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!