Yesterday during worship we were singing the worship song “I Give Myself Away”. Every time I sing that song God deals with my heart in such a unique and powerful fashion. It says, “Take my heart, take my life as a living sacrifice. All my dreams, all my plans, Lord I place them in your hands. I give myself away so you can use me.” God deals so powerfully with my heart because the world’s pull is so attractive. I trust Him with all my dreams and plans means I have to have a full and unwavering love, loyalty, and trust in Him. It is so fresh in my heart because in January of 2010 God asked me to give myself away and plant City on a Hill Church. The life of a church planter and lead pastor requires one to fully give yourself away. Check that, the life of a disciple of Christ requires one to fully give yourself away. I remember in January of 2010 in a time of grief and disappointment due to circumstances far beyond my control I wrote these devastating words on a yellow legal pad, “Church Planter – The death of a dream.” I was done with ministry as I knew it. I was done with professional pastoring. Experts and consultants and crushed my spirit and turned my dream into a nightmare. Church planting wasn’t always my dream. Becoming a Lead Pastor wasn’t always my dream. Being a pastor wasn’t always my dream. Before I met Jesus my childhood dream was to be a professional wrestler. Yeah that’s right I said it, a pro wrestler. During that season while in wrestling school I had a powerful encounter with God that changed my life forever, but my dreamed remained the same. After a disappointing knee injury and the realization that I don’t look good in tights my dream died. I went to work for Wal-Mart Distribution Center then my dream was to make supervisor then manager and live a godly life and take care of my family. It was during that time that God called me to be a pastor. Pastor Ed Arroyo shared his testimony with me and recognized God’s divine cal on my life. My wife confirmed that calling and my dream of being a pastor was born. I worked my way through seminary, volunteering as a pastor, and working full time. It was during that three years that I really understand what it meant to give myself away. During that song my mind goes back to the time sacrificed by my wife and I to see this dream become and reality. We are newly married and now I spent 40 hours a week at work and 40 hours a week at school and weekends serving in the church. Realizing our dream comes at a high price that is why not everyone fulfills their dreams. I served faithfully for years and then my dream was to pastor Calvary Assembly of God. Everyone knew I was the anointed one to take the former pastor’s place even he knew it and we would joke about it. The time came for him to live out his dream and he left. They called me we began the process and after a few weeks a group of men stepped in and decided it wasn’t the right thing to do and my dream of leading Calvary died on a ugly hill. I was crushed! I think back to those days during that song. Over the next seven years I would have well meaning people come up to me and recognize my divine call to lead a congregation and the dream would be stirred. I fully gave myself to the ministry God had entrusted to me. After seven years I came to a crossroads. Ministry had become a career and no longer a calling. It was beginning to feel void an empty as corporate leadership styles, business models and vocabulary creeped into the church. My dream was dying a slow death as I felt trapped knowing it wasn’t my time. All of these thoughts and emotions come back as I sing that song, “I Give Myself Away”. The intense pain and sorrow and what it took to see my dream birthed into existence and what it takes to keep this dream alive flood my soul. Finally January of 2010 comes and I have a huge decision. I penned those words as I listed everything I could do to escape my former dream turned nightmare. At the top of the list was church planter followed by martial arts instructor, followed by personal trainer, followed by carpet cleaner next to each was how it could happen and what it would take to make happen. However next to church planter was “the death of a dream.” Why? Because it would cost the most. Because it was a giant too big to defeat by myself. Because it was far beyond my own ability. Because it was the impossible dream. During worship God reminds me of my dream and how He made it happen when I elected to give myself away so He could use me. I took my dreams and plans and placed them in His hands. Everything seems to stop for a minute as I listen intently I hear the voices of my congregation. A congregation that has been given to me and entrusted to me by God. My dream has a voice. I open my eyes for a brief moment only to see our prayer team anointing people with oil and praying the prayer of agreement touching heaven. My eyes fill with tears as God deals mightily with my heart. My dream is a reality. The impossible dream has come to life by the grace of God. My heart is filed with gratitude. This dream far outweighs being a professional wrestler, it far outweighs being a career pastor, it far outweighs pastoring Calvary Assembly of God, it is God’s dream for me. I am compelled to sing the song with even more conviction as I dream of what can and will do through City on a Hill Church if we keep clean hands and a pure heart before a Holy God. If we dream God sized dreams. If we dream the impossible dream. If my dream and their dreams become God’s dream for us as a collective body. If our dream continues to be to see lost people found, wanderers brought home to safe pasture, disciples made, and missionaries sent. This can only happen if we give ourselves away so He can use us. the song goes on to say, “My life is not my own, to you I belong, I give, I give myself away.” My life is not my own it belongs to Jesus. This dream I get to live leaves me awestruck that a Holy God would use me. I am overwhelmed by His grace. I have dreams for City on a Hill Church, they are impossible dreams without Jesus. I want to keep it that way. I hope your dreams are impossible to reach without Jesus this way you and I will stay connected to the Master and see things that far exceed what we can ask, think, or imagine. Be Encouraged!
I Give Myself Away