A Special Announcement

 

We’re excited to finally put out some big news that we’ve been praying over, discussing, researching, and thinking through. Since we arrived in Louisville for the Pastors College a year ago, the Lord has opened our eyes to his purposes in a more definite way than when we first began the pursuit of carrying on His mission in the world through church planting. Following is simply a brief update, but we will be posting more here soon.

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The Path Laid Before Us

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The last 12 months have been a hugely for formative time for Michelle and me. At this present time, it’s difficult to describe exactly how God has brought this about, but we are doing what we believe God has called us to do: prepare to plant a gospel-preaching, people-loving, intentionally multi-ethnic city church. Our dear friends, Aaron and Andrea Beane, will join us; and Aaron and I will serve as the founding pastors, if the Lord so wills. A lot could change between now and then, but our eyes are firmly fixed on the pathway laid before us.

I’m writing this blog post to paint a simple picture of what we believe the road ahead looks like for us. I write it with the hopes of encouraging someone to step outside their comfort zone and get them excited about what God is doing in cities all across the United States and world.

The Calling of Every Christian

First off, let me say that if you are a Christ follower, He calls you to follow Him wherever He goes (Luke 9:23). This may mean following Him into an office building everyday for the rest of your life. It may mean selling your possessions and following Him to a third-world country. It may mean staying up at night and showing a small child His love. Whatever your unique calling looks like, you can be sure that God is calling you to go somewhere in the world and make disciples of those people He places in your sphere of influence. Those people placed before you by God’s sovereign hand are people whom He wants to tell about His saving grace.

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Big News for the Earls!


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This past Sunday at the conclusion of my sermon, I made an announcement to the members of my church: in early March, the Earl family will be leaving North Carolina and will embark on a new ministry journey.  My last preaching Sunday will be February 28, and we will ship out sometime in the following week, Lord willing. I realize this may come as quite a shock to some of you, so allow me to detail what God has been doing in our lives.

When we first moved to the North Carolina High Country, Michelle and I agreed before God that we would remain here, serving His church for as long as He desired.  We never had any intentions of making any ministry changes, and we resolved to stand fast – even if we faced difficulty. This Sunday, I will celebrate five years as the pastor of Higher Ground Church of God.  Those times of difficulty have been rare, and we have come to know and love a church family that, I would imagine, can be found in few churches in America.

Changes

But several years ago, I began to sense that God was going to be moving us. It’s kind of a long story really, but I began to feel a burden for the city of Chicago. Now at the time, I knew this had to be God because neither Michelle nor I have ever been there, and we zero connections with it. So, we made this “urging” a matter of prayer.  For the last several years, we have sought God and His specific purposes for our family.

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The Biggest Lie in the Universe

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Sales receipts.

Every January, Michelle and I comb through the previous year’s receipts and tally up what we spent in order to file our taxes. This is an arduous task, forcing us to look over every last one with the hopes of finding 50¢ there or $1 there that we can deduct from our taxable income.

Currently, those receipts are in a large pile, staring at us, laughing at us. It’s a job we’re slowly working through, Michelle having done most of the “combing” thus far. The other day I learned, though, that those receipts will not only reveal in the end how much of a tax refund we’ll get, they also revealed the ugly pride and selfishness in my heart. Let me tell you the story.

Michelle and the kids were getting ready to go somewhere one morning. I was helping the kids get their coats on and Michelle was gathering some things to take with her. As I awaited their exit, Michelle asked me a harmless question: “What are you doing today?” Immediately, I could feel a subtle but noticeable irritation welling up within. I had work to do, and I could tell it was about to be interrupted.

“I’m doing office work.”

“What kind of office work?”

“Office work!”

Seeing my irritation, she graciously responded, “I wasn’t trying to question what you were doing, I just wanted to see if you could work on some of those receipts.” Ashamed – and still irritated – I said a teeth-clenched prayer requesting safety over my family, and I climbed the stairs to my office. I’m just glad that right then Jesus was interceding for them at the right hand of God.

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