Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I have no idea what God is doing!!!

I literally have no idea what God is doing! I would definitely say this phase in my life and this phase in church planting has been teaching me a lot about the sovereignty of God. He is sovereign over everything, including the direction of our church plant. But he has also been teaching me a lot about his providence which inevitably leads to a crisis of belief... a test of faith. I know that everything he does, even when I don't understand it, is a part of the journey he has carved out for me, my family and my church. The crisis of belief comes in deciding whether or not I am going to choose to trust him in faith when I have no idea what he is doing.

Most of you know we are entering a new phase in the life of The Pathway. We're calling this our Gather to Scatter strategy. We have combined all our Community Groups into 1 Intentional Community for the purpose of strengthening our core, training leaders, and ultimately scattering across the community and the city to saturate Hilltop and all of Tacoma with the gospel. Well, in order for this to happen God put several things on my heart to work toward. Long story short, all of them have fallen into place except one... a worship leader.

It's nauseating for me to think about how long we have been without a worship leader. Especially because we live in a place where music is a huge part of culture! How do we not have a worship leader? I do know that God has taught me a lot over the past 5 months about worship. He's taught me that worship is more than a song. He's taught me that worship is a heart, an offering, anything given to God as a pleasing aroma for his glory. He's taught me that a worship leader is not the end all be all of a church. But he has also taught me what a blessing it is to have someone who is willing to use their gift of music to lead a body of believers to worship God through music & through singing.

All that to say, for the first time in months God gave us several possibilities for worship leaders. But, for reasons only God knows, none of those people were the right people to lead The Pathway in worship. We now have zero possibilities... at least that I can see.

I want to give God all the praise and glory for providing the other pieces of the puzzle. He's motivated some of our people to step up and lead, taking ownership of the vision God has given our church. He's provided a Kids Ave Director and an Intentional Communities Director. He's done so much. I also want to praise him for protecting us from the wrong worship leader. We definitely want the right person to step in.

I would ask you to pray, as I try to trust God's providence and patiently move forward while I have no idea what he is doing, that God would continue to move us forward as a church in this new strategy... without a worship leader. And, that in his time, he would provide the right man to step in and lead us.

I have no idea what God is doing. But in my heart, I know that's a good thing!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Partnering & Serving for God's glory

Most of you know that the heart of The Pathway is not to start "ministries" or put on "programs." We are legitimately not against those things, it's just not who we are and how we are gifted. The heart that God has given our church is to partner with other people, organizations and ministries by serving along side them and bring the gospel to the table. Most of the groups that we partner with are not Christians... but then again, that's the point. We want to bring the gospel where the gospel does not already have roots and for us, partnering through serving is the best way to do it.

In light of this heart, God has opened doors for us to serve with and alongside a well respected community organization in our community of Hilltop. This group, known as HAC, was started in the late 1980's in response to the Crips coming up from L.A. and trying to take over the Hilltop. They have seen the gang violence almost completely disappear and now they are focused on battling the drug issues and making our community a more beautiful and desirable place to live.

God has opened the door for me to sit on the Board for HAC and has already given me numerous opportunities to share the gospel through that role. Well, last night our church was able to host a Christmas party for all of HAC's leaders and community partners. It was an amazing opportunity for us to have our community experience the reality that our facility is for them, not for us. The President of the Board asked me to pray and through that I got to share our heart with a room full of unbelievers and thank God for sending Jesus on the first Christmas.

Our church stepped up to the plate too. They're really beginning to take ownership of the mission. Rich & Susan Llufrio deep fried a turkey... delicious. Scott Ignacio made a delicious green bean casserole. Maria Kelley babysat the kids and many others showed up just to help set-up and clean up. Many relationships were built and God gave us, as a church, more favor in the community. Please pray for more gospel opportunities to come from this and for the Kingdom of God to grow.

Partnership and serving for the purpose of sharing the gospel. That's the heart of The Pathway.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The heart of God.

James 1:27 says, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

This is not meant to ignore the vital part of James 1:27 that calls for believers to look after widows in distress, but God has taught me so much over the past 2 years about his heart for the orphan. He's stretched my understanding of what it means to be an orphan. In my mind, and I believe from God's perspective, an orphan is not just a child who has no living parents, but is a child who is neglected and robbed of love by their parents whether they live with them or not. I am convicted in my own life that I have not done enough, risked enough, sacrificed enough for the sake of the orphan. Unloved, unwanted and abandoned children is an epidemic in this world. But there is hope and it comes through the life changing power of Jesus. Over the last 2 years I've seen God's people stretch themselves and move closer to his heart through their willingness to look after orphans in their distress. Let me share with you a few examples and then a vital prayer request.

My sister & brother-in-law (Chris & Amber Irving)-- God gave them a desire and a call to adopt. As they explored the system they realized the great need for foster care. Not only did they foster multiple children, they ended up adopting a sibling group. Two boys already into their pre-teen and teen years. A hard choice to say the least but a beautiful reflection of God's heart.

Multiple Church planters-- That's right, church planters. In the midst of their struggle, financial hardship and spiritual battles, I've seen several church planters go through the adoption process. Two particular planters have adopted children with special needs from China. The heart of God is a beautiful thing.

Trinity Baptist Church-- When we were down south for our partnership trip we went to the missions conference of Trinity Baptist in Ada, OK. We were surprised to see "adoption" as a break out session. How amazing that they don't view adoption as something separate from God's call for the church. They view adoption as going hand-in-hand with the mission of God. While we were there we met more couples than I can count who were fostering and/or adopting including the youth pastor & his wife. That's not an epidemic, that's a movement of God!

Becca Hurst & Laura Stevenson-- This is the one that is hitting close to home for our family and The Pathway. Becca and Laura are a part of our Leadership Team and sacrificed so much of what it means to be "young and free" by coming to serve with The Pathway. Over recent months they felt God calling them, as roommates, to become legal guardians for a 16, now 17 year old girl who has been abused in more ways in her short life than I can fathom. Did it make sense? No. Has it been easy or ideal? Absolutely not. But they saw an orphan (although her parents are living) in distress and they could not turn the other way.

Right now is a difficult time for our church as I shared in my last post and we believe it is because God is moving. My kids have been attacked through their health (and they are both doing much better) but Becca and Laura are being attacked, and quite frankly beaten down, through their James 1:27 heart. Their child is hurting and broken and this pain is manifesting itself in ways that are hurtful and inexplicable. They are trying to love her but their hearts are being destroyed. Please pray for three things...

1) Pray for Becca and Laura to throw all that they are into the hands of God. When we are weak he is made strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

2) Ask God to show you if you could do more, give more, risk more... trust him more when it comes to looking after the orphans in distress all around you. And remember, many of those orphans have parents.

3) Pray that what God is beginning to do here in Tacoma would not be thwarted by Satan's attacks on our church and leadership.

Monday, December 5, 2011

God is up to something

Well, for those who have been praying for my son Jagen... thank you. He spent 3 nights in the hospital and then had 3 amazing nights of rest. One night he slept fifteen and a half hours!!! Unfortunately, the last couple nights have been really rough. With no real answers be found as to what is causing Jagen's ulcers, it appears that he might have to undergo even more testing since this new medication doesn't seem to be doing the trick. Please continue to pray for Jagen and our entire family.

As painful as it is to watch my son struggle with pain that I can't fix and that he can't understand, we know that over the past 2 years, every time God starts to move in Tacoma, Satan attacks our kids. As a father, it is hard to know how to feel in the midst of the attack. However, having just preached on God's providence, I chose to trust God no matter how he chooses to allow his plan to unfold.

Many of you have been praying for God to provide more leaders to join us in Tacoma. Let me encourage you and assure you, God is responding to your prayers. We have just recently completely reorganized our budget (although it still doesn't quite add up... trusting Jesus), and we have hired a part-time Kids Ave Director and a part-time Intentional Communities Director (new name for what used to be called Community Groups). This is a very exciting thing for us because it gives us two more committed people who are focused on saturated Tacoma with the gospel and equipping the people of The Pathway to be on mission. God has also opened some doors for potential worship leaders. Please continue to pray as we are meeting with several people over the next week or so and we're hoping that God provides someone to fill that role. We also have two other people praying about moving here. One may move as soon as February and the other is coming for a 10 day visit beginning Saturday.

God is moving and Satan is attacking so we need your prayers now as much as ever. In the midst of all of this leadership development and recruitment, we still have a strong and burning desire to see life change. Please pray that God would continue to bring salvation in the lives of the lost and surrender in the lives of the saved. It's tough, but God knows what he's doing and we can't wait to see how the next year of our journey unfolds!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Our world has been put on pause since Sunday because of health issues for myself and Jagen. I had been struggling with a virus since Wednesday but Jagen's reflux issues had been getting worse. Foolishly I pushed myself too hard on Sunday. Long story short, Sunday night Kelli had her son on one side of the ER and her husband on the other side. Not a great scenario. I got the fluids in me I desperately needed along with some anti-nausea medicine but Jagen's problem is taking much more time to figure out.

God always know though doesn't he? He's never been caught off guard... never. The VanGo girls who I have mentioned in previous blogs have become the VanStay girls as they've committed to serve with us in Tacoma for 6 months. Until they move into their apartment they have been staying at our home. I am certain God put them there at this time because I needed to be in bed resting and recovering and Kelli needed to be at the hospital with Jagen. They have been a God send, along with others including Becca and John, taking care of Rylan and bringing Kelli what she needs at the hospital.

At this point I am doing much better. Ry and I went to the hospital this afternoon to visit with Jagen and Kelli and we had a good time. We have two main prayer requests at this time. First, pray that the doctors would find out the source of Jagen's GI issues. They found out underneath his reflux are a stomach and esophagus full of ulcers. Today they ran some blood tests and did a sonogram and we should have the results tomorrow evening. Please pray for answers so we can get his pain relieved.

The second thing we need you to pray for is a new "Gather to Scatter" phase The Pathway is entering into. We have learned that every time God starts to bring momentum here in Tacoma, our kids health gets attacked. Tomorrow night is a big night for The Pathway as we are combining all our Community Groups to cast a new strategy and approach to more effectively accomplish our vision. I'm so excited about it but I don't know how we're going to get through it with Jagen still in the hospital. Please pray for wisdom if we need to cancel and faith if we need to push through. We know God has called us here for his glory and we want to do everything according to his purpose and plan.

Thank you for praying.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Transfer Growth

Tonight I'm sitting in a hotel room in Eugene, OR at the annual meeting for the Northwest Baptist Convention. Today was the pastor's conference and the speaker was Ed Stetzer. Many of you who have heard of Stetzer think of him as a brilliant statistical mind, author of too many books, and a big-wig at LifeWay Christian Resources. While all of those things are factual, something you may not know is that Stetzer began his journey into the world of church planting about 24 years ago in the inner city of Buffalo, New York. I definitely learned a couple things from Ed tonight from his brilliance, but I also learned a couple things from his experience.

After the main gathering of pastors there was a smaller Q&A time with Stetzer. For those who know me you won't be surprised that I asked the first question. I had read of his experience as a newly married 21 year old in the inner city of Buffalo so I asked him what were some of the good things God did while he was there. One thing he said really resonated with what I am feeling and learning and trying to trust God for here in Tacoma. He said that when you're working in the inner city, you are often living around and working with people who aren't there by choice. They're in the city because they are poor, because they are addicted, because they are struggling in someway... because they have to be, not because they want to be. If they were natural leaders they probably wouldn't be in the inner city.

That's how I feel all the time and I have told Kelli and others that most of our people don't have leadership potential (although thankfully we do have some). However, that's not an excuse not to develop leaders. Our calling is to develop potential in people and then develop that potential into leadership. It's an extra step in the process but it is completely possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. Stetzer said that 5 people from that first church plant in Buffalo are in full-time ministry today. Wow! Not to mention the church is still going. I needed that encouragement.

The second thing I learned was a revelation of sorts. The idea wasn't new but the lens through which I view the problem is new. One of the people in the crowd asked if Stetzer believed that the church planting success we are seeing in North America today is mainly due to conversion growth or transfer growth? His answer was "both." He said his goal as a church planter is to have about 50% of his congregation be new converts and the other 50% will inevitably be transfer growth. That ensures that as a church plant they will continue to reach the lost but that they will also have believers to help disciple the new converts. There needs to be a balance.

I have mentioned in many recent blogs that we don't have enough mature believers. The purpose of our most recent trip south was to find families and couples who are willing to move their lives to Tacoma. Then tonight it hit me. In our whole church I can only think of 1 person that came from another church in Tacoma. Everyone else is a new believer or was unchurched when they connected with us. That is a problem. We are nearly 100% conversion growth. While that sounds like something to be excited about it has in fact been the cause of our stifled growth recently. We desperately need some people who love Jesus in Tacoma and believe in what God has called us to do and be to jump on board with The Pathway so that we can continue to grow and multiply in our city and beyond.

Who would've thought it? I worked so hard to reach the lost and unchurched that I truly believe I pushed away many believers who would've joined the work God is doing in Tacoma. Chalk it up to another lesson learned. Thanks Mr. Stetzer. More appropriately, thanks Jesus!

Monday, November 7, 2011

So... how was your trip?

Whenever we head south for a partnership trip the most common question we receive is, "So, how's it going in Tacoma?" The question is asked with a genuine heart but I've never really known how to answer it. Finally, on this trip, I decided to answer honestly. I would say, "It depends on the day you ask me."

Well, now that our trip is coming to a close we've already started being asked, "So, how was your trip?" I think the best answer to this is that time will tell. We have made no secret about the fact that our prayer for this trip was pointed and specific. We desperately need people, couples and families to be precise, to move their lives to Tacoma and help us raise up new believers, pour our lives into them and teach them to make disciples.

Although only time will tell, I can honestly say the trip seems to have been great so far. First and foremost we got to experience the uniqueness of the body of Christ. We got to worship and share The Pathway's story with mega churches, a house church, a church in rural Oklahoma, a country church in south Texas... and more. It was amazing to see such a diversity of people all serving the same God through the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Second-- we were encouraged and loved on in a way that quite frankly we needed. Our last meeting was with First Baptist Church in Charlotte, TX. We got to share stories of "life change" with about 15-20 people and at the end they gathered around Kelli and myself, laid their hands on us and prayed. Kelli was moved to tears and she said it best (as she always does) when she said, "We pray over people so often in Tacoma but no one ever prays over us... thank you."

Finally, we have already seen God begin to move in response to our prayers. The night before we left Tacoma the VanGo girls (mentioned a few blogs ago), came and told me they saw our need for more mature believers and they decided to stay and work with us for the next 6 months!!! While in Oklahoma we heard from an amazing godly woman who has served with us before that God has called her to move to Tacoma!!! We had another awesome woman of God who came and served on a mission team that she wants to serve with us all of next summer. I already have another email in my inbox from a college student wanting to intern with us and I just got the flight itinerary from a godly young man who will be graduating college in May and feels like God may be calling him to Tacoma. He will be flying to Tacoma in December to spend a little over a week with us trying to discern God's will! The point is that God is working, God is moving, but God is not finished yet!

I tell you what, by God's grace we have been able to pour ourselves out over the past year for the glory of God and the sake of the gospel and in a matter of 10 days God used the body of Christ to fill us back up.

So, how was our trip?

It was... worship. Thank you to all who played a part and all glory to God through Jesus!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Stars at Night, are big & bright... Deep in the heart of


That's right, we're excited to be flying into that wonderful airport known as DFW this Thursday. It's that time of year again and we'll be making our annual trip down south to visit with our wonderfully faithful partner churches and individuals. We're excited to take a few weeks to be able to catch up with those of you who pray for and support us so faithfully as well as share stories of what God is doing, how Satan is trying to thwart God's work and how you can support The Pathway going forward.

We want to see as many of you as possible so if you live in an area we will be visiting, please get in touch with us and we'll let you know where we'll be. I wanted to let everyone know a few of our definite stops. We'll be in Ada, OK on Sunday October 30th for Trinity Baptist's mission's conference. If you are anywhere near the Ada area please contact the church for the conference schedule and come by and see us. On Wednesday evening November 2nd we have the privilege of speaking at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor's FOCUS Bible study... I believe it begins at 8:30pm. If you're near Belton, come on by! Then on Sunday morning November 6th we'll be speaking in the morning services for First Baptist Church Universal City. Finally, for those of you who are way down south, we'll be at FBC Charlotte, TX on Sunday evening.

If you have any specific questions about our schedule or you are interested in meeting up, just send me an email ( and we will try and get together. In the mean time, I wanted to give you a couple of specific prayer requests:
1) Please pray for The Pathway church while we are out of town for almost 2 weeks. Pray that our leaders are able to effectively step up!

2) Please pray for us as we seek several individuals, families and couples to move to Tacoma to help us plant The Pathway more effectively.

3) Please pray for our meetings with current and prospective partners. We still need a lot of support as we move forward in planting The Pathway.

4) Please continue to pray for life change in the people of Tacoma.

Thank you all so much!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Empower Leaders

If you've followed this blog for long you know that one of our greatest struggles as a church is raising up leaders. God has blessed us to connect with the lost and unchurched of Tacoma but it has opened our eyes to how much we need some mature believers to invest in these new disciples. While we are still very much in need of families, couples and singles who love Jesus to move their lives to Tacoma, I've been encouraged this week by the people within our church who are stepping up to lead where they are needed.

I'm in Knoxville, TN this week at a missions conference with one of our partner churches, FBC Concord. Being gone from Tacoma for a week doesn't mean that "being the church" in Tacoma stops until I return. The work goes on, the mission goes on, and leadership is still needed in my absences. Right now I am leading two Community Groups a week. Monday night one of our young men, Corey Richmond, stepped up and led the group in my absence. He has done this before and I am praying that he will take over the group full time soon. Last night my good friend Gene who I have shared about many times before on this blog got out of his comfort zone and led our Community Group. He told me he was scared but he knew it's something he needed to do. Kelli told me he did a fantastic job. I'm praying that he will take over that group in the future.

Finally, my entire family will be traveling to Texas and Oklahoma over the next several weeks and I will be missing to Sunday's of worship services. I'm excited to have John Smithwick step up and preach while I'm gone. He has never preached before but he is excited to be used where he's needed and to preach the gospel.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the need but I often need to step back and see how God is working. Please pray for Corey, Gene, John and others who God is calling to step up and lead within The Pathway church. As I've said many times before, God is moving. Please pray!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Our church has been completely blessed over the course of the past week by two missionaries who have truly decided to trust God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit wherever he decides to send them. Stacie Hooks and Jenna Jones are two young women who are passionately in love with Jesus and have decided to obediently follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

Inspired by the entire tenth chapter of Luke 10, Stacie and Jenna were praying and seeking the Lord about what to do and how to serve him upon graduating from East Texas Baptist University. With many doors closing and only one door opening, they decided to say yes to God. The sold all their possessions, purchased a used conversion van and hit the road. Following the pattern of Jesus sending the 72 out in Luke 10, they knew God was calling them to travel all over the United States with no preconceived notions or plans, simply stopping in cities to see where God was at work and join him wherever possible.

I actually knew Stacie from my time at Camp WOW when I served as the Assistant Director over summer staff. Stacie worked for me for several years and Kelli and I had the joy of watching her grow in her love for Jesus. It is amazing to see her now. Well, Stacie and Jenna showed up in Tacoma, WA a little over a week ago and it couldn't have been more perfect timing. One of our Leadership Team, Laura, has been going through a really tough personal time and Stacie is one of her best friends. God knew she needed the encouragement. One of my good friends who is a part of my Community Group, Gene Scott, had just lost his home and did not yet have his new house livable for his 3 young children. The Scott's had been staying with my family for several days while Gene tried to get the house ready. Stacie and Jenna jumped right in and helped scrub floors and clean the kitchen.

Yesterday we were blessed to have the girls share all that they have seen God do over the past year in their travels. His favor, provision and blessing is obviously on these girls and they are so full of joy you would never know they sleep in a van every night, wash there hair in the bathroom at Starbucks and don't always know where they are going to be the next day. When asked when this journey for them will end, they simply respond by saying, "We know God hasn't called us to live in a van and travel the country forever, but we're going to keep going until he plants us somewhere. We're going to continue until the Holy Spirit tells us to stop."

Absolutely amazing. Many would call these girls crazy and irresponsible. I know them and our church has been blessed by them. They remind me of Abraham when God simply told him to "Go to a land that I will show you" in Genesis 12. If you want to follow the girls and know how to pray for them you can get to their blog at

You can also watch find their video on their blog and get a better understanding of what they are doing and how God is using them.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sin Magnified

Matthew 18:15-20 is a passage of Scripture that most pastors and Christians would just assume ignore. And to be honest, for most of my life I have ignored it. However, as we have been going through the process of planting The Pathway in Tacoma we have learned in a much more real way the depth of the sin problem in this world and the effect sin has on our mission as a church in this world. Romans 1:18 says, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

I for one don't want to play any part in suppressing the truth of the gospel as a result of my own sin and the sin of this church. This leads to the reality and the importance of not ignoring Scriptures like Matthew 18. We cannot ignore or accept sin in the life of the church. We must call it for what it is, confront it in the name of Jesus and deal with it biblically. If we don't, we will end up seeing churches and Christians ignoring sin in the name of personal privacy and tolerance and we'll find churches being complacent and self-consumed... oh wait, that is what we are seeing in many churches in our nation.

I've also learned in the last 2 years and have been reminded in the past couple of weeks that all sin is magnified when it is found in a church plant as opposed to an established church. As a church plant, everything is magnified. We are small, we are immature as a body, we are still learning what it means to love each other and love our neighbor. When sin jumps in the pool with us it creates a tidal wave of controversy, anger, frustration and spiritual blindness that cannot go un-dealt with. Over the past week I've had to have multiple difficult conversations with people who know Jesus but are refusing to repent of the sin in their life. It is not fun.

That being said, God is laying for us a foundation of righteousness and I would like to ask you all to pray that those individuals who are dealing with unrepentant sin in their lives would not run from biblical community as so many of us are accustomed to doing, but that they would cling to the word of God and the people of God so that restoration and growth can happen both individually and as a church. God is at work... Satan is at work... thankfully we know, God wins.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Worship Leaders, Worship Services & Missionaries

Worship Leaders: Those who read the blog weekly know that several weeks back I asked for prayer as we hosted a family from Montana, worship leader and former church planter, who were praying about a church planting team to join in the Seattle area. We of course had a great visit with the couple who are in love with Jesus and trying to be for another church what they so desperately needed when they were planting in Montana... a committed family who is willing to work secular jobs and serve whole heatedly in the church. However, after spending the day with our church and having conversations about Tacoma and the people God has called us to reach, it became pretty clear that we weren't the right fit for this couple. Please continue to pray for the Powell's as they try and discern where in Seattle God has called them to serve.

This past Wednesday Kelli and I got to have dinner with Juli Morgan ( and her two adorable daughters. We were connected with Juli by a mutual friend who knew we were looking for a worship leader. To make a long story short, Juli is an awesome musician, has a heart for worship, we connected with her wonderfully and she already lives just a couple blocks away from us. We don't know what the future holds but for now, as a single mom supporting her two girls, Juli is working the only schedule available to her which includes Sunday mornings.

We still don't know what God is doing in regard to a worship leader but I am excited that Mackie Wood, a member of our church, has stepped up to use her vocal gifts to lead worship for us the last month or so. I am abundantly thankful for her and it is amazing to see God calling our people to step up and serve where they're needed!

Worship Services: I feel like our worship services are a roller coaster of attendance, emotion and actual worship. My heart is for Sunday mornings to be a time for the church to gather and lift high the name of Jesus. Sometimes, it feels like no one actually wants to be there and that we are almost robbing glory from God. However, in the midst of a great deal of prayer, the last several weeks it seems that the heart of The Pathway is changing, growing and molding into a church that desires to worship God. Our attendance has increased pretty significantly over the course of the last month. People are stepping up to lead and God is definitely being worshipped in Spirit and in Truth. We'll see how God continues to grow us but there is no doubt that the more of the church that is gathered the more passion in worship there is. I love worship and when the church truly desires to take part it is a beautiful thing.

Missionaries: We had our first Introductory meeting for our Missionary Process yesterday. This is The Pathway's membership process and I was very encouraged with the turn out. We had 5 high school students and 5 adults attend. People seemed genuinely excited about taking the next step. One of our guys told me that during worship he went to our prayer and response area, feeling dry in his walk with Jesus, and asked God to ask him a very specific question so he would know what he needed to do next in his walk with Jesus. He told me he knows the question was, "Will you be a missionary of The Pathway?" Wow! Please pray for The Pathway over the next month as we work through the Missionary Covenant Process together.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Commitment. It's a word that many people are scared of in all facets of life but when people are willing to embrace it in regard to a purpose they truly believe in the results will be far beyond anything that could have happened through the half-hearted efforts of a non-commital group. This is what churches need. Churches need people who are so committed to the vision God has given the church that they are willing to sacrifice time, money, energy, possessions, safety, security and more just to see the vision reached. Commitment doesn't mean that you agree with every method, every choice, every decision of the leadership, but in regard to the body of Christ, it means that as long as it is not sinful or unbiblical, you believe in it and you trust the leadership God has put in place to the point of making the same sacrifices on the days you are disgruntled or frustrated as on the days you are seeing results and are fully on board.

Some time ago we put together a team of people to explore what it could look like to become a member of The Pathway church. They explored purposes, processes and asked the question if membership is even helpful. They came back with passion and enthusiasm about the purpose of membership and presented a first draft of what The Pathway's membership process could look like. Well, after some time, growth and a few revisions and simplifications to the process, we will be implementing our first membership process beginning next Sunday. We will actually call this our "Missionary Process" as we want every person connected with The Pathway to understand that they are not just covenanting with our church to be "attenders," they are covenanting with us as "missionaries," sent out to reach their families, neighbors, friends and co-workers with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Please pray for us as we go through this first "Missionary Process" as I'm sure there will be many bumps in the road and we will learn a lot on this first attempt. First and foremost, pray that God will call the right 3-5 people to go through the process. We need people who are growing in their walks with Jesus, who will be patient with us as we learn how to make this effective but who will also step up to the challenge and become more effective members of this body of believers. Below is our timeline for this first process. Please pray for us as we hit these dates and pray that it would be a time for our church to become stronger, more unified and more effective on mission for God.

September 25th-- Introduction to The Pathway's "Missionary Process"
October 9th-- Biblical Doctrine Class
October 16th-- Spiritual Gifts class
October 23rd-- Baptism Service & Covenant signing service

Monday, September 12, 2011


On a given Sunday in Tacoma I sincerely never know what to expect. The token question people ask church planters is... "How many people do you have in worship?" I often respond, "Somewhere between 15-40." That's the truth too, I just never know what to expect.

Well, yesterday was an exciting day for us. It was the second week of our vision series and we've really been challenging our people to come to worship so they can hear who we are and who believe God wants us to be as a church. Yesterday we had a fantastic turnout. We had 8 new faces, one of our ladies has stepped up and she led worship for us for the third time. We had great fellowship and it was just an all around great time of worship for The Pathway church.

Then the spiritual attack came. It actually started during the service. Just before i went up to preach I found out that one of the ladies in my Community Group was back in the hospital in pretty serious condition after attempting suicide. It's heart breaking and all I can do is say to God is, "Please bring a radical change in her life." It is heartbreaking but I know God will use it for his glory and I truly believe he can change her life and use her story as a testimony of the power of the gospel.

Later I got a text from one of our ladies who has been having struggles with her 17 year-old daughter. It's been up and down and up and down and yesterday was a major down. We go to pray with her and love on her but it didn't make the situation go away. Loving with the heart of Jesus is hard, especially when loving someone who is living in rebellion.

On top of that we have another teenage girl in our youth group whose home life is crappy to say the least. Her family is currently homeless, which sadly she is used too, and she had to leave the home where she was staying with a friend. I picked her up last night and she is staying with my family for the next days. She is sad, angry and when you look in her eyes you just see a broken little girl. It makes my heart so sad.

God is working. Satan is attacking. Please continue to pray for us and the people of Tacoma on the journey to Kingdom growth.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

God is up to something...

As followers of Jesus, we know that God is always at work. He is the creator and sustainer of all things. However, there are times as believers, filled by the Holy Spirit, that we can sense God is doing something a little more drastic, possibly more visibly and definitely on a more than we can imagine type of scale (Eph. 3:20). It's hard to describe but if you've been a believer for any amount of time, you probably know what I'm talking about.

This post is really more of a prayer request. First though, I need to share with you what we have been praying for and what God has been doing. As a Leadership Team we have been praying for quite some time for God to bring us a worship leader. We have been praying for God to raise someone up from within our church to lead and/or for God to bring us someone who is gifted & passionate about teaching a church to worship. We have been amazed at how God has given one of our ladies the courage and boldness to use her voice for God's glory and lead us in a few worship songs for the last several weeks.

As a church we spent the summer praying and working to see God connect us with more families. We have prayed for God to send us families who already love Jesus as well as families who are lost or new to following Jesus so we can see the gospel transform the culture of our community.

Finally, I have personally been praying for God to call more families to move their lives to Tacoma and serve with The Pathway in a leadership role. I have specifically been asking God to bring another man who is called to pastor people so that I can have someone to walk with as we learn to shepherd a vast and previously un-shepherded culture of people.

Now for the prayer request. Last week I was connected with a family who has been in ministry in the west and northwest for years. The husband is an experienced, gifted and passionate worship leader. For the past 3 years he has been the lead planter of a church in Montana that has recently felt God closing their doors. Amazingly, the heart of this family is not callous or bitter. Instead, they want to join another church planting team and be for them what they so desperately needed when they were in Montana... a committed family of believers who will serve and make disciples.

I don't know for sure if this family will be coming to Tacoma, but I would like for you to all join me in praying that God will show them where they are called to minister. They are looking at visiting the Seattle area next weekend, they are placing their house on the market and they are trusting God to open doors for them.

God is up to something... can't wait to watch and be an active part of what he does.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Prayer, Testimony & the power of life change

Anyone who knows me, is a part of The Pathway or follows this blog has heard me say time and again that the prayer we as a leadership team have had for the city of Tacoma from day number one is that we would see life change brought about by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. The question is, how do you measure life change?

First and foremost measuring life change takes time. Anyone can fake it for a while. Many people have mastered the art of temporary behavior change but true life change is only observable through time. Well, I've mentioned Gene on this blog before. He's a part of my Community Group and it's been incredible to see how God has worked in his life to bring about life change. I mentioned in a previous post that our Community Group has been praying for Gene to be reunited with his son Malachi for some time and by the grace of God through prayer and for his glory, Malachi came home permanently this past Friday!

What stuck out to me in the process was the fruit of what I believe is a legitimately changed life. Gene has been growing in his walk with Jesus and always has a lot of questions, but his confidence in the reality that God can speak through him has always been somewhat low. He doesn't think he knows enough to share the gospel and he hasn't felt ready to share a testimony. Well, this past Sunday we had a time of preparation at the beginning of worship. We basically listened to a song and watched a music video while spending time praying and repenting of sin. I told the church that when the song was over I didn't want them to wait on me. I wanted someone to jump up on their own and share a testimony of what God has been doing in their life. For some churches this may be an easy task but for us I often just get blank stares from apprehensive people. Not yesterday...

As soon as the video was over Gene jumped up and headed to the front of the room. He proceeded to give God the glory for bringing Malachi home. He shared with our church the power and blessing that comes from following Jesus and the result of the community of believers going to God in prayer. It was amazing not only to be a witness to the power of prayer, but to hear a testimony from Gene that actually was a testimony of his new life in Christ.

Life change. I can't wait to see more!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Balancing Urgency & Patience

Of all the character traits that compose the fruit of the Spirit, patience is the one I struggle with the most. I hate to say it, but I'm probably the most impatient person I know. God has grown me significantly in this area over the years, but I still have a long way to go. Most of the time my impatience is completely selfish. I find myself acting as if "my time" is the most valuable time on this earth.

Urgency is another aspect of life I deal with on a daily basis. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am constantly aware of the reality that Jesus is coming back soon, that life is fragile and can end any day, for any person, of any age, and that those who die without placing their faith in Jesus' atoning work on the cross will be tormented in hell forever... that's right... for eternity. This reality is haunting at times. I want to get the message out so fast. I want to shout at people, scream at people, shake some sense into people. But I also believe the reality that the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

There is a balance between urgency & patience, but both are needed as missionaries of the gospel (which we are all called to be). We all must recognize that some of us plant the seeds of the gospel, some of us water those seeds, but God is ALWAYS the one who makes it grow (1 Corinthians 3:5-6). Always. There are places in this world that are seeing revivals the likes of which I can hardly comprehend. Thousands of people placing their faith in Jesus for salvation. Then there is Tacoma. Spiritually open... closed to the gospel. Patience is key but it is only possible through faith. I have to have absolute faith that God knows what he is doing and it's the best plan possible.

One quick story about the patience that can often be required of the gospel. Last week I got an email from a bartender in Snoqualmie where we lived and helped plant a church prior toTacoma. The soil is so tough there. This bartender, Patrick, was a casual acquaintance of mine at best. He worked at the local Pub that Kelli and I occasionally went to and he was friends with the owner of the music store I worked with. I vaguely remember a time that he came into the music store and my boss was not there. I think I got to share the gospel with him... but I honestly don't remember for sure. Well, 2 years have passed... 2 years... and to be honest I have not thought much about Patrick. Then I received a facebook message.

He facebooked me and said that some tough things had happened in his life and he felt like he needed to explore God. He told me I was the first person he thought of that could help him with that... a sad reality about the state of our region (considering I barely know him)... and asked me if I knew of any good churches near him. Of course I said "YES!!!" and told him of a few great churches. We are going to meet up in the next week or so (hopefully) to talk about the gospel.

2 years. 2 years since I've seen Patrick. But God knows what he's doing. Patience and urgency. Excelling in one is not an excuse to neglect the other. We must live and share the gospel with urgency, patiently trusting God with the timing of the response.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Celebrating in Community

The Bible is big on community. That's why the term "Biblical Community" is getting so much play in recent years. I think that's a great thing. However, over the last 2 years God has taught me and my family how to live in transparent and authentic Biblical community in a way that we have never experienced before... heck, we didn't even know this kind of community was possible. It is frustrating, heartbreaking and often very messy. It's family. You get the good and you get the bad. But, you get it all together under the Lordship of Jesus.

Well, yesterday we had the opportunity to live out the "good" part of Biblical community. Those who follow The Pathway pretty closely have probably heard about Gene before. Gene's 59 years old, has a grown son named Joshua with cerebral palsy and is raising his twin 5 year old daughters all by himself... that's right, all alone! I can't even imagine. The girls mother is in Tacoma and Gene knows how to find her. But sadly, she is living on the streets, stuck in the grasp of addiction.

What many people don't know is that Gene has another son, 7 year old Malachi. When Gene was with the girls mother they had Malachi but through a series of circumstances Gene found out that Malachi is not his biological son. This was a crushing blow and due to some other extenuating circumstances Malachi has been in foster care for several years. Well, over the last year Gene has given his heart and life to Jesus! Gene was baptized on Easter and has been giving everything... good and bad... to the Lord.

He had been told he wouldn't get Malachi back and the best he could hope for was an open adoption. But Gene continued to come to our Community Group with transparency about the entire situation... and we prayed. We kept praying together through visits and court appearances. Several adoption possibilities fell through and then Gene told us that at a recent court appearance the judge told CPS that even though Gene wasn't the biological father, he was the only Father Malachi had ever known. Gene is doing a great job with his girls and the judge told CPS that they needed to find a way to get Malachi home!

We all responded with shock and amazement and to be honest, on my part there was some skepticism. How could this all just come together after years of not happening? Duh Bobby... Jesus! We continued to pray as a community. At one point the church pitched in some finances to get Gene out to eastern Washington to visit Malachi and one of our other Community Group members watched Gene's girls for him while he was going to court hearings. Finally, last week the order came. Malachi is coming home the first week of September!!! God is so good and so faithful.

At one point it looked like it was imminent that Malachi was going to be adopted by a lesbian couple, now he is coming home to be raised by his adoptive Father... a follower of Jesus. We finally got to meet Malachi at worship yesterday as he was home for his first visit as they slowly transition him to living with Gene full-time! I am humbled and amazed. Our Community Group got to see over the course of months the faithfulness of Jesus in the most bleak of circumstances. There were times we were frustrated, times we lost faith that this could happen, but God had a plan and the celebration is so much sweeter in the context of transparent and authentic biblical community!

Monday, August 8, 2011


So it was definitely a discouraging Sunday. Anyone who has read the blog or spoken to me knows that as a church and as a pastor we don't emphasize the Sunday worship service above all else. When someone tells me they can only be a part of the worship service or a Community Group for whatever reason, I always tell them to get in community first! The reality though is that the worship service is significantly more public and you never know what you're going to get. For a pastor, that can be exciting and it can also be very scary.

Well, throughout the summer we have had amazing worship services. We've had our Community Group members coming, families coming, kids and teenagers attending like never before. We've had visitors popping in from the various serving opportunities we've taken part in. It's just been encouraging and amazing! Until yesterday...

I knew yesterday was going to be hard because it was our first worshipleader-less worship service in a long time. However, over the course of the week I started to receive calls and texts learning that a lot of our people were going to be working or out of town yesterday. I was expecting a slightly smaller crowd but when service time came it was just awkward. If you've ever prepared a sermon... for a congregation of people... and then have to preach it to 12 people... you know it is extremely difficult. Sermons aren't meant for 12! But, we are called to faith, we are called to worship, and we are called to press on.

We've been praying for leadership and we did have a visitor yesterday... which was somehow discouraging and encouraging all at the same time. The man and his wife are new to Tacoma but have been a part of a church plant before and are good friends of our local church planter strategist, Gary Irby. The bummer is that he showed up on a Sunday... the Sunday we had no music and no people!!! Ahhhhhh! Can you hear my frustration?

Here's the deal though. By God's grace he allowed me to go on a personal retreat Friday and Saturday and I was able to worship, truly worship and pray and seek the Lord in a way I haven't done in quite sometime. Of course I assumed he was preparing me for something huge... which I still believe he is. But I believe God also wanted to see my faith remain in the midst of seemingly pointless frustration. By the grace of God I can honestly say I still trust him. And if next Sunday we have no music and 12 people... I will still trust him.

Thanks for your continued prayer. God is still moving in Tacoma. One frustrating Sunday doesn't change that. But I want you all to know this is stinkin' hard! One week we have 6 salvations and the next week... seemingly nothing. However, I emphasize the "seemingly" part because I am believing the promise In Isaiah 55:10-11 that says...

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I love what God has called me to in life. Being a pastor and a church planter is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. But in the midst of all the struggles, fears and trials there is also a joy that is unspeakable.

It's 11:17pm pacific time on Saturday night July 30th and I have been laying in bed watching an episode of House (thanks mom) and reading over my sermon for tomorrow's worship service (not at the same time). God brought to mind a sense of gratitude and amazement that there is a youth retreat going on right now... and I'm not there!

I don't mean that as horrible as it sounds. To be honest, Kelli and I were able to be there for a little while last night and it was amazing. But there was a time not too long ago that anything The Pathway did as a church required my direct involement. Not only was I there, but I had to organize it, plan it and invite people. While that is a joy, it can't last. The point of planting a church is to see it become a multiplying church. The only way this happens is if people start to take ownership of the vision and do the things on their own that were initially done only by me.

Well, shortly after God brought this sense of amazement and gratitude to my mind and my heart I received a text from Laura Stevenson, our amazing youth leader who organized and planned this entire retreat with the help of our guys youth leader Levi and our 4 amazing interns. Again I became filled with awe as I read the text that said 4 of our students had given their lives to Jesus. Ponce, Kiana, Michael and Manuel. 4 souls changed forever. 4 lives committed and surrendered to Jesus!!! Praise the Lord!

While all these are amazing I want to specifically point out Michael and Kiana. Michael is the oldest of 4 brothers... the McQuerter brothers. Over the last month or two we've seen 3 of the brothers become a part of our church. One of the brothers was already a believer but the other two have recently given their lives to Jesus. Last month the boys were evicted, along with their dad, from their apartment. We were able to store their stuff for them and several people in our church have given the boys a place to stay. Michael has been wrestling with God... knowing that he wants to believe but not being willing to surrender. To see the 4th and final McQuerter give his life to Jesus leads me to instantaneous worship!!! Thank you Jesus for bringing life change to the next generation of McQuerters!

Kiana is also very special to me because her mother Maria is a part of our Community Group. Maria is new to following Jesus and has been talking to me about baptism and many other deeper issues of discipleship. One of the things we've been focusing on as a church and in our Community Group is making disciples of our kids. What does that look like and how do we accomplish it? To hear stories of Maria reading Scripture to her kids has been awesome. Then she decided to bring Kiana to worship... then to youth group. Finally Maria began volunteering with our youth and now Kiana has followed her mom in giving her life to Jesus. Again, only two words come to mind...

Awe and Amazement.

Thank you Jesus. Thank you for bringing life change in Tacoma. Thank you for your grace!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Where's Waldo?

Remember the "Where's Waldo" books? I sure do. I could stare at the pages for a long time but eventually, I would always find Waldo.

Right now we have several Waldo's in our church but the most pressing and testing of faith is our worship leader Waldo. We have been blessed over the course of the summer to have two phenomenally gifted interns who can sing, play guitar, play d'jembe and probably other things that I haven't even seen yet. The reality we're facing though is that in a couple of weeks they will be gone and we have no one to take their place.

I can honestly say that this isn't a lack of people stepping up. It's honestly not even directly connected to our newness as a church. I grew up in Texas. I went to a small private Baptist college. I could literally close my eyes and throw a pebble and 9 times out of 10 I would hit a worship leader. Not a mediocre worship leader... a talented worship leader. Of course, in a worship leader you need more than talent. God wants a heart that is pursuing him, a heart that loves him, a heart that is passionate about worship and leading others to worship.

In our church, unless someone is hiding it very well, we have no musicians. None. We have 1 singer and she is willing to use that gift praise Jesus. So, my question is "Where's Waldo the worship leader?" My prayer is that the Lord would not just provide a musician but a leader of worshippers. A person passionate about the gospel, passionate about the church, passionate about disciple making and passionate about leading worship. I appreciate anyone willing to join with me on praying for this person to show up!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

3 Amazing Weeks

We just finished 3 amazing weeks here in Tacoma. God is moving and it is obvious. We started our three week stretch with the arrival of a mission team from FBC Universal City, TX. There heart for missions is unbelievable an their willingness to be used how Tacoma and The Pathway needs them, instead of how they are most comfortable, is amazing. As outstanding as that group was, after a 4 day break a team with the same heart and the same selfless, servant-hearted approach arrived from Trinity Baptist in Ada, OK. The last team left on Friday and we are excited to follow up on all the contacts they made and see what God has in store.

Our main approach while both teams were here is what we called Community Gospel Saturation. Tommy Abbott, a member of our Leadership Team who will be heading to Seattle's U-district Friday to begin planting a new church, also just graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!). Tommy, along with the help of our amazing interns, mapped out our community of Hilltop and divided into 9 sectors or zones. Over the course of 3 weeks and with the help of 2 teams we were able to cover 7 of these zones in prayer and begin saturating them with the gospel. Not "just" with love, prayer and serving, but with the gospel that salvation can be found by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone. It was amazing to see the teams knock on doors, walk up to strangers and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are praying for 20 salvation's and even more changed lives as a result of the obedient and missional work that was done.

We ended both mission team weeks with a community block party. The goal of these parties was to introduce the contacts that had been made with the people who are a part of our church in Tacoma. It was also a very practical way to get to know our neighbors and love on and serve the community. The block parties were an overwhelming success. Relationships were sparked, people came to visit both our worship service and our Community Groups in the weeks that have followed and our community is beginning to feel the presence of Jesus through our church in our community.

We are exhausted, humbled and overwhelmed by what God is doing. We are praying for those 20 salvation's and as a result we are believing God to begin 5 new Community Groups. I have no idea how that will happen but I know God can do it and I believe he will. Please continue to pray for the harvest in Hilltop and in Tacoma.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Through the Eyes of an Intern

I have been in Tacoma for a little over a month now, and the idea of trying to put into words what God has shown me through this church plant is overwhelming. There is brokenness, lostness, and confusion like I’ve never seen before. But the thing is, in the midst of that heartbreak, there is also grace, life-change, and genuine love for Jesus like I’ve never seen before.

Let me begin by telling you what Tacoma, specifically the Hilltop district, looks like from my limited and southern perspective. There are several things I was unaware of coming into this summer as an intern for The Pathway.

  • First, the ignorance and confusion of the city. I do not mean that in an offensive sense at all. It’s simply that many of the people of this city haven’t been told, or rather, have been told wrong. They don’t know that Jesus is the Son of God. They don’t know that Jesus is The Way. They don’t know that His grace covers us and that He is the one that brings restoration and redemption. They don’t know that being a Christ follower is a faith and a relationship and not simply a religion. It’s heartbreaking.

  • Second, I was completely ignorant to the brokenness of the people of this city. Homelessness, prostitution, isolation, lack of resources, joblessness, poverty, mental disabilities, and health issues are all prevalent in this city to an extent and magnitude that I didn’t even know existed in the United States.

  • Third, grace and love are difficult for them to comprehend. I have to be honest, it’s often difficult for me to understand as well, but I was blessed with a home and a foundation that showed me what it was to love. I don’t know why the Lord gave me such a different life than some of the people here, but so many people have seen the exact opposite of love and grace from the people around them and have no way to grasp what love and grace is from a Heavenly Father.

The wonderful thing about these painful truths is that God provides redemption. I’m seeing it in action in some of the lives here. Because of the faithfulness and obedience of the people of The Pathway, truth is being spoken into the lives of the people who have been misled. Restoration is coming to those who hurt and struggle because of their circumstances. Love of Jesus, love that’s unconditional and perfect, is becoming something that people experience and depend on because the Holy Spirit has shown it to them. The Holy Spirit is infiltrating the hearts of the people of Tacoma.

Perhaps the most prevalent thing that I’ve learned since I’ve been here is how completely inadequate I am. My family and close friends can tell you that my giftedness is not with children. Of course, one of the tasks Ashley (the other girl intern) and I were given upon arriving is to help with Kids Ave., the children’s ministry. The cool thing is though, the Holy Spirit has equipped us and provided in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Not that I’m doing great at it or am an expert on talking to kids now. It’s just that there are times when the Holy Spirit just grabs ahold of their hearts and provides focus and understanding for them. They ask questions and say the most insightful and thought-provoking things. I'm even enjoying it. I’m inadequate. The Holy Spirit is not.

Last week there was a mission team here from Universal City, Texas. God provided a team that was so sensitive to the Spirit and that were simply awesome at taking initiative in loving on the people in this area. Through an impromptu Vacation Bible School at the Summertree Park Apartments that the mission team provided, we met a seven-year-old girl named Grace. There were only eight or so children there, but every bit of effort and money was worth it. The Holy Spirit grabbed ahold of her heart, and that precious girl accepted Jesus. Grace experienced grace. Praise Jesus :) The Holy Spirit is working.

The church is the body of Christ, the people, not the building or the bible study or the ministry or any sort of event. We are the church, and The Pathway has begun to show me what that looks like. We are a community of believers, which means that we share burdens, whether financial, emotional, or spiritual. We share our stuff as if we truly believe that they are just things that God blessed us with as one more way to glorify Him. We encourage one another, pray for and with one another, we point each other to scripture. We help each other in practical ways and in ways that make no sense to the outside world. It is messy and painful, but it is genuine and grace-filled. In John 13, Jesus tells us to love one another, and “by this everyone will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.” We proclaim the gospel with our words and with our actions. If we allow unbelievers to experience the love of Jesus through a true community of believers, it’s difficult to deny the love of Jesus. The Holy Spirit works in and through us.

The thing that blows my mind is that somehow all of these things are so beautifully interwoven. The confusion and brokenness of the city, our inadequacy, the incomprehensible faith of a child, grace experienced in a community of believers, all point back to the gospel and the fact Jesus is the one that provides restoration. In each situation, the Holy Spirit continues to move. There is heartbreak, yes, but God will be the victor. I can’t explain how grateful I am that God let me, a completely inadequate and insignificant girl from Oklahoma, experience His love through allowing me to serve at The Pathway for an entire summer.

Please pray for this community of believers that speaks truth and seeks Jesus. Pray for them as they hurt and struggle, as they celebrate and praise Jesus.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I can't fix it

I've never been a Mr. fix-it. My dad has that "manly" ability to trouble shoot, make repairs and fix almost anything around the house. Apparently that gift is not hereditary! Of course, it's ultimately not that big a deal. It just means I have to call my land lord more often, call my friendly neighborhood Mr. Fix-it, Scott Ignacio, a few houses down, and of course it means a bigger to-do list for my pops when he comes to visit from Texas. But really, it's just stuff around the house. Fix or no fix, it's just not a life altering thing.

Last night I was reminded of something else that I can't fix and it bothers me in the depths of my soul. I can't fix the brokenness of humanity. I can't fix broken souls, I can't fix broken families and I can't fix broken lives. While I do take comfort in the reality that I don't save sinners (including myself), that's God's job, when I see people, specifically kids and teenagers, whose lives are falling apart around them and there's nothing I can do to fix it, I struggle. I get mad, I get sad, and ultimately I have to put my faith in the sovereign God who "works all things together for the good of those who love him and who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Last night we moved a family with multiple teenagers out of their apartment from which they were being evicted. The dad was there for part of the time but then he left... who knows where? I left 2 of the teens in their apartment, alone, electricity already shut off, praying that their dad, whom I had just spoken with on the phone, was really on his way home and had a place for the teens to stay last night. I told them if he never came or if they didn't really have a place to stay to call me and we would find them a place. I kept checking my phone as I lay in bed, making sure I didn't miss their call.

Sleep eventually came and a call from the teens did not. I guess they made it to their dad's arranged place to stay? I hope. This is one example. This is one situation of many that I have seen on a regular basis in my time here in Tacoma. If you're reading this though and you are thinking how sad things are in Tacoma, think again. These same things are happening all over this country every day. We all need to open our eyes and begin facing the reality that we live in a broken world. We can't fix it. We have to know that and accept it. But we can't ignore it.
What we can do is love these people... even when they don't deserve it. We can give them the tangible help we have but most importantly we can offer them eternal hope in Jesus Christ. That's the most important thing because even though we can provide material blessings to some, there are some whose lives will never get easier, will never get "better." Their only hope is in eternity and we can introduce them to our friend, our Savior, our Lord... Jesus.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lots Happening!

Wow! Talk about a lot going on! This is going to be a quick post but I wanted to make sure that all of you who faithfully follow and pray for what God is doing here in Tacoma know how to pray this week.

1) My son Jagen has been having a lot of health issues and we're hoping today will provide a strong first step toward some answers. Pray for Jagen this morning as he has a throat scope and biopsy to find out what kind of allergies he may be dealing with.

2) Salvation!!! God is so amazing and he is always doing supernatural things. We have a teenager named Daniel in our church who very recently told us he felt he needed a sign before he could really put his faith in Jesus. We told him about the story of Thomas and that Jesus can give us "proof" but he loves it when we follow him with out "seeing." We told Daniel we would pray for a sign if that's what he needed. Yesterday Daniel told me God spoke to him in a dream and showed him a picture of what his life would look like as a follower of Jesus, sharing his faith boldly. He told me he that he got his sign and he was giving Jesus his life! Praise the Lord!

3) A church that plants churches. We've been praying from the beginning of our church plant that we would be able to send out missionaries to plant more churches. The time has come. Tom Abbott has been with us since the church's inception and he just graduated with his degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington. He will be leaving Tacoma in a the next month or so to plant a church on the campus of the University of Washington Seattle. We are so excited not to be losing Tom, but to be sending him out to plant the gospel in Seattle's U-district.

4) We have our first mission team of the summer coming in this Friday. Please pray that God would do more than we can imagine!

Thanks for keeping these things in your prayers!

Monday, May 30, 2011


I am continually blown away by God in so many areas of life. However, yesterday I sat in awe as I once again saw God provide unexpectedly for my children in a grace-filled way. As I basked in his provision, I also reflected on his past provision and was once again reminded of what grace truly is. Grace is not something I can earn. Grace is not something I deserve and it's not something I can strategically set myself up to be the beneficiary of. Grace is completely undeserved favor.

When Kelli and I first found out we were going to be having twins, the thought of providing for them was quite overwhelming. Then God showed me his provision. Our friends Robbie and Katie Britt have 2 beautiful children, a boy and a girl, who are several years older than our kiddos. They invited us over to their house while Kelli was pregnant, showed us a car load full of baby clothes, toys, formula, high chairs and more and told us to take whatever we wanted. We literally drove away with our 1997 Ford Explorer filled to the brim. It was an amazing experience of generosity, the grace of God through his people and ultimately his provision.

The story continues. Shortly after we had the kids Kelli and Tiffany went for a walk at the mall where a new baby and children's store was having it's grand opening. Crazy 8 is the name of the store and they were having drawings with prizes so Kelli and Tiff both signed up. Later we received a call that Kelli had won the grand prize... an $888 gift card to Crazy 8. Unbelievable! Again we sat in awe. It's a year and a half later and we still have money left on the card and we have been able to by clothes for our kids, gifts for our nieces and nephews and clothes for the future. God's provision comes out of nowhere at times and it is a beautiful demonstration of his love and grace.

Finally this weekend. A pastor friend of mine was going through some rough stuff with his family last week so he asked me to preach at their churches worship service Sunday morning. I was running a little early and was facing the wrong way to parallel park when I arrived so I decided to drive around the block. When I came to the end of the road I saw 2 little rocking chairs along with some other things in front of someones house. I pulled over to see if they were giving them away. The owner of the house came out and I told her I had two 18 month old kids who would love those rocking chairs and she asked if I need anything else. As I walked across to her driveway where she and her husband were cleaning out the garage I found 6-7 boxes of children's clothes... boys and girls... that she said I was welcome to have. She then said, "I have some unopened boxes of size 4 diapers if your kids haven't grown past that." Again, I was amazed as I told her that Jagen is in size 4 right now and Ry is still only in size 3.

I stress that God gets all the glory for his provision for my family because he is the grace-giver who made all of this happen. I know that he does not have to provide for us this abundantly all the time... that's why it is grace. But it has certainly been a blessing and an opportunity for our family to worship him for his provision and grace. Praise Jesus!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How are things going?

"How are things going?" I think that's the question I get asked the most in regard to planting The Pathway in Tacoma. I also think it's the hardest question in the world to answer. A truthful answer would take hours to expound. A truthful answer is a different on a weekly if not daily basis. "How are things going?" is a completely legitimate question. Let me see if I can briefly answer it in today's post.

To pull from the ever famous remarks of presidents at the annual state of the union address, "The state of The Pathway is good." However, it doesn't end there. We are good today but we are not satisfied with "good." We want to see the "greatness" of God reflected in the lives that are being changed in Tacoma and the growth of his Kingdom.

I would describe the state of The Pathway as good for 4 specific reasons...

1) We are witnessing the power of God through changed lives. One quick story: Maria is the newest member of our Community Group. She has a relationship with Jesus but she comes from an all too typical Catholic background filled with frustration, guilt and bitterness. She gave up on "church" and the "mission of God" a long time ago because she felt that it was impossible to live up to all the rules of religion. She didn't think she was good enough so she was satisfied with a very small faith that focused on personal prayer and confession. Over the course of the last several months we are seeing a transformation in Maria. She is coming to an even stronger realization that she can't live up to the rules of religion but she is growing in hope as she learns more and more the true meaning of grace. She is even beginning to explore what it looks like to make disciples of her children. I was filled with so much joy a while back when she texted me that she had just read an amazing passage in Colossians and she decided to read it to her children! Praise Jesus for changed lives!

2) New Leaders are being trained and stepping up. I don't really know very much about how to plant a church in Tacoma. It's the first time we've done it. There are very few things I knew with certainty starting out. However, one thing I did know is that we had to train leaders and they would have to step up and lead. Another story: We met Levi last summer by hanging out at a local park and loving on people, meeting needs and sharing the gospel. Levi is young, has had a tough life in a lot of ways and came to Christ in jail. He has been growing in his walk with Jesus over the past several years and has expressed a strong desire to lead youth at The Pathway. He's had his share of struggles over the past year but he has been willing to do the behind the scenes, unrecognized grunt work and wait for God's timing for him to step up in lead. In the mean time he has taken the initiative to invest in the lives of youth and allow me to invest in him. Last week we finally came to the decision that he would begin leading the guys youth Community Group so that I can step back and focus on other areas of Leadership. Praise God for new Leaders!

3) Reproduction: God hasn't called us to simply plant a church in Tacoma. God has called us to plant the gospel in Tacoma and he has told us that the best and most effective way for us to do that is by starting Community Groups that start Community Groups that start Community Groups and so on and so forth. Towards the end of last year we hit some bumps in the road, we tried to reproduce when we weren't ready and we ended up going from 6 CG's to three. However, what Satan meant for his good our God turned for his good. Our Community Groups have grown in depth and some have grown in numbers. One of our Community Groups grew to the point of needing to reproduce and a new CG was birthed last week. We are already talking with Future Leaders and praying and planning towards the start of more new CG's. Praise Jesus for reproduction!

4) The hope of momentum through the summer. Hope in what has not yet happened is a good thing. But hope without faith is futile. We believe God is going to do some huge things this summer. Summer is unique in the Northwest. Due to the whether, you see very few people 9-10 months out of the year but when summer comes, people are everywhere. We are praying big prayers leading into this summer. We actually have a church this summer, as opposed to a Leadership Team and a few random people like last year. That is hopeful. We have 4 interns coming in this summer who will be living in 2 apartments downtown and their sole purpose is to plant the gospel in the lives of people. We have 2 mission teams coming to saturate our community with the gospel. But most importantly we have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that gives us hope and faith. Please pray for momentum and join us in praying for at least 20 new believers and 5 new Community Groups as a result of the work God does this summer. It's a big prayer but we serve a big God!

"How are things going?" The state of The Pathway is good. But we believe the truth found in Ephesians 3:20 that we serve a God who can do "immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine." The state of The Pathway is good but we are not satisfied with that answer. We want more for Tacoma. We want more for God!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The entire time I've been in Tacoma I've been increasingly burdened by the reality that "godly men" are an aberration at best when they should be the norm. We have men that have kids, but no men that have wives. We have women who have kids but those kids have many different fathers, none of whom are husbands of their mothers. We also have married couples who claim to be followers of Jesus but are not a part of our church or any other because the husband refuses. This is sad, heartbreaking, troubling, burdensome and it's killing the effectiveness of the gospel in our world. Something has to change.

After a lot of frustration and prayer I realized that I don't know how to fix this problem, but I had to start somewhere. God called me to start a men's Bible study with quite a few men who for various reasons claim to know Jesus but are not a part of a church (except one other guy who has the same burden I do and is a part of another local church). We just met last night for the second time and it was challenging and awesome. It was so good to get to converse over Scripture with husbands and fathers that are my age. It was challenging to hear their perspective on Scripture and frustrating to hear selfishness abound... in part because I know that I too am filled with selfishness.

This Bible study is not affiliated with The Pathway... it's just a passion of mine and a starting point. My prayer is that I will grow to understand these men and their frustration and aversion to "church." I pray that I will grow and find accountability with these men that I am currently lacking. And my ultimate prayer is that they would fall so passionately in love with Jesus that they would not be able to help being a part of his local church. Frankly, I don't care if it's The Pathway or some other missional church. I just believe the church is the way we fulfill our purpose as followers of Jesus... broken or not... the church is what God has designed for reaching the world with the gospel.

Do I have time for this? No. Do I have any guarantees that this will grow The Pathway? No. I just know that men need to step up and this is a first step. What can you do to address a problem where you are? Just start somewhere. Doing nothing is not the answer. Praise Jesus for giving me the courage to start somewhere! God is so good.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Focus on the Family

I was asked an important question by a pastor friend of mine who planted Discovery Church in Tacoma 10 years ago. We were having lunch and he asked me, "What's the most important thing you need to accomplish over the next year?" I didn't have to think long. While I love the people who make up our church, I am certain that for us to grow, thrive, reproduce and be effective as a church going forward we have to begin reaching families with the gospel. Right now our church is made up of young adults, single parents and teenagers. They are the foundation of our church and Christ in them is the reason I believe we are going to be able to reach families. Their own families and the families that they know in our community and that they decide to invest in are the families we're going to be able to reach with the gospel.

So our focus and prayer through the summer and over the course of the next year is that God would bring us several families who already love Jesus who can pour into and invest in other families who will be encountering the gospel for the first time. For all you church-going Christians out there I want you to join me in prayer for this because it is no easy task. It is a God-sized task. Just think about it...

When you visit a church for the first time as a family, what do you look for? Other families? A huge children's ministry? An exciting worship experience? Well, I love our church but we don't have any of those... yet. Right now we have Jesus and the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. And you know what, I believe that is more than enough. I also believe that we have the opportunity to make Jesus and the authority of the Holy Spirit the foundation of our families, our children's ministry and our worship gathering now and into the future. What an opportunity!

Pray for us. We will be moving our worship service from late afternoon to the morning time so that it is more conducive for families. We will be using our mission teams and interns this summer to focus on sharing the gospel with families, developing Community Groups for families and staying accountable to our vision and the exaltation of Jesus all at the same time.

It's a big job, but it's what God has called us to do so that we can see Tacoma RADICALLY CHANGED by the gospel and so that we can be come a church that effectively makes disciples and plants more churches. Please pray that our "Focus on the Family" is effective.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Life Change

So I love to celebrate the awesome things and I also genuinely love to share the hard things too. That's real life you know? The good and the bad. The pretty and the ugly. However, I definitely love it so much more when I get to share the good things. As you know, last weekend on Easter Sunday we got to worship and celebrate our risen Savior Jesus and we part of that was baptizing 5 people whose lives have been changed by the gospel.

Well, this past weekend we were able to take 10 students (6 boys and 4 girls w/3 adults) to the Northwest Baptist Convention student conference in Vancouver, WA. This was a first for many of our students and it was an awesome experience. 3 students vocally expressed their faith in Jesus for the first time (Austin, Heather and Jonathan) and all of us were challenged in one way or another. Two quick stories if you will indulge me...

First, Jonathan is an one of 4 brothers. He and his brother have been spending time with our church off and on for the past year. They have a rough home life to say the least. Their parents got divorced a couple years back and shortly thereafter their mom passed away. The boys dad isn't home much and things aren't always easy. However, Jonathan and his brother Daniel have been seeking Jesus. Both have a lot of questions and are very vocal about their questions. Both attended the retreat but when the time came for any new believers to stand publicly and declare their faith in Jesus, Jonathan stood proudly. It was so awesome Sunday at our churches worship service to hear Jonathan testify that he "got saved" this weekend! It was also awesome to get to explain communion to him and see him take the bread and the cup for the first time! Please continue to pray for Jonathan, Daniel, their 2 brothers and their father Jerome.

Another highlight of the trip happened when I was standing in line for lunch on Saturday. Two of our girls, Heather and Megan, came back from their break out session and Heather came running up to me to tell me what she learned. She told me that she learned that she is a "minister" too! She told me it wasn't just up to me to minister but it was the job of everyone in the church! I said praise Jesus! I thought, if only all believers understood, owned up to and lived out this reality. We are all called to be "ministers of reconciliation" and the Bible literally calls us ambassadors for Christ! It's awesome to see these kids learning these things for the first time.

Please pray for those whose lives were changed by the gospel this weekend. Please pray that the seed would take deep root so when the trials come they will not fall away. We serve a big God who is able to do big things! Praise Jesus!