Monday, April 25, 2011

What a Glorious Day

Easter Sunday was a glorious day in Tacoma! It was hectic, had it's share of glitches, but I can honestly say when all was said an done God was glorified, our risen Savior Jesus was exalted and our church worshiped!

Our Community Groups really stepped up to the challenge of inviting their families and friends to our Easter service and dinner. We had more than double the amount of people that we typically have at our services. The heat in the new building was not working so we had to bring in space heaters on a cold and rainy day. The hot-water went out so the 5 we baptized and the 4 who did the baptizing had to grit and bear the icy cold baptismal waters, remembering that it pales in comparison to what our Savior went through for us.

The Easter message from an overwhelmed pastor was far less than glorious but by the grace of Jesus and the empowering of the Holy Spirit was filled with truth and authority. Families, parents, children and neighbors heard the glorious truth that our God lives. We had fellowship over a delicious dinner prepared by "Chef" Jamaal and orchestrated by my beautiful bride. We had double digit kids in "Kids Ave" who were able to learn about the resurrection (many I assume for the first time).

We worshiped, we sang, we baptized, we shared the truth of the resurrection power of Jesus, we stuffed ourselves with thanksgiving and then we departed. The prayer at the end of the day, the prayer the day after and the prayer into the future remains the same. God, please bring life change in Tacoma. Please join us in praying that the people who attended our worship service would experience the life change that only Jesus can bring and decide to become a part of our church!

We also included the testimonies that were played at our service of those whose lives have been changed by the gospel and were baptized yesterday!

video

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Building for Tacoma

How many times have you said, "I'll never..." and before you know it God has placed you in a position to do what you swore you would never do? Well, I never said The Pathway would never have a building, but I certainly said I'd be fine if we didn't. I know in my heart I never thought we would have a building and I definitely didn't think we would have a building in our first 5 years.

Well, you guessed it. God has given us a building. Well, we don't own it, but we just signed a lease for the next 2 years! I'm not disappointed. I'm actually amazed, excited and curious. I'm curious to see why God has placed this building in our care and how he is going to use it to accomplish the vision he's given us in Tacoma. Although I don't know all the answers, I've already begun to see a little of what God has in store.

For starters, the owners of the building (the Covenant Church denomination) has allowed us to lease the building for the same amount we're currently paying to have a location 2 days a week. They have made the lease escalate slowly over the next 2 years, giving us plenty of time to get adjusted and grow into it. We made it clear to the owners that this building is not going to be "The Pathway." We are "The Pathway." We told them we would only take the building if we could use it for our community... for our city. They have given us green lights all the way. Their heart is for the Kingdom. It's beautiful.

Well, we signed the lease last Monday and that night I attended a board meeting for the Hilltop Action Coalition (HAC) a crime prevention and neighborhood enhancement organization that is well respected in our community. They told us they were excited to have a new church in the neighborhood and they wanted to help get us engaged with the community! They were having a neighborhood clean-up this past Saturday and asked if we would be willing to host their pot-luck... I could barely contain myself. Engage the community? Host their potluck? Thank you Jesus!

Well this Sunday, Easter Sunday, will be our first Sunday in the building for worship. We have challenged our people to team up and invite their friends and families to have Easter dinner and worship with us. Our people are nervous and excited! Kelli and I have invited a new family and I just found out tonight that they will attend. We will be baptizing at least 5 people. I'm so excited and I believe if we band together in prayer, the Holy Spirit can use our presence through this building to saturate the community with the gospel. Can't wait to see what happens!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lorenzo

Lorenzo is not just a name to me anymore. Lorenzo is a man. Lorenzo is a blessing. Lorenzo is a child of God. Yesterday I was sitting in an associational meeting when I received a text from a buddy of mine. He asked, "Do you know a cheap place for a guy to stay around the hospitals?" I said immediately and without thinking too much about it... "He can stay with us." My friend replied, "Define us." I thought that was strange because how many ways could that offer be taken. I clearly meant that he was welcome to stay with my family. After all, we have two extra rooms, two extra beds and live within a mile of 3 major Tacoma hospitals. We seemed to fit the profile for what he was looking for and I knew our place was cheap... free to be exact!

The texts went on to explain that Lorenzo was a homeless man that is having some health problems and was hoping his doctor appointment tomorrow (now today) would lead to scheduling the removal of his gallbladder. My friend said his house doesn't operate in a way where he could or would bring a strange homeless man in for the night. I stopped and reflected for a moment on how blessed I am as a man, a husband and as a follower of Christ. Now I realize that my mother and my in-laws are probably cringing right now, but I cannot read Matthew 25 and Acts 1:8 and proceed to turn the Lorenzo's of the world away. I combine Matthew 25 with Acts 1:8 because I obviously don't house every homeless person that I come across. However, the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, as promised to us in Acts 1:8, provides a great deal of discernment and faith in regard to loving and providing for "the least of these." I would say that more often than not, followers of Christ (myself included), ignore the Holy Spirit and therefore ignore a chance to love and provide for "the least of these," and by extension Jesus himself! My reflection in that moment was not only on how thankful I am for the abundant grace of Jesus in my life, but for a wife who trusts God, his plan and his protection enough to open our home to anyone and everyone that the Spirit leads to our door.

Well, it turns out that referring to Lorenzo as "the least of these" feels somewhat silly a day later. Lorenzo sat in the waiting room all day until I got back in town from my meeting at 6pm to pick him up. Did he complain? Not once (and believe me I know plenty of people who would not have hesitated to complain). I told Lorenzo that I had plans to watch UConn beat Butler with some friends (did I mention I picked UConn to win it all on my bracket) so he would have to come with me. Did he complain about that. Nope. That also led me to be thankful for the men in my church who also welcomed Lorenzo, a 55 year-old African American homeless man, into their home... no questions asked.

To bring this long story to a close, Lorenzo spent a great night in a warm bed last night. I believe he was blessed and encouraged in a small way and I hope and pray that he is coming back for our Community Group tonight and may spend another night with us. However, in all of that do you know who was the first one to bring up Jesus? It was Lorenzo. He began sharing his testimony with me. This morning he prayed for me before he left and he prayed for Kelli and Jagen who had already left for a doctors appointment.

Here I was thinking I was blessing Jesus by loving "the least of these" (and it did bless Jesus), but in reality Lorenzo was blessing me... one of the least... and teaching me a lot about real faith. Thanks Lorenzo. Whether I see you again or not. Thanks. And praise Jesus.