It’s been an amazing week for us here in Durham! We are finally starting to feel settled into the apartment, life at Summit and the city in general. The more we get settled, the more grateful we are for Summit Church and The Summit Network. God is doing something really special here and we are thrilled to be a part of it. As you pray for us this week, here are a few focuses:
1. Renting Out The Townhouse. Praise God, we think the answer to this prayer request is right around the corner! Our realtor is currently working with two families who are interested in renting the townhouse. Lord willing, we’ll get everything wrapped up tonight or tomorrow at the latest. That will be both a huge relief and one more reason to celebrate the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to us. But we aren’t there yet – so please pray for wisdom and favor as we select a tenant and finalize all of the details.
2. Wedding in NY This Weekend. My sister is getting married in NY on Friday evening and Laura, Jack and I are going to be spending the weekend in NY with my family. Please pray for the details of this trip – it will be Jack’s first time on a plane and we’re not entirely sure how that’s going to go!! More importantly, pray Laura and I are able to be a source of calm in the midst of the frenzy of a wedding. We want to serve, encourage and love my sister and the whole family and know we need the Lord’s help to do that effectively.
3. Clarity as we take the first steps in this church planting journey. We are in the very earliest stages of selecting a location, formulating our vision, developing our team and fundraising. It would probably be even more accurate to say we are in the earliest stages of planning for what those areas are going to look like in the months to come. But the Lord is already working – He’s already started connecting us with people and ideas. As there are more specifics available, I’ll certainly post them here. But for now, just pray we stay in the Lord’s will during these crucial first steps.
Thanks for praying for us. Laura, Jack and I are so grateful for you.
This time last week I was driving a moving truck down 95 from DC to Durham. Yes, that means today is pretty much an upgrade no matter what happens. It also means I’ve been thinking a lot about moving recently. And thinking about moving has made me think about materialism, greed and my obsession with stuff.
It wasn’t until we started packing up the house in DC that I realized just how much stuff we had. I’d lived in the same house for over 8 years – that’s more than enough time to accumulate more than enough stuff! What really struck me wasn’t how much we had but how much of it was just totally unimportant to me. It didn’t matter if we brought it to Durham, put it in storage or gave it away.
Now I know some of you are getting ready to throw the “good for you, Captain Self-Righteous” flag. Don’t. Because that is NOT how I felt when I bought all of that stuff. I remember how much I wanted that CD, how cool I thought that shirt was, how essential those shoes were to impressing that girl, how I bought that tv even though I couldn’t afford it, etc… Less than 8 years later, that treasure had faded to junk.
King Solomon said the same thing in even more extreme language:
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.”
– Ecclesiastes 2:10-11
Our culture sells us a perpetual chasing after the wind. And I fall for it a lot. I still have a list of things I want right now – stuff I really want, stuff that will make me cooler or happier or better. But the gospel frees us from needing the latest and greatest because we already have the best and ultimate in Jesus.
So, I’m trying to remember the lessons of moving – today’s treasure is tomorrow’s junk. Before you make that next purchase, ask yourself if you are even going to care about whatever it is in a year. My guess is a lot more will stay on the shelf thanks to that question.
Jack has developed a little habit that really needs to go. The boy seems to think Laura and I are on a mission to starve him. For the record, I totally understand that crying is a baby’s way of communicating. I totally get that Jack prefers shouting to crying – fine, his prerogative. What I don’t understand is why the shouting continues while he’s actually being fed. There he is, strapped into his high chair, food in front of him, me feeding him and still shouting between bites! In goes the applesauce and rice cereal, it’s happily swallowed and before I can get the next spoon to his mouth…a yelp. It’s like he’s compelled to make sure I understand he’s still hungry, needs more and if I stop now, it will be bad news for all of us.
Let’s be clear – it’s not the volume that’s killing me. It’s the lack of trust. We’ve never not fed him! Laura hasn’t slept through the night since the Super Bowl to make sure this little guy gets fed enough. We’ve got enough food. We love him. Even with all that, he thinks I’m somehow going to hold out on him. Maybe he’s afraid I’ll forget, ignore him or just cheap out. I’m not sure but I’m pretty much offended whatever the case may be.
Of course, I tend to treat God the same way.
Matthew 6:8 tells us our Father “knows what you need before you ask him.” Yet, I still think He’s going to come up short, not come through, forget what I need, hold out or leave me hanging. If you watch your prayer life closely, I’m guessing you’ll notice the same thing. We are way more focused on presenting our needs than resting in His love.
Yes, our Father wants us to bring our needs to Him. But He wants us to do it confident of our standing in Jesus. He wants us to come boldly to the throne of grace trusting in His character, His goodness and His love for us. You might call this “gospel conscious praying.” In Christ, we aren’t orphans begging to be noticed. We are beloved children of a limitlessly good Father in heaven.
Let’s start praying that way.
So, this whole church planting thing is really happening.
That’s the one thought I have had over and over again since I last posted. It’s been a crazy week: we moved a bunch of stuff into storage on Wednesday, moved out on Thursday, moved in on Friday, started settling on Saturday, collapsed in exhaustion on Sunday and started living life in RDU on Monday. Whew…no wonder I’m still a little tired! But now that we are here, this whole church planting thing feels very real.
Here are some ways you can be praying for us this week:
1. Getting the townhouse in Sterling rented out quickly. Now that we are out of the house and paying rent in NC, I would love to see someone snatch it up quickly.
2. Grace in getting settled into life in RDU. We have hundreds of small details to take care of but are really focused on getting Jack back on a schedule, sleeping well and in a bit of a routine. So far, he’s doing okay but is definitely a little off schedule.
3. Clarity around vision. We are already starting the process of putting vision to paper for this new church plant. While still in the earliest stages, we are all sensing the need for great clarity as these first steps will impact so many others to come.
4. Connecting to community. We attended a Summit service in person for the first time this past Sunday and loved it! We can’t wait to get plugged into community with this church and really get involved.
5. Resting in the gospel. Our adequacy for all of this doesn’t come from our strength, experience, talent or ability. It comes from Jesus and His call on our lives. I love that truth so much but struggle to remember it so often. Please pray we can keep this reality in focus.
Thanks so much for your prayers. We need them now more than ever before in our ministry.
Yes, the Tuesday Prayer Post is coming on a Wednesday. If anything, that should give you an idea of how to be praying for us this week!
I was in Raleigh on Monday and Tuesday of this week and am now back in DC until we move on Thursday morning. So, we are in the final stages of preparing to move – things go to storage today, we need to finish packing and then tomorrow we load the truck and head to Raleigh. We’ll spend Thursday night in Richmond with Laura’s family and then move in on Friday. Lord willing, we will all go to sleep in the new apartment on Friday evening…yes, I can’t wait to actually get to that point!
All I know at this point is that wherever we plant, we’re staying there for life! Moving isn’t much fun. Moving with a six month old is even less fun. Moving with a six month old and knowing we’re going to do it again in 9 months is even harder. But we keep reminding ourselves that we never made the move to church planting because it was the easy path. We did it because we felt called to sacrifice to accomplish what the Lord is calling us to do. So, we’re tired this week but not discouraged.
Having said that, I would love your prayers for every aspect of this move. Pray for logistics, safe travels, few snags and unity between Laura and I as we juggle a lot these days. Apparently, the one thing you don’t need to pray for is the weather – the Lord has blessed us with a beautiful few days to get this done!!
I won’t post again until the weekend but look forward to settling into life in Raleigh and a more regular blogging rhythm.
I absolutely love being connected to Daybreak Ministries. God is using the team at Daybreak to do some amazing evangelistic work in the Lincoln Heights Community in the District. This team is engaged in the daily struggle of seeing the gospel transform individual lives and start to shift the culture of one of the hardest to reach corners of the city. It’s not easy. It’s not flashy. Progress can be slow. One step forward can be greeted with two steps back. But don’t let that fool you – Jesus is working! He’s breaking patterns of sin that have plagued families for generations. He’s raising up kids who are passionate about their faith. And the culture is shifting.
So, I’m hopeful you will join Laura and I in supporting Daybreak financially. I’m so grateful McLean Bible Church took an offering for Daybreak last weekend and is doing the same this weekend. It’s also a great time for us to give online as Daybreak gets ready to start a new school year. If you’re willing to invest in God’s work through Daybreak, just click here to contribute online.
For years, I’ve sent an email to a personal prayer team almost every Tuesday morning. I’ve loved doing that for a few reasons:
– I’ll take all the prayer I can get
– It’s a weekly reminder that everything I really care about will only happen by God’s grace
– It’s one simple way to stay connected to the community of faith
Starting today, we’re reshuffling the tradition a bit. Instead of an email, I’m going to post specific prayer requests to this blog. If you just want to read ’em and get a sense of what we’re up to, fine. If you’re actually led to pray, that would be awesome! Either way, here’s some focuses for this week:
1. Renting Out Our Townhouse. We’ve had the townhouse on the market for just over two weeks at this point. We’ve had a bunch of showings but no rental applications yet. We would love to see that change and keep asking the Lord to bring us the right tenant in His timing.
2. Unity In Our Marriage. Church planting is pretty much an open invitation to spiritual attack. One of Satan’s favorite targets is marriages and we are asking the Lord to keep us united, abiding in Jesus, assuming the best of one another and finding time to connect as a couple.
3. Grace In Saying Goodbye To People We Love. The hardest part of leaving DC is the people we love in this city. Yes, we absolutely plan to stay in touch and stay connected but it is totally different when you live in a different city. So, we’re trying to get time with people before we leave…the only problem is there are way more people than time! So, we’re asking the Lord to give us the grace we need to say goodbye well and be ready to move to Raleigh on the 15th of this month.
That’s just scratching the surface of what we are praying…but I don’t want to throw too much out on our first installment. Thanks for praying. If there are ways we can be praying for you, leave a comment. It would be an honor to pray for you.
I have found it almost impossible to write a good blog post for more months than I can count. If you’re a regular reader, I’m not telling you anything new. I’m simply getting what you already know out on the table. I feel like it’s good just to say things out loud. In my experience, it’s also what allows us to turn a corner.
It’s not that I haven’t had a lot to say. It’s that it hasn’t been the right time for me to say any of it. I’ve been living under a bit of a self-imposed gag order when it comes to what God has really been stirring up in my life. I just didn’t think it helped anyone for me to be writing, “so, Laura and I feel called to plant a church and are constantly dreaming and praying about what that could look like.” That might have been a bit of a distraction while we were still serving at MBC.
But this past Friday was my last day on staff at MBC. I’m still trying to process the enormity of that change in our lives and will undoubtedly write more about that when I have had space to process personally. But fully processed or not, we’ve turned a corner. I’m a church planter now and the thing that is beating in our hearts is now fair game for this blog. Honestly, I’m excited. I love writing these posts and if they encourage you, that’s an added bonus and a huge answer to prayer.
So, thanks for continuing to read. Hopefully, better blogs are right around the corner!