Well, after a loooong and still ongoing process, Elizabeth, Titus and I have arrived in Michigan at Life Christian Church. Elizabeth is still on maternity leave and is busy both attending to the baby and getting things set up at our new apartment, which is considerably smaller than the home we lived in back in Kansas. While she is organizing and cleaning, I am at the Troy Campus of Life Christian working on learning their systems and procedures. I am also getting integrated into the life of the church.
So far, we’ve both met lots of wonderful and friendly people. I;’m getting to know the staff here at the church, and learning how to use a Mac. Actually, it isn’t all that different than a PC, so I now am wondering why I didn’t switch earlier!
Today was our first staff meeting of the year, and it was great. Fast, efficient, to the point, and with Pizza! Meetings don’t get better than that! Afterwards I sat in on a meeting with the current Campus Pastors of the place Elizabeth and I will be going later this year. for now, I am transitioning in slowly to the culture of Life and just learning how things work and operate by spending a lot of time with Pastor Dino, the Sr. Pastor.
We also started a 21 day fasting and worship season which kicked off last night. The worship was so refreshing and the prayer time was amazing. I haven’t been surrounded by people who prayed like that since I was back in Bible School. Not that I haven’t been around some people who knew how to connect with God, cause I have, but it was obvious that it was part of the entire church culture here, and not just a select group of people in the church.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be spending time shadowing the other pastors, doing some class work for the Bible Institute the church has, sitting in on lots of meetings, and just attempting to be a big sponge to soak it all in!
Needless to say, I am very excited. I’ve loved the ministry I have been a part of in different places over the past 9 years. I’ve meet great people, worked in great churches, and been a part of some awesome ministry teams, all while seeing God move, kids get saved, and people empowered for ministry. This is different, however. When I got into children’s ministry it wasn’t because I wanted to. In fact, I DIDN’T want to! I told my pastor in Illinois ‘no’ initially when he asked me to take over the small midweek program. I was already doing so much and had ‘my plans’. God, however, had other plans for my training and development. So for the past decade ( it will be 10 years in May!) I’ve traveled around, recruiting workers, growing ministries, and setting things on fire as I taught kids about Jesus. While I know this was indeed God’s plan, I also knew it wasn’t His ultimate purpose for me. There were times I didn’t like what He was doing and times I didn’t understand what He was doing:
-I didn’t like it when I wasn’t picked to come on staff at my home church after our associate pastor left, but God moving me to Nashville through children’s ministry was how I met my wonderful wife, Elizabeth!
-I didn’t understand it when things didn’t go ‘right’ in Jackson and I was not able to break through spiritually there. My wife was unhappy, I wasn’t seeing the fruit I expected, we were building relationships but not many, and then things just fell apart. Yet through it all God taught Elizabeth and I how to trust His provision (we had 1 job with a rent and condo payment, and 3 car payments, for the first several months). He also taught us how to relate to each other and not lean on others. We both know that without that experience we wouldn’t have the marriage we have now.
-I really didn’t understand it when it was made clear to me my time was up in Kansas. I was working hard, we had seen many salvations and new workers, and ministry was going good.
In all three of these places God used us to do some things and refined us in different ways. We gained knowledge, experience, insight, friendships, connections and more. We saw many victories along with a few defeats. And while in each place it was the right place for the moment so God could do what He wanted to do, I always sensed that it wasn’t the ‘place’ He had for me. The place for me right then, yes. But not the sweet spot in life, where you can just sit back and know that you are in the will of God and that, though you still have challenges, you are where you should be and doing what you should be doing.
I’m there now.
All these other places were like different seats on a bus, which gave me different perspectives and experiences. But now, God is moving me to the ‘right seat.’ He’s placing me where I can take all of this experience and, along with His wisdom and through the power of His Spirit, apply what I’ve gained to accomplish my ultimate purpose.
It’s such a refreshing place to be, and I am so thankful. It also is exciting, because while I know I won’t experience flowery beds of easy, that the fruit that will be produced in the future will be sweeter than any I’ve ever seen before.
Oh, what an awesome God I serve!