March 17, 2008

WOW, where do I start?!!

WOW, where do I start?!! So much has taken place, both in my life and within my heart during these past 5 or 6 months that it’s sometimes difficult to grasp. Maybe the thought, idea, or vision to what I believe God has now called me to do, has always been around in the back of my mind or has at least crossed my thoughts before but never has God told me to do it…….....until now! And I am so sure that He has. I should mention I have spoken at summer Bible camps for over 20 years; spoken at weekend retreats for church groups; filled the pulpit many times for different occasions; spoken at banquets; taught Wednesday night Bible study for months; taught Sunday school for years; and even preached one revival and two funerals (my precious Momma and Daddy). Still I don’t think God had called me to do what I am about to do until He called me now.
Maybe it got a little more close to me about a year or so ago in the summer of 2006 when my former pastor Greg Naude announced he was leaving the church to go and plant a church in Northern Virginia. He invited me to go with him one day and meet Tony Inmon who helps folks who want to plant churches to do just that and was helping Greg to plant one in the Haymarket area. So I went and talked, and mostly listened, but just didn’t feel it was what God wanted me to do at that particular time. Then Greg left about 6 months later at the end of December to go to the Haymarket area, (I even got to preach for him the last Sunday, December 31, 2006) and I started the new year, 2007, trying to keep up a couple of things God had led me to do at the church and the church started the new year without a pastor.
As the months grew on, I tried to fill in where I could (mainly doing Wednesday night Bible study for a good while) and continued with the “Monthly Movie Madness” on the last Saturday of the months and also with Stage II, a contemporary style service we had also stared about a year or so ago on the last Sunday night of the month. I can still remember one Saturday night in the summer when we had almost 50 people come to our movie night, when we showed it outside on the back of the church wall, sort of like a “drive-in” without the cars. With good hotdogs, snacks, praise songs, and a time for devotions, I felt God blessed, and the evening seemed to go real well despite the rain that caused us to move the event inside for the last portion of it. As the fall months came, things seem to change somewhat and at times get tougher, and I felt God starting to speak to my heart about doing something else.

Answer to Prayer

As God was touching my heart about doing something more for Him, He also taught me a very valuable lesson on how to pray with more intensity and the amazing thing, is that He did this using a little kitty that we adopted and named “Hokie”. Just a word on how we came to have “Hokie” in our family. Last April on the first Sunday after the horrible shootings at Virginia Tech, I wanted to go to Blacksburg to see if I could help by handing out cold drinks and just seeing if I could pray with anyone. I felt God blessed my time and did allow me to pray with a few people but as I drove back to Roanoke I almost felt sort of numb. When I reached my home I felt so heavy hearted that after going inside to let my wife Ginny know I was home, I just wanted to sit out in the front yard for awhile and think and pray. As I prayed, I ask God to bring comfort to those people I had just talked with at Virginia Tech because they seemed so hurt, so sad, and so in need of answers and comfort. Then I said “and God I could use some comfort as well, just a touch from you to let me know everything is ok.” As I prayed this prayer, I looked around and a small grey kitty came into our yard and came over to me. And though I had never seen him before he still trusted me enough to come over and let me pick him up.
To shorten this story, we brought “Hokie” into our home only to find out in the fall that he has severe asthma. We ended up keeping him in our room every night and watching him carefully because of his almost constant coughing, but even at this, “Hokie” almost died one morning, as we raced to the emergency vet to try and save his life. Through the next few weeks God taught me to take pray to a new level and to pray with intensity and power as I prayed for God to heal “Hokie” and to keep him alive. On more than one night both Ginny and I prayed to ask God to keep “Hokie” alive through the night and to keep him from coughing. With little sleep, and kneeling with our heads to the floor, we spent several anxious nights talking to God and trying to help “Hokie”.
Although we did have to make many trips to the vet, with two trips even to the Virginia Tech veterinarian school of medicine, we still saw God save “Hokie” for us. Now we give him medicine every day and keep the inhaler close by, but he hasn’t coughed in months after almost dying coughing that morning. So God used a kitty to teach me or remind me to pray with all my heart and to expect God to work for the best, and with power, all the while being patient as I waited on Him to do it in His own time. God has proven Himself mighty and every time I walk into the house and see “Hokie” walking around, I see an answer to prayer and a testimony of how good God is and how He answers the desires of our heart when we pray with all of our heart.

March 16, 2008

"We could do this"

With all this happening in the fall, and with God testing us and growing us in our faith, I felt more and more God wanting to do more in my life and I knew that would mean some big changes. Some specific things or events come to mind with one of them being when we visited our daughter-in-law Ashley at her school in Fredricksburg, Virginia. Ashley was getting close to finishing at her college, Mary Washington University, and she and my son Andy surprised us by taking us to a large church on October 20 and then presenting us with tickets to a concert of my favorite contemporary Christian singer…………Steven Curtis Chapman! It was an great evening of enjoyment and worship and helped me to feel closer to the Lord. The next morning as we went with Ashley to her church, I walked in knowing that something special and exciting was going on there. And I started thinking………."we could do this”. God was planting or growing the seeds He had already been putting in my heart about doing something special for Him. The urging in my heart was as strong as it had been.
As we drove back to Roanoke later that day, my son Andy and I talked almost the whole way back about the possibility of ……………starting a church! It was exciting dreaming and envisioning all the great possibilities that God could accomplish with us starting a church. It was a giant step towards taking the leap of faith to start the church I believe God had called me to start. In the next week or so, I got the chance to talk to my daughter in law Ashley about the idea of starting a church and she was just as excited and in favor of it as my son Andy had been. It seemed that I finally was accepting the fact that starting a church was what I needed to be doing and to get started doing it! Of course I then went through the routine the next few days of feeling like I could conquer the world about every evening and waking up every morning of “can I really do this?” Then as more and more days passed, the doubts begin to leave and the feeling that I could do something great for God begin to be on a more continual basis. I knew for sure God wanted me to start or plant a church close by to where we lived.

Headed where HE wants us to go

I should also mention that as these few months passed that God continued to encourage me by letting me read great books like Jim Cymbala’s: Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire! and his other similar book, Fresh Power! Both reminded me and encouraged me to step out in faith and to depend on prayer and power from on high or else I couldn’t do anything. These books were great reminders for a person looking to start a church and to look for God to do a mighty work, beginning in my own heart! My wife Ginny was reading the books too, and Ashley had brought these into the house, reading them herself, so it seemed God was gearing us all up to a special work.
I shared my vision with a few folks, including my former pastor who suggested that I contact Tony Inmon, (the person I had met almost 6 months ago) and tell him what God had put on my heart and to ask him to help me further my intentions of starting a church. This meant leaving the church we were attending, so exactly one year, (isn’t God amazing?) as to when my former pastor had left the church, the Moser family left the same church. I had missed the first meeting planned with Tony (I was at VA Tech with “Hokie” on that tough November morning) but was able to finally meet with Tony the second Sunday in January. He was very encouraging and more than willing to help me in any way he could so I was glad we were able to finally get together. We had started the New Year off by visiting a couple of different churches and seeing how they conducted their worship services so with the meeting with Tony on the second Sunday of the new year, it seemed God was already working greatly to show me we were all on the right road and headed where He wanted us to go.

"Let's Go!"

We have now been going to Fellowship Community Church in Salem for the past several weeks and are enjoying the worship time. And thanks to Tony both Ginny and I were able to attend a Basic Training service on the first weekend in March and will attend another one the last weekend in March. The first Basic Training event was great, encouraged us, taught us, and reminded us that there are others doing exactly what we are doing, and it was so good to get to know all these special folks set out to plant a church where God has called them to. The weekend was a very, very, good one for us and Ginny and I got to pinpoint some of the things we need to keep in mind as we further our efforts and God’s calling to start His church. We really look forward to the next Basic Training and Andy and Ashley are going to go with us, so it ought to be great!
As a matter of fact, Andy, Ashley, and I have already got to attend an Evangelism Conference together which was held recently on March 11th at Green Ridge Baptist Church right here where we live in Roanoke, so that was really good to be so close and to hear God further speak to our hearts about what He wants us to do. It was time well spent. And I got to speak to somebody there from Liberty University about a recent email I had sent concerning an article I had read in the magazine put out by Liberty University. I am still not quite sure why I get the magazine but I think it’s a God Thing, because the magazine is both encouraging and gave me a great idea for our church. The article was about the use of a Block Party Trailer to put in your neighborhood to try and witness to the community and to give the folks a good time and reason to come out to a special event. There are snow cones, popcorn, moon walks, and lots of things for the neighborhood folks to enjoy all the while, student from Liberty can canvas the area and give the gospel as the opportunity arises. I thought, “what a great idea for us who want to plant a church and bring some folks in for that?” So God continue to work and bring things across my path to work out His amazing plan. And truly God is amazing and so good to us, and it still excites and yet humbles me to know that He has chosen us to do this great and mighty work. I am indeed grateful. So that about brings us up to the current time so I will try to keep up from now on as God teaches me and puts things on my heart to put into place for the exciting work He’s called us to do.
I will end this by putting down some thoughts from the book of Ezra that God gave me months ago that encouraged me so much and these thoughts come from chapter 3 where the folks there were called to lay down a new foundation so worship could be restored and God could be honored. I feel like that is what God has called me to do. To lay down a new foundation and although some folks will “weep” as the old foundation is replaced, I am glad that some folks will shout for joy as the new foundation for worship is laid and God will be honored by our praises, songs, and prayers. God has called us to do something special, I just know it and I look forward to the worship that we will all do in the future at our new church that God has so graciously given us the joy and responsibility to start. Let’s go!