a slow fade

I will never forget that moment when I heard God speak to me about my future. I had always thought that my future would be as a teacher and football coach – serving in a church as I could. When God spoke to me about my future, it was actually what I had always dreamed of as a little boy – but much different than the plans I had been making for myself.

When the Lord spoke into my life about my future in ministry I was already deep into it but I wasn’t fully sold out to it as my life’s calling. I was pulled into student ministry and I’ve been there ever since. Sure, I had exposure to other aspects of the church but my passion became seeing students fall madly in love with Jesus Christ. I had great mentors who fanned this desire into big flames as they poured into me, showing me God’s redemptive heart for the world.

I have always loved student ministries and since 2002 I have served in this arena of the church in a variety of capacities: volunteer, speaker, intern, small group leader, coach, and pastor. I will never forget the first winter camp i served at, on a whim, that got me hooked. Each place of ministry with different teams of people has helped shaped my heart to serve in the church. Every role and each church has also helped me to understand clearly why I do, what I do: to advance the Kingdom of God and to build up followers of Christ.

There are so many stories. Funny ones that will be great to tell for years to come. Growth opportunities that are almost embarrassing to recall – but grateful for being stretched and challenged as I was. Yeah, definitely grateful for growth and for opportunities to lead and grow and mature not just as a leader, but also as a follower of Christ.

A little over three years ago I started off at a new church, focused on reaching students with the love message of Jesus Christ. Never did I imagine that my passion and focus in ministry would change and grow along with me to the point that I wouldn’t be in student ministries. I truly thought I’d be that “life-long youth pastor.” Yet, over the last three years God has brought a new set of leaders and mentors that the Lord used to speak into my life – just like He did many years ago when I thought I knew what my future was going to be then.

God began to shift my focus in ministry. And as my focus shifted, my passion did as well. I was surrounded by the right people who are confident in who they are in God. They were willing to pour into me and point me towards God’s best for my life. These were more people who God used to confirm my calling to serve Him and who equipped me to learn and grow. I’m grateful for this slow fade of change as it has brought me to this place, here and now.

This slow fade…as tough as it is to say, is truly best. I am confident that this is a special part of God’s plan for my life. It means saying goodbye to student ministries as a pastor. It means saying goodbye to all things youth – but also, it means something else. It also means saying I’m ready for what is next. It also means saying I am ready to step out and follow Christ to new areas of ministry where once again, I can humbly learn what it means to love God and love others in new and passionate ways. I am truly excited for what is next. And I’m confident that the Lord has been preparing me for this moment, for this shift, for this change.

A huge part of my heart was sad when I first considered this change becoming a reality. I love my students and their families. I love hanging and pointing them to Jesus. Student ministry has always allowed me, to be me. However as I’ve walked along this path of change for over a year now I have heard God speak powerfully about my future, about His future for my life. My heart and passion for families and marriages, for life groups and small groups, for discipleship and evangelism and for boldly proclaiming the Word of God has grown and expanded. Those students that I love so much deserve a new leader who has a strong & undivided passion for them, their friends and their families. This slow change into something new will allow me to serve in new ministries and embrace a future that God has prepared for me.

Officially as of April 1st, I will no longer serve as the Student Ministries Pastor at my church. I am so thankful for this but even though my role as a pastor is changing, I get to stay at my current church. This is so great for so many reasons as I get to be surrounded by great leadership, amazing friends and an awesome church family during this slow fade from student ministries. I’m very confident in the team of leaders who have risen up and been equipped to serve our students at this church and I am very excited that I get to continue to serve at my church, to pastor and shepherd, to encourage and to equip, people that I have grown love and a community that I long to see fall in love with Jesus Christ.

My passion for ministry remains. I long to see people fall madly in love with Jesus, to find ways to show the power and grace of God and to see those people commit themselves to a vibrant life of prayer. My desire to advance the Kingdom of God and to build up followers of Christ during this new aspect of ministry is clear. To say no to one thing, means I am able to fully say yes to something else. I always want to be able to say yes to fulfilling the calling on my life and to be able to radically obey Christ in every aspect of my life. This slow fade into something new will allow me to do just that…

Praising God for what He has called me to do in and through Him!

remember when…?

The 4th of July brings back so many memories…

I grew up in a small town in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula. The 4th of July was the one time each year are sleepy little town boomed with people. There was always a rush of visitors each weekend during the summer visiting their cabins and vacation homes, or hikers enjoying the Olympic National Forrest, or people out boating on the numerous lakes or even the beautiful Hood Canal.

But the 4th of July was different. I looked forward to each year. There was always a small parade, numerous street vendors, tons of things to do and yes, fireworks. I loved it. Each year the parade had a theme and you could enter the parade and dress up somehow, just hoping to earn a trophy. Smokey the Bear was always there and if all else failed, I could always walk the parade with a group from church or ride on top of the fire engine.

I kept every trophy I won.
I considered myself a local parade-winning legend too.

The street vendors were my favorite parts. Cotton Candy, Elephant Ears…the theme t-shirts for that years celebration…stuff animals and a variety of over-priced toys were all my disposal. And of coarse, I could walk it all, twice a day and still ask to go back one more time. My poor parents…

Every year in Hoodsport there was fireworks over Hood Canal and it was beautiful. Kids like me who had parents in the local fire department got to sit on the fire trucks each year to watch the show. It was pretty handy for our parents; it kept us safe, out of there way and well, we loved it. Sitting on fire hoses is never comfy, but we never cared. We’d wave at friends down below and sit up there like princes and princesses, thinking we owned the world.

And, every year we’d go to our friends house on the Canal, Vern & Sue (I grew up calling Vern “Turkey” because they owned a turkey ranch in Southern California). We’d shoot off little bottle rockets and those crazy little “fireless” fire works you can get. Of coarse my dad or Vern, or another adult would pull out some bigger fireworks they had bought on the Indian Reservation.

Each year this tradition was pretty much the same. The people changed and sometimes it actually rained, but the parade and vendors and fireworks always went on. Eventually I got too old for walking in the parade and I only wanted to go down to the street vendors with my buddies so we could check out girls, not the toys. There was a whole new generation of kids whose parents were in the fire department and they now sit on top of the fire trucks. In fact, the last couple years of high school I was in the fire deptarment and the 4th of July weekend kept us busy with helping people.

My first 4th of July away from home, away from Hoodsport, was when I was 19 in July 2001. I was actually in Greece with friends from high school enjoying a trip that was a grad gift from my parents. And by second year in college I never went back to Hoodsport for the summers and I started to find out really how hot the 4th of July got in Redding, CA.

Last year, on the 4th of July, along the bluffs of Santa Cruz close to the Boardwalk is where I asked Melanie to be my wife.

And this year, was my first 4th of July married. As great as some of those memories are of 4th’s past…making new memories now with Melanie is the best. And guess what, we started it with a parade, enjoyed a great lunch with family, saw a great movie and finished it up with some awesome fireworks.

Remember the past, the memories…good or bad. But stay there, in the midst of a memory. And, don’t try and to repeat that past experience. Look to make new ones…ones you can look back and say, “remember when…”