When I first became a believer, I was fortunate to be swept up by an older believer and mentor into a men’s group where I first learned how to do life as a follower of Jesus. I was just glad to be around a group of men that I esteemed so highly. Looking back, I cringe at the things that would come out of my mouth. I was in sales at the time and I did well and as a result, lived a very materially-driven life. Breaking that pattern was hard, mostly because I didn’t realize how deeply it influenced my life.
Several changes in the Valley Bible Church staff will be taking place over the coming months. VBC is committed to equipping men and women for future ministry leadership roles in the church and in the expansion of God’s kingdom. As time passes and our church grows, it’s necessary for some of our leadership roles to change and reflect what God is doing in our lives individually, what best suits the needs of our church family, and gives God the greatest glory.
Years ago, as a young marine, I spent the night on watch in the jungle of Thailand. As the sun rose over the treetops I had a unique view on a hilltop over the jungle valley. It was breathing taking and I knew it. However, it was a mere moment of relief shrouded in misery that preceded this moment and would undoubtedly follow, as the day proceeded and the jungle heated up and life continued into the next day and so forth. I felt in that moment empty, devoid of a soul. I didn’t feel that way simply because of the rigors of military life, but more so because of the moral compromises I had made up to this point in my young life.
I think it safe to assume that we all have been in crisis at some point in our lives. I am talking about those times when we reach a point of true desperation. I am talking about those times when we feel most exposed in relationships, raising our children, or suffering from things beyond our control like cancer or profound loss. In those times when we have lost control and have run out of answers to right the ship, or we see things in ourselves we didn’t think existed, we either spiral further out of control or we turn to God. When we turn to God we often do one of two things: We choose to trust God or we try to manipulate Him. This is not unique to those who are lost or immature in their faith. It can happen to us all, but it is a symptom of forgetting the heart of God and/or setting our expectation on our own will rather than His.
For some of you who know me, it may be hard to believe but when I was young I was not cool. Of course, I am kidding. I am not sure I am very cool today, but I am not nearly as conflicted as I was for the majority of my life. Today, I am confident in a simple and profound truth. In junior high I was among the 99% of the population that was awkward and tortured by the 1% of the gifted and beautiful people of the world.
If I look back at my new life with Jesus, the periods where my growth stagnated or I felt stuck almost always were periods where I was captive to bitterness in my heart toward others. I think all of us, if we are honest, can recall a time where we have experienced significant pain at the hands of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we find ourselves in these situations, forgiveness seems far less gratifying than personal justice or writing relationships off.