Stunned silent (if anyone can really imagine that for me).
Over the last 15 years, I have had the privilege to be a pastor at Heights Christian Church. During the last eight, I have shared the task of co-pastoring with Mark. In 2008, with Mark coming on staff, we had just created our "new" mission and vision statement of "Love God, Love God's People, Love Serving God" for our church. Our goal was to make a community where making disciples and truly desiring God was part of our DNA.
I wish I could accurately describe how I feel about our fellowship. The people there are more than just friends and fellow believers in Christ, they truly are family. As a matter of fact, our children's godparents are there. Our staff doesn't just have meetings together, we pray together, laugh together, get in one another's faces when necessary and more than anything else, love on one another. Our elders are much the same as we pray through the needs of the body and struggle over doing the right thing by God for each of the members entrusted to our care. Sunday mornings, Tuesday nights (when my lifegroup meets) and Wednesday nights (when our youth meet) are highlights of every week, as I get to spend time with the people whom I care for most with my family.
The last few years have seen an outpouring of love toward us as pastors that has literally left me speechless. Mike Hatchell's words of being compared with the greatest men to have lead this congregation over the years (because Heights has had a tremendous history of faithful men leading) is a designation that I don't know if I deserve, but the thought is humbling and I am honored to be thought of in that way.
A few hours ago, I went through every card that was written to me (and my family). The thankfulness conveyed, the appreciation for faithful, and even, hard sermons, the different ways in which we are told how God uses us, in ways small and large, to members whom we call friends is a humble recognition of the type of community God has created us to be and the reminder of the constant need of faithfulness by us as leaders to continue what God has begun.
I wish others could experience what we do each time we come together. I wish other pastors from other places were as honored as we have been by those we serve.
"Thank you" doesn't seem enough for the love shown to me, Mark and our families, but it is all we have to offer. So thank you for everything, and may God keep us faithful to Him and continue to grow us all into who He has called us to be.
Lord bless you all.
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