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Thursday, August 29, 2013

four years ago today

This is more personal than what I would normally share openly like this, but thought it worthwhile, hoping it would encourage someone, and give all glory to God.  It is the short version of my testimony for the last four years, of how the Lord has worked in my life.

Four years ago today, my boss told me that my position had been moved to another country.  Someone far away got my job.

In the IT (information technology) world, this sometimes happens.  Companies want to save money (which I can understand), and so when they find someone that is qualified (or halfway close) that they can pay a whole lot less, they do it.

Let me back up a bit. 
For 23 years, ever since I got out of college, I worked for the same company, doing mainframe software.  Eventually, due to a number of things going on there, I looked for and found a similar position in another company.  I realized that I was moving from a very secure position (because of my reputation), to being the new guy, and that I would potentially be the first to go should they decide to cut staff.  And that's exactly what happened.

After only 16 months at the new company, I was out of work.  "Honey, I lost my job."
My dear wife took it extremely well.  We believe in the sovereignty of God, including in things like employment.  Over the years, God had blessed us, and in our attempt to apply biblical principles for finances, we did have savings to last us for a while.

For a number of years, it had been my desire ("my plan") to retire from IT at around age 55 or so, and work for the church in ministry.  I had been ordained as an elder/pastor (in a "non-vocational" way) over 12 years previously, and pastoral ministry was something I wanted to continue to learn and grow in.

Well, instead of being 55, I was 46, and out of a job.  "My plan" wasn't working out.  What was God's plan?

I asked the church where I had been serving as one of the (unpaid) pastors/elders for 12 years (and attending for 16 years) if they would hire me part-time.  They did, and the drain on the finances went from a fire hose to a large garden hose.  More importantly, it was an opportunity that I had hoped for.

But after a year, the church told me the finances wouldn't allow continued support like that, and so again, I was out of a "job".  I continued at the church, of course, seeking God's direction.

To cut quite a bit out of the story, I ended up church-planting
two suburbs away (around 15 miles).  It was never my intention to compete with my previous church, and I didn't.  I don't believe sound churches should compete, but cooperate in ministry.  That was two years ago.

Today, two years later, Grace Bible Church of Allen (TX) is still very small, but still going.  My savings is long gone.  My modest IRA/401K has disappeared.  We sold our house, and some of the equity we had in it has been spent.  What would the Lord do?  How would our needs be met?

I never really wanted to get back into software, but always knew it was a possibility.  After being out of the industry for four years, a local company decided they wanted me.  So in a few days, my new job starts, and I hope it will be another ministry opportunity.  It's going to be a challenge, with paid "secular" work, continuing to be involved with preaching and church work, and of course a family with 7 children.  What's going to happen?  I really don't know.  But God does, and that's good enough for me.

I thank the Lord I lost my job four years ago today.  It sure hasn't helped the pocketbook, but in that time, I've learned much.  God had worked in my heart about evangelism.  I've gained a deeper love for the gospel.  I'm far bolder than I used to be, though there is still much room for growth.  Preaching each week is an honor and a challenge.  I wouldn't change a thing (except my sin).

No matter what comes, may Christ be praised, and honored, and worshipped.  "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." (Job 13:15a)

As I stated four years ago, in my final sermon at my previous church,
"Life is more than one’s possessions.  He who dies with the most toys – loses them all.  Saving money is a good thing, but we must never cling to what God has given us.  If the Lord wants to take me down to my last wrinkled dollar bill or my last rusty nickel, then praise be to Christ, because it is His dollar and nickel anyway.  If I were to die penniless, then at least there would be one way that I was like Christ."
Whatever may come, by the grace and strength of God, it is my intention and my commitment to serve the Lord in whatever way He ordains, for the glory of Christ, for the edification of saints, and for the conversion of sinners.


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