Major Life Change

Through several God moments over the past six weeks, Julie and I are convinced that there is a new plan for my ministry. Because of this, this Sunday morning I submitted my letter of resignation from Spring Creek. This was a difficult decision to come to, but easy to do once we were convinced of God’s call to us.

Here is the letter I read this morning at the close of the service:

“Over the past several months Julie and I have been talking and praying over the direction God is leading us in the future. Through weeks of intense prayer and after several independent confirmations, we have come to the conclusion that the Lord is leading me to resign as the pastor of Spring Creek effective August 11.

As I stand here today, I cannot tell you exactly what the future holds for us. I know that I still have a passion to preach the gospel and a strong desire to lead churches to be involved in missions, especially overseas. We are going to be actively working with churches to send students and adults on mission, with an emphasis on being part of Transform 2014. I also have a desire to write Bible study material for students and adults and I will be spending much of my time in the next few months putting together material for youth ministries to use for short term studies like Disciple Now. The short way to describe our new adventure might be to say that we are going to do the ministry of ETC Ministries full-time, though we have no salary or promise of benefits from ETC.

While some may say it is more prudent to keep a steady job instead of trying to pursue something that has no assurance of income, we feel that God has spoken to us and so we need to be obedient now. For us, if we had all the answers about our future there would be no requirement for faith.

I do want to say clearly that we are not leaving under any pressure or because of some conflict or crisis. I have no doubt that because of the nature of our departure some outside our fellowship may put forth various rumored causes. Please be assured that we are not running from anything, but running toward new opportunities. I am not leaving ministry, just changing focus.

With all that said, let me thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your pastor for the past 20 plus years. Spring Creek will always be the home church for my family. My girls know no other home than Spring and Julie and I have lived here longer than anywhere else in our lives. We love this community and we love this church. We have so many good friends, lifelong friends here and we will always treasure the memories we have made here.

I hope and trust that the work we have done here will not end with our leaving. When we came to Spring Creek back in 1992 our intention was to lead the church to know Christ and His Word. We wanted to honor God with our lives and our work here in this church and community. We wanted to be part of changing lives through the work of the gospel. I am happy that I baptized so many of you here today and that I have seen God do such great work in your lives over the years. I am proud that we were able to be part of rejuvenating Spring Creek I feel confident that the church is in better shape now than when we came here.

I know that there is a great future for this church, and there is a man God has in mind to be the next pastor at Spring Creek. Please do not think that I am the only one who can do this job here. The next pastor will most likely not be like me, nor should he. He will have skills I don’t have and will be able to lead you to new heights.

You will always be in our thoughts and prayers and we will always value your friendship. You will always be welcome in our home, wherever that might be 🙂 May God bless you and may He use you to be a great blessing to many others as you have been to us.

God bless,
Steve”

We are looking forward to the coming months as we go on this grand adventure. 🙂

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Transform 2013 has come to a close

We have had a great week at Transform 2013 in Rome. The times of worship have been refreshing and the opportunities to hear the word and listen to other speakers has been encouraging, enlightening and challenging. There are 2 aspects of this gathering that are my favorite: 1) getting to see so many people from across the globe worship together (there are 35 countries represented here, Julie says we have talked with people from at least 15 different countries), 2) the small conversations across a dinner table, in the lobby, over a cone of fresh gelato or just in the hallway.

Tomorrow morning most of the 340 participants will head out to one or two week outreach efforts in countries across the Mediterranean. They will be doing street evangelism events, there is a dance team and a music team, there is a trash team that will pick up trash and share the gospel (they did this on Thursday in Rome and passed out 1300 tracts), there is a prayer team going to Malta to pray 24/7 for the other teams, and there are many more.

Julie and I will head into Rome for a couple of days before we journey back to Houston and then Brownsville to join our own outreach team on mission at the border. Tomorrow we hope to go to the Vatican, see the Pope, give him a tract and then visit the Sistine Chapel where we will make a few suggestions for improvements on the ceiling. 😉

So what have we learned or been impressed by this week? I think that for both of us the overpowering message of the week has been to trust the Lord, to “jump into the deep end” and know that He will be there. There have been many other lessons for the week. One of my favorites is to use the word PRAYER as an acrostic to pray for cities and nations. Have you ever wondered how you could pray for a city or nation that you know little about? Try praying for these things:
P – poor in the city
R – rich in the city to be generous
A – authorities to be just and wise
Y – youth in the city
E – elderly in the city
R – revival in the city

Finally, we have also come up with a plan for Transform 2014. One of the needs we discovered this week is that many of the leaders and others bring small children for the week. A few of the moms have been tasked with coming up with activities for the kids while the conference meetings are taking place. That places a real burden on them and I think we can do some ministry here. Our plan is to bring a team back to Transform 2014, July 21-26, to do a VBS type week with the kids who come with leadership. There are only about 15 or 20, but this would allow those moms to have a week at the conference that they haven’t had in the past. Following the conference, we are working on an arrangement where that VBS group would go to the UK to do a children’s outreach there with one of the groups from OM. I met today with the OM leader in the UK and we are going to begin working out the details of this trip. So, in a nutshell, you would get to spend a week in Rome (or Athens if Transform moves there next year) and then a week in the UK. There would be local sightseeing at the conference sight as well as in London. This trip would be especially designed for those 16-18 year olds and others who would like to come. We are also going to encourage college and above to come with us and go on other Transform outreach trips. We may be leading one or you may just want to choose a trip that meets your own calling and interests.

There are details still to be worked our and costs are up in the air, but I hope we can take at least 10 and maybe as many as 25. For a ballpartk, start looking at needing to have $2500-2600 for the trip. That would be for airfare, lodging, transportation and most meals.

We are excited about the things that God is going to do in the next year. Please join us in prayer as we work toward Transform 2014.

On the way to Rome

We are about to land in Amsterdam, making our connection to Rome. It’s been a long night in the plane, about 9 hours so far. It’s morning in Amsterdam, 7 hour time difference.

Movies watched on the way: Skyfall (excellent James Bond, but I slept through most of it), Argo (great Ben Affleck movie, I stayed awake for the whole thing), Julie watched Wreck it Ralph (she has only dozed a little the entire trip.

Truth be told, I fell asleep on the tarmac in Houston, it was time for my Sunday afternoon nap 🙂

We’ve got two hours in the airport in Amsterdam before our next flight. We’ll be in Rome by noon (that’s 5 am Houston time)!

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It’s Camp Creek Week at SCBC

We’ve got a great crowd of kids here at Spring Creek this week for our annual Camp Creek.  It’s amazing to see the kids get so enthused singing the songs and they have been really attentive to the teaching times.  Of course some of them are familiar with the songs because they’ve been to VBS somewhere else this summer already.  But even these kids are having a good time experiencing the Spring Creek version of VBS on steroids we call “Camp Creek.”

Almost as much fun as watching the kids is watching all the leaders get into the songs and motions.  Our adult and youth leaders have been outstanding this week.  Especially in the afternoon when our youth pretty much run the entire show.  They have done a great job with the kids, even when we had to scramble the schedule because of yesterday’s rain.

Tomorrow we will be sharing the gospel and asking the kids to make decisions for Christ.  Would you join us in praying for the kids tomorrow, and through the rest of the week.  We hope to see many come to faith tomorrow and many of those baptized on our special baptism day in August.

So if you find yourself with nothing to do this week, even for a few hours, stop on by Spring Creek and join in the fun.  We’ll be here all week!

My Camp Story

Everybody comes back from student camp with stories.  Many of them are funny and some are life changing.  We hope that students and adults have some kind of story about how God has moved in their life during the week.  Often my story has been centered around watching God move in other people and the joy I get from being part of His work in the lives of students.  But this year my story is different.

On Wednesday I led a group of students in a discussion about vocational ministry.  Each one in this small group felt a call to ministry and I was helping them understand that call and know how to move forward.  Near the end of our hour together I told them to explore opportunities that were presented.  You never know how God might use something that you would normally not do to help you get to the place He needs you to be.  So I said, “The next time someone in your church asks for volunteers, you need to raise your hand.  Maybe God will use that to show you something about your call.”  This is counsel I have often given to those in this place in life.

Later that day Gary, our camp pastor, was telling me about the conference he is leading in Rome in the middle of July.  It’s much like what I went to in 2006 in Lebanon where we have training and preparation then spend one or two weeks on mission.  Then Gary told me that he wanted me to come to Rome this July.  So, my thoughts went something like this: 1) there is nothing on my calendar for that particular week, 2) that would be an expensive trip, especially buying plane tickets this late, 3) I just told those students to take opportunities before them, 4) I couldn’t go to Rome and leave Julie at home, 5) that would really be expensive to buy two tickets to Rome this late, 6) I’d love to go, 7) that would be expensive.

Gary kept prodding me and I talked to Julie about it.  We decided that if we could get the money, not likely, that we would go for the conference. 

Camp ended on Friday and we packed up and came home.  Of course, one of the first things you have to do when you get home is check the mail.  What did I find in our mailbox?  A check that would more than cover our trip to Rome!

I showed Julie the check and said, “I guess we are going to Rome.”  It was amazing.  The check was mailed on Wednesday, the day we were invited to go.  I was and am overwhelmed by the work of God as He puts everything into place to be sure we know when He is moving.  So on Sunday we bought our plane tickets to Rome and we leave the afternoon of July 14.  We’ll be back on July 22 and then drive to Brownsville to join the Spring Creek mission group working on the border.

I told Julie at the beginning of the summer that I wanted this to be a great summer for us.  I think it’s living up to my hopes.