This is a special episode focused on the Pacific Northwest. We know that the Seattle freeze can be a really thing. What is God up to in the PNW? How do we see God working? Pastor Jesse Bradley and his team from Grace Community Church in Auburn, Washington give us some encouragement and hope for our community and the part that we can all play in making it better.
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Speaker 1 [00:00:09] Welcome to Purposely Equipped. We want to help you go deeper in your faith by learning truth from the Bible. Our new series, “What does it mean to be a good neighbor?” Will help you discover what the Bible has to say about how we treat and love those around us. This is a practical podcast where we’ll learn together what God desires of us. For this series, we are joined by Pastor Jesse Bradley of Grace Community Church in Auburn, Washington.
Pastor Jesse [00:00:39] Welcome back to the Purposely Equipped podcast and the series, Loving Our Neighbors. The last question that we want to cover, what is God doing in the Pacific Northwest? This is a unique part of the nation in this region. Sometimes we see the battle played out between light and darkness, good and evil and God and everything opposed to God. And when you think about Seattle overall, it’s the second highest city in the nation in terms of churched in ninth, highest unchurched. And sometimes if you’re a follower of Jesus, you might be tempted to retreat, be fearful, be silent, be intimidated. But that’s actually not like Jesus.
Pastor Jesse [00:01:18] So how do we step up together? And what is God doing across the Pacific Northwest? And it’s going to take unity. In John Chapter 17, Jesus prayed that we would be united. And I think of every man, woman and child coming together, following Jesus. And as we do that, dropping our logos and egos, uniting together, not just so that we enjoy unity, but so that the world sees that, yes, he sees the love of Jesus in the presence of Jesus, in our unity. And as our church, we have, you know, been intentional to build friendships and relationships, multicultural, and also people from many nations multigenerational. And it’s a challenge for Christians, I believe, to be united together. I’m grateful for Saturate the Sound. There’s about 100 churches and ministries that are united together, committed again to bring the good news of Jesus to every man, woman and child that across the sound, we would see a gospel movement. We would see people experiencing Jesus on a daily basis. It really starts with prayer, because so many people have been praying for decades in our praying for this region.
Pastor Jesse [00:02:28] When you think about biblical prayers, here’s four: praying for laborers because the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. So ask God to send up more laborers workers into the harvest field. The second one is opportunities that God would open a door. And we see in Matthew nine Jesus saying, “Pray for laborers.” It’s a biblical prayer. In Colossians four, “Pray for opportunities.” This is what Paul says, that God would open up doors and then it leads to this prayer. Prayer for boldness. Acts 4:29, “Enable your servants to speak with boldness.” And then from Thessalonians and it’s second Thessalonians Chapter 3:1-2, pray for success of the Gospel that people would receive the Gospel even for safety. So we pray for the sound, for labors opportunities, boldness, success of the gospel. And as we do that, that, you know, whenever you pray, it’s also a posture you take before God where you say, “Here am I, send me.” God is going to send us, and He’s going to send us where we live, work, learner, play to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and also to share the good news. We want to bless other people. And, you know, what’s that going to look like? I think one practical way that I see it played out right now in terms of what God’s doing is more people are sharing their story. When you look at the Apostle Paul and how God changed his life, his name was Saul, but then he experienced the resurrected Jesus. You know, he was skeptical. In my own journey. I didn’t believe God existed. I came from a family kind of like Baskin-Robbins, 31 flavors. It wasn’t until I got to Dartmouth College that I read in a class because it was assigned the professor was trying to undermine scripture. There’s a lot of people in the sound who try to undermine Scripture, but I read the Gospel of John. I was drawn to Jesus. And then there was a man named Mike, and he was quiet. But, you know, he was a great listener, patient, and he answered my questions. And out of that, you know, I came to know Jesus, who I rejected, I now followed. The Apostle Paul has a story. He rejected Jesus. Now he follows Jesus. Maybe you have a story? We rejected Jesus and now you follow Jesus and God saves you. So then you can help other people come to know the Lord.
Pastor Jesse [00:04:41] God has given you a story. Everyone stories significant. Everyone’s story is powerful. The Apostle Paul shares his story in Acts chapters 9:22 and 26. Each one’s a little different based on the context, and you’re going to share your story in different ways. Sometimes you just have one sentence or one minute, other times you have one hour, but you get to share your story with people across the sound. There was an initiative and it was #Jesuschangedmylife and people were sharing their stories about what God has done in their life and this relationship with Jesus. And thousands and thousands of people across the sound heard testimonies. And I believe that stories are genuine, they’re authentic, they’re disarming, and they’re powerful.
Pastor Jesse [00:05:25] God is giving you a story. And as more stories are shared, even in church services, again in the marketplace, in homes, we share our stories and that leads people to the goodness of God. Taste and see that the Lord is good. And if God healed me, He can heal you. And if God changed my life, He can change your life. And God has so much evidence in the Bible. There is historical evidence. The Bible is God’s Word, it’s truth. And also I encourage you to share it. You can share it in so many ways. You can give someone a copy of the Bible. You can also help them with an app and the YouVersion Bible app. You can write down a verse, you can text people, but share your story, share scripture. And when you share those two things and that’s what I celebrate that across the sound, and I’m seeing a boldness, especially after the pandemic. You know, sometimes the trends aren’t encouraging. And I think there is one trend right now that’s towards more apostasy, rejecting the Bible, rejecting God, just going with the world and state of the Word, and even in churches are drifting from scripture. That’s called apostasy. Well, there’s also apathy where some people coming out of COVID and the pandemic have just gotten passive in retreating and kind of complacent. And there’s a lot of apathy and some of that’s happening but don’t conform to the patterns and trends of this world. Instead, be renewed into the power, the Holy Spirit. God is raising up in what I’m seeing coming out of the pandemic is a fire in a boldness and a passion. There are people realizing there’s a sense of urgency that we can’t just wait. We don’t just want to watch things deteriorate spiritually or morally in our country. No, we want to shine the light of Jesus humbly, authentically, not better than anyone else, but simply God has made us changed our lives. And there is hope. There’s a hope that’s greater than our challenges. This hope is real. This hope is found in Jesus and everyone can come and experience living water that satisfies our souls. And what I see is that ultimately, it’s not just going to be through sermons that the sound is changed, it’s going to be through everyday people, and it’s going to be through the entire body of Christ. It’s not going to be one church, it’s not going to be one denomination. It’s Christ followers, you know, And God changes a region. He starts with his people and he puts in their hearts a conviction, in a compassion, a courage, a clarity. God will do that.
Pastor Jesse [00:07:54] If you go to Him and say, “God, I’m seeing what’s happening around It breaks my heart when I see marriages falling apart, when I see abuse, when I see kids with no forever families, when I see that there’s victims of rape God, when I see poverty around, I see homelessness around. God, when I see loneliness, When I see people that are mistreated God, it breaks my heart And I want to bring your hope.” When you do that and say that prayer, God will start to give you that conviction. Okay, it’s time to act right now. It’s hard to steer apart cars, so you need to take action. You need to speak up and take some relationship risks. It’s going to take courage that I’m going to give you. I’m going to be with you the whole way. You don’t have to fear. You don’t have to worry. And what I’m seeing is that kind of like embers in a fire that are spread out, they’re not maybe as bright, there’s not as much heat, there’s not as much warmth. But when those embers come together and I believe that right now it’s never been more fertile for revival. I believe God is not finished with the sound. I believe that there’s a story that’s being written right now and God is doing it in the hearts of his people. And as they come together, the fire grows. And I’m seeing it in our church.
Pastor Jesse [00:09:05] There’s a ministry called Drive-Thru Prayer. That’s straight out there on the busiest street in our city and holding up signs for 2 hours on Friday night. There’s a team of people and they invite people in and people come and they promote their heart. They share their prayer request, they turn to Jesus, they find church families. This is three churches doing this together on our property is beautiful. It’s amazing what’s happening right there. Also, we have an event, Grace loves Auburn and it’s once a year where we give resources away, but it leads to a spirit and a culture of generosity where we continue to meet needs throughout the years in different ways. It doesn’t always have to be a formal program. It can be informal or just relationally. As that happens.
Pastor Jesse [00:09:45] I also see in Auburn a unity together with other pastors. We had an event called Serve the City and again, events are catalytic. They set a tone. You know, outreach is not just taught, but it’s caught. And when you do it with other people, it starts to the flame grows again and so serve our city. That was an opportunity with a lot of different projects to meet needs in our city. And then it led to an invitation Sunday where all the churches together in Auburn, what were we doing? We were inviting and we were inviting people to church. And then the pastor that weekend would invite people to put their trust in Jesus. And so many came and the Lord so many came back to church. You know, right now there’s a lot of drifting going on, a lot of wandering, there’s a lot of independence, and we need to come back to God first, come back to His Word, it come back to community. We need to come back to the church. We need healthy, vibrant churches all across the sound. And what I’m seeing is that there’s a trust in a relationship with pastors. It’s really strong right now across the sound, and maybe it always hasn’t been that way. There’s been weirdness, competition. I can say this in Auburn, I can say it’s in many, many cities serving with Saturate the Sound in the relationships. There is a unity in the hearts of the pastors that is strong, that is loving, that is genuine. There’s trust there and then there’s collaboration. There is a working together. How can we serve our city? How can we reach our city? How can we share the good news with Jesus, with more people? And people are more open right now than you might expect. Don’t write people off. Don’t act like you know what’s going to happen when you share Jesus with people. You’d be surprised how many people would say yes to an invitation to hear more about Jesus, to learn more, to study the Bible, to come to church. And right now people are more ready I think to pursue Jesus than we are ready to go out and invite people to Jesus. So let’s together spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
Pastor Jesse [00:11:51] I see pulpit exchanges with pastors. I see, you know, feeding cities. There was we love Kent formed during the pandemic. Millions of pounds of food were distributed. It was powerful. It started now with the pastor and started with someone. His name’s Matt and he works in a school and he just had a love for his neighborhood and it’s grown. See, when you take the first step and you build on islands of strength, there’s no limits to what God’s going to do. And what we’re seeing across the sound are creative ways. There’s so many ministries that have been faithful for so long. And I think of Alpha, Young Life, Seattle Union Gospel Mission, World Vision. I mean, there’s so many incredible ministries in the sound, but when we come together and we’re in step with the Spirit and not in fear, but in power and love, there’s no limits to what God can do. Let’s start praying that God would do something in the sound that we’ve never seen before. I’ve heard it said that Seattle is one of the few remaining cities. Someone told me it’s only Seattle and San Francisco that have never had a major revival in their history. But I believe it can happen. I believe God is writing a story. God does his greatest work in the darkest times.
Pastor Jesse [00:13:01] During the pandemic, we’ve seen immense amounts of sadness, challenges with mental health, isolation. We’ve seen a lot of discouragement, despair. I’d just say this story is not over. That out of that, that’s the point to turn to God and we need to do it together. It’s not going to be one church, one pastor, one sermon. It’s not. We need the entire body of Christ filled with God’s spirit. This spiritual temperature is changing in the sound. The spiritual temperature is changing, the culture is changing in churches, and we are moving forward together in unity, in boldness, and people are returning to Jesus.
Pastor Jesse [00:13:43] You know, here’s one way to think about it. If you’re in a church or you’re a leader in a ministry and we say this in our church, there’s four things to think about. First, personal. That’s how you live, work, learn to play, blessing other people, and then the next is digital. Don’t ignore what God is doing now. And just like when the printing press came, that was historic time. Right now with technology, it’s a breakthrough. You have a platform with hundreds or thousands of people through social media and the different platforms there, not to mention email, texting, your contacts and what you share. It’s like an acceleration and multiplication. So you have a personal ministry in person face to face. There’s a digital ministry right now. We have seen hundreds of thousands of people turn to Jesus during the pandemic through digital ministry. Glory to God. I’m telling you right now what God has set up for the gospel and what’s happening around the world is amazing. And it starts local and it’s global. The third area, in addition to personal and digital, is local. Find out what’s going on in the community, in your city, what churches are doing together, what your church is doing, and then locally start to love people. And maybe it’s it’s one particular area you start with, maybe it’s a school and you serve there, or maybe it’s with homeless people in your city. Or we’ve had events like Seattle Sounders faith and family in inviting people there and hearing about Jesus and lives changed. But find one locally. The last is globally. Ask God how you can welcome internationals, pray, go on short term missions, trips, how you can support people financially, how you can encourage people who are overseas. But think of those four areas of your life and again, personal, digital, local and global, and just give God access to those four areas.
Pastor Jesse [00:15:34] As we wrap up this series on Loving Our Neighbors. Say yes to the Holy Spirit. You know the disciples. The story hasn’t changed. The disciples were scared. They were retreating. They were silent until Pentecost in the Holy Spirit came. Jesus said, “Wait for the Holy Spirit.” When it comes to outreaching, loving our neighbors, it might be one of the most difficult and stretching and challenging things that you do as a follower of Jesus. So rely on the Holy Spirit. When you abide with Jesus, there’ll be much fruit. And God doesn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but power in love.
Pastor Jesse [00:16:08] I want to close this by praying right now and wrapping up in prayer. Father God, I thank you for our time together in these five episodes. God, I thank you that you first love us and I pray that we would receive more of your love, more of your truth, and receive the Holy Spirit afresh today. God, we want to receive. And we thank you that you empower and equip us to make a difference in this world. To bless the people who you brought into our lives, to love our neighbors. And I pray that we would take some courageous steps. God, that we would build relationships. This isn’t about project or checking boxes. But because we love people, God help us to love people the way you love people. Jesus help us to become like You and to break through some of the cultural barriers and norms. And Lord, to be not just cultural or comfortable, but to be radical and to be faithful to You Jesus. Our North Star is to be faithful to You, God, That’s our goal. And I pray You would bless each church that’s represented people listening, that they would be vibrant in these areas. God, personal, digital, local, global. And I pray for the sound right now, God, that we would see a movement of Your Holy Spirit and that we, God would give You all the glory because of Your love and Your faithfulness, that we would decrease Jesus, You would increase. And I pray that Your body would be alive, We would serve and love. And Jesus, I pray that You would be known and glorified. Every man, woman and child would know that they are already loved and pursued and have an opportunity to follow You. I pray we’d see many salvation, baptisms, churches, God making disciples. I pray God for a new song, a new season, a new work in the sound. And we agree together. Pray in your name, Lord. Amen.
Pastor Jesse [00:17:52] Thank you so much for taking the time to listen these five episodes. I encourage you to re listen to any episode that was particularly helpful, practical for you, and also share them with friends. Let’s encourage each other. Let’s grow in this area together. And again, we’re learning and growing so much. The last two years it’s been amazing both what God is doing in teaching us, and I know personally I feel stretched. I’m doing so much I’ve never done before, but let’s keep taking those gospel risks together, sharing with each other. We love to hear your comments, your stories, and together we’re trusting God. We want to be faithful and trust God with the results that Jesus would be glorified in this sound and so many lives would be changed. Thanks again for listening and let’s continue to abide with Jesus.
Speaker 1 [00:18:42] Special thanks again to our hosts from Grace Community Church in Auburn for their help with this series. And thank you for downloading, “What does it mean to be a good neighbor?” A purposely equipped series. Let’s keep growing in our faith together. Purposely Equipped as part of purposely a podcast network with practical podcasts to help you find and live in God’s purpose for your life. Find more podcasts and faith resources and onpurposely.com.