On a Sunday evening in July of 1985, my father was preaching a fire and brimstone message about God’s call to reach the lost. I was so filled with conviction that I went down to the altar with tears in my eyes and forever surrendered my heart and life to serve the Lord in full-time ministry. I was 16 years old at the time and I have never turned back from my commitment to God and he has never abandoned His promises to me.
A week later, the Youth Pastor at my father’s church let me preach my first sermon to our youth group. When school began in the fall of my Junior year in high school, I started a campus club called Youth Alive speaking to over 40 students every Wednesday during lunch, and in my Senior year was voted “most likely to become a priest!” (True story!) I later went on to Bible College immediately after my high school graduation and my first official staff position was at 19 years old at Scotts Valley Christian Center while studying at Bethany University of the Assemblies of God.
They say, “...hindsight is 20/20 vision.” We can all look back over the course of our lifetime and see key milestones that were monumental to our walk with God and his purpose in our lives. On that special day in 1985 when I was called into the ministry and kneeling at the altar, I envisioned myself wearing a white robe and carrying a staff like Moses leading Gods people out of Egypt. Of course that seems silly now, like a little boy’s fantasy. But I can tell you that our family could have never imagined the incredible adventure that was awaiting us as we would eventually travel the world fulfilling God’s call on our lives. Although I’ve never worn a white robe and carried a shepherd’s staff into the church office, ultimately God has fulfilled my dreams of ministry and adventure. Therefore, I ask you... “What is YOUR dream and are you on your way to fulfilling it?”
God’s word tells in us Psalm 37:4 that “...he gives us the desires of our heart.” Several months ago before I had even been approached by the Church Board of MFA, God asked me a very uncomfortable question... “What is your wish list in ministry?” God had never asked me that before and I had always been of the notion that as a minister I simply go wherever God calls me and serve him in humility. I never thought I was even allowed to have a wish list, and while pondering these things God spoke again to my heart and said, “...and be specific my son.”
I must admit I didn’t write anything down for days, perhaps even weeks. In my daily prayer time I kept asking God again and again, “Are you sure Lord? It’s so much easier if you just tell me where to go and what to do and I simply respond with obedience!” But then God impressed upon my heart that I wouldn’t be able to recognize his miracles in my life if I didn’t ask for anything. Think about that!! This is why the scriptures say in Matthew 7, “He who asks, receives.” Quite honestly, I think many believers are terrible about asking God, and therefore they are equally terrible about receiving from God.”
In obedience I began to write some things down on paper, and I felt guilty about it the entire time. I kept thinking to myself, “...don’t write down anything that seems selfish.” But again, God would reiterate over and over to me, “I want your WISH list, and be SPECIFIC!” After several rough drafts this was the list I submitted to the Lord...
MY WISH LIST:
- 300 or more in attendance with seats to fill in the sanctuary.
- Large city with many to reach in metro area.
- Video ministry, creative arts, (IE: Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames)
- Great youth group for my kids, college ministry, school of ministry (IE: Berean)
- Love my preaching style and humor, they want a preacher as well as a teacher.
- Diverse not all white, with Hispanics so we can use our Spanish
- Pentecostal atmosphere, with prophecy, tongues and interpretation, NOT a seeker sensitive church.
- Willing to invest money into evangelism, reaching the lost, missions trips, Convoy of Hope.
- They love, honor and take care of their pastors
- Lots of intercessory prayer warriors who will come to prayer meetings and linger at the altars.
As April and I went through each stage of the interview process here at MFA beginning with Superintendent Tim Barker, then Vice-Chairman Danny Williams, our video conference interview with the Church Board, our luncheon with the staff and finally the Open Forum that you all attended that Saturday night, we KNEW God had fulfilled our wish list! He had arranged everything from beginning to end, and because we all asked specifically from God, we were able to recognize the miracles of his handiwork.
I challenge you to open your heart and allow God to place a BIG dream in your heart; a God-size dream! Give him an opportunity to show you how big he really is and how much he truly loves you. Remember, you are his kid! And his word tells us again in Matthew 7, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God cares about your dreams, and he wants to see your wish list!