It has been a while since I continued in this blog series of influence, but I felt it was time to get after it and finish it up.
It is said, and accurately I might add, that we are the sum total of our life experiences. The individual that you are today is no accident, but has been shaped by the interactions of people around you with God obviously working through all of it whether we choose to recognize Him or not. I am the husband, father, pastor and follower of Christ that I am today because of the influence of many people, but a great deal of that influence has come from my years at Tomoka Christian Church, and specifically Joe Putting and Ed Marshall.
I grew up in the church, but wandered away from the truth that I knew through my senior year of high school and all of college. It wasn't until I was married and two very close friends invited Dana and I to TCC that we started the journey back. It was on my first Sunday there that we ended up "coincidentally" having lunch with Joe and Luanne Putting. That was the start of a friendship and a leading from God that changed our lives forever.
I was exposed to a passionate form of Christianity that was authentic and unlike anything I had seen before. It was no longer about Sunday rituals and was about being actively engaged in pursuing God's will for our lives and a desire to reach the rest of the world. Prayer took on meaning and was no longer a simple recitation. Worship was something to be actively engaged in and a part of every day life. I would say that I finally became a real Christ follower while I was there.
In 2003, Joe asked me to join his staff as the youth pastor. It was the start of the revealing of my true path in life and what God has called me to do. It was not always the easiest journey in my time there and our departure was certainly difficult, but the lessons that I learned from Joe and Ed are invaluable. Both men possess a passion for the Word of God and for lost souls that has shifted my focus over the years. We were all blessed to be part of some great works of God while we were there and I continue to look back even now for guidance on listening to God and how to be a pastor.
I am honestly grateful for the time that we were able to share together as a staff and warriors for the cause of Christ. The past year has been a tough learning experience and unfortunately I don't think our relationship will ever be the same, but I truly value the impact that Joe and Ed have had on my life. My prayers are always with them and I hope that one day we could all sit down and celebrate God's work in our lives and what He accomplished through us while we served there together.