Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer has arrived!

Summer is finally here!  It's hard to believe that this is our 5th summer in Tacoma.  God has done so much but I am confident that he is not even close to finished.  So how can you be praying?

1) Please be praying for our summer interns Kevin & Paige.  Kevin is living with a young man named Jason who actually interned with us during our first summer.  Jason just moved to Tacoma a couple months ago and intentionally moved into the apartment complex where he is living so that he could work with the interns to saturate that apartment complex with the gospel.  Paige is living with Brittany, another fairly new member of The Pathway who also responded to our request to move into that apartment complex with missional intentionality to help the interns bring the hope of the gospel.  Well, God is already moving.  The interns spent all last week doing small things to bless their neighbors.  They knocked on doors passing out cookies and baked muffins to give away one morning.  All this culminated in a bbq they had been inviting people to that took place Saturday evening.  The bbq was a success and they got to meet a lot of new people.  One young man even came to our worship gathering on Sunday.  God is at work but Kevin and Paige will be serving diligently through August 10th so please lift them and their apartment complex up in prayer!

2) Please be praying for our first mission team.  Trinity Baptist church in Ada, OK has been sending teams to work with us since our days in Snoqualmie.  Their teams are usually full of young (youth, college, young adults), passionate and prepared people who are willing to be stretched.  This year seems to be no different as the team arrived on Saturday and is already hard at work.  They prayer walked the community where they will be working yesterday and they are actually walking the streets as I'm writing this blog praying, looking for people and giving out free coffee in the name of Jesus.  They will be hosting intentional lunches every day at two different parks... People's Park in the Hilltop and Franklin Park in central Tacoma.  The two prayers for this team is that they would have opportunities to share the gospel and that they would have opportunities to invite folks to the block party they are hosting at Franklin elementary Thursday evening.  Please keep this team in your prayers and pray for salvation and an awesome block party Thursday where our church can connect with the people they've been meeting!

3) Please be praying for the family considering a move to Tacoma.  God opened a door quite a while back for us to begin talking and praying with a young family who is considering coming to Tacoma to help fill a pretty specific need we have.  They came for a visit a couple weeks ago and we could visibly see them wrestling with the magnitude of the possibility and the depth of the calling.  Please pray for this couple.  Pray that God would give them wisdom, discernment, clarity and passion for where God wants them to be.

4) Finally, please be praying for our Intentional Communities.  I feel like a broken record at times, but we are still struggling to develop the leaders that we need as fast as we need them.  We launched 4 Intentional Communities just after Easter and 2 of them are already busting at the seams, desperately needing to multiply!  The other 2 are not far behind numerically and will need to multiply soon.  The hard part is leadership and geography.  We take a geographic approach to starting IC's and we are trying hard to target Hilltop and Central Tacoma right now.  However, many of our prepared leaders live in other communities.  Please pray for wisdom and discernment as we seek to multiply.

Thank you for your continued prayers.  God is moving, the kingdom is growing and we are excited to see what the summer holds!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Answered prayers...

Time sure does fly doesn't it?  I just don't know where the time is going.  I'm sitting in one of my favorite places right now  spending time with Jesus and praying through the direction of my own life, how I can be more effective at touching people with the gospel and the direction of our church.  Where we are and where we're headed.  In doing so, I've been thinking about all that is going on in Tacoma through The Pathway right now that I oversee, but I'm not directly in charge of.  That led me to a moment of thankfulness for the way God answers prayer.

About a year and a half ago God gave me a clear picture of a new approach to accomplish our vision for Tacoma.  There was a lot to it but one of the things it required was developing a staff to work with who could give significant time to their areas of ministry oversight.  There were 5 positions that needed to be filled and God has filled 4 of them.  I'm not sure what his plan is for the fifth, but based on how perfectly he filled the other four, I trust that his answer will come in the right way and at the right time.

I just wanted to take a moment to give some thanks to God for these 4 answered prayers.

1) Donna Christian-- Anyone who came to worship with The Pathway before Easter 2012 knows that our gatherings were pretty interesting.  I love worship.  Often you would find me playing the guitar and singing (not pleasant for those listening) and then preaching.  It felt like the "Bobby" show at times and I did not like it.  We would often not sing at all and God used those moments to teach us the heart of worship.  But shortly after God laid these part-time staff positions on my heart, he brought Donna and her husband Josh to our staff.  Donna has been an answer to prayer.  She has taken our worship team from nothing to a 5 member team.  They are growing in their leadership and have done such an amazing job of allowing our church to sing praises to Jesus!  It has been amazing to see God stretch Donna out of her comfort zone and to see him build in her a humble confidence that he has equipped her to lead.  God has blessed & I am so thankful.

2) Stacie Hooks-- One of the positions I felt compelled to fill was a director of Intentional Communities.  I needed someone who could passionately lead in recruiting and training Intentional Community Leaders.  Someone who shared my Church. Different. heart that church is not a place we go, it's who we are.  Someone who was not afraid to ask for my guidance and help but who didn't need me to hold their hand every step of the way.  Stacie has filled that role and then some.  I think her heart and desire to see Intentional Communities birthed and effectively infiltrate Tacoma matches my heart in every way.  She has trained up leaders, written material, made hard decisions and has done a fantastic job.  She has also taken on the oversight of our mission teams and interns which is a full-time job itself in the summer.  The load that Stacie has lifted off of my shoulders is indescribable and has made it possible for us not simply to reach more lost people, but to effectively train them up in the gospel.  I'm so thankful.

3) Jenna Jones-- One of the positions I was most burdened to fill was that of Kids Ministry Director.  Our church at the time was mainly young single folks so there was no obvious person to fill this position.  Despite the make-up of our congregation, I was under a deep conviction that if we were going to reach our community and our city we had to be able to reach and connect with children and their families.  That's when Jenna came to me and said, "I don't know if you want me to do this, I have no experience, but I think God has called me to fill this position."  She told me that she had recently been prayed over and the person had shared that he felt God leading her to work with children.  She was skeptical but then heard of The Pathway's need.  Jenna's leadership is a testimony to her faithfulness to God and the power of how God take "untrained" folks and use them in supernatural ways.  Under Jenna's leadership we have seen our kids ministry grow from 6-25+ kids.  More amazingly we've seen her disciple parents by placing them in roles that stretch them.  We've seen parents disciple their kids simply by reading the Jesus story book Bible to them every night.  God answered a prayer and I am so thankful.

4) Kyler Phillips-- I also knew I needed someone to fill a ministry assistant role.  Someone who had a passion for people but a skill to handle tasks that were taking far too much time for me to accomplish.  Collecting offering and partnership contributions, making deposits, handling reimbursements, answering phones, and much much more.  Kyler, on top of her full-time job, has answered that call.  No credit, no glory... no pay!  She simply does things that need to be done and does them well.  Kyler's first major project was to implement, train and make effective our on-line ministry network that connects and communicates with our entire church.  She has done a phenomenal job and the use of this tool is increasing every day it seems.  God answered.  I am thankful.

I, like so many I'm sure, get caught up in the craziness of every day life and forget to reflect on and be thankful for how far God has brought us.  It's not just that my load has been lifted by these faithful women.  It's that our capacity to see kingdom growth and make disciples has increased and as a result disciples have been/are being made in greater numbers and the kingdom of God is growing!  God answers prayers and I am so thankful!

Monday, June 10, 2013

It's time for the MEN to OBEY!

Paul writes in Ephesians 6:4... Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, ubut bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  This verse stuck with me when I read it in my devotional time with Jesus last week.

It led me to the conclusion that It's time for the MEN to OBEY!

Fathers... it doesn't get any more manly than that.  Not all men are fathers, but all fathers are men.  Paul is speaking directly to men in this passage.  He's speaking to men with responsibilities, with a family, with a wife and children.  He is speaking to the men of the church in Ephesus.

Bring them up in the discipline & instruction of the Lord... When I read this I started to think about it deeply.  I began asking myself how I'm doing at this task, this charge, this calling.  I have two 3 year olds.  Am I bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord?  If this is my calling, how can I do it?  If it's my responsibility, how can I be ready, equipped & prepared?

Then I began thinking about the men in my city?  The word father evokes so many different emotions.  Many have no father.  Many don't know who their father is.  So many in our city have been abused, neglected or flat out ignored by their father.  Some have been brought up by their father, but in the ways of the world rather than the ways of the Lord.

When I think of the word father I think of men who should be the rock that holds and leads a family together by faithfully following and pursuing Jesus.  Instead I too often see men who leave, run from and shirk the responsibilities of family.  Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord? So many fathers don't bring their children up at all.  Mother's are too often left with the full responsibility of raising their children.  Why?  For no other reason than God created them to bear children therefore it's much easier for men to run away, ignore or completely abandon what they see as a "problem."  

What if?  What if the Fathers in your church decided to Bring them [their children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord?  What implications would that have on your family, your church, your community, our nation, our world and most importantly the Kingdom of God?  As I think, as I pray and as I dream of a church full of men who passionately pursue obedience to this instruction from the Apostle Paul, I think of quite a few amazing, life altering, God-glorifiy implications.  

     1) More children than ever would have a father.  Not just a "baby daddy" as so many in our culture describe the man who "simply" impregnated the mother.  Children would actually have a man in their life, married to their mom, who is actively engaged in their up-bringing.  Children would have a daddy who loves and pursues them the way our heavenly Father loves and pursues all of us.

     2) Father's would have an active relationship with Jesus.  In order to bring children up in the ways of the Lord, you have to know the ways of the Lord.  In order to learn the ways of the Lord, Father's would find themselves engaged with the church... the body of Christ.  They would find themselves reading God's word... the Bible.  They would find themselves praying... because that's what the Bible tells them to do.  They would find themselves filled with, led by and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God!  How amazing this would be.

     3) The horrific cycle of shattered homes, absentee fathers and aimless, godless, directionless children would be broken.  Son's would grow up to be godly men.  Daughters would be raised up to marry men of character, men of integrity... men of God.

     4) The Kingdom of God would expand... rapidly!  If only men would listen to this simple instruction from Paul, God's Kingdom would multiply.  When we bring our kids up in the ways of the Lord, we're making them into disciples of Jesus.  We're fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).  What do all fully developed disciples do?  They make more disciples.  

From the simple decision to obey God's command... Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, ubut bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord...  we could see an entire city, an entire nation, a whole world flipped upside down by men, husbands and fathers, making the choice to stand up and be what God has called and equipped them to be.

I believe It's time for the MEN to OBEY. By the grace of God... I'm in.  

Will you join me?