Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where Were You . . .

Today is a very special day. It is a once in a lifetime day. It is the twelfth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year of this century. We will never again experience a day like this. A special day like this only happens once a year for twelve years every century. And we were fortunate to be part of it. Never again will this happen in our lifetime.

As I thought about this, I began to wonder where I have been on each of these special days over the past twelve years. This is what I can remember.

01.01.01 -- I was celebrating Karsten's first birthday. Yes, my oldest son was born on the first day of the new millennium. It couldn't have gotten off to a better start in my mind. We were living in South Elgin, IL where I was a youth pastor at The Village Church of Bartlett. It was not long after he was born that I started telling my son that his birthday was so special because he would be able to sit and watch football all day every year. He has yet to fully buy into that argument.

02.02.02 -- I was still working as a youth pastor, but I was beginning to sense that God was calling me onto other things. I loved to preach and the majority of the fruit that I saw in my ministry was with those older students. It wouldn't be long until God would move us onto a college ministry. This is one of the days that I cannot pin down what I was doing. It was probably a snowy Saturday in the chicagoland area. I was probably working on the little duplex that we owned. Monique was about six months pregnant as we looked forward to our second little boy.

03.03.03 -- I was now a college pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Green, Ohio  (soon to become Harvest Bible Church, and now is Parkside Church, Green Campus). I was just returning from the Shepherds Conference, a time where I would spend hearing God's Word preached. And a time when I would spend catching up with lots of ministry friends. It was about this time that many things would begin to unravel at the church. Many people were leaving the church, even though our college ministry was really growing at this time. It would become a very difficult time in our life, but one that I would not change for anything.

04.04.04 -- It was during this time of my life that I was working with Verizon selling Yellow Pages. It was hard core outdoor sales, walking into businesses trying to set appointments to sell them on the benefits of yellow page advertisements. I was working this job because I was trying to help a church transition through some very difficult situations. And since they could no longer afford to financially support our family, I had to get a job. This day was a Sunday. I do not remember exactly what I was doing, but I do remember that while it was one of the toughest times of my life, it was a time when I grew significantly in my trust and faith in Christ. Adversity does that for us, it stretches us.

05.05.05 -- I was now working at Grace Bible Church in Hutchinson, Kansas. I never thought I would ever live in Kansas, but it truly proved to be some of the most important and formidable years of my life. One of the first things that we did was to start a Thursday night young adults Bible study. Maybe it was this night that Randy and Dana met sitting on the blue couch. Maybe it was one of the first nights that Kirsten (soon to be Olander) came asking all of her great questions. All I know is that we loved that group. And the small group that followed that group that also met on Thursday nights. Oh, did I fail to mention that Monique was seven months pregnant with little Anni at this point. 

06.06.06 -- It was VBS week at our church, which means that life was hectic on this day. It was the first year that my wife was directing the VBS at Grace Bible Church. It was in these early days that I saw her flourish in this sort of role. I remember being so proud that she would take on a such a big role and make it happen. We also had a church t-ball team that both Karsten and JT played on that evening. I remember those early years of baseball being so much fun. Partly because we were teaching the kids how to play the game, but mostly because we did it with our church family. It was so much fun sitting under that hot Kansas summer sun watching our kids play t-ball together. I miss those days.

07.07.07 -- On this Saturday morning, Karsten had a coach-pitch baseball game. I think this might have been the game that Chad Gilbert, my friend, while pitching to our own players, decided to hit a few kids to get them on base. Maybe not. That evening, we had a special ABF "Night on the Town." We dropped the kids off at the church for a few hours of free babysitting and then went out to dinner with other couples. I distinctly remember sitting at Lone Star Steakhouse with several couples without our children. Good memories.

08.08.08 -- Monique and I had just returned from a few days by ourselves in downtown Chicago, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. We had taken the train from Indiana over to Chicago, and on this Friday had returned to spend a few days with my parents. That was one of the greatest trips of our life. 

09.09.09 -- I am sure on this day, Danette Hukills, one of our admins at Grace Bible Church was wishing everyone a happy special day. She loved these sort of days. The big thing going on this day was a special evangelism training night for the Kansas State Fair. We often told people that they would share Christ more in a four-hour shift at the fair than they would the rest of the year. The fair would be starting in just two days and I am sure I was nervous about what I was going to say as I was asked to do the opening prayer at the opening ceremonies of the Kansas State Fair.

10.10.10 -- On this Sunday morning, I taught the Foundations ABF from one of my favorite Bible passages, Colossians 1:28-29. I was in the middle of a series I called "It's All About Jesus" from the book of Colossians. This passage summarizes a biblical philosophy of ministry. Take some time and read this text today! And Foundations ABF, we sure do miss you all . . .

11.11.11 -- I spent the evening with my son at a youth conference. It was on the way home from that youth conference that Karsten and I were able to have some very honest conversations about the gospel and implications upon his life. I was humbled to listen to him pray, begging God to do a work in his life.

12.12.12 -- I have taken my time trying to remember where I have been the last twelve years. But in all seriousness, my day will be spent studying the Bible, meeting with people, lunch with the senior group from our church, and then cleaning the house in preparation for having lots of people over the next several days. 

What's the point? Thinking through this has made me realize what God has done in my life in the past twelve years. It began with a baby boy while I was a youth pastor living in Illinois. I have lived in three other locations since then. The boy is about to become a teenager. I have two other wonderful children. And through it all, God continues to be God. Stable. Unchanging. Unwavering. The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And my faith continues to be shaped by Him.

And now it's your turn. Why don't you just pick one of those days. Where were you? What was God doing in your life?

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