Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” This verse has always been one that has guided Diane and me through our marriage and ministry together. We have sought to trust God, even when it’s difficult, and to follow Him wherever He leads, because He knows what we do not know, and He sees what we cannot see. His will is what we would have chosen if we knew everything about any given situation. In February of 2006, after the craziest 6 months we had ever experienced, God called Diane and I here to First Baptist Church at the Mall. He confirmed this in many ways and made it absolutely clear that He wanted us here. When He said, “Go,” we went. Before Lakeland He called us to New Orleans for seminary, and before that it was Gainesville, FL, to serve as campus missionaries. He has been faithful to guide us and direct our steps, leading us where He wants us and providing for us, and that has only furthered our trust in Him.
In mid-July, God again made it abundantly clear to Diane and me that we are to go. God is calling us to serve in what we believe to be a smaller church or church plant as the worship pastor, but we are not certain of where yet. At this time, we have talked with several pastors about different opportunities, but nothing certain has developed. Throughout this process, we have sought to be wide-open before God, saying to Him, “Lord, whatever You want is what we want.” We shared this with Pastor Jay and the executive staff team when we knew, and they have been extremely supportive and helpful through all of it. Words cannot tell you how grateful I am for these men and for the church taking good care of us during this time of transition.
This has been one of the hardest and most uncertain times in our lives, as we have never had to walk this road with so much at stake, but we are trusting God to lead us and to take care of us as He has so many times in the past. It may seem foolish to step out like this with no sure thing on the other end, but I would have failed you as a leader and a pastor if we ignored God’s calling on us and disobeyed His direction.
Please know that it has been our privilege to serve such an amazing church family. We have some amazing relationships here. We have witnessed God move in amazing ways, and we are so grateful to have been a part. We have been able to share the joy of the birth of both of our children here. You have encouraged us, nurtured us, and loved us as we have learned and grown over these past 4 ½ years. We have never felt as loved as we do here. Many times, however, following God means letting go of something that you treasure. For us, that is you. We love you like crazy, and we will miss you terribly. So much of our hearts will be left here. We consider this home, and saw ourselves staying here indefinitely, but God had other plans.
We ask that you would please pray for us as we take this step. Pray for God’s clear direction. Pray that we will be able to sell our home. Pray for our kids as they deal with change. Also, pray for the church leadership as they seek out God’s man to take up where I leave off. We are trusting that the greatest days for Church at the Mall are still ahead, and that God will bring just the right man to continue on in leading you and caring for you. I know for certain that you are in great hands with this worship team, as they are some of the most talented musicians and leaders I have ever served with.
I will be leading for the next few weeks, as long as I am needed, and we look forward to sharing time with you and worshiping together as we all continue to pursue the heart of our great God. He is the only one worthy of our praise, and the only one worthy of our lives. Let us lay our lives down for the sake of His name and His Kingdom, because He laid down His life for us at the cross.