Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The "Why" behind the 5-day Challenge

5 days with ONLY tap water (no coffee or sodas), oatmeal, cream of wheat, rice & beans, a couple of ounces of chicken, beef or fish with a sporadic few veggies thrown in doesn’t seem all that hard, does it? And why do it?

I’ll get to the why in just a moment...but before I do, as I was walking the aisles of my local grocery store preparing for the 5-day Food Challenge as an active participant in this series, “Hope Lives”, I was overwhelmed with the options and choices available for something as simple as OATMEAL. Not only were there numerous brands, but the varieties of selection between cinnamon, maple sugar, apple spice, vanilla, to only name a few were amazing!

I couldn’t help but wonder, as ALL I wanted to purchase was just plain, ordinary oatmeal, what would it be like NOT to have any; not cinnamon, not apple spice, not even the plain, ordinary kind, just none, nada, nothing. On this particular day, I stood there in aisle 7 silent, realizing I have NO idea what it’s like for ‘most’ in this world. I’d like to believe I can identify, but my reality is SO FAR from the majority in our world. I could go 30 days and still not fully know or grasp the horrible, daily reality of so many.

I made a commitment to God that day in the store that I would take each day of the 5 days with GREAT joy! There would be no whining or complaining or moaning as I’m often prone to, but I would enter into each day with gladness. Why? Well, for me this is only an limited experience, yet for others it’s their life.

So why have we asked you to do this for 5-days? Gratefulness and thankfulness for the plenty we have is one reason. Awareness of the plight of so many in this world who die from malnutrition or the lack of water is another motive behind this all. But in this case, there’s something more. All the money you have saved because you didn’t buy coffee or appetizers or lavish lunches or dinners, THIS weekend we will take up a special offering and ALL the dollars will go to paying for the roughly 300,000+ meals that we packed as a church last week.

As your pastor, I thank you in advance for what you will give, because of what you didn’t spend!

See you this weekend,

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

P.S. Two things: first, some have told me that they “caved” and didn’t make it to day 2. Well...give it another try! You’ll be glad you did. Second, for those with children or students, they are to bring back their M&M containers to The Crossing filled with quarters, THIS WEEKEND!

Friday, February 19, 2010

5 Day Meal Challenge

I want to thank you for signing up to be a part of “The 5 Day Meal Challenge”! I am so excited about how The Crossing (you & our church) is striving to allow HOPE to Live through us.

Did you know that during this past week God used 1,380 volunteers to SERVE by packing 306,720 meals with Feed My Starving Children! These 306,720 meals are enough food to feed 840 children for a full year! AMAZING! These meals that we packed are sent by Feeding My Starving Children ( to various parts of the world to children who are in a malnourished condition. So a big THANKS goes out to everyone who packed meals.

Now here is where YOU come in...this next week beginning Monday, February 22nd thru Friday, February 26th, we have the opportunity as a church to STAND with a majority of the people in the world (80%) who deal daily with challenging food and water issues and don’t enjoy the abundance of access to food and water that we have in our country. This link will take you to our website where a PDF is available that will help you during your 5-day Meal Challenge. You can use this information to put together meal plans, portion sizes and what to purchase in the grocery store this next week. you as together, we STAND with our friends across the world.

5 Day Meal Challenge Information: Click Here

This is VERY IMPORTANT, please remember to set aside the money you “save” from not eating or drinking what you normally would during this 5-day period and BRING this money with you this coming weekend, February 27/28 to The Crossing. These monies will be used to pay for the 306,720 meals we packed for Feeding My Starving Children. Also, if you have a teenager or child, they have been collecting quarters in their M & M tubes all month. Their money, plus all the monies from the adults of The Crossing, will go toward the 306,720 meals packed. Thank you, this experience is HUGE for us all, not only will we learn first hand how the Majority of the world eats but we get to give back.

My prayer, as we continue participating in the HOPE Lives series, is that God continues to impact our hearts, minds and actions so that HOPE does indeed flow through our church in more impactful and expansive ways! Thanks for being a part!

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thinking Disturbing Thought

Are you ever surprised by your thoughts? I am! Would you ever be in trouble if someone could read the caption over your head? I would be. Now for a little pastoral confession time...

When I see a REALLY dirty person...often I’m thinking, why don’t they take a shower. When I see someone who “looks” sort of poor or impoverished...I’m thinking, why don’t they get a job. When I see someone of certain ethnicities loitering around the church or my neighborhood...I’m thinking, what do they want or might they be “casing” the joint. When I see someone asking for money...I’m often thinking, don’t give them any. It’s going to end up going to drugs or alcohol.

Needless to say, God has used this series, “Hope Lives”, to ROCK my world! I am realizing I have a long way to go to be more like Jesus. Yet what I’m discovering through the comments, emails, interactions and conversations with many of you as you’ve let your guard down, much of your thinking runs along the same lines.

This causes me to think that it would be fair to say that American attitudes toward the poor...and perhaps not just in America...are mostly disdain and/or fear. Sometimes there's a suspicion that their condition is their own fault, that they're simply lazy or inferior. Other Americans are more kind-hearted but prefer not to look at the poor too closely, it's depressing and they're surely not fun people to be around.

I challenge you to allow God’s Word to go deep inside of you, as I’m asking that it goes way down into me. Here are some passages to reflect upon and consider...

“Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger/alien, the orphan, or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”
Jeremiah 22:3

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:20-21

“I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted and justice for the poor.” Psalm 140:12

“And Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read... ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He appointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD... Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:16-21

Jesus’ own words are enough to DISTURB me. I know the topics we’re discussing on the weekends are NOT easy. Thank you for praying for your heart. Thank you for seriously thinking about these topics. Thank you for considering the heart of God for the “least of these”.

Lead Pastor
The Crossing

P.S. Take a look at the thoughts of someone who went through the Third World Experience at The Crossing this past weekend.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mayor Award Lauds Local Church...OC Register

The February 2010 Costa Mesa Mayor's Award will be presented Feb 16, 2010 to The Crossing Church for its volunteer efforts during Costa Mesa High School's Campus Clean-up Day last May.

Hundreds of church members partnered with other local churches and service groups to beautify the school through painting, landscaping and general cleaning. About 4,000 estimated hours of volunteer labor were used for the clean-up.

The Crossing Church contributed thousands of dollars towards materials and supplies and used its connections for the free use of construction equipment.

Mayor Allan Mansoor will present the award to church representatives at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Friday, February 12, 2010


My prayer going into my time in El Salvador was, “God, please open my the eyes of my heart and allow me to see, through my physical eyes what you want me to see, allow me to see through my spiritual eyes what you want me to see, allow me to see through my emotions what you want me to see...”

What did I see/learn?

First: People matter! The culture, ethnicity, race, or country does not matter, people are people. They/we are made in the image and likeness of God. People matter to God, therefore they better matter to me!

Second: Poverty is multi-faceted. I asked a young man who I was traveling with over the past 3 to 4 days, “What is poverty?” He said, “I was taught in school that poverty was lack of resources, mostly material, but NOW I see this is a very limited definition of poverty. Poverty is lacking a relationship with God, poverty is lacking an authentic relationship with a community or with others, as well as lacking resources.” This man, though young in years, was quite wise.

Third: It’s NOT about me. What’s amazing, and I’ll speak for myself, is how often life is all wrapped around me, me, me. There is a tidal wave tendency to be quite “self” absorbed in our American/Orange County culture. However, my identity in Jesus Christ, forces me to think otherwise. The pull might be to make life all about us, but we MUST resist this pull.

Thanks for taking this trip with me. I look forward to seeing you at The Crossing this weekend.


One of Our Own in Haiti: His Story

So my parents asked me to write a little something on my experience in Haiti. So here it goes…I was out to sea on my way to my new home port in San Diego when I found out I was headed down to Haiti for relief efforts because they had been hit with a disastrous earthquake. At first I was upset and bummed out because it was going to take away from me getting to California but God soon changed my aspect on things. My first dose of seeing the wreckage was when the ship had its first medevac and boy was it eye opening; it was a young girl about 7 years old and she got pulled off the helicopter. She just had this dazed look in her eye then I glanced down and her whole leg was missing. At that point it all became real that I had been put here for a reason. Right now it wasn’t getting to San Diego on time it was to help these people of Haiti. So a couple of days later we were done flying helos for the night when we got a call that a coast guard helo was coming in with about 8 injured people. So we manned up our fire trucks and got the stretchers ready for what? We had no idea. The first person to come off the helo was a young boy about 4 years old who had to be carried off the helo straight to the intensive care area. As much training I have gone through nothing could have prepared me for seeing that. It was at that point I started to get a little mad at God for doing this to a nation that was already in poverty and struggling, I didn’t understand. But I knew deep down that God was doing something amazing with this I still don’t know what, but I just knew. I will say that I have never prayed so hard for so many people I didn’t know. Every night I would lie in my rack (bed) and pray for the people of Haiti for about 30 to 45 minutes just asking God to help the nation of Haiti in any way possible because they absolutely needed it more than I did at the time. I have thought about the whole situation and I think the lesson God was trying to teach through this was that he can take everything you have at anytime he wants to. I have learned many times in my life that he likes to teach us things through tough times. So that’s a small little insight on my first hand experience in being a first responder to the nation of Haiti. Remember God loves us all no matter what. Thank you for letting me take the time to write this out.

Very Respectfully
ABH3 Jeffrey Mullins
USS Carl Vinson
Air Dept. Crash & Salvage

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Intentionality and Integration

Most of us, me included, when it comes to the poor and/or the developing world, it’s quite easy to throw money or resources at something or someone and hope that the problem is solved or resolved. However, what I’m learning is, that’s easy, ineffective and most often, a COLOSSAL waste of money and/or resources.

Quite possibly it relieves some of our guilty or removes a part of our shame, but rarely, if ever, is something sustainable achieved, dignity elevated. What I’m learning is substantive change takes time, involvement, and relationship and sincere, mutual partnership. We, cannot be the ones driving the bus. There are levels of intelligence, creativity, drive and determination in each “country.” Yet, it takes a unique partnership, it’s a “dance” with multiple partners.

Most importantly it STARTS with the local church. This is why I’ve spent time listening to the heart of Pastor Miguel, Pastor Santiago, Pastor Jose, Pastora Marta, and others. The church is the HOPE of the world. Thus it takes a church understanding its role and how it will partner with the community, thinking through the strategic use of local resources.

Join me, please be praying for the pastors listed above. These men and women are leading change in their communities. They are lifting up the Good News of Jesus, as they show and share the love of Jesus. These folks are treading new ground. In many cases, it stirs up trouble in their churches. These leaders are navigating through rough waters. They are breaking new ground. I PRAISE God for them.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hands Up Verses Hand-Out

I traveled through the market in San Martin, El Salvador yesterday (think VERY dense swap meet). There are little business next to business, next to business. Many times each person is selling the same thing. I had the grand privilege of meeting some of the entrepreneurs who recently launched various “micro” businesses. What was cool was to see the sense of encouragement as we merely said, “Well done...” or “Atta girl/boy...”

These women and men are industrious and creative. However, they get taken advantage of by “loan sharks” who rip them off and charge 30% to 40% interest. Creditec, a loan agency, overseen by a group of Christians seeks to encourage and spur these men and women on in positives ways. I wish you could have seen the faces of these businessmen and business women as they described their businesses. The excitement of expansion is the same no matter the culture.

Today, I’ll be in Las Animas where the beginning stages of community development are taking place. I look forward to meeting Pastor Santiago. He will be a new friend. I’ll introduce him to you later today!

Thanks again for praying for my trip!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Great Day With A Great Leader

He lives in a interesting rural shack. Most anyone I know wouldn’t intentionally be caught living in this sort of home. Right from the driveway, you step down a few steps into a living and dining area. Merely, using the previous words, conjures up the wrong image for most of us in Orange County.

There are NO doors. There are NO locks. In fact, there are NO windows. The floors are a mix of cement and dirt. The next two rooms, includes living space for two families. However, each space is not all that much bigger than most people’s walk in closets. Chickens, dogs, and people all move in between each room. I’ve been to his home a number of times now and what I notice isn’t so much what IS NOT there, but what IS there.

At Pastor Miguel’s home, there are big smiles, a sense of humor, loads of hospitality, deep appreciation for God and His enduring care and faithfulness. Sure language could be a barrier, but not with Pastor Miguel. I mean, when I talk he doesn’t understand and when he talks I don’t understand, but yet we, both, get it. We, BOTH, have a deep love for Jesus that transcends language. We, BOTH, have a sincere heart to want to see our communities impacted with good news of reconciliation that God’s Spirit provides.

I wish all of you had the opportunity to meet Pastor Miguel and his family, to sit in his home, eat with them, hear their jokes and listen to his heart for his community. If you could, the things of this world...well, I’m not sure they’d be that big a deal to you anymore.


P.S. You can get a little sense for Pastor Miguel as he talks about his care for his community on this video

Out of the Country

It’s always a stretch to travel to a country where you don’t really know the language. It’s amazing how quickly you can feel lonely, stretched, confused, and small...simply because you can’t seem to communicate. I’m not sure this is the phrase, but I’ll give it a try “you don’t know what someone feels like until you’ve walked in their shoes”.

I’m not going to use this space to discuss the merits or difficulties regarding the number of people in the United States who speak a language other than English, other than to say, experiences like this give me a deeper appreciation for what it feels like to be in “someone else’s shoes.” For me, my compassion quotient increases.

Through the new series, Hope Lives, that we began last week, it’s my prayer that you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the plight of the poor, the least of these, the foreigner. All of these concepts are clearly displayed throughout the pages of Scripture. God’s heart is large for each of these three groups. I hope you and I gain a bit of the heart of God in the weeks ahead.

I’m writing this from El Salvador. You can follow my trip by going to our website, I’m posting videos to YouTube, as well as twittering and blogging daily about my encounters with the poor in some of the rural settings just outside the capital city of San Salvador. Lord willing I will be back this coming weekend; I look forward to seeing you. Until then check out what God is doing in El Salvador!

Tim Celek
Lead Pastor
The Crossing

How Much Can One Family Take?

A question came up in a discussion I was having with some folks today in El Salvador, “How much can one family take?” Approximately 9 years ago, El Salvador encountered a horrific earthquake and during a couple violent upheavals of a mountainside, one family lost a son, a wife lost her husband and a young child lost a dad. As a result of the loss, the mom found it hard to experience “joy” again.

Fast forward the tape, this same family’s “other” son, this past year was accused of some horrific crimes and placed in a Salvadorian prison. This boy, too, was married and had children. Everyone knew the charges were false, however, because of the impoverished nature and lack of resources of the family, this boy was within a “hair” of being sentence to an 8 year prison term.

Poverty has all kinds of impact. Something that many of us take for granted in the US, “justice” or innocent until proven guilty becomes fuzzy when someone can’t really defend themselves due to lack of social standing or limited resources.

An organization stepped in and found a lawyer who navigated their way through the local justice system in El Salvador. After a number of months, the trumped up charges were dropped and the boy was set free. In fact, just a few short weeks ago, the boy’s mom and dad, wife and kids had a BIG “thanksgiving” celebration at their church. Those in attendance that day saw the boy’s mom exhibiting great joy. Joy spread all across her face, joy because her only “other” living boy was potentially lost and now was found.

I wonder, how would you respond if “life” threw a couple of curves balls like this your way? Often times, life in this world stinks. I can confidently say that I look forward to heaven where there will be no more tears and no more pain!!!


Monday, February 8, 2010

It's been a couple of years...

It’s been a couple of years since I was last in El Salvador. I woke up as the plane was “banking” to the left, setting up its approach to the runway. As I looked out the window it was as if nothing changed. I could see waves lapping up on the beach and a truck moving quickly across a farmer’s field, dust flying every which way.

The plane got in a full 45 minutes early, so I waited a bit for my ride. The wait was good for me, I needed to slow down and take in the sights, smells, sounds all around me. It’s always a bit disconcerting, when you feel as if you can’t communicate. I’ve found that a nod of the head and a simple smile says a lot. I even “asked” a stranger if I could use his phone to call a friend because our plane had arrived so early.

By “ask” I mean, using a number of hand gestures and then seeking to string a few hopefully understood Spanish words together. Words, like “call,” “my friend,” “who lives in San Salvador.” After connecting with my friend, I patted the man on the shoulder and said, “Muchas, Muchas gracias, Senor” and handed him a $1 bill. I didn’t know if that was appropriate, but I was thankful to connect with my friend in El Salvador and for a brief moment to hear a bit English on the other end of the telephone.

Please pray for me. I am wanting to see what God wants me to see. I wanting to hear what God wants me to hear. I’m a foreign land. I’m the minority. I want God to make me fully aware of what that feels like all week long.


Heading to El Salvador


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wow, in a few short hours I’ll be on a red-eye, heading to El Salvador. I’m SO looking forward to my time in and around San Salvador. I’ve been there numerous times. Our partner in our El Salvador, ENLACE, is the best ( They are one dynamic organization. The great part about ENLACE is they work with church and community leaders to identify sustainable initiatives, such as health, infrastructure and economic development in El Salvador.

I actually lived with a family in El Salvador who only spoke Spanish for 5 continuous weeks a couple of years ago. I’ve always wanted to learn another language. Well, like one Spanish speaking friend of mine said, “Tim, you know a lot of words, now you just need to learn to string them together :-)”

I appreciate your prayers. Lord willing I’ll share some pics and a video once I land in El Salvador.