Thursday, September 29, 2016

Chuck-town or Bust

I love Chuck-town.  It is my new hometown.  If you told me ten years ago that I would one day dawn the Vegas-gold and black, I would have said to you, "You're nuts!"  The day before Emily and I married in 1999, we signed a promissory note on a thirty-five acre tract of land adjacent to the property that I was raised on in Seminole County, Oklahoma.  Just a quarter of a mile, as the crow flies, from my parents house, we were going to build our own homestead.  But, in the summer of 2008 my future plans began to shift.  While sponsoring a group of youth at our state's church camp, I realized a very clear call to ministry.  It was so clear that I knew that one day I was going to serve as the lead pastor of a church.  That week, Emily and I came together and we told God that we were on "Go".  We prayed, "God, we will go wherever you lead us, and do whatever you ask us to do."  In the spring of 2010, God made it very clear that we were to uproot our household and move to the big town of Pawhuska, Oklahoma to shepherd Calvary Baptist Church.  It was hard leaving my hometown.  I had lived there for almost thirty-four years, and we absolutely loved the church we were serving in.    Furthermore, it was really hard on my folks, and that made it even harder for me to leave.  But, I had promised God that I would go wherever He said, and I knew that he was leading me to become a Pawhuska Huskie.  So, I left my home, the church family I loved, a great job, and my precious family and moved to the grass prairies of Osage County, a foreign land without trees.
We were thoroughly thrilled to be in the center of God's will, and the church was very receptive of our family, but I was terribly homesick; I missed my old hometown.  Emily and I earnestly prayed that God would melt the people of Pawhuska on our hearts, and boy did He ever.  Over the next six years God taught me how to be a pastor, how to love His people.  Jehovah Jireh provided a very nice home for us to raise our children; a loving church family  who squeezed the skittles out of my children; and a group of beautiful, beautiful people that Emily and I could do life with.  We loved our church family and they loved us, and Pawhuska was our new hometown.  But, in the first few months of our fifth year, God stirred the calling pot again.  In January of 2016, God confirmed in my heart that I was again to leave my state, my people, my family and move to the rolling hills of Charleston, Arkansas.  This move was even harder to understand.  I was Sooner-born and Sooner-bred, and when I died I was supposed to be Sooner-dead.  Arkansas was sure enough a foreign land! But, because God had called us, it was Chuck-town or bust!
My testimony reminds me of a man of faith that I can only dare to emulate.  His name was Abram and his calling is recorded in Genesis 12:1.   "The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people, and your father's household and go to the land I will show you."  Additionally, Abram's response to God's call is recorded in verse 4.  "So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him."  When you combine these two verses together in their simplest form, you will see that God said to Abram "Leave", and he left.  That is what I call simple obedience.  When God says "Go and do this", your response is to go and do.  That, my friends, is my passion, to follow God wherever He asks me to go and do whatever he asks me to do.  Simple obedience has led me to my new hometown, Chuck-town, and I am thrilled to be a tiger!