Archives For two cities

This is a quote I’ve heard on more than one occasion from some of my favorite people, Jim and Carrie Tienken. Chances are, if you’ve lived in Fresno and attended any of the local churches for long enough, you’ve run into one or both of these fine people. We recently shot a video of them at a local coffee shop, just telling us a bit of their story. The questions were simple:

  • What do you love about our cities (Fresno and Clovis)?
  • What do you think we could improve upon in our cities?
  • Why are you a part of Two Cities Church?
  • What kinds of roles do you play at the church?
  • What’s one of your favorite wins we’ve experienced?

You know, simple stuff.

But in the middle of all of that Carrie calls herself a “Recovering Pharisee” and explains that when she first came to Two Cities, she was extremely judgmental. She is brave. She just said that on video for the whole world to see. Wow.

I think far more of us, Jesus people, Christians have more of that in us than we’d like to admit. But what I love about Jim and Carrie is that they’ve realized that’s not Jesus’ response to people, his response is gracious and so they are actively seeking ways to be more gracious and giving their judgements over to God.

I want to be like them when I grow up!

Maybe you’re asking, “What’s a Pharisee?” Well, a Pharisee was a certain class of people that lived contemporary with Jesus in Jerusalem and the surrounding communities. They were devout religious-Jews. They took the Hebrew Scriptures very seriously, literally and they held every part of those documents in high esteem. So high, in fact, that treating people with graciousness was hard to do. Consequently, they were notoriously harsh with people they felt were breaking the Law of Moses. They were judgmental.

Sometimes, we, Christians can be that way, even with the Old Covenantal Law of Moses, which, by the way, doesn’t apply to us because we are actually under the New Covenantal Law of Christ. That’s enough back story, here’s their video, enjoy.

 

When I was nine or ten years old, I built a fort out of tree limbs and debris. I leaned them up against the front of our house like some sort of natural shelter. I thought it was awesome. My dad, on the other hand, did not. It was an eye sore for the neighborhood, not something a home-owner wants to be known for.

He made me take it down, just as quick as it went up. In that moment he simple told me, “No, you can’t put this here.” But his “no” wasn’t forever. It also came with a promise.

HE ALSO TOLD ME, “YES, I WILL HELP YOU BUILD A REAL FORT.”

In my brain, that meant that day. But again, he said, “No, not now.” He was much too busy and I totally understand that. His office was at home and I was constantly trying to disrupt his workflow. He had tight deadlines and no guarantee of income. He had to work hard to keep the business and our family afloat. He continually, and gently, pushed me out of his office while he worked. Something I do now, everyday, with my own kids.

So his “no” was temporary. He would help me. But it would have to be on his time table.

Weeks went by, maybe even months and I continually asked him, “Can we build the fort today? Can we? Can we? Can we?” And eventually, after many attempts to get this project started, I almost gave up hope.

I needed someone to intercede on my behalf. Someone who also had the ear of my dad, someone who had a relationship with him that was all their own and could plead my case on my behalf.

I needed mom.

My mom marched into that office, after noticing my defeated plea, time and time again, she said, “You promised and you need to follow through.” And in that moment, the plan was birthed. My dad said, “Okay, this Saturday we’re going to start working on it.” I was thrilled. This was going to be fun.

Early that Saturday morning, we went to get the supplies: wood, nails, shingles, windows, hinges, siding, electrical boxes… this wasn’t what I was expecting. This was shaping up to be something far better!

We worked all day, several days, and by the end I had a majestic fort. It was beautiful. I don’t know the exact dimensions, but I think it was probably in the neighborhood of 100 sq ft, complete with electricity, bunkbeds and trap-door for entry. Basically a tiny house on stilts.

This was epic.

  • If he hadn’t squashed my little fort dream…
  • If he hadn’t promised me a new one…
  • If I hadn’t persisted in that promise, continually asking for fulfillment…
  • If my mom hadn’t interceded on my behalf…
  • And if he wasn’t a man of his word…

…I WOULD OF BEEN STUCK WITH THAT LITTLE JUNKY FORT.

But that little junky fort was the prelude to something amazing.

YOUR EARLY UNDERSTANDING OF GOD IS TYPICALLY SHAPED BY THE BEHAVIOR OF YOUR FATHER.

If you had an absent father, a missing father, or a work-a-holic father… you tend to view God in the same light. And the same things can be true of your mother, but for whatever reason, dads tend to have a bigger impact on your impression of God than moms.

I AM GRATEFUL THAT MY DAD SHOWED ME THAT A FATHER CAN BE TRUSTED.

But at some point,every father, no matter how great, fails. They are not perfect. They say the wrong thing. Their busyness or frustration bubbles up into words that cut like a knife and can’t be unsaid. So, as we mature, we must realize, whatever good our fathers showed us was from God and whatever deficit they created in our hearts was not because of God, but prideful-sinful-human nature.

God can be trusted, no matter what.

If you have a father-wound, as we all do to some degree, I want to challenge you to let that go, to forgive. If you have been struggling with the idea of a perfect-heavenly father because of your experience with your earthly father… choose to trust. He can be trusted.

HE MAY BE SAYING “NO” TO YOUR JUNKY-FORT-DREAMS NOW, BUT HE’S GOT SOMETHING FAR BETTER IN MIND.

  • Be patient.
  • Keep asking.
  • Don’t lose hope.
  • Get someone else to intercede in prayer for you.

And believe this promise:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 NIV

Awareness is the enemy of contentment.

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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.

“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

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.