So, here I am: pastor of Calvary Georgetown Divide serving lots of folks in the Sierra backwoods. I speak a lot, do Biblical Dinners, Galilean Weddings, teach, preach and more in amazing places with wonderful people. I’m also an author, Law Enforcement Chaplain, Israel tour leader, artist, musician, husband and dad. And though it goes without saying, this is my personal blog—the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of CCA, CCGD, PCLEC or anyone else but me. There you go.
I despised and mocked all things God, Jesus and religion—a 10-year old atheist. My Darwinian indoctrination in grammar school had done its work. Then the God-who-wasn’t-there showed up in the form of a classmate wearing a snappy Boy Scout-ish uniform. Whatever organization it was, I wanted in, and my friend arranged a ride to the meeting. It was at a church.
The “scouts” were actually “Royal Rangers” and the church (to put it mildly) was Pentecostal. My skin crawled. A man with a flattop haircut greeted me warmly, then turned to the boys and said something awful. “Let’s pray.” And they did—twenty young men stood up and began to wriggle and speak in tongues. Horrified. Someone finally said “amen” and they got down to business—and to my dismay, it was fun—so fun, in fact, that I returned the next week—and the next. And that was when Mr. Flat-top knelt in front of me and asked, “Would you like receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” I inexplicably answered, “Why not?” and prayed. The Atheist died.
Two years later my dad transferred to Southern California and we moved to east L.A. What followed was four years of ugly: violent bullies, coerced academic mediocrity (good grades made one a target), few friends and no Christians. It wasn’t long before I relapsed into serious doubts about God, reasoning that if God existed He didn’t care about people (condition of the world, Vietnam, et al)—or perhaps He just wasn’t there at all—that humanity was consigned to meaningless extinction. So I prayed—and it wasn’t a nice prayer. “God, if you’re there, you’d better prove it, or tomorrow night I’ll leave you forever.” I meant it with resolve.
And much to my surprise, God showed up again the next morning at gym class in the form of two social rejects.
“You need to come to Campus Life tonight,” they insisted. “No,” I said, “I’m busy.” They insisted and offered me a ride. I ran out of excuses. Again (and to my dismay) the meeting was fun, and I didn’t want to have fun. Then the leader, a former NFL linebacker, began a peculiar discussion. The subject was hope—not a syrupy, superficial placebo for a troubled world, but a piercing declaration that life held no lasting hope unless it was found in Jesus. I was stunned, and I prayed again. “OK, God, I’m listening.”
Life changed and High School became filled with the unexpected: evangelism, discipleship, forgiving bullies and being mentored by men like Ray Schmautz, the young John McArthur, Dennis Agajanian and Ben Patterson. After High School I went on staff with Campus Life and pursued college degrees in fine arts and astronomy. Those were the days of the Jesus Movement, and I attended Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa and got involved in some of their many ministries.
To maintain my habit (food) I became a sail-maker until going full-time with YFC. In 1979 I married Kathee Alexander and we relocated to the Napa Valley to assist a big church that self-destructed two years later. After a brief sojourn in San Diego we accepted a position at Calvary Chapel in Auburn, CA. Two years later we planted a church near Cool, CA, where I have pastored ever since. Cool. Really.
The years since have been my most exhilarating, exhausting and fulfilling—I am breathless and blessed. Above all, my love for Jesus still grows—He’s everything to me. He forgave my sins and taught me to forgive, chased me down when I ran and took me down when I got cocky. He cared when I didn’t, stayed faithful when I wasn’t and loved me when I hated. I am His forever.
He might be chasing you, too. Let Him catch up—He won’t hurt you. He saves.
As a friend wrote once wrote,
“You’re on the ride of your life,
Only God knows where you’re headed;
Sit down, hold tight,
You’ll go places you never imagined;
Through the ups and downs, twists and turns,
It’ll be quite a ride…”
Thanks for checking in.