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Season 1 - Episode 2: Albert Tate

Albert Tate

Albert Tate is the founder and lead pastor of Fellowship Monrovia. From Sweet Home Church of Christ Holiness USA in Pearl, Mississippi to Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California, Albert Tate has been preaching the Gospel to people of all ages and races. Hearing the call from God, Albert and his wife LaRosa planted Fellowship Monrovia a Gospel-Centered, Multi-Ethnic and Intergenerational church in January 2012.

Sara Barton: Hello, this is Sara Barton, the University Chaplain at Pepperdine University. First of all, thank you for listening to a new initiative that we have, A Spiritual Life podcast. One of the goals that we have for this podcast is to bring our community together around topics that pertain to spiritual life, to faith, to the ways that we can individually and communally serve God and follow God in this life.
And so, we will hear from all kinds of people. We'll hear from people who will challenge us in our faith. We'll hear from people who will comfort us in our faith, who will bring joy. We will have some hard conversations and ask hard questions. This will be in dialogue with students and faculty, staff, guests. So thank you for giving this podcast a listen, and it's great to have you with us today.

Sara Barton: Hello, my name is Sara Barton, and I'm the University Chaplain at Pepperdine University. Welcome to our Pepperdine Spiritual Life podcast, a podcast about how people in our community, along with our friends and guests, are finding and joining God's good work in the world. Jesus said "Seek and ye shall find," and I will be talking to people who are doing just that. So let's get started.
Today, my guest is Pastor Albert Tate, co-founder and lead pastor at Fellowship Monrovia, a Gospel-centered, multi-ethnic and intergenerational church in Southern California. Welcome.

Albert Tate: I'm so glad to be here with you, Sara.

Sara Barton: I am loving it, that we get to have this conversation.

Albert Tate: Yeah.

Sara Barton: Looking forward to it. But before we begin, let's pray.

Albert Tate: Yes. Let's do it.

Sara Barton: May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

Albert Tate: Amen.

Sara Barton: So, first thing I want to do, is I want you to tell us about you. Just introduce yourself to us and to our listeners. This is the Pepperdine community listening in.

Albert Tate: What's up, you ocean-viewing people? Everybody's always so jealous of Pepperdine people. It's like "Oh, yeah, I'm going to go to Pepperdine and suffer for Christ."

Sara Barton: Suffer for Christ. That's what we do.

Albert Tate: And gaze at the ocean. I am from Mississippi originally. I've been in Southern California now for about 12, 13 years. Sara, you sound like you kind of have a little accent.

Sara Barton: Arkansas.

Albert Tate: Like a little southern drawl.

Sara Barton: Arkansas.

Albert Tate: Are you from Arkansas? There you go.

Sara Barton: Mississippi, Arkansas, kind of related.

Albert Tate: A reunion of the South, here. So, we came out, my wife and I, about 13 years ago. Worked at a church, Lake Avenue, right across from Fuller. Attended Fuller for a little while, and then after that, sensed a call to plant a church. And God gave us a vision for a multi-ethnic, intergenerational church there, in the city that we were living in at the time, Monrovia.
And we started praying. Gathered together some folks, and fast forward six, seven years, and we have Fellowship Monrovia. About to launch a campus in Pasadena, and just excited about what God has done. So it's turned out to be a multi-ethnic, intergenerational, Gospel-centered church.

Sara Barton: Well, what you're doing has reached us over here at Pepperdine. I've heard about it. We have people from our community, graduates, who are attending there. You know Christine Suh, who works with you.

Albert Tate: We've got her working there. Got her straight from ocean city Pepperdine. We came on and we were like, "Who's the person spiritually forming all these people?" Everybody said Christine. It was like, come on Christine.

Sara Barton: She is ... We were sad to have her leave here, but we rejoice that she's doing God's work.

Albert Tate: I know. And she's been doing just absolute amazing job. Absolute amazing job.

Sara Barton: She's our graduate, so we feel proud of her.

Albert Tate: Yeah. You should be. You very should be.

Sara Barton: Well, throughout Scripture and history, we see these people who are seeking God in all kinds of ways, and they believe God's really doing stuff. They believe that God is working in history. But, we know that God didn't stop doing things at the end of the Bible.

Sara Barton: So I want to talk to people who believe God is still working. How are you finding and joining God today?

Albert Tate: On so many levels. Just on the personal level, just of breath in my body and life, that I know comes from nowhere else but God. It doesn't come from my good eating, it doesn't come from my good practices, it doesn't come from my health, it doesn't come from my vitamin pack. No, it comes from the breath of God, and every morning when I wake up, I get to breathe that breath, and it's a reminder that He's real, He's in control.
And He still has purpose. He still has a plan for my life, because if there's breath in my body, that means there's purpose in my chest, and God's still calling me. So that's one of the big ways that I see it.
But then, I work at the church, so I get a chance to see God moving in people's lives all the time. There's a young girl who sent me a frantic, crisis email. She was in a relationship that was abusive, that was unhealthy. She was trying to get out of it. When she finally got the courage to get out of it, she realized she was pregnant.
And she calls with a crisis. She's had an abortion before, and she's actually in our abortion recovery ministry program, and says "I've scheduled an appointment to have an abortion, but I just don't know what to do." So we immediately called the ... Called our counseling department, called our pastors, and they just started to connect with her, started to breathe life in her, and to give her a vision for her life that reflects the will of God.
It was so cool. So that was probably three, four months ago, and you know, as a pastor you kind of have those moments, and you kind of move on to the next thing, knowing that it's handled, and well. It was so cool to see her coming down after service, with a little belly sticking out, and she just said ... She was just saying "I'm here. And God is here with me." And I just hugged her, and she just cried. Because I know God preserved a life through her, and God also revived her life.
So, I could see a freshness in new life. So really, two lives has been transformed; this new baby that gets to see and breathe life, but then her. I could just tell she had a new life, a whole new perspective. Community comes around her.
So stories like that just happen all the time, of God's faithfulness. Yeah.

Sara Barton: God is working. You get to see it, not only in the lives of individuals, but in the life of the community responding to one another.

Albert Tate: Yeah.

Sara Barton: And so, just reflect on that a little bit. How is that joining God? Is God ... Where is God in that? Is it through you, the pastor, the woman you told us about? Is it through the church?

Albert Tate: Yeah, I think one of the worst things you can mistake is try to individualize and isolate God. Like, He is working everywhere, on all levels. So even with that story, let's take the story. He's working in her own heart, trying to heal what was broken through her first abortion. He's working in her heart, because she's trusting again.
She trusted us enough to reach out to us, so He's working through the church. And she's able to trust the church, and say the trust is an ally. So when I get in trouble, I may not go to the abortion clinic to fight it, although it was on her speed dial. But she said "Let me call the church first." You see?
So the church is working. God is working through the church. Then, God is working through community because what happens after a phone call, she's surrounded by people who are caring, and who's loving, and all of that is an extension of God. Not one piece of that story doesn't have God's fingerprints all over it.
So one of the worst things you can do is to try to isolate and see what part is God. It's all God. Even the crisis and the ugliness of her situation, God was there even in that, comforting, healing and consoling. So I look for Him in all the details, because usually it turns out that He's right there in all the details.

Sara Barton: I like what you're saying about community, because I think sometimes when we feel desperate, we may call out to God individually, on our own, in prayer, and not share with community. Yeah.

Albert Tate: One of the worst mistakes you can make.

Sara Barton: Never in Scripture do we see people apart from community, realizing who God is, and joining.[crosstalk 00:08:37] Proof of the Holy Spirit

Albert Tate: It's always in community. Yeah. Theology is processed, exercised and lived out in community. Another story, a missionary couple had their son commit suicide. And he had struggled with mental illness for many, many years. It was one of those things where they weren't surprised by it. Obviously heartbroken by it, but it had been a fear for a very long time, because a part of his sickness included that as a reality of possibility.
We come alongside them, we go to the funeral. There's a moment where I am walking back to go be with the families and walk them in to the service. So people that are gathering to come in to the service, they are all gathering there in the lobby, and I just passed by this huddled group of women. And they're all from our church. And I was like "Hey, y'all, how're y'all doing?" So I'm speaking to them and all that, and I was like, "What's going on?" She was like, "Oh, you know, she was in our Life Group." So it was her tribe, just standing in the lobby, all blessed.
She says "Yeah, we've been with her every step." The mom, so the mom of the young man, her life group has just been with her the whole time, and one of the most beautiful sights was to see them in the lobby, just waiting to serve, waiting to carry their girl, waiting to be there for her. All with tears in their eyes, was standing there in community. That's what the church is.
In the best of times, they're there to celebrate. In the worst of times, they're there to carry you. And that was a vision of what church and the body of Christ and the koinonia, the fellowship. That's what we are. We were made for that kind of fellowship.
So just to pray in your closet, and to have personal devotion, and not express that in community, you miss the fullness and the breadth of who all God is and what He's desiring to give you in your life.

Sara Barton: I love hearing a pastor who started a church expressing, when you got to see this community care for each other, you weren't even directly involved.

Albert Tate: Had nothing to do with it.

Sara Barton: You got this joy of seeing people doing what the church does when you're cultivating a community. So, I want to reflect a little bit on that. You have a Gospel-centered, multi-ethic, intergenerational tag line for the church. So, why does that matter? How does that contribute to what you're describing when people are coming around and living this life with each other, and joining this work of God in the world? How does ... Not all churches can say that this describes who we are.

Sara Barton: So tell me some of the joys of that, and the challenges of that as well.

Albert Tate: Well, one of the things that we're doing, we're intentionally describing and telling people who we are, and that message is for people who don't know who we are, and that message is for people that are a part of us, but don't have the language to describe who we are. So we're a Gospel center. We've centered it on the Gospel, and that's priority over everything else. That's bigger than a social justice initiative, that's bigger than racial reconciliation, it's bigger than anything.

Sara Barton: It's good news.

Albert Tate: It's good new.

Sara Barton: The world doesn't have much good news, yeah.

Albert Tate: Exactly. And it's got to be centered on that. And out of that, we believe then God then brings us into the reality of a multi-ethnic family. When you look at Revelation eight and nine, when you see that vision, you see every tribe, every nation, every tongue, every race. I believe if that's what Heaven is going to look like, we should start practicing that now. So let's declare that, and let's say that's who we intentionally are. So people know, when they're inviting people, they can say, "Yeah, that's who we intentionally are."
The other thing is, I didn't want to be one of those church clients that had a bunch of young, all cool, hip people with skinny jeans on. No, I want gray hair in the room. So, when we first started, we had a lot of young people, and people that were 60, 70 would say "You know, I came, but I just felt like was the old ..." So I was like "No, no, no, no. We're intergenerational." Let's just say that out loud to give you permission to be here.

Sara Barton: That's hospitable to the older folks, you think, and to the younger, it's [crosstalk 00:12:28]

Albert Tate: [crosstalk 00:12:28]Oh, yeah. It invites them and lets you know that, although you have silver hair, you are welcomed in the room, that wisdom is welcomed in the room. And it's important. You've got couples that have been married for two years. We need people that have been married 25 years, that when the couple that's been married two years is threatening to throw in the towel because they got into a fight in the kitchen. I need that 25 year old couple to say, "Girl, if y'all don't sit down somewhere. Come here. Let me tell y'all how to get through rough times."

Sara Barton: Mentoring in life and family.

Albert Tate: Absolutely necessary.

Sara Barton: Here we are in Southern California, where here, you and I are both transplants.

Albert Tate: Yes.

Sara Barton: And a lot of people are, so I can imagine

Albert Tate: Don't have that built-in family system.

Sara Barton: That family that people are longing for is found in the church. These intergenerational relationships.

Albert Tate: So we get to model that, we get to celebrate that. And all of it lends itself to, I believe it makes disciples. And the kind of discipling community that we want to have, it's one that reflects the diversity of the Kingdom of God, but also centered in the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Albert Tate: And that's not easy, I mean, because [crosstalk 00:13:29]

Sara Barton: [crosstalk 00:13:29]It's never been easy.

Albert Tate: A homogenous unit is so compelling because it's good to be with people that look like you, live like you and vote like you. But we intentionally call our people away from that. So we intentionally say on a regular basis, "We want you to do life for people that don't look like you, that don't live like you, didn't vote like you did in the last election." So that way, we can begin to get a full vision, a full picture of who God is.
Because I think when all of those perspectives come together, it widens our view of God. And I want to see Him face to face one day, but I want to be prepared properly.
I wanna see Him face-to-face one day, but I wanna be prepared properly. So I wanna try to get as full of a breath and whiff of who God is now so that I can fully appreciate Him and all of His glory and splendor when I see Him face-to-face.

Sara Barton: And you're fine in that with this intergenerational, multi-ethnic Gospel-centered group of people coming together.

Albert Tate: Yeah, every single day.

Sara Barton: Yeah. Not just on Sundays, but every single day.

Albert Tate: Yeah. We come together and do life together.

Sara Barton: Doing life. I love that, and I'm excited about it. Well, as you know, I work with young people.

Albert Tate: Yes.

Sara Barton: And a lot of people I'm working with are experiencing religious deconstruction in regard to their faith. They're asking hard questions about doubts that they have. They have questions about the finality of hell or the cause of suffering, or the infallibility of the Bible. As a pastor, what advice do you have for people seeking those hard questions?

Albert Tate: Yeah. They're not new questions. They're age-old questions. How you seek and process those questions is everything. So I would encourage them to doubt like Thomas doubted. Thomas gets a bad rap for doubting, but if you look at the text clearly, they were all scared and all had doubt. He was the only one with enough courage to say something.
So, I think the expression of your doubt is truly an expression of your faith, because if you did not believe, you wouldn't have any doubts.

Sara Barton: And Jesus blesses him.

Albert Tate: Oh, oh!

Sara Barton: Turns and blesses him.

Albert Tate: Oh, clearly! Wait, listen to this, I got more. Watch this. He doubts and declares his doubts and confesses them, so if you have doubts, confess them. I would say that. Number two, he confesses them in community of believers. One of the worst things you can do is say, "I got doubts so now I'm gonna leave the church and go then, work through my doubts with my weedhead alcoholic friends." You see what I'm saying? It's like, what? That not gonna help you navigate. If you have doubts, doubt in community, doubt in the church. Thomas doubted in community. And in his doubt, he doubted in community, and then he says, "I don't believe this so Jesus is gonna have to show me."
In his doubt, he was looking for Jesus.

Sara Barton: And then the whole community was blessed too because they got to see him ... I love the Caravaggio painting of him reaching, touching his finger into that hole in His side because everybody else got to see him get to do that.

Albert Tate: And they needed to see that as well. So, in your doubt, look for Jesus. Don't look away from Him and get frustrated 'cause you have questions. No. Any questions about infallibility, questions about sexual identity, questions about all those ... Suffering, hard times, look for Jesus in your doubt, and watch this. The last part ... I love about Thomas. The last part I love about it is Jesus, who is in His resurrected body ... I mean, post-crucifixion. The body is tattered and broken. Every piece of Him is healed, but He left one hole. Why leave the hole, Jesus? Because He knew what Thomas needed. And He provided what Thomas needed.
In your doubts, look for Jesus. He'll provide the hole that you need to show you that He is who He is. He ain't scared or intimidated by your doubts.

Sara Barton: I actually have a poem that I wrote in response to the Thomas story.
This is from John 20.

Albert Tate: Okay.

Sara Barton: "But Thomas, who was called the twin," one of the 12, "was not with them when Jesus came. So, the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe.' Said Thomas, 'Oh God, they say Jesus arose, but I have no faith, no hope, unless I myself touch His wounds, His sores, I will not believe.' And what say we who also have not seen?
Oh God, what should I do with my life? Show me the way through this vocational strife unless I clearly see the how and the why, I will not dream.
Oh God, repair the emotions in me. Make me joyful, hopeful, free, unless you fix my misery, my anxiety, I will forever grieve.
Oh God, pluck out this addiction, change my life's directions. Unless you sober my affliction, I will not be clean.
Oh God, fix your church because frankly your people are the worst. Unless you life hypocrisy's curse, I will not give.
Oh God, the doctor tested for cancer and now we await an answer. Unless you sort out this disaster, I will not believe.
Oh God, in this world I have much to fear when your name I wear, your witness I bare. Unless I see, unless you speak clearly to me, my faith feels make believe.
Oh God, I am tired of doing your work while evil people get all the perks. Unless you give me better rewards, my faith will be dead.
A week later, His disciples were again in the house and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you,' then He said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe.' Thomas answered Him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you've seen me? Blessed at those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.' 'My Lord and my God, I am in awe when you walk through my doubt, unlocking doors when I've shut you out to bless my belief.'"
There's my poem.

Albert Tate: That's awesome.

Sara Barton: I'm loving it. And I think that's what young people need to hear in community.

Albert Tate: Yeah.

Sara Barton: That you can ask these hard questions, that yes, you're questioning the system of faith maybe that you were given earlier, and some of that may change and there may be reasons that you need to change some, but it doesn't mean that you have to leave the church or leave these people who are willing to be with you in the journey.

Albert Tate: Yeah.

Sara Barton: So I love the way you set that in community.

Albert Tate: Yeah, lemme tell you something, doubting with God is way better than doubting without God. You wanna talk about a lonely, isolating, very dangerous place? It's to allow your doubts to drive you away from the Creator of all things. Like, what a terrible loss and you don't have to doubt that way. There's a new way to doubt.

Sara Barton: And one of the things that-

Albert Tate: Oo! That could be a good book title: "A New Way to Doubt."

Sara Barton: A new way to doubt.

Albert Tate: Oo, lemme write that down. Hold on one second.

Sara Barton: Write that down.

Albert Tate: Oh, that's good.

Sara Barton: Text yourself.
One of the challenges that comes along with that kind of doubt, and church, often, is that people have religious cynicism. Have you ever experienced religious cynicism, and if so, what happened next?

Albert Tate: You know, I'm from Mississippi. I grew up in the church. Both my grandfathers were pastors. I experience idiots, but it never led to a cynicism of who God was. There are broken people, there are hurting people, there are ... Idiots. I think they're just ... And you can't allow the idiot with the bullhorn who said something dumb then calls you to question the very essence of God. No, that's just ... He was just an idiot. He just didn't know any better, or naïve, or whatever.
So, I tend not to give them that kind of credit because they're everywhere.

Sara Barton: So, you think that the cynicism sometimes comes because of what other people do and say.

Albert Tate: Usually, it's a reaction to hypocrisy, it's a reaction to people of faith that are acting like flawed human beings and who they are. So they look at that and then they bring accusation to God Himself. Now, we all know that that was just a pastor who had a bad season. He made bad choices. A pastor, she made bad choices. That does not reflect the sum total of who God is and all He's done. That's one of His servants who messed up.

Sara Barton: Yeah. I do think a lot of the cynicism comes from people feeling disappointed with the church. And they want the church to be ideal.

Albert Tate: Right.

Sara Barton: And perfect, like Jesus was perfect.

Albert Tate: Yeah, and Jesus was, but His disciples weren't. So He modeled for us out of day one. Like, look at the 12. You only got about four or five of them that actually turned out to do something significant. You got Judas who was just straight sabotaging. You got Peter who got a spotty record, at best. Like, he turned out good at the end, but boy!

Sara Barton: Yeah, Mark's Gospel is just like Peter's failure, one after the other.

Albert Tate: Yeah! So, Jesus is saying, "Yeah, all my people are flawed." They are. And out of the same vessel, they'll do great things but they'll also turn around. They'll say, "Jesus you are the Christ, this is who you are," and then he'll turn around and say, "I rebuke you." That's in the same setting. Peter gets that same.
So if Jesus can give that kind of grace to His disciples, we should be able to give that kind of grace to our church. Recognizing that there is a high-level of accountability and we should always pursue it, but recognize that there's grace for a reason because Jesus knew that we were gonna need it even when we tried our best not to.

Sara Barton: Yeah, I think grace is such an antidote to this cynicism. Grace, gratitude, for what God has done. And yet, it is plaguing a lot of people. There is a lot of cynicism-

Albert Tate: It is, but it's so dangerous because the cynicism leads to a self-righteousness that you gotta be careful. So, the thing that you are cynical about and that you are questioning and bringing under, before you know it, you're gonna have this really high view of your perspective on their deal and you gonna look around in your own life, you gonna see a gaping hole and recognize, "Wow, have I created a cynicism about me?" Because the self-righteousness that you've created around what other people's flaws are will turn around and you will see yourself desperately needing the grace that you refused to extend to those that you're being cynical with. You know what I'm saying?

Sara Barton: I know what you're saying, and it sounds just like-

Albert Tate: It's a slippery slope.

Sara Barton: -something a pastor would say.

Albert Tate: Right. It's a slippery slope.

Sara Barton: Because you love people, you love the church, you love people despite what they're going through. It's a pastoral response. And I seek to have pastoral response to cynicism, but I know I've been there myself.

Albert Tate: Oh, I'm a cynic as well. It's just what you do with it. Like, there's nothing wrong with having doubts. There's a new way to doubt, which is a book that's coming out in Fall 2019. There's a new-

Sara Barton: Let's write it together.

Albert Tate: Right, right, there's a new way to doubt, but cynicism is great. Just be careful. It's not the answer. So, I think in our culture, we're just ... This is the new way, and deconstruct. Yeah, congratulations. You deconstructed it all, now look around in your life, what do you have that's left. And when a moment hits you when you need hope, if you deconstruct it all, it's gonna be a sad day trying to find the pieces of hope to grab onto. So, that's why I encourage you on your journey. Be careful, but there are authors, there are leaders that have made a whole lot of money with helping you get deconstructed. At some point, somebody needs to build you back up.

Sara Barton: Lot of podcasts and blogs. I mean, here we are doing a podcast.

Albert Tate: Oh, just deconstructing it all and it's beautiful and it's all cool and curious, yeah, hit fast forward. How does it end? And in your moment of hope, when you need something bigger than yourself, if you deconstructed it all, you gonna need something to hold on to. And that's when you gonna need a God who's come to build you up. Yeah.

Sara Barton: Yeah, again, thank you for that. That's an encouraging word. Well, I wanna do something as we continue with out conversation. I wanna read from the Bible, and then respond to that together. I just believe in the power of scripture even through these podcasts. I believe scripture speaks in our lives today. God is working.
So I'm gonna read from Isaiah 58, and then I would just ask you, first, how does this passage speak to you personally as you are seeking God, as a God-seeker?

Albert Tate: Okay.

Sara Barton: How does it speak to you? And then, I would like to hear a little bit about your community.

Albert Tate: Sounds good.

Sara Barton: So, here it is. Isaiah 58, "And then you shall call and the Lord will answer. You shall cry for help and the Lord will say, 'Here I am.' If you remove the yolk from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt. You shall raise up the foundations of many generations. You shall be called the repairer of the breech, the restorer of streets to live in." Inspiring passage from Isaiah.

Albert Tate: Oh, that's so good.

Sara Barton: I love it. If we just read that today, it would be good word. But how does this speak to you in your search, personally, in your search for God?

Albert Tate: I mean, it speaks on several levels. Number one, deliverance and breakthrough requires your participation. So, there's a lot of "if you," "if you," "if you," and breakthrough requires you. And so, I think a lot of times we're just waiting on God just to deliver us out, but He's saying, "No, I need you to participate in this deliverance."
So, I think the first time He says, "If you remove the yolk." "If you ..." So, it requires out participation as believers to say, "All right God." And then the promise on the tail-end, a restorer of the breech, what a powerful calling. And I feel like I-

Albert Tate: What a powerful calling.

Sara Barton: Mh-hmm

Albert Tate: And I feel like I can relate to that calling and the work that's required of it. He says he'll give you water in parched places. That means a part of the calling will require you to be in seasons and places where droughts are there and dryness is there. So don't expect the water to flow but he says when you end up in a dry place, and you will, you'll experience that but don't worry. When you're parched, I'll provide for you.

Sara Barton: We work with so many students who wanna do ministry and who are doing ministry here on campus and wanna do ministry in the future so I love hearing you give them that, yeah the reality, there will be times when you're parched.

Albert Tate: And see that's a part of the cynicism even earlier. See I think we're raising a generation, I'm gonna sound like an old man now, I feel like we're raising a generation of just weak Christians and we've promised them something that's just not real so my fear is that they get to the parched place and be like, come on God, what's up with that? How you gonna send me, see I got, now you got doubts, now you don't believe. No, no, no, he told you all along the way as you get in the season with him, they'll be seasons where you will be parched. But don't worry, I'll give you water. Now's not the time to bring me into, bring accusation upon me and put me in the judgment seat and say no God, give an account for yourself. No he says, I told you this is who I am, I told you this is what I'm going to do. It's really an opportunity for you to check your motives.
See we've created ministry as an occupation option and I just don't believe in that. I'm of the old school where you were called to this and if you weren't called to this, go get a job in engineering. Go become a social worker. Go be a teacher, we need great teachers. Stop looking at being called into pastor as an occupational opportunity because your youth pastor was cool and he had a good...no because when you get in a parched season, that ain't gonna be enough to sustain you.

Sara Barton: And ministry is a life of suffering. It is a life of suffering

Albert Tate: It is a life of sacrifice and suffering.

Sara Barton: Right, Eugene Peterson talks about that which I think he's in hospice right now.

Albert Tate: He's in hospice now, yeah.

Sara Barton: I've been praying for him and his family but he talks a lot about this call, I mean he just, when get in one of those parched places he's often one of the people that I read.

Albert Tate: Oh because he speaks to it because he's been there. Most of people that are aspiring to go into ministry, I think we've so professionalized it because you can get a job, here's your salary package, here's your retirement and you get the degree and then you go to, it's not like nursing, it's not a gig like that. You've gotta have a calling on your line because God may look at you and say sacrifice it all and move to Haiti.

Sara Barton: Mh-hmm.

Albert Tate: Now the Disney company can do that, but when God tells you to do that kind of stuff you gotta be willing to say, yes Lord, because the calling on my life requires it. I feel like a lot of the cynicism, a lot of the Christian leaders that we're producing for the next generation aren't prepared for that and when hard times hit, they're shocked and appalled that God would then call them. I think about this lady, I guess it's a podcast so it's okay that I talk a lot.

Sara Barton: That's what we do on podcasts yeah.

Albert Tate: I don't wanna over talk you but I think about these missionaries, the first thing I thought-

Sara Barton: Did you know I was a missionary in my life?

Albert Tate: No I did not.

Sara Barton: Lived in Uganda for eight years as a missionary.

Albert Tate: So these missionaries lived in Kazakhstan or somewhere, somewhere in the Middle East. Missionaries, giving their life, and their son dies of suicide. Now you would think this will cause a faith crisis. The believe God more now that ever for providing, and I don't even claim, does that make sense? If they had a faith crisis, shoot it was worthy of one, right? But it just goes to so how they saw God and how they see him and they hadn't made God their blessing lottery machine. Only thing that comes out of God is blessings.

Sara Barton: Or if we give up and go do this thing we will get-

Albert Tate: Right, then I'm covered. I've got an insurance covering that comes over God where cancer doesn't come to my family, divorce doesn't come to my family, none of those things happen because God, we've surrendered everything and that's just an obscured, unhealthy view of God and they know that God, you require it all, this world will deliver pain and heartache over and over again, that's why Jesus left here, leaving us victory for here, a promise of kingdom coming, but also a kingdom to come and he's preparing that place because he knows that this places isn't our home and that's how they see it.

Sara Barton: And we get to see the kingdom coming on earth as in heaven if we have the eyes to see-

Albert Tate: If you've got eyes to see.

Sara Barton: These glimpses of what's that like.

Albert Tate: Of the kingdom breaking in, yes.

Sara Barton: Well tell me what of just going back to this passage, how do you see this Isaiah 58, these images being lived out in your church community?

Albert Tate: I see the provision of God in this passage and as we gather together the family of faith, I've just seen his provision. I've just seen God just take care of his children as they reach out to him, as they worship him, as they desire him, long to have a better life. I just see him provide. So to come back to a couple of the narratives, this young girl that was thinking about an abortion, she was so confused, just in crisis and to see her the other day, that was just the piece, a shalom. Her mother was standing right there beside her and I could tell her mother is just struggling with the reality of it but they're holding each other and God is providing for them a shalom in a moment that could've caused them, caused her to want her to take her life, she's now reaching for God.
There was a woman the other Sunday who in a moment of spontaneity got her coin purse and poured it out on the stage and poured out all the money she had and then she started-

Sara Barton: Just like in the bible.

Albert Tate: Started, literally started running up and down the isle cause the sermon was about sacrifice and being able to sacrifice it all and sacrificing it all for God. So literally sacrificed all she had. Come to find out, back story, she rides buses. She doesn't have transportation and that was all her bus money and she just said God I'm giving it to you and then just began to run down the isles in a very charismatic, we're diverse so we got all kinds of stuff going on. So in a very charismatic, just running up and down the isle, I see her and the Lord said to me, this is a public demonstration of what I wanna do in the church as the church sacrifices for me. As families sacrifice, pour into the work of God, and then commit to running for my mission, then I provide for them.
So then I invited the church, watch this, I invited the church, I call Ms Gloria down, her name is Gloria. I called her down and I said the Lord wants to use you as a demonstration. I said, everybody if you have any cash, come. We're gonna receive this offering that she gave us which is a stack of sliver coins, now come and pour back into her. She got over $3400.

Sara Barton: Oh my goodness.

Albert Tate: Come to fund out, Gloria was homeless, living in a hotel. She has a job but just didn't have enough to pay her bills. I didn't know any of this before hand so when you talk about how God's using this Isaiah passage, I'm just seeing God initiate movements as we participate.

Sara Barton: Restoring the streets we live in and taking our ruins and rebuilding and-
Albert Tate: If you as Gloria, she'll say he's all that. He's a re builder, he's a restorer, he's doing those things. So that's kind of a couple of things that's been happening in the life of our church.

Sara Barton: Yeah, and I think those are the kind of stories that give us hope and remove that cynicism is when we're really living with people. Real people.

Albert Tate: Yes.

Sara Barton: And responding and being in community together.

Albert Tate: Yeah.

Sara Barton: Well if you could take one image from this passage with you for the rest of the week, what would it be?

Albert Tate: The restore of the breech. I think there are some things that we get to restore, get to rebuild, get to recapture and I feel like a part of our assignment as a church is to bring redemption to some things that have been broken.

Sara Barton: So we don't live in Monrovia and aren't right in the midst of your community but for people here listening to this conversation, how can they get involved in what God is doing in exciting ways in their lives?

Albert Tate: Well I mean, if you don't live in Monrovia, I guess you just have to miss out on what God's doing. I guess that's just your own choosing. You have to sit here and suffer on the ocean. No-

Sara Barton: Go for a hike and just skip church.

Albert Tate: Right just go sit with God. You know what, God is always working, God is always moving. It's interesting, he calls the disciples out because they get to fight over the position of who's gonna be at the right hand and who's gonna be at the left hand and he tells them a vision, he gives them a vision of greatness and he says, the greatest among you is he or she who serves. You wanna get to the heart of God real quick, if you're in a doubt battle or a cynicism or discouraged, immediately go after greatness and start serving somewhere. Serving someone.
It may be a single mom who's on campus and you see her struggle in and out trying to navigate class and school and scheduling and all of that and offering free babysitting just to give her a space and a gap. It may be going to the local grocery store and identifying and say Lord, put somebody on my heart and let me help serve them by carrying their groceries or buying their groceries. It may be looking at the homeless population, those that are experiencing homelessness and say, how can I just show up, and not just drop off a bag of food but let me go to subway, buy two sandwiches, and invite someone to have lunch with me.
You sit down after that moment, I'm sorry, I'll be hard to be really cynical after seeing God moving those moments. Or to be hard to be bitter when you're giving yourself to serving someone else other than yourself. So find-

Sara Barton: It's usually the little things. Unbelievably it's not these big big things.

Albert Tate: Like sure you can go to World Relief or something and go on some missions trip at some point in the spring but this week?

Sara Barton: Daily.

Albert Tate: Find something bigger that yourself. Find an opportunity to serve something other that yourself and lean into it and watch God's spirit show up in those spaces. He dwells often in those spaces.

Sara Barton: And historically that's when Christianity has been at it's best.

Albert Tate: Undeniable.

Sara Barton: From the beginning until now is when people look around and see the needs in their community and love the folks right there.

Albert Tate: Go after greatness, go after service.

Sara Barton: Thank you.

Albert Tate: Yeah.

Sara Barton: Well I have loved this conversation with you about someone who believes God is still working in the world. God did not stop working at the end of the bible.

Albert Tate: He did not.

Sara Barton: And is still working in people's lives. We've gotten a lot of examples from your church and your own life today and so I just thank you for being a witness.

Albert Tate: Oh well thank you so much.

Sara Barton: Thanks for being a witness-

Albert Tate: It's such a pleasure to be here.

Sara Barton: To who God is and what God is doing. We're excited about it.

Albert Tate: Thank you for your ministry to the great Pepperdine community too and shaping the eager young minds of the future.

Sara Barton: Thank you.

Albert Tate: And I pray that out of this place will come strong Christians that are ready to be bearers of the good news in good times and hard times, yeah.

Sara Barton: Amen.

Albert Tate: Amen.