Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Last Ten Years

Yesterday, I took an opportunity to do something that I love, which is to listen to a sermon from a wonderful pastor and dear friend of mine. During this sermon, I began to think about certain things as he preached a simple sermon that challenged me greatly. As he worked his way through the text and applied it to the world today, he began to examine what the church he was serving at would look like in the next ten years. As he worked through this scenario he applied it to the lives of those in the congregation by asking the question, “Where were you (or what were you doing) ten years ago?”
As I began to think about the various joys, challenges, and obstacles that have come my way in the past ten years, I stood amazed at what God had done in my life. Ten years ago, I was in my first semester of my senior year of high school. I was a typical student concerned with my own little world and my own needs. I focused solely upon what clothes I wore, how to excel in both school and sports, who my friends were, and who the prettiest girl was in our school. I was a selfish high school students consumed by the culture of “me.” However, despite these glaring issues I was focused on finishing high school and moving through college. I knew that God had called me to be a youth pastor. I knew where I would be going to college. I knew what type of friends I wanted to have and what type of girl I wanted to marry. My plan was perfectly laid out and I was poised to follow it to a “T.” In hindsight though, I realized that God’s plan were far greater than anything I had thought or conceived, and thankfully, His plan has taken control of my life. While my journey over the past decade has taken several twists and turns, the results have included a life filled with love, grace, and care from a God who meets our needs daily. During the past decade, the following things have occurred in my life.
1.) I graduated high school in 2001 with an honors diploma and recognition from the National Honor’s Society.
2.) Started my freshman year at Taylor University Fort Wayne in a scholarship program that I was not supposed to qualify for. (While man has his criteria, God has His own).
3.) During my freshman year, I met two men who would forever be instrumental in my faith journey, personal life, and ministry. (Thanks Johnny and Brian!)
4.) I was able to travel three times to the island of Jamaica to work with less-fortunate people who have a special place in my heart.
5.) I was stretched as a leader in various capacities that would benefit future positions that I would hold or need.
6.) I traveled to several youth ministry conferences exposing me the “big stage” that is youth ministry rather than relying upon my limited scope or understanding.
7.) During my junior year of college, I met the love of my life, my beautiful wife Mindy and feel deeply in love with her and we married the following year.
8.) I graduated with a double major in youth and pastoral ministries from Taylor after four years of college.
9.) After graduating college, we traveled to Tennessee where we spent three years in ministry at various settings.
10.) After time away (and seeking to establish independence), we moved back to Indiana to begin ministering at a church near Fort Wayne.
11.) I learned the joy of becoming a parent as well as the heartache of losing a child during 2007.
12.) I experienced a roller coaster of emotions during my son’s month in the NICU during 2008.
13.) I was delighted to discover that another blessing would be entering our lives in 2010, in the form of our daughter Ellie Kate.
14.) I started and have nearly finished a Master’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in Ministerial Leadership.
15.) I was terminated from a church that seemed to be for unjust cause but caused me to evaluate the care, love, and concern that my family needs, as well as other areas of my life.

It is truly amazing what God has done in my life during the past decade as I have nearly received three diplomas, got married, and am on the verge of having my third child.
This sermon served as a launching pad for a time of self-discovery in my own life that I will be conducting over the next few days. During this time, I will be posting blogs for people to read, discuss, and hopefully be enlightened by as they examine their own lives. For me, this past decade has been filled with several loops and corkscrews however; I know that these occurrences have shaped me to be the person I am today. In the coming days I will post more thoughts about my life, the manner that God is working, and I will be open to comments and insights as I travel down this path with all of you.