Archive for the ‘change’ Category

I was hungry and you formed committees.

I was thirsty and you preached sermons.

I was naked and you said, “That’ not in the budget.”

I was sick and you sang another chorus while internally debating traditional verse contemporary style of worship.

I was lonely and you rushed to the restaurant to get the best booth.

I was in prison an you held another congregational meeting.

I tell you the truth: whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me.

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So much time has passed since I last posted. In fact, I do not know that I have updated my blog since just after the new year. So much has changed in my life and I have been trying to process it all. Life is like a roller coaster ride. It is filled with ups and downs and sudden twists that take you completely by surprise. Sometimes all we can do is hold on tight and trust we will make it through the ride safely and with a better appreciation for the calm moments.

It feels as though the last 10 months or so have been a giant roller coaster with sudden turns and corkscrews and loops with no area of straight track. It feels as though I am holding on tight and trying not to fall out. What I am learning is to trust the ride operator. God is guiding and leading and I am slowly learning to trust Him, loosen my grip on the safety bar, and enjoy the ride. In all honesty, it has been an incredibly painful  and emotional lesson, but I am thankful for what I am gaining from the ride.

Back in October, our then one-year-old son, Joshua was admitted into the hospital. We were told by the hospital staff and doctors that he was near death. We brought him in just in time. Our life was rocked. Nothing else mattered to us except making sure our baby was okay. We cried; we prayed; we worried; we stood strong; we struggled, but still trusted in God. After about a week in the hospital , he was released and doing well. This was one roller ride we did not want to experience again. We learned valuable faith lessons, but no parent wants to see their child suffer like that.

Fast forward a few weeks. I sat in my office responding to emails and working on a children’s Christmas musical for the church. An elder approached me and said I was needed in the conference room. I sat down and listened as the elders asked me to resign as children’s minister. My heart sunk. I did not know how to respond. I was always told that I was a great teacher and the kids were learning so much, yet it was explained that because of my struggle to find teachers, I needed to resign my position. Every emotion imaginable overtook my spirit: anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, and even relief. It is hard to explain. I was quite bitter for a couple of months. I felt like such a failure. I was depressed.

I struggled to find any type of work at all. I applied at retail stores, restaurants, and even fast food places. With each rejection, I sank a little lower. I finally took a job cleaning a department store and probably wouldn’t have even found that job if my brother-in-law hadn’t recommended me. I wondered what was wrong with me. I wondered how I could have my ministry taken away from me. Nothing seemed to matter at that point. Rather, I didn’t think I mattered at that point. I felt so low; so useless; so powerless. I sat in the worship service not knowing what to do. I had always had some role to fill – preach the sermon, teach the class, lead the communion, be up front, share a word of wisdom – now I just sat there. Yes, I understand that one does not need to be up front to participate in the worship and life of the church, but that was all I had ever known. Now, I felt…insignificant. All I had ever worked for was gone.

I was one the roller coaster of life and it was making me sick. I became disoriented from all the turn and sudden drops. I cried the ride operator (Jesus) for help. He didn’t stop the ride, he didn’t even slow it down –  but  he did teach me how to learn from the ride and even enjoy some of the moments. I learned a very valuable lesson. My identity is found in being God’s child – nothing more, nothing less. My identity is not a title of minister, it is not a great sermon, or a good lesson. My identity is not found in being a good teacher. My identity is not wrapped up in my ability to organize. It is not found in being an introvert or an extrovert. My identity is found in Jesus. My identity is not others expectations of me. My identity is God’s son. I had never realized I viewed my identity in being a minister and having a title, but when that was taken away, I had never felt so insignificant. I have now learned my true identity. I am God’s and He is mine.

Do I miss doing full time ministry -yes, I miss parts of it. I miss teaching and preaching. But I will not trade the valuable lesson I have learned. It nearly cost me everything, but I have gained the only thing that mattered. I have gained an understanding of my true identity.

The roller coaster did not end there. You can read about Kellie’s job change and see that God is still trying to teach us something. Sometimes, I just want to scream out, “Okay God I get it. You can stop now.” But I am so thankful for this new-found identity. It was there all along, it just took a major wake up call to realize I was burying it somewhere and didn’t even realize it.

My life looks much different today than it did a year ago. I am now a forklift operator at a local warehouse. It is so different from what I am used to and I struggle to find my place there sometimes. I used to preach about staying faithful during the darkest times of life and now I am experiencing what that means. I once talked about freedom in Christ and now I am truly experiencing it. I am God’s child – nothing more, nothing less. Lord teach me to always find my identity in you.

Joseph and Mary began the search. They traveled about looking for a room so that baby Jesus could be born in some type of dignity. They arrived in Bethlehem only to find there was no room. The hour was drawing near for the time when our Lord would enter the world, and there was no place for him to be born. Instead of a room at the inn, there was a stable. Instead of a crib, there was a manger. Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls was born in a stable. There was no room for him.
As I look at the world around me, I find that there is still little room for Jesus. People fill their lives with so many other things that there is no longer room for Jesus. I want to have room for Jesus. I want to stress to those whom God has called me to minister the need to make room for Jesus.
Lord, I’m sorry there was no room for you. I’m sorry there is still no room for you. I want to give you room in my life. I want to empty out all the junk I hold dear and make room for you. May my purpose always be about making room for you. Search deep within me and find room in my heart. Do you see room, Lord? If not, please show me what I need to get rid of in order for you to have room. Fill my life. Be my only desire. Lord, please find room.

All month long, we have been studying the story of Esther in JAM time at church. The kids have done a great job being able to relay the story of Esther into their own words. I have been excited about seeing the kids share the story and retell it. They talk about King Xerxes and how he was looking for a queen. Esther entered the pageant and the king liked Esther so much, he chose her to be his king. What I find interesting is that Esther never really desired to be queen. She didn’t want to be in the running. Maybe she was too shy or maybe she just really wasn’t that into the king and all the power and prestige that comes with being queen. For whatever reason she never really considered it. I love that her cousin, Mordecai, convinced her to enter the running to become queen. He believed that God had a plan for her life. He believed that God placed at the right place at the right time to bring about a change that would bring glory and honor to God.

Well, God did use Esther. Mordecai learned of Haman’s plan to kill the Jews. He convinced Esther to take a risk and go before the king and make him aware of Haman’s evil plan. Esther did the right thing. She took the risk. God used her to save His people.

My favorite part of Esther’s story comes when her cousin, Mordecai, tells her in Esther 4:14, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” I wonder what God has placed us here for at such a time as this? I wondered as I taught the kids how God would use them for such a time as this. We have such a short window of time in this world. What will we do with it? How will God use us? Will we take advantage of this time – or will we miss the opportunity?

Seasons of Change

Posted: November 14, 2007 in change, church, family, life

It seems that life is all about change. Things change over the course of a lifetime. The shows I loved as a child no longer come on television. Those that do, I no longer enjoy like I did as a child. The music I used to love sounds cheesy – even the word cheesy is outdated. Remember how it it used to be cool to say words like “rad,” “dude,” and “narly.” Or is it Gnarly? Anyway, things change. society changes, culture changes, attitudes change, the status quoe changes. There have been many changes in our lives lately. Adopting Drew from Ethiopia was a major change in our life. We moved from Memphis to Sallisaw. Kellie and I both have new jobs. Drew and Timothy attend different schools. Things have changed over the last year. Even since we have been in Sallisaw things have changed. The church we are working with has changed from one traditional service to a traditional and an emerging service. I began coaching soccer. Soccer is now over. Things have changed. We have one more major change coming into our lives. We are expecting a baby. Kellie is due on May 27. Isn’t life fun! We are excited about the new addition to our family. We know that it will be a change, but we are excited about the change and look forward to all the exciting adventures that life has in store. Please pray for our family. These are positive changes, but there have been many in a short time and that adds extra stress to our lives. Thank you so much for your continued support.