Posts Tagged ‘decisions’

One of my favorite lines in the Star Wars series is “I have a bad feeling about this”. Variations of this phrase can be found in each of the six Star Wars movies and it always cracks me up when I hear it. Ok now that I let my inner Star Wars geek out on to more important matters like…discerning God’s will.

As I reported earlier our family has been in the process of figuring out next steps and we have been guided from Philadelphia towards Pittsburgh. It is a long story but the change in plans was due to some godly counsel, wisdom from the word, circumstances, and the witness of the Spirit. My question now as I process what God is doing is the fact that I had a bad feeling about Philadelphia and a good feeling about Pittsburgh. Now I am from the school of thought that says do not trust your feelings but I also know that my feelings have been used by God to solidify decisions. What do I mean by this? This has happened twice in major moments of decision: leaving the church I grew up in
choosing to date my wife Yvette

Example #1: The time I left the church I grew up in to be a church planting intern was a tough time. I had not known any other brand of Christianity and was solidly rooted in that faith community. On top of that all of my maternal family was connected to the church and at the time my grandfather was the pastor. I processed the decision and logically it all added up but I still was not released to go forward with it until one day I was in a major prayer/fasting service and while praying I “felt” nothing. Just so you know this particular season of prayer/fasting was something that I had consistently prayed about for 30 days straight. I took this lack of feeling as a sign that God was leading me to be a church planting intern at VX church. That step led me to finding a wife, developing my gifts, and seeing God do some amazing things through a small multiethnic church fellowship.

Example #2: When I first started developing feelings for Yvette we had become really good friends over the years and more intensely for two months before I realized that I was definitely falling for her. At that point in my life I did not take “feelings” as the only indicator that I should pursue marriage with her because I knew that it took more than feelings to make a good marriage. So we waited and talked and discussed things. I gathered information on her and even interviewed her. In retrospect I was brutal and treated it more like a job interview than a relationship. Then at 3am in the morning after many hours of prayer I could not feel anything. I took this as God releasing me to date her. Here we are almost 7 years later and I am glad that I took that step.

In retrospect both of those examples were decisions that led to great blessing in my life and they were both associated with feelings or a lack thereof. Fast forward to 2011. I did not have a good feeling about moving until Yvette discussed it with me a couple of weeks ago and we figured out logically that Pittsburgh was a better place to relocate considering our immediate goals (rest, be near her family, change of scenery, better cost of living). On the other hand I also got an immediate surge of good feelings and emotions about it and I felt free to pursue it wholeheartedly. Ultimately as in the previous decisions it is loaded with uncertainty and mystery which is characteristic of every step of faith but I can’t help but think that emotions and feelings are not always bad in making decisions. I think the Star Wars characters were right in at least they were aware of their emotions and feelings during their crazy adventures and believe me..I am on one crazy adventure.

What do you think?

Are there any biblical examples of people moving on emotion?

Have you ever been led by your emotions and believed it was God?

Do you think that God chooses to speak to emotional people through their emotions?


PhillyskylineRight now we are preparing to go to Philadelphia and just like the t-shirt I got
from some friends at a Vineyard conference a few years ago people are asking “Why
Philly?” When presented with the question I just tell people it is a place that
we really fell in love with and it has been on my mind since we last visited.
Is this enough to suggest moving there? I personally think that it does. Now there
are other reasons:

  • A great college town. Yvette is a college instructor. I am
  • Cheesesteaks. I haven’t been eating red meat since January but
    this would definitely sway me
  • A larger African American population. The Los
    Angeles area is only 8% African American while Philadelphia is 43.4%. I need this kind of
    emotional and cultural retreat as I have been working deep in cross cultural
    ministry for a long time
  • A change of scenery. I have lived in Southern
    California all my life. I think a change of scenery would be good
    for my soul. Seeing the seasons change sounds exciting.
  • A smaller less suburban environment. LA is a city of suburbs
    and I am tired of the sprawl. It is definitely not my speed.

Now these are natural reasons. But are there any supernatural ones? A better question is Do we need to have supernatural ones? Last night we talked to Mike Flynn. He is an associate pastor at a Vineyard out here and a great teacher and speaker regarding Holy Spirit ministry. He talked to me and Yvette about guidance. He says there are four things that are needed when a follower of Christ makes decisions:

  • Scripture. Right now we have no definite scripture that says
    go to Philadelphia.While we have nothing that says don’t go we do not have anything that explicitly says go. Anything that we have would be indirect like “Have faith in God” “Go to a land I will show you”. Nothing that really stands out in framing this decision from a Biblical perspective.
  • Peace. To have an inner peace and calm about the decision
    and not a feeling of apprehension. Mike said that this is found in our heart or
    right under our breastbone. While I don’t subscribe to the breastbone theory I
    do think that our decisions as Christians can be guided by a subjective peace.
  •  Wise, godly counsel. This is where I am at a loss. The only
    godly counsel that I personally have received regarding this decision has said “Gofor it” but more in the sense of “You know what you are doing and this is what you want so…Go for it.” I went to my former counselor and he said this is a good decision for us since it involves risk and will grow our faith.
  • Circumstances. This is where I am really at a loss. We keep
    looking for jobs and cannot find anything except there are an abundance of
    entry level jobs or service jobs that would not get us to a better place
    financially. There are not even a lot of ministry jobs which is the one field
    that I have experience and education in.

Now those are the four areas that need to be covered. I
really would like to make a good decision right now and not just plow through
this time because I need somewhere to go to escape. I also do not want to make
a decision based on the eeny meeny miny moe theory that JHenry talks about in
his blog. I want this decision to line up with what I believe and the overall
picture of my life and not just this one section of chaos.

That being said. If there is anyone who has anything to say
regarding our situation besides “Go for it!” Then please chime in. I am
searching for answers and am willing to eat crow if we are headed the wrong

It has been a long and rocky road but we as a church have decided to close. VX has been my home for about eight years now and I have grown so much as pastor, as a man, and as a Christian through it. This has been the case right down to the wire. I have grown even during the process of myself and the leadership team deciding to close. So many emotions and thoughts have come up during that time:

If I do this then everyone will think I am a failure

What right do I have to make this decision?

People will think that being a multiethnic church is not a good idea

Will I ever do ministry again?

I need to find a job and this is a really bad economy

In the midst of it all I have realized that many of these thoughts and emotions were unfounded and some just made no sense at all.

If I do this then everyone will think I am a failure. This is so not true. Some people may think I am a failure but not “everyone” and in the end if I believe the Bible I may fail but I am not a failure and ultimately it does not matter what people think.

What right do I have to make this decision? I did not make the decision alone. I trusted that we as a leadership team with the help of the Holy Spirit would decide what is best for our local body. We had a right and a responsibility to make this decision.

People will think that being a multiethnic church is a bad idea. The truth is the people who will think that being a multiethnic church is a bad idea will always think it was a bad idea. The truth is that it is not an idea but a calling from God based on what we believe the scripture says.

Will I ever do ministry again? I probably will. This is one chapter of ministry that is closing. How will the next chapter unfold? That is up to God to decide.

I will need to find a job and this is a really bad economy. The truth is there are other folks out there just like me who have found jobs in this really bad economy. It is better to trust God and the decision he has led us to make than to trust in self.

So there it is. I truly believe that God ends things so other things can begin. A big part of maturity is dealing with losing and dealing with failure. It frees you up to be humble, to risk more, and to not take everything so seriously. I believe that now I am not as attached as I am to anything including the ministry that God has given me on this earth. Why? Because in this present age the “now” of ministry will always have to yield to the “not yet”. That’s something that we all must grow into.