Good-bye Pastor Rick and Kay

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:4 NIV

We have known for a year since Pastor Rick first announced his coming retirement, that this day was coming, yet on receiving the official announcement, I was still overwhelmed. No, Rick and Kay have not been perfect people, nor is Saddleback a church without fault, yet the impact they have made together has been tremendous. But rather than revisit old arguments back and forth over their Purpose Driven model; today might be a day of to put that aside and be thankful for the good they have done, the sacrifices made and the many who have come to know Jesus because of them.

I remember first opening a shiny new copy of the Purpose Driven Church back in 1995-96. Its concepts were simple, challenging and gave hope for reaching our communities for Christ. Too long we had either met between four walls, with minimal positive outreach, or gathered for stadium events, which though outwardly successful, seemed to have little impact in our own local churches. Sure, there are lots of things I wish were different with our own church which seems to follow closely their model, but we are at least in some areas truly growing, baptizing new believers and trying new things every year to serve our community.

But church politics aside, let’s pause and be thankful for Rick and Kay. Let’s pray for God to continue to keep them in His hands and bless them as a family that has been through much together in the service of Jesus. More than this, let’s realize that as Rick said of their replacements, “… God has prepared and chosen them to take up the baton and run the next leg of the Saddleback marathon.” God has also prepared and chosen each of us to either be passing or taking up the baton where we live (I’m in the passing generation). I learned from the track team on which I once ran, that winning the relay race was more than just running fast. Our team won first place in the state in 1965, not just because our guys were the quickest, but because every one of them passed the baton flawlessly on to the guy running the next leg of the race. The key was that the approaching runner could not slow down even a quarter second. He had to keep up the same pace as he stretched out his arm with the baton. The receiving runner could not just stand there waiting. He had to start running beforehand and then match his pace with the one behind him till they were almost side by side, then, with a seemingly effortless move he grasped on to the baton and took off alone to run his leg of the race. So, don’t slow down, if you are the one giving it your all to pass on the gift that God has given you. Run with all that is in you- not to – but through, the finish of your lap. For you who are waiting for the baton to reach you. Don’t just stand around waiting for it to be handed to you on a silver platter. Get going! Start running your best, till you match the pace of the one who is handing on to you what God has chosen for you to receive. We are all on the same team – Team Jesus! And when we finish our course, there is a victor’s crown that waits, which we will one day cast at the feet of Jesus – who loved us and gave His life so that we could run the race!

You can read my post from a year ago here

Standing on the Promises

Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer but we almost missed it! How Glad I was to notice it on the television and spend the last 35 minutes of our evening praying for our nation. Just as in any family we often have our differences. God offers us the opportunity to pray together and sing together as one church, to remind us that for those of us who follow Him, through Christ we are all one. Unity in Jesus is one of the great promises of the Bible, but one that we have to stand on during the storms and we certainly are in the midst of a storm today! We are in a storm overseas with the war in Ukraine. We are in the storm at home fighting with each other over the best way to combat a pandemic that never seems to end. We are in a political and media storm as the battle for the innocent lives of the unborn hangs in the balance. We must pray…but more than that…we must stand together or as Benjamin Franklin noted in 1776, “We must indeed all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” But what we stand together on is not political cleverness, social acceptance or military power. What holds us together as the family of God is Standing on His promises and loving one another as He commanded.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 NLT

When Life is Shaken

The changes in our government, our way of life and our world have threatened to shake us all to the core. In light of these events especially the news from The Ukraine I was encouraged by what Pastor Rick Warren wrote today.

Everything on earth will eventually crumble—except the church. No business, school, government, or nation will last forever. Only the church will last forever, because it is built by Jesus, and he’s focused on building his family.

Jesus says in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (NLT).

Are you feeling shaken? God has a place of refuge for you not only in Heaven but also right here on earth. That place is a family…His family , and when we need them the most we have fellow believers to pray with us, come alongside or even just listen. Have a blessed day no matter what that day is looking like in your part of this planet. Jesus’ promises will still be standing long after every evil plan on earth has fallen!