Genesis 5020

Stories for His Glory

The Pruning-Part 1 March 8, 2013

Filed under: Jolene's Gensis 5020 — Melissa Finnegan @ 11:11 am
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I am so excited to share our new Genesis 5020 with you.

For the next few weeks we will hear from my dear friend, Jolene Nofzinger.

I met Jolene when we started attending elem3nt church. She was on worship team when I joined and I soon discovered she was an avid reader as well:)

Although I met Jolene in 2000, it wasn’t until about four years ago that our relationship grew deeper when I joined the lifegroup she was in. She was one of the first people to hear my Genesis 5020 as God had commanded me to share with our lifegroup in 2010.

As I stated last week her story is very different from what you have heard so far and I am so glad for that. I hope it will spark a fire in you to share your story on this blog.

Read on and be blessed.

pruned-trees Genesis 50:20 is a little different – I grew up in the church, was always the “good girl”, a pretty obedient and compliant person who never really went through a rebellious time in my life. 

Growing up in the church we would periodically have “testimony time” where people would be asked to share their story of how God saved them or how He was working in their lives.  While I enjoyed hearing other people’s stories, I feared being asked to share mine, because I didn’t feel like I had a story that was good enough or dramatic enough to share. 

Well, God has been writing a whole new chapter in my walk with Him and it has taken some dramatic turns. It was not exactly what I had in mind… But God has showed up in an incredible way!

I have attended the same church for most of my life – A church that my grandparents, parents and siblings have also attended. A church that my husband’s grandfather pastored at one time. The church that brought my husband and me together, where we were married, dedicated our children and call our spiritual home. 

Our church has grown and evolved over the years through God’s faithfulness and blessing. We have had wonderful pastors with visionary leadership and skilled teachers of God’s Word. 

Several years ago we were at what I thought was the  top – Our attendance was growing, we had a dynamic teaching pastor, a great worship experience (something near and dear to my heart), the biggest youth program in town – our church had it going on! 

And then God decided our church needed a little pruning…

That began a turbulent time in our church life. We went through a change in name and became multi-site, which caused some folks to leave. Over the course of about a year we lost several key pastoral staff for various reasons – with many in our church body following them to their new ministries. 

We lost volunteers for ministry and we were struggling. We had no youth program, something that was of great concern as my daughter was quickly approaching the age where she could be a part of youth group. Both my husband and I grew up in wonderful youth programs with great leaders and I never, ever imagined that wouldn’t be a big part of my kids’ church experience. 

Our tight-knit life group was impacted through these losses as well and faced a difficult season of adjustment.

I don’t want to dwell on the details of this painful time of “pruning” for our church. Nor do I want to point fingers or come off as judgmental of those who chose to worship elsewhere during this time. I had many conversations with dear friends and even some family members who left.  They felt God telling them to move and they obeyed – and that was the right thing for them. 

They will always be treasured brothers and sisters in Christ.  However, it did not make the parting any less painful.

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. John 15:2-4 NLT


Part IX-The Calm April 13, 2012

We know without a doubt God did speak to Patrick about our 2nd child. When Patrick shared with me what God told him I was so happy. We wondered if we should wait a month since I had just started my next round of birth control. We decided to throw the pack away and begin trying. Less than two weeks later I was pregnant. All God.

We knew we would have a son and didn’t even bother having the ultrasound technician tell us. We just knew.

I had a c-section and as they were taking my baby Patrick said, “The baby has tons of dark hair.”

If any doubt remained it was earsed in that moment, this baby was a boy. The name we had chosen for our son means “dark.” He would look like his father.

The next words I heard were, “It’s a boy.”

Tears trickled down my face. God is so good.

Yes, our son looks just like his father and our daughter looks just like me. Complete opposites. You would never put them together as brother and sister. I love how creative God is.

Our son was born in 2006. Between 2005 (after I got pregnant)  and the beginning of 2009 was what I like to call “the calm.”

Life was good. We were happy. Patrick did ask me if I wanted to get counseling after the emotional affair. I said a confident, “No, I just needed a baby.”

That was a mistake.

I say that but I wonder if it is true. If I had received counseling  I might not be writing this blog now. I’ll never know.

We were great during those years. I was happy with my two children. I knew I would not have anymore and I was fine with that.

During those years Patrick and I served on our church worship team together. Our church was also going through a lot of changes. We went multi-site. Patrick and I really didn’t get the vision.

Having two children and trying to be on worship team together proved stressful. I made the decision to leave the team for a while. The worship leader (who is now our lead pastor) came to our house to make sure I wasn’t leaving because my feelings were hurt.

Honestly, I was dealing with some pride issues but never mentioned that and said it was just because of the baby and the stress.

In 2007 the church had officially become multi-site. My husband was still on worship team and he was playing at the new site. In the fall of 2007 I felt like God might want me to go back to the worship team. I mentioned this to the worship leader but things didn’t happen the way I wanted them to.

I sat in service seeing new faces on stage and I didn’t see any room for me. I was filled with selfishness and jealousy. I see this clearly  now, but at the time I just thought I didn’t like our church anymore.

People often say they don’t feel valued at their church. I would say that was how I felt. I didn’t feel valued.

Here is the issue with that way of thinking. Our value should never come of other people. Our value is only from God. I was looking to other people to give me value and they didn’t. This was my problem, not the church’s.

One Sunday morning after a service, where I sat and saw more new faces on  stage and no room for me, my husband picked up his bass, looked at me and said, “We’re done.”

I was fine with that. Now we could find the perfect church were I could feel valued.

Isn’t that silly? So many people think that way. It’s like getting a divorce. The problem is you still have a common denominator, and is it you. We take ourselves with us. But Patrick and I felt God was telling us to leave elem3nt and serve somewhere else.

Looking back we do believe God told us to leave, but not for the reason’s we thought. God had us leave to humble us and bring us back.

When we left I actually interviewed for a worship leader position in another church. I really wanted that job. I felt God challenging me to truly become a worship leader. I wasn’t sure how He wanted to accomplish that since I hate speaking to a crowd, but that feeling was undeniable.

We also visited several churches and none of them grabbed us. What we liked about one church was what we liked about elem3nt. So way did we leave?

After I interviewed with this other church I began to pray that God would not give me the job. Patrick felt that same way.

We wanted to return to elem3nt. We saw our selfishness for what it was. I realized the calling God placed on my heart, to be a worship leader, had to be accomplished at elem3nt.

In all God’s wisdom, I did not get the position at the other church. I praised Him.

We called Pastor Gayle, who was the worship leader at the time, and asked to meet with him at our house, again. We told him what God laid on our hearts and that we were ready to do God’s work at elem3nt.

There are a two things I said I would never to at church; speak and play keyboard.

Well, after our meeting with Pastor Gayle, God opened my mouth and gave me things to say to draw his people deeper into worshiping Him. As time moved along I started playing keyboard too. Isn’t God funny? Never say never to Him.

By the end of 2007  Patrick and I were in a wonderful place at elem3nt. People at church looked to us as this perfect couple who led worship together and who God was using for His glory. We were an example for other young couples.

My heart grows sad as I write those words because the storm is coming.

I now know the enemy was waiting, he has a lot of patience. He had me right where he wanted me, in a place where I could fall.  And I did.

 “Sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.”  Genesis 4:7 (MSG)

Have you discovered how patient Satan can be?