The Endless Love of God

CRAFTING a goodApril was an incredible month for Awakening Church. As we celebrated the resurrection, we’ve had countless conversations with people who have never heard the glorious good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is a natural time of year for gospel conversations to occur. Easter Sunday was a beautiful day filled with many relationships that God has been building over the past couple years. You can listen to the message here. By God’s grace, we were able to lead several people to faith in Jesus this month. 

After one of our ESL classes, one of our regular students from Iran approached Kathy after the class. With a smile on his face, he wanted to thank her for teaching the class and shared that he had been in America for about 5 years. However, today he finally understood what Easter was all about. What an encouragement to see people grasping the truth of Jesus. For faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

A few months ago, God brought a young lady named Amanda Into our lives. The week that we met, I had just begun reading a new book by Paul Tripp entitled, Suffering. I had not been in a season of suffering personally, but still I felt compelled to read the book. Not three days after beginning this book, I received a phone call telling me that Amanda was just diagnosed with stage four cancer. Things didn’t look good. We knew that Amanda didn’t have a relationship with Jesus so we began to pray for her physical healing as well as her spiritual healing. I bought the book for Amanda and had one of her friends read it to her in her hospital room. At times, she was angry with God, and didn’t want to hear it…but she began to become more open to the conversations about Jesus. Through the countless prayers, fasting, conversations, late nights in the hospital, and the roller coaster that suffering brings she said YES to Jesus. Our hearts are rejoicing. That same week we saw two other young ladies that have faced tremendous hardship say yes to Jesus! Thank you for your support that allows us the opportunity to bring the gospel to people that need Jesus.

 

Copy of china interest-2

This summer we will have an opportunity once again to serve our partners in China. Our partnership in China involves equipping and encouraging those on the ground that face increasing challenges of persecution. It’s my passion to help others that are not mobilized for the great commission. As we prayerfully build this team, YOU may feel led to partner with us or be able to connect other people that may be interested in partnering together for this amazing opportunity.

A quick contextual scope…Since 2013, The Chinese Communist Party reversed course and embarked on a 3-phase, 14-year plan to “suffocate” Three Self churches and “annihilate” underground churches. During the first 2-year phase, it further eased persecution of the underground church, enticing more of them to surface and be identified. During the second 2-year phase, it invited and then pressured the identified underground churches to register and become Three Self churches.

In the current third, 10-year phase, the gloves have come off as both the remaining underground churches and even Three Self churches are being persecuted using Mao-era brute-force, as well as mass surveillance, artificial intelligence, and big data.

The greatest need of the underground church in China today isn’t free Bibles or even protection from persecution, which tends to purify, spread and grow the church, but Biblical teachers, including missionaries, who can exegete the Bible and share the True Gospel.

The foundation of our partnership is just that…better equipping those that serve on the front lines every day. I hope that you will pray about joining us as we deploy across the world in the name of Jesus.

Click HERE for more information. This could be a great way for us to join hands and serve together. The applications need to be submitted by May 5. The application can be found at here.

How can we pray?

One of the questions I often get from partners is, “how can we be praying for Awakening Church?”  The response is typically three-fold.  One, pray for partnerships.  Without partnerships, this work is not possible. We are continually asking God to bless our partners so that we can continue to be blessed and empowered through them.

Secondly, we are always asking for prayer for new believers. It is why we are here!  We are praying for death-to-life stories. Many days, the only thing that keeps us going is that Jesus told us His fields were white and ready for harvest. We believe there is a harvest in the Northwest.  We long to see more baptisms in 2019.

Thirdly, we pray for laborers.  We need people to come be a part of Awakening Church both locally and others to relocate to serve alongside us.  Whatever it takes for God to build His church and multiply disciple-making churches, we say yes!

Alongside that third prayer request, we always praying for the unity of our team and the endurance it takes to fight the spiritual attacks we so often experience.

Thank you again for your partnership and commitment to going the journey with us. That support is the wind in our sails!

The WHY

THE WHY

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Acts 17:26

It’s pretty amazing to think about life. We have no control over when or where we were born. There is so much we have no control over. However, somethings we do control are our passions, our friends, and many other daily choices. There are things in our life that only Jesus can fix. It’s been said that the two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out WHY you were born. We didn’t have control over the circumstances surrounding the day we were physically born, but through our second birth, salvation in Jesus, we then discover why we were born!

God, in his sovereignty, has placed us right here, right now, with our abilities and gifts to bring glory to Him and show the joy of the gospel to those around us. In his book Start With Why, Simon Sinek shares how successful leaders don’t focus on HOW to do something… Instead they focus on WHY they are doing it. Sharing Christ with those around us begins with our understanding God’s grand story that centers on Christ. That is our WHY.

In Philippians chapter 3, we see Paul’s WHY was to know Christ and to make him known. His why was big enough to endure overwhelming persecution with glorious joy. If you are alive today (you are if you are reading this) and you have a relationship with Jesus… He has given us the responsibility of a missionary.

“Where you live doesn’t make you a missionary; the mission you are on does, regardless of your vocation or location.” Alvin Reid

As a church, we have been focusing on living out the gospel in our daily lives as missionaries. We are praying daily that God will give us opportunities to share the good news of Jesus, wisdom to know how to approach those around us, and boldness to speak up. We have to remember that we are not selling something people may or may not need. Instead, we are offering the gift of grace that is the most vital news a person could ever know.

We continually look for ways to serve our community and bring joy to those around us. We are beginning to see the fruit of displaying the love of Jesus to our community. Through our displaying and joy bringing, we are able to declare the gospel message of salvation in Jesus. I’m excited about two new opportunities that God has opened up for us this past month.

The first opportunity is a Bible Club for an after school kids program. This club is focused on learning the Word of God. We incorporate prayer, crafts, games as well as memorizing a weekly Bible Verse. We’ve added a prayer mailbox where kids can write a prayer request that we pray over (which can be entertaining). Each week children from many cultural backgrounds attend the Bible Club. They are hearing the truth of scripture and asking amazing questions as their worldviews are being challenged and enlightened. A muslim boy asked, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” We shared what it meant to be a follower of Jesus and studied Romans 10:9 that says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The hearts of these children are being stirred! 

The second opportunity God has given us is a weekly ESL Bible study. Over the past several months, God has continually brought us new relationships with the multi-ethnic people groups of our city. While this class focuses primarily on the basics of the faith, we are able to incorporate the basics of English at the same time. We are teaching basic Bible studies in everyday English in an easy-to-understand discipleship course. This class is specifically designed for people who are exploring the fundamentals of the faith. Each week has been filled with incredible discussion and a stronger craving for God’s word. We’ve been able to give out many dual language Bibles and develop new relationships. On top of that, a couple of the students have begun attending our Sunday worship service. They are being enraptured by the truth of the gospel and their hearts are being transformed by God’s grace.

Thank you for continuing to partner with us. We pray that you are encouraged just as we are. We also pray that through our journey, you will be stirred and challenged in your faith. 

Please join us in praying for…

  • …these two new ministry opportunities that God has given us. Pray for the salvation of those without Christ and that they would realize their WHY.
  • … our calling as missionaries. This calling can be challenging with unexpected circumstances…but Jesus is worth it. God is continuing to bring families and individuals into our lives that need to experience the grace that Christ is offering them.
  • … a handful of mature believers to come alongside of us to partner in growing new disciples and developing leaders.

TURF WAR

music • comedy • magic poetry • dance

There are many ideas as to what the “correct” priority list in life should be. We are constantly searching for and evaluating what deserves our attention from moment to moment (Even if we don’t do this intentionally, our priorities are easily seen by those closest to us).  As the values of society seen to evolve by the minute, so can our affections. We can put valuable time and focus on things that offer us a fruitless return. There’s a daily turf war on the battlefield of our hearts…and unfortunately the values of this world are fighting for residence in the hearts of God’s people. 

I love goals. And as a church, we set goals. However, with numerical, financial, and baptism goals, we may be complicating what God intended to be so simple. I can be so focused on achieving my goal, I’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish it. In the process, I find it easy to  give my time, energy, and love to a multitude of “good goals” that aren’t always rooted in simply loving God and the people around me.

When asked about the most important commandment in all of Scripture, Jesus responded, 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). 

Our entire life is reduced down to this one (or two) pursuit(s). In other words, everything we do is meant to be marked by the simplicity of loving God. In this daily turf war, our actions don’t always communicate that our love for God matters more than any achievement or success. But in reality, our love for God matters more than any possession, status, or relationship on earth. When we align our lives with the first and greatest commandment, everything else comes becomes clear. Jesus continues with his next statement to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) It plays out like faith and works; if we truly have the first (a love for God), the second will naturally follow (a love for people). John Bloom wrote,

“The most loving thing we can do for others is love God more than we love them. For if we love God most, we will love others best.”

In the early days of church planting we are challenged to spend much time strategizing and developing ministry plans, marketing campaigns, and attendance-building events to draw people to our church. These “multitude of good things” are well intentioned means to get the gospel farther, faster. Nonetheless, Relationships are the context in which life is lived…and ministry takes place in the context of those relationships. We must make people our priority in living, leading, and loving. Relationships require great time-consuming investments that are sure to be filled with vulnerabilities, hurts, smiles, and joy.

Even in the most well-intended ministries, we can create our own success metrics and ask them to give us what only God can. If our eyes drift from Jesus, we tend to look around us to find the approval, acceptance, and love from those around us. But our heavenly Father is the source of the greatest love and affection for us.

May we come to realize the success metric which Jesus has called us…to faithfully and whole-heartedly love Him and those around us. True fulfillment is received in a life lived in pursuit of God as we surrender to Him each and every day.

  • Please pray for Awakening Church. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, pray as we develop new and existing relationships for His kingdom expansion. 
  • This past month we started a new Bible study with several ESL students (none of which are yet believers). Please join us in praying for the softening of their hearts and and openness to the gospel.
  • This week we are beginning a focus in our city groups on sharing Jesus. Please pray for boldness as we live on mission each day across Seattle.
  • PRAISE- God has met a great need with His provision of a Sunday childcare worker for our daughter. This will open greater doors for my wife, Kathy, to have greater involvement with Awakening Church.
  • PRAISE- I had an encouraging time at the Send Network Gathering in Las Vegas, NV this month. I’m so thankful for a network that prioritizes planting churches. But just as important, a network that invests in the spiritual and emotional health of it’s planters so the planting continues! #sendnetwork

Incapable of the Task

copy of copy of daily habit with love

This is hard! 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 reminds us that weak, low, and despised are qualities God looks for, and he chooses these qualities on purpose…for a purpose.

After reading this passage we might know, in a sense, that God loves to use the weak and broken. We may find encouragement when we read about underdog victories in a Bible story or missionary biography. As a pastor, I often teach others about it. But when this becomes personal, it’s almost always unpleasant and uncomfortable when God wants to highlight our weaknesses. Which is why I have occasionally wished that God would have chosen someone else for this assignment. I’m just incapable of the task.

However, in growing dependance on Him, I fully trust that He has a strategic purpose for this assignment of planting and pastoring Awakening Church. One that, if embraced, will transform my weaknesses into a source of joy, instead of shame.

As I reflect on my past assignments, I’m reminded that the greatest thing that God is continually teaching me is to trust Him more. Which means that God would never call me (or you) to any kingdom duty I am capable of pulling off on my own. When it comes to doing anything that is intended to display God’s glory, declare his word to a resistant culture, deploy on mission to see others discover Jesus, “Who [in the world] is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16).

Weaknesses are necessary qualifications for God’s servants to reiterate the fact that we are not sufficient. Our weaknesses…the very things we struggle with and are embarrassed about…are a critical part of the mission He gave us. They are part of God’s strategy to reveal himself to the world. It’s through our weaknesses (more than our strengths) that God demonstrates that he exists and rewards those who trust and seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

My weaknesses urge me to press deeper in my faith. The times in my life when I’ve asked the hardest questions, when I struggled the most, and doubted God’s presence and abilities was when my faith grew the most. 

The depths of God’s love can often be known best in the depths of despair.

Our weaknesses are a significant way in which God’s strength is continually revealed to the world. Because in our weaknesses, people can see that the only strength we have comes from God.

As God teaches me to depend on Him, nothing helps me grow in dependence like the desperation that comes from an assignment that can’t be done without Him. The faith of Awakening Church is being strengthened as we grow closer to Jesus and live deployed on mission in Seattle. 

2019 is off to a great start as we engage our community with The Good News of Jesus. The relationships that are developing and the opportunities for serving, teaching, and expanding our reach are encouraging. We have engaged more through volunteering in ESL classes, starting a new women’s bible study, expanding our existing City Groups, and serving the homeless community.

This past week my Chinese friend, Jin Lin, stopped me after an ESL bible class that I was teaching. Jin Lin is not a believer, but about a year ago I encouraged him to begin reading a chapter of the bible each day and to pray for God to reveal himself to him. Much to my surprise, he had been reading and asking God to reveal himself! He mentioned that he often has a difficult time understanding parts of the bible and wondered if he could come by my office each week after class to talk about what he had read. “YES!,” I replied, “of course you can.” He was hesitant to ask because he knows I have a busy schedule. But I explained to him that I would cancel just about anything on my calendar to spend that time with him. 

organic festival

My favorite day of the week is Sunday…but not for the obvious pastoral reasons (and not football). Each week we have a core team prayer/praise time 30 minutes before our worship service. During this time I share what God has been up to in and through my life over the past week. We go around the room and others share about the activity of God in their lives and ways we can pray for one another. It’s the most encouraging and motivating time of the week to see how God is using Awakening Church in our city. Each one of us is incapable of the task that God has given us as ambassadors for Christ. We all have weaknesses that are driving us to a greater dependence on Jesus. It’s through these weaknesses that God is demonstrating that he exists and rewards those who trust and seek him!

Thank you for your partnership with Awakening Church. The gospel breakthroughs and transformed lives are a direct result of your faithfulness in praying and financial giving. We are reminded often as we pray for our partners that we are here because of the call of God on our lives and the faithfulness of His people.

Please continue to pray for these specific things…

  • Our family as we search for a Sunday morning helper for our daughter that would allow Kathy to engage in greater ways.
  • Feb. 3-13 we have a team headed to India to teach at a pastors retreat, preach in several Indian churches, and host multiple prayer meetings in 3 difference cities with our ministry partners.
  • Faithfulness in equipping people for ministry and growing Awakening Church in a healthy & God-honoring way.

Highlights of 2018 – Awakening Church

Copy of Daily habit with love
I’m so thankful for the Awakening Family that God is building for His mission in Bellevue! People are coming to Jesus, disciples are being made, and we are deploying ON MISSION. God has done more than we could ask, think, or imagine through the generosity of of partners! Because of these partnership, we were able to move to a challenging culture to make disciples among people far from God. This impossible task is made possible through the power and grace of Jesus. He is making a way.
Some 2018 highlights include…
  • Launched Awakening Church in Bellevue, WA, Sept. 30.
  • Launched 3 small groups.
  • First International Mission Trip – SE Asia, Conference for missionaries and families on Restoration.
  • Developing trusting friendships with people from multiple cultural backgrounds through ESL.
  • Community partnerships with local schools & businesses.
  • Thanksgiving Serve Day – Served over 1,000 families in need while pointing people to Jesus.
  • Community Christmas Party – New relationships & gospel conversations.
  • Homeless Ministry – With over 11,000 homeless in our county, the need is great. We have helped get people off the streets, get much needed help, and led many to Jesus.
  • Our first World Mission Offering – This sacrificial offering went to support Lottie Moon, National, & Local missions partnerships.
There are so many conversations and relationships that can’t be expressed with a numbers report or list of highlights. Know that God is working in and through the lives of Awakening Church. I remain encouraged and consider it pure joy to serve Jesus as pastor. Thank you for helping to make that a reality by your prayer and financial support. May Jesus be lifted up!
Please continue to pray for us in the days to come. We face great challenges that can lead to discouragement and/or frustration. However, our God is ever present…daily guiding and working in all things. For there is not one square inch of this entire universe over which God does not have complete control.
Let us be still…and know that He is God…and He will be exalted among the nations.

‘Tis The Season For Awakening

partner's presentation-2

Seasonal outreach events are incredible opportunities for churches to minister to both their church body and the surrounding community. One of the most effective ways to reach people with the message of Jesus is through meeting real and relevant physical needs in their lives. Opportunities are everywhere to share God’s grace in the midst of real need. When we play a part, people see and hear God’s grace at work in their world. 

This year we partnered with others in our community to give Thanksgiving meal boxes to families in need. Those we served were connected though our local elementary schools. Through the generosity of many, we assembled around 1,000 uncooked, complete Thanksgiving Meal Boxes for local families. Jimmy Johns & Maggiano’s also partnered to provide meals throughout the day as families came to pick up their boxes. As we pool resources and work with partnering businesses, the blessing is multiplied – together we can make the maximum impact!

Service to others is one of the best ways I know to help us live with a thankful heart. It keeps things in perspective and truly helps us understand what’s really important. When we’re able to get outside of our bubble and see outside of ourselves, entitlement is decreased and gratefulness is increased.

Through our Thanksgiving Serve Day, we were able to meet many new families and have many gospel conversations! At our core we strive to not only display Christ to our community, but to declare that it is He who ultimately loves them like no other.

Fall is my favorite season.

In this Christmas season, we will continue looking for ways to establish relationships in our community and tell the true story of the meaning of the season. On December 9, we will host a Community Christmas Party for our neighborhood. This party will have food, games, Christmas crafts, and live music geared toward building relationships with our community families.

We ask you to join us in praying for our city and these great opportunities we have in this season. We don’t take your prayers and partnership lightly. Your commitment to this work is opening doors for Awakening Church to plant the gospel in the lives of many as we live to multiply disciples. We are incredibly thankful!

THINGS THAT GO TOGETHER

things that go together

Some things just naturally go together, like peanut butter & jelly, thunder & lightning, fish & chips, or pork & beans. Trying to imagine the one without the other would be like losing part of the identity. Making disciples & building community go together as well—in fact, they are inseparably linked. Without other believers to grow with, the process of multiplying disciples and churches is impossible.

As we live under God’s direction, our faith will be affected by how we relate to the people around us. And because we are family with other believers, we are seeking out others we can learn with. Being a Christian involves a relationship with God, yes, but it also involves a relationship with others. The goal of Christ-centered community is to develop the ultimate atmosphere by which the Church can speed toward its destination—multiplying disciples.

This past weekend we wrapped up our first month as Awakening Church in Bellevue, Washington. Building community and deeper relationships are some of the key building blocks we are using to introduce the gospel to our city.

Through our gathering, praying, serving, and studying, we are growing in strength and number each week. We are committed to this journey of faith, courage, and sacrifice that is creating a multi-ethnic and economically diverse church. In response the the prayer of Jesus for unity and our desire to pattern ourselves after the New Testament Church at Antioch (Acts 11)—we are a church or others, for all people, we are Awakening Church.

Acts 2:42–47 gives us a snapshot of community in the early church. It is a great passage, full of people spending time together…praying, talking, eating and worshipping. This passage shows a group of people wanting to be faithful to Christ and a desire to grow in their faith together.

Zach &Sarah Melvin

It’s with great joy that I get to announce that God has blessed us with new worship leaders! Zach and Sarah Melvin transitioned from Lynchburg, VA this past week. Please join us as we pray for their transition to their new home and life in Seattle. We celebrate their obedience and rejoice that God has opened the door for them to join the Awakening Church family!

2018 worldmission offering

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8

Over 2.8 Billion people have little to no access to the gospel. Together, we’re changing that. This December we will have our first World Mission Offering in which 100% of our gifts support missionaries who are making disciples and multiplying churches among unreached people and places around the world. Click the link to see in detail how we will disperse our 2018 World Mission Offering. At Awakening Church, missions is the mission. We are committed to being on mission in our city and around the world to make, grow, and send disciples so that our neighborhoods and nations are transformed.

Check out this video below to see how our approach to our calling can transform our world.

Limitless from IMB on Vimeo.

For continuous updates on what is happening in the life of Awakening Church, I encourage you to follow us on social media.

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Thank you for your continued support and prayers! God is at work!