June 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of my ordination into the ministry, so please allow me a few moments of reflection.
If youíd have told me when I was entering college that eventually I would become a pastor, I would have never believed you. In fact Iíd have probably looked at you in a funny way and told you, you were crazy. However, God had his plans for me and through a series of situations and circumstances where God changed my heart and my mind, I ended up at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana in June 1980. Some questioned the wisdom of my move because the economic times were tough and I was leaving a secure job with the U.S. Postal Service. I knew, however, in my heart that God was calling me into His full time service in the ministry, so I packed up my family and moved.
I started my seminary experience with an intensive summer Greek program, (A pre-requisite for official entrance). Then I began taking my classes and after four years I graduated and was certified for ordination. I was ordained where I had vicared at First Lutheran Church in Texarkana, Texas in June 1984. From there, I went on to serve in my first call as Missionary at Large in South Garland / Mesquite, Texas. After gathering a core group, we began holding Bible studies in our living room. Then after starting worship services in February 1985, Tree of Life Lutheran was chartered as an official congregation of the LCMS on March 2, 1986. When I accepted the call to St. Johns, Tampa, Florida, Tree of Life had grown to a congregation of about 500 souls.
As I look back over the years, I can see that my Lord was with me and that He helped me overcome many obstacles and difficulties. Through the power of His word, and the work of the Holy Spirit, I have also been enabled to preach countless sermons and conduct countless classes and bibles studies and because Godís word does not return to Him void, it has been my privilege to baptize hundreds and confirm hundreds into the Christian faith. For this privilege, I thank God.
I also thank God for my wife, Barbara, who has supported me in so many ways, (even financially) and my family. They have always been with me although at times, because of the work of the ministry, I wasnít always able to be with them.
I also thank God for several mentors and ministers in my life, especially the Rev. John Schmidt, who sent me to the seminary and the Rev. D.R. Nelson, who I vicared under. In addition to many others that I thank God for, I especially thank God for the many good and faithful members of all the congregations that I have served, including you here at Trinity Lutheran in El Reno. May God continue to bless our ministry together as we point people to Jesus, their Lord and Savior.
We pray for Godís richest blessings in Jesusí name.