“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
It’s hard to believe that nearly four months have passed since the weekend that the call to ministry at First Baptist was ex- tended to and accepted by Pastor Love and his family. After all, there was still Easter, the start of Boat Church, and VBS awaiting. Nevertheless, here we are. On July 2 , I will finish my call as interim pastor; on July 9th, Pastor Love will begin his call as the pastor of First Baptist Church.
This ministry experience has been an absolute joy for Lois and me. We have been welcomed from the beginning as we shared in the ministries throughout the church as best we could. Our initial “concern” at first was the distance we had to commute, but we soon discovered that it was do-able. It did keep us from engaging more completely in some of the ministries, but we discovered a routine that allowed us to participate to the great- est extent possible.
One of the ways that Lois and I used to get to know more people better was to circulate among the Sunday school classes. In addition to meeting and sharing with the church fellowship in smaller groups, we experienced the desire that each class has to grow in and apply God’s Word. This intentional devotion to personal and corporate spiritual growth created a bond of encouragement of which Lois and I felt a part. I am certain that this same fervor – “spurring one another on toward love and good deeds” – will have the same welcoming impact on the Love family.
The sad piece of this relationship is that we have to say good- bye – at least in this specific role of interim ministry. The bonds of friendship that have developed are heartfelt. Even though these friendships are not going to go away, we want to step back in order for the church fellowship and the Pastor Love family to develop those same strong bonds that will propel all of you into your future ministries together.
The verses above from the book of Hebrews is just one of many places throughout the Bible where encouragement is emphasized, and I am certain that the encouragement stressed throughout Scripture will be a hallmark of the growing testimony and outreach of First Baptist in the community.
Lois and I thank everyone for the hospitality that has been extended to us throughout our time here. We thank Elsie Long for providing her home to the church for us to use, and to Tom and Laurie Long for preparing it and looking after it while we have stayed there. We thank the children and youth of the church for being the friendliest and most personable group of young people we have experienced. I thank Rhonda, Cindy, and Skip for their invaluable assistance to me in the conduct of ministry, to Brian for heading up the tech team, and to the leadership of the boards and committees for their guidance.
Lois and I have been asked what we are going to do after this interim ministry ends. There is no other interim ministry immediately available in our area, but we remain open to such a ministry if God opens the opportunity. In the near term, our son has just made a move from Chicago to La Porte, so we have been helping him. Our two granddaughters (and their parents) will be visiting the last few days of June into early July, so we will be happily busy. I will return to completing a project on the book of Revelation that started as Sunday school lessons and grew into a commentary. There are revisions and editing that I need to finish. Both of us hope to find ministries in our community in which we can effectively connect. Like everyone else, we cannot predict the specifics of what the future will bring, but we do know that the Lord will guide us in our steps as we seek His will through His Word, “for He who promised is faithful.”
In the Bond of Christian Fellowship,