Posted by: pastortomvabeach | January 20, 2020

Thought For The Week January 26, 2020

It’s here!  This week will be my last Sunday as pastor of our great church.  This has been the best experience in life that I could have imagined.  Who would have thought that someone like me would get to share life and act as the shepherd to such a great group of people as you?  God has been so, so good to all of us.  Look what He has done and how many lives He has touched through our church.

I began last week to reminisce about the path Lilia and I have been on for nearly 25 years.  It actually covered many years before the last 25, so I’ll try to finish the story here.

After being called and joining the staff of Christian Chapel, I served under the leadership of Pastor Steve Dyer for four years.  During that time we saw Christian Chapel grow to well over 100 people, until we were able to buy our current property on Salem Road.  The Lord showed us many miracles, not the least of which was the purchase of our initial facility from Children’s Hospital.  It was a modular structure and required about a year’s worth of sweat equity from the congregation before we could move in.  I learned a lot about drywall, deck building, and concrete during those twelve months.  We moved in the first Sunday in December in 1993.

Within a few months the church had grown to where it was necessary to begin holding two services on Sunday.  We saw many people saved, discipled, and added to ministry leadership.  By the fall of 1994, the church was thriving and everything was running smoothly.  It was about that time that the Lord called Pastor Dyer to return to Oklahoma and plant a church.

He shared this with me and asked if I would consider following him as pastor.  My first thought was, “No way!”  I didn’t think I could do all the things a pastor needed to do.  I felt totally inadequate to the position, but agreed to pray about it.  For the next few months, although no one but knew of the plan except for Steve and me, God began to speak in ways that were unmistakable.  People would pray prophetically who did not know of my prayer.  Speakers would talk about exactly what I was praying.  Then came the clincher.

On January 1, 1995, Pastor Steve and I and two others traveled to Toronto, to attend services at the Airport Vineyard where a tremendous move of the Holy Spirit was occurring.  The first night, I went forward for prayer with this fleece, “God, I am 700 miles from home.  No one here knows me from Adam.  If you want me to be pastor of Christian Chapel, have the person who prays for me, tell me.”  When God gets challenged, He always answers.  The lady who came to pray for me laid her hand on my shoulder and said, “There is a call of pastor on your life!  God has given you a shepherd’s heart.”  That’s about all I remember, though she said some other things related to my prayer.  I couldn’t deny that God had called me.  So I agreed to be a candidate to serve as pastor and in June 1995, the church voted for me to serve in that capacity.

I found out that all the things that I thought I couldn’t do, God can and does do!  Since 1995, I have met and made friends with some of the most wonderful folks in the world.  Many of them have moved on to other states or even other parts of the world.  I have seen babies and small children grow up to be adults who love Jesus.  I even got the privilege of officiating weddings for some of those “kids”.  I have worked with amazing people as paid and volunteer staff at our church, many who have continued in ministry in various places around the country.  Because of the transient nature of our city, we get to train and prepare lots of people who God then moves on to do ministry somewhere else.  We are a sending church.

We have also been privileged to support numerous missionaries in every part of the globe.  Some we have supported since before I came to the church, others we have connected with over the years.  Our church has joined or organized around 15 short term missions trips since I’ve been here.  I got to go on at least eight of them myself.  If you want a life changing experience, go on a missions trip.  You will never be the same.

In 2003, we began a campaign called Seize the Dream, aimed at expanding our facility to accommodate a vision of growing and planting churches.  Christian Chapel actually planted two churches directly in 1999 and 2000, and we were indirectly involved in planting two others.  After much delay due to bureaucratic policies, we broke ground in 2008 and moved into our current worship center in 2010.

But the dream is yet to be fulfilled.  We have not found the way to keep growing so we can keep sending people out.  This is one of my biggest disappointments.  But I believe the dream is still there and our church will reach the lost in greater and greater ways under the new leadership.

As I prepare my last sermon and plan to empty my bookshelves to make room for Pastor Dustin, I can say will all sincerity that the love and grace shown me and Lilia from our church has been over the top.  I have made so many mistakes (don’t we all) but you have been gracious and continued to support the vision and calling of God here.  Lilia and I love and will continue to love everyone in our church and, by God’s grace, we will continue to serve alongside you following our new pastor as we see the dream realized together.  Let’s all commit to our mission of Making Jesus Known and be the congregation that turns our community upside down!  Just a thought.

God bless you all.  With all the great stuff available to read, you are so kind to read my musings. That is a great encouragement.  Please do the same for Pastor Dustin.  I can’t wait to see what is ahead for all of us.

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