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In mid-July I spent a day with my family at Wild Water Adventure Park, or as you long-time Clovis people would say, Clovis Lakes. The park has changed a lot since I was a kid, but some things remain pretty much the same… like the big family tube ride, The Rapids.

This is the first time we’ve been, that my oldest, Josiah, was not only big enough to ride the big rides, but he actually wanted to try a few.

So I took him on The Rapids. First off, let me just say, carrying that gigantic raft up the hill by yourself is a tall order, but once I caught my breath and we got in the raft, I could see the excitement in Josiah’s eyes.

But have you ever done something that you thought looked really fun and then in the middle of it, you realized, it’s kind of terrifying too?

Well, that’s what happened for him. As we approached the drops, he realized he was going down backwards, and his face changed. His screams got louder and higher pitched. Now, of course, that made me laugh really hard because I knew he was going to be fine and that feeling when your stomach drops… that’s all part of the fun.

Do you ever feel like God is laughing when you think you need saving?

I don’t know if he ever does that, but if he does, maybe it’s because he knows exactly what’s ahead… and what’s ahead, past the fear, is absolute joy. And we can be sure that our best fatherhood or parenting moments are not even close to how great our Heavenly Father is. Just listen to what Jesus has to say about that:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11 NIV

Now, if there’s one thing the scriptures teach us about joy, it’s that the most joyful people go through some of the hardest things before they find that joy.

Sometimes you’ve got to go through it, to get to it.

So what happened with Josiah? Well, like you might expect… after the screams, came the laughter and he went again with mom. Now, mom on the other hand, she said, “Those drops are a lot bigger than I remember!” 😂

I hope today, if you face any fear, you’ll be able to face it head on, knowing your heavenly father is right there with you. If you can do that, you’ll find the peace and joy that surpasses any earthly understanding.

Watch Josiah’s fear turn to joy in our family vlog at Wild Water Adventure Park.

This post first appeared on the Two Cities Church blog.

About three weeks ago we took some of our students from Two Cities Church to the Fresno Grizzlies baseball game. It was “Christian Fellowship Night” and “My Job Depends in Ag Night.”

During the game I was taking a lot of video on my Go Pro Hero 6 Black. Some kids took notice and eventually came up to us and excitedly asked, “Are you guys YouTubers?”

Josiah thought it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Here are some highlights…

“How can I help people give more of their life away?”

That’s a question that I’ve been wrestling with for the past nine months or so. As a pastor I’m always trying to figure out where the next spot is, spiritually, that I should lead our local church. And the thing I keep coming back to is that we want to love people well and part of loving people well is serving them.

But why ask THAT question at all?

Well, simply put, the measure of a life well lived is not in how much one acquires or accomplishes, it’s in how well one loves.

This past Easter, our church, Two Cities Church, partnered with Action Community Church, the City of Clovis Parks and Recreation Department and the Clovis Police Department to put on the very first church-city Easter event to serve our community. We planned for 3,000 people and ended up with over 2,000.  Enjoy this vlog I put together showing some of the set up, event and tear down process.

Today marks the end of a significant part of our family story.

We have shut the door on an incredible season of personal and family growth. And we have opened a new chapter.

On July 3, 2017 we welcomed a little boy into our home as our foster son. Elijah came to us at just the right time. He hit the ground running, growing, learning, and yes, screaming too. And it’s been a big process adjusting to life with three kids and it’s been especially challenging because he came to us at 3-years-old.

Erica and I have always felt called to do for one what we wish we could do for all, through fostering to adopt or fos-adopt. Even before we were married we talked about adoption and always knew it was something we wanted to do down the road. We started seriously looking into it close to two and a half years ago when someone called us out of the blue asking if we would think about adopting their grand-daughter’s baby. That threw us for a loop and forced us to begin having conversations. We determined it wasn’t the right time or situation. But we began a process.

In that process, even before we welcome Elijah to our home, there were plenty of ups and downs. We were “submitted” for a lot of kids. But we were never chosen. We were praying fo the right child, at the right time, for the right reasons and God did not disappoint. When we were brought to a “disclosure” meeting with the county of Fresno department of social services, we were handed a huge redacted packet of Eli’s history. We asked questions and we were presented with all of the data. And then we had to leave and think and pray about it.

The next day our social worker called us and said, “So, what do you think?” All I could say was, “I’m running out of excuses. Let’s do it.” And I don’t regret any of it.

Today marks the end of that process.

Today, February 23, 2018, we went from fostering Elijah to welcoming him as our newest Foster. If you track with our social accounts, you’ve missed a lot of what’s been happening because we could only post certain things and we couldn’t show his face. But now, as Elijah James Foster, and our son, we can show his face.

I’d like to invite you to enjoy this montage video of some highlights from the last 7 and a half months.

Our experience with Elijah has revealed to me, even more, the depth of God’s love for us. I can’t wait to share some of those things with you. Stay tuned.

“Coming to Two Cities was a big change and I realized that God was always with me whether I believe it or not. That he would always be by my side and that he loved me no matter what.” – Madison McKenna, Baptism, Nov 2017

“It’s okay to be how I am because God made me this way and he created a purpose for me and I just need to find that purpose and pursue it.” – Jessica McGrail, Baptism, Nov 2017

The following is from an Instagram/Facebook post my wife posted. It is a reflection of our heart and I am so proud to be married to this woman.

I have been putting this boy to bed for several months. He likes to hold my hand as he falls asleep, since the first night in our home. I couldn’t even count the number of those nights that he would fall asleep and I would look at his sweet face and sob asking God why. SO MANY WHYS! And wondering how I was going to let someone I love so much go.

A song called Take Courage has been playing in my heart and mind since we were in child search. Those nights I would have to really command myself to “take courage my heart. Stay steadfast my soul. He’s in the waiting. Hold on to your hope. Let your triumph unfold. HE’S NEVER FAILING!

Well a few weeks ago we experienced a major turn of events, and a true Christmas miracle for our family and I really saw how much God has been at work in our waiting. We found out that WE get to be this sweet boy’s FOREVER FAMILY.

Wow God…

Now when I put him to sleep I can look at this face with deep deep gratitude for what God has done and only He could have done.

I’ve been processing a lot in these past few weeks the very painful process of adoption for everyone involved…the foster parent who has to let the child go, the bio family who can’t care for the child, the adoptive parents who know that their joy comes out of lots of pain and brokenness, the child who has experienced more loss than any human should ever have to.

It would be an understatement to say that fostering and adoption have become so important to me and close to my heart. If you want to talk about getting more involved in this community, I would love to talk to you.

Thank you to all who have been praying for our family during this season.

Two Cities: GROW 2018

December 8, 2017 — Leave a comment

Dear Two Cities Family and Extended Family,

I can’t believe 2017 is almost over! We’ve seen so much happen in the life of Two Cities Church over the past year, with the single most significant thing being the people who have gone public with their faith through baptism.

Let’s recap some of the things we’ve experienced over the course of 2017:

  • We baptized Timothy Salcedo, Trisha Route, Noah Shepherd, Hope Shepherd, Brittany Williams, Gabriel Williams, Madison Mckenna, Jessica McGrail and Desire Mendoza!
  • We’ve had more guests over the past year than our previous two combined.
  • More than 60 people participated in Community Groups throughout the year and we’ve experienced community like never before by hosting the weekly After Party.
  • We’ve given over $600 in aid for the victims of the Santa Rosa fires to get everyday essentials while they put their lives back together.
  • We’ve raised over $1,800 to benefit City Without Orphans.
  • We’ve pledged to volunteer over 100 hours to several other community non-profits.
  • The Who Needs God? series created a social media buzz that brought guests who were Christians and had given up on church, atheists and skeptics to explore faith.

We are accomplishing our mission and I want to thank you for being a part of it. As you know, our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and it doesn’t stop with those already in the room. Our mission actually expands to every one of our relational networks, as our vision continues to be a church that unchurched people love to attend.

The #1 question I get these days is some variation of this: “How do we grow from here?”

The reason, as you are very aware, people ask this question is because our rooms are full. We had two services for a season to accommodate that, but that cut the energy and bodies in the room by almost half for each service. Also, capacity for our kids is an issue. It gets really crowded in Waumba Land and UpStreet.

So, for the sake of our financial health and to enable us to grow, we are moving on. Our Board, Stewardship Team and Leadership Team have searched the options and we all unanimously agree that the place that gives us the best visibility, financial stability and options for growth is the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Building, 808 4th St, Clovis, CA 93612… where we launched the church!

What does this mean?

  • Using a different arrangement of rooms than we have previously, we will be saving the church around $3,000, just in facility related costs, every month. That’s big for us!
  • Our Road Crew needs to beef back up because we’re going portable, but we’re thinking creatively on how to streamline and make the process easier and faster.
  • Our first Sunday at The Vet will be January 7, 2018 and our final Sunday at our current space will be the morning of Christmas Eve. We will not have a service on December 31.
  • We will take the week after Christmas to move our gear out and put the building back into the condition it was when we moved in.

Our goal is to raise $20,000 through this campaign to cover our moving costs, refresh some of our portable environments and start to build up our reserves again.

Please consider how you can contribute to our end-of-year GROW 2018 campaign. As a registered 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, every dime you donate is eligible for you to use as a charitable tax-deductible gift on your 2017 tax returns. Here’s how to give:

  1. Give online through eGive
  2. Smart Giving: Text “GROW (insert the amount here) to (559) 745-7009
  3. Mail a Check made out to Two Cities Church, with GROW in the memo:
    Two Cities Church
    1865 Herndon Ave K304
    Clovis, CA 93611

Sincerely,

Micah Foster, Lead Pastor

micah@twocities.church

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11

There are many myths we live by that God never ordained. Honestly, I’m still discovering them. They’re just things that unknowingly become ingrained into us without us ever making an active decision to accept it as truth. Things we might have grown up thinking, by inference, not necessarily teaching. It’s what wasn’t said, sometimes, that impacts us more than what was.

One of those myths is what I call…

The Perfection Before Presence Myth

Here’s the basic idea.

  • I know I’m not perfect, I’m a sinner.
  • My sin separates me from God.
  • I want to follow Jesus, but…
  • In order to approach Him, or be in His presence, I need to turn my life around… be perfect.
  • Once I get my life straightened out, I will be able to truly follow Jesus and approach God.

You’re probably looking at that saying, “That’s so wrong” or “Yep, that’s me” and maybe you’re saying both at the same time, because there’s this tension we don’t know how to resolve.

Last night I went to the Fresno County Juvenile Hall with people from several different churches, including Two Cities Church, to put on a Christmas Party for the boys currently living there. The situations and life track many of these boys are on, are heart-breaking. Many of them have been in there 2 or 3 times and one young man I spoke with is in for the 9th time! Can you imagine that, 9 times?

While talking to one of them about their belief in God, he said, “I want to follow God, but I’ve gotta get my life together first.”

I said, “That’s a common misunderstanding. The fact of the matter is, none of us, volunteers, are here because we were able to get our lives together. We’re here because we gave our broken and messy lives to Jesus. And Jesus has been cleaning house.” 

He didn’t understand, as most of us don’t, God isn’t up there handing out judgement, he’s handing out mercy. The reason this young man was in there is because of robbery. I reminded him that God’s mercy has already been on him because all it takes is on citizen with a concealed weapon, all it takes is one person willing to shoot one bullet and he’d be dead.

You can’t get clean and then come to God, you’ve got to come to God to get clean. The walls of the church won’t cave in on you if you show up with your life in shambles. Don’t let the enemy of your soul convince you otherwise. Here’s the truth.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 NLT

So here’s the truth…

  • I know I’m not perfect, I’m a sinner.
  • My sin separates me from God.
  • I want to follow Jesus, so…
  • I approach Him to surrender my life to Him.
  • He loves me, accepts me and cleans me so that I can fulfill the true purpose He has for me.
  • I am an adopted, royal-child of God, co-heir to the throne and there’s nothing that can take that away.

What myths do you accidentally live by? Are those myths holding you back from truly living a life of freedom?

 

At Two Cities Church, when we say our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, what you’ve got to understand is that’s not an easy thing. There’s often pain involved.

It’s like learning to swim. This summer we welcomed a foster-son into our home. This little 3-year-old boy, in the month and a half he’s been with us, has learned to swim! He wore floaties a handful of times, but doesn’t want them anymore. He actually never really did want them. He would get into the water and immediately want them off. So I’d take them off and he’d shove off from the step. Well, what happened?

He sank.

Thankfully, he held his breath and I was right there with him. I can always see when his eyes go from, “I’m doing it!” and transition to “Uh oh!” And that’s when I’d bring him up and he gasped for air. But he learned quick!

My point is, before we grow, we often experience some sort of pain and we might even have a panic in our yes, but God is right there and he knows when we need to be pulled out and when to push us a little so that we can grow our capacity for holding our breath.

Whatever pain your experiencing, God is growing you in some way. He’s growing your…
  • capacity for empathy
  • trust
  • skills in managing something small, so you can handle something bigger
  • parenting patience (Am I right?)
  • and many other things

And the amazing thing is, one day what you’re struggling so hard with, if you face it again, you’ll fly through it with greater ease.

I mean, when you finally learned to swim, it was amazing… it’s like flying, through water. It’s gliding, it’s smooth and easy movement… you’re no longer frantic or flailing. You understand physics, buoyancy, and the mechanics of how to move through the water with minimal effort.

Think of it this way. God gives you more than you can currently handle, contrary to popular belief, so that you will lean on Him and he’ll grow you.