Christ's Love Allows us to Love One Another

At Resurrection Church, we want to share stories of how God is working in our lives, as individuals and as a community. We are a church of real people, with lives that aren’t perfect but where grace abounds.

Stories of Grace is a way for us to let one another into our joy and our trials to encourage one another as we witness the steadfast love of God. We hope this story is an encouragement to you.

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A self-proclaimed “farm boy from the sticks” of southeast Missouri, Nick Francis has a gift for leadership; and through God’s refining grace, a heart for others.  He and his wife, Siobhan, met while attending nursing school, got married two years later, and then moved up to Washington, on what was supposed to be a temporary basis.  Their initial intention was to move on to another state, to take part in a church plant.  When those plans fell through, Nick states, “We asked God if we could stay [in Washington], and He said yes.”

Nick currently leads our Discipleship Team at Resurrection Church, the team that helped develop the training and devotional material for our current Disciple Maker series. The series is designed to help grow us as disciples and as disciple-makers. He and Siobhan have been involved since its earlier incarnation as a class.  


What does discipleship mean to you and why is it important?

Nick:  When I think of a disciple, I think of a follower of Christ.  So if you look up the definition of disciple, it’s probably more like just a follower of any particular thing; and maybe even someone who wants to mimic someone else.  But discipleship is the act, or rather state of being, in which you are following Christ; desiring to be more like him; growing in his image.  

God created us to image him, and to live/be a certain way.  Discipleship is the process of growing to be more like Christ, which is who we were originally intended to image in the first place.

Discipleship is actually about being more truly human, because that is how we were intended to be. Discipleship is about imaging God and doing that which we were called.  But even more than that, it’s about enjoying God.  It’s about fulfilling our purpose as human beings.  
 

What do you love about getting to disciple others and help build up God’s people?

Nick:  Well, that wasn’t always the case.  I used to not like people at all.  That’s something that God changed in me, and probably the most powerful portion of a testimony that I have of God’s work.  He did change me, to love people and have a heart that wants them to grow to be like Him.  And I think at this stage of my life, the thing that I enjoy most about being around God’s people is that they are all so different.  When you really get to know somebody, you learn how different from you they are.  At first, that can be hard.  But it’s really a beautiful thing.  God is so much bigger than we are, and we all image Him in different ways.  From a leadership and personal standpoint, it’s wonderful to get to know different people and personalities, because they are all reflections of God.
 

What barriers to loving people has God broken down in your life?

Nick:  The biggest one occurred about five years ago.  I didn’t like people.  I definitely didn’t love people.  God had given me gifts to be able to organize things and put together events.  But I wasn’t able to do those things in ways that were helpful, or glorifying to people.  I would just use people for their skills, and not actually care about them when I was using them.  When I came up here, I was told that if I wanted to be a pastor, I should be a small group leader.  At first, I didn’t like the idea… But then, kind of relented.  

I remember in one group meeting, I was an apprentice, and a girl started crying while we were praying.  She got up and left the room, and I remember thinking ‘I’m glad she left the room.  I don’t want to deal with that.’  That was incredibly unloving!  I’ve struggled with it for a long time, and I still see it sometimes, in that I don’t want to go into the mess of life with people.  I just want to stay where it’s clean, and where people have their stuff together.  And that’s something that God has changed in me, and I think, is continuing to change in me; and that allows me to love people like He loves people.
 

How does God’s love for you inform your interactions with others?

Nick:  It’s not something that I think about enough, the fact that God loved me.  I just read last night, in John 4:10, the definition of love: ‘not that you loved God, but that God sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins.’  That’s God’s definition of love.  Sacrifice everything that you have for someone else, or for others; and that’s what it means to love.  That’s a crazy high calling for us!  But God reminds us later on in that same text that we are holy, because of Christ’s sacrifice.  So on one hand, you don’t have to live up to the expectation to sacrifice everything you have; but on the other hand, that’s the calling.  That’s what it means to love.  And if I think about that every moment of the day, I’m going to live life differently.  But I don’t think about it every moment of the day.  And when I do think about it, it changes me.  Because Christ loved me perfectly, I can love others.  It seems trite to say that, but it really is the truth.  When I live in the reality that God gave everything for me, and that’s all I care about or am focused on, then the only thing I have a desire to do is give it back to the Lord.  And the way that he calls us to do that is actually by giving it back to others.  To love God is to love others, because that’s what He did.

So now, when there’s a differing opinion between myself and another christian, it’s no longer a personal thing, or that I need to be right.  It’s now, ‘Oh wow, this is something I should consider;’ even if I’m right, or even if I still think I’m right.  It brings about a humility.  It brings about all those fruits of the spirit.  That we can have love; joy; peace; patience in the midst of difficulties; kindness toward others, when they are unkind with us; self-control when things are out of control; and the giving up self for the Lord; is what enables us to do all the things that God asks us to do; which ultimately provide us with an unstoppable joy, despite circumstances; and a different kind of love than the world has ever seen!

Linda's Testimony

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At Resurrection Church, we want to share stories of how God is working in our lives, as individuals and as a community. We are a church of real people, with lives that aren’t perfect but where grace abounds.

Stories of Grace is a way for us to let one another into our joy and our trials to encourage one another as we witness the steadfast love of God. We hope this story is an encouragement to you.

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I (Linda) grew up in Tacoma, not within any kind of Faith. I rejected the idea of Christianity early on as a young adult. I felt like it was one of many religious myths.

Right out of highschool I started dating Mat (who is my husband now) and we dated off and on for a couple years but it didn’t work out because we were really young and our lives took different paths.

I spent a lot of time seeking and trying to figure out what I believed about spirituality, God and the afterlife. I decided that I thought there was a God but I didn’t think there was Heaven or Hell. And then I had a really bad experience with someone that I thought I was lead to be with and from there I rejected God.

About a year and a half ago, Mat contacted me on Facebook. I hadn’t spoken with him in almost 25 years. His wife had left him and he thought of me and so he reached back out to me. He was a Christian and that was, to me, a reason we shouldn’t date. We thought very differently about faith and politics, but I was so drawn to him because I was so crazy for him before. We started seeing each other and we knew right away that this was it; I’d be with him, he’d be with me, as soon as we reconnected.

And so I really came to Jesus through my relationship with Mat because he was a Christian and going to church every week. So I started going to church with him because I just didn’t want to not be with him, not because I wanted to be at church. In fact, it was quite hard for me to be at church because it flew in the face of what I believed and reminded me that what I believed was super harsh.

After a couple of months I often would leave super sad because of the reminder of what I believed; that my life was just going to end and that everything I knew would just end. It was really hard to re-face over and over, because it is a super harsh reality.

So it started getting to a point where I felt like I couldn’t even go with him because I would come home and be depressed for a day or two. It was hitting me really hard. And so I told him I would just wait in the lobby when he would go to church because I still wanted to be with him.

Matt never pressured me about Christianity. If I had questions he’d just try his best to answer them. He was very understanding if I felt like I couldn’t do church.

Then suddenly I had a connection point where I felt like there was something more to me that is expansive. There is something about me that feels eternal. I think that was the first crack in my defenses towards Jesus.

Shortly after that I started reading a lot of books for skeptics and listening to a lot of podcasts from different churches and videos of different apologists and continued to go to church with Mat. Even though I didn’t believe, I wanted to hear.

On Palm Sunday I talked with Pastor Bubba, asking questions like, “Is this really real? It feels like it’s a myth. Am I going to buy into something that’s not real like I did before?” And Pastor Bubba said “It’s the real myth, think of it that way. It sounds like a myth but it’s real.”

Later that day I was reading more and I had a moment where I just crossed over! I was like, “Oh my goodness! I can’t deny that this is real!” And having studied and read so much about the history and all the supporting information about why Christianity IS real and these events REALLY happened and this IS what Jesus said and He CAN be believed. I just finally had that moment, where it was undeniable. How could I not believe?

I got baptized on Easter and two weeks later Matt and I got married.

I feel like it was intended that I be Christian before we got married. Because a Christian marriage is so much more bonded. You have that connection with Christ and you’re both pursuing Christ.

I think that Christ used Matt to come find me to bring me home. Almost every day we have a conversation about how I cannot believe this is my reality.




 

Perfectly Loved by God

At Resurrection Church, we want to share stories of how God is working in our lives, as individuals and as a community. We are a church of real people, with lives that aren’t perfect but where grace abounds.

Stories of Grace is a way for us to let one another into our joy and our trials to encourage one another as we witness the steadfast love of God. We hope this story is an encouragement to you.

 

StoriesOfGrace

Can you give us a little background on what you’ve been struggling with?

Brittany: About 6 weeks after my baby, Harper, was born my husband, Joe and I started realizing that I had depression. It started with feeling like I didn’t really want to be a mom, like I didn’t want to be doing life, all the everyday activities, I didn’t have the energy. I didn’t want to be in community or to be around people. Eventually it turned into anxiety and I ended up in the emergency room, not really knowing what was going on, and feeling like I was dying. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety and ever since then we’re just trying to figure out how to deal with it.

What has that process of “dealing with it” look like for you?

Brittany: First it looked like telling people that I was struggling and not being closed off. Then realizing that it is actually a medical condition and that it is not just a failing, or not being good enough. And reaching out to a counselor was really helpful too.

Where has God been through this struggle and what has He been teaching you through it?

Brittany: I think at first, before I knew what I was struggling with, I felt like God wasn’t there, even though he was. I isolated myself from people and from God and basically tried to run away from him instead of running to him for comfort. But now, after realizing that I was running away from God and what he is actually calling me to is relationship with him, I feel the presence of God in my life. He did not leave me because God never leaves us! He actually wants me to bring my depression anxiety to him to heal me; to heal my heart; to heal my body physically.

I guess that he needed me to see that I cannot do life on my own. I can’t raise my babies on my own just by being a good mom, because that’s impossible, especially when you have depression and you want to lay on the couch and you have anxiety and you feel like you’re going to vomit all day long. You just can’t be there mentally for your children. But he’s been showing me that I need to bring all of my fears and all of my anxiety to him.

A lot of my depression anxiety is performance based, and not feeling lovable. So I think the biggest thing that God has shown me is that I am perfectly loved by him, and that I don’t have to have my life together, that I don’t have to feel happy all the time, or secure all the time, to be loved by him. I can have anxieties and fears but I need to bring them to him so that I can let him show me truth instead of letting Satan come in and feed me lies and make me more distant from him.

Also, God puts people in our lives to help us because it is so easy to isolate yourself and feel like nobody understands what you’re going through. But God puts community in our lives to run to in time of need. And I’m slowly learning that.

He’s been teaching me to run to him and that He provides comfort and joy in the midst of suffering, which I didn’t actually think was possible before.

What would you tell other moms that may be struggling with postpartum depression or depression anxiety?

Brittany: That it is okay. A lot of people struggle with it on different levels. And to actually seek help from your friends and talk about it even if it is incredibly uncomfortable! You are loved by a perfect God so you don’t have to be put together enough to be loved. Trust that God loves you in your fogginess, in your sadness, when you can’t be 100%.

Another thing is, I know it is really hard to get up and read your Bible and pray but you should see that as a lifeline and not just something to do when you feel like it. The word genuinely gives you life and clears your mind. When you have depression your mind is so foggy so going to the Bible daily is just so helpful, so practical. It’s amazing when I see it as medicine for my soul.

Confidence in God

A native of Tacoma, Mike Doidge grew up in an Irish Catholic family.  While attending a Catholic Junior High School, he began a personal process of soul searching, seeking answers about God.  Having been given a Bible by someone at his school, he started reading.  It was an eye-opening experience for him; one that he found raised a lot of questions, and launched him into a personal quest to find out “who is God?”

Mike enlisted in the Navy in the 1970’s, shipping out on an aircraft carrier to points around Vietnam and the South Pacific.  While serving, he found himself drawn to, and heavily influenced by a fellow crewman in his division, who happened to be a Christian.  Through the course of fellowship and study, Mike gave his life to Christ in 1975.

He would later return to Tacoma in the 1980’s, where he met his future wife Roxanne; while attending Life Center Church, in Tacoma together.   The two were married, and soon set off to wander the world, with Mike returning to the Navy as a commissioned officer.  

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What was your experience as a Christian in the Navy?

Mike:  As a typical sailor, you would go drink your pay, and things like that.  I questioned that, because I didn’t see it as being right.  But then, if you wouldn't run with the crowd, you’d get labeled… ‘You’re not really one of us.’  There was a lot of peer pressure.  The thing is, forty-some years later, I’m very good friends with these guys still.  And we all have a common respect for the guy who led a lot of us to the Lord.  So we share a common salvation.

How did you deal with the challenges you faced?

Mike:  As a Christian, I found new confidence.  I had been insecure and more introverted; and then with the acceptance of Christ, came more of a freedom, confidence, and maturity; to step out and be bold, wherever I was at.  It was like Christ would go with me, or his angels would go before me.  I felt comfortable in whatever circumstance I was put in.  And I knew I was a believer.  

I was on a submarine, and I started leading a Bible study.  I had the opportunity to be with other sailors, and be one who could be counted on. We could share our Christian faith easily in the service; and throughout my career, my faith was always there.  It was kind of like part of our uniform.  I remember having different sailors, get together in the morning to have a power moment, as we called it; a prayer for each other to start our day.  And then we would be available to each other for counseling.  

How did God change you during your Navy Career?

Mike:  I think He strengthened me.  We would go to places where we had no idea why we were there, but the thing is, that God put us there.  I always felt that we were sent on assignments where God had a reason for us to be; and I found it exciting.  It was cool to see how God worked in our lives wherever we were located.  

How have you seen God working in your life now?

Mike:  I see Him through our grandchildren.  Basically as grandparents, we’re here to help.  We’re the patriarchs.  So we are encouraging our children, and our children’s children, to grow up in the Lord; and know the Lord.  It’s one of our big duties now.  Give them training in the way they should go, and give them encouragement, and unconditional love.  Be like Jesus.

How does knowing God and experiencing His love and grace affect your interactions with others?

Mike: I’m more free to talk to people.  We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ.  I start with the perspective that we’re already like family.  It also means that I’m not afraid to approach strangers.  It’s those chance encounters, that I think God just might want us to touch someone; or get in prayer; or say, “can I help you?”  Sometimes it can blow your mind, what God might do.  I met this guy coming out of the post office and he seemed pretty upset.  I stopped and talked to him for a moment.  After he left, I thought, ‘maybe I need to talk more to him.’  We ran into each other again, at Costco; so we were able to continue the conversation.  To me, God is doing that, because maybe He wants to see something planted in somebody.  And I always thought I was just the dishwasher, like with Philip in Acts.  He helped in Jerusalem, in the kitchens, and then suddenly he was sent out by God to meet the Ethiopian.  I always thought of him as one of my heroes.  You may think you’re just someone assigned to the dishwashing duties of the kitchen of Heaven.  But He may have other plans for you too.

Mike officially retired from the Navy in 2005, working for a while with the Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma.  He now enjoys being able to spend time with, and help out, his wife; and spending time with their twelve grandchildren.  About his time in the Navy, Mike says “I just feel like the Lord was helping me, from that time, and I love where I’ve been.  He’s always held us wherever we’ve gone.  We’ve wandered the world...but we’ve found the same spirit in all these places.”

God our Father

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What has God been teaching you this past year?

Sarah: God is teaching me that He is a very relentless Father. Lovingly relentless I should say. He has been teaching me that He will do anything in order to get my attention. It was almost two years ago I found out that I was, unexpectedly, pregnant. And that definitely got my attention; it was shocking and scary.

Then, almost a year ago, Ben came into my life. I was just blown away by love—the love that I felt for him. After that I realized a whole different dimension of how Jesus loves His kids, because I had no idea how much capacity I had to love Ben. I was amazed how much I loved him just because of who he is as my child.

If Jesus loves me like that, then I don't need to fear anything. I don’t need to be scared about single motherhood; I don’t need to feel condemned for the sin that I committed, because I wouldn’t think twice about forgiving my child. If that’s even a small reflection of what Jesus feels about me, then I don’t need to feel ashamed or like a second-class Christian.

Motherhood is hard, especially single motherhood: there’s a dimension of loneliness to it that’s really painful sometimes. Jesus has used that place of painful loneliness to keep me really dependent on Him. It’s very comforting to know that our Savior was content and satisfied in His heavenly Father. This is something I think of often to remind me that I am not lacking anything because I have a good and faithful God.

How have you seen God’s grace demonstrated to you in your experience of single motherhood?

Sarah: In a lot of ways. Primarily through my church family; I’ve always felt a lot of support and gracious love from my community group, the pastors I met with, and even in my own family. God has given grace to people to love me well. Also, experiencing the joy of having a young child. That’s a huge gift—I don’t deserve to have a sweet little baby boy, at all. Just having him, his presence in my life, is such an indescribable blessing. There’s nothing I could do to deserve that, and it’s a huge reminder of grace. Every time I walk into his room and he’s smiling in his crib, I’m reminded: this is the way Jesus loves you, He gives you this.

Called to Serve Our Kids

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We sat down with Renee recently and asked her to share about serving in our kids ministry.

Q. Why Do you serve in kids ministry?

A. I serve in kids Ministry because I feel deeply called by Jesus to invest in the lives of kids. I love seeing the pure joy and excitement in kids when they start to understand the Gospel. It makes me want to take that feeling, bottle it up and share it with everyone I know!

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Q. How do the kids evidence the gospel of Jesus to you? 

A. Kids evidence the gospel by showing me what forgiveness and grace mean in a simple way, the way Jesus designed them to be. The gospel isn't meant to be complicated and children always remind me of how simple and beautiful Jesus' love for sinners is.

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Q. How has serving deepened your love for God? 

A. Serving has deepened my love for God because I always get more out of it than I actually give and in turn it causes me to be in awe of how sovereign, loving and gracious God really is.  Also it has helped me to see how much He is working and shaping the lives of His children so they can serve Him!

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Q. What encouragement would you have for those who want to serve, but are hesitant to try kids ministry? 

A. I would tell them that serving in kids Ministry is going to bless them more than they could imagine if they would give it a try! There is a unique beauty and joy in serving God's children, and kids are so much fun to love on and invest in! Plus, in kids Ministry there's never a dull moment!

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Shaping Culture: Recap

Earlier this month, Resurrection Church had the unique opportunity of hosting an evening of worship and learning that brought together the communities of three Stadium District churches.  

The event included teaching from First Presbyterian Church, New Community Church, and Resurrection Church; with worship led by musicians from New Community Church.  The teaching focused on our call as disciples of Jesus Christ, throughout the South Puget Sound and beyond, to shape and to engage the culture around us.      

Pastor Eric Jacobsen - First Presbyterian Church

Pastor Eric Jacobsen - First Presbyterian Church

Pastor Eric Jacobsen, of First Presbyterian Church, spoke about the fragmentation of the culture in which we live, and the importance of our intentional placement within it.  Citing God's intentional placement of Adam in Genesis 2:8 as an example for us, he taught “You now live in a particular place. And I believe that God can use that place to grow you as a disciple, and to utilize you in His mission to reconcile all of creation to Himself.”

He went on to discuss some of the common barriers and distractions to loving our neighbors that are hardwired into our culture (i.e. - television, mobile devices, isolation from neighbors), and how we can overcome them together; stressing the importance of church covenant community, which he believes can “pull us out of the insularity and the fragmentation our culture is commanding on us.”

 
Pastor Bo Noonan - New Community Church

Pastor Bo Noonan - New Community Church

The second speaker was Pastor Bo Noonan, from New Community Church, who opened with a reading of Colossians 1:15-20.  He talked about what it looks like to see Jesus preeminent in all areas of our lives, including our careers; presenting an illustration of the “8 Domains of Society.”  These are eight categories of work that can be found in every society in the world (family, economics, agriculture, education, etc.); and each of us falls into at least one.  Pastor Bo explained that we need to break and denounce the cultural lie that we have a church life and a separate work life; seeing instead the need for Jesus' reign in all areas of life.  He emphasized that “if we are people living under the reign and rule of Jesus, and we're submitted to the reign and rule of Jesus, then we need to invite His jurisdiction, and His reign, and His will, into our domains.”    

 
Pastor Bubba Jennings - Resurrection Church

Pastor Bubba Jennings - Resurrection Church

The final speaker of the evening was Pastor Bubba, of Resurrection Church, who spoke about our ability to engage culture through our stories; recognizing that everyone has a story, and that their story is a part of God's greater story.  He stated that “when we understand that to influence people and shape culture requires us helping them understand that they’re part of a greater story than themselves, then we will look for opportunities to connect them to God’s story.”  

To illustrate this, Pastor Bubba shared the account of St. Patrick, the first missionary Bishop, who engaged the “unreachable” people of the story-loving tribal culture who once held him enslaved, through sharing God's story with them; inviting them in to become a part of it themselves.   

 

Samuel, who attended the event with friends Mark and AJ, resonated particularly with the idea of sharing stories.  He shared this thoughts: “I think telling a more compelling story is pretty huge in evangelizing.  And really telling a story that implies that there’s something more than just being saved… a redemption of our lives and the passion that we have in Christ to share Him with other people."