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At this point, I'm going to share more of my personal journey with the Lord, what my growth has looked like and how it has lit a fire that keeps me coming back to Him again and again. I'm going to choose these next words very carefully so that I paint an accurate picture of how this journey started. I was introduced to Christianity at about the age of 13. Now prior to this, I was raised by a loving mother, grandmother and grandfather but we were not "church" people. It was really my aunt & uncle that I can point back to in those early years that influenced our journey into the church. I was baptised at Victory in those early teenage years. Very shortly after that initial experience in the church marked my journey as I began to veer further and further off the path. I really don't care to discuss every detail but I did plenty of ridiculous and immature stuff. However, throughout the years, that connection (Holy Spirit) deep down never left and my heart never hardened to the point where I completely lost sorrow and conviction for the way I was living. I was trying to walk this line that many of us try to walk between living in the flesh and satisfying my own desires but trying not to completely fall off the deep end. Can't I have my cake and eat it too? Come to find out, the longer you try to live that way the bigger the mess you're really making in ways you don't even realize.
On down the road a bit, about 21 years old, I met my wife. We worked together waiting tables at The Black Eyed Pea. I was still sporting my 80's mullet (this was about 1994), and bad habits still staunchly in place. Somehow she saw through this and we began to date. At the time, she was attending Bartlesville Wesleyan College and I was attending OU School of Business. This time of life was instrumental in leading to a course change in the way I was living. Fast forward to 1999/2000 and we were married and quickly moved to Albuquerque, NM for my new job with Phillips Petroleum and this is also where she finished her college requirements. This is also where I attended church again for the first time in years. It was a little Nazarene church called Rio Vista. I remember vividly, soon as that service was over, I couldn't make it to the door fast enough. Somehow the pastor, Jim Comfort, beat me there and befriended me. This little church became our home. I joined the worship team and I would definitely call it a stake in the ground that was influential in putting me back on track.
Through a series of work events we eventually found ourselves back in Oklahoma. We enjoyed our Nazarene church in New Mexico so much we decided to attend another one and landed at Oakcliff Church in Oklahoma City. This was a very positive time of growth as we became involved in leading youth, singing on the worship team, teaching sunday school, preaching occasionally, serving on the board, and all the other things that come with this level of involvement. We made many good friends during this time and I truly cherish the memories made. As life goes, after a number of years, we decided it was time to leave. The next year (an entire year) was a mess trying to look for a church home. We tried nazarene, methodist, non denominational and everything in between. We were just on the verge of throwing in the towel when we found Canadian Hills Nazarene church in Mustang, OK. The pastoral team and people were very nice. I did some teaching, Holly and I served in different capacities but something was different. It just never felt like home. I did connect with and made a friend in Scott. He happened to be reading some books on organic / house church. Eventually, we sat down with the pastor, and with his blessing, left the church and started down the house church path together. We both felt a strong conviction to go down this path and we did learn some valuable things in the time our families met together.
This arrangement, too, met a peaceful conclusion and we parted ways. I began to scour the internet, high and low, in every nook and cranny to find anyone that was living this house church life. Lo and behold, I stumbled upon a scheduled meeting in a local park which led us to our next stage in the journey. We met and "churched" with some wonderful people during this time and grew spiritually. I would like to say that differences can always be resolved but life just doesn't always work that way. Needless to say, our group experienced a peaceful parting of ways after we had been together for quite some time. This left us at a fork in the road.
What does life look like today? Well, that is a fair question and here is the answer. My family loves the Lord and we are each walking our paths. Those paths look different. To summarize, we don't all pile in a car these days and go to the same place. Personally, I meet with a house church group as I'm able and also attend a weekly home prayer group with fair regularity. Sometimes I meet a dear friend and brother in the Lord over coffee. These are all people I genuinely love and care for deeply. The times we spend together are rich and such a treasure. I've grown tremendously in these last years and 2020 is proving to be very special as my relationship with the Lord deepens further. He truly is my greatest joy and I love sharing real life with others that are hungry to truly walk this exciting life to which He is calling all of us.
I will ask you this question, what are you wanting? What are you looking for? Do you feel like you've come to a place in your walk and hit a wall? Do you perhaps feel unsettled as if there is a shallowness to your faith or christian social circle and looking for real depth? Have you been hurt by the church and just don't know where to turn or how to take another step? Are you struggling with sin, addiction, or heavy issues of some kind and don't know who to trust or turn to for guidance? Listen, I'm just a person like you that has lived a fair amount of life and been through the fire enough times to have learned a few things. I don't have all the answers but I do happen to be very close to the King of Kings and the Wonderful Counselor who does. Guess what, He wants to be close to you too!
You may be wondering where do I go from here? I don't even know how to start?