“Vacation”

We had a wonderful time with the Olsen and Chaffee families in San Diego.  We have been doing life with these guys along with 4 other families in the CLG (Canby Life Group) for the past 4 years.  We have shared struggles and praises, have done retreats together, ate a lot of meals, as well as served together occasionally downtown under the Burnside Bridge.  All together there are 7 couples and 19 kids (with one on the way makes 20).  On Sunday evenings at 5:30pm, our weekly meeting time, it is quite the scene, as the 19 kids go upstairs in a large play room as the adults gather and try to share our lives together.

In San Diego we were busy.  Seaworld on Tuesday, grease hunt and bonfire on Wednesday, Balboa Park on Thursday, beach and Jubilee Diner on Friday.  By Saturday, Serenity and I were exhausted and ready for a ‘vacation.’  But, as only the Lord can do, we were physically empty, but emotionally full.  We were given exactly what we were needing, love and companionship.  It still blows us away that these two families would spend so much of their own money and time to come see us.  The drive alone was 16 hours one way, just to spend a week with us.  That gesture alone was enough to feel loved and validated.  With them came bags and bags of gifts for the kids (and one or two things for mom and dad) from some of the life groups and the Kidventure children’s community back at Grace Chapel, our home church.  We laughed most of the week, and served a little on Friday night.  We had a Jubilee Diner Friday night in Ocean Beach CLG style, the same place we served the week before.  The Chaffee’s and Olsen’s got a feel for the type of outreach we do, and we had the opportunity to serve the homeless along side some of our good friends, it was a lot of fun.

On Saturday morning we headed to pick up Big Buster and it wouldn’t start, the transmissions computer system was having some problems.  For the next 3 hours Brandon, Aaron and I worked to try to fix it and get us back on the road, it was frustrating.  Nothing seemed to work.  Eventually, with a 16 hour drive in front of them, they had to leave.  It was good to have them there even if it was just for the morning and we didn’t figure out what was wrong.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17

Here are a few pictures from our time together:

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Serenity at the bonfire

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Allyson after a long day in the sun

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Rachel and Brandon speaking each other’s “love language”

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Avery “driving” Big Buster while we are being towed

Harbor Presbyterian Church

Harbor Presbyterian is a church planting church that has unique vision for the city of San Diego.  We have been encouraged by their hearts to develop relationships within the church body and ALSO reach out to their community.  They have now planted 8 small church bodies throughout the city of San Diego and will continue to plant as the Lord grows these little cells.  They begin the church planting process when a body gets bigger than 140 people.  This number comes from an actual church planting theory that claims this is when relationships begin fading among a group of people.  They are attempting to bring the Church back to its roots by creating an atmosphere of relationship, accountability, action and intimacy.  This is very difficult, if impossible, with a mega church.

Harbor has also kept fellowship among the church plants by worshiping together periodically. This has created quite a web of believers across the city of San Diego who have a beautiful heart for reaching the lost and spreading the Gospel throughout their hometown.

Attempting to not be too biased in this post, we have really enjoyed our times with the smaller churches.  They are typically (not always, namely referring to Forest Hill- a huge mega church that had SUPERB hospitality) a more friendly and warm place to land as a family who is new in town.  Small bodies seem more connected as a family group and have had the ability to direct us to individuals who might have special talents and gifting that might benefit our family/ministry.

As we all know, God is all about relationship and building the Church; preparing her for the day the Bridegroom returns.  When we see churches focusing on this and trying their hardest (not always easy) to stay away from money issues, numbers, buildings, looking hip, and programs, we are refreshed and encouraged.  Thank you Harbor for your heart for the lost, the Church, and our big, loving God!

Jubilee Diner, Ocean Beach, San Diego

We took the opportunity to put on another Jubilee Diner down at OB (Ocean Beach) yesterday.   The Jubilee Diner was first started back in Florida in celebration of the Jubilee law laid out in Leviticus 25 that called for the people of Israel to forgive others of their sins, slaves and prisoners would be set free, and debts would be forgiven.   The New Covenant, Christ, is the New Jubilee, He came to forgive us our sins, set the slaves and prisoners free and forgive us our debts.  We owe nothing, the balance has been paid, everything on His menu is “free”.   So for our Jubilee Diner, we have a small menu of about 3 items and mark them all as “free”.  They get to choose what they would like and then sit, talk and wait for their dinner to be served.  It was so much fun and so exciting to see the variety of folks who came to join us for our Jubilee Diner.

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Some friends from Horizon Urban Ministries and Harbor Presbyterian came to help us.  It was great to have others there to talk and mingle among those who came to eat.   The beach was a perfect place to park and set up while folks sat on the grass and very patiently waited for their food.  The waiting part is why we do this- it often presents many opportunities for conversations and times of prayer. Many ministries have a sack lunch or a sandwich in a ziploc and some folks just grab and go without really hearing the gospel or sharing in any sort of conversation.  The diner concept forces them to wait and talk and we listen, and we share, and we wait as the food is being cooked.  I think many homeless folks get used to just being served and not listened to so they are experts at just grabbing and going on their way.  Once I explained the menu to one guy (and this has happened more than once), he paused, and said in a disbelief sort of voice “I’ve got options?”  I love treating these men and women like kings and queens:

Then he turned to the host.  “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor.  Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”  Luke 14:12-14 (The Message)

What do you know about poverty?

Last night we had the opportunity to go down to Horizon Urban Ministries to eat dinner with about 100 homeless folks.  I was asked to speak the message for the evening.  Now, I have spoken to churches and youth groups, leadership groups and mercy ministry gatherings, but not many times to a group of homeless men and women.  For about an hour leading up to dinner, I began getting nervous, the Evil One began whispering – “what exactly do you have to say to a bunch of homeless folks?”  As one young man asked Serenity earlier this week, “have you ever been in poverty?”  I didn’t feel very qualified to speak to this group of people. Satan was trying to render me useless and back me into a corner.

As the live worship music was playing and not a single person was worshiping other than Serenity and I, the talk and the chatter which was threatening to overwhelm the guitar began to intimidated me; “will it be like this when I am speaking up there?  Will I have to yell the message?”  But as I prayed that the Lord would fill me with His Spirit and speak through me, He laid the words on my heart and gave me the message.  About 10 minutes prior to walking up in front of these men and women a peace washed over me and I knew that although I have never experienced poverty on this earth, I have experienced a period of “eternal poverty”, where I didn’t believe and wasn’t sure of my salvation in Christ Jesus – probably where many of these men and women were.  So I told my testimony, which is really the story of God in my life, which is His story, so basically I was telling the simple Gospel of God’s saving grace.  Nobody can deny that.  Nobody can deny my story, and what God has done in my life.  Your testimony is one of the strongest tools you have to tell people about Jesus, and it is irrefutable.

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12

And the sick are economically both rich and poor.  I have authority to speak in front of homeless folks because many of them are “sick” and at one point I was too, and although I am not the doctor, I know who the Doctor is, and my testimony shows how I met Him and got healed.  As many of these men and women came up to me afterwards and encouraged me with kind words of how my words spoke to them, I was encouraged and knew that the Lord used my simple story to speak to a handful of broken people in the basement of a church in San Diego.

Beautiful San Diego

If I was homeless, this is where I would come to live.  The weather is a fairly constant 70-80 degrees with a cool breeze off the ocean, lush green grass to lie on, beautiful flowers to enjoy, palm trees swaying, and lots of amenities for the homeless/poor.  And it seems a lot of folks have this same idea.  There are homeless folks everywhere. For us, this is a ministry paradise.  p3160036

We joined up with Lupe Haley’s food sharing ministry on Monday.  Seth and Dave Taylor got to join us also (since they just “happened” to be in town).  There really is nothing better than sitting on the beach with new friends and food.  We met lots of people, prayed with a few, and were given these huge piles of food on paper plates with a cup of Crush soda.  There were piles of day-old bread and pastries available for the taking that had been donated from various grocery stores, tracks that our kids helped hand out and then these little can openers that some elderly lady made that had a verse attached to them.  It was a random smattering of things that were offered but they were gladly received.  The extra food that is not taken, is taken directly to the poor in Mexico.

Seren praying with Dave (not Dave Taylor)

The homeless have much respect for Lupe.  She has been serving the poor for almost 20 years and NEVER misses Mondays.  She was homeless for 3 months and it changed her life.  Her life has been dedicated to loving Jesus, loving the homeless and sharing the Hope she has living inside of her nomatter what.  She does not have much but what she has, she gives.  Her faith and confidence in God’s provision and authority over her life is incredible.  We were honored to be a part of this sharing time.  We are looking forward to going down to spend some more time with some of the people we met on the beach.  img_1397

Unity in the Body of Christ

As believers we must attach ourselves to JESUS and know that WE are the Body wherever we go- it is not the building, the programs, or the denomination. Too many times we forget the church that we attend is only a small glimpse of what is going on in the Kingdom. It is time for all of us to break out of the walls and find the Body working all over the place. We cannot just have hands, or just feet, or just eyes to make a Body- we need all parts CONNECTED and working together! So, if you have a chance, check out what the church down the street is doing every once in a while. You might be surprised.

just an update

We have spent the last few days reconnecting with some family members from Andy’s side.  Most of them, I had never met and the last time we saw Grandma Coulombe was at our wedding (almost 10 years ago).  We were glad to have an opportunity to share our children with them and catch up with some cousins, aunts, uncles and of course, grandma.

Thanks to many of you for praying, I am back to normal, feeling healthy.  And it looks like everyone else in the family is still well!  Please continue to pray for our health- it is rough being sick while traveling in an RV!  YUCK!

We will be heading to San Diego tomorrow!  Some great opportunities for ministry are waiting for us there and we are REALLY looking forward to it!  Along with that, two families from our life group are coming to visit us during our second week to work, play, and fellowship with us for a WHOLE WEEK!  We are excited to indoctrinate them into veggie hunts, scoping out where the homeless hang, meeting lots of new people, and touring the beautiful city of San Diego.  Thank you Canby Life Group!  We will miss the rest of you who can’t make it!

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