I have been a Christian my whole life. I learned the faith as a child and cultivated an intimate relationship with God. I did have a prodigal period that was partially rebellion and partially confusion. I foolishly rejected making Jesus my Lord, which took me down the wrong path. Years later, I came back to that wrong turn, and surrendered my whole life.
My first job, outside our home, was taking care of horse stables. In high school, I was very involved in theater arts, drama, and singing. I added being a technical worker, designer, and director to my resume as well. I managed and lobbied for my light crew to get paid. I also worked in student government and learned how to lay out and print a magazine/program. I was also active in our war game club.
When I graduated high school, I told people that my dream was to go to work for MTV, making music videos. I did make my own film in high school film class, based on a song by Toto. Later in college, I made a film based on a Tears For Fears song.
The day that I refused Jesus invitation to make him Lord, was my fateful day. The first times I began going to my Cal State campus were bad days. I had never felt such loneliness. I had no friends there.
I always worked throughout all my school. And I had friends at work and very few friends from high school, who had moved away for college. I decided to stop attending church and lost the few friends I had there and all the acquaintances.
I made a Christian friend, who was older than me, about half way through 6 years of college. It took 6 years because I was working and I flunked out at one point and had to make straight A's to get my gpa back up, in standing.
This friend shepherded me and introduced me to My Utmost, by Oswald Chambers, which became precious to me, even though I did not understand it at first, Oswald's words were encouraging me back to that fateful decision to make Jesus my Lord and not just my savior, or "ticket to heaven", with no transformation.
I made the wrong turn at age 13 and it got worse at age 18. From 18 to 24 was like a wilderness. From about age 20 and then intensifying when I was 23 and 24, my godly brother shepherded me and encouraged me daily, just like the first friend I mentioned.
My return to the Father and my decision to make Jesus Lord, happened when I was 24. I had what I can only describe as a second honeymoon with the Lord, when I was 25. I almost never stopped smiling.
After a year or two of this, I knew that I wanted to serve the Lord full time, going into some sort of ministry. I pondered about this business of having a call from God or what the calling was to enter the ministry. I prayed about it and talked about it. I had no pastor friends or any full timer that I could ask about their story. Turns out that in a seminary class, we talked about this very thing and wrote a short paper on it, and everyone there had pain and confusion around this issue. So, in a way, I felt validated, but also sad for us all, and had no real answer to this mystery.
I decided, at first, to become a counselor; an MFCC. I went to graduate school. I ended up at A non-denominational Christian school, where about half the students were Catholic. I was the youngest in my class. I thought it was funny to be training to be a marriage, family, and child counselor; when I did not even have a steady girlfriend during most of that time in school.
But I felt the love and encouragement of God and my friends cheered me on. When I got to my internship, I ended up counseling men who were coming out of addiction. And my mentor was a psychologist who had been a researcher for focus on the family, before they moved to Colorado, and he had suffered his own loses and was an encouragement.
After I finished that internship and was in a pause before continuing to the next, more advanced level; on my birthday, for the only time in my life, that I remember, and my birthday was on a Sunday that year; I had an experience of receiving a call to be or become, and I was told, 'you are a pastor'.
I know now that counselors as well as sunday school and even monday thru friday school teachers are pastors. But, what I had in mind and ran with was the idea of pastor in the church (building).
My brother started going to seminary a couple years before I did. I would visit with him and I had a secret dream from childhood of attending that seminary (Fuller), that I never told anyone. One day, I received that same kind of call, out of the blue, that I had before, on my birthday; to attend seminary.
I was already interning at my church, as an extension of my mfcc work, and in response to that calling I received on my birthday. The way my timeline worked was that I started interning (pastor-intern) before I started seminary and then stopped the interning at the 3 year mark, and then went on to one or two more years, to finish seminary.
Then I had to figure out the calling to a church or in some traditions they say churches call you. No one was calling and I did not sense a call to anywhere. In this confusion and pain, God was calling me deeper into Christ.
What was also intuitively obvious to me was that I was still not married. And even though I was in my 30's and more mature than I was in my 20's, I still felt like I lacked life experience, and the qualifiers to be a husband and father; to be an elder in the church. I was 'an elder' or recognized as such by elders; but still, I felt like I would only be comfortably (more comfortably) qualified after I was married, with my own home and family.
Do you remember the Speilberg/Kubric movie called "AI"? The scene where the robot boy is trapped underwater, staring at the Blue Fairy, who was supposed to turn him into a real little boy (like pinocchio)? When I saw that movie, in the theater, with my buddy, that scene was like a punch in the stomach and I broke out in tears.
Through the 1990's, I had prayed for a wife. And God spoke to me and gave me several promises. And I waited and prayed and waited some more and dated people. Very frustrating when it seemed like everyone else was finding a spouse. People rightfully told me that maybe I was too picky or something.
But, then she appeared, in 2002, in the next season after my dad died. And believe it or not, we had our first date of our very happy courtship, on my dad's birthday. We got married a year later and my son was born two years after that.
That's a vignette of my story, up to 12 years ago.
I have been blogging here for a long time- over 10 years? There is ebb and flow. It is ebb time right now. And I have instead been posting on twitter way more.
I have a lot of new acquaintances and this is for them.
I just finished a book on how to start a church, and it says to just eat together, for 6 to 9 months; before you do anything. You and I may not agree with that and might want to worship, study the Bible, share, and pray together, right off the bat. But his point was that it takes a long time to get to know people and just eating and talking together; over and over facilitates that.