My Testimony, Vision Statement, Personal Plan, and Philosophy of Ministry…
I was raised in a home where I went to church weekly but lived out my faith in Jesus weakly. For my first 19 years of life on earth, I believed in Jesus, not in a saving way but in an intellectual way. I was familiar with Christ, but had never invited Him into my heart. I knew some facts/stories about Jesus, but had never personally surrendered my life to Him. I knew Jesus died for sinners, but I never accepted His forgiveness for myself since I thought I was a “good” person. I had hung around the water cooler but had never swallowed the Living Water that Jesus offered me.
In college I began dating the woman who would later become my wife. Sarah converted from Islam to Christianity shortly after we started dating, and when she called to tell me I couldn’t understand what the big deal was! Nevertheless, Sarah and I had great conversations about what it means to be a real born again follower of Jesus during the first two weeks of January, 2000. The Father was drawing me to Himself…
Then, on January 16th, 2000, I attended the church service where Sarah was baptized. During that service the pastor preached on Matthew 7:21-23, where Jesus says that not everyone who says to Him “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The Holy Spirit convicted me during that sermon to realize that, if I had died that day, I would be one of those people to whom Jesus said, “Away from Me—I do not know you.” During that sermon the Holy Spirit humbled me and helped me to slowly and shakily walk down the center aisle to the altar call at the end of the service. There I finally surrendered my life to Jesus, the Savior of the world, and He has been pruning and growing and disciplining and blessing me ever since!
The LORD has helped me realize more completely over the last few years just how brief life on earth is. Thus, I have already been focusing on what legacy I want to leave on this earth, what imprint I want to cast that will be a signpost, testimony, and lighthouse for those people in the future who will seek after, surrender to, and follow the LORD Jesus Christ.
When I stand before the LORD someday to give an account of my life, if He were to interview the people I was closest to as well as the people I only met once, I would want those people to say two things about me:
1. I could tell by what SoulSpartan believed and how SoulSpartan lived that he loved Jesus with all of his heart;
2. I could tell by what SoulSpartan believed and how SoulSpartan lived that Jesus loves me with all of His heart.
If people can honestly say those two things about me, then I believe I will have fulfilled the purposes for which God made me. So who do I want to be? I want to know Jesus, love Jesus, be in awe of Jesus, enjoy Jesus, delight in Jesus, please Jesus, trust in Jesus, worship Jesus, and honor Jesus with my life. And I want to help others to do the same. I want to become who God made me to be—holy, just, honest, genuine, enthusiastic, helpful, sacrificial, loving, bold, strong, powerful, humble, fair, generous, simple, wise, energetic, playful, silly, humorous, trustworthy, merciful, excellent, patient, and enduring—for His glory, to shine the spotlight of my life on the LORD of heaven and earth. And I want to help others reach their potential as well. I cannot think of a better life than that.
I personally commit, with the LORD’s help, to continue to strive for understanding, wisdom, excellence, innovation, creativity, and maturity in who I am and in what I do. I will not stop learning simply because I have graduated from Moody because there is only one graduation—when this earthly life ends and the heavenly side of eternity begins. So I will continue to attend conferences and seminars regarding ministry and marriage; I will continue to humble myself before the LORD in my family and public relationships, admitting when I am wrong, asking forgiveness when I offend, and seeking to improve where I fail; and I will continue to read the Word of God, putting into action the truths contained therein throughout my daily life and activities, from the miraculous to the mundane. I will rest in the LORD, but I will never stop striving to know Him, to love Him, to enjoy Him, to be like Him, and to help others do the same. That is not work, and it is certainly not a burden, at least not in the big picture. That is joy, and I intend to drink deeply from that font as long as I can swallow.
Philosophy of Ministry
My personal philosophy of ministry is shaped heartily by the following verses of Scripture over the last twelve+ years of surrendering to Jesus, getting to know Jesus, growing to love Jesus, maturing to enjoy Jesus, living to honor Jesus:
1. 2 Timothy 4:1-5: To preach the Word of God in my thoughts, dreams, goals, words, and actions.
2. Isaiah 61:3b: To become everything that God made me to be—to reach my potential in Christ Jesus. And to help all others do the same!
3. Matthew 25:14-30: To use the gifts God has given me to shine the spotlight of my life on Jesus—to live not in the fear of failure but rather in the assurance of God’s grace and the promise of victory.
4. Luke 12:48: To realize that I have been blessed with advantages, gifts, talents, and opportunities for a purpose, and to strive to use those blessings to direct the attention of the world to the God, LORD, and Savior of the universe.
5. Matthew 25:21: To live my life with the goal of hearing the LORD Jesus say these words, for C.S. Lewis said wisely that “those who make the most impact in this life are those who are most focused on the next life.”
6. 1 Samuel 3:1-10: To listen to the LORD actively and consistently throughout my life, waiting on him as a butler and willing to do His will, to become who He made me to be (like Him in so many ways), to do what He made me to do, and to go where He directs me to go.
7. Philippians 3:7-14: To not get caught up in the accolades, titles, and blessings, and accomplishments of this world but rather to focus on knowing Jesus, the One Who is both God and human, both Person and Power, both Judge and Friend. Professor Bill Thrasher said it well: “God made us to know Him before He made us to serve Him.” I want to know Him, and allow my service to overflow from that intimate knowledge, love, and friendship.
8. Psalm 71:18: To show the younger generation who God is, what He has done, and what He promises to do. To be one of the emcees that introduces Jesus to the world through practical everyday living is one of the greatest honors bestowed upon humankind.
9. 1 Peter 3:15-16: To know why I believe what I believe, and to be able to explain my ever-growing faith in Jesus in such a way that all people can understand it, whether an emotional person, a rational person, or someone in between. I want to show that active and saving faith in Jesus includes trust that is not devoid of, but rather enhanced by, logic, reason, knowledge, and understanding. And of course, I am to always do so humbly, with love and respect for the person and for where they are on the journey towards active and saving faith in Jesus Christ.
10. Luke 18:8: To answer this question for Jesus with the emphatic “YES” of thoughts, dreams, desires, words, and actions that strive to show my love for Him. At the end of my earthly life I want to present to him the DVD of my life that proves to Him my faith in Him.
11. 2 Timothy 4:6-8: I want to finish this life strongly, running across the tape of the finish life at full speed, not stumbling across as David, Solomon, and Samson did. With my last earthly breath I want to anxiously await the face, smile, laughter, and pleasure of my Savior, in Whom and for Whom I was created.