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My Life (abbreviated)

I am the youngest child and only son born into a family which emigrated from West Virginia to northeast Ohio in the 1950s. My father had a 10th grade education but worked his way through apprenticeship to become a master machinist/mold-maker in great demand. My mother graduated High School and eventually became an LPN and Floor Nurse. They raised my two sisters and me in one of the first Megachurches, the Akron Baptist Temple. (Each grade level had a 200-person sanctuary.) There I learned to love the Bible and follow Jesus. But over the years I became disheartened by unanswered bibilical questions, and so at the age of eighteen I began a spiritual quest for a church which would live up to my growing understanding of Scripture.

I sojourned in many traditions for a few years, but was finally drawn to the Reformed faith by an acquaintance with Dr. Peter Steen, an itinerant Reformational philospher and campus evangelist. I settled into the Christian Reformed Church with its great tradition of holistic Reformed practice in faith and life. There I learned and embrace Reformed Theology (more from Calvin than the Dutch tradition) and began living it out in my own life.

At this time I also married my childhood sweetheart. Coming out of an anti-Christian home, she also embraced the Reformed faith. Together we had two daughters. Our marriage had a number of ups and downs for which I accept a majority of the blame. We had both come from physically abusive families and had not dealt with the pain of those experiences. Eventually we grew more distant. She divorced me after 25 years of marriage. I hold no malice toward Diane and hope she has great joy in her new marriage.

I heard the call to ministry several times in my life. As a child I was led to assist in the worship in various ways - prayers, singing. As I grew up I increasingly found myself leading Bible studies: children's Sunday School at 18, Adult classes from the age of 20 on. Having moved to Hawaii to earn my MA I found myself (at 21yrs old) the chairman of the Hospitality House Committee (in charge of supervising a Christian group home which provided Christian servicemen an oasis of faith and morality in which to live).

A year later I was elected an elder of the Honolulu CRC. In that capacity I ended up serving once as pulpit supply when the Pastor was on vacation. The congregation affirmed my gift, not only then, but also at a subsequent Discover Your Gifts retreat where I gave the Keynote address. With the encouragement of my pastor I began to pray about how to use this gift.

I left Hawaii to seek a Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota. At that time God slammed all the doors shut. The man I had come to study with left, I could not gain admission, and could find no work, ending up as a day-laborer. I finally surrendered to His will that I seek a pastoral call. Then not only did the doors open, the CRC gave me financial support at that secular institution (quite unheard of at the time) and the University of Minnesota granted me in-state status to complete pre-seminary work. I attended Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan and completed my course of study in three years, including field work.

In ministry, God has consistently placed me in very challenging situations. These have generally included churches needing revisioning or strong leadership in the midst of crisis or decline. I have also learned the ways God grows a church and the warning signs that a church is not following God's will. I approach every assignment with the confidence that when I show up, I will find God at work in and around what I do.

God and I have not always seen eye-to-eye about ministry. Several times I have asked God for less-challenging assignments. He always sits me down and waits until I am ready to listen, and then offers me just what I was resisting. On occasion I have asked God for release from ministry. He has always answered by closing all doors to secular employment and offering me more of what He's designed me to do. So I am secure in my calling and my understanding of what God's call entails in my life.

In January 2008 I remarried. Mary, who shares with me a “wanderlust” that makes us a good fit for my “unteathered” ministry style. Mary has “reinvented herself on a regular basis. And author of 4 books on IT, she has left her 28 year career in IT for something more fulfilling and less stressful. Since we have both been divorced we constantly seek to work on our marriage, reading and discussing books about improving marriage relationships. If you are looking for suggestions, we have several very good ones.

Mary, too, grew up in a non-Christian household, became a Christian as a teen, and for many years was alienated from the church (with good reason). She now keeps me sensitive to how the unchurched world looks at Jesus, Christianity and the Church.

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