Well, it’s been over six months now. Some might think that I should have settled into a new position pretty well by now. I’m still trying to get used to the idea that something that I’ve been working toward for so long has finally come to pass. Before I get too far into what I have to share with you, I have a couple of verses of scripture to share. The first is found in Psalm 37:4-5. (I was originally only going to share verse 4, but verse 5 leads right into the other passage.) “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him and he shall bring it to pass.” ~ Psalm 34:4-5
The other passage is found in the great book of Proverbs. Both of these passages absolutely tie in to what I want to share. Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” ~ Proverbs 16:9
I’ve already written a post about this (Beginning a New Chapter), but as the title of this one says, “I’m still amazed.” Quite often I have to figuratively “pinch myself,” but nothing changes. As the pastor of a small-town church, I am absolutely doing what I love. There is a reason why I shared the scriptures above. Though I still live in my same sinful, physical body and this same dark sinful world, I do the best I can to bring honor and glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I absolutely desire to delight myself in the Lord. In leading me into this ministry, He absolutely has given me the desires of my heart. Verse five in Psalm 37:5 leads right into Proverbs 16:9.
I am amazed at everything the Lord did to bring me to where I am. From the extra job at Wal-Mart, that allowed us to pay off our extra bills, to the process by which he called us to Bible Baptist Church, to seeing us through struggles for the last six months or so. I am still amazed at how Christ works and how He works it all together. I have just a bit of a confession to make. This post is as much for my “therapy” (I like to write) as it is for your information and enjoyment. With that admitted, I want to share again some of what I see as highlights in the Lord leading us to ministry in Neillsville, Wisconsin.
The form letters I sent out in May or so of 2015 only got two responses. I was really only interested in one of them, especially after preaching at Peninsula Baptist Church in Sturgeon Bay for the first time. I thought things were looking pretty good, but God had other plans. Perhaps it almost became an idol, but I was so sure that God HAD to work out the details, all I could do was step through the door that He may open, in Sturgeon Bay or someplace else.
In May of 2016 I received a surprising phone call. The interim pastor at Peninsula Baptist Church in Sturgeon Bay had called Bible Baptist Church in Neillsville, and the interim pastor there called me just a few days before my Annual Training with the National Guard. Even knowing that I was still active in the military, they wanted me to come to Neillsville to preach for them. My first Sunday at Bible Baptist Church as a guest preacher was on June 26, 2016. It went fabulously well. Before I left for the day, the church and I had set up for me to preach again on July 10th. After that Sunday, I was asked if I would consider preaching as a candidate for the position as Pastor. I agreed. July 31 was set up to be my Candidate Sunday.
After agreeing to preach as an official Pastoral Candidate, I was given a questionnaire to complete, which I did. From the beginning, I told the church and the Pulpit Search Committee all the things I thought they needed to know. From my perspective, and apparently the perspective of many other churches, I had several strikes against me being called as a pastor. I certainly was in a unique position.
As I said, I was clear with the church on what I thought they needed to consider before calling me as pastor. At that time, I was working two full-time jobs to attempt to pay off our extra debt. Altogether, we had somewhere around $4,000 or so in debt that needed to be paid off. I am still an active member of the National Guard. I have a wife and seven children to support, which will also demand some of my time and attention. I have not finished Bible College, much less Seminary. Though I’ve preached whenever I’ve had the opportunity, I’ve never held the position of Pastor before. Even just one or a couple of these would have eliminated me from consideration at most churches. The final decision was that the church unanimously voted to offer me the position as Pastor. I accepted a couple of days later.
Within the first month, I was making hospital visits to a sick lady from our congregation. Though I enjoy visitation, she was such a bright spot on Sunday mornings, I was concerned for her. She was always such an encouragement, but she did go home to be with the Lord in January. My first funeral as a pastor. There have been ups and downs since last August, when I began and I don’t see much of a change. I’ll be conducting another funeral for the lady who usually played piano for us soon.
There have been bright spots, though too. I can’t imagine anything better than sitting in my corner at home, studying a passage of scripture and putting together a sermon. Sometimes it’s alone at the church in my office doing the same thing. One of the best things so far is preaching my first Christmas sermon. I got to do it for the first time on Christmas morning! How awesome is that!? I absolutely love teaching God’s word, encouraging other believers, counseling when necessary visitations and everything else the Lord brings my way as a ministry.
As Spring draws closer and more things change, I can absolutely see the hand of God working things out for our good and His glory! I share this with my congregation all the time, but I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us this year!
Honestly, I truly think that if Jesus Christ waits to come again, as long as He allows me to serve Him as a Pastor, I’ll always be amazed that he can use me like this!