Monday, November 22, 2010

Failing Forward

So I was at my in-laws house last month while we were in the midst of our partnership development trip and I saw a couple of John Maxwell books on the bookshelf including one I had never heard of , "Failing Forward." I was immediately drawn to the title because anyone who has been around church planting knows that you will see many failures on the road to growth!

Well, I bought the book for our leadership team and we are about to go through it. Honestly, I have not started it yet and I am chomping at the bit. It has been a "season" of failure for myself personally and for The Pathway. Hear me clearly, I don't believe I'm a failure or that The Pathway is a failure. An optimist would say we're in a time where the successes are fewer. However, anyone who knows me knows that I am a realist (i.e. pessimist) and I try to shoot straight. We are in a season of failures. However, I believe God has a plan for these "failures" that will refine us and make us into who we are called to be.

Here's how I would ask you to pray. Pray for myself and my family. We feel like we have failed with Tiffany in so many ways. We understand fully that it is not us who will save Tiffany but the reality is we hoped that she would move out of our house stronger and closer to God than when she came and that's just not the case.

Also pray for our Leadership Team and Community Group Leaders. We had a tough Community Group Leader meeting last night. We came into the night with 5 groups and ended the night with three. That can be seen as failure but because we are confident that it was the Spirit's leading I truly believe that these three will be significantly stronger than the other 5 and will allow us to develop new leaders and multiply more effectively than had we hung onto the groups as if stopping them meant that we had given up on God.

Finally, pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit we would "fail forward." Pray that God would give me direction as the pastor of The Pathway on where to go from here both with my family and as a church. The Spirit is stirring here in Tacoma. It's obvious because there is so much spiritual attack. Pray that the Spirit of God would fall on Tacoma and this time next year I would be blogging about how much stronger we have become through the fire of being refined!

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Prodigal Daughter

I never thought I would be on the Fatherly end of a prodigal story... at least not at the age of 29. However, most of you know that God gave us Tiffany about a year ago and he supernaturally implanted in us the ability to love her as one of our own. It's unexplainable really. Nevertheless our love for her is undeniable.

Most of you also know that a while back we learned that Tiffany had been living a lie, a double life almost, that came to a head when she found out she was pregnant. By the grace of God we were able to love her through the pain and continue to walk with her, showing her the grace that our God shows to us daily. Some of you know that after a short time we found out that she was still deceiving us, living another life behind our backs and lying to us at every turn. That discovery was especially difficult for Kelli because while I had held back a little of my heart after the first round of deception, Kelli had opened her whole self to Tiffany. I truly believe a piece of Kelli died that second time because she could not believe someone would deceive her so maliciously. However, by the grace of God we fulfilled our promise to Tiffany that she would always be a part of our family, no matter what she did or didn't do. She is our daughter and no amount of hurt or hate will ever change that.

Well, we have shared with some that the last few weeks have been wonderful. Tiffany had been showing us love, talking to us about her relationship with God, and answering tough questions when we asked them. However on Saturday... our "family day"... things just didn't add up. We finally caught her in the midst of more blatant and malicious lies and are still in a great deal of shock. Call us ignorant, call us crazy, but we chose to trust her again and for a third time she proved to us that her words have been empty and that she has never felt for us what we feel for her.

Sunday I had to have one of the hardest conversations of my life. I told Tiffany that we still love her, and I meant it. I told her that she will always be a part of our family, and I meant it. But I told her that I could no longer allow her to rip our family apart from the inside. I told her that God had placed this family in my care and I could not allow her to destroy us purposely and maliciously. I told her that I would never throw her out because people have done that her entire life but I truly believe that through her actions she has made the decision to leave.

I told her that we still want to walk with her through her pregnancy. We are still family. She is still welcome to call and come by but that she could no longer live in our house, purposely destroying us from the inside. We told her that everything in her room is hers, from the bed to the hangers, from the clothes to the bassinet. It's all hers and we will help her move it wherever she decides to go.

What are we feeling right now? I don't know that I can categorize it. I gave much more of my heart to Tiffany this third time. I feel like I've been taken into an alley and beaten to a bloody pulp, left for dead but still very much alive. Someone I love with so much of my heart sat across the table from me on Sunday and told me that she did not want Jesus. She told me she did not want my Savior, her Savior, my God and the one true God.

It feels as though Tiffany has punched my wife in the stomach and taken a lot of the spark out of her eyes. There is anger, frustration and pain... but honestly, we're mostly sad and broken. We're sad because we know Tiff didn't choose to be born into the life she was born into. We're sad that she has so many obstacles to overcome yet she continues to build more obstacles in front of her. We're broken because she confirmed what we had feared; that her relationship with God, much like her relationship with us was a scam, a way to survive. It was a show. It was fake. We're broken that this daughter that we love with all our hearts is on a path to hell and she seems completely okay with it.

Please pray for our family. We can honestly say that we have "hope" right now. A supernatural hope that only comes because of our relationship with God through Jesus. I don't think we are yet at peace with this. We want to hold Tiffany close but we know we have to let her run if she is ever going to decide to stop and come home. Pray for Tiffany. Pray that the Holy Spirit would draw her and that God is not through with her yet.

We have a prodigal daughter. Her name is Tiffany. Please pray that someday she makes the choice to come home. But even if she does not, we will not stop preaching the wonderful name of Jesus who works everything for the good of those who love him.

Monday, November 8, 2010


God has filled me with hope today.

The Pathway had our 4th worship service yesterday and God did things we did not expect. First of all, my 2 babies were not the only kids in our kids ministry... God brought a new family! Second, a guy who is about to move to Tacoma was in town last month on a Sunday and saw our sign (our only sign). He checked out our website and then came on his own to our worship service. God is moving. Hope.

I was also filled with hope as I attended a pastors conference today that is a lead-in to the Northwest Baptist Convention's annual meeting. I'm going in to this time an open skeptic about whether or not the SBC is headed in a direction that I can truly believe in. However, I talked with a number of guys today who truly desire to be a part of Kingdom work... bigger than themselves... and their ready to be in it for the long haul. That gives me hope for the Kingdom of God in the Northwest.

Finally, my wife has been struggling. Today I called to check on her and she shared with me what God has been teaching her the last couple days. He is increasing her faith, reminding her that we can't get jaded, we just have to believe, and he was obviously confirming in her the call he has placed on her life.

Hope. Yeah, it's a good thing. Praise Jesus.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Day of Worship

Sunday's are commonly referred to as a day of worship in the evangelical world. It's a time held sacred by some. It's a time to rest and a time to gather for worship. It's a time I don't think I will ever again take for granted.

As most of you know our church only recently began holding Sunday worship services and we only do it twice a month. So far it is small but passionate. The last 2 Sundays my family was in Texas and we were able to be a part of the worship services that we were accustomed to growing up. We went to a really nice building, with a bunch of really nice people, we sang amazing and truly worshipful songs and we were challenged by a really good message. Although imperfect, God's people were gathered for worship. God was the focus. His glory our aim.

Most of my Sundays in Tacoma are a bit different. Yesterday was truly a day of worship but in a very unique way. Generally on our off Sundays we sleep in a bit and have some good family time. However, this week one of our leaders sent out a text saying he felt burdened to pray more and invited anyone who wanted to join him to meet at a local spot to pray for our city. There were 5 of us. We prayed. We worshipped.

After that I received a call from a man I had been trying to get together with. It's a man going through a lot of pain that I know about and probably more that I don't. I didn't want to spend more time away from my family since I knew I had a busy afternoon but I know this is what Jesus wanted me to do. As we sat and talked over coffee I noticed that he wasn't making a ton of since and he just seemed very distant. I came to find out that he was high as a kite. I encouraged him to give his life to Jesus and told him that we should get together again when he was sober. I left frustrated at him for wasting my time. But I know it wasn't a waste. He needs to be loved. He needs Jesus. I worshipped.

After that I headed to lunch with Antwon, the first man we saw come to Jesus in Tacoma who has battled to continue walking with him. We hung out, talked about how he was doing spiritually and how he could be more involved in the church. We ate, we watched football, we prayed together. Worship.

That night I sat at home with my wife. We live in a sketchy neighborhood so although we were prepared for tricker treaters, we only had 4. We hung out together, somewhat under the weather. We ate chicken and mashed potatoes and watched Titanic until Kelli couldn't keep her eyes open any longer. It was a wonderful night. It was actually a wonderful day.