Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Random thoughts on depravity, humility & blessing...

Depravity: moral corruption
Lately I've been thinking a lot about the depravity of man. I'm going to be really honest here so I hope you are able to read my heart. I hope that I don't come across sounding too arrogant because that is not my intent at all. But over the last 2 years I have seen a depth of depravity... a vast demonstration of moral corruption unlike anything I've ever witnessed before. I've seen shootings, fights, drug deals, domestic abuse, rape, neglect, addiction on every level, sex offenders, child sex offenders, hatred demonstrated in a way that is difficult to describe and a level of selfishness that is nauseating at best.

That being said, I still know that I am depraved. I am morally corrupt thanks to the actions of Adam and Eve as well as my own sinful choices. But when I stand up to preach on Sunday mornings or when I sit down to simply listen and shepherd someone, I find it impossible to say with honesty that I understand where they are... I just don't. And that leads to my next random thought... humility.

Humility: modest opinion or estimate of one's own importance
As I try and point people to Jesus in the midst of a depth of depravity that I don't think I truly believed existed until a few years ago, I am humbled by the opportunity God has given me. I mean seriously, I am just an average guy with a relatively pristine pass. I have not dealt with the depths of substance addiction or the pain that comes from a broken home that so many of my church know first hand.

I have not spent time in jail and I don't have a history with gang violence. I'm just an average sinner, basking in the glory of God's grace in my own life and humbled that God could use me, would use me to shepherd people who live in and are abused by a level of sinfulness that I will probably never know first hand. I cannot live up to this calling. I am embarrassed at times to preach the depth of God's grace when I feel like my experience with sin is so shallow. But it's not about me.

That leads me to the third random thought with really no significant connection to the previous two... blessing.

Blessing: God's favor & protection
Over the last 2 years and most recently over the last 2 weeks my family has experienced a level of blessing... a level of God's favor and protection... that is beyond comprehension. I'm so thankful that God's grace is so all encompassing. It really is applied to all facets of the christian life including blessings to sustain us through the trials.

In my last post I asked for prayer for our housing situation. Long story short, we were buying a house and everything fell apart the day before closing. We had already given notice to our landlord so we had 12 days to find a place to live, pack up and move.

Blessing #1: God provided us a great house in our neighborhood so that we could still live amongst the people we have been called to reach. That house by the way is allowing us to save money every month from what we've been paying the last 2 years.

Blessing #2: Our parents. Kelli and I are both constantly overwhelmed by the love and support of our families. We took their kids, and more importantly their grandkids, two thousand miles away from them and they have all done nothing but support us, pray for us and bless our socks off in the midst of it. In the last 2 weeks my parents came to Tacoma and simply served their children. How many parents would do that? My dad helped (okay he did more than help) with all the repairs that needed to be done at the old house and the work that needed to be done at the new place. He helped us move and he never once complained. Meanwhile, my mom took care of two wild and crazy 2 year olds from sun up to sun down while we packed, cleaned, fulfilled ministry responsibilities and even slept in. We are so blessed.

Blessing #3: We truly have a church family. When we put the word out that we were moving, we were not shorthanded. We had a crew come down from our previous church in Snoqualmie, Tommy came down from the church we sent him to plant in Seattle and some of our own Pathway crew came and pitched in. Then, even more inexplicably, we put the word out that we had to clean our house and still our Pathway church family came running. We had people scrubbing toilets, patching holes and cleaning floors... all because of God's amazing grace.

The Point: I think the point is that all my random thoughts on depravity, humility and blessing lead me to the same place... worship. Our God is so good. In the midst of sin he gives grace and love and the only appropriate response is worship. Thank you God.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Crazy times

First & foremost I want to apologize for not posting last Monday. I truly appreciate all of you who follow our blog so faithfully and pray for us so passionately. There is a lot going on in Tacoma right now and I want to try and catch you up.

Most of you know that through God's provision and the Holy Spirit's guidance we've been in the process of purchasing a house. Long story short, the day before closing on our new place everything fell a part. It was the most unbelievable and unexplainable disaster... must have been God's sovereign hand at work!!! Unfortunately, by the time we found out we weren't going to close on our new house, our current house had already been rented out. That left us exactly 12 days to find a new place, pack up and move! Talk about crazy times?!!!

While all this chaos is stirring in regard to our house, our kids health starts to go haywire again. Rylan got MRSA a while back (a tricky form of staph) and it was miserable and painful for her. Well, we found out in the midst of our house chaos that she got MRSA again!!! Many of you know Jagen has had issues with acid reflux and severe stomach ulcers. Well, all his symptoms began to arise again last week. It seemed like nothing was going right!

Then, by God's grace, one of our good friends told Kelli that the awesome part of all these crazy things happening was the realization that God is moving in our midst. We've said it many times before... every time God starts to do great things through The Pathway, chaos breaks out in our family... typically through the health of our children. We just laughed at this observation and praised Jesus for allowing us to walk through the chaos for the praise of his glory. Romans tells us that those who are in Christ Jesus are more than conquerors! That there is absolutely nothing... no trial, pain, sickness or anything else that can separate us from the love of Jesus. We are clinging to that reality in the midst of so much uncertainty.

So, what exactly is God up to here in Tacoma. Well, I honestly don't know how to quantify it or describe it, but the Holy Spirit is moving. We are seeing people's lives changed by Jesus. Just the other day we had a single mom come up to us because Jesus is rocking her world. She wants to be baptized but she first wanted to make sure she fully understood what it means to be a Christian. Another young woman who we have been battling for showed up to our worship service on her own... for the first time ever. No one had to pick her up or invite her, she just came! New faces are showing up all the time. New leaders are stepping up including a couple tonight telling us they are willing to take a leadership role with our teenagers!

We still don't know for sure where we are going to live in 9 days... but we are confident God does. We have found a house but we are still waiting on the final approval from the property management company. Jagen had another test this week that for the first time revealed some possible answers to the problems he's been having! Rylan seems to be moving past her MRSA and the Spirit-led momentum for the gospel does not seem to be slowing down. Please continue to pray for Tacoma, pray for my family and pray for The Pathway as we try to saturate our community with the gospel. Please keep praying for life change!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I'm sure most of you watched the Giant's beat the Patriots in a great game that went down to the wire. If you weren't interested in the game itself I would imagine you tuned in for the commercials or to see an aging Madonna put on a much anticipated performance. Most of you who know me even a little know that I am a sports fanatic and look forward to being glued to the screen every year during the super bowl. However, this year I don't think I saw one commercial and I missed most of the game... and I'm so glad I did!

One of the first ways we felt led to serve the Evergreen Neighbors (the community around our facility) was to throw and Intentional "Soup-er-Bowl" Shindig where everyone brought their favorite soup or chili and invited their families, neighbors and friends. Some people even met up the day before to go door-to-door inviting our neighbors to the party. The whole purpose was to develop relationships, love our neighbors and share the gospel. And boy did God ever bless the shindig. He is so faithful and so good.

I missed most of the game because we had so many new faces come to the party. We had people from the neighborhood, we had people from outside the neighborhood, we had a great number of our church in attendance and we even had many of our people bringing their family members for the first time. It was so amazing.

One man that came was named Dave. He's an older gentleman with a cool style... probably in his late sixties or early seventies. We sat and talked for a while and he said he doesn't go to church anywhere but does believe in God. I got to share the gospel with him and explain to him the difference between believing in God and following Jesus. He told me that he often wonders why he is still on this earth. I got to share with him that he's here because God loves him, wants a relationship with him and wants to use him for his glory and mission. Dave told me that was a very deep idea & that he thought it was good. I got his number so we can talk more.

One of our men had been praying that his wife would come with him and she did! We had two of our ladies bring their mom's for the first time. We had more new faces than I could count and had a great time in the name of Jesus. At half-
time we muted Madonna (or whoever was on at the time) for a few minutes to let people know who we are and to tell them that everything that was going on was about Jesus. It was an amazing opportunity and we're praying that God brings salvation, life change and Kingdom growth as a result.

Best of all, we got to model for all our future Intentional Community Leaders what it looks like to be the church and serve our neighbors. God was graceful to us and we pray and trust that he was glorified through our Soup-er-Bowl Shindig! Intentional Community really is a beautiful thing.