Home Safe

We returned home from Georgia safely yesterday. We were blogging about our trip on our youth ministry blog. If you would like to read about our adventures or see pics, click on the title of this entry above.

One cool note: I was originally trying to get our team to fly home on Friday, but I was unable to do so, so we went with Saturday. Turns out this was totally God. Friday New York had a big snow storm, and all flights into the city were canceled. One of our pastors was also in Georgia for something else, and he was supposed to fly home on Friday. His flight was canceled, and he was told that they would not be able to fly him home until at least Tuesday. He ended up renting a car and driving home. Thank God that He arranged for us to leave on Saturday. It would have cost me several thousands of dollars in hotel and food costs for our team of 46 if we had gotten stuck for three or four days. Our flights (plural … we were split up on two planes – one took the kids, the other the leaders (just kidding!)) were on schedule – in fact, we actually got in early. Wow! God is so faithful!

Off to Georgia!

Today we are off to Georgia for a winter break missions trip. I’ll be blogging about it on our youth group blog, which you can access by clicking on the title of this entry.

My Brother-in-Law Droppin a Drum Solo

Here is a video of my brother-in-law Lalo Hernandez droppin a great drum solo! Good apples!

When it Rains, It Pours!

Have you ever had one of those days or one of those weeks when it seems like all you hear is bad news? The statement “When it rains, it pours” comes to mind. This week has been one of those weeks for me.

Saturday my wife began having signs of a miscarriage. She was in bed all weekend.

Monday morning my assistant came down sick and has been out of pocket for three full days in a very busy week gearing up for our missions trip.

Monday afternoon we went to the doctor and my wife underwent a sonogram. The sack was not in the right position, and they were not able to detect a heartbeat. The doctor said there were two possibilities. Either the pregnancy was not as far along as we thought, or the pregnancy was not going in the right direction. He advised us to watch and wait, and was generously trying to give us hope that the former was the case while graciously admitting that the latter seemed more likely based on the circumstances.

Monday night we felt confident enough to share the sad news with our daughters. When we called them together and told them that we had some news to share with them, their eyes lit up, and our oldest daughter beamed with excitement and exclaimed, “You found out if we’re having a boy or a girl?!” We then had to tearfully and gently let them down and inform them that we had in fact lost the baby. The crying was deep and the sobbing was heartbreaking.

Tuesday afternoon we went to the emergency room as my wife was still going through a lot physically. We were told that the sack had now passed, and a miscarriage had indeed happened.

Wednesday morning it was pouring rain outside. I went into our auditorium to do a recording, and just as I was about to begin, I heard the rain coming down very loudly. I though someone had left a door open. When I went to investigate, I saw water pouring down on our stage right next to our amp rack. I scrambled to get buckets in place. When I went to inform our building personnel, they had an entire crew of people trying to get about 6 inches of rushing water pushed back out of our church foyer. Our building, which is under construction, was being flooded.

Wednesday afternoon I got a message from one of my adult leaders who works with our musicians. He said that he was sick and not able to be at youth group.

Wednesday night as I was trying to get ready for youth group my phone was ringing off the hook with parents asking questions about where they were supposed to put their kids’ luggage and what their balances were. I was also trying to get set up for a student leader meeting and help with worship practice.

During our student leader meeting a father of one of my leaders came to the door with tears in his eyes and told me he had an emergency and needed to talk to me. When I went into the hall, he broke down and told me that a relative had just committed suicide and that the family found out as they were walking out the door to come to church. His sons had decided to stay for youth group. They were obviously in shock and grieving. When they came into our student leader meeting, our kids stopped to gather around them and pray. There was a lot of crying.

When I called my senior pastor to tell him the news about this tragedy, he informed me that a member of our choir had been killed in a freak car accident.

In all of this craziness I had not even packed my suitcase which needed to be at the church to be loaded into the van. I ran home to do that. When I returned, I met with my adult leaders to pray for our service. One of them informed me that one of our leaders had also been in a car accident. She was OK, thank God, but it was yet another thing on the prayer list.

When it rains, it pours! I knew that youth group could not go on as normal, so during our prayer time we asked the Lord to direct our steps and to help us be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I approached the worship team and told them that we were changing our song list. I took out a few songs, but left in a couple that contained lyrics which seemed to line up with what we were facing. One song was Blessed Be The Name of the Lord. Here are some of the words in that song:

“Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name”

“Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say”

“Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name”

“Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name”

“You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name”

Pretty appropriate for what we were facing. After singing a couple of songs, I spontaneously shared from Job chapter 1 when Job received back to back to back to back reports of awful news regarding his belongings and family being destroyed. Yet, at the end of it all, Job’s response was incredible. Here’s what it says: “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1:20-22). Amazing! All of that bad news, yet Job’s response was worship.

After sharing a message, I asked our students to gather around different students and pray for them. A group gathered around the boys who had lost their relative. A group gathered around a student who was sick and prayed for all of those in our ministry who were dealing with sickness. Another group gathered together and prayed for those who had been involved in car accidents. Another group gathered around a girl whose mother had recently been diagnosed with cancer and is in need of a miraculous touch. Another group gathered together to pray for our missions trip. Another group gathered around me to pray for our family.

In the midst of all of the crisis, we took time to worship God and seek His face in prayer. It was a time of students reaching out to one another in love and with care.

Yes, when it rains, it pours. I know that satan was trying to flood our faith and drown us in despair. Unfortunately for him, all he did was softened the spiritual ground of our hearts so that the work of God in our lives can go deeper and our connection with one another can be strengthened. Our ground is fertile, our roots are deep, and we are ready to receive the fruit of the Lord’s presence and activity in our midst. May it be so!

A Sad Day

It is with great sorrow that I announce that we have had a miscarriage. This has been quite an emotional rollercoaster. At first we were shocked. Then we were nervous. Then we were happy. Then we were scared because some signs were appearing. Now we are sad. Please pray for us as we grieve. Pray also for grace as we share the news with our daughters. They have both responded very differently to the pregnancy. One has gotten very excited. The other one has been in denial. Pray that they will turn to the Lord in their own special way during this time.

Rick Warren @ SGT

Last week we had the privilege of hosting Rick Warren at our church. He was in town in partnership with Long Island Youth For Christ to raise awareness about a new ministry called the Prodigal House as well as other youth organizations on Lond Island. The Prodigal House is a home being established for ministering to troubled teenage boys and their families. It was a great night which also featured Sean Hannity.

Gonna Be A Daddy Again

My wife and I just found out that we are going to have another baby! It’s sort of mixed emotions. Our two daughters are 6 and 10, and will be almost 7 and 11 when the baby is born. We kept going back and forth as to whether we were going to have any more children, but we were leaning 80% toward no. However, God thought we needed another one, so we’re happy for the addition. We’re also a little nervous about starting over again. We went to Babies R Us the other day. We were totally loving all of the cute clothes, but then we went to the back of the store and it really started making me sweat! The cribs, strollers, rockers, diapers, safety decives for the house … all over again. We started to think, “What in the world have we done?” Well, the great thing about babies is as soon as you see them, every doubt is erased and replaced with sheer joy! Thank you Lord for entrusting to us another child! Thank you that you have a tremendous plan and purpose for this child. Please help us as we lead and shepherd him or her in your ways. May it grow healthy in mom’s tummy! Amen!