God gave us a van

I was on my way home from work, plans for the evening, plans for the next day…I had plans.  And then, crash, I had been in a wreck.  Someone had pulled in front of me as I was coming up to make a left hand turn.  Luckily I wasn’t hurt…only my plans suffered,wreck and the car, which ended up being totaled, we’d find out weeks later.   How could God let this happen?  I had plans to serve him, I was getting more involved in church, I had just preached my first sermon the week before.  And now, this major inconvenience?  What was He thinking?

I laid in bed the next two days and recovered from my soreness, these are the sort of breaks that God has to force me to take sometimes.  It was nice.  And then I had a week intensive class the following week.  I was dead smack in the middle of my summer semester balancing five classes, working, fathering, husbanding, churching…and now I had to deal with this car issue.

moneyFirst the news came that it was totaled and we weren’t getting what we thought it was worth.  Certainly we thought, we couldn’t replace the reliability of the 2005 Honda Civic that Elise had bought new.  We didn’t want to incur any more payments in our fragile financial state.  What was God doing?   Why had he allowed this?

The additional stress of dealing with the insurance and trying to find a car, would through off the carefully orchestrated plan I had made to survive the summer semester.  I was on the fringes again.  My wife was heartbroken that here long held car was gone.  I get it, I had to sell ‘my baby’ when we moved from Seattle.  We fall in love with our cars to some extent.

The insurance cut us to check and wished us well.  I had been researching Auto Trader and Consumer Reports all week in class trying to figure out what was the best deal for us.  Since we are pregnant with out second and hoping for more (probably) we decided to take the plunge and get a minivan.  I was actually pretty excited about that since for the most part I had let my image go.

Helping HandsAnd then God did what only God can do.  He provided a dealer through a trusted friend.  It was a 40 minute hike, but proved useful.  In a matter of days, I had test drove it, had it checked out, a couple things fixed and we were ready.  What was the price?  It was actually below what we had gotten from the bank.  The miles?  20K less than the civic.  We went for it.  And so far we have loved it.

God wrecked my plans…but he was providing for us.  He was loving us.  Not only did we get to struggle through trusting his plan through these events and get to see him provide.  But in the end we essentially upgraded from a civic to a mini-van + $900, -20K miles.  All for the headache of the accident…God is good, and his ways and his plan is better.

Thank you Jesus.

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In God’s timing…

I love how God even ordains our mistakes.  Elise and I were hurrying back from a trip out to Spokane, Wa this weekend to get back in time to help some of our friends move, when we found out it wasn’t until next weekend.

The funny part is we found out 4 hrs into the 5hr drive and because one of our friends called us who was there and had made the same mistake.  So the good news was we had the next three hours free, so we decided to grab an early dinner with this gal.

We had casual conversation and then got to talking about some things going on in her life and before we knew it we were sharing the gospel with this gal and how her Identity is in Christ alone.  She’s had a difficult number of years and it was cool to hear her really open up.

The tears than came down her face were confirmation that this was a God ordained meeting.

After an hour or so we finished up, praising God for the new family that we are in by virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Not only are we sons and daughters of God, but we are brothers and sisters of each other.  It was a joy to get to walk along side one of our sisters through some difficult stuff.

Just another reminder that our God doesn’t make mistakes even when we do.  His purposes are greater than ours and even in the inconsequential things of our lives, God has a plan, and a good one at that.

Thank you Jesus!

What Re:Train is doing to me…

Devastating me.

That about sums up how I feel after a day and a half of Re:train on Preaching & Teaching.  We’ve had some great teachers come in and guide us into the study of God’s Word.  God is revealing to me just how much I think I have something to offer, something to give, or something to bring to the text, when in reality,I don’t.

I have nothing to offer, nothing to bring to the bible.

Scripture stands on its own, it doesn’t need me to interpret it.  Scripture is God breathed, not Justin breathed.  Understanding this has been devastating to my personal image, humbling, but absolutely freeing.  I’m so thankful for God’s power in his word, and for the opportunity to learn about it, and how to study it.

One of our teachers drew this illustration that totally sums up how I have been approaching the bible.  He says some approach the bible like a drunk does to a lamp post, they use it more for support rather than illumination.  We need to come under the authority of Scripture.  I’ve always thought that I did, but now I see more clearly that I bring to the text my own views, my own framework, my own agenda, rather than letting the text speak for itself.

The Holy Spirit, God, has written the bible, and he has does so with purpose and intent.  It’s exciting to come to text now, humbly, looking for the Holy Spirit’s meaning, his direction, his insight.

The Bible is deeper and more sufficient than I ever thought, and I am eternally grateful for it. Thank you Jesus.

Meet Tracy…

Ever have one of those days where God has completely different plans for you than you thought?  This must be what its like to walk by the spirit, you never know where he is going to take you.

This last Friday I was taking a walk to this park that I normally go to in the mornings to pray. But this day it was about noon as I was taking a break from my work.  (I usually work from home on Fridays)  Well I went out to the bench I normally sit on, but for some reason it was soaking wet in the middle of a beautiful day.

So I retreated to another part of the park and sat on a log.  Now in all honesty I just wanted to have some alone time and talk with God, maybe read some scripture.  But not a minute passes and this nice older lady walks by with her mangy dog.  I say hello to be polite, and she greets me back and takes a seat.

We then strike up a conversation, which turns out to last a couple hours.  She reminds me of the lady that played the oracle on the Matrix if you’ve ever seen it.  Very mellow, very laid back, very sweet.  We make small talk for awhile and then we start talking about spirituality, and her journey and my journey.   I got to share my story with her and share the gospel.

As i listened to her story and her continual searching, I couldn’t shake this feeling that Jesus was trying to woo her back to him.  I kept getting a picture of Jesus and the woman and the well.  See she was raised as a minister’s daughter and has been exploring other paths for quite sometime.  But something is still missing.

We wind down the conversation and I feel compelled to pray for her.  That she would come home and let God do something to her, to do something in her, to do something through her.  She’s got a powerful story, and I feel like God wants to use her to reach out to others who are going through what she has been through.  Please join me in praying for her.

Here’s what happened today…Meet David

Please be praying for David.

As some of you may know, I am currently enrolled in the Re:Train program at Mars Hill Church.  Part of our assignment today was to go out into a local neighborhood of the city of Seattle, and learn about the culture.  So myself and two others set out to our particular area.  After walking about 10 min we came across a grungy looking fellow name David, asking if we can get him some food.

One of my friends piped up and said, sure, what would you like?  Turns out he’s a big Mcdonald’s fan, so we took a walk to the nearest McDee’s.  We bought him lunch, got to know him, shared the gospel with him and invited back to the church that evening where all of our teams were going to reassemble.  Surprisingly, he said he would come back.

So we all jumped in my pathfinder and headed back to church.  David had a cup of coffee and we just hung out some more.  Told him about some of the things we do at church, invited back for a service and to a community group.  I then took him home.  It turns out he lives in a one bedroom, but just doesn’t have any friends, or any real motivation.

We prayed for him, bought him some snacks for dinner and made an appointment to see him at church during the 9am.

Now, imagine the sequence of events from his perspective.  He wakes up this morning much like every morning and wanders around the city asking for money.  He occasionally gets money, sometimes a meal, sometimes a coffee or a cigarette.  Sometimes he gets high, sometimes he may have a drink.

But today, he sees three dudes walking down the street and calls out for help, as was his custom.  And they say yes.  Maybe he’s just gonna get a quick meal, but instead he gets three friends for about 4 hours.  They ask him questions, get to know him, act like they actually care about him and keep talking about this guy Jesus.

Well he gets his favorite meal, and then these guys invite him to church.  He figures what the heck, I got nothing better to do, plus I can get some free coffee.  Comes into a church building, which he hasn’t been in since he was a boy, and just rests.  He meets some more people, who share with him different ways the city can help him, gets prayed for again.  Now it’s getting late and time to go home.

So he politely asks for a ride back, and again, they say yes.  So he gets a ride back, gets invited to church again and they say we’ll be looking for you at the 9am, cause we’d love to see him again.  He gets told about Jesus and how his church is full of people that love God and love others and want to be in community with him.

He then is offered some more food for dinner instead of cash, and figures, might as well.  So get’s one last store run and a prayer, and encouragement to come back on Sunday for a service.  We’ll be looking for you!

And then we part ways.

So, pray for David.  That God would get his heart, bring him into the church, hear the gospel, get saved, start living for Jesus, live in community and share in the love of Christ.

Pray for David.

A God of the Miraculous…

God has been showing up lately in our life, answering prayers explicitly.  We’ve been praying for more supporters, and more people to meet with, and I know our existing supporters have also been praying for that, and well…God is answering.

When I had only a few people to contact, God has provided many.  We’ve had new supporters come on in the last three weeks as well as many more meetings set up.  This is a God that generates something from nothing.  Oh how clearly I can see now how futile my doubt was and is.  Oh that I would rest more on his sovereign grace and go boldly forth.

It’s amazing when you call a guy you’ve only met a couple times and he says he’s glad you called because he’s been praying about different ways he can support God’s Mission.  That’s amazing.

I’ve been meeting with guys that I never thought I would…it’s totally by faith, and God is showing me, just how great He is, just how much he can work in people’s hearts to provide in what He’s called me to.  Oh what valuable lessons.

Jesus I thank you, for you’re great work, making all of this possible.  Changed hearts.  Praying for more, thank you so much.

“And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” – Malachi 3:10

Thank you to all who have been praying for us, and please keep the prayers coming.  We’re getting there!

Sometimes the best way to move forward, is to look back

Do you ever feel paralyzed?  You know God has called you to do something, but you just can’t move?  What is this fear?  What is keeping you from trusting God?

I’ve found that in these times, and I believe we see this in the bible, that if you are having trouble moving forward in something, sometimes it’s best to look back.  How has God already acted in your life?  How has God answered your previous prayers?

Every time I sit down to make calls for support raising I go through this.  I don’t want to reach out. I don’t want to call anyone. I don’t want to ask.  Yet, God is truly gracious to give me a wife to remind me of the power of God and how he has acted in my life.  She also reminds me that God has very clearly called me to this.

Therefore I need not fear, only obey in faith.

When I stop and look at what he’s provided already in this wild trip, it’s really quite astonishing.  I stepped out in faith over two years ago from a well paying job as a Naval Officer to pursue ministry and God has provided for my every need since that day.

Why do I doubt so easily?  We see over and over again in the Old Testament God beckoning his people to remember who He is.  Remember who your God is!

God is a good Father.  God is in control.  God does love us, and he wants to show us how much we can trust him…with everything.

Thank you Jesus, for your truth.  Thank you for my wife.

What has God done in your life?

(EOG/PR) An Old Friend

So I came across an old friend a couple weeks ago.  A guy I knew in the navy.  He is a Christian but has kind of been waning in his faith of late.  Well God decided to reconnect us and now he’s coming to visit Seattle in a couple weeks.  I’m super excited to be able to reconnect and pray with him, and also get to take him to Mars Hill.  Please be praying that God blesses our time, and does a mighty work in his heart.  Amen.

EOG – Meetings

It is such a blessing to be able to sit in on some of the high level meetings that take place at church.  It is so humbling to be able to see what God is doing and what discussions are taking place in the leaders of this church.  I really feel the favor of God to be a part of this.