Monday, August 26, 2013

Finding myself in Awe of our God

Because we live in Tacoma, we have the joy of being able to view the majesty of Mt. Rainier on a regular basis.  It is truly awe-inspiring.  However, after living here for 3+ years, I often find myself looking right past this miraculous mountain.  It has become normal to me.  But then there are those moments, when the mountain has been hiding behind the clouds for weeks or even months at a time, when it bursts back into the spotlight and I once again find myself standing still, jaw dropped, in awe of it's beauty.

Unfortunately I often find myself in the same situation with the God of the universe.  He is no less majestic today than the day I first met him personally.  But because he is a daily part of my life I often find myself treating him in a "business as usual" sort of way.  It's crazy to even put it in words.  But I truly find myself viewing God as someone normal.  Shame on me.

Well, yesterday God gave me a wake-up call.  For those of you who have been following Jesus for an extended amount of time, you probably know what I am talking about.  We get into our routines.  We believe God is real and worthy of worship, but we start treating him like any other aspect of our life.  We just loose our sense of awe.  And then, when we least expect it, he bursts back into the forefront of our lives and reminds us of just how unworthy he is and how awesome he is.

We have been praying for our friend Tiffany to give her life to Jesus for some time now.  We met her at one of our community dinners during March into April.  Tiffany and my wife Kelli have become fast friends and really our families have just become really close.  Tiffany has been wrestling with God, even pursuing him, but hesitating to surrender her life to him.  We've been praying and praying.  Then yesterday, during the response time at our worship gathering, Kelli and Tiffany came to me right where I was sitting and told me that it was the day.  She was ready to trust Jesus!  Another couple in our IC was sitting next to us and was able to celebrate the moment.  It was truly awesome!

At the end of the gathering we got to introduce Tom Abbott, who we were able to send to Seattle to plant a church almost 2 years ago.  He got to share all that God was doing in Seattle, introduce his core team, and share with us how we could partner with their church to reach Seattle with the gospel.  The fourth part of our vision as a church is to send missionaries to plant new churches.  I was in awe of the fact that God would use our church, still in it's infancy, to do just that.

Immediately after the gathering I took 3 out of 4 people in to a meeting about our first global mission trip as a church.  God has given us the opportunity to team up with another church in our area to send a pioneer group from The Pathway to learn about global and short term missions.  It was amazing to sit back and soak in all that God is doing.  To think about God taking a group from our church all the way to South Africa to plant the gospel is nothing short of miraculous.  It's humbling.  It's awesome.

I'm reminded of a song that we sing a lot as a church.  Our God is greater, our God is stronger, our God is higher than any other.  Our God is healer AWESOME in power.

Just basking in the awesomeness of God today.  I think we should all do this more often.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Through My Eyes..D

First and foremost I want to thank all of you who prayed for & supported KiDCity kick-off.  There is no way we could be saturating as much of Tacoma with the gospel as we have been without your extreme generosity, faithful prayers and willingness to come & help.  I thought I'd give you a glimpse at KiDCity Kick-off through my eyes.  It will be an honest look & my hope is that it will lead you deeper into fervent prayer not only for our family, church and city, but for your own mission field as well.

KiDCity Kick-off Block Party: This was day #1 and I usually stress over the first day of our BIG outreaches the most.  It's the starting point, the event or moment that sets the tone.  It was Sunday morning and I had been stressing over logistics and whether or not there would be a good turn-out.  I had been in TX the week leading up to the kick-off so I felt like I was a little behind.  But God is so good.  My beautiful and supportive wife allowed me to get away (as she always does) on Sunday morning and just be with Jesus.  During that time he reminded me who does the work... and it's definitely not me.  He brought me into our outdoor worship gathering with a peace in my soul and it was awesome not just to worship through the gathering, but through the ensuing block party.  We had a group of 2 families from a local church, High Pointe, that supports us in so many ways come out to help us.  You have no idea the power of knowing there are other believers who have your back.  The block party was a huge success in every way.

HayDay Kids Club: Our expectations were high for Kids Club.  Last year we had a mission team lead our first Kids Club.  We sprung it on them at the last minute with very little advertising to our church or the community.  They did a great job and we learned a lot so we were expecting even greater things this year.  We had a new partner coming to host Kids Club this year, Humble Area First Baptist Church.  Before I get to the actual Kids Club I just want to share my perspective on this group.  Most churches have trouble fielding a mission team that consists of anyone over the age of 22.  This church brought 21 adults ages 18-50+ including their senior pastor & wife, missions pastor & wife as well as their children's pastor.  Their were multiple ladies on the trip whose husbands had used their vacation time to stay home with the kids while they went on mission.  Their was one couple, Paul & Amanda, who found multiple homes for their 5 boys to stay in while they came together on mission.

As I watched the kids club unfold I was amazed.  We had more than double the kids that we had the previous year.  The gospel was shared.  The kids were loved on and the parents were visibly moved by how much we cared about their kids.  One young boy was even moved to tears on the final night when he realized many of the adults who had loved him were going home.  We have known this boy and his mom for well over a year now and it was amazing to see them in worship on Sunday.

Community Block Party: For those of you who know Tacoma or the Seattle area, you know that although it rains a lot during the year, rain seldom comes in August and we almost never get thunder storms.  The night before the block party we got both.  Thunder, lightning and rain.  And the forecast was calling for more of the same the night of the block party.  The band that would be playing even called to see if we were calling it off.  We pressed on... with small faith (on my part anyway).  But God was so good.  Not only did he hold back the rain (that was hitting to the north of us), he also brought the people.  We had our largest block party to date.  It was amazing to see the "plan" working thanks to the grace of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit.  The mission team was handling all the behind the scenes work and our people were with the community.  I think we still have room to grow.  These outreaches are supposed to be intentional.  We try and sacrifice time with the community of believers so we can spend time with the community as a whole.  As I walked around I saw lots of opportunities and I trust that God was moving hearts together.  It was amazing to see God move.  It was amazing to see the community come together and experience the love of God first hand.

KidCity Launch: Sunday was our launch.  We had invited kids and families to come for our KiDCity launch, to get a KiDCity backpack with school supplies and a "Jesus Storybook Bible."  We were expecting a HUGE turn-out based on all that God had been doing.  I was so excited Sunday morning to see face after face walk into Franklin Elementary that I didn't recognize.  It was so amazing to see our church step up and volunteer as greeters, KidCity workers, etc. so that our community would feel welcome.  When it was all said and done I will be honest, I was disappointed at the turn-out.  I think I'm not supposed to say that as a pastor and leader.  But it was hard to see the mass of people at the block party Saturday and the smaller fraction that was at our gathering on Sunday.

But here's what I have to remember.  What we have to remember.  3 things really...
1) It's not about the gathering, it's about the gospel.  I say it over and over but when the rubber meets the road I often forget.  We're trying to change a culture with the love of God and the good news of Jesus.  It's going to take time and the harvest isn't going to come from the gathering, the gathering will ultimately come from the harvest.  Think about it.  There is a significant difference there.

2) Jesus said in Matthew 7:14, For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.  I cannot get discouraged when the words of Jesus prove true.  But we cannot back down.  While the number is few, there is always room for more.

3) 2 Chronicles 7:14, If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, than I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  All those faces, all those people, all those souls created by God at the block party need the good news of Jesus.  We cannot force it on them.  But we can pray desperately to the Father that he would open their hearts and that they would put their trust in him.

KiDCity Kick-off was a gift from God and he is not finished yet!  Please continue to pray for the children and families that we met and that the gospel would not just transform individual lives, but families all over central Tacoma!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Update-- KiDCity Kick-off

What a whirl-wind the last several days have been.  I spent all of last week in Texas and Oklahoma.  I was in Texas for the "Send" conference put on by the North American Mission Board and it was an inspiring couple of days.  Churches are being planted all across our country and the gospel is impacting lives everywhere.

I got home late Friday night and was able to spend all day Saturday with Kelli, Jagen and Rylan.  It was so good to see their faces and spend a whole day with my beautiful family.  The longer I'm married and the older the kids get, the more miss them when I have to be gone.  After a day of catching up with the family it was time for KiDCity Kick-off.

We have been going through 1 Peter as a church and as I was preparing to preach through chapter 5 this past week vs. 7 really resonated with me.  Peter instructs the church by saying, "cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."  I have a tendency to stress out leading up to a big outreach like this.  I want so badly for everything to go perfectly that I try to play the role of "Holy Spirit."  I focus so hard on making sure every detail is in order that I get in the way of what God really wants to do.  Not to mention I don't end up enjoying the process at all.  Well thankfully God had us in 1 Peter 5 this week and he reminded me to cast my anxieties on him.  To literally lay them at the foot of the cross.  As a result, Sunday was perfect.

We kicked things off with an outdoor worship gathering.  The whether was beautiful and so many people showed up early to get things set-up.  We sang praises to Jesus, taught the Scriptures and had a special prayer time for KiDCity Kick-off.  Then came the block party.  It was great to see so many people start to make their way to the party.  People came from all over.  Our folks invited friends, new faces, old faces, so man central Tacoma neighbors.  It was awesome to see the body of Christ come together to love our neighbor.  The Reptile Man came and did a show for us.  We got to see, touch and take pictures with lizards, turtles, snakes (including a cobra) and an alligator.  It was incredible.  To see the joy on the faces of parents and children, laughing together and feeling the love of God was an awesome thing.

Then today we got to pick up Humble Area First Baptist Church from the airport.  This is their first mission trip to Tacoma and it kicked-off with a bang.  They got off the plane, got some lunch, checked into the hotel and then got to work on night #1 of HayDay Kids Club.  Twenty-one adults who decided to reorient their lives around taking the gospel to Tacoma.  I am blown away.  The Kids Club was awesome!  The team was incredibly prepared and just loved on the kids the whole time.  We had over 30 kids including 4 sets of twins!  Many of the parents of some of the new children stayed and watched.  We got to meet people and be intentional as we stood by and watched our kids play, sing and learn.  What an awesome opportunity God has given us.

Thank you for praying.  Thank you so much for asking God to move in power!  He is working.  Please continue to pray as our mission team is out in the community this week.  Pray that even more kids and families would connect to our KiDCity Kick-off.  Pray for salvation to come to entire families!