It was around April when the concept of moving to Connecticut to get involved with the ministry here at High Acres really began to take shape. Neither Jill nor I had any real idea how it would all unfold, but we did and do believe that God was and is fully behind it. We were hopeful. We were hopeful that Jill would find a job before we moved out here, that didn’t happen. We were hopeful that it would only be a few short months until we were moving into our own home, that didn’t happen. We were hopeful that our financial situation would play out exactly as planned, that didn’t happen. For all that didn’t happen the way we were hoping though, God has been doing immeasurably more.
Hind sight is always twenty twenty of course; so it sure is awesome to look back on an opaque transition and see the full capacity of what was in store for us.
What was in store for us was an amazing ministry that we can both pour our hearts into while at the same time feeling good that our gifts are being used as they should, and experiencing the joy that results from that. Moreover was a job for Jill in the ER at a hospital that strongly values education. This is a job the she has been longing for, and can be excited about knowing that it’s future is bright. Even more, what was in story for us, was God’s provision during a financially uncertain period.
Through this process our marriage, finance, and most importantly our faith has grown stronger, and I could write pages upon pages of all the details that happened in perfect sequence to allow for that statement to be true. Which leads to the overarching lesson that we have learned this year.
God is sovereign. He is fully in control, and fully powerful to see His promises through.
It is amazing to us the fun we have had, the excitement we have experienced, and the joy that has been multiplied in what the world would see has a hard and uncertain situation. Often we say that through the storms God leads us to clear skies, or through the valleys God leads us to the mountain tops. What is to be said though, when the forecast calls for storms, and there is not a cloud in the sky, or when we walk through the valley to find that there is as much beauty here as we could hope for at that top.
All this to say, Jill and I have seen God at work. Through the separation our appreciation for one another has grown exponentially. Through our living situation God has allowed us to save so that we can move into a home of our own. Then, through what we thought was a long wait, we learned that God was expediting a job opportunity to happen and the exact perfect time when many RN’s here in Connecticut are struggling. In fact, one of the women in Jill’s training group has been looking for about three years for employment. God is good, and His way is perfect. We are excited to continually fallow Him into capacities that we could not even dream. That’s not to say that life will never be difficult, but that if we continue in the faith, God’s sovereign will is more than we can fathom.
I first and foremost want to thank all of those who are supporting my ministry here, both with prayers and financially. God is doing big things here, and your support is being used in the process. I also want to say that from here forward, I will be sending out and posting these updates on the last week of every month to keep everyone updated on the kingdom work being done here at High Acres Christian Church.
My first three months here have been extremely exciting. Through the church there have been five new believers that have come to Christ through belief, confession, repentance, and baptism. Furthermore the new believers are either being discipled or on track to being discipled through our one on one discipleship program. One of the major focuses of this church is growing Christians up in their faith from infancy to parenthood, and I am privileged to be a part of that discipleship process.
My main focus since I have arrived has been in launching our home groups. The mission of our home groups is simple: they exist to connect people to God, each other, and to their purpose as Christians. As a church grows it becomes increasingly difficult for believers to have the close knit community that they need for encouragement, correction, and growth. These home groups are the medium where we resolve this issue. In our home groups, which began the week of September 9th, believers meet in each others homes to study the bible and invest into each others lives.
This year we are using the format of biblical story telling to dig into God’s word on a weekly basis. For the past two months we have laid out a journey through the book of Exodus where Christians in these home groups will be challenged greatly by God’s word. The two big themes are “leaving a life of slavery behind,” and “letting God’s truth direct you into a better life.”
We kicked off our home groups with an event called home group throw down. This was an extremely fun way to build excitement, and engage our church to get plugged in.
When we launched home groups a few weeks back, we did so with four healthy groups, and plan to have one or two more develop by January.
In addition to planning and launching our home groups I have been heavily invested in generating vision for our ministries here at High Acres. Giving each ministry a crystal clear focus, and mapping out their mission and purpose will go a long way in keeping people invested in the kingdom work they are doing through those ministries. We want everything we do, from greeting at the doors, to witnessing to our community through our bridging projects to be focused on building up God’s kingdom and giving Him the glory. He is an awesome God and He deserves our very best.
It has also been a tremendous blessing to begin the process of making our Sunday morning worship time excellent. Sunday mornings are purely about worshiping God, and keeping worship as the focus must be a continual effort.
On Sunday mornings we have recently wrapped up a series centered on our identity in God. This coming Sunday I will begin preaching a series titled “Be More Awesome.” This series is about being awesome because God is awesome, being holy because God is holy. Through it we will be exploring three of God’s attributes where we see the most need for growth here at High Acres. Those who know me, know that the one thing that gets me excited more than anything else is preaching God’s word, and I am excited to have the opportunity to do this more in the future.
The last thing I want to share with you all regarding my first three months here, is how much of a blessing it has been to be working with Jim Wegner, Kevin Daniels, and the elders here at High Acres. I am not sure how long honeymoon periods are supposed to last, but I don’t see this one ending any time soon. It is sad that we don’t always find leaders who are genuinely sold out for doing God’s work at whatever the cost. At High Acres, that is not the case. These men are “all in,” and heavily engaged in this ministry. Together with God guiding our footsteps I have every reason to believe that there are big things in store. I am living on the edge of my seat eagerly waiting to see what God does next.
Everyday I get up, check my schedule, and go about my business. My alarm on my iPhone goes off. I rise from my pillow top mattress where my wonderful wife is asleep next to me. I take a shower, make coffee, eat breakfast, read my bible, and head to work. By 9:00 AM I already have more to be grateful for than 99% of the world: a three bedroom home, a warm and extraordinarily comfortable bed, an amazing wife, hot running water, salon quality shampoo & conditioner, a really nice coffee machine that grinds the beans and brews coffee with the push of a button automatically, food, God’s voice in my life through the bible, a job, and so much more. So, why is it that I am not overwhelmed with feelings of appreciation? Routine, apathy, lack of perspective maybe? I really do not think it is any of these things. The reason I say this is not because I am some super Christian who is above those temptations. The reason I say that is because I think my lack of appreciation and thanksgiving is due the fact that I do not continually take steps towards appreciation. I have perspective. I know, and have seen those who have much less than me. I intellectually understand my blessed state. It’s not routine, because routine exists whether or not we are appreciative. We can be appreciative with our without routine. Furthermore, it is not apathy, because, well, I am not apathetic.
I have been reminded over and over again in little ways, and in substantial ways of my blessed state. I recall when I was a teenager driving a 1985 Chevy Celebrity. One day, my windshield wipers stopped working. So, I was driving without wipers, and it started to rain. It then hit me. How amazing are windshield wipers! They allow me to go to and from places even when it’s pouring down rain, I need to appreciate them more. Then recently, as I have been preparing to move across the country I have re-established my appreciation for my wife. She has yet to find a job where we are moving and thus, will be staying behind. Because of this, I can not even look at her without feeling overwhelmed with feelings of appreciation. My heart weeps for the distance that will soon be between us, and I do not want to waste any moment with her. Even now, the only reason I am writing is because she is at work taking care of patients in our local ICU. I have learned over and over again how I need to be more appreciative, so, as I have already asked: why can’t appreciation be a part of my daily life? Again, the answer is to actively pursue appreciation instead of waiting for moments of loss to remind us of what we have. So, after thinking a great deal about this, here are some steps I believe we can take daily in order to be continually thankful.
1. Take stock: Often in life we dwell on what we don’t have, or what we have lost. Every morning as we begin our day we should pause and take note of the blessings we have. This doesn’t mean taking hours of our morning to make an exhaustive list. This means having a moment of meditation to think over a few of our blessings, maybe while we sip our coffee, or take our shower. Just set your mind towards thanksgiving at some point during your morning routine.
2. Be present: I recently watched a video that a guy by the stage name of “Propaganda” put out called “Be Present.” In the video he recites one of his readings where he speaks about being present. One of my favorite quotes from the reading is “Multitasking is a myth, your not doing anything good just everything awful.” Take time to be present. When your in conversation, do not let a text drag you away from that conversation. When you are sipping your coffee, take a moment to enjoy the taste, texture, and aroma. When your driving down the road, shut off the music and the distractions and enjoy the smooth suspension. Propaganda says it like this “And she (she being time) begged me to stop stuffing her full and stretching her thin, and stop being so concerned with the old her, and future her, but love her, now. Her presence is God’s present, and you should be that…huh…present.” When we take time to be present, we take time to enjoy and appreciate. Thus, being thankful. Being present takes practice. Try making small commitments each week. Something like this: Week 1 – When I eat dinner with my wife, I will shut off my phone and put as much energy into the conversation as I did on our first date. Week 2 – when I eat on my lunch break I will put my phone on silent and enjoy my meal one bite at a time. Week 3 – When I take my daily drives I will turn off the radio and pay special attention to the scenery (the clouds, trees, architecture, or what have you). Continue this week by week until you feel like you are truly being present.
3. Get a hobby: This one seems a little awkward, but I think it has merit. Get a hobby, and pour into it. This year, I started my hobby of woodworking. I have made a coffee table, and an entertainment center. Then, because of my move, this hobby got put on hold. However, as I dove into this hobby I learned a great deal on what goes into making a beautiful piece of furniture. I began to notice detail that I never took note of before. The spirals in the legs of our kitchen table. The intricate patters carved throughout our dresser. The same can be applied to any hobby really. If you start learning an instrument, you will begin to hear music differently. If you take up sewing you will not be able to get dressed without taking note of the craftsmanship that you are draping over yourself. In our lives we get so busy, then we fill our down time with the TV, facebook, web surfing, video games, or what have you. Taking time to own a craft changes the way you view the world. I builds the muscles of appreciation within.
4. Maintain: It isn’t enough to do these things once. Just like becoming healthy. To become healthy you need to exercise and eat well. If you do this for one day, what good have you done? It all gets undone the next day. If you do this for a week, what good have you done? It gets undone on the second week. Maintenance is the name of the game. If we quit, we will find our appreciative nature waning away. If we keep at it, we will find that the art of appreciate will begin to infect every faucet of our lives and dramatically increase not only our joy in life, but our relationship with God.
Appreciation, what an amazing gift. So, we have now all been challenged. What we do with it is up to us.
One thousand two hundred and thirty seven miles is the distance between Warresnsburg, MO and Ansonia, CT. And soon Jill and I will be introduced once more to everyone of them. On July 1st me, and hopefully Jill, will be saying our final goodbyes here in Warrensburg as we hit the road for the long haul, physically and emotionally.
I say hopefully Jill because we have yet to find her a job in Connecticut. So, it could soon be true that the number 1,237 is more than a distance moved, it may also be a distance between. Either way, we will be blessed. I don’t say that lightly either. It is not something I am writing simple because it is appropriate Christian prose. It is not just a belief either. It is a knowing. I know we will be blessed; it is a fact.
Recently I was visiting with some members from a previous congregation of mine and I was sharing what I believe God is doing in Jill and my’s life. They had a lot of questions, and I found myself saying what I have herd myself saying a lot lately: “Everything is going to be fine.”
As those words passed from my lips into the open air it felt as if I was listening to the same old track on repeat, and it hit me. Everything is not going to be “just fine.” In this moment my mind began to quickly reflect on all that God has led me through thus far in life. I thought to myself that if I were given a choice before any of the chapters of life that I had to take a great leap of faith, go outside my comfort zone, or even experience great times of grief I would have chosen not to go through them. However, looking back now, I would not trade them for the world because it is in those chapters that 1. It is so easy to draw near to God, and 2. God teaches and blesses you according to his promises and perfect will. So I concluded, everything is not going to be just fine, it is going to be spectacular.
Luke 12:37 reads, “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.”
This verse is written in the context of an illustration Jesus is using to teach the disciples something very important: Be ready for the master to come home. In this illustration found in Luke 12:35-48 Jesus states that those servants who are “dressed ready for service” and, who have their “lamps burning” waiting for the master to come home will be blessed. It states that if they are ready to serve him, and are waiting diligently, the roles will be reversed upon his arrival. Instead of serving, they will recline at the table and be served by the master. This is exactly what Jesus did on the cross, he reversed the rolls. When we were guilty and deserving of death, he took death for us. Because of this, we are promised that in serving Christ and in waiting for His return we will be blessed with the forgiveness of our sins. Herein lies our eternal blessing, communion with God in paradise forever. Spectacular.
However, Jill and I would be remiss if we do not also take note of how service to God has it’s blessings here in this life. James 1:2-4 reads, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” If we must endure the trial of being separated by distance and time, or any other trial that comes with such major life change, we know God will grow us though it. Whatever happens, in seeking Him, He is going to do an amazing work on our hearts, molding us and shaping us into His likeness. Spectacular.
Moreover, in Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” This is a wonderful thing. God desires for us to have no distractions in seeking His kingdom so much that in doing so, He will meet our needs. We do not need to be anxious about anything. He will provide. Spectacular.
All this to say that 1,237 seems intimidating at first, and it is easy to fall in the trap of thinking that God’s plans for us are just fine. But just fine is not what God is in the business of producing. God is in the business of spectacular, mind blowing, out of this world, and truly awesome. So, as we prepare to do kingdom work in Connecticut, we are excited to see what God will do, how he will grow us, the blessings that will come from it, and ultimately the eternal fruit we will enjoy.
As previously mentioned, the official move date is July 1st. Be in prayer for us, nothing specific, only that “his kingdom come, his will be done.” Grace and peace – Breandan
High Acres Christian Church is having a fathers day event called “Wester Day’s.” Where else are going to get to ride a mechanical bull on Fathers Day?! Anyway, here is some artwork I made for the event. If you are in the Ansonia, CT area, head to High Acres Christian Church on Sunday June 16th for a great time!
This is a slide I made for HACC for a new series they are preaching through called uncrushable. It is pretty basic, but I think it’s cool.
Sometimes in moments of clarity I observe common sayings that I or other disciples are speaking and my heart wonders if what we are saying is really a decorative mask for an ugliness underneath. For example, the common phrase, “bless his/her heart.” I think we should all know by now that this phrase, while used with good intention on rare occasion, is mostly used to mask our true feelings of disapproval and/or judgmental thoughts. Whats more is that when using phrases like these it’s not just the hearers that we are lying to, it’s ourselves. I think this is why David writes in Psalms 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
The truth is, we hide our ugliness so well, that we ourselves don’t even know it’s there. In fact, others often see our ugliness before we do. Our deceitful masks are most affective on ourselves. That being said, I think I just had a moment of clarity while listening to the song “Bitter” by Andy Mineo. In one of the verses he writes:
Bitterness can make a heart numb,
but hope is like a star you don’t see it shine bright until the dark come.
So don’t just scoop the dust,
remove the rug.
If I got un-forgiveness in my heart,
Then there really ain’t no room for love
Plus it’s stupid cause,
I’ve been so forgiven,
That if I hold a grudge,
I don’t show He’s risen.
But I know my sins removed since Jesus came,
With no reason to forgive me,
but He did, so I do the same.
After hearing those words my mind turned to introspection. Recently I have used the phrase “healing” a number of times, and I think I have used this phrase to hide the truth of bitterness and un-forgiveness underneath. Here is the context.
My wife and I recently visited Chicago, the home town of my youth. We had a great time exploring the city on our first day, but on our second day I took her on a nostalgia tour through all my old stomping grounds. We went to the houses I lived in, the schools I attended, the places I worked, and the church I went to. Now, pulling up to the church stirred a number of emotions in my heart. The reason for this being that there were a number of people that showed a tremendous amount of love towards me during my time there, but there were also many who hurt me deeply. So deeply that in puling up to that church my heart felt eighteen again. I felt little. I felt unimportant. I felt like the futureless rebel that so many mistakenly saw me to be. Then, instead of driving through, my dad who was on the tour with us, suggested we go inside. Not wanting to spill my guts at that moment, I sucked it up and agreed. Upon walking in, I surprisingly saw some familiar faces. After nine years you never know who is still going to be around. I even had some encouraging conversation. Then, I was blindsided. In one short conversation someone asked what I was doing these days. After finding out I was in ministry their comment was this, “Correct me if I am wrong, but shouldn’t I be surprised to hear that.” That moment was in slow motion. How do you respond to that? I know what my flesh wanted to say, but I was not about to give it a voice. I simple said, “Full time ministry was my hope and passion the entire time I was here.” Then after navigating to a point in the discussion where goodbyes could be had, we left.
Since then, I have spoken and thought about “healing.” I have used it in these contexts:
“I thought I was healed.”
“I will have to heal again.”
And I know that recently I have used it in regard to other hurts in the contexts of:
“I am going to need to heal.”
“I will need a time of healing.”
What I think I have actually been meaning is, “I have not forgiven” or “I will need time to forgive.” Many of us disciples are guilty of the same. We have used the word “heal” to pretty up bitterness and resentment. Many people I know have left the church because they need “time to heal,” or excused their bad attitudes with, “Sorry, I am in a time of healing.” Now, I am not saying that everyone who has used this phrase is guilty of bitterness, but I know I am, and I would bet many others are as well. That being said, “healing,” or being bitter for a while because you need time to get over it, is not acceptable to God.
What we need to remember is that Jesus speaks very strongly on the topic of forgiveness. In Matthew 5:14-15 he says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Those are heavy words. We should also remember Jesus’ words on the cross as he was being murdered in Luke 23:32, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Those putting Jesus to death accused Him of blasphemy. They thought He was a false prophet, a rebel. They thought God was a rebel! Which leads me to this conclusion:
So they didn’t support me. So they thought I was rebel. So they didn’t invest into me or love me. Get over it Breandan, they didn’t know what they were doing. As Andy Mineo said in his song, “But I know my sins removed since Jesus came, With no reason to forgive me, but He did, so I do the same,” and, “Plus it’s stupid cause, I’ve been so forgiven, that if I hold a grudge, I don’t show He’s risen.”
We should never need time to “heal” if that healing is a mask for forgiveness. Forgiveness should be something that happens immediately after others wrong us. We should be people that radiate forgiveness. Lest we forget, the debt we were forgiven of is far greater than anything anyone has done, will do, or even could do against us.
No, we can’t change the way we feel. We can’t magically remove the hurt. In fact we may still feel remnants or effects of that hurt even after nine years. However, we can choose how we act and what we say despite that hurt. We can choose to love when we are shown no love. We can choose to be kind, when we are afforded no kindness. We can choose to help, where there was and is no help. We can choose to speak well of those when our flesh wants only to slander, insult, and destroy.
So, to the reader who has used, or may be using this phrase as a mask right now: This was my confession, should it now be yours too? Is forgiveness something that needs to be offered up right now. Should we stop trying to heal and simply make the decision to forgive. Does the mask need to come off, and the ugliness dealt with. There is no finger pointing here, as I have no idea who will be reading this, the only response I am looking for is exactly what David asks for, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
Jill and I are going to be driving to Ansonia, CT next Thursday May 2nd and Friday May 3rd for another visit. During our visit we are going to be meeting the congregation, and working out some logistics of the transition. We have decided that along the way we are going to stop in every state we drive through to pray specifically for different things regarding our move to Connecticut. I am posting this so that you can partner with us in prayer as we make the journey. We are using each states motto as a theme for our prayer. As we make the trip I will be posting updates on Facebook, and you can use the following as a guide:
Missouri: Salus populi suprema lex esto (The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law)
Pray that we would live God’s supreme laws: Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. Also, that in doing so, we will be continually focused on the welfare of the people of Ansonia and the surrounding area.
Area for personal growth: Love
Estimated Time: 8:00 AM May 2nd
Illinois: State Sovereignty, National Union
Pray for the unity of the church in Ansonia and the Church as a whole, for though we are independent congregations, we are one Church with one hope, one faith, and one baptism.
Area for personal growth: Patience, understanding, and grace.
Estimated Time: 11:30 AM May 2nd
Indiana: The Crossroads of America
Pray for God’s wisdom in the leading of the congregation at Ansonia. With every crossroads, God provides direction. The leaders of the church must actively seek God’s direction in His word, prayer, counsel, and circumstance.
Area for personal growth: Personal time with God and humility.
Estimated Time: 2:30 PM May 2nd
Ohio: With God, All Things are Possible
Pray that Jill and I, and the leaders of the church, would not be afraid to lead by faith. Too often church leaders only make calculated logical decisions. God frequently calls his people to take leaps of faith into the improbable, and even the impossible.
Area for personal growth: Faith and discernment.
Estimated Time: 5:30 PM May 2nd
West Virginia: Montani semper liberi (Mountaineers are always free)
This is a tough one, as I presumed West Virginia would be. Being that mountaineers go through great struggle to climb higher, pray that we would persevere in times of struggle knowing that in continuing to reach toward God, we have true freedom.
Area for personal growth: Perseverance and optimism.
Estimated Time: 9:00 PM May 2nd
Pensilvania: Virtue, Liberty, and Independence
Virtue is a quality that one rises to, where liberty and independence are given by a governing authority. Pray that Jill and I would be virtuous. We want to be people who strive after moral character and produce all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). At the same time, pray that we would have peace in the truth that regardless of what we do or what is done to us, the liberty we have been given through Christ cannot be taken from us.
Area for personal growth: Listening and introspectiveness.
Estimated Time: 1:30 AM May 3rd
New York: Excelsior (Ever Upward)
Pray that we would be able to fix our gaze at where we are going and not where we are now. Too often churches get stuck where they are, afraid to change, adapt, or improve. We want the church to, as home depot would put it, never stop improving. We must move ever upward. Ever creating lasting and beneficial community, ever reaching out to the lost, ever growing spiritually, ever growing numerically, ever changing where change needs to be made.
Area for personal growth: Humility and boldness.
Estimated Time: 11:30 AM May 3rd
Connecticut: Qui transtulit sustinet (He who is transplanted still sustains.)
We are being transplanted, and there are unknowns in this process. We are relying on God to provide and sustain us. We don’t necessarily want you to pray for God’s provision, as God’s provision is a promise not needing prayer. We want you to pray for our contentedness in His provision, whatever it may be.
Area for personal growth: Faith and contentedness.
Estimated Time: 12:30 PM May 3rd
It was a bit unusual for my sr. minister and I to have a private meeting. At least, it was unusual for him to schedule the meeting. Usually when he and I would meet it would be for me to express ideas or frustrations I had regarding our church. Needless to say, I was anxious to see what this was going to be about. I think it was 9:30am when I walked into his office and sat down. We exchanged the usual pleasantries, but then it was straight to brass tacks. He had scheduled this meeting to express to me what I already knew, I have a sr. ministers blood coursing through my veins.
While in prior conversations he had given me his blessing to leave, as he began to understand and witness where my giftedness was, this was the first time he was adamant that I start actively pursing a complimentary role in sr. ministry. When we were done speaking, we prayed. I walked out of his office feeling an emotional cocktail of sorrow, freedom, and wild excitement.
Now, since I first stepped into vocational ministry my ideology has always been the same: “I will be in this ministry until the day I die, or God says otherwise.” I love my students dearly, and it was going to take God moving in a big way to get me to pursue ministry elsewhere. It was a combination of this meeting, and later events, that convinced me the time was now.
After this meeting I called a former mentor and boss of mine, Don Sanders. We spoke, he gave me some great input, and then suggested I come to St. Charles to meet with Ben Merold (minister at large for Harvester Christian Church in St. Charles, MO). Realizing my need for counsel, and time away from home to pray and be still, I planned this trip for the following week.
I believe it was two days before my St. Charles trip when I called my financial advisor, Kevin Daniels, to discuss finances in light of the potential transition. As I explained what was going on, our conversation began to passionately diverge into tangents. Kevin and I are both guys who are easily excited when it comes to Kingdom work.
Anyway, one tangent led to another, and finally landed at my trip to St. Charles. His response to this was something along the lines of: Your kidding me, I am in St.Charles right now. My schedule was booked, but I had a cancelation Monday morning. Do you and your wife want to meet for breakfast? My response to this was of course, “yes.”
Our trip to St. Charles was riddled with what would appear to the world as coincidences. However, to the faithful, there can only be so much coincidence until you must consider that God is moving. As we meet with Kevin he spoke of the church he attended in Ansonia potentially being open to bringing on some one in light of recent growth. He also spoke of how on fire, and discipleship focused the church was. This conversation, of course, got us both fired up.
After breakfast my wife, Jill, went back to my Aunt’s house (we were staying with my aunt while we were in St. Charles), and I went on to meet with Ben. As Ben and I met, he was extremely encouraging, and offered a great deal of practical wisdom. One of the first questions he asked me was about whether I had been considering anything in particular. I told him that my heart longed for Southern California or Florida. Now, I know what people think when some one says, “God called me to southern California.” They think, “Sure he did.” However, my heart was not simply longing for sunny seventies, or looking to manipulate God’s will. I simply wanted to be close to family, and was letting that request be made known to God through prayer and thanksgiving.
I expressed to Ben that, though there were not any applicable openings in California, I had found some appealing churches in Gainesville, FL, and other locations. I also mentioned what Kevin and I had discussed at my previous meeting. After all had been said, he counseled me to seriously consider two of the many options I had shared with him. The first was Gainesville, FL. The second was Ansonia,CT. After our meeting he extended and impromptu invitation to a ministers lunch taking place on HCC’s campus. During the lunch the subject of the Q&A which was being held was, wouldn’t you know, transitioning into and out of ministries.
Jill and I prayed a lot when we got back home. The last thing I wanted at that time was to move to, literally, one of the furthest US geographical locations from my family. So, I called Gainsville, they had filled the position. Then, I called Kevin to see how serious this opportunity was. Before long, both Jill and I were on a plane bound for Hartford.
During our trip there we fell in love with the church.We both felt at home, though we were amongst strangers. We both felt comfortable, though we were miles away from anything remotely familiar.
On the trip back I said to Jill,“I have been thinking, I really don’t want to go to Connecticut, but I really want to go to that church.” She agreed. We both knew God was going to have to help adjust our hearts to help us fall in love with both the place and the people. Over the course of the next week, we would witness this change occur.
The position was officially offered to me the day after I got back home. I sought counsel, I read scripture, Jill read scripture, we listened to sermon after sermon together, we prayed, and all this lead us to one conclusion: We had every reason to believe God was and is paving the road for us to go and make disciples in a place we never thought we would.
It was on Monday April 1st, 2013 when I called Jim at Ansonia and officially accepted the position. So, to summarize: I was accepting a ministry position that did not formally exist, in a church that does not have the budget to pay me, in a place that I never thought I would go, thousands of miles away from the family that I was trying to move close to, and you know what, it felt great to say yes.
Since that decision, my wife and I are becoming increasingly anxious to make the move and start living out the great commission on the east coast. We are excited to be entering into a stage of life that requires faith in God’s leading and promises rather than existing independently of it. Not that we have not had faith, but that our life has not presented us with opportunity to really put it to the test.
We understand that there is a lot of hard work and life change ahead of us, and we do not romanticize this truth in anyway. However, is their anything more romantic that serving God regardless of the cost? We don’t think so, and we see God proving this over and over as the pieces to this puzzle begin to align in-spite of the obstacles that stand in the way.
The road to Connecticut is paved with faith, guided by God’s direction, and traversed with the vehicle of sacrifice. We are ready, and we are willing. Please be praying for us, for the church, and for the kingdom work we so strongly desire to accomplish as we depart from Warrensburg, and move to Ansonia.
I made this TV table for a buddy as a house warming gift. The, shelf which is 6 inches below the bottom of the apron, and is for a dvd player, video game system, cable box, etc. I made this piece out of polar and my buddy did the staining and finishing. The stain is an oak stain and the finish is poly. I think it turned out pretty good!