To be honest, this is a little bit of an emotional moment for me. So please bear with me.
May I tell you how thankful I am for you? Really, I am. I thank God daily for each one of you. But specifically, today, as I reflect on the last four years, even more on the last 15 months, I am overwhelmed and in awe of what God has done within our church family. Then to compound that with becoming full time, I am only right to be wet in the eyes. You, my beloved friends, have brought me joy upon joy.
By the grace of God, your sacrifices have made this moment possible. Although I had faith that God would one day allow me to return to full time ministry, I honestly did not expect it so soon. Yet here I am reflecting on all the time I have been entrusted with to study and serve the word of God. I do not take that stewardship lightly. I have spoken with many of you personally and the recurring question has come up, “how do you have time to work a day job and still do all your pastoral duties?” Without a doubt God provided the energy, strength, and loving wife needed to accomplish much of what I did. Even still, he provided many of you to do the work of the ministry. Yet unfortunately, I am certainly guilty of the sin of neglect and of pride. Time will reveal the impact of these grievous errors.
I am eager for this week. I have been planning for it for months now. I am eager for the coming weeks, months, and, Lord willing, years. If God has been faithful through these past months, how much more these coming years? I am eager to study the word, encourage the believer, exhort the sinner, correct the wayward, bear the burden of the weak, all the while growing in godliness. And as I reflect on the many comments and words I have heard from you I suspect you too are not a little eager for this new season also. But if I may, would you bear with me in doing three things? Firstly, would you pray for me? Certainly, you have prayed for me these past years, but would you be resolved to pray for me often? I can truly say with Spurgeon, the impact of my ministry is tied to the reality that my people pray for me. Pray for strength, for wisdom, for knowledge, for humility, for my family, but whatever you do, pray for me, please. Secondly, will you talk to me? Yes, as your pastor, but also as your brother in Christ. I have come to cherish each conversation that I have with every one of you. Each conversation teaches me how to pray for you and how to better minister the word to you. The better I know you the better I can shepherd (pastor) you. Never feel like you are a burden. You are not. You are my stewardship. Lastly, would you grow in godliness? I can truly say with the Apostle/Elder John, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). My work for the kingdom is bound up in the lives of the saints that I have been entrusted with. You are my joy and delight. Sweet siblings, the greatest complement any of you can give me about my preaching is a life of faithfulness lived unto the Lord.
I do not know what this next season holds, but I do know this, I thank God that it will be with you.
Your Elder, Your Servant,