Wake me up…

“…when September ends.”  Great words to a song.  Well, everyone should be awake by now.  Crazy how fast a month can disappear.  Just four weeks ago we were celebrating the launch of our 3rd year of doing ministry together as The Church at Oak Level in West Orange County.  Today, we are leaning towards a new series with 25% more of us gathering each weekend!  If there was ever a time to be a part of a growing church it’s now.  

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Speaking of growing churches, this month I will have the chance to speak at an event here in Orlando on church revitalization.  In preparing for this talk, I’ve looked back over my ministry career and recognized some amazing people who came in to my life that helped me get to where I am today.  And with October being Pastor Appreciation Month, (and I’m already overwhelmed at how our church has shown their love and appreciation towards me after day 1!) I want to appreciate a couple of those people.

When I was first called in to ministry, I was young, eager and stupid!  I had no idea what to do or how to do it, but one guy believed in me and acknowledged what God was doing in my life and brought me on as his youth pastor.  Pastor Rocky Purvis was instrumental in allowing me to get my feet wet in ministry. And luckily, he was pretty gracious when I made some of the early mistakes that all young pastors make.  

After I got a few years of ministry under my belt, another mentor came in to my life and offered to disciple me.  Dr. Bill Faulkner was the Director of Missions for the Greater Orlando Baptist Association and offered to help me hone my gifts and skills towards God’s plan for my life and His church.  Beyond helping me with the call, the most important thing that Bill did was help me become a better disciple of Jesus.  

Bill and his wife moved to the mountains of North Carolina and yet another mentor stepped in to my world.  Pastor Vince Manna is currently on staff with First Baptist Orlando and agreed to meet with me so we could sharpen one another in our pursuit of Christ.  Although Vince has helped me keep the main things the main things at church, he has pushed me to be a better husband, father and pastor.  

I’m telling you: without these men in my life I don’t know where I would be today.  God has a way of providing what we need at the various stages of our lives.  In the New Testament, leaders typically had key people around them who met various needs in their lives.  In Timothy’s case, there was a “Paul“-a teacher/mentor who taught him how to be a pastor.  In Paul’s case, there was a “Timothy“-a student/learner who could be poured into and discipled.  In both cases, there was a “Barnabas“-an encourager/friend who spoke words of affirmation and support in any event.  

As Christians, we need all three types of people in our lives.  Every follower of Christ needs a “Paul”-a mentor; a “Timothy”-a student you can teach; and a “Barnabas”-an encourager no matter what.  God uses those types of people to grow us in to the person He wants us to become.  

And as Pastor Appreciation Month begins, I am ever grateful for the men who took time out for me.  Rocky, Bill, Vince: my ministry is a reflection and continuation of the work you did with me, for me and beside me and I cannot thank you enough!   

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