The Home Nobody Wanted

In the city of San Francisco sat a home that nobody wanted.  During some point in the history of this home the owners moved out and stopped caring for the place so that this home soon became wretched and unlivable.    Looking at the home itself it would be safe to say that it was not being cared for.  The roof needed repair, the siding looked decrepit, and it was pretty much an eye-sore to the whole neighborhood. 

However, because it was in San Francisco it ended up selling for over $400,000!  So, somebody bought it.  Somebody was able , even as rundown as this home was, to see past its pitfalls and see its potential.  They saw how this land could be used to build a brand new home on.  They saw how this new home would be able to shine bright in this neighborhood.  They saw possibilities when many people just saw destruction.

Kind of like how Jesus saw potential in us, even when we were condemned in sin.

Our sin had made us into nothing but disgusting, puss-filled flesh-bags (I know that’s gross…but sin is gross).  Most others would have looked into the wicked thoughts of our hearts and said, “Uh…I’ll pass.” 

But not Jesus.   He looked at us and said, “Whatever it costs…I want them.”

This is phenomenal!  It is shocking to think that someone would pay nearly half-a-million bucks to buy a run down shack.  However, it is unfathomable that someone would willingly die to make us and all our baggage part of their family.      

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

 So, right now, up to this point in your life what have you thought of yourself?  Maybe you have been thinking that your life is like that house, a total wreck.  Maybe your life is in so much disrepair that you cannot even imagine a brighter future.

Or maybe you think you can see a bright future ahead but no one else seems to share in your thoughts.  Everyone else is tearing you down or pointing out flaw after flaw and they can’t seem to see beyond those mortal pitfalls.   All of their weighty discouragements have started to wear on your hopes.

To both of these situations I say, SO WHAT!  So what you think you are trash, so what other people put you down, because to Jesus you are worth dying for.  Jesus doesn’t just see you where you are at, he also sees what you can become through Him!  Jesus knows the reforming power of His great grace.  Jesus knows that He is the ultimate death to life, lost to found, sin cleansing Savior!

 If Jesus has saved you…just know He can repair you, he can renovate your life, He can make you brand new and give you potential for the future you never knew you had.  HE wants your home, He wants you!  Jesus can take your broken down life, and build the ultimate masterpiece.

Because, after all, Jesus is a carpenter. 

Later Days,    


The Truth About Truth.

It was a summer afternoon after a long work day when I heard the most shocking statement.  

I had been working detailing a yacht (that was my job) with a guy that had come in for the summer. For this article we will call this guy Luke. 

On the drive back to the shop I wanted to get a gospel conversation going so I asked, “Luke, do you think there is absolute truth?”

This is a common icebreaker I use for starting conversations about God, the Scriptures, and Jesus Christ and it works very well.  Absolute truth means that there are things that are absolutely true no matter the situation, culture, or time period.  It really strikes at the heart of a person.

The reason it works is because if someone says that they do not believe in absolute truth, then they are really saying that they believe in lawlessness, which means that any law can be broken based on someone’s preference or situation.  Ultimately, this would mean that someone could walk into your house, murder your family and you would just have to be ok with it because that person really didn’t do anything wrong.   Conversely, if someone breaks down and admits that they do believe in absolute truth, then there is only one conclusion to draw.  

If there is absolute truth there must be an absolute truth GIVER! 

Truth must come from somewhere and there must be an Authority that gives that truth.  This leads straight into the conversation about God and His creation of the universe.   Talking to someone about absolute truth is a simple and very effective way of having a gospel conversation and introducing a person to God.

So, there we were, just Luke and I sitting in the van, driving back to the shop having a deep conversation on the truth about truth.  I had asked him what he thought and the statement he made shocked me.

What follows are the highlights of our conversation:

Jake:  So Luke do you believe in absolute truth.  Like some things are true no matter the situation. 

Luke: No, I don’t think so.  I think things all depend on what situation you are in.

Jake: Ok, so like murder.  Is murder, not self-defense, always wrong or only wrong sometimes? 

Luke: Hum, well I guess it depends.  I guess it would be wrong here in the U.S. because it is against the laws we have.

Jake: Ok…so take Hitler.  Hitler led his nation into the murder of millions of Jews.  His nation let him do it.  Was that wrong, or because it was accepted by his nation was it ok for him to murder the Jewish people.

(It was here that he took a long pause. Realizing the intellectual predicament he was in, this is his answer)

Luke:  Well, I guess not. 

Jake: Wait, so you are saying that it was not wrong for Hitler to murder millions of Jews because his nation allowed it?

Luke:  Yeah.  I guess… cause in his situation it was ok.

Jake:  *Jawdrop*

This was crazy to me.  Luke had been so conditioned in his 19 years of life that there is no absolute truth, that the only logical conclusion to his world view is that murder is not absolutely wrong.

Everything becomes permissible. 

The saying goes, “this is a hard pill to swallow.”   People in the world are so in love with their sin that they are more ready to admit that everything is morally ok than to have to concede that they are not living the right way.

Right now, you may be tempted to be upset, mad, or disappointed in these people.  However, as followers of Jesus this cannot be our response.  Our response must be one of pity, not anger; love, not hate.   The people of this world have been blinded by the god of this world.   We can no sooner blame them for their worldview as we could blame a blind man for not being able to see. 

What then can be done about this darkness in which our fellow human beings are steeped?  Well, if someone cannot see because of the dark, the only hope is to shine the light.  

I find it sincerely interesting that Jesus calls both Himself and His followers the light of the world.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  John 8:12

 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Matthew 5:14-16

In both of these passages the result is the same. Those that are in darkness can now see.

This should be our motivation.   There they are, all around us, people lost in the darkness and here we are holding on to this light.  Jesus made it clear that no one lights a candle just to hide it, but gives light to all around.  

Ephesians 4:21  “…the truth is in Jesus…”  And we have it, so let’s share it.

 Later Days,



My dad is new to the whole “texting” thing.  Many times he gives short sentences that you have to decode to find the original meaning and intent.   He has yet to understand the texting lingo. 

For instance, although my dad uses half sentences with no discernible meaning he still spells out the whole word of “Thanks.” 

IN texting shorthand it only takes 3 letters to get across one of the most powerful sentiments of all time…Thankfulness.

Thankfulness literally has the power to change lives.  A person that is truly thankful can look into the eyes of even the worse circumstances and emerge unscathed.   A person that shows thankfulness to others can turn their worst enemies into their truest friends.  A person that is truly thankful for life has joy that is for the most part unexplainable to those without it.

So why is thankfulness so powerful?

Simple answer:  Because we were designed to be thankful! 

God made mankind for His pleasure and glory.  At the heart of bringing glory to God is an aspiration to be thankful to God in all things.  We were created to bring Him glory, so we were created to be thankful!

One thing I love about God is that He gave us a design manual (aka The Bible) telling us exactly what we need to be maintaining in our lives in order to get the most joy and abundance out of life.  When we follow the manual we work at our highest possible level, simple as that.

One of the common threads the scriptures reveal that we must be maintaining is a spirit of Thankfulness.   Jesus commends the one leaper that returned to thank Him for healing (Luke 17). The scriptures even say that God’s will for our lives is to be thankful!!!  (1 Thess 5:18). 

One passage I love is Colossians 3:15.  “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body…”

This verse simple tells us to let God’s peace rule in our hearts, and that this is our calling!  But it doesn’t tell us how we are to do that.   Oh, wait…yeah it does.   The last part of that verse says this…

“…and be ye thankful.”

Whoop there it is!  Be Thankful.  Have Peace.  Fulfill your Calling.

Not just this week, but every single day.  Be thankful when someone is mean to you, because there were many that were mean to Jesus.  Be thankful when you have little to eat, because Jesus went 40 days without eating.  Be thankful when you go through pain, because Jesus went through the ultimate pain for us.  Be thankful in death, because we have been given life eternal.  Be thankful when the car refuses to cooperate, because Jesus walked everywhere he went.  Be thankful for cancer, because the cancer of sin was defeated by Jesus.  Be thankful for the sun, because God gave us His Son.  Be thankful for lamps, because Jesus is the light of the world.  Be thankful for tissues, because Jesus will wipe away all our tears.  Be thankful for ink, because Jesus gave us His Word.  Be thankful for broken promises, because Jesus fulfills all His promises.  Be thankful for water, because Jesus has washed us clean.  Be thankful for long lines, because there will be no wait to enter Heaven.  Be thankful for stubbing your toe, because Jesus had nails through his feet.  Be thankful for everything that is given us good or bad for it is far better than the hell that we deserve.  ....Get the point?

Be thankful because that is what we were designed to do.



One BIG Tip.

Once someone gave me One BIG Tip that changed my life forever.  

I was living in Hawaii and it was my last full year there before I would ship off to college.  Living on the Island of Oahu you are never more than 30 minutes away from the ocean.  So, conceivably someone living on my Island could get into the deep blue Pacific ocean EVERY...SINGLE...DAY!! 

I're jealous. 

Coming into the second semester of my Junior year of High school I wanted to make a New Years resolution.  "It's my last full year here, I gotta come up with something good."   Eureka!!!           "I'll get in the ocean every single day!"  365 days in a row, rain or shine, light or dark...I'll swim in the ocean every day before the clock strikes mid-night.

Now, It was December, and I was still in process of getting my license, so I approached my parents about this grand scheme knowing for the first couple months I would need someone to drive me to the ocean.   

When I talked to my dad about this he laughed and said, "OK".  But then He added some advice, a tip, one very BIG tip.  He said, "Jacob, maybe you should come up with a spiritual goal as well."

There it was, the one BIG tip that would change my life forever, though I at the time I did not know how life changing it would be.

Almost immediately I knew what "spiritual goal" I was going to set.  For a while, possibly even years, the Holy Spirit had been drawing my heart to read the Bible.  Yep, grew up in a pastors home but I for sure wasn't reading my Bible regularly.   I pick it up on Sundays and Wednesdays, occasionally read James or Jude or something, but not regularly and NEVER every day. 

My spiritual goal for 2006 would be to read my Bible EVERY....SINGLE....DAY!

I started small.  I had a small book that just contained the book of Proverbs.  So, I began reading, sometimes a chapter, sometimes just a few verses...but the point was I was getting in the Word of God ever single day. Soon, I had read through many different passages in the Bible.

365 Days later I made it.  Not only had I drifted in the cool Pacific, I had read the Bible everyday.

THIS CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER.  Reading God's Word deepened and sharpened my relationship with Him.  It challenged me and changed me to be a better follower of Christ.  It is what ultimately led me to pursue ministry and attend Arlington Baptist University where I met my wife.  

This one decision was the catalyst that led to what my life has become today.  Without it no Hali, no Tekoa, no college, no Lake Point Baptist (church plant in Ohio), no BRANCHES.              Not even this blog would be written...I'd probably be blogging about what brand of surf wax was better.   So I'd say it was a great tip.  Thanks dad.

So,  Here's a big tip for you....

....Read your Bible and Pray EVERYDAY and you'll grow, grOW, GROW!



So Hey,   Welcome to the BRANCHES blog. 

Just to let you know what you can expect out of this blog, I am...writing this blog.  lol.  

Anyway, we (my beautiful, wonderful, super-cool wife  Hali, and just plain old rather surf than read Jake) will be posting on this blog different posts relating to the BRANCHES church planting ministry, San Francisco, Life during Support Raising, and general thoughts on the scriptures.  

So, I hope you get to check back in from time to time to check it out.  There will be at least one new blog post each week... like for sure long as there is wifi.   :)

Later Days,

-Jake Woodfin

john 15:5

Why San Francisco? many People ask..."WHY SAN FRANCISCO?"

I think the real question should be "Why Not?" 

Hali and I have known God wanted us in church planting since college.  We moved from Hawaii to Ohio (yeah...big change) to help start a church.  However, we knew that was not our forever place, we knew that God wanted us to go somewhere where there were few churches and a place where darkness reigned without the light of the gospel.  

After being in Ohio several years we began praying about SO MANY different areas around the globe and in our own nation.  All areas that desperately needed more churches to spread the gospel.   One day Hali brought home information on San Francisco being the least churched area in our nation.    

I almost immediately wrote it off,  however, God didn't.   

God kept putting it on my mind and my heart and though I tried to distract myself with other places...It was clear San Francisco is where God wanted us.

And Why Not?  The San Francisco Bay Area is the least churched area in our nation.  According to some statistics only around 3-5% of people would identify as "Evangelical".  If we are talking about places in the United States that desperately need the light of Christ...San Francisco would be at the top of the list.  

We have an opportunity as disciples of Christ to make more disciples in the Bay Area.  We have the opportunity to shine the light of the gospel in a dark city.  We have the opportunity to see lives changed, people saved, and generations of families eternally altered for Jesus Christ. 

So, Why San Francisco....I think the real question is....Why Not?