Cultivating Faithfulness

“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” Psalm 37:3 (NASB)

Providence is a funny thing. One day you find yourself preparing for the next stage of life. The next, you are reminded of the old proverb, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Prov 16:9). Entirely consistent with God’s character and purposes, this week Aimee and I experienced the truth behind this proverb.

Two Paths Merging into One

“What kind of circumstance would keep you here in Dallas, at least for now?”

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve heard this question and responded in similar ways. “We would have be in a situation where we see the clear work of the Holy Spirit telling us, ‘no, not yet.'” Little did we know, God was preparing us for that very situation.

We’ve been preparing for this journey for a little under two years, from the first point of contact with Kris, our church planting coach and friend with the Berean Church Fellowship, to our final months of planning following our church planting assessment that would hopefully place us in Boulder, Colorado this summer. While things were lining up for our Colorado plans our constant prayer was for God’s hand to move in two ways: to provide the circumstances allowing for our move to Boulder, and for his favor in giving us children.

In many ways we saw these desires as two different, but complementary aspects of our life where God was at work. The reality however, is that our journey in ministry and our hope for a family has and always will be part of the one story God is weaving in our lives for his glory and our good.

Hurry up…and Wait!

As we sat in our doctor’s office, we knew God was telling us, “you aren’t going anywhere yet. Wait on me, and be faithful.”

Around a year ago, the Lord gave Aimee a beautiful and godly desire to raise a family. In the past we joked about having a ‘quiver full’ of children, but now we saw clearly the beauty and goodness of having children. We began to pray for God’s favor in conceiving , but went through the rest of the year with no good news to share with our loved ones. So, after nine months of disappointment, Aimee made an appointment with her doctor and had a few tests to determine if there was any underlying issue that was keeping us from getting pregnant.

When the tests came back, the doctor called Aimee to let her know the results (somewhat inconclusive) and to suggest that we meet with an infertility specialist. It’s no coincidence that this call came to us in Boulder, Colorado two hours before we began our assessment with the Berean Church Fellowship (see my last post, The (Slightly) Unknown Future). We began the assessment knowing that these two story lines were converging into one.

These last two months as we’ve consulted with our specialist (a wise and skilled doctor that God has used to provide great comfort), we learned that there are a couple of issues that may be keeping us from conceiving, and that Aimee will need a minor surgical procedure to address the problems. God willing, this procedure will open the door for future pregnancy.

At first we did not see this process keeping us in Dallas, and continued our plans for a summer departure to Colorado. But as we sat in our doctor’s office this week, we knew that God was changing our plans. Aimee’s recovery time will be longer, and the surgery will address more than we initially anticipated. The clear work of the Holy Spirit was showing us where we would be placing our focus this summer, not on a cross-country move, but on the outworking of his plan for our lives here. For now, we are staying put and trusting fully in the purposes of our God.

Dwell in the Land…

There are so many little circumstances in all of this where God has shown his mercy and favor. The fact that we have insurance here and are able to address these issues with no financial burden is an incredible blessing that has shown us God’s hand at work. The fact is not lost on us that God has somehow spared us even further heart break when so many close to us have suffered through the loss of children, whether miscarriage or otherwise. The openness of our sending organization to patience and their willingness to adapt and flex has encouraged us with a sense of God’s grace and purpose. Through everything, we are so thankful for God’s perfect timing and how he is using this period of our life to shape us further into the image of Jesus.

We don’t know exactly what this means as far as timing for our church planting work with the Berean Fellowship. Our desire and conviction is that God is calling us to plant churches, and to do so in Boulder, whether that means this summer or next year or beyond. We just don’t know. We do know that while there may be a delay in us getting there, God has called us to “dwell in the land, and cultivate faithfulness.” Our task as followers of Jesus is to reflect the beauty of Christ while inviting others into the journey of a lifetime pursuing him. We will do that no matter where we are or what we face, because we know God is at work in bringing redemption to his people.

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The (Slightly Unknown) Future

Except for a few misguided attempts in my late teens (hello Xanga!), I’ve never been much of a blogger. Considering it’s been three months since my last (and only) post, I would say that that reality won’t be changing any time soon. Either way, I wanted to update you on what’s new in our lives and the many ways in which God has been at work over the past few months.

In my last post (Church Planting in the Front Range) I mentioned our upcoming church planting assessment with the Berean Church Fellowship. During the first week of February we hiked up to Boulder (not really, we flew on a plane) and went through several intense days of presentations and consultations with other potential church planters and church leaders. Though the experience was unfamiliar and at times stressful, it was a week where many relationships were strengthened and new friendships formed. Above all, it was a time where we could see God at work in the churches of the Berean Fellowship and in the lives of the men and women who participated in the assessment.

The assessment concluded with the group of assessors (pastors and church planters in the Berean Church Fellowship, as well as psychologists with the consulting firm assisting in the assessment) giving us our recommendations for our future ministry plans. By God’s grace, we received the exact recommendation for which we’d prayed. We were approved to complete a 1 year church-planting residency in Boulder and upon completion to begin the process of planting a church in this beautiful city.

So Now What?

What does this mean? It means that, God willing, we will leave everything we know–our jobs, our home, friends and family–and move to a still unfamiliar place for the sake of seeing men and women believe that Jesus is their only hope. Aimee and I have had long talks about what this means in practical terms and the difficulties we have and will continue to face along the way, but through it all we’ve been reminded of God’s promise in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Whatever our lives look like over the next few years, we know that our God is with us. It’s a reality that’s exciting and sobering–we don’t know exactly what the future looks like, but with joy we will follow Jesus all the same.

Many have asked me about a timeline for our move, the church planting residency and eventual church plant. Our hope is to leave for Boulder this July. Our prayer has been for God to provide the right housing and jobs that would enable this to happen. From there we would begin the residency process, addressing many practical and spiritual aspects of church planting as we acclimate ourselves to our new home and begin work in developing a network of relationships and friendships that God would use to form new communities of faith. Throughout this process, our highest aim is to live as followers of Jesus and to make disciples–this is our most important task as we remember Jesus’ words to Peter: “I will build my church” (Matt 16:18). We must remember that Jesus is the one who will build up the church, and that our responsibility as believers is to be faithful to his command to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20). While we are certainly praying that God would form new churches for his glory, it’s always with the reminder that it is ultimately his work that will accomplish it, not ours.

Pray For Us!

Throughout the next several months and beyond, we need your prayer! Pray that God would prepare Aimee and I for what lies ahead and that we would love our new city well. Pray for the right jobs and right housing to become available at the right time, and for a smooth transition to a difficult area of the country and a different culture. We are also praying for God to assemble the right team for this area, for men and women who are passionate about following Jesus and seeing the people of Boulder find life in his name. As we adjust to Boulder, pray that our lives would reflect the beauty of Jesus to a people often skeptical to the claims of Christianity. In all of these things we are asking for God to move in big ways, knowing that he is faithful.

Something that I’ve been reminded of many times over the weeks following our assessment is what it truly means to follow Jesus. I’ve soaked up the four books of the Bible known as the Gospels and asked the Spirit of God to work on my heart to reveal more of Jesus and what he desires from his followers. In this process, I feel as if I’m understanding the word “disciple” in fresh ways every time I dwell on its meaning. A couple of different passages have stirred my heart in powerful ways. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus describes a disciple in this way: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Luke records the same encounter in Luke 9:23-24, and in both passages the message is the same: If we want to follow Jesus we must pursue him and his purposes rather than what we or the world deem as most important. Our hope throughout this church planting journey is first and foremost to be followers of Jesus, who are willing to pursue him and his mission wherever that may lead.

We are so thankful for your prayer–stay tuned for another blog post in the near future about other ways that you can support God’s work in the Front Range.

Church Planting in the Front Range

On a January night while vacationing with friends and family in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, I received a text from a good friend.

“How would you feel about planting a church with me?”

Up to that point, I never had given much thought to church planting, whether as a part of a church plant or part of a team leading a newly planted church.

Yet that one message from a friend (of all things, about planting a church in Knoxville, Tennessee) began a journey that transformed the paradigm through which I view God’s church and the role he has for my wife and I as we seek to be obedient to his will for the sake of the gospel of Jesus.

The Road to Church Planting

That journey began with a renewed passion for churches that thrive in their devotion to Jesus. It persists today with the conviction that the body of Christ, the Church, exists to proclaim the reality of the gospel and to see lives transformed from brokenness to restoration. The journey will continue with the planting of new gospel-centered churches that serve as witnesses to what Jesus called ‘the kingdom of God’–the day when Jesus will return and bring ultimate restoration to all things.

The road to church planting has taken us from awareness, to recognition of the need for healthy church plants, and now to investment–to the giving over of our lives to the will of God in answering the call to plant churches for the sake of the gospel.

The Front Range

My wife Aimee and I are both native Texans. We went to college and grad school in Texas, and have spent our entire lives in the Lone Star State. So when, on the journey from spectator to player in the world of church planting, some of our close friends in ministry suggested we look to get involved in church planting in the Denver metro area, we were a little underwhelmed.

While we wanted to serve God in an urban setting, we had not given much thought to life outside of Texas. However (as usual), God had other plans. It seemed everywhere I went when I spoke of our future desire to plant churches in such an environment, similarly minded friends spoke of what was going on in “The Front Range”, the heavily populated area stretching from Colorado Springs, Colorado north to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

It was such a clear and repeated connection that we knew we needed to give serious prayer over to whether this might be the door God was opening for us and whether he wanted us to plant churches in this area. As we have sought counsel and connected with church planting networks active in the Front Range over the past 15 months, God has given the college town of Boulder (home of the University of Colorado) special significance for us.

As I type this post we are in the process of preparing for a church planting assessment that would allow us to relocate to this cultural center with an opportunity to grow and learn in a hands-on church planting environment. Our hope and prayer is that by God’s grace we will see men and women in the Front Range come to faith in Jesus and that churches will form that foster community united for the sake of the gospel.

This site will serve as an information hub for progress in our church planting journey. Here you will be able to read updates about our timeline as we prepare and continue to seek the Lord through this process, as well how you can join with us along the way. As you read this, join with us in praying for the gospel to penetrate the hearts of those whom God is calling to himself in the Front Range and beyond.