Monday, August 20, 2012

I think I just experienced community...

That's right.  The guy who is constantly talking about, preaching about and blogging about biblical Intentional Community.  The guy who has tried to build into the very fabric of The Pathway that church is not a place we go on Sundays, it's who we are as the body of Christ on mission for God every day of the week.  The guy who spends a significant amount of his time trying to teach people to live in community, serve in community, invite people into community and encourage people not to run from community when things get messy.  That's right, I think God just graced me with a glimpse at what community could be... maybe even what it should be... if it wasn't forced, organized, recruited, trained, dissected, launched and well, orchestrated.

Let me explain.

Kelli and I cancelled our cable a while back and apparently no one in our family thinks I can survive without television (that's probably true) because we were immediately inundated with boxes of hand-me-down movies and TV series on DVD.  Well, one of the series we were given was Season 3 of "24."  I'll spare you the details, but I now have a serious man crush on Jack Bauer and I'm beginning to believe that I could actually pull of some of his antics... but that is probably for another blog.  What started out as Kelli and I watching a season of "24" turned into a few of our friends gathering on Monday nights to watch all of the seasons of "24."  It was usually 4, 6, maybe 8 of us who would watch.  But as time moved on it has morphed into a night that is anticipated, looked forward to and planned for.  We arrange our schedules around "24" night.  It's kind of scary, but also kind of fun.  That leads me to the experience I had to night.

I came home from running an errand for Kelli at Target and there was barely enough room to park at my house.  There were 16 people crammed into the tiny living room of our little 950 square foot home. And with no air conditioning in Washington it was rather warm.  Someone had brought homemade pizza and someone else had spent all day cooking pork.  One of our crew had a birthday on Saturday so Kelli made her famous cake balls and somebody else brought ice cream.  There were all different shapes, sizes, colors, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds in the room.  There were followers of Jesus and there were those who don't yet know Jesus.  We laughed, we poked fun at each other, we talked about our week.  We ate food and we watched "24."

After our minimum two episode intake people sat around and talked for another hour plus.  I had and heard conversations of life, of work, of stress and struggle.  There was talk of Scripture and life.  There were plans made, needs met, cars shared.  One of our bunch even stayed the night so that we don't have to wake our kids up early when Kelli has to take me to the airport.  And all the interaction, all the conversation, all the life shared just happened.  I didn't plan any cute ice breakers, we didn't watch a cool DVD curriculum.  We just got together to watch "24," and community... biblical and intentional community... well, it just happened.

As a pastor, I find myself working so hard, praying so hard, trying so hard to teach people to want community, to get in community, to love community and to be the church.  I will say that I think that is necessary.  So many people have missed it.  But what if people truly just started being the church again?  There was nothing orchestrated tonight.  No one came out of obligation and there was no pre-planned schedule or script.  It was just all natural, completely beautiful, Intentional Community.

Monday, August 6, 2012


God has really been working in my heart lately in some areas that need repentance.  It's hard to teach and preach God's Word to people without living it out on a consistent basis.  The major area where I need to walk in repentance is my love relationship with Jesus.  I like to refer to it as my devotional life.  I feel like if I'm not wholly devoted to Jesus and knowing him more intimately, then everything else will start to crumble around me.  To be honest, I've allowed the work of ministry, all good stuff, to stand in the way of my intimacy with the Almighty.  I've been fighting... but not fighting hard.  God called me to repentance this week and I am committed to falling in love with Jesus all over again.

God also called me to repentance in another area.  I pray passionately for my city to be transformed by the gospel of Jesus.  I sincerely want to see a movement of God sweep over our city in such a powerful way that other cities, other people, other nations look to Tacoma, WA and want to know what on earth is happening that could transform culture in such a supernatural way.  I was at the "Send North America" conference this past week in Atlanta, GA and a questions was asked that really led me to repentance.  Someone asked everyone in the room, "If God decided to move in your city but he decided to do it through a different church, would you still pray as passionately for your city?"  Ouch.  That one stung.  Although I do love Jesus and do love my city, my motives were brought to light in that moment.  I realized that my main motivation recently in praying for my city has not been life change, it has been that God would use The Pathway as the spark to ignite this flame.  God knows our hearts.  God knows my heart.  I want Tacoma to be flipped upside down by the power of the Holy Spirit but I don't want to care if it's my church or any other church that God uses in the process.  I simply long to be faithful.

I have also felt a strong need to repent when it comes to the way I love my wife.  In all honesty, I think I probably am a good husband on most counts.  I am truly in love with my wife.  But over the last several months I have given my "best" to the people of our church and saved the leftovers for Jesus and my wife.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.  I'm called to love my bride the way Jesus loves his bride.  And I have not done that.  Walking in repentance is humbling, challenging and exhausting.  But it is effective and most importantly it is glorifying to God.

Yesterday I tried to follow the Spirit's lead and call our church to repentance.  We did several things differently in our worship time but one thing we did was have people right the things they need to repent of on an index card and nail (actually tape) it to the cross where it belongs.  We challenged people to mark this moment in their hearts as a milestone on the road to repentance.  Now I expected people to put blank cards up there or one word answer.  But God blew my mind.  People were broken and wrote lists and paragraphs of things that they know they need to repent of.  It was amazing.  Please, pray for our church as we walk the road of repentance and pray that God will use us in whatever way he chooses to bring him glory in our city.