In some ways this is the most difficult part for me to write because it tells the story of how I went from being a regular three time a week church attendee to striking out and "accidentally" establishing a ministry of my own. It's difficult because what I've got to say is critical of certain aspects of not just my church at the time but mainstream churches as a whole. Over time what I began to see and hear became very frustrating to me, the message I kept hearing was that we need to be a church outside the four walls but as far as I could see there wasn't any real practical or specific plan as to exactly what that means other than to just "be a good person" or "invite someone to church". Being able to confidently share your faith with others is a weak spot with most Christians. But from my perspective, after all of the ways I had witnessed the Lord's provision in my life through all of the circumstances I'd been through it was very natural for me to tell others how good He was to me! Over time what I was hearing just ceased to minister to me. I wondered if I was being spiritually prideful or if I was just tired of sitting in a pew week after week hearing the call to GO being given but not feeling as though it was something most took seriously. I tried to make suggestions for various outreach activities but they were all ignored or dismissed. There's an old joke about a church that was seeking a new minister, they were particularly impressed by one man and asked him to return and speak to their congregation again, he does but he gives the exact same sermon! The elders met together and asked the young preacher "don't you know any other sermons?" he relied "Sure, and as soon as this congregation start's practicing THIS one I'll preach another!"
One Monday morning in October of 2009 I couldn't get my car started and wasn't able to figure out exactly what was wrong with it and fix it for 26 days. During that time I was unable to attend church and when I finally did get my car fixed I just didn't want to go back. What happened was kind of sad but in another way it was a blessing because it forced me to make a change that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have otherwise made. The next twist was what I thought was a God ordained partnership with a new friend I had found. Instead it was another necessary nudge that also helped serve the purpose of moving me from being a pew sitter to a well, whatever it is I've become...An evangelist, a counselor, or perhaps just a Christian who's wiling to trust in a God that has brought him through so many things, and in His promises of a plan He has for my life to establish me and not to harm me!
In the beginning of this three part series I used a card game as an illustration to expound upon the ways in which I believe God has shown Himself in my life. Playing cards requires that you pay attention to what's in your hand and that when you have something to "lay down" it's best to go ahead and just do it. To me that's what my blogging has always been about, trying to tell or "lay it down" to others that it's not about what we may go through in this life, it's who you go through it with that gives it meaning or value! Every story I've told here is about how God showed up in the midst of my circumstances and kept me from hitting bottom. I'd also like to say that what I've written here is a very abridged version of many, many ways God interceded on my behalf, far too many for me to even mention! Nobody in my family has ever been hungry or gone without any thing they really needed. Even during the worst of it, when I lost my home, He made sure I had enough money to rent a truck, that I had help moving, and most important a place to move to! God knows me so well, and He knows what I can take and what I can't take.
The following verse in Isaiah really sums it all up for me.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.
Our enemy comes only to kill,steal,and destroy! If the trials and troubles that you have in your life can steal your joy or make you doubt Gods great love for you than his weapons have prospered! It's only through the blood of Christ and the sustaining power of Gods Holy Spirit that we can have victory over life's most difficult challenges. For what was meant for evil against us, only God can turn into good!
One of the most common questions I'm asked by people regarding what I'm doing in my ministry is "How are you funded?" and the answer is that I'm privately funded by Jesus!
That's right! He's sustained me through all things and now and has moved me into the position I'm in and even though I only make about 13,000 a year I've been able to financially support my ministry! I live a wonderful life, It seems like I always have plenty of money for life's little extra's, going out to eat occasionally or just buying something I need, it's absolutely true that you can't "out give" God! He's made a 17yr old car that I got as a gift with over 255,000 miles on it last for two years and just last week I was given another car that's the exact same model and color except it's 10yr's newer and in immaculate condition!
He's made sure that my daughter always has nice clothes to wear because He knows that there's no way I would be able to do what I'm doing if I thought she was being made to suffer because of it or if it prevented me from taking care of her. I'm sure that there will be some people who read this and say "Your circumstances were the result of your own bad choices!" Sure I've made some bad choices, who hasn't? But if I had gotten the choices I wanted I would've gone back to work driving a truck, remember? or "I think that there are quite a number of other more practical ways to explain everything that you've attributed to God", and in response to that I say, "You're right! But this is my story and I'm going to tell it how it make's sense to me, I was there, I lived it, and from my perspective it definitely doesn't make sense to me any other way so I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree as to whether "Gods in it" or not!
Well, I've laid all of my cards out on on the table, and slid my entire pile of chips into the pot. And all I want out of the sum of my life's experience is to be able to say that when it came to my faith, "I wasn't just shuckin'! To be able to say that my belief in God not only sustained me but moved me into action, and that I chose to step out in faith and answer what I feel is the call on my life which ALL Christian people have. To live, despite the circumstances of my life in such a way that other's just have to say...
Gods In It!
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.