Today is my 13th anniversary at this place called Eastview and I have to say, that fact is yet another in a long line of "God's ways are higher than mine". I came to Eastview in 1995 with an ear ring and bleached hair and jeans and van tennis shoes to preach at this teen church they had going on. I told the elders in the interview that I'd probably stay here three years or so and then probably move on and become the preacher at a church.
We were on the Towanda Ave. location back then. Caleb was a preschooler in the church's pre-school (this would later become Cornerstone Christian Academy). Mikey (still call him Mikey) was in 7. Gary York had just celebrated 20 years and I was amazed that someone could stay at a church that long.
Well, a lot has changed in 13 years - mostly my kids have grown up here and I have grown up too. How? Well, I'm still inclined to bleach my hair (and I still wear an earring from time to time), but here's how I've grown (maybe this will be helpful in your spiritual journey):
1. I'm more patient now. I don't have to rush spiritual growth or results. I hope to be here many more years, so I'm cool with God changing us and me over time.
2. I know less. The strange thing is that back then I knew everything about running a church (you could just ask me - how embarrassing!), but the more responsibility I have now, the more I understand how little I know about leading in God's kingdom and how much I depend on Him.
3. I pray more (see above. When you know less you pray more. If you know everything, you won't talk to God much, 'cause frankly you don't need his advice)
4. I love preaching at home more than preaching on the road. When I came, I preached at least once a month in some other state (mostly youth events and conventions) and I loved the adventure of that. But now, I love being at Eastview on a Sunday morning and preaching to people who are walking with me in this journey. Preaching to strangers is easy, cause they don't know you; but preaching to your people is more honest - you know I'm not perfect!
5. My family has changed. Most nights my mom and wife are at home and my sons are around some (used to come home to play ball, wrestle and play video games until they went to bed). I'm happy to have one or two meals together each week with both boys present.
Well, I could go on, but I'll stop there. In some ways, these years have gone by so fast and in other ways, it seems like we've been here forever. I may not be a bears fan yet (or even Illinois or Avantis), but I like the Redbirds and the constitution trail and you who call Eastview home. Normal is my home and there is nothing normal about it.