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Goodbye 2008

December 31, 2008

Well, it’s finally here- the end of the year that saw me struggle probably more than I ever have with my faith, the church, myself, and God.  I began 2008 as the Minister of Worship Arts at a Church in Indianapolis, and I end the year an online entertainment journalist living in Toledo.  I began the year with a sneaking suspicion that God was going to completely decimate everything that I though was important, and I sit here now having been torn down and in the midst of the rebuilding process.  Only two things have really stayed constant over the past 12 months- God’s love for me and my wife’s love for me.

I used to think owning a house was important for my own fulfillment, yet it’s been a thorn in my side ever since we followed God’s call to Toledo.  I live in a 2-bedroom townhouse apartment with my 3 dogs and my wife, and it isn’t half bad.  Sure, when our house finally sells, we’ll look for another one- but this time it will be under a much different pretense.  This time we’ll be looking for a house in which we can host our church plant, a house in which we can host guests who need a place to live, a house with which we can glorify God and serve others.

I also thought it was imperative to get a paying ministry job in order to be a minister.  Yet, I find myself hoping I never have to take a salary from a church.  I hope that I can support my family without burdening a church for my livlihood- just think about how much more “ministry money” would be available to reach out to the lost and disenchanted.

I’ve been studying the book of Nehemiah as of late, and I’m finding comfort in knowing that my struggle hasn’t been in vain.  Though I grew up in Toledo, attended high school here, and went on to college 20 miles south in Bowling Green, I never really felt the ache in my soul for this city until I was living in Indianapolis.  Back in January and February of this year, I began wondering what this crazy stirring in my heart was for Toledo.  I made a trip back here to pray and speak with several of my pastor friends to find out what God was doing here.  And I was sad to find that the church in Toledo was by-and-large complacent and lukewarm.

Fast forward a couple of months, and I was feeling that God was calling me back here for sure… so much so that he trumped my desire for a comfortable life with something greater- bringing renown and glory to His name here in Toledo.

And as I read Nehemiah and subsequent materials (JI Packer’s A Passion for Faithfulness: Lessons from the Book of Nehemiah  and Mark Driscoll’s 22-part sermon series on Nehemiah) I’m starting to draw inspiration from the man who was a cupbearer to a king, who went against the odds and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem.  I’m not saying I’m rebuilding the city of Toledo,  but as Driscoll says in his teachings, I feel called to build a city within this city to love on this city and tell this city about Jesus.

All of this to say that without the pain, suffering, crying out, and hardships of 2008, I don’t think I’d be on this path.  The fact is, God has given me life, a healthy marriage, a passion for His word, a heart broken for Toledo, and some good men to keep me accountable.  Bring it on, 2009!

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