For those who don't know, my wife Kelli had strange abscess in her bottom lip that popped up very quickly about 2 weeks ago. She went from bad to worse pretty quickly and before we knew it she was in major pain, had her lip sliced open three times and was extremely sick. A week ago Thursday we found ourselves in a plastic surgeons office and Friday Kelli had surgery to clean out her lip. By God's grace Kelli's mom flew in from Dallas to help with her recovery, help with the kids and ultimately to celebrate thanksgiving with us. For all the health issues Jagen and Rylan have had I often take Kelli's health for granted. She's pretty much back to 100% now and I'm certainly thankful for that. God is so gracious. Thank you for your prayers.
Two weeks ago when I posted an update on our vision series I asked you to be praying for several things. One of those things is the series we launched this past Sunday called Advent Conspiracy. If you're not familiar with it you can learn about it at www.adventconspiracy.org. It's an awesome movement of churches in America who are trying to reclaim Christmas from our consumeristic culture for the glory of God. I tell you what, we're in week 1 and it is rocking my world. Each week has a different theme but the basic idea is to remind ourselves that Christmas is about Jesus. In doing so, the goal is that we would be much more intentional with our spending and gift giving. The idea is that if we think more about what we give, we will not spend our money on frivilous things that will be forgotten about or thrown away in a month. The hope and prayer of Advent Conspiracy is that the money we save by getting creative and thoughtful with our giving, can be given back to Jesus for his glory, his mission and his purpose.
I'm incredibly excited about the way The Pathway has decided to give back to Jesus. Some of our ladies have set up a weekend of inexpensive and creative gift making using our church network called The City along with that insane thing called Pintrest. They are rallying the church to spend less and give more... two of the Advent Conspiracy themes. In the meantime, we have picked a local cause and a global cause that our church is going to give to. Every week people can designate their giving to one of these causes and then we are going to take up an offering at our Christmas Eve gathering where 100% of the giving will go to these causes.
The first cause is a halfway house in our neighborhood . It's a home for women and their children who are in recovery and God has blessed us with the opportunity to get to know many of the ladies. Quite a few of them are now an active part of our church. It's amazing to see the change in these ladies lives and their hunger to know Jesus. The global cause is to support an organization called Living Water International. The mission is pretty amazing. They have identified a need... the global water crisis... and they are intentionally helping provide clean water for people who don't have access to it and at the same time are sharing living water, the gospel of Jesus.
In just one week it's been phenomenal to see the response of our church. This is the first time we've intentionally pushed ourselves to look beyond Tacoma for the purpose of meeting physical and spiritual needs. I don't know what will happen over the next 4 weeks but I ask you to pray that our church, myself included, would take our eyes off the gods of consumerism that have attempted to steal Christmas and place our faith back in the God of the universe who gave us his only Son Jesus.
A closing story... the first week's theme was Worship Fully. One of the things we talked about was that to worship fully means that we have to always worship. We have to take worship into our homes. I challenged our church to read the Christmas story in Luke 2 with our families at least once a week for the rest of the advent season. Kelli and I started tonight by reading to our kids from the Jesus Storybook Bible. As a parent, it was one of those moments that humbles you and makes you so thankful for the love and grace of God. By the time we were part way through the story Jagen was anxiously awaiting what would happen next with "baby Jesus." Of course it hasn't all registered yet. But we are prayerfully and intentionally trying to teach our children (and ourselves), that Christmas isn't about giving in general, it's about the one gift that changed everything. It's about God's gift to us... Jesus.