Five years ago, our family packed up our belongings and moved away from Seneca, PA. I had just resigned my position as Lead Pastor at the Venango Woods Church. This was where we had lived for nearly five years, and a church people that we loved dearly. It was with heavy hearts that we left to follow what we felt God was leading us to do. We had left with plans to do something that we had never done before. We were going to start a new church in Cape Coral, FL.
If I were to tell you that the last five years were easy for our family….I’d be lying. I would not be exageratting at all to say that it has been the most difficult, challenging, and discouraging time of our lives. Our big plans for God quickly vanished before our eyes. The church plant (Fusion Church) never got off the ground. This drove me into a deep depression, lack of confidence and messed up priorities. This wrecked my spirit as I forgot my identity in Christ. You can read more about this dark time in my book Gospel Confusion: Confessions of a Pastor. I wrote the book during a time of healing while attempting to plant a second church with my good friend Tom Richards. The Way Church never got off the ground either…but God used it greatly to renew my spirit for His Glory.
I had set out to accomplish a great work for my God. What I had no clue about… is that the real great work God wanted to do – was within me. God had to rip out of my heart the idols of my life. Most of these idols were named Dan Sardinas. God’s grace led me to repentance, and his gospel has brought me a renewal of identity. My gospel amnesia began to clear away. The truth is….I was not ready to plant a church five years ago. God knew that. I didn’t. I was at a place of my life where I was filled with pride and my “plans” for God. God has an amazing way of humbling his people. Over the last five years I have tried to rush back to full time vocational ministry. Time and time again…the Lord shut the door. I had grown ever more discouraged and thought for awhile that God was done with me. I struggled with this for a very long, long time. I began to blame myself for making mistakes of leaving Venango Woods Church. I had convinced myself that I had failed God. What I now know… is that God was providentially and mercifully humbling me to prepare me for what he had next.
Last August, I emailed my resume to a church that was looking for a Sr. Pastor. Several months went by and I was contacted by this church this past January. After several meetings, interviews, questions and answers…the pastoral search committee invited me to be a pastoral candidate. On April 21st, 2013, I preached and immediately following the service a business meeting was held. The members of the Northwest Baptist Church in Bradenton, FL unanimously called me to become their Sr. Pastor. I praise the Lord for his kindness, grace and mercy. It is an honor, privilege and enormous responsibility to be their pastor. I rejoice today that God is Faithful…even when we are not. I praise the Lord that he ultimately has a plan.
Please pray for our family as we begin this new chapter. This Sunday, May 5th, 2013 I will be officially installed as the Sr. Pastor. Bradenton is only about 90 minutes away from where we currently live. Our goal is to move, Lord willing, by June 1st. We are currently looking at rental homes and need your prayers for wisdom. I am reminded today that God doesn’t need me. He uses me because He loves me. My first message as pastor will be immensely important. It is a message that I pray will be the defining theme of Northwest Baptist Church. I am preaching on the centrality of the gospel from the text of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. May God be glorified.