Supreme Ambition Ministries

To Know Christ and to Make Him Known – Philippians 3:10

MY JOURNEY 8

GET UP!  GO AWAY!  THIS IS NOT YOUR RESTING PLACE!
 sarasota.jpgOn March 3, 1993 Kathi and I arrived in Sarasota, Florida.  It was a big move for us.  We left all three of our children in West Virginia: Chad and Stacye were in college and Nathan was completing his sophmore year in high school.  We hated to leave our children , but off we went into what we thought was obedience to God.  We had been told by two men we respected deeply that it was God’s will.  At the time there seemed to be no choice.
We had been left with the impression we were going into a situation where the senior minister was going to retire soon and that I would be taking his position.  I understood I would begin as an Associate Pastor and help with the youth.  In additon I was under the impression I would oversee their child care center, since I had 11years previous experience in a similar program in West Virginia. Boy, was I in for a surprise!  My first day on the job was a Friday and the church Board fired the present Director, and  sent a letter informing the parents.  Neither the Director nor the teachers had any idea this was going to take place.  Someone from the Board escorted the Director off the premises, and another joined me in meeting the teaching staff.  I guess they hoped the staff would stay and join me in this unusual endeavor.  Thankfully they remained.  They weren’t happy, but at least they stayed.
The following Monday morning I was met by a barage of upset mothers.  May I tell you that I hope I never have to face such a situation again in my life.  What I went through that day was way above my pay-grade.  I had to remind myself of mad-mom.jpgthe words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:28 ,“God causes all things to work together for good to them that love the Lord…”  Some of those dear ladies were concerned that I might actually be a child-molester, and they let me know so in no uncertain terms.  After trying to soothe their frayed nerves  and after a couple of hours, I looked at one of those distraught mothers and said, “You know, M’am  I know I’m a good guy, but I realize you don’t have a clue about who or what I am.  If I were in your position, I would feel the same way.”  When I spoke those words, all the worry and concern left her face.  She decided to leave her child in our center and she became a faithful supporter of our program.
Unfortunately, not all the parents were so easily convinced.  The attendance dropped and the center was having difficulty meeting budget needs.  Couple that with the fact the center was advertised as as Christian child care center and only one teacher even professed to know Christ as Savior.  Two of them were living in open immorality.  I knew we could not continue as we were.  I also knew, if the center was to be the beacon of light and excellence in the community, we had to have more qualified teachers.  Shortly, two of the teachers resigned, and I had to dismiss two others.  The door was open for me to hire teachers more appropriate to our stated purpose.   I found a couple of good teachers, who professed to know the Lord, and they had college training in Early Childhood Education.  However, no sooner had I hired them than the Church Board told me I had to fire one of them and that I had to become a teacher’s aid in the classroom of one of my employees.  I was her boss but I was also her ‘helper’.  Didn’t make sense to me either.  The Board told me, when the enrollment increased and the finances were better, I could leave the classroom and resume my duties as Director.  Well, I began to visit women’s organizations and market our center to mothers and grandmothers.  Before long we were doing so well that all classes were filled, we added an extra class and there was a waiting list.  Still the Board refused to let me come out of the classroom.  Lest you think I felt I was too good to be in the classroom, such was not the case.  While in West Virginia, I had already spent 16 years working in day care and pre-school.  I had spent years in the classroom already.  I thought I had been brought to this Church to become the senior minister.  My undergraduate degree was in Secondary Education.  What I learned about pre-school I learned from the School of Brokenness.  Yet, there was more breaking to be done.
I called my Senior Pastor from West Virginia, who had told me it was God’s will for me to go to this Church and shared with him our dilemma.  He said he would talk to the ‘man of God’ about the situation.  Alas!  I heard nothing from either of them for weeks.  Kathi and I began to ask Jesus what we were to do.  We were both broken and disillusioned.  We had done our best for twenty-five years to submit ourselves and be servants and it appeared no one cared.  Cry  We thought the minister we served in West Virginia and the ‘man of God’ were two of the greatest on the earth.  We put everything on the ‘back burner’ just to have the privilege of serving them.  I missed my children’s childhood, in great part ,because, I spent so many hours (60+/wk) for 16 years serving ‘my men of God’.  My health was in jeopardy. Driven to near dispair, I was sitting in our home in April, 1995, having been in this present predicament for two years.  Suddlenly, I looked at Kathi and said, ‘Honey, we’ve both got college degrees, and I have a Master of Divinity, but none of it means anything.  Could we just start all over and try to get to know God’?  She quickly responded in the affirmative.  After 26 years we just started as if we were new converts and tried to get to know Jesus intimately.
hand-to-the-plow.jpgSome months prior to this I had met a servant of Jesus, Steve Coder.  He is the President of Hand to the Plow Ministries and the Senior Elder in a fellowship outside Sarasota called, The Church at the Barn.  From the moment Steve and I met it was as though our hearts were knit together in an unusual way.  We discovered we had a similar view of the Church as the Bride of Christ. Steve, Linda, Kathi and I began to fellowship together.  Since 1996 I have travelled with Steve to Haiti and to New York City after 9-11 on mission trips.  I mention Steve at this point because he was to be used of the Lord to help us find direction in our life.
In the summer of 1995 and after months of prayer and no apparent direction from Jesus, I was once again sitting in my office in our home on the first Saturday of July, 1995.  I was finishing preparation of  a sermon for the next day, since the Senior Pastor was on vacation.  My mind was on the sermon.  Suddenly, I picked up my new Bible Kathi had gotten me for Father’s Day (I promised her, if she would get me another one, I’d try not to write in it.  I failed).  Anyway, I picked up that Bible, and began to pray through the thumb indexes.  It’s difficult for me to explain this but when I got to the one, which says, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  It frightened me a little.  But, I said, “Jesus, which one is it’?  Just as plainly as I am writing to you now he told me it was Micah.  I asked him which chapter and verse and he said, ‘Chapter 2 and verse 10’.  Well, I didn’t know what Micah 2:10 said any more than you might know.  I turned to it in my new Bible and this is what I saw in the NIV.  “Get up!  Go away!  This is not your resting place.”  I was shocked.  Now I had a decision to make.
In a few days I felt I needed to talk with the Senior Pastor to see if there was actually a place for me  in the ministry and if he was going to retire.  When I spoke with him, he confirmed that he felt there would be no place in the ministry for me there.  A couple of hours later I received a call from Steve Coder, saying he was going to be in town and asking if he could come by and see me?  When he arrived he told me the Lord had given him a word for me, and that word was, “Lo, get thee out”.  Now I received my word from the Lord, and it was confirmed, but I had nowhere to go.  What was I going to do?  That will have to wait for yet another day…Hang in there!

August 26th, 2008 Posted by | Biographical | 3 comments

3 Responses to “MY JOURNEY 8”

  1. Thank you for having the courage to share your journey.

  2. I remember when this was going on and when you left Sarasota, but reading it in print is painful AGAIN. I trust Jesus is bringing great peace to your heart as you share with all of us.

  3. As Bill stated, you truly are courageous. What a wonderful thing it is to tell our stories. It occurs to me that your story intersects with so many others. Your telling of your own story is a wonderful model for many others to follow. You cannot tell our stories, but we can.

    NB