Seeing the Beginning from the End

Isaiah42“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.” – Isaiah 42:1

The summer I was 15, God spoke this verse into my spirit and it changed my life forever. Last night, 28 years later, the same verse did it again.

The summer of 1985 I was your typical church-going teenager. We were at a summer camp at Christian Retreat in Bradenton, Florida for a week – it was actually one of two separate camps there I went to that summer. I was interested in having fun, enjoying the services, and meeting girls that would come from around the country. I was also at a place of just generally trying to figure out what life would look like in a few years after I would graduate from high school. Again, I was pretty much the typical church-going teenage male.

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When God says, “So?”

We have friends who recently moved to Seattle all the way from Spartanburg, South Carolina simply because it was something they wanted to do.  Yes, they prayed about it – they were even considering a couple of other places, one being “back home” to the Tampa Bay area – but in the end, Seattle seemed like the right place to go.  Now that they’ve been there for several months, they are planning on moving to Los Angeles for at least a year to get involved with a large inner-city ministry there called The Dream Center and then see what God has for them next.  We have other friends we’ve been praying with, who have decided to leave a city they’ve been pastoring in for several years, and move “back home” to help strengthen the church they were raised up in almost thirty years ago.  When I was talking with them the other day to see what their decision was, they had told me they hadn’t heard what we would call a “God said”, but how it seemed like the right thing to do.  But is it? Continue reading

No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.” – Isaiah 42:1

It was the summer before my Junior year in High School that God used this verse to confirm that He was calling me into a life in the ministry.  When I responded to the Holy Spirit’s drawing at a youth camp that summer, I knew from that moment forward that I would be working with youth the rest of my life.  I had been praying and asked God to confirm that calling to me through His Word, and one day that scripture “address” popped into my head, and when I looked it up – well, you can see why I would take that as a confirmation.

Over the 25+ years as youth pastors and pastors since then, we have had so many young people come and go through our lives.  It’s been an awesome privilege to see so many grow in their walks with the Lord, and especially in seeing those who have responded themselves to that same call into ministry.  Now – don’t get me wrong, those who are now studying law, or who are teachers, soldiers, store clerks, nurses, firefighters, moms, dads… I am equally proud of each of them, too!  But to deny that there is not some sort of kindredness with those called into ministry would be a lie.  I guess you could compare it to being a Marine and knowing other Marines… sure you admire the Navy, Army, and Air Force – but you really feel connected to another Marine.  I hope that makes sense. Continue reading