Archive for December, 2019

Into The Future

Where do we go from here? A decade is closing out in just a few days (writing this on Dec 30, 2019). We will never see another 2019, it is about to be gone…forever. Looking back, it is hard to fathom that we are about to enter the year 2020. This idea seemed far-fetched back in the days of my youth, since everything related to the future on TV was dealing with living in outer space, traveling to far away galaxies, driving flying vehicles, and even teleportation possibilities. I can remember thinking back in the late 1990’s that there was no way this world would even be around long once we enter the twenty-first century. Yet here we are, twenty years into this century.

We are twenty years past the dreaded days of Y2K (some of you may need to Google this term). The entire world practically stayed up in 1999 on New Year’s Eve just to see if the world was going to end due to a computer code that could “crash” systems and send us into a financial and nuclear holocaust. Since you are reading this, you realize that did not happen. A simple reminder that God is in complete control of everything.

Since September of 2003, God has been gracious to me and my family and planted me here as the pastor of this church. Every now and then, I will briefly look back so I can learn from my past and my failures. Yes, there are things I would do differently to have equipped and aided this church for the future. I only briefly look back, because God is always moving forward. In a car, the rear-view mirror is small, and the windshield is large for a reason. Where do we go from here? I hope we learn and press on. I know that is what I am going to do. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus” (Php 3:13–14 CSB).

The question of “Where do we go from here”, can only be answered by us as individuals. I must answer the question, “Where do I go from here?” I found my answer in the book of Proverbs. I believe this is the vision God has placed on my heart for this church, not just the year 2020, but until He calls us home. “Complete your outdoor work, and prepare your field; afterward, build your house” (Pr 24:27). Part of this work has been completed through the help of a friend of mine and the Florida Baptist Convention. I have placed in our deacons hands a demographic survey of our community and will soon share this with the church. We know what our field looks like now and what the projection looks like through 2022.

Now, here comes the part that will require us to “get dirty”. “I went by the field of a slacker and by the vineyard of one lacking sense. Thistles had come up everywhere, weeds covered the ground, and the stone wall was ruined. I saw, and took it to heart; I looked, and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, and your need, like a bandit” (Pr 24:30–34). Pay attention to that last part, we can no longer circle the mountain of apathy, it will ruin us. Our field is ripe for the harvest. Our mission field must be worked. People need to be engaged by the church to know that the church cares. Sure, we will get a few that come that searched for “churches near me” on their smartphones, but that is not going to show Atlantic Beach and the Mayport Naval Base that we care about where they will spend eternity. There are over 13,000 people in our mission field of Atlantic Beach alone. The projection for Navy families stationed at Mayport by 2022 is over 30,000.

Our vineyard needs work and I am calling us into a year long work that will get messy. But I promise you this, the reward far outweighs and mess you might experience. This work might make some of you uncomfortable. This work might cause you to “loose your seat” during a worship service. This work might cause you to change your idea of who your neighbor really is. Everyone will have a part in this, and every part is important. Some of you will need to be our praying warriors, because you are not able to walk the neighborhood. We will provide you a guide of the area you can pray over. Some will walk the neighborhood and do the inviting (we are in the process of getting new outreach doorhangers that provide the invitation). Some of you will make one on one personal visits to our guests that begin to come. It will take all of us working side by side together, just as the Israelites did in rebuilding the wall under Nehemiah’s leadership (Read Nehemiah 3).

Where do we go from here? We go where God leads and we go via His directions. “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps” (John 4:35–37). In 2020, may our knees hurt from the hours spent on them in praying to the Lord of the harvest and let us be proud to show the dirt, scrapes, cuts, and bruises on our hands as we work our vineyard.

 

God Bless you all as we work and serve together for His glory,

Pastor Greg