Last night was The Pathway's first worship service. I had no idea what to expect. I absolutely love worship services but I think they hinder "people" from being the church at times because they think that "going" to church is what it's all about. That being said, I never planned to have a worship service before 2011. I so wanted to focus on building and developing our Community Groups that the idea of having a worship serve so early on didn't even seem like an option. Have you ever tried to tell God what to do? It doesn't work. God made it evident a couple months ago that having a worship service would open the door for more people to connect to our Community Groups and to Jesus. It was also something our people were "yearning" for... so we did it!
Last night as I looked out at the people gathered together I could only smile at the reality that this group of people is not yet our church. All of those people were attending our worship service... but church is so much more than a worship service. However, the reason I smiled is because God gave us a glimpse of who our church will be. As I looked at the chairs inhabited by souls in need of a Savior I saw a man that was homeless until just last week. I saw several registered sex offenders. I saw a small group of college students from 2 different Tacoma campuses. I saw the families of some of our youth whom I had never met before. I saw young couples, I saw singles, I saw the employed and the unemployed. I saw teenagers, children, young men and old. I saw black, white, Native America & Asian. Most importantly I saw Christians... genuine followers of Jesus Christ... worshipping God and lifting high the name of Jesus while welcoming unbelievers, doubters, skeptics into our fellowship.
It was messy. It was diverse. It was beautiful. Thank you Jesus.
All those people aren't yet a part of the body of Christ. All those people aren't yet a part of The Pathway. But God faithfully showed us and told us last night, "Yes, this is the church I've called you to plant." WOW! I stand amazed in his presence.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I apologize for the late post this week. Satan has definitely been on the prowl. My heart is broken tonight in so many ways.
Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that "... we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."
I don't know that I have ever felt the presence of this darkness more than I have this week. We've seen a life forever changed as the result of sin. We've seen a mom literally hand over her two teenage daughters to two girls in their mid 20's because she could not put a roof over their head. We've seen a young girl removed from her home because of multiple kinds of alleged abuse only to be placed back in that same home a few days later... scared, confused and alone.
I am broken for these peoples but I refuse to relinquish the authority given in the rest of Ephesians 6. I will not set down my shield of faith to defend against the flaming arrows the devil is hurling at us. I am confident that these attacks are coming in an effort to thwart the work God is doing through our church, to take the excitement away from our first worship service this Sunday and to steal the glory that our Creator God is due.
Well, it's not going to happen. We are going to charge full speed ahead with the sword of the Spirit attached to the belt of truth and we are going to preach the gospel of Jesus for the glory of God and the transformation of our city. Please go to battle with us through prayer. Pray for a bigger shield of faith and that lives would be changed as we continue to press on. Pray for the name of Jesus to be lifted high in our Community Groups and through our worship service this Sunday at 4pm pacific time.
Monday, September 13, 2010
One of my most consistent prayers for our church is that everyone who is a part of it would begin to take ownership of the mission of the church. The way I believe I will know the church is taking ownership of the mission is when the church begins to take initiative in accomplishing the mission. By taking initiative I simply mean anything they do, personally or as a group, to develop other mission-minded Jesus followers in our community without asking me about it or needing me to come up with the idea and push them to act on it.
Well, it happened. This may seem small to everyone else but it is huge to me. It's honestly not the first time someone has taken initiative, and I did know that they were talking about it, but it was the most prominent step that a group within our church has taken to make disciples without my "permission." I loved it!
Here's how it went down...
Yesterday we had a bunch of people over to our house to watch the Seahawks actually win a game! One of the girls that came over does not know Jesus and one of our other girls has been trying to get to know her. This morning her facebook status said... "okay God, I'm listening." Pretty amazing. Well, I asked our church member about it and she said "yeah, she is so excited about attending our new group tonight." I immediately responded, "What group?" She said, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry, I thought you knew we were starting a new group tonight."
I said I knew there had been talk but I did not have any idea it was happening and I definitely didn't know it was happening tonight! I told her that I would be praying and I was genuinely so excited about. Three people from our church got together, without the approval of a "committee" or the "permission" of a pastor, and decided to start a new community of people for the purpose of living out the mission of God. How cool is that? I believe with all my heart that this kind of initiative is the only way we're going to see Holy Spirit sized Kingdom multiplication in Tacoma and beyond!
Please pray for this new group that will be meeting on Monday nights at 7:30 beginning tonight. Pray for the girl who will be there that has decided to "listen" to God. Pray that more people who are a part of The Pathway will start taking the initiative to accomplish God's mission for our church. Finally, ask yourself, am I taking initiative for the gospel?
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Cares more than some think is wise.
Risks more than some think is safe.
Dreams more than some think is practical.
Expects more than some think is possible.
I was called not to comfort or success but to obedience.
-Excerpt from a letter from Karen Watson, 1973-2004
Mission worker killed by terrorists in Iraq
Wow. Do I have this commitment to the cause of Christ?
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Acts 2 is one of my favorite passages of scripture for obvious reasons. The glimpse it gives us into the way the early church expressed itself is awesome to say the least. So often I share with people that The Pathway is founded on Community Groups of people who are "doing life together" but to be honest living in true biblical community is something that requires sacrifice, transparency and work. Because of that, it is something that we work for but don't always experience.
Well, this past Friday I experienced being a part of "the fellowship" of believers as mentioned in Acts 2:42 in a way that I never have before. It happened in the most unexpected place. I think I've mentioned in a post before that one of our guys, Tommy, recently started a Community Group made up of his landscaping co-workers and his boss on Friday mornings before work. Their shop is near our house so they meet in our kitchen about 7:00am. Well, Kelli and I were invited to be a part of the group this past Friday and it was amazing. We sat around for about 30 minutes drinking coffee, eating muffins and sausage McMuffins from McDonald's and talking about life. A little while later we began to read through the first chapter of 1 John and it really spoke to one of the ladies hearts. She opened her heart up and her pain just spilled out. She shared honestly, without holding back, of the pain she has been through and is going through with her father. We all listened, she received encouragement, scripture and counsel. The rest of us were able to then feel more comfortable opening up. Prayer needs were voiced authentically, we continued through the word and we were genuinely experiencing community as a part of "the fellowship" of believers.
It started off slow, it took one person making themselves vulnerable, and the Holy Spirit was present... really present. I want to challenge you, don't just talk about being a part of "the fellowship" of believers. Initiate it. "Fellowship" is from the Greek word Koinonia and it is translated "sharing." Who do you "share" life with. Someone has to start it. Will that someone be you? It's not just a suggestion, it's the way the church is called to function as the carrier of the gospel, the hope of the world!