Sabbaticals, Gratitude, God's Work and Moving Forward!
The Lord has been Good to us! He is working in the life of our church. It is beautiful to see the number of adult baptisms we have been able to celebrate the past eight weeks, the number of people coming to faith, the growing love and unity in the body and seeing the new faces, the visitors, people eager to understand the Word of God and grow in their relationship with Him, eager to serve and to do so graciously and humbly. God is truly on the move!
For months now we have been praying and fasting, praying for an authentic revival and praying that God would reveal HIS plans and purposes for our church, and we have been blessed to see the many things He has done and is doing.
Family Week (you'll be hearing more about that in the weeks ahead) came out of this time of prayer and fasting. The desire to walk through Experiencing God from children-adults came out of this. Love and unity and a renewed focus on mission and a desire to engage our communities has come out of this. The beautiful life transformations have come out of this. So, we continue to pray. We continue to fast. We continue to dive deeply into His Word and to pursue Him. This is an exciting time!
And, for me, personally, this is also a special time. Starting on Monday, June 13th, for the first time in thirty-five years of vocational minstry I will have a Sabbatical.This four-week period to rest and be refreshed means more to me than I can say. I cannot find words to adequately express my gratitude to you, church family, for your prayer, support and kindness in allowing me to go. My wife and I are profoundly thankful! While we will miss you, I know that you are in great hands because our Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, is at work in you, among you, and is caring for you.
You might wonder certain things in my absence, questions such as 'who will preach?' and 'who is in charge?' and some might well say 'are you coming back?' Let me answer those questions briefly:
First, you will be blessed because in my absence, men from the church, men who spent much time together with me and one another going over the foundations of preaching and studying for preaching, will be filling the pulpit. These are men from our first preaching cohort. The blessing you will receive is twofold: these men will unapologetically and graciously preach God's Word (no compromise!) , and, they know you. They are not people from the outside who do not know the flock. These men have blessed me profoundly as I've watched them study, prepare, practice, sharpen each other and dig deeper into the Word. They will share out of the overflow of what they have learned and you'll be blessed!
Second: we are blessed to have a humble, gracious, prayerful leadership team and group of deacons and ministry teams as well as the preaching cohort who will be working together to make sure things run smoothly. I am thankful for this group of leaders and for their heart for Christ, and their heart for you, their heart for our community. You are in good hands!
Third: I am absolutely returning! In fact, upon my return, we will begin a new sermon series. We will begin walking through the book of Romans, the systematic theology book in the Bible of our faith. Heads up: Romans will take some time, but I believe we will all be very blessed by that time in this remarkable book.
Thank you, Stonebridge Baptist Church for being a gracious church. Thank you for your kindness, prayers, friendship and support and for your graciousness. My wife and I are truly blessed.
This weekend (June 11,12) will be my last weekend before the Sabbatical. We will be closing our our sermon series 'Building a Deliberately Biblical Church.' We will look at the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, and, the supremacy of love to close out the series. I hope to see you this weekend at either our Saturday service (5:00 p.m.) or Sunday service (11:00 a.m.)! I sure would love to see you this weekend!
In between the time we leave and the time we return, I encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus, to walk humbly with Him and one another, to stay in the Word and in prayer and to seek His Face and walk in faith, hope and love.
The Lord has something special for this church! I am thankful for each of you.
Grace and Peace,