first things first

A blog about whatever crosses my mind, ordered by importance.

Preparing for the Summer

It’s that time again! We’ve begun preparing to go back to Albania this summer!

2018 team photo

Looking forward to going back

I’m so glad that I already had a chance to get back to Albania in December, when we put on a men’s conference for Cornerstone Church of Tirana. That was a great time of fun and fellowship with many of my close Albanian friends. I’ve been keeping in touch with them although it’s been difficult due to the time difference.

While I could only stay for a week at that time, this summer I hope to stay for the full month of July! The project runs from June 29 to July 8, and my roommate Pal is getting married on July 28! So I’m hoping to be able to work remotely from Albania for a couple weeks, and also to participate in follow-up from the summer project. I’ll return to Dallas on July 29.

The format for the summer project should be roughly the same as last year - two seminars during the week, lots of coffee opportunities, and then a retreat on the weekend for the believers. I’m hoping we can make it as fun as last year! We definitely have a great team. And we still have someone on the ground: Lauren Dean has been living in Albania since last July!

2018 first team meeting

Our first team meeting was a big success, and people are already working on their support letters. The system is already set up so you can donate, and we have a team roster on our brand-new website! A lot of work has been put into this website, especially by Joseph Woodard. He also made some fantastic information booklets for each team member. We’re blessed to have him as a leader on this project.

Priorities in Dallas

As I detailed in last June’s blog post, my primary reason for spending this year in Dallas is to go through the ReGeneration program. I’m now a little over 4 months into working the steps with my closed group, and I can say that it’s definitely been the right decision. Through this program I’ve been able to dive deeply into discovering patterns, triggers, and root causes of my sin struggles. It’s helped me to see my pet sins as ugly, not something I even want to be trifling with.

We’ve just finished step 5, which is titled “Confession”. One of my homework assignments is to confess my whole inventory to my community group. This is a tough ask and I honestly have been afraid to do it. The materials include this quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book “Life Together” -

In confession occurs the break-through to the cross…Confession in the presence of a brother is the profoundest kind of humiliation. It hurts, it cuts a man down, it is a dreadful blow to pride. To stand there before a brother as a sinner is an ignominy that is almost unbearable. In the confession of concrete sins the old man dies a painful, shameful death before the eyes of a brother. Because this humiliation is so hard we continually scheme to evade confessing to a brother. Our eyes are so blinded that they no longer see the promise and the glory in such abasement.

The Cross of Jesus Christ destroys all pride. We cannot find the Cross of Jesus if we shrink from going to the place where it is to be found, namely, the public death of the sinner. And we refuse to bear the Cross when we are ashamed to take upon ourselves the shameful death of the sinner in confession. In confession we break through to the true fellowship of the Cross of Jesus Christ, in confession we affirm and accept our Cross. Life Together - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Destroying pride is a powerful work of God. I want God to work like that in my life. My flesh doesn’t want that. My flesh wants people to look at me and say that Gordon’s such a good guy - look at all these awesome things he’s doing for God. But if I die the kind of death that Bonhoeffer’s talking about, then the reality that has been obscured by my pride is made evident in my life. Namely, that -

…it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

It’s time I humble myself before my brothers in Christ. It’s time to confess all of my sin - even the last 2% that I’ve never told anyone - so that God may be glorified in His good work of redeeming a wretch like me.

Prayer Requests

I always appreciate your prayers. Please forgive me for not posting a lot recently, I’d like to more often give y’all the opportunity to join me in prayer. And to be honest I want you to pray for me more for my own sake. It’s one of the most valuable gifts you can give me.

  1. Pray for contentment while I’m working through the ReGen steps here in Dallas.
  2. Pray for the summer project, especially those who are coming with us for the first time, that they’d be diligent to ask for support and that God would bring in the full amount.
  3. Pray for Demarcus, he’s 16 now. Pray that he’d dive into the word of God and that the Watermark high school ministry would be impactful for him.

Thank you for your prayers, and I look forward to adding the next page to my journal!