A Mosaic of Broken Pieces – Part 1
The other day my dad celebrated 3 years of sobriety from an alcohol and drug addiction. If you knew my dad, this is no small thing. Because of this he is humble and understands grace on a level I may never know. Most of my life he struggled with the enslavement of addiction and could not overcome its power. He had a hard life growing up due to several divorces and step- dad after step-dad. Finally he dropped out of school at an early age and went on chasing after his lustful desires of this earth, which only led to a life of destructive patterns. After he met my mother I was born soon after and then 3 sisters following. Much of what I remember as a child was this repetitive cycle of drug abuse, physical abuse, and mental abuse. There were more nights than I care to remember when we were not sure whether he would come home or if we would ever see him again. For some reason though, God kept him alive and continued to watch over him. God loved him through the entire process. Many had given up on him; myself included. In fact, until a few years ago I resented my dad more than anyone. I had a deeply ingrained bitterness in my heart toward him. Funny how I served a God with endless love and yet had so much hatred in my heart.
Dad knew Jesus on a personal level, but the flesh was bound with such a strong chemical addiction that he battled it for decades. He had a heavenly Father that continued to forgive him and lavish him with love. Others in my family would try and help him but I was not interested in wasting my time. I was a minister and too busy to help him. Ironic right? I’d say so, but that’s the way I felt. After all he was never there for me when I needed him most so why would I help him? Little did I know, God was slowly teaching me about relentless love. A kind of love that loves even when someone does not deserve it. A kind of love that never holds back and does not depend on ones actions. That’s how God loved me, I just didn’t quite get it at the time. Theologically I did but practically I didn’t. I didn’t know this then, but I used knowledge as an excuse to not deal with my heart. I think many people often have an intellectual knowledge of a truth but practically have no idea what it means. Experience always deepens knowledge, which has been a true principle in my life. I love to learn and continued getting more and more education, possibly as a sort of medicine for not dealing with the hatred in my heart. Achievement was my way of ensuring I would not become like my dad, but I knew in my heart something was wrong.
You see, one of the reason’s I hated my dad was because I didn’t think he loved me. I assumed that his addiction was more important to him than me (in some ways maybe it was), and that there was no way he could love me. How could he live in such deep sin and say he loved me? But now I understand and have been growing in that understanding since. I realize now that I still mess up and make mistakes. Over and over again. Like the Apostle Paul I do things I don’t want to do and certain things I want to do I don’t and yet I still love my wife and son more than anything in the world (Romans 7:15).
After I married Ashley and we finished grad school we moved to Houston and began ministering to young married families. To our excitement we found out we were going to have a baby. I had no idea how much my life was about to change. God was about to wreck me (for the good) on so many levels. It seems like only yesterday that Beau was born. I will never forget this day. I thought I understood love, but that was barely true. I remember standing with my wife as she labored to deliver my son. Crazy amazing! I began to love her more deeply and differently after that moment. Then I saw my son for the first time, and as I held him, something weird happened. I began thinking of my dad and my heavenly father. I don’t know why and I don’t know exactly how to put this into words, but an amazing peace came over me in that moment. By looking at my crying son, I forgave my dad. Literally, in that moment I began to understand a father’s love for his son. It was a new reality I had never experienced and it changed my heart in every way. There was no longer bitterness toward my dad. I began to realize what it means to be willing to die for someone. Jesus did that for me and after that moment I saw some broken pieces in my own life come together. It’s a chain of Father’s love trickling down from generation to generation. Addictions and mistakes cannot change that. Our Heavenly Father demonstrates this toward us on a perfect level. My heart rejoices with gratitude for the Love of God.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not things present not things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Pretending to be More Than a Man
In a world of social media we have “wanna be” celebrities running around everywhere. There are tons of “fake it, till ya make it” people available on every account. Social media has become a free platform to vent, grow your own following, and become some sort of distant leader. Reality says this is our new world. Problematically, its often at least in partial, a facade. Or partial truth. But Hey! That’s marketing right?
In my field it grows very difficult to not become more than a man. I live in a world of celebrity pastors and google theologians. Everyone is Awesome?!? This is ironic in a field when we teach about a fallen humanity and the glorious divinity of God. I often feel the burden to perform and become what some have deemed successful. If I’m completely honest I have spiced up a Facebook post or two. We all have, right? As a pastor/church planter I feel pressure to deliver amazing results and present myself as a mega church pastor to the public. Or at least a mega pastor (whatever that looks like). Everyone is doing it and I want everyone to think my life is AWESOME! Of course that’s the same argument I used in the seventh grade to justify Mossimo t-shirts and Doc Marten Sandals. Sometimes I even demonstrate that through a sort of “prideful humility”. I think Paul talks about this in Colossians 2:18 “…going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind.” We talk about the number of people we pastor that’s growing by leaps and bounds, and/or money is coming out of my ears. Truthfully, there are no celebrities but Christ alone.
In reality though, my life is probably more like your life. Normal??? Or abnormally normal. Functionally disfunctional. My family does experience victories, and God has faithfully provided and blessed us beyond measure. But we also experience difficulties. I struggle with discouragement. Some days I wake up extremely motivated and encouraged. Others, I wake up defeated and embarrassed because I took a risk and failed miserably. At the end of the day I am grateful for my wife and son, and I am thankful for my life, but I am not more than a man.
Only a man? Yes, but son of the King of Kings. I love the truth, and the truth tells me my identity is found in Him; my King. The King I serve is more than a man. Good thing my status doesn’t depend on me, or how “awesome” I am! 2000 years ago The Christ lived as a human in the form of a man named Jesus. He experienced pain, and temptations just like I do. But He prevailed (Luke 24:1-12). He is the only one who can truthfully “post” His greatness publicly! However, His greatness comes through humility. He is so great because He was so humble. Not falsely humble, like the Pharisees praying on street corners. He (God) lowered Himself into the form of a man (Jesus) to humbly identify with His creation. He did so, and set the example. It’s not possible for us to be more than human, but we can depend completely on the post-ressurrected ONE who IS. I am learning daily to make less of me and MUCH of HIM, because my sustenance depends upon Him.
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him; He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.”
Psalm 62:5-12 (ESV)
This is definitely no new concept for Ashley and I. In fact, we have heard the cliche’ “just trust God!” hundreds of times in the last 9 months or so of this church planting journey. We often say that phrase to each other on tough days. However, this theoretical concept is much more difficult for us now that we must “actually” depend on Him completely. Honestly the phrase is not so cliche’ to us anymore, because its our new reality. I do not use the term “new” lightly. The concept has been around forever. However, our entire married life has contained stability, at least somewhat predictable outcomes, and easily measurable success. We have enjoyed all of our time in established church ministry, and for the most part we were good at it. We understood established church. Not that everything was easy, or that we always had the answers, because that’s never the case, but it was something we were very familiar with. We had seen it done tangibly, time and time again.
Now we have shifted to a new phase of life. We are church planters. Some would call us missionaries, others would call us crazy. Truthfully I am a little crazy! Its ok though because my wife is sane. That’s why we fit. Needless to say we are moving forward in our specific calling and toward making disciples of all nations. Which in our case includes the rapidly growing population of Baytown, Texas. And slowly but surely we are watching God provide for us exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or think. He is good! Each day is different and most days are filled with surprises. Some good, some tough, but overall it has been amazing to watch The Lord care for His children. We have purposed to teach Beau (our son) this principle. He is only two but he’s learning it. Each time God provides we celebrate it with our son. “Beau Jesus provided for us today! Because He loves us!” We are remembering that our relationship with God is one of sonship. We are His children and He’s the one who provides.
“Trusting” God means we “depend” on God. Kind of like a two year old child depends on his parents. We are learning to become more childlike in dependance on our Father. Isn’t it funny how as “educated” adults, we are re-learning one of the most fundamental principles of our faith….. Trust God.
I love the journey we are on and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:4
COLLECT and SERVE
Summary of Blog Post:
-Last Nights Gathering
-Prayer walks and upcoming events (TPC Serve Tomorrow 10:15 am) (Next Collective Gathering Feb 9th)
-Thanks to Eagle Point Recreation Center in Mont Belvieu!!
Wow! After lasts nights collective event we thank the Lord for His unending love and provision. He truly is Good! Expectations were exceeded, new relationships are beginning to form, and dreams are becoming a reality. One step at a time God is growing HIS church, all glory to Him! It was a milestone collective gathering “on our way” as a missional family. Last night began a new “phrase” and “phase” in the life of the Pathway Church…”Gathering those who have, to serve those who have not.” Its becoming a motto. Not to mention the food was incredible, and homemade desserts were a home run!
Along the way there are two types of events you can be a part of:
The Pathway Church Collective (Gathering those who have,)
The Pathway Church Serve (To serve those who have not)
In all of that we will be living out out our vision “leading people to choose a biblical pathway for real life” and we promise to abide in Christ, connect with others in genuine community, and give of our resources so others can experience Christ.
Join us tomorrow (Feb 2nd) for our first official TPC “Serve” as we meet at the Mont Belvieu city park at 10:15 a.m. under the big pavilion. We will begin a series of prayer walks through key areas, in Mont Belvieu and Baytown. Afterward join us for lunch!
Join us next Sunday (February 9th) for our next “Collective” event 10:15 a.m. at the Eagle Point Recreation Center in Mont Belvieu.
Join us Wednesday Febraury 5th for a Bible Study (We will call these LTG’s or Life Transformation Groups) 7 p.m.
We want to thank all of the great people at the Eagle Point Recreation Center in Mont Belvieu for their gracious service and hosting!
The Pathway Church is Hosting a party!
Friday Night January 31st, 6:30 p.m. Eagle Point Recreation Center Mont Belvieu
We want to get to know our community, and introduce ourselves to some new people. We will also share some vision for our awesome community! Since we like to have fun we decided to simply have a big party. Here’s the deal:
Everyone in our surrounding area is invited
Play some Games and win some Door Prizes
Free professional and safe Childcare so parents can have the evening off.
Get to know some new people
Explore ways to get involved in your community
Begins @ 6:30
@Eagle Point Recreation Center on the North Side of Mont Belvieu
12450 Eagle Point Dr.
Mont Belvieu, Texas 77523
From the bottom our hearts, we would like to thank you for joining us in our 40 Day Journey of Prayer! We have seen the power of prayer at work and God has moved mightily. The Pathway Church has been making some noise in the Mont Belvieu/Baytown Community. (more…)
As most of you know, Chris and I are in the beginning stages of planting a new church in Mont Belvieu, TX…the Pathway Church. After years of God placing church planting on our hearts He has led us to such a time as this. Mont Belvieu is a growing, thriving community with a need for passionate, God-honoring churches. It is our desire to establish ourselves in the community and introduce those around us to what a relationship with Jesus Christ is really all about. (more…)
I am tired of the status quo.
I am tired of scraping by and feeling satisfied with just enough.
God did not call me to live a life that looks like the world. He did not call me to live a life that constantly says “I need to do _________” yet rarely follows through. He didn’t call me to be so comfortable, that I float through life day by day, week by week, and look back and wonder how time went by so fast with little eternal value to show for it. (more…)