Sallye and I celebrated our 40th anniversary on February 14, 2015. We have two adult children, Christopher and Sarah. Our three grandkids are Taylor, Avery, and Gage. We love them like crazy! From my parents, I learned about Jesus and saw what it looked like to follow him. We belonged to a loving church family in Midland, Texas. The preacher, Austin Siburt, started a Preacher Training Class, which I joined while still in elementary school. Eventually, I committed to following Him and was baptized as a teenager. By my late teens, we moved to Hurst, Texas, where I started dating a pretty girl named Sallye. We married in 1975.
God has used Sallye so many times to nudge me into a better direction. We’ve grown up together. We’re still growing up. A big part of this process came through our children. During their early years, God redirected my life toward Jesus and preparation for ministry. In the mid-80s, I started preaching in churches, which led to another major change. The life of Jesus became the focus of my preaching. Eventually I developed, and could not shake, a very strong desire to know Jesus and his ways. Two very impactful events occurred during my preaching years. First, a serious stroke hit me when I was 51 years old. It put me on the sidelines for months, during which God helped Sallye and me learn, like never before, about trusting him when facing a very uncertain future. The second event has grown into a personal habit. It started during my time of physical recovery and continues to transform me to this day. I began reading through all four of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) each and every month. This had me reading and reflecting on three gospel chapters each day. Through this discipline, God keeps stretching my imagination about Jesus and my understanding of what it means to follow him. There are other events, people, teachers, and authors who have shaped my faith. I’m grateful for each one, even those that have been painful. In fact, the painful ones have had the most profound impact on me. I’m still a mess, but I’m a work in progress, and I’m a follower of Jesus.
I love what the Word says, Apart from me you can do nothing. (Jesus - John 15:5b). I recite these words multiple times daily. They shape me and keep me grounded.
During a major transition in our lives, Sallye suggested for a season that we worship at The Hills, where we already had many friends. We did and it wasn’t long before we became members. After another six months, in 2006, the leadership at The Hills invited me to join the staff. My work involved connecting Hills members to serve in the local community. Most recently, I’ve been given a new challenge as The Hills Online Campus Minister. We stream our worship services each weekend, and thousands of viewers join us from many different states and countries. As we engage and grow our virtual audience, I keep reminding myself how those joining us online have Jesus among them wherever they are. And as we gather to focus on Jesus, whether onsite or online, Jesus is joining all of us through His Spirit. So for the next season in my life, I’m expecting God to lead me and others into a new experience using technology to make and grow followers of Jesus.
My hope for the church is that The Hills people would grow to be so much like Jesus that they would cause others to be really curious about him, want to know more about him, rethink their thoughts about Christians, and eventually choose to become followers of Jesus as well.