Thursday, December 11, 2014

The next chapter in our story.

God’s plan, not ours: 
a guest blog by our team captain
July 2011
Our feet had just hit the ground in Pensacola.  
We were settling in and finding our bearings (and walmart).  
Our home, a borrowed RV, sat parked 12 feet from the back door of the student building. 
Student ministry was in full swing.  
Relationship seeds were being planted and watered and fertilized.  
It seemed like everyday we met new faces and families and neighbors and future friends.  

As new became normal and faces became friends, Pensacola became home.  
I realized that if I were going to make it in the fast-paced world of teenage disciple-making,
I would have to lock arms with a few guys in town who were already running that race. 
I crossed paths with one of those guys and his name was David Wiggins.  
Pastor of Students at Hillcrest Baptist Church was his title. 
Soon, I called him friend.
We grabbed coffee here and there to talk about life and ministry.  
We spent half a day together each month as part of a peer learning group through our local association.  
We went from quick friends to old friends in what seemed like a couple of minutes.

Fast forward about 3 years.  
We are deeply rooted to our community.  
Rachael is doing what she loves, being a killer wife and mom and teaching 1st grade a couple days a week.
She does all of this while some how managing to keep our family between the lines.  
Lana’s in third grade, 
figuring out how to be kind and brave in a world that is often cold and scary.  
Tucker’s getting his VPK on like a boss.  
He’s working hard to figure out how to put others first and obey his teachers.  
They are knocking it out of the park. 
(I’m a little biased.) 

Our ministry at Heritage is at its peak.  
The best it's been in the 3 1/2 years we’ve been there.  
We’re surrounded by an incredible team of adults in the student ministry who “get it!” 
They are doing small group with students like it's their job, making disciples like Jesus.  
We are doing life with a small group family who loves us like only family can.  
The good, the bad, the brutal, all done together for our good and God’s glory.
We are literally in a season of reveling in God's goodness. 

And then…
Sitting at a table sipping half-burnt coffee, talking ministry and life with my friend David,
a simple question came up.  “What if?”  

What if God has been preparing something from long before this moment? 
What if God has been preparing me?
What if?
Through that question, God slowly began to reveal a plan.  
His plan.  
If I’m being honest, I didn’t know what to do or say.  
Life and ministry were going great. 
I didn’t want anything to change. 
I had been blessed to plant, and I didn't want to miss the harvest.

What I did come to quickly believe was that God was doing something,
and whenever that happens, I want a front row seat.  
David and I finished our overpriced coffee, unsure of what was coming and simply prayed.  
Prayed for God to speak clearly.  

Looking back now it seems like a silly prayer.  
Doesn’t God always speak clearly?  
We just have to be listening clearly to hear what He is saying to us. 
He is not a God of confusion. He is a God of peace and clarity and a sound mind.  
I think somehow I had forgotten that before now.  
But God, in His grace, was about to remind me of that in the clearest way possible.
David talked with his pastor and I talked with mine.  
We simply said, “we need to have a conversation and see what God does.”  
Doors were opened and conversations happened.  
Good conversations.  God honoring conversations.  
As words between men were spoken, God began to speak.  
The harder Rachael and I listened, the louder He spoke,
through His Word, through wise counselors, through confirmation of those nearest to us. 

We heard God telling us that there was something new coming.  
Honestly, we were scared at first.  
scared of the unknown. 
scared of what people might think.  
scared about shaking life up more than we could handle.  
But fear can't stand against faith, and our faith led us to our knees.  
Desperately wanting to follow God, even if that led us away from our current comfort.
In the matter of weeks (that sometimes felt like minutes and others felt like months), 
God’s plan for our family became abundantly clear.  
He was calling us on to what He had been preparing us for all along.  

You see, from our very first days in ministry together,
Rachael and I have been connected to the Body of Christ in small groups. 
My very first “ministry position” was leading a small group of teenage guys as a volunteer.  
By God’s grace, we were loved on by a small group of people 
who treated a couple of newlyweds like we were their own children.  

Through those relationships, God seared in us a love for relational discipleship.  
Life-on-life, Biblical community that can’t be done halfway
if we want to truly grow in Christ. 

I’ll never forget the words I heard from Dr. McKinion in my first semester in seminary.  He said, “As believers our mantra should be, 'I want to make disciple-making disciples'.”  Those words echo through my heart and mind almost every minute.  
It is the heart and passion behind everything that I do.  
It is truly the God given desire of my heart, and the root of the giftings He's given. 

So, when God spoke clearly and called myself and my family 
to make disciple-making disciples 
as a member of the family and team at Hillcrest Baptist Church
it was no longer a matter of what people might think,
or how to handle logistical issues.  
It became a simple matter of obedience.
What a joy it is to obey the Lord!  
He has already begun weaving our hearts with the staff and church body.
As we've had coffee and dinner and conversation,
we've learned that we have the same heart,
and that God has been clearly preparing this for them, and for me. 

I’m humbled and excited and thankful to plant our family 
and begin serving as the Pastor of Adults and Spiritual Development at Hillcrest.

It has been a great kindness of God that He has confirmed this decision to us in many ways,
the greatest and most loving of which has been our current church's blessing as we go.

From our students, to our small group, to our ministry leaders, to our staff team and our pastor,
the response has been an exhortation and encouragement to follow God.
As our church family has watched my giftings grow over the past 4 years,
and has partnered with me to lead our church
toward life-on-life discipleship in all areas of ministry,
they have seen my passion for leading families.
They see this move to a sister church as a way for the Lord to use me,
and they are sending me out
as a disciple-making disciple.

My brothers and sisters at Heritage are teaching me this:
if you're doing life right, leaving will always be sad,
but it doesn't have to be negative.
They've loved us in the coming, and they are loving us in the going.
I couldn't ask for a kinder or more gracious transition.

Team Davis counts ourselves richly blessed
to be part of the Heritage body,
and the Hillcrest body -
all part of the Body of Christ.

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