Prayer as Truth-Telling

Posted: July 30, 2018 in Uncategorized

Such a great blog on Beautiful Prayer from my friend Joe Chambers

Field Notes On The Jesus Way

“We must lay before him what is in us; not what ought to be in us.” ~ C.S. Lewis

“Into your hand I commit my spirit.” ~ Jesus and David

One of the truths I grip with all my strength is the fact that without suffering in this life we will never know a deep aspect of the character of God—His presence. Jesus promised us that we would feel the comfort of our heavenly Father when we mourn, and he said we would experience the blessing of God because of it.

Comfort from our heavenly Father and on top of that “blessing” or “favor” —when we mourn.

When we tell our story of pain, we gain authority over that story. Our painful experience transforms in the telling. I believe that is why there are more Psalms of Lament in the old Jewish hymnbook than any other genre.

The late Dawson…

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Posted: September 26, 2017 in Moments of God, Seattle Church Plant
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CaptureMonday – I love Mondays. It gives us a great opportunity to walk into the lives of people around us and bring blessing and encouragement to the beginning of their week. Mondays around the offices of Epic Life Church are a bit busy and full of conversation and…let’s just say, “other things.”

This past Monday went something like this. It’s good to reflect on these Mondays.

    1. I got to drink coffee at Victrola Coffee with a great friend of mine, Jared Burwell, who is a pastor of a new church in SkyWay and is reaching the neighborhood in really awe-inspiring ways. He is a great leader and disciple-maker and friend.  New Story
    2. Then I had to run back north and swing into the Wendals Licencing center on 130th to get a new license plate for my new 1984 Honda Prelude. Nice little car with only 50k miles on it. d1b5409086c27a37a1c8c2391e81f797--honda-prelude-It should last another 200k. While there I got to encourage the lady behind the desk who was clearly downcast in her soul.
    3. I stopped through RiteAid to get some vitamin C – a cold is going around my home. For some reason decided to pull out $40 cash from my debit card when I paid for the V-C.
    4. After receiving my new plates with a “What the…” price tag, I received a text from a friend who asked what was happening at the church building. because he was turned away from entering the parking lot by a dozen armed police officers.  ?
    5. Driving down the street the mile back to the office wondering what happened in the Giving Room, I turned up Stone Ave. and saw the aforementioned text in 3D. Yes indeed, there were several officers walking down the street with heavy gear and weapons. But the action was over and upon talking with an officer I learned a man from the streets pulled a very real looking pellet gun, but didn’t threaten anyone with it, and was sent on his way.
    6. I did get to then spend a half hour with officer Jeff Dotson who told me that earlier that month Hector


      had prayed over him while he was on duty on Aurora Ave. N. He also said he really likes what Epic Life is doing on Aurora Ave. and what we bring to the city that the city just doesn’t get. “They throw money at the problems hoping to fix them, you find problems fix them.”

    7. There is a prayer meeting happening this morning, praying for the neighborhood.
    8. The Giving Room was in full swing with dozens of guests taking advantage of


      receiving bags of groceries to help their meal planning throughout the week. Grace is busy, leading her team, praying for people, sorting shelves, carrying boxes of food, organizing, and smiling.

    9. Also in the Giving Room are several Brothers and Sisters sharing, helping, caring, disciplining and reading the Word with our friends who spend hours sitting in a community, which they long for, as most live in solitude. Many in a government housing project for the mentally, physically and addicted ill. They smile here.
    10. After the giving room shuts down for the day, a prayer meeting starts back up, clean-up occurs, and then a Bible Study. The people who are caring for our less fortunate neighbors, actually care for them so much they pray for them by name.
    11. Laura has been here most of the morning – counseling. She is a professional and points people to Jesus while counseling through life.
    12. The Preschool has been running throughout this morning – ten kids, several from the Epic Life family and several from the neighborhood. Katy does


      such a great job teaching, encouraging, caring and loving these kids. It’s a beautiful multi-cultural class. The parents will come in and drop off the kids and come back to get them, sometimes hanging around the office drinking coffee.

    13. One man came in asking for work. Not to be paid, but so he will be able to stop drinking. He wants structure. I showed him some gardening and clean up things he could do. We made a clipboard for him and time schedule. He smiles.
    14. A man, who attended the service on Sunday came back today- looking for some money to help him get back to Colorado. He just had throat surgery and can barely speak. I had just gotten $40 from my debit card at the RiteAid, he needed it.
    15. One man found himself on the yellow couch in the office. Drunk. Ashamed. Hector, Alyssa


      and I prayed over him. Encouraged him to allow the grace of the King to wash over him.

    16. Justin


      spent the afternoon working on the stage upstairs. Tearing an old drum cage apart, making more room, listening to music, preparing for Sunday.

    17. Aaron showed up later, after teaching all day and commuting for more of it, to sand, sweep and paint the stage, because he saw it


      needed to be done and he knew how to do it. He’s our soundman, electric guitar player, and elder.

    18. This morning two neighbors emailed us to let us know an extension cord was plugged into an outlet on our building and strung three houses down the alley. They are the same outlets the men and women of the street gather around to charge their phones, smoke, sleep, shootup, and commit other nefarious acts. We will be taking these outlets out.
    19. I opened the front doors only to run into a man sleeping on the steps next to a little girl’s bicycle. He got up, staggered, mumbled, clearly high on substance. He asked for food, he got some, he stumbled away.
    20. Tonight a dozen or so ladies from the neighborhood will show up for an hour to Zumba.
    21. Some kids and their parents will play in the playground after school lets out, maybe after dinner.
    22. There will be a couple of little girls digging in the sand volleyball court.
    23. Later tonight, someone will sleep in one or more of our doorways, smoke some cigarettes, weed, or vapor, someone else will shoot heroin into his or her veins, a young woman will be left on the cold concrete.

This Monday will end and another will come – have we shared the miraculous love of the miraculous King. Our hands, our feet, our voice, our eyes, all convey love. Share it.

Oh…and there was no race or political bent in this post, yet it was full of many different people from many different family groups, no fingers were pointed, only love given.

The Jail

Posted: April 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

“There is no desert that God won’t cause to bloom.”

Field Notes On The Jesus Way

I sat down on a cold plastic chair in a narrow beige room; a thick barrier of Plexiglas spanned the table to the ceiling. Tender names of lovers and vulgar epithets were etched on the walls. Loud voices and the bang of heavy metallic doors echoed in this cramped space as I waited for my friend to step through the door on the other side of the plastic barrier.

In the two minutes that passed before he arrived, I replayed the high points of our friendship. I remembered the grace with which he received my story. I flashed on the image of working beside him in a little church on Saturday Work Days. I smiled at the deep laughter we enjoyed telling stories with our families. I remembered the Bible study he led. The prayers he prayed. The acts of service for the community—all of these memories tumbled together in…

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Calling a Mulligan

Posted: October 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

I am not looking for any verbal hand-outs. As I write this I know that several of you who love me, as you read this, will start loading up the shopping cart with a healthy dose of encouragement, looking for a way to deliver it to me.

I appreciate that so very much, but it’s not necessary this time.


I don’t play Golf, but when I do, I need a lot of mulligans.

If you don’t know, a mulligan is a do-over.

So, say you step up to the first tee and you set the golf ball down on that little piece of wood that will hold your small white dimpled ball off the grass far enough so your shot will scoop as little turf as possible when sending the ball sailing through the air towards the flag in the distance, but, upon swinging your club, you lean into the swing and end up slicing the edge of the ball and digging twelve inches of dirt and sod up, sending the ball careening off into the nearby duck pond, possibly killing a feathered friend.

At that point, I like to say, “I’m calling a mulligan!”

When one calls for a mulligan, one hopes no one saw the horrible hack one previously took at the ball.  If the game is going to be played, the mulligan is taken and the game is continued, not ended.

This past Sunday’s sermon left me calling a mulligan. It was horrible. No, seriously.  Honestly, it happens, once in a while. I have been trying to figure out what happened. Why had my brain frozen up halfway through the message, followed by a core melt-down?  I think I said something, someone got up, a baby cried, a siren went off, I felt the hole in my sock, I wondered if I said something that offended or was theologically incorrect and as I continued talking with my mouth, my mind went into its own slightly psychotic conversation with itself and a guy named Burt, trying to assess if I was speaking any sense or theological truth and whether or not Dietrich Bonhoeffer would agree or if Joe Chambers would tell me in his sultry voice, “Soul Care.” And the words that came out of my mouth echoed around in the hollow space somewhere inside my head. Was I still speaking and if so, why wasn’t I stopping? Someone, press “Pause.”

For those of you who don’t preach every week, I’ll let you into the inner circle. It’s not really that easy.  I remember my thoughts as a young man in my twenties, sitting in church listening to my pastor and in my ignorant arrogance saying to myself, “I could do that, and probably better.”  And, then I would get a chance to preach, once a year. And every time I would knock it out of the park with a great message that would encourage, exhort and equip people. Afterwards, people would come up telling me how much they were moved and encouraged to live life for God in a new way. I was the man, and preaching was the plan! I was going to change the world one sermon at a time.

Then I grew up. And reality slapped me in the face.

When a person becomes a speaking pastor, he preaches every week, not once a year. I no longer have eleven months to prepare a sermon. I have to be inspired by the Word, lead by the Spirit, write thoughts and ideas in an orderly manner and deliver it to people who want and need God’s words, not mine, all the while remaining theologically sound.  Every time I approach Sunday, James 3:1 swims through my mind like a deep sea viper fish; “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

My pastor friends and I are humans and we have fights with our spouses and parenting problems, we are wrecked with sin issues that plague us like multiple thorns in our flesh, we engage with people of the Church who like or dislike us or are just disgruntled, we have highs and lows and bounce between caffeine shakiness, sugar highs and food-induced comas. We have body and soul identity issues, addictions that haunt us in the night like monsters under the bed and loneliness that tears at our flesh. We often feel an overwhelming amount of guilt over our own sin as we abundantly stack grace on the heads of others. We are burdened by our income, the money we make off the backs of others and question whether or not our time is really that valuable.

The enemy fights hard against those whom God has called to lead his Church, especially those who are standing at the gates of hell trying to get in to rescue one more soul. We know salvation is God’s alone, but he has given that as our burden as well and Satan hates that. A Sunday morning is a conglomeration of a week, a month or year, of a burden, of a sensitive spirit following the Spirit. And frankly, it isn’t always going to go well.

And sometimes we need the grace to be able to call a mulligan.

But…thank God that it is His responsibility to build His Church. If people come and go because of my human-ness, I can’t really keep that from happening. My hope would be, that Epic Life Church would be a church that sees me as a man. Just a man, messed up, but redeemed. Saved by the blood of the Lamb, Justified and being Sanctified, every Sunday. And that we would be the Church together, as we all commit to speaking and sharing the Gospel well.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.