Well hello again dear readers!
Part of me feels that I owe you an explanation for my lack of posts in 2015, and the other part of me wants to spare you. Fortunately for you, I have decided NOT to take you on the world’s worst roller coaster of emotions and take the KISS route, (Keep It Simple Stupid) for those who don’t know that phrase.
Long story short, last year after about 6 months of careful deliberation, prayer, seeking wise counsel and many long conversations with my mentors, I decided to resign my role at our church, without any job or prospects lined up. I would be lying to you if I told you that my heart was not broken over it. The bottom line is that in every way, it was the healthiest thing for my church. I also hated every minute of leaving. I’m not going to tell the story because quite frankly doing that would be in bad taste. Also, as my mother would say, it’s “NONE-YA'”! I’m not even sure that anyone would be interested, so you will just have to connect the dots yourself I’m afraid. But if there is a silver lining, it’s that I can look back and say with pride that I left the right way. Every church in the world has a story about someone who didn’t leave correctly, forcing the people they “love” to be stuck with a mess. Now I know that God is the MASTER of restoration, but I had determined that I would love God and love my church, by honoring them in every way possible. I quickly found out why so many people don’t do the right thing here… because it’s hard! Doing the right thing, is sometimes the most difficult thing to do. But with the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s word as a guide, the most difficult situation is conquerable, and I will defend that truth for the rest of my life.
My celebration in all of this is that I believe that God’s purpose of our time in San Jose, was fulfilled. On top of that, our lives were unimaginably enriched by the people we met. The people that we had the privilege of serving, are honestly some of the most unique I’ve ever come to know. I will never forget what God did there, and for that I am grateful.
About a month after leaving my position, I discovered an opening at a church… in Cleveland… in OHIO. Yes you read it. You know of it right? Ohio? that place that we have NEVER visited, heard anything about, or knew anything about? Yep. That’s the one. I recall standing in our kitchen reading this description: “Church in a western suburb of Cleveland, looking for a Worship Pastor. We are a healthy church…” Wait a minute. Did they say a healthy church? It took me about 3 seconds to decide that I wanted to be a part of something like that. Aaaaaand it was about 3 seconds after I sent my resume, that I realized I have NO intention of moving to Ohio.
A wise man once said “Be careful what you wish for, you might actually get it.” I’ve been wishing and imagining that Adrie and I would find a place that we could grow some decent roots, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it might be in Ohio. I mean, come on, we are Californian city slickers for goodness sake! We are in love with “The four S’s”, sunshine, sushi, and sand, and surf. We don’t use plastic bags for groceries! We are in a love/love relationship with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, we make fire pits on the beach, and as much as I hate to admit it, I would consider In’n’out to be a major food group. And yet…when God calls, He makes things very simple. The question is, will you choose to obey, or will you miss out on the His plan for your life? I was graciously given an opportunity to actually go to Ohio and visit this church. My friend told me that I’d better just go or I could be missing out. And boy was he right.
You know how you have those moments when your world is flipped completely upside down, and you are left wondering how could I have not seen things like this? Well walking into Harvest Ridge Church was one of those moments for me. Over the next 3 days I fell completely head over heels for this community. 500 of the most incredible, caring, hard working, Jesus loving, Bible believing, healthy church keeping, people I’ve ever known, sitting right here in this West-Cleveland suburban paradise. We all made the discovery that God had prepared us both for exactly this time and place. I still ask myself the question, how could such a perfect match be made from two completely different things? The only answer I can come up with is that God’s grace is so masterful that He alone could create a situation that would result in a complex puzzle like this fitting together. He must really love us to have thought this up, because every day has been so full of joy and peace, that I hardly know how to contain myself. We were invited to become a part of the staff here in a Chipotle. Yes. Epic win. To be honest, that is just what I loved about this place. I’m not interested in the pomp and formality of practical ministry, although it does have it’s time and place, I believe that real conversations happen at places like dinner tables, not board rooms. Adrie and I flew home to California to think. It was 75 degrees and sunny on a beautiful day in Los Gatos, at the park sitting on a blanket that we decided that we would move to Ohio. Ironically, the flowers were blooming in February.
I drove out in April and Adrie stayed behind to take care of some things and followed in June. That drive across the States did something to me. I got to spend some time with one of my best friends, Travel. I stood and watched old faithful erupt as the majestic buffalo grazed nearby. I walked on the moon in the badlands of South Dakota. I gazed in wonder at the beauty of a somehow BLUE, Devils Tower as the snow fell around me. I met a mountain goat, and had lunch with prairie dogs. I sat on the roof of my car and looked up at the grand Tetons. I took a moment to meander down a trail made by the many pioneers of the West. I came face to face with a carving made by William Clark as he himself as he was making his way East after having completed the first trek across North America. As the land grew flat, I looked out onto the Great Plains and stood where no tree could be seen for hundreds of miles. I contemplated how my life would no longer be lived on the road, but would come to know life with bags permanently unpacked. Travel and I had a very, interesting conversation. We agreed that we would never part ways, but that we must learn how to give each other some space. I can say with great confidence that Travel and I will always know and love each other.
I pulled into town with the windows rolled down and a song in my heart. I spent my first hours in Ohio at Harvest Ridge Church with my new family, and since then, haven’t experienced a dull moment. Harvest Ridge, has been growing and stretching me for sure, but most things have been fantastic. We currently have three services on Sunday and another on Wednesday’s because there are so many people who call this home. In fact, we are in the middle of building a new sanctuary so that we can all fit. My capacity as a leader has risen exponentially, partly out of necessity but mostly because that is what this family deserves. I’m looking forward to seeing what is in store for this body of believers but I am even MORE excited that I get to be a part of it. God’s plans for our lives are always certainly better than our own.
Well friends I have achieved my original goal, to write about my journey as I discover full time worship ministry. What I’ve uncovered in the last 10 months in my new role, is that any person dedicated to a full time role in ministry, will never only be doing solely one thing, nor SHOULD they. Being on a ministry team means that you will bear each others burdens, and help accomplish your goals together. And so, I have decided to continue writing because no matter how much we may fight it, life will manage to change. As long as God has me on this Earth, I assume there will be new things to learn, and new things to share with you. And so as I experience them you can find them here. Remember that God’s ways are higher than ours, and that trust in Him is really the only way to have lasting peace. Good bye for now!