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!