The Short Version
- I Love Jesus (But He loves me way more!)
– Husband to an extremely patient and gracious wife: Kimber Graves.
– Dad to a 1 yr Old
– HS Youth Pastor @ Calvary Ftl
– Church Plant 2018 (South Florida)
– Basketballer has been
– Amazing Race wanna be
– People watcher (that sounds creepier than what it is)
– Everything within me wants people to find their life in Jesus!
The Long Version
Born in Southern California, I went to school and church at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. During my sophomore year I met my High School Sweetheart, Kimber, who would in time be my wife. Even though I grew up in church, it wasn’t until high school when the Gospel of Jesus really became my own.
My earliest memories are at church listening to stories of Jesus being taught on a flannel graph. (For those of you who grew up in church you know what a flannel graph is). I always believed in God and prayed to God, but it wasn’t until I was in high school when I heard a message on 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” Right then, the Gospel of Grace seemed to “click.” Jesus and I switched places. He took my sin, and I received His righteous life. What a beautiful story—that God who was rich became poor, so that I, who am poor, might become rich.
The Gospel is unlike any worldview or “religion” that I’ve ever studied or would study. And it just makes sense; practically, if there is a God, and there is, it’s the only explanation that’s intellectually acceptable. There’s no way I, or anyone, could ever be good or holy enough to be in the presence of this kind of God if it wasn’t for His holiness that covered me. Again if there is a God, I could never “find” Him, how could one ever “find” God? God would have to reveal Himself to us, and the story of God becoming a man is such a beautiful and complete story. From that point on, Jesus had me. Little did I know, He had me before the foundation of the world.
After I graduated High School, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (just like any other 18 year old). It seems like in our American Culture we place such a high pressure to go to college, get your degree, and to commit to one job for the rest of your life. You know from 22 to 65 you’re working the same job. And this idea of: “go to school, get good grades, then go to a better school, so I can get a good job, make some money, have kids, and then I die, and leave my stuff to my kids;” all of this seemed so meaningless to me! This is one of the reasons the Gospel excites me. The Gospel tells me that I wasn’t made for this rat race; this rat race will never satisfy me; there’s an eternal void in my life and only an eternal God can fill that void! Now there’s nothing wrong with an 8-5 job. Actually we (the church) need to be in this world, and to make the greatest influence in whatever area we work in. We should be the best at what we do. But you see, Jesus gives us purpose in that, and our job doesn’t have to be monotonous.
So at the age of 18, I got some certifications as a personal trainer, worked at a gym, and over time I saw the vanity in that as well. People came in, lost weight, felt better, gained weight, came in again. And it was great to see people change, and feel good about themselves, but the only difference I was making was cosmetic, and again I felt like the Lord was calling me to something else.
So I quit my job, sought the Lord, and to make a long story short, I got a job at a church as a janitor, working 40 hours a week. And this was as Dickens says, “The best of times and the worst of times.” I was 18. I’m naturally very social, and I went from a job where I had clients and relationships, to cleaning toilets and carpets all day.
Sometimes, I could go a whole day without talking to anyone. But this is when God really grabbed hold of me. Like I said, I worked 8 hours a day cleaning, but I was able to listen to several sermons a day and worship music. For 6-8 hours I would listen to the Lord.
There would be times I would be vacuuming the hallways while I was listening to a powerful message on my iPod, and I would be weeping because even though I thought I was being humble and serving God, God was showing me just how wicked I was, and just how good He is! So weekly during worship or a teaching, God would be convicting me and comforting me at the same time, and I would cry out to Him. It must have looked so pathetic. I’m sure people saw me and thought, “Why is that 18 year old kid always vacuuming and crying?” But God was doing something in me.
During my time as a janitor, I started a couple of Bible studies a week with some of my friends that eventually turned into one Bible study. My thought was, “Maybe they won’t go to church, but maybe they will go to my Bible study.” Some did, and it was a great season of life where God really made my calling sure.
One day, my buddy and I were talking about Pastor Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, and how he used to disciple the generation before us, and so my friend asked him if he would do that again and disciple us. Somehow he said yes, and this started a year and a half journey with Chuck Smith. We met with him every Friday for about a year and a half. We asked him questions about ministry, life, family, calling, theological issues, etc. He walked through the book of Acts with us and encouraged us to do church not the American way, but the early church way.
Two weeks after I turned 19, I was still a janitor working at the church, and doing my Bible study. In the summer of 2007, I asked my high school sweet heart, Kimber, to marry me on her 20th birthday; we got married 6 months later when I was 19.
Three days before our wedding, I had lunch with Pastor Brian Broderson who offered me a job at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa to work in the college ministry and for Calvary’s book distribution.
After only working at Calvary for 6 months, it was summer of 2008 when the economy, as you might know, took a turn for the worse. At that time Calvary decided to let go of everyone who worked at the church for under a year.
But God, who is rich in mercy, had a plan for me. Right before I was let go Brian Broderson asked me to be a part of a mission trip over in Austria where for a week I would teach missionaries’ kids during a missionary conference. It was there that I met Bob Coy, who was the Senior Pastor at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Little did I know God was doing something much bigger than me.
It was through that relationship that I ended up getting hired at Calvary Fort Lauderdale working in the youth ministry.
Today I oversee and Pastor the High School Ministry at Calvary FTL. God is faithful even when we are faithless; He cannot deny who He is.
My wife and I had our first baby boy in May 2015 (or I should say she had our first baby, when I say “we had a baby” she is quick to correct me and say, “No, i had a baby”) and I am so amazed by God’s goodness in our lives!
My story is still being written. God is not done with me yet. But so far the story is one of redemption, grace, and mercy. I was more than lost; I was without hope and dissatisfied, and Jesus brought me love, meaning, and peace, and everything else that my heart has desired. He is faithful to complete the work He started in me. I am far from perfect or even good, but I have Christ’s righteousness.
As time goes on I so agree with John Newton who said, “I remember two things very clearly. I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior!” And that’s it. That will never change until I’m with Jesus. So for now, I want to grow in the knowledge and Grace of Jesus and help others grow in these same truths.
Enjoy the teachings and writings!