Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Church planting journey:experiencing Christ's power, suffering, death, and resurrection

Experiencing the great adventure of church planting anew after a valley of testing and spiritual warfare, I now see the purpose of it all!

a church planting brother referred to this process "unsettle, resettle,then mettle." God unsettled him and his family in their divinely assigned portion of the harvest when they first moved there, then resettled them in their new home, city, community, etc., then came the "mettle" to thrust forward, full throttle, in God's power, not their own. He brought them to a place and position where they had no choice but to totally trust in and rely upon Him; actually, they did have a choice, they could have packed up and went back to where they came from. I know that feeling because we've been there, many times over the past three years. But now that God has unsettled me and my family (believe me when I say it has been a living nightmare) and resettled us in our own assigned portion of His great commission, He is now flooding me with an abundant supply of fresh His mettle (courage and strength to move forward).

A year ago I was about to throw in the towel. Now I feel like I can" sore on wings like eagles." I felt like I was a failure because everything was one big chaotic mess...my family life, our inherited, century-old church building, our finances...you name it, we were going through it. All of our initial core group had left, except for me and my wife and children. There was this rage burning with in me that cast me into a deep bout of depression. It got so bad that my wife and I could barely stand each other. Our two sons were constantly fighting with one another and with us. I reached a point where I could not take it any more and had seriously thought is wasn't meant to be and made plans in my own mind to go somewhere and do something else. I even opened a little coffee shop called, "The Pod," which ended up being a flop...who knew a year ago that the economy would take a nose dive?(God knew). Six months into this business venture and we could read the writing on the wall...keep it going and end up filing for bankruptcy. God was speaking, in that still small voice, and I was listening. So, we shut it down, which put us $36,000.00 in debt. OUCH!!!!

I began an intense period of fasting and prayer,like I've never done before. I did not know what to do or where to turn. I was totally, 100% helpless. And that's when God, in His tender mercy, came crashing through. I am brought to tears of joy as I write this post, because I know, at the very core of my being, those 1095 days (three years) of anguish are over. God is speaking. He has filled me with a fresh dose of Holy Spirit fire. Things that I did not nor could not see three years ago are coming into place. God is moving in me and through me. Believe it or not God got us completely out of debt within months...thanking God for my wife, who insisted on keeping our home in Schenectady (instead of putting it on the market) just in case we needed the equity, and boy did we. Not only that, but when we finally got approved for a home equity line of credit, the interest rates had dipped to a 15 year low. Dare I think that God would cause the economy to collapse so He could rescue one of His servants from evils of debt and financial collapse? Well, He caused time to stand still for Joshua, parted the Red Sea for Moses, and moved a mountain of debt out of our way so that we can continue to plant the church He has called us to plant.

And here we (not just me) stand on the other side of that valley of darkness and dispair. I say "We" because so often I hear church planters refer to "Me" and "My journey." I have news for ya fellas' the family is not just excess baggage, along for the ride, they are a part of the church planting team. Guess who has done more to put us in contact with families in our community? Wasn't me...it was, and still is, my two sons. They have made new friends, who don't come from the greatest family lives. Some of them have horror stories that would make my above testimony seem like a picnic.

I now see the purpose of all of what we have been through these past three years.

Paul said the the Philippian church, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, so that someway or somehow, I may experience the resurrection fom the dead. (Phil.3:10-11)