Timeout! Three weeks between posts that includes non stop parental, pastoral, and personal events. I am catching my breath in this timeout but also giving thanks for friends that bless friends. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Celebration, entered into Advent and non stop chaos.
By "friends that bless friends" I mean those in my life from before California that have traveled west to bless the new friends we have here. We like to maintain all the friends we can and we have certainly been blessed by many. So many of our friends have been rescued by God and empowered to share their hurt, pain, joy, education and life with others. In the past couple of weeks a few of those friends have come alongside our ministry and shared hope in a profound way.
Two weeks ago, my good friend Craig Smith came to visit. He and I along with my fellow Pastor Mike Bivins went up on the mountain to open up our hearts and lives to each other as we shared life together. Great food, conversation, amazing scenery in spite of the rain, openness, vulnerability, and the embrace of the Spirit of God made for an incredible time. On Sunday morning at GCC, Craig Smith opened up his skeleton closet and shared his journey with our church. It is a hard story. It is a hard story to hear again because we lived it again in our hearts. But this time, knowing the place God has brought him, my tears were grateful tears.
His skeleton closet has death and life, sin and forgiveness, deceit and truth, division and reconciliation. There is grief and hope, there is loss and recovery. He freely shared about his mat and his condition, but also how God is transforming. My new friends were incredibly blessed by my old friend. Me too!
This past weekend two of the most dear people to me came and joined us. Joe and Alice Beam gave up their weekend to travel west. I pleaded with Joe for almost a year to come and lead a marriage weekend. Wow! His open, thoughtful, direct, scholarly, and Spirit filled words were just what we all needed. All weekend I have heard from individuals and couples that were filled with words of grace. Marriages that are in trouble have some new direction and insight. Marriages that are good are on the way to better. People were able to understand the differences and find answers to questions they didn't know how to articulate.
Alice, in her sweet spirited way, was there as evidence of grace. Her ability to forgive and trust and reconnect were so profound for those who haven't seen that as a possibility. Her words of encouragement to ladies and men alike were like balm to troubled hearts. Alice being here with her husband was such an amazing God touch. Joe was powerful, Joe and Alice were incredibly powerful!
I haven't even talked yet of Sunday morning. Joe's walking through Ephesians 5 and 6 and the call to Stand was point blank. The call back to the reality we have an enemy and he has no flesh and blood was spot on. I have heard from others how my friend blessed their lives. I love it when friends bless friends. I was so blessed by both sides of my friends!!!