“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21, ESV)
We continue to pray asking God to give us a baby who will live to be born; one that we can raise, like we are doing with the first seven He has blessed us with. I’m another year older, and hopefully another year more mature in the Lord and learning to trust Him completely. This year I’ve wondered what He’s doing many times. Yet, what other choice do I have other than to trust Him? I read a helpful book this year that God gave me just before facing another trial. It is called Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges.
Probably the biggest news in our lives for 2010 is that God blessed us with a church. But before I get to that, let me fill in the back story. At the end of last year, great frustration had set in. We longed to be back in Texas. There was a small IVR company, owned by a former colleague of mine. I spent two days on site looking at their systems. I sat through several weeks of webcast training in the evenings. I heard nothing but compliments on my past experience. Although we never did discuss salary and benefits and such, I had several verbal promises that he was going to bring me onto the team “next month.” The agreement was that I could work anywhere I wanted. So the plan was that I would work from home in Oklahoma, put the house on the market, then when it sold we’d move out to some land in Texas, close enough to drive into Dallas on Sunday morning to attend Dallas Reformed Baptist Church, but far enough out to have some acreage and some animals. To this day that company has not told me “no.” I’m sure if I sent off another email to him, I'd receive the same response of, “We’re almost ready…probably next month…don’t worry, we’ll call you.” Now, I don’t know my friend’s company’s financials. Maybe they just don’t have the work for me right now (or all last year). But for whatever reason I believe the Lord has intervened and kept us here in spite of a willing(?) employer and certainly a willing employee. 2009 had been extremely stressful in terms of church. I don’t want to disparage any of the families with which we formerly worshiped, as we continue to see most of them today and I consider them to be brothers and sisters in the Lord. Yet there were reasons that God was calling us out of that assembly and to a place where my family would be under the care of church elders. In any case, as we ended 2009 we were visiting churches. There are several good churches in the Oklahoma City area. Yet we didn’t seem to “click” in the places we tried. I still have a conviction on family integrated worship. Many of the very good churches still had age segregated Sunday School. Because my friend Robert had joined Stillwater Presbyterian, we visited there for several weeks. I read several books on believer’s baptism and infant baptism. I value that time of study as it opened my eyes as to some of the reasons why Reformed Presbyterians baptize their children. Although I was not convinced to the point of changing the views I have held throughout my Christian life, I read some very convincing arguments with John Calvin’s views being perhaps the strongest out of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. At the end of the day my believer’s baptism views had not changed, so I continued to seek a church for our family. For several weeks we attended Classen Road Baptist Church in Norman. This was quite a drive for us. But the pastor there, Julian Horner, was one of the most humble guys I had ever met. His preaching was very good. Like the other churches in the area they had an age segregated Sunday School. However, we were never made to feel bad for keeping our children with us in the adult class. We made several friendships there, including a dear brother named Rick Cortez. He led the music there and would often sing directly from the scripture. Though I don’t get to be with either of these brothers much anymore, I still hold them in high esteem. Unfortunately as I was considering joining this church, the church crumbled from within and disbanded. So our search continued. In all our searching, the church that I kept considering was Northwest Bible Church. Again, this is another strong, doctrinally sound church in the Oklahoma City area. Pastor Alan Conner is an excellent teacher and he became a friend as well. However, I just never quite felt like this was the place God wanted us. They did have a strong youth program with Sunday School classes for all the children. That very well could have been part of my uneasiness. Family integrated worship is a strong conviction of mine. If you do not share this conviction, please don’t let these comments dissuade you in any way from visiting Northwest Bible. I have great regard for Pastor Conner, and I pray the Lord’s blessing upon Northwest Bible Church.
One day at work, Robert Graham leaned over from the next cube and asked me, “Have you seen this church?” He had GracePointe Baptist Church’s website up on his computer. Robert was still very much involved at Stillwater, but he knew I was looking for a Reformed Baptist church. I brought the website up on my computer (http://www.gracepointeonline.com/), downloaded a couple of sermons, and read over the beliefs and some of Pastor Jeff Brown’s blog articles. Everything looked good, so we decided to visit the following Sunday. Paton was sick that morning so Sheri stayed home with him. We got there in time for Sunday School. The pastor’s wife, Cendy, greeted us in the parking lot. At that point they still had children’s classes. However, I think there were fewer children in the church than we had in our family. So I came in with my six (who were with me) children and sat down at the tables in the fellowship hall. One thing that I thought was a bit strange was that several people had laptops. I would find out later that most of the families use Logos Bible Software. Everyone was very friendly. The teaching was good. This was in May. We visited for five months before joining in October. During that time, and even since then, we’ve witnessed the church grow with more families. So that now the children outnumber the adults, I believe. I found out that the pastor was beginning to have a conviction for family integrated worship as well. So the presence of our family only helped him to move the church in that direction. What I see at GracePointe is a family of believers who are serious about their faith. There are men who discuss the things of God. There are a couple of guys who go out and do street preaching down at Bricktown and sometimes at Oklahoma University. And yes, there’s a large contingent of Logos users, of which I have “joined the club.” I bought Logos in June and have really enjoyed it ever since. When we first came, GracePointe had pews in the sanctuary. Those have since been replaced by nice chairs and the white plastic tables that used to be in the fellowship hall. There are power supplies mounted to each table so that members and visitors can plug in their laptops. I take notes directly on the computer. We have formed some very good friendships during our time at GracePointe. The pastor’s family lives closest to us. So we’ve gotten together with them more frequently than we have with the other families, although we really want to make a point to have each family over. So as we come to the end of 2010, I’m happy to say that we are established in a local church with a legitimate, ordained pastor. GracePointe is in the Southern Baptist Convention, and we are part of the Founders ministry.
I mentioned already the Logos purchase. There’s another purchase I made this year which I have enjoyed immensely. I bought a Kindle DX. I have loaded it up with a lot of theological works. I have the ESV Study Bible on it, along with McCheyne’s reading plan. It rests nicely up on the treadmill as I walk each weekday morning. In that manner I easily read my Bible chapters for the day while getting in a workout. I’m also constantly finding books offered for free from Amazon. Often these books are only free for a short time. That’s how I got Jerry Bridge’s book that I mentioned earlier. God in His timing provided that book just a few days before I would really need it. For his birthday, we bought Justin one of the new wifi Kindles. So now he can share all of my books on it at no additional cost.
There are so many things that have gone on this year. Judging from the number of blog entries I’ve made you may not think so. But the smaller number of entries is most likely related to the shorter amount of time. In July we attended Vision Forum’s Baby Conference. We enjoyed that very much, and we picked up the recordings so we can review what we learned there.
I also saw my friend Robert unjustly removed from his position at work. We are contractors, and our contracting company was very helpful to him as they did not at all agree with the way this was handled. I’ll not name names here. However, our company assisted him in finding a position in another state with our same company. What’s even better for him is that they are allowing him to work from home and continue to live in Oklahoma or wherever else he would like to live. So this is another classic case of what the customer meant for evil, God has used for good and allowed him to remained employed, and work from home in the presence of his family (and new little baby!). I miss him, though, as I continue to drive to the same office every day.
Finally, in October 2010, I started AnswerSoft. (www.answersoft.net) Thanks to a lead from my pastor Jeff, who also owns On-Call Computer Services, I discovered Ifbyphone. (www.ifbyphone.com) As most of my background has been in IVR development and call center technology, I saw this as a great opportunity to pursue a long time dream of mine, self-employment. AnswerSoft is an official reseller for Ifbyphone. I can save my customers money over what they would pay if they enrolled at Ifbyphone directly. Additionally, I am also available to make any custom changes they need for their systems. Ifbyphone technology makes sophisticated phone switch applications, like call center queuing, IVR, voice recognition, voice broadcasting, voice mail, call recording, and much more, available to the small business owner as well as larger corporations. In this past this technology was very expensive. So only large corporations could afford these systems. Ifbyphone provides all of these services “in the cloud” and charges a modest monthly fee, bringing these very helpful technologies into the reach of the small business owner. Jeff Brown has told me how much time and money his phone system has saved him. One of my goals for 2011 is to bring AnswerSoft to a level of profitability so that I will be able to devote my full time working hours to AnswerSoft. One of the exciting new applications I am working on is an accounts receivable collections application. Using this application small businesses can set their phone system up to automatically make those undesirable calls, “reminding” their customers that they need to pay what they agreed to pay. This is certainly a win-win application that is sure to save your company a load of time and money.
2011 looks to be another eventful year. Brittney will be our first homeschool graduate. Pray for her as she enters a new stage of her life. I want to support her desire to develop her leatherworking skills. She has been a great help to her mother. I expect that that will continue as she contributes to the smooth running of our household until such time as God provides her a husband.
I thank the Lord for a good 2010. I must say it has been much more enjoyable than 2009. I pray that God’s will and His glory will reign supreme in 2011.