I’ll warn everyone up front, today’s blog is going to be a bit raw. I want to give folks a peek behind the curtain into the life of a church planter, pastor, husband, uncle, brother, and friend. I have never worked so hard in my life! I have put more hours into City on a Hill Church than anytime before in ministry. Please don’t cry for me:) It is a true labor of love. I didn’t have to plant City on a Hill Church God let me plant COAH. I don’t have to I get to. So don’t feel sorry for me I am living out God’s purposes and the dream God placed in my life. I am doing what I was made to do. Make no mistake about it the cost was and is high, but the results are priceless! Eighteen months ago when my wife and I looked each other in the eyes and decided to follow God on this journey we had no idea how awesome or how hard it would be. God’s hand of favor and provision rested upon us and City on a Hill Church in an unmistakable and undeniable fashion and it still rests heavy upon us to this day. I was willing to work one or two secular jobs to see COAH come to life. We bet everything on Jesus. We walked away from a career, a good salary and benefits into the unknown. The bills didn’t quit coming folks, even though the paycheck isn’t there they still send the bills and they expect you to pay them:) I have no idea why but by God’s grace I never had to take a secular job He provided through City on a Hill Church. I don’t have a full time job I have an all time job to the glory of God. Just because of this blessing doesn’t discount what was pushed to the center of the table and what ultimately was riding on trusting God with our whole lives. It just makes the story more amazing like manna from heaven. I can’t answer why God has favored me so. I am just awestruck at His grace to me. I have two bible stories that I get even better now than I did before because I lived them. I felt like the rich young ruler when Jesus said go and sell everything you have and follow me then you will have eternal life. I was in professional ministry, in a great church, doing God’s work, however I was trapped in the cage of responsibility. I allowed the career, the guaranteed money, the benefits cause me to play it safe. I wasn’t living. I was just making a living. Jesus came and asked me can I have it all? Can I have your position? Can I have your salary? Can I have your benefits? Can I have your security? Ultimately he was asking can I have your trust? Do you trust me? When Jesus found me I had nothing. 21 years later everything I had and have in my life is because of Jesus so when He asked me can I have it all back the answer was yes! All I had left was Jesus and a dream. Two things move people the push of pain and the pull of hope. Both were at work in my life. The push of pain due to living in professional ministry in a corporate environment almost killed my faith in Christ and the Church. The pull of hope that I could lead a movement and bring about change reignited my desire. The second bible story is the story of David in the caves of Adullam. For seven years I was in the caves learning the lay of the land and God was shaping me into the church planter He needed me to be. The pain I experienced, the loneliness, the despair, the grief, the anguish, was overwhelming. All of that was preparation for my leadership. I was in the refiner’s fire and it was hot, hot, hot! Words can not describe the broken place I was in. God does His best work in those times. I was broken, not not like china or glass, I was broken like a war horse was broken. Broken for battle, broken to storm the gates of Hell in this city to the glory of God. God’s hand of favor has been upon me the whole time even in the caves. I have heard people say or they have asked me, “What do you do for a living?” “What do you do all week?” “What is your real job?” “It is easy to plant a church in the same city you have been in for seven years.” Honestly most days it just rolls off my back. Some days it doesn’t. So today I thought I would give people a look behind the curtain. Recently my precious wife was crying and I asked her, “Honey what is wrong?” She said, “I don’t know how you do it. How do you do it?” She had heard something ugly that was said about me. I told her, “I’m a pastor. Sometimes sheep bite and they bite hard. You love them the way Jesus loves you.” She went on through her tears, “If these people knew how much you loved them and what it costs you and what it costs us every day they wouldn’t be so ugly.” She wasn’t just speaking of people who attend COAH she was speaking of other detractors and commentators as well. She has seen me weep over our church and over our city. She has heard my cries to God for the lost and the wanderers. She knows better than anyone how much time, prayer, and effort that goes into this church plant. Even though I am careful to make time for her she knows the endless hours I spend seeking God for City on a Hill Church and our city. I told her, “God is good and He expects us to be good.” Still wrought with emotion she said, “There isn’t a devil in Hell that will keep us from doing what God wants to do in us and through City on a Hill Church! There ain’t a devil in Hell. We will do whatever it takes” I smiled and said, “It is all about Jesus it has always been about Jesus, and it will always be about Jesus. I ain’t even tired yet Baby Girl.” I wrote this today to give you a peek behind the curtain. Anyone who thinks church planting is easy or glamorizes “full-time” ministry needs to take a long hard look. To quote a popular song, “What they don’t know is how hard it is to make it look so easy.” Anyone who doesn’t know how hard it is or what it is like to walk away from everything not knowing the outcome needs to weigh their words wisely. Just because God in His sovereignty felt that seven years in the caves of Adullam was enough and provided for my family through the church plant doesn’t nullify or make the sacrifice any less. My vision isn’t for sale, rent, lease or loan never has been and never will be. I wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain today not to cause you to feel sorry for me or to garner support. I wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain so that you will be encouraged to live out whatever God is calling to do for Him. We live our lives before the face of God! We live our lives for an audience of One! No one but Jesus will ever know what it truly costs. There will always be people trying to steal God’s glory by explaining away His successes in your life. So what! Let them say what they will. There are three people that know what it costs to bring City on a Hill Church to life, me, my sweet wife, and my Savior Jesus! All I had was Jesus and a dream and all I still have is Jesus and a dream, all I’ll ever have is Jesus and a dream. Hope you enjoyed your peek behind the curtain:) Be encouraged!
Behind the Curtain