I will confess, I never saw myself as a lead pastor. And in God’s sovereignty, He used a year of me at another church to help me see in me what He desired. That was the first time I ever was able to see God’s preparation for me.
When I shared with Hilary what door may be opening I shared with her the reality of my perspective.
This would be like a marriage. We would go to Calvary and this would be it.
When you go to a church, you marry it. This mindset gives endurance and love grows through trials.
So why this church? Why do I love her? Why do I love you?
I first came to this campus in 1995 on a college choir tour and was blown away by a church that was known for what it is for and not what it is against. Finally, I saw a church that wasn’t just about Sundays and Wednesdays but was active in healing hurts and meeting needs 24/7/365.
I was a member here before I was a pastor. In fact, the first church I ever joined by my choice was this one. Because here I found community. I fell in love with the people. Initially, it was a young adult Sunday School class taught by Mike and Pam Getkin. Then it became young couples after we were married that became our community and place to watch movies together, share holiday parties together, etc.
This was the place I was mentored and disciplined by some older men at Shoney’s every Wednesday morning for years as Walter Alemany and others would invest in my maturing as a godly man.
This is the place that has been a refuge for hurting people to heal and for families to be cared for. We partnered with teachers to educate our kids. We partnered with caregivers to serve our aging grandparents until their final days at the Gardens.
This is the place where lives have been changed as I have seen students come to faith and adults walk through the waters of baptism. People like Kimberly Johnson or Wendy Doblin, who went on their first mission trip with us to Costa Rica and now serve full-time overseas. Or people like Frank Bowden who grew up in my youth group and now has been the youth pastor to my kids and many of yours.
These aren’t old stories. The mission has been the same since I first met Don Wilhite and it continues today as we stand on the shoulders of others and steward what God has entrusted to us.
It continues today as Coach Steve calls me recently saying 8 young men trusted Christ at a baseball practice.
It continues today as I meet with men early in the morning each week and watch them grow in faith.
It continues today as I walk through the Gardens or Community and see families loved and cared for through a season they could never really be prepared for.
It continues today as kids come every week to learn Bible verses in AWANA or students discover their identity in Christ at HUB.
It continues today as your giving positions us to resource missions around the world, help kids sleep in a bed and not on the floor, rescue women caught in domestic abuse, help people get the Bible in their heart language, and serve our neighbor by carrying hope!
It continues today as we commit to not forsake the assembling together and keep as our primary focus to Pursue Jesus through studying the Word, singing sound theology, and being a people of prayer.
Do you get it? We are on a mission that is greater than any one of us.
And we get to do it together.
I love you deeply because you have invested in my family. Because we put the mission first and keep the main thing the main thing. Because we genuinely care for one another!