Monday, November 19, 2012

Stepping back

I preach for the last time at Grace next Sunday, with a "farewell" sermon January 27th.  So the "end is near".

If that sounds bittersweet to you, it is for me.  The "bitter" piece is the voltional withdrawal from something I have loved for forty-five years; the "sweet" part is I'm tired and ready to "step back".

Actually, I've been stepping back for a year now, intentionally passing on responsibility to Pastor Mark, who was appropriately designated "lead pastor" this year.

Stepping back has allowed me a vantage point that I have enjoyed for several reasons...

*I've been able to watch our newly-appointed staff begin to demonstrate their giftedness that excites me about the future minsitry of Grace.

*I have been able to listen--to sit in the congregation and enjoy the teaching ministry of the men who are following in my place, and it has challenged me.

*I have been able to encourage those who are simply anxious about the prospect of change, and assured them of God's divine supervision in the direciton we have headed.

Stepping back has also confirmed some things in my heart.

*God is not done with me.  There is still work for me to do.

*God is still teaching me.  I am learning how to "walk by faith", however slowly.

*God has blessed me with life-long relationships and friendships that will remain even though my posiiton has changed.

Stepping back is allowing me to move forward--cautiously, I admit, but expectantly with anticipation.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coming home

Returning from Haiti is always a mixed bag for me...

I am anxious to get home but sad to leave behind my dear friend, Gilbert.  I know our visits are an encouragement to him.

I look forward to my tempurpedic bed and jacuzzi tub but I feel guilty that I have so much and my Haitian brothers are grateful to have a roof over their heads.

I love my church but I miss the vibrant singing and smiling welcoming faces of the Haitian pastors.

I enjoy all the nuances of my work but I envy the simplicity of the Haitian culture where every little thing has significance.

I find my heart reverberating with passion about what I have seen and shared but am frustrated by my inability to accurately communicate the depths of my heart cry to my friends.

I am thankful for what we are able to do in one short week but heartbroken about what we cannot do because of limited resources.

I see how God is blessing in our small piece of Haiti but I'm reminded that there are nearly ten million Haitians in need of Christ.

It's a mixed bag.

But it is a bag filled with special memories of seeing God at work, coupled with strong motivation to continue His work there.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

"How can I say thanks...?"

There is a wonderful song that asks the question, "How can I say thanks for the things God has done for me, things so undeserved that he gave His Son to die for me...?"  That questions is answered in the triumphant words of the chorus, "To God be the glory!"

Grace Fellowship Church, my home for sixteen years, honored my wife, Beverly and me, for our ministry on the eve of our retirement. We were joined by all six of our children, eight of our eleven grandchildren and another thirty of my relatives at a huge celebration with our church family.

Grace Fellowship Church has loved and supported Beverly and me with consistent love and concern.  we did not need a part to be reminded of their faithfulness..but it was a blessed evening for both of us,

We are singing today, "How can I say thanks...?", reflecting upon God's faithfulness through His people to us.  And we are affirming, "To God be the glory!"