One Year of God’s Faithfulness

One year ago today my family and I drove up to Walnut Creek to get the keys to a house we had never seen in person but knew that God had opened the door for us to rent. That day was May 16th 2014, and I cannot forget the excitement and anticipation we all felt in pulling up to that house and seeing the place God had provided for us to call home. That was one step, one moment in the adventure of faith God had called us into, and at every step along the way in this journey we have watched Him be faithful. He has never let us down, never failed us, and He never will. Here’s the awesome thing…..we are nothing special, we’re not super-saints, not worthy of His faithfulness, and yet He is still faithful to His people. When God called us to come to the Bay Area to plant a church we didn’t know how He would be faithful or what that would all look like, just that He would be faithful. Our story is not that everything has been perfect and it’s not that everything has been hard and terrible. Our story is that in the good times and in the difficult times God has been with us, sustained us, fulfilled us, empowered us, enabled us, and a hundred other things…..and we love where God has called us, who He has called us to, and what He is doing.

Shortly after moving here we started a Home Bible study in the middle of June and we watched God be faithful to draw people to the Bible study, people who were hungry for more of Jesus. And He grew that little Bible study to where we had to start meeting outside in our backyard and let the kids have the run of the house while we met. It was a sweet time and God used it to make us family as we focused on doing what the early church did as we see from Acts 2:42.

A couple months later God opened the door for us to use a local Methodist church on Sunday evenings through an arrangement made by another Calvary Pastor from the Bay Area. Again, this was completely the Lord’s doing, Him opening the door, Him giving us favor, and Him being faithful to the new church He was planting in Walnut Creek. At first Sunday nights were just a prayer and worship time for us as we didn’t have enough people serving to offer Children’s ministry. It was awesome to watch God bring like-minded people to the church who were “All-In” with what God was doing and slowly God began building a core group of people who served faithfully and wanted to be a part of what God was doing at Calvary Chapel Walnut Creek. Not only did God bring people locally who became part of that core group, but He also brought (and continues bringing) families and individuals from our sending/home church Calvary Chapel Canyon Hills who have answered God’s call upon their own lives and families to move up here to be a part of what God is doing. After several months of meeting at Walnut Avenue Methodist church, on October 5th we launched our first public service, and again God drew people there who were hungry for more of Jesus and just wanted to study through the Word of God. We continued holding Sunday night services at the Methodist church for seven months and God continued to be faithful to this young church He was planting and growing by His Grace and through the power of His Spirit.

In the beginning of April of this year, on Easter Sunday we took a step of faith and rented one of the community centers in Walnut Creek to hold an Easter morning service, and for the first time we really tried to get the word out by making a lot of fliers and encouraging everyone in the fellowship to invite people personally. Some went and handed fliers out at parks, some went door to door, and Easter morning was a blessing. What was our expectation? Was it that 200 people filled the 200 chairs in that community center? We did pray for that, but ultimately it was that people would come and hear the life changing truth of the gospel. Not one person raised their hand that day to receive Jesus when I gave the invitation to respond but people heard, and the work of transforming hearts and lives is Jesus’ and not mine. What I saw was the faithfulness of God to provide and opportunity and draw people who needed to hear about Jesus.

The Sunday after Easter we took another step of faith and moved to a new time and location, believing God was wanting us to move to Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings at Valle Verde Elementary School has been such a blessing and has created so many more fellowship opportunities as now we have the rest of the day to spend time together as a church. We’ve also seen many new faces as Jesus continues to be faithful to build His church.

Here’s what I continue to learn as I walk with Jesus in this life of faith, and what I know you will learn too as you walk with Jesus: He is good, He is faithful, He is at work, He has a plan, and He wants to use us in this world to point other people to Himself. He likes to call us to things that are way bigger than us, that we don’t feel adequate or able to do, so that we are completely dependent on Him, relying full on His Holy Spirit for the equipping and enabling and empowerment, so that He gets all the glory and honor and praise. Walk by faith and you will never fail to witness His faithfulness. We know as we move forward into this next year and throughout the rest of our lives that Jesus will always be faithful, and I pray our life will serve as an encouragement to others to walk by faith too.

Reflecting on our First Month

Today marks the one month anniversary of our move to Walnut Creek. This past month has been one of much adjusting to our new surroundings and trying to get acclimated. God has given us so much grace this past month with being away from everyone we know and love back home, and we are so thankful to Him for that. The time that we have had together as a family has been so needed and so refreshing for us, and while it can’t last forever it has been a blessing to be around at home.

I’ve been staying busy with preparing to teach each week for our Wednesday night Home Group and preparing for Sunday’s as I’ve been getting opportunities to teach at local Calvary fellowships in the Bay Area. This past Sunday I taught in the morning and evening at ReGeneration (a Calvary fellowship in Oakland), and I’ll be teaching their morning and evening service this coming Sunday also. The following two Sundays after that (July 6th and 13th) I’ve been given the opportunity to teach at Calvary Chapel Crossroads in Antioch here in the East Bay. It’s such a blessing to get to teach God’s word and feed His sheep, and see what God is doing in some of the local Calvary’s in the Bay Area. I’m still waiting for the right job to come up……and been praying for wisdom on if I should get a full-time job or maybe getting a part-time job where our savings account drains slower than not having a job at all – but having more time to pour into the church plant and love and feed Jesus’ sheep which is what God has called us up here to do. I know that God will be faithful to take care of us and provide, and it will be cool to see how He does that and we will give Him all the glory for whatever He does.

Last night we had our third Calvary Chapel Walnut Creek Home Group at our house and it’s been such a blessing. Every person who has come to the Home Group has come as a result of someone telling someone else, or by hearing through social media like Instagram, and it’s been sweet to see how Jesus is building His church – and He continues to remind us that He doesn’t need our help in doing it. He spoke to us before we came up here that there are sheep here without a shepherd, and the people that He has been bringing are some of those sheep. We are just excited to see God working, and so thankful and humbled that He would choose us to be a part of His plan to reach people here in the Walnut Creek area. Please continue to pray for us, for Calvary Chapel Walnut Creek, for those He’s already brought, those He will bring, the lost in our area to come to know Jesus, for continued open doors with Walnut Avenue Methodist Church to meet there on Sunday nights, and that Jesus would be glorified and made famous here in Walnut Creek and throughout the Bay Area. Thank you!!!

New Beginnings and Open Doors

This past week has been an exciting week for us!

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This past Wednesday night we had our very first Calvary Chapel Walnut Creek Home Group at our house, and people besides our family actually came! It’s so awesome and encouraging to see Jesus be faithful to build His church no matter how small or big its beginning is. The foundation is beginning to be laid for what this church will be about, and it’s the same foundation and emphasis that the early church had. The early church was all about Jesus Christ, was completely dependent upon and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses to Jesus in this world and fulfill His commission (Mt. 28:18-20), and there were four crucial essentials (pillars) that the church was going to be all about and that they weren’t going to waver from. We find those four things in Acts 2:42 which says,

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

They kept it simple, and Jesus was faithful to do what He said He’d do and He was the One who “added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

Wednesday night Home Group is our big focus right now as we start just loving and shepherding the people who come, get into the Word together, fellowship together, break bread together (eat together and just enjoy each others company, and partake of communion together), and spend time in prayer and worship together – keeping everything focused and centered upon Jesus. It’s been encouraging and faith building for us to see Jesus build His church with some people who got in contact with us and wanted to be a part of this church plant before we had even moved up here. God is faithful, and we look forward to whatever He’s going to do here in Walnut Creek through this local fellowship that He’s planting here for His glory and and the advancement of His Kingdom.

One other really exciting thing happened this week too!

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God has opened the door for us to be able to start meeting on Sundays at Walnut Avenue Methodist Church here in Walnut Creek (the church in the photo above)! It’s kind of a long story how this even came about (too long to share in a blog), and I wasn’t the one who instigated or arranged all of this……but I honestly thought that using this church wasn’t going to be an open door for us. We had been praying about the possibility of using this place and even wanted to come here as a stop and pray point on our Prayer Tour back at the end of February, but all my phone calls and messages to the church/Pastor were never returned so that never worked out. I had told myself that once we moved up here I was going to give it one last shot and try and go in in person and meet with the Pastor to see if we could use the church for our Sunday services – so this past Thursday morning (the morning after our first Home Group) I went over to the church. I was able to meet with the church secretary and one of the Pastors there and they were on board with us using the church on Sunday nights! One huge blessing is that the agreement financially in us using it every week is a “donation if able” agreement! Unheard of! Except when God is the One opening the doors and giving favor. I’m reminded that Jesus, in Revelation 3:7 called Himself,

“He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.”

We are in awe of our God, and continually blown away by His grace. For now, until we build our core group and sense God’s timing in actually starting Sunday night services every week – we are going to start using the church on Sunday nights for a time of prayer and worship beginning sometime in the next few weeks most likely. Below is a picture of the Sanctuary where we will be meeting…IMG_1243Not only will we be able to use the Sanctuary, but we will also have access to the entire facility including a large fellowship hall with a full kitchen, children’s classrooms, and a playground for the kids!

Please keep praying for God’s hand and favor to continue to be upon us and upon Calvary Chapel Walnut Creek, that He would give us vision and wisdom for this church and for how to reach the people of our city and area for Jesus, and that God would raise up and send up people to co-labor with us in this new work to bring the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and to help make disciples. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.

Jeremiah 32:27 says, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?”

Nothing is too hard for our God. Be encouraged….because we serve an extraordinary God who can do impossible things…..the One who opens doors that no man can shut, and who shuts doors that no man can open.

From the Valley of Waiting to the Pleasant Valley

It was just about a month and a half ago that I wrote a post titled “In the Valley of Waiting” where I shared about the waiting place that God had us in at that time – and just 22 days after writing that post God had opened the door for us to rent a house in Walnut Creek and we were getting the keys to our house on a street named Pleasant Valley Drive. Ten days after getting our keys, on May 24th we made a 10 hour trek with a caravan of awesome people who were willing to help us, and we moved all of our stuff from Lake Elsinore and became residents of Walnut Creek California. We’ve now been in our house for 2 1/2 weeks and we love it here, couldn’t feel more blessed with the house God has allowed us to rent, and with the neighborhood that we get to be in. This picture below is my wife Angela and our girls Reagan and Delaney shortly after we had received the keys to our new place on May 16th.IMG_1010This house is a testimony to our God who does the impossible, works outside of our logic many times, and He is the One who will receive all the glory for us getting this house because we know we couldn’t have gotten this place apart from from Him opening the door and His hand and favor being upon us.

When God has us in a difficult or trying Valley in life, no matter how long the Valley might last, it won’t last forever, and He won’t leave us there. Trials always come to pass. For some, the passing of a trial might lead to a moving day into the presence of Jesus, but He will be faithful to take us from glory to greater glory. God is wanting to accomplish something in us and for His eternal purposes in the Valley, it’s never purposeless, never for no reason, always necessary, and always for our good and His glory.

I’m still looking for work, but this short time of not having a job has been such a blessing to be able to regroup and just focus on our family during this transition, and we are trusting that God has just the right job for me so that I can provide for my family.

For us, God has moved us from one Valley to another, but this Pleasant Valley (literally our street name) is the Promised Land that God has brought us into, and we are excited for this new season of life that God has us in. This Pleasant Valley doesn’t mean that everything is perfect now or that everything is easy and free of difficulty…..far from it – but there is joy in knowing that we are exactly where God wants us, and there is peace in knowing that no matter how hard things may get here….that He is with us. God’s track record is perfect, He will never fail, He will always be faithful, so we can count on Him. We’ve seen His faithfulness time and again throughout our lives……so I want to encourage you to trust Him too, and you will find that Jesus will be faithful in your life also.

A Season of “Lasts”

Alright it’s official, I just reserved a U-Haul cargo trailer that I will be picking up on Sunday afternoon. We will be packing up all of our stuff next Monday morning the 26th into the trailer and whatever trucks are available and heading up to Walnut Creek that day. So crazy….the next 7 days are going to hold so many “lasts” for us. It’s an understatement to say that it’s going to be a hard week.

The first of the “lasts” for this week is tomorrow night (the 20th), when we will be having our last Walnut Creek prayer meeting in Lake Elsinore. After tomorrow night our prayer meetings will start taking place in our home in Walnut Creek.

The next “last” is Wednesday night (the 21st), which will be my last time leading worship at Calvary Chapel Canyon Hills, and our last mid-week service there. I’m hoping I don’t lose it while leading worship and start crying like a baby.

The third to last “last” is Thursday (the 22nd), which will be my last day of work at my job of 13 years. In my plan and in my prayers I always thought that I would get another job up in the Bay Area first and THEN we would get a place to live……but God is calling us to take a step of faith in moving into a place first without having a job yet. Where God guides, God provides! And we are excited to see how God shows up and does the impossible so that He gets all the glory!

The second to last “last” is Friday night (the 23rd) which will be our last night with our peeps at Steadfast Young Adults Fellowship. After 4 years of loving and leading and teaching this group it’s going to be so hard for me and Ang and our girls to say goodbye to this special group of people we hold so dear.

The last “last” of this week is our last Sunday service (the 25th) with our church family at Calvary Chapel Canyon Hills where they will be praying for us as we are sent out to go and plant Calvary Chapel Walnut Creek. These people are more than just friends, they are family to us….and the last 4 1/2 years have been some of the greatest years of our lives as a family and in ministry. I don’t even want to think about having to say goodbye to them yet.

Not to mention Sunday will be our last full day of living in Lake Elsinore.

There will be other “lasts”, lots of goodbyes and see you laters, lots of hugs and lots of tears….just typing about it is bumming me out and making me tear up.

But a season of “lasts” leads to a season of “firsts”. We are excited for what lies ahead, for the adventure God has us on, to grow closer together as a family, to continue to walk with Him and love Him and serve Him, to love others and share the gospel with the lost, to see a new church planted where the Bible is simply taught – people are loved on and fed the Word – where Jesus is honored and exalted and glorified and kept central – and where the Holy Spirit is alive and active and depended upon for empowerment and to give us Christ’s love for each other and for the lost, and to see Jesus made famous in Walnut Creek and throughout the Bay Area.

We love you all and covet your prayers!

In the Valley of Waiting (a progress update)

I want to start this blog post by saying that I do not like waiting, I’m not so spiritual that the waiting is easy for me, and that I definitely haven’t figured out all of this waiting stuff. I start with that so that what I say next isn’t misunderstood by anyone, and so that you know that I’m on this journey of life learning from God and depending on God just like all of you are……so I hope you’re encouraged by this progress update.

Well, April 23rd marked exactly 11 months since God clearly spoke to me while on a family vacation/scouting trip in San Francisco that He was indeed leading me and my family to plant a church. Since that time it has been quite a journey as we’ve continued to walk by faith towards this new venture in faith that God is calling us to. We’ve had Mountain-top moments of confirmation, divine appointments, open doors, and an amazing prayer tour – and we’ve also had Valley-low moments of frustration, disappointment, closed doors, and just plain waiting and wondering. Both the Mountain-top and Valley-low experiences are from God, and both are so needful. It’s on the Mountain-tops that we see more and more of the land before us as we get glimpses of the landscape, where our faith is bolstered, excitement and anticipation grows, and where we get more clarity of where God is leading us to and how near we are to entering it. And it’s in the Valley-lows that God teaches us to truly walk by faith and not by sight as the mountains and obstacles around us seem so big and impossible and keep us from being able to see what’s up ahead or where we are at or where we are going, where He teaches us to depend on Him fully and cling to Him, where our faith is tested and stretched, where He refines our character and does deep heart work, and where we have to stand upon His word and His promises to us – believing that what He has promised He will bring to pass in His perfect timing.

Since coming back from the prayer tour at the very beginning of March we have been in that Valley – the Valley of waiting. Though it’s been hard, though we don’t like it – we know God is working and leading even when we can’t see any of it, and we are trusting in His promises.

Psalm 37:3-7a says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” and verse 34a says, “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land”.

Psalm 130:5-6 says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning— yes, more than those who watch for the morning.”

Many people ask us “What’s new?”, “Any progress?”, “When are you guys going to plant the church?”, and we wish we had something to share……but our answer has been the same – we are just waiting on the Lord. I’m still putting in my resume with different companies as jobs get posted, had many phone interviews and a couple in-person interviews with different companies, but I’m still waiting for the right job to come up, for the right house to come up, and we are still waiting for God’s timing in all of it. He’s in control, He has a plan, He hasn’t forgotten us, He’s still good, He will always be faithful, and we are going to praise and worship and thank Him along the way – even when the valley is at it’s lowest points. We so appreciate all the continued prayers, and we will give more updates as things progress in God’s timing.

Walnut Creek Prayer Tour Video

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Here’s the Prayer Tour video that we showed this morning at Calvary Chapel Canyon Hills! To view it in HD just click on HD and go to the Vimeo link. Check it out! Please continue to pray for the people and city of Walnut Creek, and for the upcoming Calvary Chapel Walnut Creek church plant. Thank you so much!

Habakkuk 2:2-3 “Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”