Thursday, September 27, 2007

Entering the Edge of Danger

We are still just one week into the "real" beginning of our work here in Las Vegas and already the reality of spiritual warfare has been rubbed in our noses by the enemy. After two encouraging days spent together with my partner, Eric Phillips, looking for potential places for worship and praying about Christ's vision for this city we both took small blows to our stomachs last night and early this morning.

On Monday Eric and Annette discovered a large boil like "thing" on the bottom of their newborn. Yesterday it popped hours before their appointment with a pediatrician. The doctor's diagnosis is a staph infection. This has been no fun for Annette, who like any mother, finds herself fighting against the inclination to fear and despair, especially while still feeling the full force of transition in every aspect of their lives.

This morning my doorbell rang at 6:20. You and I both know that when someone is at the door that early there is usually something wrong, so I raced downstairs to answer it. My neighbor and his daughter were standing there to tell me that someone had broken into both of my cars and that the same someone had broken into their cars as well. Thankfully our garage door opener wasn't left inside the cars, nor anything else of value besides a few of our favorite CD's. The downside is how an event like this plays with your mind. Immediately you start to ask yourself questions about the security of your family and whether or not this is the ideal place to begin our ministry here. Pretty soon, though, I realized that this was another move from the enemy to try and move us off center, to try and discourage us from moving forward in the mission.

The reality for Christians is that Jesus calls us all into difficult situations. We all find ourselves entering the edge of danger. But I am reminded this morning that the command to go into all the earth to make disciples (Mt. 28:19) is followed by Jesus' exclamation that all authority on heaven and earth has been given to him (Mt. 28:18). It is this mighty and all-powerful, mission-commissioning Jesus that also said, "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Late Saturday afternoon I was lovingly pressed into the floor of a church building in southern California as several men laid hands upon me and prayed for God's work in and through me for years ahead. A few moments later an "official" piece of paper landed in my lap. It reads, "Philip Glassmeyer having been examined for the ministry under the provisions of the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America and having been ordained by the Presbytery, has been ordained, with prayer and the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery, to the office of Teaching Elder (Minister of the Word) at Artesia, California by the Presbytery of Pacific on the 22nd day of September in the year of our Lord 2007."

In the hours to come Angie and I would sigh, laugh and cry. "Has this really happened? Can you believe it? I can't believe it! Wow, our Lord has called me to be a full time minister of his gospel!" These would be repeated phrases throughout the evening.

The moment of my ordination and the receiving of my definite call as an evangelist to North Las Vegas comes after years of anticipation and a sense of not being settled. While serving Grace Fellowship Church in Buckeye, AZ (2003-2004) we would have been so glad to stay, but felt in our hearts that God would be moving us on, and he eventually did. I studied for three years in St. Louis and have now spent the last four months preparing for ordination trials and continuing to raise funds for this work. After five years of constant transition through times of preparation and anxiety about the future we now find ourselves in a place where we hope to stay, and have a sense of long term calling. We finally feel as through the work is ready to begin.

Frankly, I don't really know what to do with myself. All I can say this evening is that with a healthy sense of fear and an awareness of the continuing spiritual warfare that accompanies us, I am filled with the joy at the prospect of spending years to come loving the people of Las Vegas and hopefully witnessing the work of God's Spirit in this place as he transforms individuals, families, communities and perhaps the entire city to reflect the redeeming work of Jesus.

Will you pray for us today? Will you pray that our Lord will continue to confirm his ordination and continue to grow us in the gospel?

I'll post pictures of Saturday's events soon.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Who are the People in your Neighborhood...

Tonight the sun set on our fourth day in the new neighborhood. A couple of weeks ago I asked many of you to pray for the relationships that we hoped to begin here, with an eye towards being kind, experiencing kindness, and seeing the Spirit of God bring many to life in Jesus.

The families on our street are wonderful people. We have experienced a kind reception and a few conversations that have gone beneath surface chat about the weather and talk about careers. The cultural diversity on our street is refreshing, with each family giving evidence of a wide range of life stories. I'm using pseudonyms since I haven't asked their permission, but I want to give you a brief sketch.

Juan and Maria are both school teachers in the special education departments of their school. They come from a Roman Catholic background and represent a God-given love for all kinds of people, especially the least of those in society. We can't wait to get to know them on a deeper level.

Yesterday Kevin and Brandi welcomed their second child into the world. His delight was evident when he came over to my garage to share the news. Kevin works in real estate investment and takes great care of the trees in his front yard. Our daughter is looking forward to spending more time with their little girl, and of course the baby too!

Jeremiah and Leah are both serving in the Air Force. Their schedules are pretty hairy, but they still manage to keep up with most folks on the street, and they love their neighbors (hopefully they'll love having us as neighbors too). We got to know them more on Tuesday after Leah accidentally backed out of the garage before the door was fully open. With Jeremiah gone, I and another neighbor shared the task of getting the garage door back on its tracks.

Our oldest has met a couple of boys his age and is just starting to spend time with them. We hope to meet their families soon.

A little beyond our immediate neighborhood we've met a waitress who is hoping for a better job to come along that will be a greater source of means for her and her precious daughter. She longs to see her daughter's father get a job and to make a commitment in marriage. We've met a sales agent who is new at her job and hoping to find success. We've met a school teacher who is new to Vegas and trying to find his way. We don't yet have a clear picture of where some of these folks are in relation to the gospel, but we look forward to learning more about their lives and discussing the gospel soon as our Lord opens doors.

We know that we carry a treasure in clay vessels. Pray that new friends will see the gospel at work in our lives, through all of our own brokenness, and will be drawn by God's Spirit to find wholeness in Jesus. Pray that the message of redemption will be clearly articulated in our words and through our actions.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Celebrating Our Primary Calling

Today Angie and I are thanking God for his faithfulness to us through 13 years of marriage. On September 10, 1994 Angie and I made promises to each other before God and before a host of witnesses. Had we known what we were getting into, and had we known Christ as Lord and Savior, his grace in our lives would be amazing to this point.

But he gives more grace. At that time we didn't know what we were getting into. All I knew was that Angie was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen and that I wanted to be with her forever. I'm not sure what Angie was thinking? I'm thankful for it whatever it was. As excited as we were, we were both without God and without hope in the world. We had no grounding, no sense of purpose, no security in the midst of the storms that would come in the early years of our marriage. We were living for ourselves and yet somehow feeling more and more alienated from ourselves and from each other.

Thankfully God did bring us to himself. In 2000 both Angie and I were given new hearts, made alive in Christ, and began living with a sense of grounding, purpose, and security. We often marvel at God's kindness to bring us both to saving faith within a few months span.

And now here we are called together to see God's kingdom expand in the lives of people who call Las Vegas home. We thank God for that calling, but today we are thanking him for his primary calling in our lives to live united to our Creator, Redeemer, and Friend. Today we invite you to rejoice with us over God's pursuing grace that snatched us from the despair of self-absorbed lives in order to bring us to a sense of our true identity in Him. Please continue to pray that this will be true for the people of Las Vegas in the years to come as well.

I'm as excited today to begin the rest of my life with Angie as I was when we first exchanged vows 13 years ago. Actually I'm more excited knowing that we don't enter into the future alone, but securely hidden in Christ our Savior.

Friday, September 7, 2007

We Needed That!

At the end of my last posting I said that I'd be writing about a recent surprise from our gracious Lord. The next day I received the confirmation that forced my delay in sharing the news.

A new friend in the Pacific Presbytery had arranged for our family to enjoy two days free of charge at the Disneyland and California Adventures theme parks in Anaheim, California. On Wednesday afternoon we left Las Vegas with some gift money for souvenirs from some dear relatives and a van full of kids overflowing with excitement.

I'm writing to you on Friday evening. We've spent two days at the theme parks and an evening running from the Pacific tide as it crept up the soft sands of Manhattan Beach. We have had so much fun together. It has been plain fun family time that we needed more than any of us realized. Free from the phones, the calendar, and any other responsibilities we ran around for eight hours each day experiencing the imaginative product of those who created the rides that thrilled us and pushed our youngest to their limits. As a family we even rode Splash Mountain, a water flume ride that climaxes with a more than 50' drop into mist covered darkness. The words, "Trust me, kids, you'll like it," don't quite mean what they may have three days ago, but thankfully all of our children escaped the parks without serious trauma. Really, they loved the time and would do everything again except the Pirates of the Caribbean theme ride.

Here is a quick reflection: We really needed this and can't begin to adequately thank our Lord for this provision. We have been hard on the go for more than three years and I'm not sure how long we may have gone without this kind of break had it not dropped in upon us as it did. Church planting is not part time work. It will consume us if we lose the proper perspective that God establishes his church and calls us to a life of balance in the midst of it. In other words, it will consume us if we begin to believe that it all depends on us, and lose track of the rhythms of rest we need. As a church-planting family our whole family will experience the strain of constant service to the community and church family that will surround us. Ahead of this work our children now have a confidence that the Lord who has called our family to this work, who has not guaranteed an easy road, but has rather promised much difficulty, is the same Lord who has an interest in their delights and in their needs. They realize that church planting doesn't have to mean that we stop spending unique family time together.

Rejoice with us over this experience and rest. Rejoice that our children found out that dad still knows how to have fun. The rejuvenation that we all feel is the evidence that we needed this more than we realized. Please pray that we will experience safety on our way to Phoenix on Saturday and then back to Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

We're Not Dangerous...Really!

When we met the realtor to see the house we've decided to rent she was waiting for us outside in a sliver of shade remaining from the morning sun. She had her purse at her side, her hand in the purse, and her other hand holding a cell phone to her ear. She promptly hung up as we spilled out of the car and up to greet her.

An hour later we were at a nearby Taco Bell to fill out the lease agreement. Not long into our time together she reached into her purse to grab a pen, but first had to pull out her cell phone, some cosmetic accouterments and AN OPEN KNIFE. "O this," she chuckled as she softly closed the knife. "I had this out in case I needed it, but tossed it back into my purse when I realized that you were not dangerous."

I have to say that in the past several weeks we have seen several evidences that God is allowing us to connect with the people who call Vegas home. But knowing that people don't feel the need to stab us at first sight is the greatest encouragement thus far. May God continue to give us an open door for relationships with those we meet!

Moving day to our rental house was yesterday, sort of. We moved most of our sojourning gear by pick-up, but will not make the move completely until Wednesday morning when our hosts will return from Wales.

Shortly before we came to stay at our current abode to house-sit we learned that this is the regular meeting place of a community group of Spring Meadows Church here in Las Vegas. Spending the time each Sunday evening with the group has been a great joy. Our topic of discussion each week has been the text from the morning's sermon. I have learned much by means of the discussion every time we've gathered. Tonight there were two new families represented and our discussion seemed to be fruitful and encouraging to all. The text we discussed from this morning was Genesis 16.

There was so much to apply to our own lives as we looked at a man and a woman struggling to wait for the realization of God's promises. Waiting is part and parcel to each of our human experiences, and front and center to this stage of preparation for planting a church in North Las Vegas. As Abraham needed to continue to wait on God to fulfill his promise of an heir (a promise unique to Abraham), we wait for the Lord of the harvest to send out his workers (us in this case) into the harvest field. We are waiting for him to do this in his way in his might. That is difficult. We long to begin our work in earnest, to minister to our community in a more fully integrated manner, to see the gospel break into lives, families, and communities through our humble efforts and proclamation. Waiting is difficult. Pray that we will have the courage and the patience to see God do things in his time as we submit to the process of raising funds and completing the other preparatory items necessary to ministering in this context.

God has just surprised our family with another great blessing. I'm going to hold you in suspense, though, and will write about this on Tuesday, Lord willing.

Me and Angie

Me and Angie
December 2010