New seasons are exciting. Here in South Texas, we can’t really tell when new seasons are upon us… unless, of course, the news anchors inform us. Trees stay a shade of brown all year long, and rain is just as sporadic in Spring as it is in Winter or Fall. Summer is “hot,” but it bleeds into mid-late Fall sometimes with temps in the 90’s and even 100’s well into September. We know the seasons change, but we often need a little help from those who are “in-the-know” to tell us when. But when the new season begins, it is very inspiring. I was in a conversation with a friend on Facebook the other day, talking about how there’s just something about Spring that makes me want to eat crawfish, play baseball, organize my house, plant some flowers, and grill outside. And then eat some more crawfish.
Those are seasons of the year… Seasons of life come as well.
I have been in Music Ministry for thirteen years and I don’t despise a single minute of it. The Lord has grown me, taught me, and molded me in these years of service to His church. I’ve had the great privilege of serving four amazing churches in Texas and Louisiana in the music ministry. God has given me life-long friendships, much needed accountability partners, and five different pastors from whom to learn and grow. Many years ago, God started giving me a heart for the pastorate. Of course my answer was, “I’ll never do that.” My Dad was a pastor for all of my school-aged years, and I’ve seen how churches can neglect and abuse the person in that position. Music Ministry was much more safe, so I thought. But over the course of two or three years, a heart for the pastorate developed into a passion for it. Then one day, it happened…
In February of 2010 I was sitting at my desk at Calvary Baptist Church in my regular morning quiet time with the Lord. It was a Thursday, and I was doing my “normal thing” at my “normal time.” Then suddenly, I felt the Lord impressing on me a heavy call. He was calling me to be a pastor. This time wasn’t like it had been before. It wasn’t like He was preparing me, shaping me, or leading me… He was calling. It was like He told me, “Tony, everything you have ever been through in life – every experience, every relationship, every trial, every gift I’ve given you, everything – has led you to this point.” I had no doubt in my mind that at that very moment, I had to give God an answer. Either I was going to accept His call to the pastorate and leave music ministry behind, or I was going to continue in what I was “comfortable” doing, and be miserable in it, knowing I would be outside of God’s design for my life.
In that moment, I surrendered my life to the pastorate. I had no clue if it would be two months or ten years before the day would come. But I knew that the center of God’s will is the only place I will ever be comfortable and productive for His kingdom’s sake. After that day, many more periods and instances of testing came. The biggest was only a few weeks later when I would have to come to the point where I could say, “If I never lead worship again, I’ll be okay.” That was a hard one. But by the grace of God, I got there – and I meant it. I certainly don’t despise the gifts God has given me, and I expect that He will at times give me opportunities to use them. But a new season of life means leaving behind what was old, and pressing on toward what is new.
For two years, I’ve been on a great journey. There have been numerous high’s and low’s. Some great victories, and some depressing setbacks. But Vanessa and I have trusted all the while that the One Who called is faithful.
Yesterday, March 4, 2012, God ended our search for the church He would have us lead in this new season of life. Antioch Baptist Church in Lovelady, TX called me to their pastorate yesterday. The service was absolutely Spirit-filled, and I have no doubt that the Spirit of God was moving in a mighty way among us all. I preached on the church: “Who Are We, and Why are We Here?” (Ephesians 3:8-11). The truth about the church is that even when we look our worst – even when we look nothing at all like what we’ve been going for – God proudly holds us up to display how infinitely and manifoldly wise He is.
I have had the great privilege for the past three and a half years of serving a wonderful church family. They have loved us like we don’t deserve, and blessed us like we could never imagine. Calvary Baptist Church of Rosenberg, TX will always be a very special place in the life of my family. I think the most difficult part about all of this is that we really have no desire to “leave” Calvary. I couldn’t ask for a better congregation than the one I now serve. It is difficult to leave what you’re comfortable doing and a people whom you know love you so much… and travel into new territory (geographically and spiritually). But the excitement of serving God in this new calling is overwhelming.
Calvary – thank you for our years of worship and ministry together. I could never replace you. And thank you for investing selflessly in me and my family… and for loving us so lavishly.
Antioch – I am so excited to begin this new relationship with you. I can’t even begin to explain the anticipation I feel. It is the prayer of our family that we always seek the will of our God together, and serve Him with all that we are.
Grace and Peace,