use us to bring hope and healing to a hurting world.

Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 1, 2020

I Resolve

Regardless of how you personally feel about New Year’s resolutions, most people will at least give some consideration to how they can make a fresh start at the beginning of a new year.

We tend to be more open to making resolutions (those decisions we make to do or not do something) at certain times on the calendar — like the start of a new year, a new month, a new week, or even a birthday. These temporal landmarks beckon us to refocus our thinking and to reflect a little more deeply about how we can and should reorient our conduct.


On this first day of the new year, each of us should set aside some quiet moments in which to reflect on the actualities of the past and the possibilities of the future. There is value in looking back to take inventory of our journey — and then looking ahead to consider how our future can look different from our past.

This first day of the year is important because it offers us the opportunity for a fresh start, a second chance, or a new beginning.

Fresh starts have a way of giving new meaning to life. Second chances can invigorate us with the resolve to become better and to do better than we ever have. New beginnings can infuse us with purpose, energy, and the determination to walk through doors that lead to new discoveries and adventures.

Keep in mind that resolving to begin anew is not enough. If we make a resolution to do or not do something, then we must intentionally make the choices that keep us on track.

At its core, life is about choices. If we make resolutions, then we should also consider what it will take to maintain them. And we should make sure that the choices we make this year draw us closer to God and the blessings that are found in Him.

Regardless of whether you make a single resolution, a list of resolutions, or no resolution, determine to, at the very least, make sure that these things are reflected in your life.

Honor God
Love others
Value family
Be kind
Give thanks
Be courageous
Take risks
Move in the direction of people in need
Think deeply
Live wisely
Stop making excuses
Do something hard
Encourage others
Stop wasting time
Make the most of every opportunity
Seize the day

Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories