I can't let the morning pass without extending my heartfelt thanks for all of the kindness and expressions of love I received on Sunday. As of June 1, 2014, I have served the United Methodist Church for 25 years. Most days, it feels like it has only been 5 years. I think back with fondness because I have walked through life with so many people during their most joyous and most trying times. My heart overflows with memories of celebrations, successes, accomplishments, many salvations along the way, and growing together in our relationship with God.
I can't help but remember all the relationships I've had with those who have passed on to their eternal reward. Some of these people I didn't know well... but I walked beside their loved ones through the valley of grief. And many of the people who passed away over the years had become like brothers and sisters to me -- sometimes even closer than my own biological siblings -- so their passings were very difficult, personally, to grieve. There are seldom days that go by without missing terribly many from our church family who are no longer with us.
All these memories, and many more, have flooded my thoughts as I have considered the work of the past 25 years. I think about the fearless faith we've shared to accomplish many of the God-sized tasks we've taken on together. I hope we continue to put more trust in God speaking to our hearts... to have more faith in His provision... and to be more obedient to His still and quiet voice that leads us in the ways we should go.
We are the Lord's and we are here for His Glory -- for building His Church, ministering to our community, and reaching the next generations with the good news of Jesus Christ. There's so much to celebrate in regards to the past... and many, many people in the past for which we give thanks... but we are also excited for all God wants to do with us in the days to come. It will require a risk-taking, faith-filled church family full of the Spirit of God to follow Him in the God-sized vision He puts in our hearts. I hope you will pray with me as we continue to move into a very bright future at Harlem Road UMC.
So thank you. Thank you for all the cards, all the beautiful words of encouragement, and for your confidence in your Pastor. Thank you for all the gifts and affirmations and the sharing of fond memories. You have filled my soul for the journey ahead. Now let's get to work and push into all God has in store for us. I know He didn't bring this amazing group of people together just for us to enjoy one another's company!
I won't let this note pass without one last thing. God has provided me with the most beautiful, outstanding, godly, talented, patient, loving, purpose-minded, "sold out" partner-in-life that a man could ever pray for. Yes, I'm the one appointed here by the United Methodist denomination, but Pam is appointed and qualified by the Holy Spirit to shepherd God's people just as much as I am. She has a pastoral heart for God's people and for God's children, and she pours all of her heart and soul into serving God and the Church. She is the perfect teammate in ministry. So all of my unending love, respect, and admiration goes to Pam for following God's call in her life for 25+ years and for serving Him and the Church with all of her being. And we couldn't be more proud of our children, and our in-law children, who love and serve both God and the Church as well. We are so filled with gratitude for how God has chosen to use two kids who came from very broken families and broken childhoods. He has "restored to us the years the locusts have eaten" and He is still at work in us to perfect us for the day we will stand in His presence. Until that day, we all lock arms with you, the fellowship of believers, and continue our work in building the kingdom of God.
You are loved,