Where has the time gone?

Twenty years ago, Pastor Kirby Lack laid hands on me and commissioned me into the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the time, I was a single, young man serving in the US Army at Fort Hood, Texas entering the last year of my enlistment. I had asked Renee to marry me and we had set a date for the following year. I was helping Pastor Kirby in whatever capacity he needed. This included, but was not limited to, running the church bookstore, creating Sunday bulletins, coordinating Sunday school, cleaning the church and straightening chairs. Along with myself, there were a small corps of young ministers(David Hogan, Jerry Hamill, Ramon Uriegas, Mark Kinnamen, Doug Christensen, & John Pelizarri) serving Trinity Worship Center with Pastor Lack.

Two years later, Renee and I left for Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas joining Michelle Daley for two years of Bible School. While there, we did door-to-door evangelism in Oak Cliff (at night I might add) and then became youth pastors at Aledo Christian Center some 50 miles away from the school. Many a meal was from the Burger King drive thru in Duncanville while we made the trip back and forth to Aledo. Thank the Lord for $1 Whoppers! After graduation in 1992, we moved to Aledo to continue our ministry there and await the birth of our son Jesse. We saw the youth group grow from 4 kids (Joni, Kara, Kristen, Kandi) to over twenty before shrinking back down to nothing before we left for Tulsa and Oral Robert University in June of 1996. At that point I was burned out and had no desire to minister again.

We attended Church on the Move, pastored by Willie George, and enjoyed just being a worshiper instead of a worker. In 1998, as part of my senior paper, I began working with the bus ministry at COTM thanks to Eric Moon and Randy Debell. I discovered that I still had something to offer in service after all. I served as Rear Door Guard on a bus of 40-50 kids and teenagers for the Saturday inner city bus ministry. Many kids just wanted somone to care.

After graduating from ORU in 1999, we moved to Kentucky so I could attend Asbury Theological Seminary. We found a home church at Bethel Harvest Church with Pastors Marion and Stephanie Dalton in Lexington, KY. We offered ourselves as volunteers in the Children’s Ministry with Tina Leslie and soon were overseeing the 1-6th grade children. By the time we left in 2003, we were holding two chapels services on Sunday and had over 70 kids attending. Also during that time, we befriended Julie from France who we met online. She was fighting cancer and was predicted to die by her birthday in 2001. With encouragement to believe and a lot of prayers, she passed that date and was still doing well last we heard from her this past Christmas.

The Lord prompted us to return to California in 2003, so we bid farwell to our church family there and loaded the household belongings for the journey home to Barstow. We spent 3 months living in Barstow before work as a Computer Tech/Teacher at Excelsior Education Center became available in Victorville. We moved and I began teaching web design/computers to high school and later middle school students. In 2006, turmoil occured as jobs were lost at the school, but the Lord proved faithful as a better paying job was obtained back in Barstow of all places. Ministry since returning to California has been mostly through friends rather than through a church. We look for a home church, but still haven’t found the right fit. For now, I feel like Paul back in Tarsus making tents. I do my job and minister His grace, goodness and love as the opportunity arises.

It has been 20 years since I first surrendered to the call of Christ to ministry. I have been fortunate to minister in Barcelona, Monterrey, the village of San Martin De Las Vacas, Copperas Cove, Tulsa, Tullahoma, and Lexington. I have performed marriages in Pismo Beach, Oak Hills, Killeen, Copperas Cove, alongside the Lampasas River and spoken at my grandmother’s funeral in Charleston, WV. I baptized my son in the creek at the family farm in Sissonville, WV while my Paw Paw stood by. Thank you Lord for the journey you have allowed me to take and the people that you placed in our path along the way. I look forward to what the next 20 years hold and pray that I can still be of service to your kingdom by touching others with your love and mercy during that time.

Friends are friends forever.

As we journey through this life, I find it interesting how some people are constants in our lives and others are there only for a season and then are gone. I have one friend that has remained a constant in my life since high school while others have drifted away. I have been in churches from Texas to Oklahoma to Kentucky and had some very dear friends I made along the way. As time and distance have separated us, some I could call and pick up right where we left off while others I will probably never hear from again. I am grateful for those that are, have been or will be among those I call friend. Thanks for sharing a laugh or cry. It is good to know that others are on the journey and we can help shoulder one another in times of joy and despair. Friends are friends forever.

Sympathy for the longsuffering fan.

Yesterday, I saw my beloved Chargers once again fall short of winning it all. It’s nothing new as they have never ended the post-season winning. My friend Marilyn, at whose house we watched the game, is a longtime Steelers fan. She turned to me afterward and said, “I know how you feel.” I had to correct her and say, “No, you don’t, because your team has won the Super Bowl.” Unless you are a Titans, Panthers, Falcons, or Seahawks fan you don’t know how I feel. Each of these teams have made one appearance in the Super Bowl and lost. On the other hand, I have no idea how fans of the Bills, Vikings, Bengals, or Eagles feel as they have been multiple times without winning it all. Then there are the fans of the Browns, Jaguars, Texans, Lions, Saints, and Cardinals that have never even been to the Super Bowl. Besides being a Steelers fan, she also roots for the 49ers which hardly seems fair since they have 10 Super Bowls wins between them. Every team in the AFC West has won a Super Bowl and a couple have won it twice while my Chargers have yet to win the big one. I appreciate the sympathy, but to be a fan of the Chargers is to know what it means to never win it all. I remember in the 90s hoping I would live long enough to see them make it there. They did and were smashed by the 49ers. Now I hope that before I draw my last, I will see the Lombardi trophy hoisted by my team since the days of Dan Fouts and Air Coryell, the San Diego Chargers.

Reflecting on years past.

A new year is always a great time to look forward and think on years past. In 1969, I was the baby of the family until October when my younger brother came on the scene. In 1979, I was in middle school and trying my best to be cool. In 1989, I was in the last year in the Army and engaged to Renee. In 1999, I had just finished with my degree at Oral Roberts and working at Walmart doing overnight stocking while working part-time as a web designer. That brings us to 2009 and it is amazing how I am back working in Barstow, a town I desperately wanted to escape as a teenager. I have been married to Renee 19 years next month. Twenty years after leaving the Army, I work as a contractor overseeing environmental websites for them. I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring, but I know in whom I trust. Thanks Lord for an amazing adventure filled with friends, family, a variety of locations, and your everlasting, unconditional love.