Monday, January 31, 2011


I don't have much to say tonight. I've written this post twice and deleted it both times. I'm just kind of sitting in awe of Jesus tonight.

This afternoon I was able to have lunch with the new director of the youth Late Nite program at the YMCA. Pray for him, his name is Rich, that he would lead by the power of the Holy Spirit and we would have open doors to preach the gospel at the Y.

This afternoon there was a fight right outside our house that escalated rapidly from high school tough-kids to gang violence. I was afraid for the first time in a long time as we brought two of the kids who had been jumped into the house. My faith was tested this afternoon as I feared for the safety of my wife and children. I always say so boldly that God's grace is sufficient for me. That his power is made perfect in my weakness. This afternoon that claim was put to the test and I was very afraid.

Tonight I was able to attend a "Jesus and Justice" seminar on the campus of the University of Puget Sound, a campus that everyone I've talked to has told me is completely closed to the gospel and nearly impossible to get on. God has opened doors for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and is allowing us to serve along side them. As I sat there in a room full of college students that are not supposed to be "reachable," I was amazed at who came with me: three teenagers that God has impacted with the gospel through the planting of The Pathway in Tacoma along with a 22 year-old future pastor and a 34 year-old new believer.

The grace of God at work in a city is extraordinary. His grace is surely sufficient. I am amazed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Would Jesus Do?

Does everyone remember the cheesiest campaign ever??? "What would Jesus do? Bracelets... shirts... hats... just about everything you can think of.

Well, as cheesy as it is I've had to ask myself that question the last couple of days. Most of you know my wife... she's amazing. She has the gift of hospitality and she makes our home the most open and welcoming home I've ever seen. Everyone we know understands that they are free to stop by, hang out, eat dinner or stay the night whenever they need to (it annoys me at times... but Kelli loves it!!!).

Well, over the last year we've been burned pretty badly... as many people have... through our hospitality. Two people in particular have been welcomed into our home for extended time periods and have proceeded to be fake, lazy and at times have straight out lied to us. Their deception was put into practice so that they could get what they wanted. That has left us with the haunting question... do we still open our home when we know there is a good chance we will be used and abused?

I know the "church" culture that I have been raised in would start to give a very spiritual sounding diatribe about boundaries in ministry, protecting your family, etc. etc. To be honest, while there is some wisdom built in there I just can't find backing for it in the Bible.

However, some people allow themselves to be used and abused to the point of bitterness and the breakdown of their marriage and family. I definitely don't see that in the Bible.

So this week, when a member of our church. who has not proven himself the most diligent employment seeker, needed a place to stay for an indefinite amount of time, we had to ask a familiar question. Not, "What do we want to do?" Not, "What would our family and friends tell us to do?" Instead we had to ask, "What would Jesus do?"

Here's what I came up with... "I don't know." That's where we are. In the meantime, there's a church member staying with us because there's one thing I do know. If I want to do what Jesus would do, I must always error on the side of compassion. To God be the glory!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Backing up our words

The Pathway had a worship service yesterday afternoon and Kelli and I were challenged to practice what we preach in an unexpected way. God has really taught us a lot about what a worship service is supposed to be. It's not hard or complicated but for us it is profound. A worship service is actually about worshipping God. It's not about good preaching, what we can "get" or even "give" at the service, it's truly just about lifting God on high and praising him for being God.

Kelli and I know that The Pathway as a whole, and our worship service specifically, is not dependent on us but at times God gives us a chance to show him that we really believe that. We were expecting more kids and families than usual yesterday simply because of how God has been working. Kelli and Laura had really been working hard on our kids program and it was Kelli's week to lead. They were really looking at our kids program... Kidspath... to become a tool for discipling children, not just a place for "childcare." Well, we had our Community Group over to watch the Seahawks lose Sunday morning and Jagen and Rylan just got too excited. They were all riled up and they would not sleep. No nap + 4pm worship service = 2 screaming 1 year olds! I called Kelli about an hour before the service and heard the kids freaking out but she said she was still coming... she was determined not to let Satan win and she said she needed to be there for the families that were coming.

After we talked we both remembered our commitment to Jesus. Our worship services should never depend on us. We always want to let the Spirit work and move as he chooses, not based on anything we do or any plans we have made. Kelli and I decided God wanted us to trust him to take care of those kids and families without us, and that Kelli would be more effective staying home and taking care of our kids. Whether they were screaming or not, she would hit her knees and pray at 4pm for our worship service. That would be a step for us as a couple in keeping God as the object of our worship and would ensure that Satan would be defeated.

Well, our worship service came, Kelli prayed, we had one new family and 2 other kids and you know what, God was worshipped! The kids were taken care of... one even came into the worship service and showed me his sermon notes at the end. One of our other leaders stepped up and led in Kidspath, and most importantly our worship service remained about worship!

We don't get this right all the time but I know God is teaching us about true worship for a reason. As we grow it will be harder to keep this focus and flexibility but we are committed to being faithful now so that we will remain faithful later.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Could this be Biblical Community?

We have a Community Group that meets in our home every other Sunday afternoon at 4pm. Ever since we sent two of our Leadership Team members out to start a new Community Group on Mondays our Community Group has struggled to find its identity. We've had as many as 7 or 8 people and we've had a few times where it was just Kelli and me. However, it's no surprise that God has been at work. Over the Thanksgiving Holiday a couple people in our church were outside playing in the snow and they met a man and his 4 year old twin daughters. I drove up shortly after and was able to give them a ride to Safeway. Gene and his daughters Geanette and Geanella have become friends and Gene has a great deal of difficulty facing he and his family right now. He struggles, but he is seeking Jesus and has been becoming a part of The Pathway.

I have a teenager, Andres, that I mentor through the Tacoma Rescue Mission. He and his family have since moved out on their own but God has given me and Kelli great favor with Andres' mom. We have stayed connected with them and over the last month God has been breaking Monica. She has been coming to our Community Group, opened herself up to accountability with Kelli and is using her position with the Metropolitan Development Council to help us serve and share Jesus with a local apartment community.

Last night we sat at our house not just for Bible study, but experiencing genuine biblical community. None of the 4 adults in the room look alike. None of us have a lot in common. However, the common ground we share is a recognition that apart from Christ we have no hope. We laughed, we prayed, we talked about our role as "witness" from Acts 1 and we worked together to figure out how to reach our community for Jesus. It wasn't perfect but it was community. I needed that. We need that. God is up to something in 2011. Please don't stop praying for The Pathway.

Also-- a quick shout out to our best friends Matt & Erin Dugan back in Ft. Worth. Of all the people we have met in Tacoma we still don't have any friends our age, our situation in life (married with young kids) who are also passionately in love with Jesus. I never realized how vital that is until I lost it. Matt and Erin love us and pray for us and they asked us if we wanted to start hanging out once a month to play games. You ask, how do they do that from Ft. Worth? Well, welcome to the wonderful world of skype. This past Saturday night we played games over skype, we laughed, we showed them around our house... it was so fun! We needed it. Technology can be such a blessing when we use it for Jesus. Thanks Dugan's!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Worship without "worship" is still Worship

Most of you know that in October The Pathway began having worship services twice a month. It has been a unique experience and we are learning that worship is not supposed to be about what we "get" from the service but about what we "give" to God. If it's about us, it's not worship. Ask yourself how many times you've left a worship service displeased because you didn't really "get" anything out of the message or you didn't "get" anything out of the music. I am embarrassed and humbled to admit how many times I have said those things.

Well, a good friend has led us in worship through song for the first 3 months of our worship services and has done an excellent job teaching the people of The Pathway how to worship God in song. The one downside to my friend helping us was that he wasn't a part of our church he was simply a part of our worship service. Everything we believe God wants for us comes from being the church instead of going to church so I decided that we would not do worship in song anymore until someone from within our church was ready to lead it. That's a scary thought because what is worship without worship?

Well, let me tell you that yesterday we learned exactly what worship is without "worship." If it's focused on the glorification of God through the power of the Holy Spirit... it's WORSHIP! We spent an hour and a half yesterday, as a church, praying, studying God's word, fellowshipping and sharing honest testimony of what the Lord has been doing in our lives. God was glorified, God was worshipped, and in turn he allowed most of us to "get" something out of it. Ask yourself what you're looking for when you go to worship. When you're honest it is very humbling for most of us but I'm hear to tell you, true worship is in Spirit and in Truth and has nothing to do with music.

Praise Jesus for worship!