Monday, August 24, 2015

Wow! God does pretty cool stuff.

I absolutely love Pathway baptisms!  By God's grace they seem to always be personal, powerful and full of life.  They are a celebration of new life in Christ and there is nothing worthy of greater celebration than the Holy Spirit regenerating the heart of a person.  God is so good and so gracious and I pray that we get to celebrate baptism more and more and more over the coming days, weeks, months and years.  I pray that baptism becomes contagious.  I pray that people are motivated by the picture of baptism to go out and make disciples of their family, friends, co-workers and neighbors so that we can worship Jesus through baptism more and more.  It's beautiful.  It's powerful.

Yesterday we saw two amazing things happen in our Sunday gathering.  First, we baptized a friend of mine that I honestly never thought we would see come to trust in and follow Jesus including making the bold statement to be baptized.  My friends name is Mat and I'm pretty sure I met him around 4 years ago.  He has some extremely close friends, family for all intents and purposes, that we got to know through a series of circumstances.  Over the years we baptized quite a few people that Mat was extremely close to and he always came in support of them, but never really seemed open to coming into the life of the church himself.

Most recently his nephew Devon gave his life to Jesus and was baptized.  Mat and his girlfriend Antigony came to Devon's baptism just to support him in this major life event.  I'm pretty sure it was one of the first times Antigony had ever been to a church service.  Well, the Holy Spirit did what the Holy Spirit so often does, he fell on our congregation in a powerful way and specifically on Mat and Antigony.  He spoke to them through the faithful testimony of their middle school aged nephew and their lives have not been the same since!

Antigony was baptized in June and they have stepped deeply into the life of our church through Intentional Community.  To be quite honest, it's difficult now to picture the church without them.  Mat has been being discipled in a variety of ways and has wanted to make sure of his commitment to Christ before following in baptism.  This Sunday was finally the day.  He invited friends and family, we shared his testimony and he confessed with his mouth, "Jesus is Lord!"  It was incredibly worshipful and I'm still in awe of the life change God brings through death and resurrection of his Son Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.  All glory is due to our God who loves to save!

The second incredible thing that happened yesterday was a spontaneous baptism.  We usually don't open up baptism to people on the spot because we've learned that it doesn't usually lead to disciples for us.  That's not at all to say that it doesn't for others, but for us it just hasn't been fruitful for the Kingdom.  But after I got done preaching this Sunday I went to sit down in my sweet and a young man named Corey grabbed me.  He's probably in his mid-twenties.  He said, "Will you baptize me today?"  He's a close friend of a gal in our church and has been throughs me incredibly difficult times.  We talked, we prayed, and he confidently professed Jesus as Lord!  We got to baptize Corey... in his regular clothes... freezing and dripping afterward... and it was a powerful, bold, and beautiful testimony of the life change that only comes through Christ.  We didn't have to invite Corey to be baptized, just as the Ethiopian declared to Philip after trusting the gospel, “See, here is water! yWhat prevents me from being baptized?” Corey's response to the gospel was to seek out obedience to Jesus.  I stand amazed and pray for more and more people to come to Christ and be baptized.

Please pray for Mat, Antigony and Corey as they learn what it is to be a disciple of Jesus.  As they feel the weight and the burden along with the joy and surrender of taking up their cross daily and following Jesus.  And in all things, to God be the glory, the praise and the honor forever and ever.  Amen!

Monday, August 3, 2015

An Insider Perspective

We have reached the end of what I like to call our "church summer."  We've seen 8 mission teams come and go, we've hosted 4 block parties, launched what we hope to be our first annual soccer camp, and worked alongside 7 PHENOMENAL interns!  I'm now, thanks to the generosity of one of our partner churches, sitting in the kitchen of a rented house in Nashville, TN preparing to attend the SEND North America conference.  A few days before leaving I asked one of our interns, Paige Edwards, to write about her summer with The Pathway so I could share it with you.  I hope her perspective is an encouragement to you...

Intern Paige
I’ve been back in the Midwest for approximately 32 hours, and I can think of nothing else but my summer being a student missionary in the Pacific Northwest. I think of Tacoma, from the Hilltop to North End. I think of The Pathway Church, and the family I didn’t know I had there until I arrived. I think of the Interns, the best team I could have ever asked for. And I think of Jesus and the way he used this city to stir up my heart. 

I think of things I Learned
I learned that the Acts 2 church does exist, and it looks very different than what I could of ever imagined. I saw the church together, but it wasn’t necessarily in the church building. It was at the park, by the water, on the streets, in the houses, and it was together on Sunday mornings at a building that they gathered in to worship. I saw the church meeting together, loving together, and giving together. Meeting together in Intentional Communities at least one time a week and sometimes more. I saw them loving together, on each other during tough days and on their community every day. I saw them giving together. Giving their time, money, food, and cars. To each other, to us interns, and to people they barely knew. 

I learned more about grace than I ever could explain. As hard as this summer was, my head was that much harder. I was determined week one that I could do my job on my own, without help so that I wouldn’t be a hindrance to anyone. It was in that weakness and stubbornness the Lord showed me his grace yet again. It was in those holes, that he showed me that even after all these years I am still in great need of his grace. And after seeing my continual need of grace, I saw his great love in giving it to us.

I think of Love.

At the Nativity House. (The Nativity House is a day shelter for the homeless and also has emergency overnight housing)
Day after day we were enamored  by people that walked through that building. From 89 to 23, I saw people in all areas of life.  And every single one of them solidified the love of our Father.  I saw the way Mara, the director of the Nativity House poured his love out over them. I saw the way Johnny the chef acted in the Lords love through his words, prayers and exhortation of all the guests that came into his contact.  And I saw the way that love gave light to the eyes of the hopeless, and I saw the way that love gave the next step to those who are stigmatized to be at the end of their means. 

I think of The Pathway. 
They lifted us interns back to God consistently. They guided us, they nurtured us, and they loved us in a way that I can scarcely explain. They treated us as family, taking us in for meals, laundry and so much more. They showed us community in a way not seen by many. They made a summer internship, a lifelong friendship.

I think of the Interns
I have never ever worked with a group that has loved so well. And from the very beginning Adam (The Pathway's Associate Pastor and overseer of the summer interns) told us that he didn’t choose one member of this group, but that God chose us all. This I believe because of the way our dynamic was so beautifully organized. From our desires and gifts to our very working styles it all just fit. I saw them express their love in music, service, leadership and action. They loved selflessly and they loved endlessly. They loved through weakness, stubbornness, and they loved in times when it was hard to love at all. 

And I think of Humility and Redemption
When I first came to the Pacific Northwest I guess I internally believed that I was going to a place where Jesus wasn’t found. That I was going into the dark. And that it was up to me to save them. That completely changed the day I stepped of
f that plane. I came to a city alight with the redeeming love of Christ. A city that like all of us, that is just a work in progress. God humbled me, and he encouraged me. I saw that he chose me to help serve a city that he has already saved. A city that he is already doing the work for and a city that is growing brighter as the days pass by. He showed me that just as he has chosen me, that he has chosen them. He has chosen them and he will continue to seek after them waiting for them to come home.

Tacoma was nothing like what I expected it to be. And for that I am so thankful. Thankful for God to use the unexpected of this lovely northwest city to teach me, love me, humble me, redeem me, and change me. I will never know to what extent God used me to bring change to Tacoma, but I can see for certain the way God used Tacoma to bring change to me.