I've now entered the fray. My plan is that this be a place where I record what God is telling me at that particular time. Hopefully, it's always profound but I imagine that it will usually only be profound to me.
I hope that it doesn't get too deep and philosophical, though that is to be expected at some point. I want whoever may come across this and read it to actually be able to gain insight from it as well. If God is speaking to me on an issue, chances are someone else is going through the same issue. My prayer is that what I learn will help them as well.
To give some quick background:
I was fired, by the pastor with no input from the congregation, from my position at a local church in October 2006. I'm not completely sure of the reasons because the information on the termination letter doesn't fit with actions of the previous 4 months. My assumption is that I was fired because of money. Millions of dollars of debt put into a building and land apparently necessitated the removal of a full-time staff member.
In the ensuing months, as we struggled to make ends meet without the benefit of any severance pay, God was beyond good; He was great. I had enough retirement saved to last us, I thought, 3 months. Through God's grace, it lasted a little over 4 months. We look back and we wonder how. Family and friends marvel with us at how we've made it through. Nothing is late, nothing has been lost. God has seen us through.
After serving in that church, it was clear to Etta and me that God was now calling me to be a pastor. So that was the direction I pursued. What I didn't understand fully until about a week ago was that He was calling me to pastor a church that I would start. We are going to plant a church. This is blow-me-away scary. There is no way I heard God right, and yet, it appears I did.
The fun part is how we got to this point.
I was put together with a gentleman who is pastor of a church he planted two years ago. He was interested in me being their worship leader. It was clear that this was no longer my calling, and we agreed that I was not the person for the job. He made an interesting statement, however. He said it was obvious God had brought us together for a reason, though it wasn't what he thought. There must be something else. I really thought no more about it. Until recently. Most conventions, in order to receive financial support from them, require new church planters to have a coach. Turns out, my coach will be the gentleman who knew God brought us together for a reason.
Other things led us here. As a CARES Team with ApartmentLife, we learned to make relationships with people in order to get them involved in church and/or lead them to Christ. Time spent in various churches, with various types of pastors and leadership models, prepared us for the type of church we will start. Times of previous financial hardship prepared us for a time when we will have to raise the funds start a church and, in the meantime, live on very little. The path we have been led down has been rocky sometimes, turbulent others. But throughout, God has been preparing us.
The most recent example is the church from which I was most recently fired. We have no doubt God called us here. The firing was not necessarily a part of God's will for us, but what the pastor meant for evil, God meant for good. You see, we have a home with a loan and interest rate we should not have gotten, a great family neighborhood with parks and pools, a church family that loves us and we love, and are settled in a place where we can raise our children and put down roots. God brought us here and gave us this place. We thought we would lose it, but it seems we were wrong. The church we will plant will be in an area near where we live. Kingwood will remain our home and we are grateful.
I've been studying Joseph lately. He didn't know why he went through what he did. He only knew that God was with him. What he found out later is that God was preparing him for greatness. This was done in 5 ways.
...Presented him to the proper people - beginning in the household of Potiphar connected him with Pharoah immediately (God worked it so I was introduced to my church planting coach long before I knew I would plant a church)
...Blessed beneficent behavior - when Joseph was faithful, both he and Potiphar were blessed (God has taken care of us through this time as we have struggled to remain faithful)
...Tested tempting traits - Joseph was handsome and could have been susceptible to lust and the political benefits that may have arisen from sleeping with Potiphar's wife (it has been tempting for us to take the reins and figure a way out without waiting on God, because I tend to believe I can handle it)
...Refined roughly - Joseph, though he did what was right, was still thrown in jail. He still needed to be further refined to the future position (Working three jobs to make ends meet is no picnic for me, but I know that this is one more step in the process)
...Further furnishes favor - Joseph was a blessing even in prison and was rewarded accordingly (I'm excited to see what God will do in the next few weeks in our lives)
If we are faithful to the God whom we serve, regardless of the circumstances, we and those around us will be blessed. Will it be easy? No. The best diamonds have suffered under the most intense pressure. But it's worth it. Even being fired is worth it. Because, we are being prepared for greatness.