God loves you, everyone you know, and everyone you don’t so much that He sent Jesus to be born, live and share God’s message, die on a cross for our sin, rise from the dead, and return to complete His reign. We can receive this love that God has for us, let it transform us and let it overflow to others. The Holy Spirit is at work in the lives of everyone, our love can overflow in helping an individual to take a step toward trusting in Jesus as Savior or a step in growing closer in relationship with Jesus. It is discipling if we can have a consistent relationship with someone and help them to take a step or many steps.
God has called my wife, Charla, and I to let our love overflow through pastoral ministry. I have been a pastor in EFC-MAYM for over 30 years, and she has been my partner all the way. After our daughter, Hope, was killed tragically in a car accident while riding in the back seat of a driver’s ed vehicle in January of 2020, we had many new questions and began to seek to understand God better, His role in the events of our lives, and how grief impacts our relationship with Him.
We have found that God is always good, He is directing the course of history and is sovereign, but also gives us freedom which allows for us to genuinely love Him and also to disobey Him. Disobeying Him (sin) leads to death and all kinds of pain in our world. God sent Jesus to enter that pain. Jesus is a suffering God. He identifies with our pain and when we commit to follow Jesus, we embrace Jesus’ mission to enter the pain in this world and share His love in it. Job embraced his life on this planet after his suffering. The best Hebrew rendering of Job 42:6 is “Therefore I recant and change my mind concerning dust and ashes.” Job joins with God in entering the pain of the world, sharing His compassion and salvation.
We have also found that God accepts us where we are. True spirituality is being real. It’s not putting on a fake smile, a superior religious mask or any other kind of mask but being genuine. The people of the Bible are genuine people, like David, who had an affair with one of his military leader’s wives and had him killed. Yet God called him a man after His own heart. People in the Bible hurt, grieve, and complain about God’s apparent unfairness, and sometimes they get angry with Him. God wants us to be real with Him so our hearts can be healed. He wants us to run to Him when we disobey so that He can forgive and cleanse us. A majority of the Psalms are laments, and there is also the book of Lamentations. They can be great scripts to use when expressing our true feelings to God.
June 15, 2022, Charla and I were called from OKC Friends and moved north from south Oklahoma City to Edmond. We are in the process of starting a new ministry, Irresistible Hope Ministries (Irresistible Hope Ministries), focused on discipleship, emotional health, and grief support. We are grateful for the support of EFC-MAYM and the Home Mission Board. We want to be available to churches, have an online presence, and Charla is working on a book. As certified grief educators, we are uniquely qualified to talk with your church about grief and lament.
In mid-December, God gave us the opportunity through a local funeral home to start a monthly group for grieving parents, “Let’s Say Their Names.” Eighteen years ago, we started Miscarriage Hope for parents whose babies had died before birth. We began a new series of monthly meetings led by Charla on February 20. The groups have always been small, but we’ve been able to touch many lives over the years. Along with these ministries, we’re hoping to start a missional church. We are meeting with Randy and Carissa Bailey on Sunday mornings to study Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.
Shortly after Hope’s death, we began Dancing for Eternity (Dancing For Eternity) to fulfill her dream of helping children who couldn’t afford ballet lessons. We formed a board and started a non-profit. Dancing for Eternity provides 90% scholarships to six girls. We also provide a free four-day summer camp where children learn ballet and are taught a daily Bible lesson and craft.
Part of the church planting process is developing prayer support. If you would like to support us in prayer and receive periodic updates please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Holy Spirit is working in the life of every human being to bring good from bad, life from death. How are you allowing the Holy Spirit to transform you and use you in the lives of others?