Next step of the journey
My journeys have taken me from the place of my birth, Oklahoma, to Arkansas for college at Harding University to the school's study abroad program in Florence, Italy then to Houston and on to Uganda with a group of dear friends and teammates to Nashville to work with Wineskins and now full circle back to Oklahoma. I haven't lived there since I left home when I was too young to leave home at seventeen years old. Here's the scoop on what's happening with my family and ministry. For the last four years, I have been managing editor for Wineskins magazine. With the ZOE/Wineskins board blessing, I plan to continue on as managing editor, but my family and I are moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Garnett Church of Christ has asked me to come and work with them as their associate minister. As associate minister, I will be focusing in the areas of spiritual formation, outreach, and small groups.
I'll be working with a great staff of ministers, body of shepherds, ministry leaders, and congregation. One of the staff, the lead/preaching minister, Wade Hodges, is a redemptively challenging preacher who also blogs to beat the band. I'm looking forward to working with him and the rest of the staff and congregation at Garnett.
What a blessing for my family and me to be able to work with this church that I have known from my childhood. I've long appreciated the Garnett Church of Christ. Like a beacon to ships at sea, the church in Tulsa has helped other churches sail. The Garnett Church has always struck me as a church that is willing to stick out its neck and answer the question, "Where is Garnett going?" with the resounding response, "Wherever God takes us."
In particular, their role in the Tulsa Soul-Winning Worship every March for the last quarter century has been monumental in my life. I attended the event since I was a young boy roaming the aisles in search of the best "JOY BUS" sticker till college days when I helped bring dozens of my fellow Harding students to the workshop to hear inspirational speeches from the likes of Rousing Ruel Lemmons, Marvelous Marvin Phillips and "listen to me now" Terry Rush and Jim Mcguiggan. My experience with helping plan and execute the ZOE Look to the Hills Leadership and Worship Conferences, I believe, has prepared me for some of what's to come as I help to plan the Tulsa Workshop.
We are sad to leave Nashville, Tennessee, where we have in this short four years received the blessing of abiding friendships that we intend to keep for eternity. Our children's friends in the Nashville public school, Jill's math teaching in public schools here, our journey with Woodmont Church and small group, and our neighbors and soccer teams we've coached will all be missed and remembered fondly.
Now our journey is turning full circle, at least for me--Jill is from Texas, so now she'll get the experience of living in the long-time state rival. I learned to appreciate Texas, so perhaps Jill can do likewise with Oklahoma. Oklahoma is still on top of Texas . . . that is, if you subscribe to the old ethnocentric cartographer's rendering of the world of Europe and America as on top. (More on that in another post.)
One thing is sure as I come back home. My world has been turned upside down, and if you keep reading this blog you'll start to see just how. My prayer and hope is that the small part of the world I'm moving to with Jill and my three children will also be turned upside down by the One and Only who shapes us, rocks our worlds, and forms us into new persons. I bless and appreciate my heritage in Oklahoma that sent me out into the world, but in returning, I'm not the same person who left Oklahoma twenty years ago.