Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why Obey? (5-7-08)

In my devotions this week I came across two passages (Deut 28, Psalm 78) that made me want to give a short testimony of God faithfulness to our family and why we are choosing to obey Him in this season of our lives. Deuteronomy 28 talks about the blessing of obedience and the curse of rebellion. Psalm 78 talks about the value of remembering God’s past faithfulness and passing that on to our children. This testimony is for those who ask “How do you know it was God?” or “How can you be sure?”

Back in 1995, I was in the process of changing my job in the Army. I had been a Military Policeman for 6 years but I wanted to do something different so I went thru the training to become a Chaplain’s Assistant. The school was up at Ft. Monmouth, NJ and I was away for about 8 weeks. When I returned I was transferred to the 82nd Airborne and eventually found myself assigned to the Division Artillery Chaplain section. There was Chaplain Griffin, Staff Sergeant Wooten, Chaplain Albertson and me. I loved it.

About a year later I ended up back in New Jersey to attend another school, the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer course, which I would need to get promoted to Staff Sergeant. During my two months there I heard from the Lord. He very specifically told me that I would be shown an opportunity to enter into the ministry and I was to take it. I knew this meant that I would be getting out of the Army. I had 7 years in service at that time and would have 10 yrs in service when my enlistment ended. I called Denise to tell her and she said God had told her the same thing, the same day. We knew this was Him. We didn’t know when or what but we kept our eyes open. Three years later the opportunity came. We were invited to come on staff at Calvary Chapel in Fayetteville as the church administrator (that what you call the church secretary when it’s a guy. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The pay was less than half of what I made in the military and there was no health insurance. On the plus side I would be able to live in the church parsonage and we would be given free tuition at Fayetteville Christian School. At first my heart was torn. Was this the opportunity? Was it wise to step out and take such a low paying position? How would we live without health insurance? I got mixed advice from those we sought counsel from and didn’t find any comfort there. It came down to this… were we going to obey the Lord and take our chances with him or seek safety in the hands of the US Army? We chose the Lord, and in Oct of 1998 we joined the staff. We have never regretted it.

God is so faithful. We loved our time in the parsonage. I could walk to work. Nate and Bek could walk to school because Fayetteville Christian School shared the church property with us. My job in the church office was fantastic and God used me to get all the church’s files and finances straightened out. We had lots of opportunities to minister. In the first year I went from church secretary to overseeing the administration of the whole ministry. I oversaw Sunday school, Nursery, Scheduling, Planning, Logistics, Admin, Men’s ministry and home fellowships. The only thing I didn’t do was teach on Sunday morning and counsel. As hard as it was at times, I wouldn’t give up those experiences for anything. By 2003 I was ordained and my title changed to Asst. Pastor. Everything was very good… then God chose to start the next phase of the plan.
The main problem at Calvary Chapel in those first years of the new millennium was sharing space. We had two ministries on our 11 acre site and our Christian school was growing far faster than the church was. We clashed about everything. Pastor Joey and I often mused about what it would be like to just be a church and deal with church issues. That musing turned to prayer which turned to God leading. We had to make a decision. Would we follow God, sell the property, give up our safety and security on Ireland Dr. and move out to build a building we didn’t have the money to build on property we didn’t yet have or stay and continue to clash? I remember having a long talk with the Lord in the backyard of the parsonage. We had such a perfect situation there. Why did we have to step out in faith again? Well we did step out and God proved Himself faithful as He always does.

I remember one very specific incident that God used during that time to get me thru the uncertain days while we were building the new church. In December of 2003 Denise and I had purchased a home, since we would have to move out of the parsonage anyway. God was so gracious to us, I didn’t think we could ever find a better house than the church parsonage but God never ceases to amaze me with His blessings. On the first morning I woke up in the new house, I remember sitting in the sunroom, reading my Bible and thanking God that we were given such a nice place to live. I told him “I can’t believe I get to live in such a nice place”; He told me that I would sit in the new church building and say “I can’t believe we get to worship in such a nice place.” God reminded me of that promise to comfort me many times during the next few years, especially when we were short of money and I didn’t know how we would ever finish the building. But true to his word; in March of 2005, on the day before the final inspection, I was sitting in the cafĂ© of the new building waiting for the fire alarm guys to finish working. I started looking around at everything God had done and the words God had spoken to me two years prior came pouring out of my mouth. My eyes welled up with tears as I said “I can’t believe we get to worship in such a nice place.” God is faithful!

Now, 3 years later we are ready to step out again. God has spoken to Denise and me and told us what He wants us to do. Yes it’s more challenging this time but is there any question in my mind about what we should do? No. God has shown us that He can be trusted, even when we don’t fully understand the how’s and why’s.

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