Damascus Path: Grand Opening

We are so glad to announce the grand opening of our LHC Damascus Path!  It has been a long 16 months of work and sometimes weather delays that has brought us to this moment.  Most building projects do end up being more expensive and more difficult that what you originally anticipate and this project was no different.  Between the heavy rain of spring and the relentless heat of summer it was a very tough challenge to finish this path but to God be the glory it is done!  Thanks to all of my volunteers that helped with the walking path from beginning to end.  A special thanks to my “hall of fame” workers:  Skip Rome, Guy Vasquez, Roy Rogers, Jimmy Hart, and Jack Rogers.  Without these guys I for sure would have lost heart but they consistently showed up even in the worst of conditions. 

Here are a few stats about the Damascus Path:

  • Pavers delivered to church: approx. 24,000 – Jan 2014
  • Construction start date: June 28, 2014
  • Pavers used on path:  approx. 20,400
  • Weight of pavers moved by hand: 489,600 lbs! (244 tons)
  • Granite used: 440 cubic yards or 110 Tons!
  • Geo Fabric: 37,800 square feet!
  • Mortar mix: 4 Tons!  (8,000 lbs)
  • Clay and Sand:  600 cubic yards (50 loads)
  • 6” drain pipe: 300+ feet
  • Approximate hours – ?!
  • Gallons of sweat – ?!
  • Average work crew – 6
  • Total time from start to dedication: 469 days! (67 weeks)
  • Path length:  5,048 feet

Are You A Loose Body Part?

Are you a loose body part?  Hmm… let’s see:  Are you connected to Christ? 

I Cor. 12:13 says, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body”

Have you ever considered that God designed us to be “connected” to Him?  We were made in His image and His likeness, we are His handy-work and formed out of the clay by His loving hands, and, above all, we have air in our lungs and a heart beat in our chest because He breathed into us!  Even if we have physical life, our spirit is dead until we are made alive in Christ.  So, in reality, until we surrender our life to the Lordship of Christ and receive salvation, we are aimless, drifting body parts.  When we come to Christ it is as if we are being reunited, even if we had never been a Christian before. Why? Because our forefather, Adam, was connected then through sin got disconnected and in turn we all were born into this world disconnected from God.

This year I am challenging whosoever will to come to Christ and become connected to Him! 

There are many ways that we “remain in Him,” but the most simple way to say it is that we must remain “in love” with Him.  We do this by learning Christ, not just about Him.  You can learn many things about a person, but until you have spent time with them,  you can’t say you really know them.  We can fellowship and commune with God at all times but there is something special about Him receiving our “undivided” attention.  When we devote time to Him by reading His love letter, The Bible, reflecting on its truths, living its precepts and declaring its promises, we become more and more like Him. 

We become more “connected” to our God when we share our hearts and deepest needs with Him and then listen carefully to the voice of His Spirit.  This is called fellowship, this is called “connection”. Don’t go through life without a Savior, don’t go through life displaced from God, not when He has done so much to make you part of Himself.  Are you connected to God?

Once a person has been connected to God they have a mandate to connect with other believers, this is referred to in scripture as “The body of Christ” or “The Church”.  Many people today find it popular and trendy to say “I don’t need “organized” religion they give many excuses why the church is the last place they want to be.  But the reality is that if we know Christ then we have “believed” but we deceive ourselves if we think that we are not called to “belong “as well.  So why do we need to be “connected” to a body of believers?

1. Accountability

The word “saint” is mentioned in three verses in all of scripture but the word “saints” is mentioned almost one hundred times!  This tells me that God expects a believer to be with other believers.  This walk with Christ is at times very difficult the enemy is always there to tempt and discourage we need to be there for each other. “Two are better than one for they have a good reward for their labor, for if the one falls the other will lift him up, for if they fall the other will lift him up, but woe to him that is alone when he falls for has not another to lift him up.” Eccl. 4:9-10

2. Biblical Relationships

“By this shall all men know you are my disciples if you have love one to another” John 13:35.  Our testimony to the world as believers begins with our connection to other believers.  A believer is a part of the body so when they are disconnected they become a “freak” or abnormal thing. (When is the last time you saw a hand laying on the ground by itself?) Apart from other believers we cannot practice the over 32 “One anothers” of scripture.  One of those is to exhort or encourage one another. (Heb.10:25)

3. Gifts of the Spirit

God gave the gifts of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:7-11) to the church!  It is within His body that He chooses to manifest His presence and distribute His gifts.  When we chose to “go it alone” we miss out on the promise of Christ to be there in the “midst” of them. (Mat. 18:20)

I hope that none of us will choose to be “displaced” or “loose” body parts, I hope that if you have not already come to that place of a personal relationship with Christ that you would unite with Him today.  If you are already a Christian and you are not connected to a church and a small group I pray you would do that soon.  At LHC we have a beautiful family of believers to worship with and to encourage you, we also have several great small groups to connect with and to grow with.  Get connected! 

– Pastor Kevin

Dogs and Stars

I suppose most of you reading this have had a pet at one time or another and I hope that everyone has at least one opportunity to have a good dog.  I feel pretty blessed to have owned four really good dogs in my life, but I suppose my three labs were my favorite.  I lost Moose, my oldest (14 years), in 2011, and Abby New Year’s Eve 2013 at age 10, which left me Tucker.

Last week was a very difficult time for me.

It all started when I came home from church to find Tucker unable to move his legs and very lethargic.  After a trip to the E.R in Houston they diagnosed him with embolism, which is a blood clot in the spinal cord.  We kept him inside for a few days praying over him and believing God with all our heart for a miracle.  I know that God cares about the things that are dear to us and after all Tucker was His creation as well.  I fully expected a miracle but none came.

He lay on a blanket in the middle of our floor sleeping or just looking at us.  No wagging tail, no panting smile, no willingness to eat, but an occasional cry in the middle of the night to let us know that he was still hurting.

On Tuesday our vet concluded that he most likely did have a blockage and that the chance of him recovering the use of his legs was very slim.  He was in pain and had an elevated temperature, so I made the hard decision to say good bye.  This was only one year from the time that I had Abby put to sleep when her hips became so weak she could no longer walk and 4 years from the time I had Moose put to sleep when old age finally got the best of him.

Here is a photo of Tucker from a few years ago

My heart broke as I told Tucker what a good dog he had been and that I was sorry I could not help him.  All the years I had spent with these dogs running at the reservoir or playing in the back yard was about to be over.  It is a very sad thing to be there when they administer the first shot that slowly allows them to go to sleep, but I sat with him because did not want him to be alone.  Tucker was only 7 and really in his prime, but now he was gone.

I thought about the different personalities of my dogs and how often during prayer walks I would think about the lessons to be learned from all of them.  Moose, the oldest, was, from his puppy hood, a “wonderer,” an “explorer” who could be easily distracted by a smell or animal scent and would sometimes either fall behind or disappear altogether.  More than once I had to back track or go on a hunt for him.

It wasn’t that he was disobedient or even rebellious it was just that he was a “dreamer” and sometimes lost track of where he was supposed to be.

Abby was the most loyal of the three and her place was always with me.  She may sniff and jump in the water for a cool off but she would always find her way right back to my side.

She represented loyalty and faithfulness at all times.

Tucker was the “leader” and even when he was a pup and I was introducing him to the five mile loop around the reservoir he would never allow Moose or Abby to be in front of him.  He never ran away he never got lost but he always had to be in front.  I often thought about how their different dispositions were not necessarily making one better than the other but just different.

I started to think about how we relate to our Master in Heaven.  I thought about how many people are like Moose who are creative and curious but sometimes get distracted from their relationship with God.  They mean well but sometimes they look up and realize they have gotten off track.

Then there are the “Tuckers,” they are natural born leaders, they always keep the Master in site, but insist on being in the lead.  Sometimes they become a little too confident in themselves and don’t wait on the Master to go before them.  They sometimes find themselves overstepping the will of God.

Finally there are those like Abby who I think of as Mary (Sister to Martha) who was just content sitting at the Master’s feet.  I believe God has a place for all of our personalities in His Kingdom.  I know that He loves us all equally and He is more than happy to use us all in the areas where we are gifted.  There are simple things that we can learn from dogs and things to appreciate about them like the fact that they love you and are glad to see you regardless of how your day has been or what mood you are in.

Their love is constant and unconditional just like God.

The day after I buried Tucker I went to the reservoir to do my prayer walk before daylight.  As I started my walk I was sad that my longtime companion was not there.  I struggled to know why God did not answer my prayer, and I cried a lot.  After walking a half a mile the sun started to come up behind me.  I noticed the moon bright in the west and beside it a single star in the blue sky.  I felt the presence of the Lord at that moment and I felt honored to be where I was.  I continued to walk west as the sun became brighter and the star grew dim.  I came to a grassy spot and lay on my back staring at the star; it began to fade little by little until I strained to see it.

I heard the voice of God speak to me and say, “Because you cannot see this star anymore does not mean it is gone and in the times when you can’t see me or hear me know that I am still here”.  Though He never answered my questions I knew that I had been heard and that He was still with me.  I read this verse a few days later and it helped me to know that there really are some things I may never know.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us”.  (Deut. 29:29a)

In my times of sorrow and questions I have a God that can still speak to me even through dogs and stars.

Blessings, PK

3 Keys to a Successful Exercise Lifestyle

My earliest memories of “exercise” would go back to my early years (Age 7) on the YMCA swim team in Houston.  I think you start off thinking swimming is fun until you start to compete and then it becomes work!

I well remember those late evening, two-hour practices that always ended with sore muscles, wrinkled fingers and body and hair that wreaked of chlorine.  These were the beginnings of my life in a family of athletes.

Mom was a table tennis and tennis player, Dad was an avid and devoted volleyball player and eventually all nine kids found themselves with one or two areas that they really excelled in. Mike- Football (4 year college linebacker with pre-season games for the Houston Oilers) and later running, Sue – Swimming, Steve- Running, Chris- Softball, Eric-Swimming, Basketball, Football, Baseball (And now martial arts),  Mia- Volleyball, Keith – Swimming and Running, Cindy – Volleyball and Tennis, and me – Triathlon (Mostly).

As a pastor and as a former personal trainer/fitness instructor, I realize that not too many people had a culture of exercise, sport and competition growing up, so I have to ask, “Besides my upbringing what has kept me involved in a lifestyle of exercise for the last 40 plus years?”  There are many things that could be listed but I want to share with you the big “Three” in my book.

1.  Find an exercise/activity/sport you ENJOY

I will say that part of what kept me active was finding sports and activities that I enjoyed.

These have not always been the same throughout the years. The sports of my school days were: swimming, running, football, basketball and baseball. Once in college only Running and weight training were important to me.

Once I left college working out was “optional” (or so it seemed) for the first time in my life.  I found weight lifting and body building to be something that I really enjoyed. Even after I began travelling full-time I would do running and push-ups to keep active.

Later after I started pastoring my first congregation I became very active in tennis and weightlifting, then at the age of 35 I began competing in triathlon (Swim-Bike-Run). Because a foot ailment has hindered me from running I have been doing “cross training” at the gym, and hope to start biking and swimming again this winter.

My point is you need to enjoy an activity to be consistent with it.  That activity can change year to year but if you are bored with it or it is not practical eventually you will quit.

2.  Be able to measure improvement

I can’t stress this enough, if you intend to stay active in exercise you should pick something that can be measured.

I realize some people like to do “recreational” exercise (for the “fun of it”) and that is O.K. but how do you know if your “exercise” is benefiting you if you have no way to measure your progress? 

If you are a walker you should either be working to walk further or faster, if you are lifting weights you should be able to do more reps or heavier weights.

 This is one of the reasons I love to race because it’s not so much about me beating someone else (Though that can be fun too!), but about me making my times faster. Measuring your progress is one of the best ways to get motivation to do that next workout or session. When you are improving it just makes you want to do it that much more, when you are not it tells you something needs to change!

3.  Keep Variety!

As I mentioned above I have not always been involved in the same activity and these days, since my foot issue, I have had to come up with lower impact ways to get my heart rate up including running the high school bleachers, stairs, and even a little tennis! 

The good thing about variety is that you work different muscle groups and are less likely to get injured when you have muscle memory in many different parts of your body. 

Regardless of your background, age or ability , after all you are only as young as you feel and without exercise you will never feel your best!  As Christians we must see our bodies as the “Temple” of the Holy Spirit and a lifestyle of exercise is one good way to keep it healthy.

Be blessed! PK

God Uses Nancys

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6)

When we read Hebrews chapter 11 (Often called the “faith” chapter) we read not just about the definition of faith but we read the names of those who demonstrated it and what it looks like when it is lived out.

Last week I shared with you one of my journal entries from my missions trip to Asia and today I want to share with you that it is not just the faith of “dead” people that still speaks to us today.  I was blessed on my Asia trip to be accompanied by some very special people who love Jesus very much.

Nearly all of them were from different denominational backgrounds and yet we were all there for the same purpose, to bring the Word of God to Asia.

Today I could spend a long while talking about “Lou” the single man in his 60’s who has been an absolute “machine”- bringing Bibles to Asia by leading Bible printing projects and leading multiple trips per year to Asia while training up teams that eventually go out on their own to bring the Word to different countries.  Or it would be easy to reflect on Don and Joy who are the ones responsible for getting me to go on that life changing trip.

There is Steve, Daniel, Gerry, Dee-Ann, Leena , Lee, Rose, Joshua, and Toby, all of these represent people from 4 different states and three different countries who came together for such a special trip.

But as I reflect on Hebrews 11 there is one lady on our trip that inspired me perhaps more than everyone, her name is Nancy.

I don’t know the details of Nancy’s life, but I do know that she was living the life of an ordinary young lady attending college in California when she began dealing with serious bouts of depression.  Even though she accepted Christ in her late twenties, her depression struggles made life very difficult. She said, “It was like going down a slide with nothing to hold onto”.  It threatened her marriage and strained her relationship with her only daughter.

In her early 40’s Nancy was diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder as well as schizophrenia.  A few years ago she began attending church with Don and Joy. When she heard the testimonies of Don and Joy coming back from their trips to Asia she purposed in her heart to go on a trip.

The medication she takes causes weight gain, short term memory loss, and causes her hands to “tremor” (sometimes severely).  She approached Don and Joy about going on the Asia trip and I think they attempted to share the complications of her going on a trip like this with some of her physical limitations.

After it was obvious that she had her heart set on going Don agreed to bring her on the trip. Don asked that she begin walking daily and commit to losing 20 lbs if she really wanted to go. She hit the treadmill soon after and began walking four or five times a week until she got up to 4 mile walks.

Fast forward to our time in Asia, Nancy was so inspiring to me because she never quit!  I knew that the crossings we made were at times demanding, dragging a heavy suitcase for miles, lifting it up onto buses, and sometimes carrying it up and down stairs.  You could tell she was tired but never once did she show signs of stopping.

At one crossing she was stopped and the customs agent made her open her suitcase.  He was taking the Bibles out and as fast as he could take them out she was putting them back in!

She kept telling him “I need these!”

I have no clue what was going through the mind of this Asian customs agent but he only took half of her Bibles and let her keep the other half!

Another time she was stopped and her books were seized and she was in line waiting for her seized passport amidst “pushy” and angry nationals that were in line. (They called this the infamous “Window #1)  The stress was getting the best of her when an Asian woman came and did a sign of a cross on her chest put her finger to her lips to say “shhhhh” then took her hand and prayed for her. Nancy said she had a calm and peace from that moment on.

One evening when we were all pretty tired after making several crossings, it was dark and I was ready to go get a shower and retire for the evening, I saw Nancy and she told me that she had got stopped again and had to wait over an hour to get her passport back, I assumed she was done for the evening, but not Nancy, she wanted to make one more run! Once she had reloaded she headed to the border and crossed again and made it!  I felt like such a wimp compared to her.

I said “If Nancy can keep going like that then I purpose tomorrow to make three trips in a row no matter what!”

I made no excuses for weariness or fear but kept thinking about her the whole time and not only made my three crossings but finished out the last day pulling a suitcase with one wheel at record pace!

Sometimes God uses the most unlikely to demonstrate His glory and to reveal His presence.

Nancy despite her handicaps served God and provided me and the rest of our team with motivation and courage.  I will ever be grateful for her witness, her faith and her determination.  We prayed for her often during our trip and know that God is able to heal her completely, but even in her infirmity, she remains faithful and a useable vessel for God.

I hope this week we can pray for the kind of faith that will inspire others to do great things for God, I hope we can stop praying “Lord use me” and start praying “God make me useable!”

God uses Nancys.

 

The Gospel: Free But Not Cheap

So what lessons have I learned from two weeks out of the country?

“The gospel is free but not cheap.”

The call to follow Christ can demand a cost which may include one’s life.

“Kevin Kleinhenz son of Leonard Kleinhenz lovest thou me?” How much do I love Christ? Do I love Him more than mother? Wife? Children? Do I love Him as long as I have all the other?  Do I love Him more than life? Do I accept His deep love for me? After all He has already demonstrated His love for me but what have I done? Do I show Him daily my love for Him?  Do I love others the way He loves me?  How do I show my devotion to Him? Do I love this world? Am I afraid of death? Of leaving my loved ones? What sense can be made of this world apart from Christ? What possible meaning can there be to life apart from Him?

How privileged I am to have heard the Good News, how thankful I am that my heart was opened to Him and His love. The Gospel is free but not cheap.  Oh the cost Christians around the world have paid for the testimony of Christ!  Oh the reward that awaits them all!  Though I have not always done “well” may His mercy allow me to hear “Well Done”!  May I remain faithful even when I struggle to be fruitful.

God’s people are beautiful!  No matter what country or nationality they are souls that Christ paid for with His sufferings and death.  Sin has marred so many on this planet.  The suffering of humanity can always be traced to sin. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people!” Oh the reproach that sin brings and oh the blessings that righteousness brings!

“God whether I live another day, week, month or year it only matters that I please you, it only matters that I scatter the seeds. Help me Jesus to have a better relationship with you. Help me Jesus to love you more.”

After my first house church service I see that God is using young people.  I see passion in their worship and sincerity in their service.  They are thankful for so much and passionate for God’s presence.  The Spirit moves in their worship and His Presence is manifest.

Where is my worship?  Where is my passion? Where is my devotion? Why are we weighted down with so much? Why do we complicate the gospel? Why do we complicate the purpose of life?  “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man”.

Why are we blessed if not to be a blessing to others?  Both as a nation and as individuals are we not to be givers?  Are we not to put others before ourselves?  Have we lost track of what is important in life?  Why do we fill our days with complaints instead of praises? Truly we cannot be this callous to the circumstances and hardships the rest of the world faces almost each and every day can we?

My outlook has changed on this trip.  I see the lives of men and women who give all for Christ and His cause.  I seem to give what is comfortable.  Am I inconvenienced by people? By hardships? By pain? By finances? How will I spend the remainder of my days?  I want to be a servant to God and a servant to others.  I want our church to be a serving,reaching church.  I want heavenly perspective, I want to be able to sacrifice for God as great men have.

Our doctrines in the U.S. are such that we commemorate and celebrate those who have sacrificed and those who are sacrificing but we dare not emulate them or imitate them for that would indeed cause discomfort or inconvenience and we dare not do that!  We are similar to the Pharisees who decorate the tombs of the prophets, yet by our very lives we destroy what they stood for.

“Have you eaten today?” (The greeting among the Vietnamese that is basically “How are you doing today?”)

These are the words that haunt my soul both physically and spiritually.  For in the physical realm if I have eaten (Like most) then it is a good day!  Perhaps most would at least say “I have the means to eat today” then it is a good day.  We complain about so much but if we have daily bread then it is a good day.

  • Have you eaten today? 
  • Have you spent time with the Father and have you meditated on His Word? 

If so you have partaken in the Bread of Life, you have eaten and it is a good day!

“God give me daily bread today, give me direction for today.  Help me live by faith, help thou my unbelief.

Love always your son, Kevin