Light At The End Of A Long Tunnel
For those of you who have been following our journey for the past few years you may have been wondering, what ever happened to the Discipleship Center. Well, first of all I would like to thank you for continuing to follow us. Without your prayers and support we would have given up long ago.
New Opportunity To Display God's Grace
In the winter of 2001, I made a horrible decision that would have consequences that follow me for the rest of my days. I remember sitting in a jail cell and reflecting all of my life decisions up to that point, and wondered if God could still use someone like me. As I grew up, I was taught that God died for all our sins, but the inference was that He'd died for all of our sins up to the point of salvation, and then it was up to us to live a moral life and "keep close accounts" with God regarding any little sins that might come along.
I lived under a shadow of guilt and shame for almost two decades before I had a major breakthrough while working at our local homeless shelter. I was offered a position of assistant pastor, but I initially declined because they didn't need the stigma of someone like me associated with their ministry. That pastor, in a moment of pure grace, asked me if I thought that Jesus died for all of my sins or just a few of them? What good was Jesus sacrifice if it wasn't powerful enough to cover all of my sins. He went on to tell me that Jesus died for all my yesterday sins, all of my today sins, and all of my tomorrow sins. We can only relax in God's grace if we believed that there would be no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Once I was able to realize God's true gift of forgiveness and redemption I was finally able to move forward with my life.
If God's grace extended to me in forgiveness, what else would his grace extend to in my life?
I had a new boldness in my teaching, which motivated me to enroll in a Christian college and to go for my Bachelors of Divinity degree, which God opened the door for. I taught against the traditional viewpoint of divorcees being permanently disqualified for the office of deacon, elder and pastor, and God opened the eyes of our local church. I was successful in starting the Discipleship Center, even if it isn't what I originally envisioned. I was successful in my IT career, even if it wasn't what I originally envisioned as well. Finally after a lengthy vetting process I was hired on by our local Christian university.
This Is Not Me. I Would Never Have Written My Story Like This.
I could never have written a story with a more unlikely character as myself, and the plot would have been much more straightforward with brighter and happier themes, but I don't write my story, God does. God took the most unlikely character and directed me through some dark places, through many misadventures, over some very rough paths, and finally after 22 years of feeling like I was forever paying for my sins with no end in site, I find myself at the end of a tunnel and am living in the second half of the 23rd Psalm...
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
I am entering into a new season of peace that God prepared for me long before I could even allow myself to dream of this possibility.
But What About The Discipleship Center?
The short answer is, I don't know. Right now I am re-focusing on my teaching ministry.
I want to finish my series on Romans, but am developing a new podcast with some friends that focuses on the steps of discipleship and what it means to be a true follower of Jesus. Watch for updates on the website.