Posted by: pastortomvabeach | January 15, 2020

Thought For The Week January 19, 2020

In just a few weeks I will turn over the keys to the executive washroom to Pastor Dustin Pinto, the man I believe that God has called and anointed to be the next pastor of Christian Chapel.  As the day approaches my feelings are kind of bittersweet.  While I kind of look forward to no longer carrying all the weight of pastoral ministry which is always joyful yet often stressful, I am wondering what it will be like not to get up every Monday with the goals and responsibilities that come with the territory.  I’m sure the Lord has called me to this time and that He has a plan for me in retirement, so I will rest in that knowledge and look forward to great things.

As I leave the position of lead pastor, I will discontinue the weekly emails of my thoughts.  I will continue to maintain my blog where I will likely post less frequently.  If you want to continue to follow my meager offerings you can find me at www.pastortomvabeach.com.

In considering how to wind up the weekly offerings, I thought I might reminisce a bit about the path Lilia and I have been on for nearly 25 years.  Will you indulge me a little?

We both came to faith in Jesus Christ in 1977, after living as far from Him as one could be all of our lives.  While both of us had religious roots, neither knew anything about what it meant to really know God’s love and have our sins forgiven.  Then Jesus came in!  From that moment, our lives changed dramatically.  The major sin connections that held us were broken (alcohol, sexual addiction, gambling, selfish ambition, etc.).  The Lord filled us with a desire to get to know Him and to be with His people.

Not many know this but since 1977, we have attended only five churches.  Only twice have we left a church in the area where we lived to go to another church.  Three of the church changes were because the Navy transferred us from one place in the world to a completely different place.  May I say that I attribute nearly 100 percent of our spiritual stability and assurance to the fact that we have never sought a church to please our needs and, instead, asked the Lord where He wanted us.  Once we knew that, we just stayed there, through thick and thin.  I believe that we have learned how faithful God is by camping out under the umbrella of His faithfulness.

We came to Christian Chapel in 1987, in one of the local church moves.  I was transferring from a ship to a shore assignment and we felt the Lord leading us to find a place where we could serve.  At the time we were in a very large church and were finding it difficult to connect in any area of ministry.  When we found Christian Chapel and prayerfully discovered God was leading us here, we went immediately to the leadership of our church to ask for their blessing.  We have been here ever since.

When we came to the church, we never dreamed that some day we would serve as leaders.  While I knew that God had called me to someday enter vocational ministry, I thought the only pathway was to attend Bible college, get educated, and then find a place to serve.  How many know that God doesn’t have only one path for those He calls?

In late 1988 and through 1989, when Christian Chapel experienced some very difficult problems during which most of the people left the church.  Lilia and I got caught in the middle of some conflicts that were not our making which involved people on both sides that we had grown to love.  It was very intense and, at one point, I cried out to the Lord to let me leave the church because the stress was too much.  Well, you can guess, He said, “No.”

We stayed, not knowing really what else to do but to love people and serve, and God brought us and the church through the storm.  The founding pastor decided it was best for the church if he left and let someone else take it, even though I never felt that the conflict was his doing.  With the installation of the new pastor, the church began to grow again and things started looking up.

During those years, as a member of the church I got to serve in many different roles.  I lead the youth group for a couple of years, I preached (badly) a few times, I served on the deacon board, I provided transportation for the youth Bible quiz team, I taught adult Sunday School, and I even worked in the nursery on occasion.  What a thrill it was to see new people coming to Jesus and being added to the church and being able to serve them in whatever way I could.

It was also during those years that I experienced the loss of close family members for the first time in my life.  Within one year one of my brothers met an untimely death in an amusement park ride mishap and a few months later my dad passed away due to cancer.  In my first 20 years of Navy service I had never needed to request emergency leave, now within a few months it happened twice.  I can say with certainty that the Lord sustained me through these difficult times.

As 1990 dawned, I began to see Navy retirement looming on the horizon and made plans to follow my ministry calling and go to Bible college.  With a depressed real estate market we felt it would be good to list our house early so we wouldn’t be held up needing to sell.  Well, the house sold in three weeks, so we had to move into a rental.

During that year, I worked closely with our pastor, discussing and dreaming about the calling to ministry.  After learning of my heart’s desire, he challenged me to pray about forgoing Bible college and joining the Christian Chapel staff as the associate pastor.  He helped me find alternative paths to obtain the education necessary telling me that I would learn more about ministry doing ministry than I would sitting in a classroom for four years.  After a season of prayer, I know that the Lord called me to serve here.  So on March 31, 1991, I retired after 23 years of Naval service, and on April 1, 1991, I refired as the associate pastor of Christian Chapel.

I will share some more of the journey in next week’s edition.  Until then, have you ever sat down and counted all that God has done to get you where you are today?  If not, maybe you can do that this week and you can share some of that with me.  I’d love to hear it.  Just a thought.


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