PURSUING PEACE FROM THE PACIFIC NW

A Personal Update after a Relocation Marathon

Idaho View

This post marks my first blogging effort from the famous potato state. While Jan and I miss our families, church, neighbors, and friends back home, we thank God for bringing us to this gorgeous place on our latest adventure.

I last posted on August 15. You can read about peacemaking lessons gleaned from my fifteen years at Orlando Grace Church here.

The challenges of moving from the tropics of Central Florida to the wilds of North Central Idaho put any writing assignments on hold longer than anticipated. Time to blow the dust off the blog again.

“Move” is a four-letter word.

The image above shows the view to the west from our new street address. Just to the right, a 1/4 mile gravel road leads down to our doublewide home.

Talk about a whirlwind change!

In forty-five days, Jan and I left OGC, visited my Pennsylvania roots, held an estate sale, closed on our home, flew to Boise, bought a vehicle, and turned a vacation house into a permanent residence.

Where do we go from here? Three things:

One, rest. We plan to make no decisions about the next season of ministry until the end of the year. The succession push took its toll. We welcome some quality downtime.

Two, wait on the Lord. He knows what the future holds in terms of my employment. Proverbs 3:5-6 defines our agenda on a daily basis.

A small church plant in the area has expressed interest in me as a part-time pastor. I will preach there for the first time this Sunday. The need there played a significant role in influencing Jan and me in the decision to move to Idaho.

Three, strengthen the platform for my book.

FBheader

Baker Publishing Group has confirmed that TPC will hit the shelves on November 20. They produced this Facebook header for me along with a similar version for Twitter.

All that to say, the emphasis for now involves resuming my online presence and other means for getting the word out about the book. Prayers are appreciated.

Jan and I don’t know how the Lord might work to guide our future through the book’s release, but we are asking Him to use it to help believers to eagerly preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in their churches (Eph. 4:1-3).

His will be done!

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

Transition – Time for Pondering Anew

Any time the Lord gifts me with the privilege of attending a pastor’s conference, especially the Desiring God one in Minneapolis each February, I always pray the same thing. Lord, speak. Let me hear your voice. Show me what you require.

Once again He has not failed me as I reach the end of day two of this particular event entitled, Brothers, We Are Still Not Professionals.

This morning Pastor John Piper introduced his replacement at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Pastor Jason Meyer. Ever since I heard about this young man having to step into such humongous ministerial shoes I have asked myself, who in the world would want to follow John Piper? I learned this morning as no surprise at all that this man has felt much the same thing. In fact, when first queried about the possibility of taking over Bethlehem’s reins by Piper himself, Meyer responded quite vulnerably, “Nothing scares me more than that.” To which the retiring mentor replied, “Well, that’s not a no.” The rest, as they say, is history.

In his talk entitled Pastoral Transition After a 32-Year Ministry: Strategy and the Supernatural, Meyer went on to do two things. He told the story of how the whole surprising and, in some ways, unlikely appointment to such an imposing post came about. And then he offered four lessons from the process for our edification. You can listen to the entire message here. Consider it a worthy use of your valuable time. You won’t be disappointed.

Bethlehem’s “Joshua” transitioning into her treasured “Moses” role as shepherd of this congregation, fashioned his talk around phrases from two great hymns of the faith – Praise to the Lord the Almighty and To God Be  the Glory. The phrase from the first was this: Ponder anew what the Almighty can do. There is where the Lord spoke to me in the way the man linked that timeless exhortation of the hymn writer to the challenge of change in any ministry. Transitions are not to be feared; they are opportunities  from God to ponder anew what He can do.

Truth be told I can get scared when I think of losing Greg & Christina this summer to his church planting apprenticeship. How will our rich music ministry continue? Where will help for pastoral demands come from? Who will take care of the seemingly endless number of administrative details Greg handles in a given week? These questions and more can keep any pastor awake at night.

God knows. I say it again. God knows.

So ponder anew with  me what the Almighty will do as we wait on Him for His provision. Pray with me and the elders that we will plan and execute a God-centered strategy that profits Orlando Grace nearly as much as the one these dear folks in Minnesota employed to arrive at a replacement for someone of Piper’s stature.

Let us not fear transitions, but God who unfailingly leads His people through one change after another.

Then we will sing once again, “To God be the glory, great things He has done.”

The Latest on the Property Transition Plan

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible. God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

The bad news is that the opening of our facility is still four weeks away. I have it from reliable sources that there is no way everything that needs to get done on the building before we can apply to the city for a certificate of occupancy will occur before then. Go figure.

Frankly, the thing that troubles me most in this? Jared and Jillian don’t get to have their wedding in our new facility. May I ask you all a favor? Would you join me in rallying around these “kids” in offering to do whatever it takes to make their rehearsal/wedding/reception on the weekend of April 13-14 a smash-bang-over-the-top-out-of-this-world success? Thankfully, a contingency plan exists. More to come on that. If you feel led to ease the sting of losing their distinction as the first wedding in the OGC facility, contact Jared and/or Jillian as soon as you can and offer to help. I am counting on the people of Orlando Grace to smother these dear ones in love. Thank you!

Beyond that, a bunch of dominoes fall. First, we are likely to hang around the SDA facility a bit longer. Hopefully the good folks at 455 Maitland Ave will delight to take our money into the month of April. We will keep you posted on that. Second, our annual meeting on April 1 needs a new home. Hopefully we can reserve the SDA for the eve of April 1 for that purpose. We will keep you posted on that. Third, the Good Friday service gets problematic. We’re working on a plan. More to come on that. Fourth, the Kristian Stanfill concert is cancelled for April 15. Hopefully we can reschedule. Somebody please put me out of my pastoral misery!

Isn’t this fun? Nobody said the Christian life and church dynamics would leave you bored! Thanks for being patient with the process as we navigate this once-in-a-lifetime season in the life of our church.

Seriously, let me remind us. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Let us live moment-by-moment in the assurance that God has everything under control and that what we need to do more than anything else is love one another as Christ has loved us so that the world may know that we are His disciples.

Tentative Transition Plan for Our Move

Let me stress the word TENTATIVE. Everything in the way of timing hinges ultimately on the city issuing us a certificate of occupancy. No CO, no move.

However, barring any unforeseen complications, we hope to have that all-important document in hand by March 15. Without going into any detail, I want to outline the likely dates and events that, Lord willing, will shape our transition from the SDA facility to our own building.

  • March 18 – last Sunday at SDA followed by open house on the property (BYO picnic lunch)
  • March 25 – first Sunday in the building (soft opening – our own people only – focus on working out the kinks as a family)
  • April 1 AM (Palm Sunday) – second Sunday in the building (soft opening per March 25)
  • April 1 PM (Palm Sunday) – official dedication of the facility (our people and invited guests)
  • April 6 PM (Good Friday) – communion service (our people)
  • April 8 (Resurrection Sunday) – grand opening of the facility (public invited)
  • April 15 PM – praise and worship celebration of thanksgiving for God’s gracious gift with guest artist Kristian Stanfill and his worship band

I would encourage you to mark your calendars accordingly but remember as you do that crucial word TENTATIVE. We will update you as things progress. Hopefully we can get more definitive the closer we get to completion of the project.

Please continue to pray for a strong finish, for favor with the city in every way, and for the Lord’s glory on display as we make this transition into our brand new home!