I grew up in and out of church in the small town of Texico, NM. My parents went to church every now and then when I was a kid, but there was no commitment for Jesus in my life. I walked the aisle when I was about seven-years-old in a small Southern Baptist church, but that was all it was to me. There was no change in my lifestyle, and the experience was nothing more than a get-out-of-hell-free card in my mind.
As I moved into Jr. High, I started attending a local church pretty regularly (mainly for the girls and the games that they played), and I started to live a double life. I would act like a holy and righteous kid while I was at church and then turn around and look at porn with my friends from school. I had gotten really good at being religious and living the double life. I even got baptized during my last year of Jr. High.
I slowly started moving my way up in the ranks at church, and by youth camp that summer my youth minister had asked me to lead one of the nightly devotionals. I did horribly, but my pride grew exponentially since I was one of the few people asked to do one. I was reaching the top of the church ladder. I was attending every Bible study possible and going to a spiritual activity at least five times a week.
The summer after my freshman year in high school, my youth minister offered two additional Bible studies, Experiencing God and a Precept upon Precept study of covenant. I joined both. God started using these studies to draw me to Him. Through the studies, God exposed my sin and my double life. He showed me I was the purest example of the word hypocrite.
God continually exposed my sins to me through the studies, and I had my great confrontation with God during camp that summer. My youth minister had asked me to lead a devotional once again. It was a chance to redeem myself; so I poured myself into studying. It was through studying for that devotional that God showed me that my good deeds were worthless in His sight. He exposed my mask of religiosity to me, and lovingly showed me how to take it off.
God took me to James 4:10 that says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” So I humbled myself before Him. I admitted my two-face life to Him, and I asked for His forgiveness. After humbling myself before God, I knew I had to humble myself again. That night during my devotional, I revealed my double life to everyone in the youth group and asked for their forgiveness. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but it was one of the greatest times of fellowship and Christian love that I have ever had. It was during this time that God regenerated my heart and called me to be His child.
The summer after God saved me; God slowly started tugging on my heart about becoming a vocational minister. Two of my friends had answered the call, and I had several long talks with my youth minister about what it meant to be called. I continually debated whether God was calling me or not. When I look back on it now, God was calling me the whole time, but I was too afraid to answer. I eventually answered His call to the ministry on October 27, 1998.
From that point on, my question for God was where He wanted me to serve Him. I would always pray, “God what do you want me to do? Do you want me to be youth minister, a pastor, a missionary, a music minister, or what?” His answer has always been consistent. “I want you to serve Me.” So I’ve done just that. I’ve served wherever He has opened the door. I went on mission trips to Mexico, Brazil, and Russia; I led worship; I started and taught a Bible study while attending Eastern New Mexico University; I was a youth minister; and I am currently serving at Mars Hill Church Albuquerque.
I had felt since Brazil that God might want me to plant a church some day. The desire had grown in my heart and while I was a youth minister I finally gave in. My wife, Shannon, and I left my job as a youth minister in Texas with every intention of moving to Portland to plant a church (this was influenced by the book Blue Like Jazz and the knowledge that there weren’t many churches out there). Since we didn’t have any connections in Portland or any jobs lined up, we moved in with my mother-in-law in Albuquerque, NM.
Little did I know that this was all part of God’s plan. Through various circumstances God showed us that He didn’t want us to go to Portland but to stay in Albuquerque. God directed us to City on a Hill and we have been here ever since. I don’t necessarily think God is calling me to plant a new church in Albuquerque anymore, but to help us to continue to plant City on a Hill (now Mars Hill Church) here in Albuquerque.
I don’t know how or when God plans are for the future, but I do know that I continue to ask Him, and He continues to answer, “I want you to serve Me.” My plan is to answer that call for the rest of my life no matter what it looks like.