Archive for the ‘Moments of God’ Category

Monday

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
      Hector

      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
      Grace

      Grace

      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
      Katy

      Katy

      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
      Alyssa

      Alyssa

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

    16. Justin
      Justin

      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
      Aaron

      Aaron

      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.

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Tomorrow, 10.16.2010, 10am, we are going to have a “Mural Signing” event at the incredibly colorful mural that we got to be a big part of. It’s located on the North Park Grocery south wall on 103rd & Aurora. We got to take the wall from this…

 

Blank Wall

 

To this…

 

New Mural on North Park Grocery 103 & Aurora

 

And looking at it from the walking bridge it adds a lot of color to the neighborhood.

 

Mural looking north from the walking bridge

 

If you remember in a blog post a couple of years ago I talked about God’s vision in which he showed me that we were bringing color to a colorless place. I look at this mural see only a fulfillment of a three year old vision coming to fruition.  What a blessing to get to be exactly where God wants us, bringing color, life and transformation to a city.

Just a few days ago I tweeted that the Epic Life Church Sunday service was quite messy and it was beautiful!

I wish I could explain that a bit more, but it is hard to do without writing about individual people and betraying their confidence. But I also believe it is so important for those of you who read this, and are outside of the Epic Life family here in North Seattle, to understand what God is doing the lives He is re-creating right now.

So I will craft this gently. If you read this and believe I am writing about you please don’t take offense, it is not my goal to embarrass or point fingers, but to encourage prayer and support as well as encourage others who may be going through the same things or are afraid to go through what God is taking us through.

God has counted us worthy to worship with several homeless men and women throughout this summer and it is my prayer they continue to attend and that God will allow us to be helpful to them as we are to the Body as a whole. This past Sunday these men and women played an important role at Epic Life. Let me explain.

Every Sunday we arrive bright and early at the Oaktree Cinema to begin the “set-up” process. The truck and trailer usually arrives at 7:15am when we begin off loading the stage into the theater. This week as the rain fell hard the truck showed up at 7:45 am. The late start pushed everything and we found ourselves scrambling, but found out it was all in God’s plan of allowing church to be messy and loving it. The sound and band practiced late into our prayer time, the prayer time ran late, frustrating me and not adequately allowing us to prepare for the morning. We welcomed rain dampened guests and regular attenders into the theater as we began to worship a few minutes after the start time. (But we are discovering the bizarre world of half of our people showing up 10-20 minutes into the service.)

Jeff Campbell, our pastor who is over the House Church ministry, spoke about the Apostle Peter and how he blew it but made a comeback because of Jesus’ grace.  Jeff was nervous and felt fairly insecure about his talk, as he is learning and discovering the giftings that God has given him. He was prepared well and the message was spot on, but this morning presented a particularily difficult environment to present this message.

Often a few of our homeless brothers and sisters talk and agree during the message, which if you are not use to can be a bit challenging to stay focused. Often several of them come slightly intoxicated or high. No problem, we love it that they feel comfortable enough to attend and build friendships with us, now becoming their family.
This past Sunday one lady not only had way to much to drink that morning but had a full coffee mug of liquor, which she accidentally spilt at the beginning of Jeff’s talk. As he tried to focus this lady stands up cursing because her boose is now running down the floor under the six rows of people in front of her.
It became a scene quickly a she tried to get oriented enough to leave. She stumbled around trying to figure out what to do. Kristine stands up and puts her arm around her and helps her walk out as another lady joins them. They help her get back to her camper, parked on the street a few blocks away.

I have to say I was disappointed to see her go. I am praying she is able to return this Sunday and doesn’t feel bad or unloved, because we do love her, a lot.

God prompted me to stand up at the end of the service and speak into the situation, so we would all know and be confident that we as Epic Life Church will always love those the world does not. And let’s face it, there really isn’t that much difference be her and me.

Thank you Father for counting us worthy to minister to the lease of these.

The Thin Line

Posted: August 29, 2010 in Moments of God
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Kristine and I just returned from an evening that left both of us introspectively contemplating life at a whole new level. We joined our friends and ministry partners at the women’s prison in Gig Harbor to listen in on a choir concert being given by about fifteen of the inmates. We knew the moment would be very special for our friends, she had done time in this prison a few years ago and he had been out of prison for just a couple of years too. So returning to the other side of the razor wire was a big deal to both of them, more than we know.

As we entered the secure campus through a series of sealed doors and hallways the moment became acutely surreal. This “house” had three areas, minimum security to maximum security all surrounded with rolls and rolls of razor wire and 15 foot fences.

Through another door, down a passage and into a courtyard brought us to a garden with flowers and vegetables. Several of the female inmates loitered just beyond a couple of fences as we turned and entered the little white chapel situated next to the concrete block walls of maximum security.

We sat down in the audience with about 40 others from several different churches and soon we were introduced to the night by Frank who leads the ministry in the prison, himself being out of prison just ten years.

The sound of women’s voices came in the back door as fifteen ladies entered and took their places in the front, following a very energetic African American lady who directed them.

Instantly I started to cry. God showed these ladies entering this building as 3 year old girls, innocent and pure, smiles and pretty dresses and now many years later they are standing front of us with a red choir robe covering their institution issued grey sweat shirt and pants, smiles but their innocence and purity has been taken.

It was extremely hard for us to process as we realized that the difference between Kristine and I and these ladies was an extremely thin line. As they sang “Amazing Grace” and “Our God is Sovereign” and many other songs that lifted praise to God for his goodness, care and love we saw women, young and old, who looked no different from a selected group of women from church. They didn’t look like harden criminals who have no soul. They are our mothers, sisters and daughters.

The only difference…they were serving years for a crime…drugs, prostitution, robbery, extortion, violence and murder. Their forgiveness is the same as the forgiveness that we experience from God. He loves them as much as he loves us. Their sins are forgotten as are ours. They are paying the human penalty for the wrong they have done. But the wrongs they have committed have originated from choices they have made, which have come from past experiences and abuses and often atrocities that have occurred against them as little girls.

I have wrestling emotions as my heart goes out to them, but knowing if the victim of the crime they had committed sat next to me my heart would also go out to them. In the madness and chaos of this sinful world people are crippled by the choice to seek after self with no thought of the pain it will cause others and inside of the one criminal act possibly hundreds are affected and humans on both sides of the equation cry out to God for justice and healing.

My heart breaks for them, but rejoices at the same time. They have surrendered to God and have chosen transformation (possibly). Some of them I am sure will return to a life of crime when they are released. Others will return to the streets of Seattle, namely one Aurora Avenue, maybe in our back yard. They will return with little ability to cope or live in life on the “outside.” They will return years from incarceration to streets and life that have changed and they will have no friends and often no family.

“Lord will you place us in their path, to be their family when they arrive back on the streets?” Many will gravitate to North Seattle and find themselves in the cheap motels trying to scrounge up enough money for one more night. In these motels they will quickly return to their past experiences and be sucked back into the enemies clutches. Unless there is a thriving church where they can find a family who will love them.

There is a thin line that separates us. Many of us know the line is only as thin as the fact that they were caught and we weren’t. Or the fact that every sin carries the penalty of death in God’s eyes, and since we all have fallen short of God’s glory we are just as guilty as these women. But it is God’s forgiveness that make these ladies our sisters.

At the end of the night Kristine and I got to walk out of the 15 foot fences encircled with razor wire with our friends, who understood the freedom even more, and drove the miles north to our homes, where our family waits with hugs and warm soft beds welcome and embrace us.

We will go to sleep tonight praising God for freedom, in life and in Christ.

Well that may be a pretty bold statement about Easter, but I have to stick to it.  Just three days ago I experienced such an amazing day of worship.

I don’t consider Easter to be a one hour slot on a Sunday morning when the calendar tells us to celebrate. I consider an Easter celebration to be a full day celebration starting just after Friday night. And this weekend was just that.

Sunday though was so sweet!  We arrived at the Oaktree Cinema at our usually bright and early time of 7:00 am to set up. That in itself was total worship! Everyone works so well and with great attitudes, “as unto the Lord.”  We gathered to testify, pray and encourage at 9 am as we always do and hear how God has been working throughout the week. It is so encouraging to hear of his greatness.

The sun came out and then people started showing up, early.  Like, …what?  Twenty minutes early! Crazy, I know.  In the lobby we had the “Cross Project” (crosses in art form from the Epic Life family) this was a beautiful display attracting much thought and attention.

David kicked the music off with a worship choir of eight adults and six kids, that really rocked the house! The music was spot on and the house was filling up…140 people, twice our regular attendance.  And people who aren’t just visitors but will come back.

I got up to deliver God’s word and realized that I had misplaced my notes and Bible, so with a borrowed Word and the Spirit’s leading, God cranked out a great talk that hit home and celebrated the Hope of Easter morning. We got to celebrate with more music and close the morning out.

But the conversations that ensued were the best!  A dad who was in tears because his entire family was a church for the first time, a mom who is struggling as a parent and whose marriage is falling apart, a young woman who has been addicted to crack for too long, a dad watching his son go from death to life, a leader desiring to live in the Hope of the Resurrection, an owner of a local business with her whole family, families of brand new Christians, and more.  There was so much joy and hope and love. It was beautiful!

Afterwards my family joined three other families, not necessarily Epic families for an Easter lunch, our first time for a holiday meal in a Seattle home. God allowed us to encourage and build into our hosts.  The night ended with other leaders joining us at our home testifying what God had done that morning and what he is and will be doing here in Seattle.

Epic Life Church is Epic because we live in the Hope of the Resurrection!

Another Wow

Posted: September 17, 2009 in Moments of God

We are quickly approaching the official Epic Life Church public kickoff and God moving in extraordinary ways. I wish I could tell you everything but some things have to wait because we don’t the know the full impact these things could have.  But there are many things we can share, like…

The Block Party…Last Saturday after passing out thousands of cards on windshields and thousands of door hangers throughout North Seattle we opened up a block party for our neighbors at 1 pm. No one showed up.

But then at 1:10 a family timidly walked onto the Epic Life Northgate Property and for the next three and a half hours we met some three hundred of our North Seattle community. It was fabulous, absolutely wonderful. The right amount of people came and played on the three inflatable and two sand volleyball courts and children’s games and enjoyed the espresso stand and snow cones, popcorn and Azteca Mexican tacos.  We were able to talk to everyone, so many great conversations. Many who thanked us for doing something good in the neighborhood.

Sunday at the Epic service we had such a great time worshipping and thanking God together with more new people and then tacos and drinks in the parking lot, together as a family.

Then this week started…Lots of work, long days, many meetings about the collegiate ministries at the UW with the Purple Door and at Shoreline Community College with the CRU crew, also got to speak at the area wide Campus Crusade for Christ leadership retreat. We have been working hard getting the trailer ready for transporting the sound and children’s ministry to the Theater come Oct. 4th and planning and meeting with the leaders and other leaders in Seattle and business owners. It’s been such a great week.

Then…today.

Chuck and I got ready to take a drive to Home Depot to purchase a bunch of plywood to make the traveling boxes for all the sound equipment. Planning on spending a few hundred dollars, but as we went outside the contractor who is finishing the condos across the street from the church was dumping three sheets of plywood. By the time I finished speaking with the company owner he had given us 15 sheets of plywood, a 36″ door (which we need in the church) and lumber saving us hundreds of dollars and get this…

The name of the construction company…Epic Construction.

After unloading the left over construction materials Kristine came out of the office and told me to go hear the awesome news Averi had. So I slid into the Epic Life office and Averi told me that the half page advertisement we are running in the Seattle Times to advertise the kickoff, thanks to Tom Thompson and the Cornerstone Church in Winona, MN, is going to be run twice because the sales rep at the Seattle Times wants to do something great for Epic Life. Thank you Seattle Times, I hope your readership rises that week.

Oh, just so you know, that’s a free $4500 half page add in the Seattle Times, for Jesus.

Its been another Wow week!

The past couple of weeks have been pretty amazing. Spiritual Wars are happening all around us, but we know who the Victor is.  Here is a quick synopsis.  It started a few months ago and came to a head Monday night, August 3rd.  A young lady who has been feeling God’s call on her life over the past few months came to a place of running away from God’s arms to being embraced by the love of Jesus Christ.  Casey Ties was blessed with many opportunities to listen, guide, and share the love of Christ with her, and at 12:34 AM, she prayed a prayer turning her life over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  You can read more about it here:
www.twelvethirtyfour.wordpress.com

Even after such a beautiful representation of the love of Christ, she experienced the enemy’s attacks of darkness and confusion (prayer and the Word dispersed the darkness).  The next day our team felt Satan come against all of us.  The manager at the movie theater, where Epic Life will be publicly launching, told me that he was pretty sure the company wasn’t going to rent to us when he said bluntly, “They don’t do that anymore.”  This really confused me as I felt so strongly that the theater was exactly where God wanted us to be for our launch.  Later that evening, I went to Northgate Baptist Church where the members were taking the final vote that would turn the property over to Epic Life.  The fifteen minute meeting turned into a three-hour business brawl. And on top of it all the church planting director of the PSBA, who was supposed to facilitate the meeting, barely made it on the account of his wife being in an auto accident.  At the same time, our leadership team was in our weekly meeting and struggling through issues of low confidence, confusion, and fear.  Clearly, a darkness was trying to extinguish the light on Aurora.

That same afternoon, I was sitting in Twins Gardens Restaurant eating chicken fried rice and writing in my journal, telling God that if He gave me the steps, I would follow.  I looked up and noticed two men walking into the restaurant.  One was blind.  I realized my mistake… so I wrote to God again.  This time I told him that even if I couldn’t see the steps to travel, I would still follow.  I didn’t have to know how or what the path looks like.  I just needed to follow.

That night, God showed His power over the forces that fight against us: Gary’s wife is alright (just a damaged car), the vote on the church came out 6-4; it is now Epic Life Property; we found out there is a national contract with the AMC Theaters allowing us use of the theater at about 1/3 of the cost I expected;  our team left tore down, but being built up stronger; and on Sunday, August 9th, we conducted our first Baptism service at Richmond Beach in the Puget Sound.

Friends, we know the Victor.

“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
John 1:5