Week 9 of 52: A Dream

This morning while I sat drinking my coffee in a local cafe, I had an opportunity to share my story. I entered the door carrying “Peace Child” a book written by Don Richardson, a missionary about a tribal community that went from “Cannibals to Christ Followers.” To be honest I am still working on the first page, but it opened up an opportunity for the young man sitting behind the cash register to ask the questions whirling through his head.

As I drank my coffee and ate my bagel, we started talking about the importance of international missions, how one person can step out of their comfort zone and transform a nation by simply being obedient to the call. He shared his experience doing short term work and how he desires to one day step back into the mission field spreading the word of God across the nations to unreached people groups. He is just waiting for that door to open.

IMG_1255.JPGAs we discussed life the conversation turned to me, what do I do, what is my passion, what is my dream?

These questions made me think, vocational ministry is still a new avenue I am on. As I sit here just two years into my journey at Little Country Church, I often forget to look back on why I took that first step. As we talked I was able to share my role of Community Life Coordinator to him, how God has allowed me to walk in my gifting, creating community, building a culture of hospitality, and being a part of stories. I was able to share my heart for KOINONIA, the idea of coming together for one purpose, having community and fellowship that point towards Jesus Christ.

It was in sharing these things that I was reminded of the answer to the second question. What is my passion?

My heart and passion is to see lives transformed. We live in a place where the average person has been broken down and beat up before they even leave the house. I want to see hope found for the hopeless. Not just a sense of hope, but truly realizing that through Jesus Christ there is hope! I want to see those that have been told they are worthless to realize that through Jesus they are made worthy! And I want to see those without a home to see that they are home in the Body of Christ!

We have an opportunity as believers to show our broken world that it is not too late. We can love greatly, speak life, share the truth, and trust that God is good. This leads me to the final question…what is my dream?

My dream is to not get lost in the walls of the church bubble, but to live as Christ. How we live speaks much louder than how we say we live. Will we talk about loving the least of these, or will we love the least of these. My dream is to see the Church be a place where restoration can take place, and through Jesus it does take place. My dream is to see people coming together in KOINONIA, coming together for the soul purpose of giving praise to the one true God!

As we talked about these things I was reminded why I stepped into vocational ministry two years ago. I took that leap of faith because God has given me a dream, and through that dream He has given me a passion. I love that I am able to walk in these passions, that God is using me to bring HOPE to a generation that lives without hope. I am able to LOVE deeply, not just believers, not just the desirable, but all people. Lastly I get an opportunity to show people that Jesus is alive and is moving!

Sometimes we lose sight of the journey we are on, but when we take a step back, we are reminded that God has us exactly where we are supposed to be! We just need to take that step, and see that our God is doing work!

Week 8 of 52: The Serial Groomsman Part 1

FullSizeRender.jpgIt’s amazing that in the past 10 years I have been in 16 weddings as a groomsman. With those 16 weddings I have been able to witness some amazing moments as two become one. Each time it is a moment that reminds me how powerful a connection between two people can be. In these weddings, at that moment, it doesn’t matter what has happened earlier in the day, or if there was family drama the day before, at that moment, nothing else, no one else, matters.

As I prepare for wedding number 17, I am reminded of these experiences, and recognize the honor it is to be asked to stand by the side of a friend as they enter into a covenant with the woman of their dreams.

So in honor of the 16 couples that have been blessed to have me by their side, I want to share one of my most memorable moments that will one day grace the pages of my future book, “The Serial Groomsman”. I am hoping this book can be a Rom Com similar to 27 dresses, I just have to figure out the end.IMG_1252

The year was 2014 and I was about to walk down the aisle for the 3rd time in a period of 6 days. You could say this was the center of wedding season for me. My schedule was full, and thankfully the bride and groom were understanding. The grooms mother picked up our clothes from the local JCPenney, and we were ready to go. We spent the day before at rehearsal dinner eating amazing grub, sharing stories of how we met the couple, and spending the rest of the evening in prayer for the future of this amazing family. As we dozed off to the images of sugar plums dancing in the air, and the smell of freshly made cake wafting in the distance. This was sure to be the Wedding of the decade.

In the morning we woke up early in attempt to get ready for a day full of pictures. We picked up our assigned outfits in preparation for the day, the ones that were picked out for us, and we went our separate ways to get the day going.

We realized quickly that there is a reason Men’s Warehouse fits each one of their suits to the person who will be wearing their suits. As I put on my pants one leg at a time I realized that this was going to be a tight situation. Slowly as the situation became more bleak, a second realization occurred, in the scurry of wedding preparation we realized that these pants were missing a crucial part of any wearable pants. You see there is part of a zipper called the Slider that allows you to close the pants with ease. Without this, the zipper itself is deemed useless by those in the zipper industry.IMG_1253

With panic a trip was made to the local JCPenney to hopefully find an alternative pair, only to find that the pants were the last of their kind, and somehow, this will all have to work out.

When we returned back to the house we were greeted by the photographer ready to get images of the preparation process. After a long session of brainstorming in pants that didn’t quite fit, and couldn’t quite close, it was determined that the pants must be sewn shut, and because the pants just barely fit over my badonkadonk, the best course of action would be to sew these pants closed with me inside them.

For the next 15-20 minutes each of the groomsmen took their attempt at closing the barn door, all quickly realizing they have never sewn, or even attempted to sew. After each of these failed attempts, as the wedding seemed to approach quicker and quicker we began to give up hope. These pants may never close, so we sent out an SOS to all those involved with the wedding.

After what seemed like an eternity we received a text from a woman that was overseeing the girls house at this wedding. At this point I had heard stories of this lady, but I had never met her, the thought of a stranger sewing my pants closed with me in them terrified me to say the least, but I remembered that the day was not my own. My job was to stand by my friends, and if that meant taking one for the team I was going to do so.IMG_1249

We drove a quick minute over to the house the bride and her bridesmaids were getting ready in. As the rest of the men sat outside the door, remaining their distance from the bride prior to the unveiling later that day, I stepped inside to a woman standing at the stairs with a needle and thread. Without words she stepped up to me, and with a stern serious face, in a less than empathetic voice proclaimed, “Don’t worry, I’m a nurse, I’ve done way worse stuff down here.”
Here is to another season of Weddings, here is to another love story, and here is to the unsung heroes that really make a wedding happen.

I am thankful for the memories, and hope to never have to be sewn into pants again.

Week 7 of 52: Climbing Mountains

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If you were to ask me 10 years ago when I walked out the doors of Hidden Valley High School, where I would be in 10 years. The words Redding, California, would probably be the last words expected to come out of my mouth.

Yes Redding has some beautiful lakes and streams, but there is nothing alluring about 110 degree temperature throughout most of the summer. Redding is hot, and besides it’s terrain, all it has to offer is In-N-Out. I didn’t see myself making Redding my home, I didn’t see myself finding a community of like minded Christian people, and I didn’t see myself making myself at home at a not so little church, barely in the country. I didn’t understand the appeal 10 years ago, I didn’t know that this adventure called life would lead me to a place I just didn’t understand.

Ten years later I have come to a place where I am starting to understand the appeal. I admit the beauty does not compare to Grants Pass, but again Oregon is God’s gift to America. I am starting to see why people move to Redding, despite it’s horrific summers. The trails and waterfalls, lakes and streams declare a creator, the town has a charm filled with history, and the body of Christ is alive and well.
What a difference a span of 10 years can make. The journey has brought me all over the world, living in 3 different states, at least 10 different residences, at least 10 different jobs, and many unanswered questions about where the journey is taking me. Over the past 10 years I have made countless connections, building relationships that have changed me for the better, seeing how we were all created differently but with one common purpose, to see that God is given the glory.

Saturday  I had an opportunity to spend the evening sitting around a camp fire near Whiskeytown Reservoir sharing testimony, IMG_1212spending time worshiping through music, and seeing how we can come along side one another in encouragement. This night was planned, but unexpected. Each of us came from a different place, a different back ground. Each person brought their own experiences, their own journey, and had an opportunity to lay it out in front of the creator.

As we went around the circle giving praise to Jesus Christ, for what He is doing in our lives, a friend of mine shared a statement that I want to share with you. “If you are climbing a mountain and only focus on the top, you miss out on the way up. What happens if you get turned around because of weather, are you going to focus on what you missed out on, or focus on what you got to see, what you get to see?” The quote isn’t exact, but the heart behind it is hopefully there.

Ten years ago I didn’t know what my life was going to look like today. I don’t know what my life will look like in 10 years. I don’t know what my life will look like tomorrow, but I would like to say if things don’t work out as I plan, or how I expect I will still be able to see how God is working in my life. I look back on these past 10 years and I see how each moment, each change, each unexpected twist, has helped me to be where I am today.

I look at the friendships that have formed me, encouraged me, driven me deeper into my walk with the Lord. I look at the houses full of roommates that have shown me how to live life with people, and how each co-worker has given me a glimpse into human nature.

This journey isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always clean. Like climbing a mountain, there are always snags along the journey, but with each snag comes a moment of beauty, a vista point that allows you to see a glimpse of the artwork of the Father formed with us in mind.

When the storm comes in and we are turned away from the peak, are we going to focus on that missed opportunity, or are we going to focus on what we got to experience. I am realizing that we aren’t always meant to get to the top, we aren’t always meant to stand at the peak, sometimes, it is the journey that God is using to reach us, it is the journey that God speaks to us, and when we are so focused on the top, we miss what He has planned for us.

I didn’t end up the man 18 year old Adam expected, instead I am becoming the Man God created me to be. It wasn’t the mountain tops that got me here, it was the switchbacks, it was the unexpected waterfalls, it was the caverns and walls placed in front of me. Sometimes we just need to pause and take a look at what God has for us here and now.

Take a moment and see what God is doing in your life. Are you the man or woman God designed you to be, or are you focused on the mountain top you didn’t get to stand on. Are you so focused on the missed opportunities, that you are missing the countless things God has placed in front of you? Take a moment, look around, and know that you are not on this journey alone!

Week 6 of 52: Reflection

Today is a day of reflection, over the past two years my life has transformed. It was this week two years ago that I put my notice in at Simpson University. At the time I though I knew where life was taking me. At the time I was content with the life I had dreamed up.

If I knew then what I know now, I don’t know if I would have taken the leap into vocational ministry. If I would have seen the tears and confusion, the loss and the hurt I have walked through the past 24 months, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to take the leap.

What started with a decision to walk in faith has led to countless opportunities to continue walking forward. Many of these moments didn’t make sense, some mountains seemed impossible to get over, only to get past and realize they were mere mole hills.

As I sit and reflect on this day I see how God has given me opportunities to be used in ways I never expected. This week I was able to host a prayer walk and daily morning of prayer and worship at LCC. Sunday I shared the gospel message with a man outside the doors of Little Country. Friday was filled with worship and praise at 4 different services.

I would not be able to experience this love being poured out over me, if I didn’t take that single step two years ago.

Over the past two years I was able to help bring Stephanie Fast, and amazing author and speaker to HBC 2016, where I was then able to see many young people give their life to the Lord. over the past two years I was able to see acquaintances become family, and see as God fulfilled promise after promise.

It would be a lie to tell you there are never doubts, that all times are good times. But it would also be a lie to say it isn’t worth it. God has been showing me each step of the way more about who He created me to be. Each step is difficult, by the reward is amazing. I am thankful I didn’t know how hard this journey would be, and at times still is. Each step of faith is drawing me closer to the Father, each step is showing me that He is good, and He is faithful. Each step reveals to me that even when we think hope is lost, Hope is always found in Jesus Christ.
He is risen indeed!

If you are on the brink of a step and don’t know how to move forward, move forward in Christ! He will direct your path!IMG_0963

Week 5 of 52: Perspective

Perspective:

Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He Called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

In the wake of recent events, this verse has been bombarding my thoughts. The idea that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” What does this mean.

I want to make this short and to the point, so here it is.

“All things” work together! The hard, incomprehensible things work together for the good! I wish this was easy, I wish it meant it’s all going to be fine and dandy along the journey.

As a believer things are going to get difficult, there are days that you will wonder if it is all worth it, and there will be a lot of tears.

But I promise you one thing! God is good, His word is truth, and it will all work out in the end. You may not even see how it works out, but it will be worth it.

When we accept this, when we see that God is good, when we change our perspective, we will be so blessed to see God working in and through our lives! IMG_1155.JPG

Week 4 of 52: American Dream

In he spring of 2002 a new show swept the nation, leaving names like Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson as house hold names. Year after year lives were changed. Ordinary people, getting extraordinary opportunities to live the life of their dreams. All it took was one audition, 3 judges, and a dream to make a reality.

I was in the 7th grade when Kelly Clarkson one that first season of American Idol. It was the story that swept the nation, a Texas girl winning over America, showing us all that the American Dream was not dead.

A few seasons later I remember sitting in my Aunt and Uncle’s living room in Port Orchard, Washington as Carrie Underwood was predicted to not only win, but to do better than any other American Idol winner after she belted out a captivating version of Heart’s Alone.

These memories became dreams for me, not to win American Idol, but to find a job that I love, to find a life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. So many people in my generation went from being stuck in their small to being able to live out their dreams. All because of a simple show 15 years ago.

Some trade their small town for a dream of adventure, some seek financial stability or a family at a young age, and some just want to make the world a better place. Over the last 10 years since graduating high school I have been on a journey to find out what my dream is, what my passion is, what my calling is. I graduated college, worked a couple different jobs, and two years ago walked away from it all and stepped into vocational ministry realizing that my dream was inside me the whole time, my calling was there, I just had to pick up the phone.

My American dream is being stuck in student debt knowing that God will always provide. My American dream is knowing that every Sunday I get to see live changed with a simple hello. My American dream is knowing that I get to walk each day trusting that I serve a God who is greater than I.

When stepping out of higher education I didn’t know how it was going to work. I kept a part time job at Kohl’s to make sure all my bills could be paid. Then I heard God ask my if I trusted Him. When I stepped into full time ministry, I realized that in keeping my Job at Kohl’s I was only half walking in what God had called me to do. I realized that in keeping my job, I was not actually trusting Him, but trusting that I could take care of my self. A year or so later as I didn’t know what was next I began to look at jobs across the US. Seeing if ministry was in my future. I remember sitting at the computer and again feeling that nudge on my heart, “Do you trust Me?” I realized that in my calling to ministry, I still had doubts and still wanted to make my world make sense to me, instead of allowing God to work as He had said He would.

Every time I submit to Him, He provides in amazing ways. Every time I submit to Him, I am able to see my dreams come alive.

Last week in my post I talked about the importance of prayer. How we must seek God daily, praying to Him. This week I want to encourage you to listen. What is God trying to show you, how is He trying to work in your life? Are you allowing Him to move in you, or are you trying to be the one that keeps your world making sense?

My life isn’t always comfortable, my financial situation may not be exactly what I expected, but I know that I am always provided for. I just have to step in faith, step in front of the 1 judge, and He will make my dreams a reality.

Take some time, dream, see what God has put on your heart, and know that He is good.IMG_1130

 

Week 3 of 52: A Challenge to Pray

IMG_1041A friend of mine recently made a comment to me that blew my mind. We were talking about depth in relationships, and how it is easy to create surface level friendships, but it is often difficult to go deep, especially as guys. We tend to keep to topics that show that we care, without forcing depth. The comment, which I don’t want to misquote, but probably will, went like this, “if you want deep friendships, you need to have deep prayer for your friends.”

BOOM, mind blown, I should probably stop here!

How often do you pray for your friends? More specifically, how often do you pray for deeper relationships with your friends? How about deeper community with your family, or those you work with? How often do you pray for those things?

In my journey to find deeper community at LCC Redding, I am reminded by this conversation that we must pray specifically for depth in relationships. As I dream, and strategize how to move “numbers” to “people” in the body, we must do so with a heart of prayer, a heart praying specifically for depth, for walls to come down. We must take time out of our day to pray for connections that point toward Jesus Christ.

This post is a short one, but to me a heavy one.

I want to move this conversation I had with a friend to be a challenge for you. Are you praying for those in your life? Are you praying for deeper connections? Are you praying for healing in relationships? I want to challenge you to pray!

It’s amazing what God will do, when you simply ask.