church sign

I’m a recovering professional. I spent most of my growing-up days in the midwest as a pastor’s kid. Before then I was a missionary kid in South America. I knew the truths of God; I walked the walk and talked the talk. I had, and still have, great God-fearing parents that raised me well. I was a professional Christian, or so I thought.

The area in the midwest where I grew up has a heavy German influence, which means lots of beer, sauerkraut, and Lutheran and Catholic Churches. I went to a Lutheran high school. My dad pastored a non-denominational church. I assumed we were non-denom because we weren’t Catholic or Lutheran. My best friend was Episcopal, so I just figured he was on the map somewhere between Catholic and Lutheran. I didn’t put much thought into it. I was a Christian, though.

I moved to Memphis in 2007. I was eager to jump into Visible Music College, where I’d be studying worship leadership and ministry for the next three years. I remember driving down some of the main roads, passing by Baptist churches, Methodist churches, Presbyterian churches, Pentecostal churches, all kinds of churches! Church of God, Church of Christ, Church of God in Christ! First Baptists, Free Will Baptists, Missionary Baptists, Institutional Baptists, Methodist churches, African Methodist Episcopal churches (still trying to figure that one out), first Presbyterian, second Presbyterian, Hope Pres… You get the idea. I quickly lost my professional status, I had no idea what I was getting into. All these different beliefs, views, interpretations, theories, mindsets, opinions, strongholds, and ideologies had me stressing over which one I belonged to!

Change was in the air! Culture shock settled in.

It was different in the south; the food, the weather, the people, their accents. Everything was different for this midwest kid. Instead of beer and sauerkraut, it was sweet tea and fried chicken (or barbecue). Instead of cool weather and peaceful nights, it was hot as I fell asleep listening to sirens and traffic. Instead of corn fields on every corner, it was churches on every corner.

I saw the world changing around me. Or did I see myself changing around the world? I was growing up, living on my own, thinking for myself, left to fend in the buckle of the Bible Belt, and this began my pilgrimage, my story of change.

Change makes you ask questions. So I asked: What denomination did I belong to? What belief system did I fit into? Predestination or free will? Calvinism or Arminianism? Pre or post trib? Once saved always saved? I had a lot of figuring out to do. The most important partner in my discovering and searching was Holy Spirit. I went deeper, worshipped more intimately, I knocked and the door was opened to me, just as He promised. I had great leaders and friends around me, which I was, and still am, thankful for. But my single best decision in all of it was my pursuit towards God and His purposes in my life.

All of this sudden change in my life caused me to make decisions. Change makes you face decisions. Change makes you face fear. I could either reject what was different, because I wasn’t used to it (or perhaps because I feared it) or I could press into God and seek His heart on the mystery. I chose the latter and it set in motion a most amazing adventure.

Ask questions.

Make decisions.

Face your fears.

But don’t do it without the great Helper, the great Counselor, Holy Spirit.

Change is good, but change with a purpose is great. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

 Matt, 27
Memphis, TN

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