An Unexpected Guest

IMG_1812-1An unexpected guest showed up in our backyard this morning. The dogs were barking like crazy, and a strange hissing sound was coming from our barbecue. Turns out it wasn’t hissing, it was the screech of a baby owl. The owl was somehow separated from his family and was just trying to get a good day’s sleep behind our grill….the dogs were not cooperating.

So we locked the dogs in the house and left the owl alone for an hour or two, hoping he would just fly away on his own accord. He was scared and nervous though, and wasn’t going anywhere. So eventually, we made the call to Animal Control. I pressed the officer to find out what was going to happen to our new friend. Apparently, our city takes animals like him and cares for them in a foster environment for a couple of weeks, then brings them back to the neighborhood to release them into their natural home.

As they picked him up, this frail baby owl spread his wings. At that moment, he looked powerful. He was majestic. He’s young now. He cowers in fear. But when he spreads his wings, you get a glimpse of the strong predator he will become. In a few weeks, he’ll be back in the neighborhood — bigger, stronger, and hunting down all the rodents we’d rather not have prowling around.

But not yet. He needs to be rescued. He needs people like us to keep the barking dogs away. He needs Animal Control officers to care for him and make sure he’s ready to take on the real world. And then he will fly. He’s not meant to hide in my backyard, he’s meant to soar and hunt. Just a little more training, and he’s ready to take on the world.

In a couple of days, my daughter will walk across a stage. We will cheer, and she will be a high school graduate. Today, she is still young. She needs a little guidance. She needs more training. But soon she will take on the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love my “little girl.” She has filled my heart with memories I will treasure forever. It’s going to be hard to drop her off at college. But she was not meant to hide in my backyard, she’s meant to soar.

An owl dropped in and I got a new perspective. They may be wise after all.



At Journey’s End, A New Venture

Venture StickerOn June 15, I looked out over Trinity Church for the last time as the Teaching Pastor. I preached my final message (complete with a light saber, tambourine, and a Moon Pie) and said “Good-bye” to the church I love. Transitions are part of life and ministry, and it was time to discover the next step for us. Blessed with a generous severance package, I started the journey toward my next ministry position. Along the way, I needed to rest, heal, and sharpen. We spent time on the beach, we had a family vacation, I’ve taken a few seminary classes, and I went through a lot of interviews.

Last Sunday, October 19, that journey came to an end. It was both an end of a journey and the genesis of a new venture. I stood with my wife after hearing the results of the vote and happily accepted the invitation to join the staff of Venture Church in Beaumont as Teaching Pastor, working alongside our friends Rob and Amy Peterson.

Venture Church is a warm, loving church. The church is small, but the vision is big. The vision of Venture is to love, grow, and multiply. Part of this includes planting other churches. I look forward to see how the Lord leads as we follow his plan and timing in this.

Here are a few of the questions I’ve been asked about this new “venture” in ministry:

What will I do? Rob will remain the Lead Pastor at Venture, and I will work alongside him as the Teaching Pastor. We will share the preaching privileges. Generally speaking, I will lead most of the educational/discipleship ministries.

Where does Venture meet? The church meets at the Chatigny Community Center (1310 Oak Valley Parkway in Beaumont) at 10:00 am on Sundays (we meet at 9:30 am this week, but change to 10 am on Nov. 2).

Can this work financially? We are excited about serving at Venture. In order to make the partnership work financially, I have committed to raise support as a church planter for the first 18 months. Initially, I will raise 50% of my salary through support (definitely a step of faith for us!).

When do I start? Although my official start date is January 1, our plan is to be as involved as possible between now and then. I probably won’t have a heavy teaching role until January, but will be actively raising support, learning more about the ministries at Venture, and building relationships with people in the church.

Are Jill and I excited? Unbelievably so! We are joining a place where we sense God’s calling as well as the needs of the church and community. The idea of “small church/big vision” gets both of us excited about caring for people and teaching the Word, while looking outside the church for opportunities for effective outreach.

Above all, I am grateful for God’s hand at work in our lives. A friend of mine recently commented that it always seems to be “God’s will” for pastors to move to a bigger church with a larger salary. He was refreshed by our story – that we would transition from a large church to a small church with limited resources. We are confident of God’s leading, we love spending time with God’s people at Venture, and we are expectant that God will use us for his purposes.

At the end of the journey lies a new Venture!