Well... at least eventually.
I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “time flies when you are having fun.” I believe the sentiment of that statement is true. Moments and seasons of overt joy can make us lose a sense of time but when those times are over we’re always saddened because “it feels like we are just getting started”. Well, that phrase does not apply to our journey as a family over the past few years. The past three years have been pockmarked with long and hard times of uncertainty, fears, and a whole lot of tears. These experiences have also intermingled with the deepest joy we have ever known. A gift of the resurrected Christ is that he provides His kids with a stubborn hope and the list is long of the Lord’s sustaining grace to me and family. The Lord has been kind but ruthless in His continual rebuilding project of my soul.
That project has taken me into vocational avenues I had never dreamed would be part of my human experience. Store manager.. insurance agent.. video blurb writer.. office cleaner.. lawn care salesman… and you know what? I have needed every drop those experiences. I have learned through them what many were able to learn a long time ago. I am loved by my Savior because He has chosen to out of his grace and mercy. Not for what I offer Him.. not for what I do for Him.. and not because of gifts and abilities from Him. Simply put.. God has been so good to me… even when it felt like hell.
A little over a year and a half ago, Angela and I began to have discussions and prayer over the prospect of re-entering church-based ministry. This discussion extended to individuals close to us but also individuals that were not close relationally but able to give us God-honoring counsel and wisdom. We sensed that a healthy posture for us to take regarding vocational ministry is to be open but be faithful in our present vocational situations. In other words, we deemed it wise to not initiate or pursue vocational ministry and to carefully consider any opportunities if any that would come our way.
It looks like that time has come. Over a year ago I began a relationship with a church just south of Nashville, TN called The Bridge. (www.bridge.tv) This relationship has mainly consisted of preaching select dates in their preaching schedule and encouraging their leadership when given the opportunity. The Lord has done a beautiful thing in The Bridge’s culture. I have experienced already their cultural markers of Gospel centrality, infectious joy, hospitality, missional aggression, graciousness, vulnerability, intentionality, and ambition as big as God’s promises. These attributes are mentioned on the website and I have found that it’s actually true. Their present initiative of No More Fatherless has and will continue to bring Gospel hope to many hurting and lost people. Their boldness for the Gospel simply emboldens me.
The leadership of the Bridge has recently asked me to become part of their team as Director of Discipleship and Training. We believe that this opportunity is God’s assignment for us and we gladly accept this invitation. I will not belabor you with all the details of my role but it will involve team preaching, teaching, and creating an ecosystem of discipleship and leadership development that desires for the world to know the precious redemption of Jesus. My role will serve under the oversight of elders and directly reports to their head of staff. I begin this assignment on July 28th, 2019.
Many of you may be asking at this point, “So are you moving down to Tennessee this quickly?” The short is answer is “no”. Because of having a son who is entering his senior year in high school, the Bridge is extremely gracious to us by allowing me to work remotely from Dayton and travel to Tennessee six to eight days out of the month. Lord willing, we will move down to Tennessee around this time next year. In the meantime, our family will be serving and supporting the ministry of University Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio. I will also continue in some form the outreach of the Crucible Group as it helps me serve needs in the broader kingdom.
So will you please pray for us as we embark on this new adventure? I am cautious about saying that this is a “new beginning” because I have learned of the merciful new beginnings that the Lord provides every day for his sons and daughters. A little over three years ago I wanted my life to end so let’s just say that there’s a simple sweetness to live and move in the sonship of Jesus. To Angela and I this opportunity is a “new kind of beginning” and we are receiving it with expectant joy. We are also soberly excited. We are excited about this opportunity and yet simultaneously sobered by it because Dayton, OH has and in some sense will always be home to us. This has been the only place our children have known as home so you can imagine all the crazy emotions running through our home. Already, we are seeing how God using this in very particular ways in each of our children (our cat doesn’t really care). This makes sense because our relationships run deep here and the Lord has used those relationships through our years at Apex Community to help nurse us back to Gospel health. We are deeply grateful. We also know that ultimately “home” is following the Lord’s leading and humbled to “pour ourselves out” through the community of the Bridge and beyond.
Needing Jesus, Rob and Angela
When you think of it, please pray for us at the Bridge because we are in the midst of a leadership transition. A few months ago my friend Josh Howerton transitioned from being the lead pastor to a similar position in Texas so we are praying that God makes it very evident who He desires for that role in our future. Thank you ahead of time for praying.
When I meet with Rob Turner for soul care, we meet at a local restaurant. It almost always begins the same way: the waitress comes to the table and Rob says, “Ok, we’re gonna pray in a minute. What’s one thing that we could pray about for you?” It’s all very natural. It’s Rob living the gospel. That’s how the entire evening goes. Rob lives the gospel as he listens to my pain and my push-backs, and gently but firmly takes me to Jesus. He invites me to consider what Scripture reveals about the real Jesus, not the flannel-graph version of my Redeemer that I met as a kid. Compassionately, without condemnation, Rob takes me to the Savior who is for me not against me.
Greg - Educator