Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Following His Call

On Sunday, I announced to Trinity, that I accepted an invitation to be the lead pastor of Centerpointe Church at Fair Oaks in Fairfax, Virginia. This was a bitter/sweet experience for me. It was bitter in that I am leaving a church and pastor that I love. Pastor George Raduano and the leadership of Trinity have been so generous to me with support and encouragement over the last four and a half years. It is sweet because I am following the calling of the Lord in my life – and there is nothing like that feeling.

This is part of the message when I spoke to the Trinity congregation:

As pastors, we give our lives to the Bride of Christ: the Church. Yes, we are flawed. We have egos and temptations like everyone else because we are people. But for the most part, people go into ministry because there is something inside that draws them to it. It’s called the “call of God” which is not to be taken lightly.

We are responsible to steward the calling of God on our life like we must steward everything else. We are to be good stewards of our families, our finances, our facilities, our time, our education, our health, our life, etc.  Nothing should be wasted in our life.

Throughout history, God has called people to do things that they never planned to do. God called Noah to build a boat when it had never rained before. God called Abraham to leave Ur of Chaldea and go to Cannon. All he had to go on was a promise. He sent Joseph to Egypt by way of slavery to prepare for his Father and brother to be saved from the famine. He sent Moses into the desert to learn life in the wilderness to prepare him to lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt. He called Moses to stand up to Pharaoh and declare the voice of God, “Let my people go.” On and on, he called ordinary people to do extraordinary things. And each time that voice looked different.

To Samuel, it was a verbal voice in the night. To King David, it was anointing oil. To Elijah, it was a still small voice. To Mary, it was an angel. To the disciples Jesus simply walked along the beach and spoke to them. To Paul, it was knocking him of his horse and blinding him first to get his attention.

He continues to do the same today. Some are called to be missionaries, factory workers, doctors, lawyers, street cleaners, waiters, etc. And each one must follow and steward that call.

What do I mean by stewarding the call? I mean that whatever that call is, we should prepare to be the best at it. God deserves our best effort. If we do serve the King of Kings, then we are responsible for giving him our best.

My Personal History

In a small church in Hereford one Sunday evening in August of 1981, God called me. At that moment, I surrendered my life to Him. I said he could do with me whatever He wanted.

I have not always stewarded that call well, but I have tried to live obedient to it. That call sticks with me. Whatever trials or challenges to my life, I can go back to that moment and say, “God called me.” It was clear. He told me to go to Valley Forge Christian College. There were no options for me after that – no checking out the best schools, no complaining about tuition, just obeying. When I was told that I would have to go home if I couldn’t pay by Monday, I went to the Lord and prayed and God provided.

His direction and the steps within that call have varied. When I went to Long Island to candidate for a youth position, my stomach was sick. I knew it wasn’t God. When Esther and I moved to Springfield, MO to attain a master’s degree, I knew it was right, because my inadequacies in ministering to families were very evident. When I went to New Jersey, it was a simple phone call by the pastor. When I went to West Virginia, I simply had a feeling, and God confirmed it through Esther. I wasn’t voted on the first time. They had to call to ask me to allow my name to be considered again. I agreed because I believed it was right. When I went back to school it was because the Lord spoke to me and said he wanted me to prepare for a new platform of ministry that would include ministering to ministers. When I left there to go to the district office, it was because the Superintendent called and asked me to join him in ministering to our church planters and home missionaries. When I came to Trinity, it was because Pastor George and I used the same restroom. I was leaving and he was going in. He said, “How would you like to join me at Trinity?”

We started a conversation that took our friendship to a new level. I soon found myself here working in discipleship, ministries, and missions; going far beyond my dreams as a kid who grew up in Hereford.

And now that call has come again.

In September, I received a call asking if I would be interested in submitting my name to a church in Fairfax, VA. I had previously talked to Pastor George about what God was doing in my heart. I felt like God was going to put me back into a senior pastor position at some point soon.

At first, I was only mildly interested. The timing at Trinity was not right. I felt like I was too important here. (That is clearly pride and arrogance speaking.)

When Pastor George called for a 21-day time of fasting and prayer, we took it very seriously. There was too much at stake for Trinity and our family to make this kind of decision lightly.

On the Wednesday before the fast ended, I woke up and went into my prayer room. Like most days of that fast, I read and prayed. Since the Lord had not spoken up till then, I assumed He would not and prayed a surrender prayer, “Lord, I guess you don’t want me to go. I will call the deacons today and tell them ‘no thank you’.” But something happened I wasn’t expecting. It was like a switch that was turned on and God began to show me His heart for that city and His love for that church. That was a voice I recognized.
We decided to meet with them on a Sunday night. We met with the deacons, their wives, and a steering committee to talk and listen. During that time, we began to understand God’s hand and purpose for their lives and ours. It became obvious to us that God was about to knit our hearts together in vision.

I went from there to a prayer retreat with six friends for three days. I had been meeting with them every year for the last eight years. I trusted their insight. God used them to speak into my life and confirm God’s voice.

That Wednesday, I accepted the invitation to come and candidate. On Sunday, February 20, we visited the congregation to preach, after which the members voted while we sat in the pastor’s office. They voted to ask us to become the pastors of the church and we accepted.

This has not been easy for us. We love Trinity and Pastor George and I have become close friends. There is no way to repay the kindness and generosity of this great church.

Trinity, you have changed me and I will never forget the value you have added to my life.

Centerpointe, I believe that God has great things in store for us as we serve Him and give Him our all.



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