Still Rebuilding Five Years Past Katrina

Hurricane Katrina was a huge, overwhelming, natural disaster that effected the lives of millions of people.  On August 29, 2005 Lynette and I along with Abbi were nervously waiting to find out if we had a home to return to.  As news and videos/pictures flooded the news stream we could only watch and pray when concerning those we knew were still in New Orleans.  We could only pray and wait ’til we were able to return to find out if our home and possessions had been washed away with the tide.  Two weeks after Katrina made landfall I began the long journey into New Orleans to get only to Jackson, Mississippi and found out that they were closing the city again, this time due to Hurricane Rita.  The following week (3 weeks post-Katrina) I made it back into town to meet with my Pastor, who had also been evacuated.  We were coming back to assess the damage of our homes, our church, and our community.  Fortunately, we did not experience the flooding that the majority of the city experienced.  However, a few months later we found ourselves without work and without a home due to some situations within our church family. 

Through the gracious love of my Aunt and the help of many friends from New Orleans we made a the move to Tallahassee, Florida where at 1:30 AM several deacons and men of First Baptist Tallahassee were waiting to help us unload our moving truck and all of its contents.  At the time, we felt lost and bewildered as many different events began unfolding in our lives.  Through the guidance of some godly men and women from First Baptist Tallahassee Lynette and I found healing and renewed faith.  During our time in Tallahassee God poured out himself on our family in many ways.  Though without income and a full-time job, for nearly two years, God provided many blessings both financially and spiritually.  I was very blessed to have served on staff with folks I will consider spiritual mentors and friends for the rest of my life.

Now, we find ourselves 5 years past Katrina’s landfall but still only moments away from the lasting impact.  In many parts of the gulf coast, families and communities are still struggling to rebuild and resume life as it once was.  Since that dreadful date five years ago, God has added many blessings to our family.  Eli and LilyGrace were both given to us while we were Tallahassee.  We formed lasting relationships with many folks from the FBC Tallahassee family and lastly we formed a great bond with my Aunt Rhonda.  We are so grateful for all that our First Tallahassee family did for us and all that they continue to do for my Aunt. 

Since 2008 our family has relocated to Alton, IL to serve as Worship Pastor at Heartland Baptist Church.  God has blessed with a home & a mortgage, a great church family and many new friends.  However, we are just now beginning to crawl out of that financial darkness that once held a grip on our family.  We see light at the end of the tunnel.  There is hope in the midst of all of this disaster for it’s in the middle of all of this turmoil, our weakness, that Christ is made stronger.  It was through these past five years that Lynette and I have grown so much spiritually and together as husband and wife.  Within the first ten years of our marriage we have experienced disasters and many life changing events that most couples will experience within their first 30 – 40 years of marriage.  Through God’s grace and His never-ending provisions we continue to experience His blessings.  God provides in our darkest and uncertain times just as He does in the easy-going times.  Unfortunately, as humans, we tend to forget that God is the Provider when everything is good.

I guess the reason for this post is to share how God has been working in our lives since Katrina reeked  her havoc.  Even though life’s circumstances and happenings can destroy what you know as familiar God can use to build a new life.  “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes,”  Romans 8:28.

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Every Old Barn…

Every Old Barn Needs a Fresh Coat of Paint Every Now and Then

Once while serving as Worship Pastor at a church in New Orleans I decided to crash a Mary Kay party that my wife was attending at our Pastor’s house.  I have no idea what would posses a grown man to crash an even in which ladies of all ages and in all stages of life would be getting gussied up with the latest colors of the season but I did.  It could have been my overwhelming love of my young bride or possibly it was the fear of having to ask, “You spent how much?”  While crashing this party, I learned just how well female gatherings are stocked with lots of great food and fellowship.  So, I tried to stay as long as possible.  As long as the appetizers kept rolling out I was good for another half hour.

Let me just put out this disclaimer, I have never claimed to be a make up artist or professional cosmetologist but I am pretty sure that blue eyeshadow is a color that Mary Kay could have quit making with the departure of the eighties.  I listened to the hostess explain to the ladies how just a touch of color could soften, brighten, or highlight certain features while also learning that a little bit of powder or foundation could hide or diminish scaring or birth marks.  Some of the ladies attending had never been taught how to properly use make up or that they could use it.  Being the father of two girls, I naturally assumed that lip gloss and a little bit of make up were eventually a rite of passage.  Boy was I wrong.  These few ladies were just sure if they really should start using make up, especially since they were maturing in years.  In an effort to help the hostess, I encouraged them by saying, “Every old barn needs a fresh coat of paint every now and then.”  Laughter erupted and I believe the hostess had 100% of her guests purchase something.

So where exactly is this blog heading?  Is it simply a blog to tell you a funny story?  Could be, however, there is a much deeper spiritual truth here.  Are you ready for it?  No matter how long you’ve been a Christian, your age, or your stature every Christian could use a spiritual touch up every now and then.  I’ve spent a lot of time listening to folks who have been Christians for many years who live and talk as though they know everything they need to know about their walk with Jesus and the Bible.  They have become very comfortable in their standing with the Lord.  Those around them can tell that their paint is flaking.  The old wood is starting to show through.  Many imperfections and scars are starting to rear their heads and the shine is wearing down and in some cases has completely disappeared.  Just like the old barn that needs a fresh coat of paint Christians need to be constantly checking the mirror for our imperfections and scars that might be making a comeback appearance. 
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a brand new creation.  Old things are gone all things are new.”

So the next time you begin to think that you’ve got it all covered or that you’ve been a Christian long enough to quit improving on your relationship with the Lord look in the mirror.  It may be time for a fresh coat of paint.

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What’s the Cost?

Lynette and I had the opportunity to visit with a gentlemen from Thomas Construction today regarding an estimate for a new roof for our home.  He shared with us about the company, the product and the need we had for his product.  Then came the news…”it costs how much?”  We knew that home ownership would be a big commitment especially when considering upkeep, improvements, repairs, replacements, insurance, etc…  I think you are getting my point.  Knowing that our roof will need to be replaced sometime in the next year or so we are having to revisit our family budget, income v/s expenses causing us to re-evaluate what our needs are compared to our wants.

As I sat in my favorite place in the whole house, the bubble chair, I reflected on just how much it costs to own a home and take care of the many responsibilities that it brings to the table.  These responsibilities require much sacrifice and commitment to keep and maintain.  Can you begin to see the picture that is forming in my mind?  Our relationship with Jesus Christ is much like this commitment in purchasing and caring for a home.  Most people would like to have one, but not many can afford it…or is it that they choose not to make the appropriate adjustments in their lifestyle that can maintain the upkeep, improvements, repairs in those responsibilities. 

Often, we choose to buy into the “I need Jesus” and “I want Jesus” in our mind but we fail to make that solid commitment.  The commitment in our heart to make those much-needed adjustments in that will help develop/foster a much deeper and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ.  What are you willing to give up, sacrifice, pay in order to have a deeper relationship with Jesus?  After all, think of what Jesus paid for you.  With His birth He left behind a heavenly throne.  With His life He modeled true love.  With His death He bought our freedom.  With His resurrection He guaranteed our place with Him, that is if we choose to believe in Him and follow His ways.

Think about the cost.  Compared to the cost Jesus paid to purchase our pardon anything else appears to be merely a fraction of a penny on every million dollars.

Peace & Blessings
Pastor Isaac

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Meeting God in the Mud!

Recently I had the opportunity to counsel with someone who was struggling with the idea of a Savior.  They understood that they were a sinner and in need of a Savior but they just knew that they weren’t clean enough to be accepted by Jesus.  “I am going to get my life together and get all of the mud and junk cleaned up so that when I come to Jesus I am clean and acceptable,” touted the young man. 

Wow, how often do we hear those types of comments?  I know I have heard them several times and each time I hear it I am amazed at how much people really don’t understand.  Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” (Matthew 9:12).  Jesus was pointing out that He had not come for the healthy but for those who were sick and in need of healing.

We see clearly that Jesus meets us where we are.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  Therefore, we cannot clean up ourselves.  Christ cleans us up.  This must mean that we have to meet Christ in the mud!  If we are already clean then there is no need for a bath.  After explaining this to the young man you could see his countenance change.  He had never realized that Jesus was down in the mud with him, waiting for him to reach out and take Jesus’ hand.

Jesus longs for all of us to reach out, reach up & grab ahold of His hand.  Only He has the power to carry us out of the mud.  What mud pond are you in today?  What junk or troubles are you finding yourself in?  Wherever you are, whatever you’ve done, Christ is waiting for you to call out and reach for His help. 

Peace & Blessings,
Pastor Isaac

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Welcome to My Journey

Welcome to my first official blog.  I can’t begin to tell you what a journey these past five years have been for Lynette and I.  Let me first begin by introducing myself to you.  My name is Isaac Hallock and I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I am married to my lovely bride, Lynette, of nearly 11 years.  We have three beautiful children:  Abbi, Eli & LilyGrace.  We also are blessed with three wonderful pets:  Beignet (our dog), Maggie (our cat) and Peanut (our lop eared bunny).  We live in our humble home in Alton, Illinois where I serve as Worship Pastor at Heartland Baptist Church. 

My Blogging Site is entitled “Journey of a Disciple.”  When thinking of what to call this blog, I wondered what would catch the most eyes, the most traffic, and then I realized it isn’t about what catches peoples eyes.  It’s about a journey that my wife and I have been on since surrendering to the ministry many years ago. 

Through this blog, it is my desire and hope that as I share with you the many lessons and truths that I have learned on this “journey” that I am on.  Many trials, triumphs, blessings and more lessons are on the way.  This is my opportunity to help encourage others who may be experiencing similar situations and also to challenge you in your journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Stay tuned…

Pastor Isaac

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