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Topic: Learning for Life (08/23/04)
TITLE: You Want Me to Do What?
By Rod Nichols
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I grew up attending church. In High School I completed the process to become a member. The church required members to commit on paper to an amount of giving, which wasnít an issue until I went to college. I was the classic poor, struggling college student trying to make it all work far away from home. One day I received a letter from the church indicating that since I had not met my giving commitment, I was not longer a member. This situation, combined with the hypocrisy I had seen in the church caused me to stay away from church until I was thirty-nine.
During those years I achieved great things in the business world. I had material wealth, but was empty inside. Financial success didnít fill the emptiness, so I sought happiness in a relationship outside my marriage. A nasty divorce was followed by business failure, bankruptcy, loss of my home, and repossession of my car. I remember sitting in a 900 square foot apartment contemplating suicide. However, something inside kept me from finishing it.
In 1987 I remarried and became the step-father to four children. We struggled financially, which always put pressure on the marriage. My new wife carried the baggage of past abuse. I entered the marriage with a badly damaged ego and no understanding of how to make a relationship work. The first eight years were difficult and despite our emptiness managed to stay together.
As if there were not enough stress in our life, our oldest son left home his Senior year of High School and our oldest daughter entered a relationship filled with physical abuse, alcohol, drugs, and deception, at 15. She too left home. We continued to love both of them and eventually they came back home and finished school.
Years earlier, I had sworn never to set foot inside another church, except for a wedding or funeral, so when my wife and children started going to church, I refused to join them. For over a year I watched as their lives changed. Anger melted away and was replaced by love. Frowns turned into smiles. Arguments became loving discussions. They had something that I wanted, but my own stinking pride stopped me from joining them.
Unbeknownst to me, the Hound of Heaven had been after me for years and finally in 1994 I gave in and attended a church service. It was awesome. A few months later I gave my heart to the Lord, but continued to struggle with many of my old issues. 1997 was my breakthrough year. I attended a Promise Keepers event in Seattle, WA. 56,000 men were there worshipping God. It was as close to heaven as Iíve ever been and that day I was filled with the Spirit and arrived home a changed man.
Over the next few years I served in Menís Ministry, taught some classes, and helped out with events. 2001 brought with it an exciting new challenge; partnering with a small band of people to start a church. None of us had ever planted a church, so we inquired of the Lord and He directed us. We were obedient and He blessed us beyond imagination.
It was around that time, during a weekly menís Bible study, when I received a very strange vision. I saw myself sitting behind a desk in the church office. During my prayer time the next day, I asked the Lord about this vision. He said that I was to be a Pastor at the church. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I gave Him all the reasons why I couldnít be a Pastor, including my terrible past and that I hadnít been to seminary or Bible school. He reminded me that Saul had a much worse background and the disciples were, for the most part, an uneducated bunch.
As an Associate Pastor, God has used me to touch many lives. He also blessed my obedience with financial freedom and a wonderful marriage. Lifeís best lessons are learned through experience and God uses those experiences (good and bad) to create a masterpiece in the lives of those who love Him.