Living With a Foot Raised

Living out of calling has been the defining force in my life. Following God’s voice meant signing up to mow lawns and substitute teach because we turned down a “call” from a church and a position that would have been easy and comfortable. This is the sharpest example to date of Jesus asking me to risk it all. Responding to His voice meant trading in my plans to teach high school and coach basketball for a seminary education. His voice was the confirmation to marry Alison. Later, He was reason we walked away from the lucrative position in an established reformed church to instead plant a Vineyard church. That same voice leads us to close the church three years later, and move to Iowa to team up with Heartland Vineyard. God used the voices of friends and mentors to begin calling me away from the predictable and toward the unknown. Yet, it has been the constant voice of Jesus himself that continues to beckon me to drop my nets of security and take big risks. I have learned that living out of calling has meant building God’s kingdom instead of my own. It’s been a life that runs toward pain and sacrifice rather than away from it. Following Jesus has become our greatest adventure.

I have a passion for people far from God, which is why my wife and I invest deeply in any new neighborhood we move into. It’s why we host parties, search for friends outside the church, and look for authentic opportunities to speak about Jesus. Leading small groups has been one of our greatest joys.

I value spiritual depth, emotional health, and an engaged mind. I elevate theology that is in line with historic Christian orthodoxy, alongside an experience and expression of God’s kingdom that transforms lives. I believe that God’s Word and God’s Spirit are equally vital to stay in step with His will. This striving for the “radical middle” is why we are in the Vineyard Movement.

I want to live a life of integrity. I want to live life on purpose. I want to go deep with people and model vulnerability. I want to help people root their identity in Jesus. Ultimately, I want to lay hands on the sick, care for the poor, worship passionately, proclaim the gospel and exalt Jesus.

Why do I say all this? Because I believe that God has created you with unique passions and desires for a purpose. More than that, I believe He’s calling you to accomplish great things for his kingdom! He’s not calling you to the same things as I have been called to, but that doesn’t mean they’re not just as significant. Don’t forget: the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Seemingly insignificant sacrifices for his Kingdom can yield the greatest fruit. As I’ve said before, obedience is not the root of our new identity, but the fruit of our new identity. Jesus’ sacrifice is the root. We do not earn God’s favor, but God graciously partners with us and uses our obedience to advance His kingdom.

In other words, God isn’t looking for you to do the most sacrificial thing you can think of. He doesn’t call everybody to church planting, or to be missionaries in Africa, or to sell all your possessions and give to the poor. He calls some people to do those things. But he does want to use people who are willing to say “yes” to Him. In the Bible, God typically doesn’t call the most talented individual to his greatest acts, but rather the he calls the humble who are willing to say “Here I am, send me.”

You can read about an entire “company” of men like this in the book Heroic Leadership (sorry ladies, this book is a book about a group who got their start in the 1500s which was not exactly an age of equality). The book comes recommended by Phil Strout, and describes the Jesuit way of life. One of their most important “Pillars” was to live a life of