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I am part two into this, and I guess you have figured out this is not my opportunity to reminisce about Will Smith as “Fresh Prince”. This is a series where I am walking through highlights and “lowlights” of my life with the prayer that God will use excerpts to help others for His glory.
I began the last post with the story of how I came to Christ. I was 6 years old and discovered and responded to my need for a Savior. Not long after that, people were talking about me being a preacher. It was mainly “old people” who thought it was cute. Within weeks, I was conducting a worship service (music and preaching) with a floor fan as my pulpit, a Baptist Hymnal, and a Gideon New Testament. I had no clue how prophetic that childhood dream would be. I would like to say that everything following this was happily ever after, but it was not. Stay tuned…
I was nominated by Jackie. I am so thankful to be nominated for this award. You can find her blog here.
She and I recently connected on Twitter and Instagram. I highly recommend you read her blog.
I have been battling over whether or not I should do a series of key events in my life. I must have lost the battle, because here I am. I am not a famous guy. Outside of couple thousand people that might remember who I am when you add up all the churches I have served, I am little known (and that’s okay). Approximately 1,500 people follow this blog, so my prayer is that something from the story of my life might be a blessing.
The earliest key moment in my life was that of salvation, giving my heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ. My parents grew up in different denominations and could not decide on mutual church ground. They did agree that they wanted me to attend Christian school. Because of the influence of Christian teachers and the daily presentation of the gospel, God was preparing my heart for the moment I would give my life to Him. I responded after a chapel service at school. I did not know what I needed to say, but I knew I needed what the chapel speaker shared. So I waited until the service was over and walked to the front of the room where the speaker who was a Child Evangelism Fellowship representative led me to Christ. I will always be a strong advocate for children’s ministries.
This is not a flashy testimony. It is the simple story of a 6-year-old boy hearing the gospel and responding to the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart. You may think that you needed to commit a long list of horrible sins in order to have a fabulous testimony. God will save any repentant sinner. You can have what some might consider a clean past, or you may have a life full of filth. One of my favorite songs says, “Broken hearts, broken lives, He will take them all.”
I can assure you that I will be addressing some interesting topics for however long God allows me to stretch out this series. This will be living proof that God can do extraordinary things in an average life. That’s the story of me!
You are probably thinking a variety of things as you read a one-word title “Roots”. As I dwell on Holy Week, I remember my roots in the United Methodist Church. I am not fond of the denomination as a whole, but I grew up with some great people in our little church in Virginia. As in any church, some were truly born again while others were just playing church. For me as a born again believer, the meaning of Holy Week was deep.
In my pursuit of more conservative Christianity, I forgot my roots. I “threw the baby out with the bath water” because I did not want to look liberal if I accepted anything from my roots. As a 38 year old who has grown in many areas, I have regained an appreciation for these special days in the church.
I must admit that I have not thought much about Easter this year. When I do not hold a “church job”, it is easy to forget about it. For years, I was preparing months in advance for Easter with extra choir rehearsals. As a pastor, I was thinking about preaching a message that was Spirit-led yet not the standard Resurrection Sunday message. This year, I have been sick for the last two weeks leading up to Easter. So now I sit here at the computer and try to focus on Easter Sunday.
Today marks the night our Savior was betrayed. One of the very disciples Jesus selected would sell him out to be crucified. Tomorrow will commemorate the death of our Savior on Calvary. Praise God that the story did not stop there. Sunday focuses on Jesus conquering death. Because He lives, we too shall live.
My celebrations this weekend will not be anything like the ones I had growing up. There will not be the somber Good Friday service where all the church decorations were taken out and the congregation would walk out in silence. There will not be the decorating of the sanctuary with Easter lilies on Saturday for the 8:00 am service on Sunday followed by breakfast. Over 20 years later, things are a lot different. One thing remains – eternal life is available through the Lord Jesus Christ to all who place their faith and trust in Him. Your traditions may vary, but this message rooted in the heart of God must stay the same.
A few days ago, I read a tweet that disturbed my spirit. The one who tweeted this is young lady who is a WordPress blogger, so I know her story. She made a statement that she had difficulty attending churches because of the way she is treated. It reminded me once again that the church does not know how to minister to certain individuals. I would like to highlight these groups for the purpose of challenging us all to think about how we can do better in reaching people in these groups to overcome rather than be overcome by their circumstances.
What would I suggest that needs to happen?
Not many pastors or people in ministry can be honest about how they really feel. I choose to unload it on my blog. Some may say that is not wise. Others have commented on how refreshing it is. All I know is I found a voice that was stifled, and it came out by way of divorce and counseling. I found a healthy form of authenticity that has opened doors for personal ministry that would have otherwise been possible.
For the last several weeks, my attention was turned a different direction. I had been in contact with a church in the area about a position that would have necessitated a miracle, but I investigated this open door. I met some really great people and experienced some things I would not have experienced without this opportunity. It was the most unusual interview process. Halfway through, I sensed that I was not a good fit. Nevertheless, I wanted to make sure it was not personal insecurity speaking. When I sat down with the chairman of the committee, it was a refreshingly honest and professional discussion. It is a great ministry, and I know God will send the right person in His time. It still leaves me with this one question – How do I fit into God’s kingdom work at this stage of life?
This season has tested my willingness. I drove 3 1/2 hours once to preach with no idea of how God would take care of expenses. He took care of everything. While churches are gracious to give a small financial contribution, I have found greater joy in going where I knew the church could not provide compensation or would not. I discovered how much I had bought into the professional ministry mentality that my experience and training was worth a certain dollar amount. Honestly, it amounts to a student loan debt that I will never live to pay. Another honest statement – the early disciples were mightily used of God and some had no education. I am not putting a premium on ignorance, but nothing beats learning directly from God.
Another bump in the road has been a virus that was passed around the home. It has lingered with me for nearly 2 weeks. It forced me to slow down and rethink some things. I don’t have much figured out at this point. I do know that I don’t want to miss God’s open doors while I’m creating different ones in my mind.
I still know that these are in my heart:
But I also know that passion does not always equal calling. This may be a totally different season, and I’m missing the big picture. I asked for your continued prayers. Many of you have been reading this stuff faithfully for the last 3 1/2 years and have encouraged me more than you’ll ever know. When all is said and done, I just want to know that I have done God’s will for my life.
“The Lord is my Shepherd. I have everything I need.” So thankful for this reminder from Pastor Randy Burbank. This brother in Christ has been a tremendous encouragement to me, and I know he will encourage you through this biblical truth.
“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him.
I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock…
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