Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Grants are moving to Dallas part 2

After Julie and I returned home from our "first date" with Irving Bible Church we knew we had to decide whether or not to go through the interview process. There were so many things to think and pray about. Do I really feel like I should leave NNYM? I really have a heart to love and serve youth pastors and their ministries. What about our kids, Austin is a senior. Could we move and him not graduate from Northview? There was a lot to pray about.

After thinking, praying and getting a lot of council we decided to go through the interview. A couple of weeks later Austin and I flew to Dallas for the weekend to be interviewed. The more I went through the process the more I fell in love with the church and the job they were creating. 2 days later the church offered me the position of student ministries pastor.

The job is a directional leadership position. The student ministry pastor would lead a team but also be involved in the lives of middle school and high school students. Another great thing about the church is they wanted me to continue my ministry to youth pastors and other churches.

Again, we went through a few days of seeking council, praying and thinking. For our family we never make decisions in a vacuum. Everyone we spoke with felt it was a difficult but right move for us. Julie and I joyfully accepted the position. I began commuting to Dallas on November 1. It's now the middle of January.

Julie, Zachary and Lauren are living with me in a great apartment in Flower Mound, Texas. The church has graciously provided the apartment for the next 3 months. I continue to be amazed at the love this church is showing us.

Transition is difficult, but in this case we believe it to be God's calling on our lives. The difficult thing is that when God moves Julie and me it impacts our children, family and friends. Andrew is continuing at GCSU and Austin is living with some good friends. Lauren and Zach are having their world rocked as they have moved to Texas. My hope and prayer is that this time will result in each of us leaning into Jesus.

In 2001 when we moved to Atlanta to take the position at Perimeter church it was obvious God was working on our lives. We have loved our time in Atlanta. As we continue our journey here in Dallas we hope we don't lose touch with so many friends in Atlanta.

Life really is an adventure for the Grants. It's full of suprises, some are easy but many are difficult. Our lives are in his hands and that's a good thing.

So far it seems the position for me is a great fit. We're excited about God's heart for each of us in the next months.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Short Sunsets

Before the sun came up yesterday we left 13040 Carriage Park Lane for the last time. So much has happened since we moved to Atlanta in 2001. Andrew (my oldest son) was 12, now he's almost 20, Julie and I both turned 40, we taught 3 boys how to drive (I have no idea how many wrecks we've had) and developed hundreds of friendships, a few of those friendships we'll have the rest of our lives. We loved our time there.

When I was walking through our home I was remembering all the laughter, playing, fighting, wrestling, hugging, farting, burping, crying and many other things that took place. It was where we as a family grew up. Lauren was 6, now she's 13. She went from a little girl to a soon to be woman. Zach, Austin and Andrew have become men...we'll almost. Just like a really cool sunset you want to last longer than it does, a phase of our life is over.

Last night 4 of us had dinner together in Flower Mound, Texas. My oldest boys are not living with us anymore, they are continuing their lives in Georgia. It's kind of like I'm beginning a new phase of fathering to my kids. Don't get me wrong, I'm so thankful for God's grace through the last 2o years of being a father, but as I've reflected, there are a few things I really want to do different or better the last few years I have with Lauren and Zach. Here's a sampling...

Encourage more and criticize less.

I'm not sure my kids comprehend how proud I am of them. Sometimes I have a tendency to see the glass half empty. Someone told me it takes 15 encouraging comments to balance out 1 critical comment. I have a lot of words to use to balance things out.

Love Julie better.

One of the best ways to love my kids is to love my wife. They need to see me laying down my life for Julie. I need to learn how to serve her so much better. I'm passionately in love with Julie, I want to show her better.


I have a friend named Barbara who has 3 kids. She's does't really know it but she's a great mom. She said one time that the most important time she spends for her kids is in prayer. I want to be much more consistent in going to God on their behalf. I can't change their hearts but God can and will.


Zach loves to go fishing, so do I. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get on the lake with Zach. Lauren loves to shop, I don't, but I'm just as committed to learning.

I'm kind of sad the last few years went so fast. Some times we want time to stand still, but it never does. Even though I'm sad I'm excited about the next few years. We have no right or ability to hold on to our life, it keeps moving, growing and changing. Our life belongs to God and he wants us to use the short time we have offering it to him and others, especially those closest to us.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Indulge or Deny?

I was just thinking about how my life is so different than how Jesus describes a person who follows him. He says if anyone is going to follow him he must deny himself. I'm not very good at denying myself, in fact, if I'm really honest I do a lot better at indulging myself.

Sure, there are things I would do and experience if not for my relationship with Jesus but typically my thought process is about what makes me happy and comfortable. I think about how I can get people to like me more and how I might impress them. The problem is that there is very little about me that's impressive, so it's hard work getting people's attention.

Here's what's ironic. The true way to fulfillment is through denial. Indulgence in anything except Jesus results in always wanting more. It's an empty feeling that can never be filled. Now, denying ourselves and indulging in Jesus is what satisfies us and leaves us thirsty for more of Jesus.. at the same time. It honors him when we drink and drink and drink of him.

So, today I'm asking God to give me the grace to deny myself, take up my cross and follow him. There is silly saying I hate but maybe it's true. Jesus / Others / You. I can't believe I just said that but today I'm going to think about it.

Have a great day of denial and indulgence!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Grants are moving to Dallas part 1

I heard somewhere that "life is a highway, I want to ride it all night long". There is a real sense that life is an exciting journey. It is filled with anticipation, fear, joy, disappointment and pain. There are all kinds of other words I could use but...

For the Grants this journey has taken unexpected turns in the last 2 years or so. From a confusing and unexpected exit from Perimeter Church to now making a move west. I heard somewhere else, "go west young man". I am a young man so that's exactly what we are doing, heading west to Texas. This is a little bit of our story.

Julie and I are so thankful for our short time with the National Network. It gave us an opportunity to lean into Jesus in ways we never have. I have relationships with people that have made me a better person and pastor. I learned so much and hope student ministry in the southeast is stronger as a result.

Last September it felt like God was perhaps doing a little something different with our highway. Julie and I felt like it might be impossible financially to stick with the National Network. When we sat down to think and pray she said somethings that was full of wisdom. Now, you may not know this but Julie is much more than a trophy wife, she is a woman that hears from God and prays. And when she prays God seems to answer in powerful ways.

During our conversation Julie asked if perhaps God was doing something different in our lives. She knew I loved the National Network but thought we should be willing to look at what God had next. At that point we decided we should be open to see if God had another opportunity for us. We were not looking to do something different but felt it would be a good idea to "put our antennae up" and listen to God.

Now, for some reason I feel the need to explain what I mean by "listen to God", but I'm going to resist the temptation. God speaks to me in many ways, his Word, circumstances, other people etc. I'm not resisting very well am I? Anyway, I'm not sure I've ever "gotten a word from the Lord". I just try to listen, and obey as best I can my with my imperfect ears.

2 days after Julie and my "antennae" discussion I received an interesting phone call. Brain Ward is the middle school pastor at Irving Bible Church in the Dallas, Texas area. After 10 seconds on the phone Brian literally said, "I want to you to come be my boss". They were in the process of developing a new oversight / directional leadership position for their student ministry. Now this alone would not demand a move to Dallas, but it sure got my attention.

The next day I was on the phone with the executive pastor. After a 30 minute discussion he and I decided together that Julie and I should fly to Dallas for a "first date" type gathering.

So many thoughts were running through my mind. Can I still lead a youth ministry? Is this church a fit for us? Do I really want to live somewhere there are no hills? What about our kids?

All we knew to do was go meet with this church with an open heart and open ears. Isn't that what God desires, for us to have hearts that are willing to do whatever he wants even if it's hard and doesn't make a ton of sense?

That is exactly what we did. I'll tell tell the rest of the story in the next couple of days.