The Haunting of Seattle 

Last week, my church, Bethany Community Church, invested in their staff team by allowing for those of us who wanted to, to go to Q Commons. if you’re not familiar with what this is, picture a church leaders version of Ted Talks. They are short, relevant talks pertaining to the issues presently facing culture, society, and the church.

Of all the talks I heard, there is one stocking with me. As I have explored the Pacific Northwest and Washington the past couple of days, I have been thinking of the phrase said that night – Seattle is haunted. What the talk was hinting at, is how the PNW is actually very spiritual and is even haunted by it everywhere you look.

Yesterday, while at Snoqualime Falls I saw this:

As a native Southern Californian, who was born and raised in Orange County, I get to study, learn, and explore a new culture. I am so used to the Hispanic heritage of California. In fourth grade, I had to study every mission that ever existed in California. Now, up here, there’s a new culture, heavily influenced by the Native American’s and the exploring pioneers who moved out here to the PNW looking for fortune, independence, and a new, better life.

As I explore my new home, I encounter the God’s presence in some exquisitely beautiful places. Places I never knew existed; places quickly becoming favorite areas; places quickly reminding me of how awesome a work God did in creating the world.

If Seattle is haunted, I look forward to figuring out how to point people to God’s movement and work in the PNW. He’s here, I see Him, and it is absolutely amazing.

I was blessed to be able to join staff at an amazing local church. We are not the only amazing local church looking to unveil Jesus in Seattle. I’m grateful to continue to see God on the move in this city, in this region.

I’ve never been afraid of no ghosts.

May it be in Seattle as it is in heaven.

May it be in the Pacific Northwest as it is in heaven.

Practicing Rhythm

Rhythm.

I don’t have it. Musically speaking that is. One thing I can pretty much guarantee in my lifetime is I’ll never get on stage to play music or sing in any fashion, because this man with a beard has no rhythm. By the way, when I say no, I may mean negative – like a deficit of rhythm. This was not a gift I was blessed with in the slightest and it’s okay.

Yet, today, I practiced rhythm.

Today, I self-cared.

It was a day my soul, my head, my heart greatly needed. Moving to Seattle has been an amazing whirlwind, it has also meant learning a new rhythm. My routine I developed has been thrown off. Everyplace I once knew, I once went to, for refreshment, nourishment, and connection to Jesus is gone (not literally, but you know what I mean). My Orange County home is now over a thousand miles away.

My rhythm is out of whack.

So today, I decided to explore. I decided to adventure. I decided to seek out new places, new spots, new favorites, in order to develop a new rhythm. Gone is my San Clemente, my Newport Beach, my San Diego, my Sunset Cliffs, my downtown Fullerton, my downtown Santa Ana, my Old Towne Orange, my Angel Stadium, and so much more.

Today, I found one of those new places to put on the list of places in the great Pacific North West. It took a 45 minute drive outside of Seattle to get to the beautiful Snoqualime Falls.

I could have spent hours there.

I did spend hours there.

I was able to take some time and stand in the beauty of God’s creation and bask in God’s providence. I was able to reflect on all the amazing things God has done the past 6 months, and how this Orange County native was able to be standing at the foot of the waterfall, in the Pacific North West, in Washington, outside of Seattle, and in this beautiful part of the world.

Snoqualime Falls will be added to the places I go to for self-care.

However, I have so much more to see and explore up hear. So many places have yet to be added to my new favorites, and my new rhythm of connecting to Jesus and refreshing my soul.

More importantly, in this season, as I practice rhythm, I build routines and patterns to take with me for a life time.

I practice as a single man for the future coming before me. Develop a rhythm now for a sustainable, productive, flourishing future.

Self-care is good for the soul. Practicing this rhythm is important. Let’s do it again Snoqualime Falls.

Risk Taking :: Se(a)ttl(e)ing In To the Fall

Risk.
This has been the theme of my season God was calling me into; this has been how God has asked me to be orienting and living my life the past several months.

Risk.

Don’t take the easy way out. Don’t do the things you already know how to do. Don’t stay stuck in old patterns or habits. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t take things for granted. Don’t stop growing or learning.

Risk.

Where are the areas in my life I hit cruise control? What do I want to see changed in myself? How can I keep pursuing the next, best, right step? What will I continue to be willing to sacrifice? Where will I place my faith in the midst of transition?

Risk.

2016 has not been the year I expected; 2016 has grown me in ways I never could have imagined; 2016 has widened and deepened my perspective, my calling, my vision, and my hope; 2016 has been far better than I could have hoped for. 2016 will always be a year I remember.

Risk.

So much of life is about showing up and seeing how God is already on the move. Sometimes, this means sensing the need to take risks, holy risks – not stupid risks. These are faith steps where you don’t know what awaits, but you can’t shake the feeling God is pleading with you to jump out of the plane – without a parachute – trusting He has you.

Risk.

Trusting He is not having you free fall to your death; trusting He is speaking to you, calling yiu, and with you. It means trusting God will show you already had a parachute, or a hang glider, or a jet pack on your person. Or it means while you’re free falling you’ll find a few others on the fall with you, join together, and figure it out together until you see you fell into one of those giant foam pits they have at those trampoline places.

Risk.

Fall is upon me in Seattle. The leaves are changing color and this Southern Californian native is loving every second of it. In the midst of rain, cooler weather, grey skies, and a new city, God is reminding me the big risk has been taken – but my season of risk is far from over. More opportunities for risk are forth coming.

Don’t get comfortable.

Risk.

Risk yesterday. Risk today. Risk tomorrow. Risk in the areas God is beckoning me towards. Risk around the wonders of God’s faithfulness. Risk in the aspects worth more than csn be imagined.

Risk.

Things that Could Have Been Versus the Things that Are

I’ve been marinating on this phrase quite a lot recently. This has been a season of extreme life change – to say the least.

I’ve left two jobs, moved away from my home town, left my family, exited my deep and wide community, and transitioned to a new life, new rhythm, new routine in Seattle. Nothing about this is bad, but if someone would have told me last October this is how God was going to move and lead, I probably would have laughed it off and told that person they were crazy.

Crazy thing is, that is exactly what God was up to.

As I’ve been thinking about what could have been, I’ve been reflecting how my formative church years were spent at a young church, then helping launch a church. Then, I went on staff (my first job as a pastor) at a historic church in Santa Ana – which predated the city. Now, in Seattle, the church God called me to join the team at just turned 100 years old.

It is the same age as Boeing; it is one of only 26 business left from 1916 in Seattle.

Bethany Community Church is a church that 100 years ago, looked drastically different. As it has aged, the community of Bethany has consistently and faithfully followed how God has been at work in Seattle and lived into who God has asked this community to be.

I’m curious if the founding team of Bethany stopped to think about what their community would like in the new millennium? Could they have envisioned what was to come in Seattle, the country, or their church?

I get the sense that this community of people has not been stuck throughout it’s history thinking about what could have been in the answer to those questions. Instead, they were dreaming into the reality of what actually was, not what could have been. Not getting stuck in the past, or the ways they really, really wanted a certain season of life to go.

Now, I sit in this tension. I’ve been moving so fast the past three months I have not really had the chance to slow down, pause, reflect and wrestle with the tension of what could have been. To preface, I’m grateful and excited for this new season. It is where I’m supposed to be. Yet, I think I have missed out on lament, on the ending of one stage of life.

My life, my calling, my vision, my vocation, was formed, created, and developed inside Orange County, California. God did so, so many good things in this season, in that stage of life, in that geographic region of the world. No matter where I go from here on out, Orange County goes with me.

Adding to this, I now get to say, no matter where I go in the rest of life – Seattle will go with me as well. As I enter into a new season of dreaming about the things that could be, Seattle will be a formative, birthing ground for these new dreams.

Things that are versus things that could have been. The tension is real but the dreams of what could be are birthed out of the things that are. I can’t wait to see those new dreams in this new season.

May it be in Seattle as it is in heaven.

Hello Seattle, I’m Listening

​If you know me, you may find this as a bit of a surprise… However, I’m an extrovert. Honestly, I know, I’m shocked too.

As a Pastor & leader, I feel this has some instinctual advantages. It means being in a field all about people doesn’t necessarily drain me; it means meetings are not my worst nightmare; it means hanging out with leaders, or anyone, & hearing their story is something I don’t get tired of.

Yet, in this season, in my transition to Seattle, my extrovert can also be a disadvantage. Thankfully, at this stage in the journey I officially know people. Heck, I’d even say I have Seattle friends! But, my default tendency is to run hard, stay busy, & connect with my deep, close friends to renew & find rest.

Well, when those relationships are 2 states away & a thousand miles away that’s really hard to do. Plus, I’m literally around people most of my day. I’m working a lot & I love my work. I don’t mind long hours, but throw in a lack of deep relationships & I know it can be far too easy for me to say yes to anything at work, at church. Especially since it’s how God has wired me.

With that said, I’ve given myself a rule. As an outsider who knows very little about Seattle & has few relationships in the greater PNW, I’ll say yes to just about anything. In fact, my sister even has an incriminating video message she’ll remind me of if she hears I said no…

See, I love Seattle; I’m loving getting to know it’s people & culture too. In order for me to be able to truly live out who I’m wired to be & why God called me to Seattle, I know it involves studying my new city & building relationships.

So seriously, I’ll do just about anything in Seattle. Heck, I may even be willing to go watch the Sounders play soccer…  or if anyone has Seahawks connections, I’d love to see them play 🙂

See, the other interesting thing about being an extrovert is I’m used to talking & knowing the answers. So, this season is helping force me to listen first, ask good questions second, and talk third.

I’m here to learn. I want to soak in as much as I can. I want to hear everyone else & see things how they see it.

I’m the rookie.

I’m new.

I’m a learner.

I’m an achiever.

In this season, learning is achieving.

Hello Seattle!

ballard

Today, marks one week of being in Seattle.  Last Wednesday, my sister and my new roommates, helped me unload my Honda CRV, and move me into Phiney Ridge – a neighborhood of Seattle. The next day, I started my new position, job, and ministry assignment at Bethany Community Church in the Seattle neighborhood called Greenlake.

The past six weeks of my life have been an absolute whirlwind; the past two weeks of my life have been the beginning of what may possibly be the best adventure of my life. The past seven days of my life has been spent with God using little things to constantly affirm me following His leading in pursuing the next, best, right step.

I was called to relocate from Orange County, California – a life that was good – filled with friends, family, and community, plus two good jobs. I heard God’s stirring asking me to leave “home” behind and move to Seattle, experience new, and trust him that better was coming.

As I write this, I am one week in to this adventure God called me to. Over the past week, my excitement has grown exponentially. I still don’t know what this season of life will fully look like, but what I do know is I’m exactly where God has asked me to be.

Writing this I know I’m living into who God has and is calling me to be. This is not just a now calling, but a lifetime calling. Right now, I practice being a participant observer because I have so much to learn, about so many different things.

This excites me.

I am outside of comfort zones.

I need to trust, rely, and continue pursuing the next, best, right steps.

I need a mattress and a bed so I can get off this air mattress and get better nights of sleep.

But, in this past week, I’m already learning about being open, be flexible, being vulnerable, and simply the art of being present.

Hello Seattle.

Thank you for a great first week. Thank you for the people you have up here I am getting to know. Thank you for what you have for me in the future.

 

Youth All Nighter

To quote the Bob Saget version of Ted Mosby on How I Met Your Mother, who quotes Lethal Weapon, “I’m getting too old for this stuff.”

But, I do love Student Ministry. I love hanging out with my students. It is always a blast to see relationships built and new experiences grip them.

Tonight, I’m introducing them to the concept of an all nighter or a lock in. I’m running on fumes and caffeine at 2:40 in the morning or at night (up to you). I am totally ready for bed, but instead I get to foster an environment of community.

Am I exhausted? Yes. Does part of me want to be in bed, getting my much needed beauty sleep after wrapping up my bi-vocational week? Absolutely. Do j wonder if I should be working on what I’m doing Sunday? Of course. Am I grateful for my sister who spent two hours here tonight? You betcha. Am I forever indebted to Starbucks Refreshers for providing me with a quality energy drink? No doubt. 

Being a Youth Pastor I love getting to be a part of these opportunities. Sleep can wait. 

All ministry is about relationships. But of you’ve never been a Youth Pastor, you may think it’s all fast food and summer camps.

Some of that is true. Just sub pizza with fast food And he picture I painted is a bit more accurate.

Effective Youth Ministry and effective ministry happens best in relationship. I’ll do whatever it takes to build relationships.

Sometimes that means pulling an all nighter; sometimes that means blogging to stay awake as your students watch the original Karate Kid.