Entrepreneur. Social Justice Advocate. World Changer. Survivor.

That describes my friend, Steve Hardgrave, who’ll be speaking at a luncheon in downtown L.A. hosted by the church I work for, Union Church.

Six times a year we bring together those who live, love or work in downtown L.A. to discuss how we can integrate our faith and work. With 500,000 people working downtown everyday, this is a strategic opportunity to begin a movement of Christians who are purposely seeking to bless the city in which they live. Steve wants to help us take action on ways we can do that in our everyday lives.

Steve has spent significant time both in Mexico and India using his skills and resources to develop new financial networks that give access to the poorest in the world. He is a committed Christian who has worked with at-risk youth in Santa Monica, helped develop a thriving college ministry in L.A., is an active leader in the social enterprise movement, and is a pragmatic dreamer who is actively changing the world. I get to be his friend. You’ll quickly become his friend once you meet him.

The great thing about Steve is that he believes that you can change your world right where you’re at. He sees the beauty and brokenness of Los Angeles and gets excited just imagining what a handful of Christians can do if they got together and work with everybody regardless of faith in order to purposefully bless the city.

Each week that I share at our new 11am worship service I say that we are a church seeking to “Love God and Bless the City.” One reason I think that God has called my family to serve in L.A.–and particularly in downtown–is that there are 500,000 people who converge on downtown everyday who have the potential to impact our city in a positive way. These luncheons are geared to helped Christians consider that God has brought them to L.A. for a purpose to bless the city, not necessarily to bless themselves.

So I hope you’ll come if you are the Southern California area that day. You’ll be glad you joined us.

Click here to sign up for this FREE event.

A Bad Start to 2012?

I know you’re supposed to begin the new year with these great expectations of becoming a fitter person with a bigger bank account all while achieving spiritual growth and a gaining inner peace. After the past week I think I’ll settle for just surviving.

Perhaps it was the way 2011 ended that has led to a challenging 2012. My wife and I spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital ER as she got blood tests and other exams done. We spent ten hours at the hospital on Saturday night with an IV in her arm (do I even want to know how much ER charges?) but at least when we got home at 11pm we were cleared of any immediate health threats. But I still hadn’t finished my sermon for the 9am service the next morning so I rung in the new year working on a sermon while my wife and toddler slept.

Since the hospital visit, all three of the Yee household have been battling various levels of colds while unpacking dozens boxes of stuff trying to settle into a new temporary home (our fourth home in the last 9 months)

Speaking of the move, we finally received the last of our stuff from our nightmare moving company that poorly packed our valuables, broke Avery’s crib, smashed much of our wedding china and crystal, destroyed Kati’s design projects from school, and mislabeled most of our boxes. That means we have to go through every one of our boxes just to see what’s actually in there, determine what was lost or damaged and then repack it ourselves properly like they should have done in the first place.

Speaking of getting settled in our new home. Our new rental home doesn’t come with a stove. Who doesn’t provide a stove? This one apparently. We had the tv guy come early Saturday only to find out that he can’t install it at our home because of the rental restrictions in our lease agreement. Internet won’t get set up until next week so I’ve maxed out my Iphone data plan using it as a wifi hotspot (several warning messages from AT&T hasn’t stopped me from using it to write this post). The trash guy dinged us for not properly distributing the trash according to city rules.  Two more strikes and they take our trash bins away.

And, like most churches, and especially for a small urban church like ours, we will struggle to make budget in 2012 even though we’re growing.

But before you tire of reading this post please remember what friend of mine wisely said: “The path to praise is through lament.” The writers of the Psalms have taught me through their own lament that eventually turned to praise. This is my 2012 lament that deep inside I know will (eventually) lead to a place of praise. But I need to lament in order to get there. Me writing this is helping me get there just like it did for the Psalmist.

These words spoke to me as I did my morning devotions:

Though the darkness covers me: I will remember your light.

I need to hear this word today amidst of ER visits, sniffly noses, moving company nightmares, and the hassles of getting settled in a new home.

Though the darkness covers me: I will remember your light.

I can already feel His light as I write this. I have insurance to go to the hospital. I can buy medicine for my sickness. I have a home to live in. The moving company…well, nothing good yet comes to mind!

So I share these words with all who I know are also lamenting the early days of 2012.

To friends who have lost jobs this past week.

Though the darkness covers you: remember His light.

To those who have recently received distressing financial news.

Though the darkness covers you: remember His light.

To those who are lacking the relationships they long for.

Though the darkness covers you: remember His light.

And if you can’t remember His light yet, that’s okay. You can sit in the darkness with me for a bit until we can find the light together. We’ll keep lamenting until we find that place of praise. Thank God that He is patient with us and can handle our complaints. That’s how good of a God He really is.

And a big thank you to the many friends who stopped by this week offering to help, bringing a meal and commiserating with us as we lamented. You have each helped us see His light by bringing the presence of Christ yourselves into our darkness.

Though the darkness covers me: I will remember your light.

Yes, Lord, I will remember. But help me overcome my lack of remembering.