Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A long honeymoon...

On June 8th 2014, I had the joy of celebrating 29 years of marriage to my beloved bride Cheryl. After 5 children, 5 grandchildren, a lot of joy and the sorrows that life inevitably brings; I can tell you that my relationship with Cheryl is still fresh and exciting and there’s never a dull moment. We’ve always been adventuresome people who love to explore and try new stuff. We have a ball together and quite honestly we hate being away from each other. In many ways, I still feel like I’m on my honeymoon with Cheryl. Oh our honeymoon to Jamaica only lasted 7 days because we didn’t have the money to just stay and we had jobs to get back to in Texas. Our honeymoon didn’t end when our plane touched down in McAllen. Our honeymoon has continued through career changes for me from law enforcement to private business, and then to my being called by God serve Him as a pastor. Our honeymoon has continued through living in Texas, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas again, Maryland and now West Virginia. With every move I’ve said I hope my next one is to Heaven but God has had other plans for us. Someone here in West Virginia encouraged me that the Lord may in fact answer that prayer for me because now I’m in “Almost Heaven West Virginia.” Even though the scenery and the people involved have changed dramatically, my honeymoon status hasn’t changed because I’m in love with Cheryl. We love “doing life together” and we are confident God’s plans for our lives are good plans with our best interests and His glory at heart. Of course forging a new life together has come with lots of challenges, adjustments and changes as we’ve walked through the different seasons of life. Quite honestly, it has required a lot of work from both of us to make our relationship what it is today and one that still produces great joy for each of us.

On June 8th 2014, while celebrating my anniversary with Cheryl; I also began another honeymoon with my first Sunday at Moundsville Baptist Church as the Senior Pastor. We are a local church that is part of the Bride of Christ; and the honeymoon analogy is a solid picture of us “doing life together.” I have enjoyed getting to know you, learning names (which is an ongoing process), settling in and getting oriented over the summer. I have to say I love you and I am so humbled and am amazed the Lord has been so gracious to me to call me to serve Him as your Senior Pastor.

I want to encourage you by way of reminder that just like a successful marriage relationship requires commitment, energy and effort from both parties, our relationship together as a church family requires those same things. Commitment, energy and effort is not a chore to be endured, rather it is a blessing to be enjoyed. Cheryl and I have been serving one another for nearly 30 years and the things we do for each other are rooted in the love we have for each other. Sure there have been times of frustration for each of us as we had expectations that didn't get met; but I have never questioned whether Cheryl loves me or thought she doesn't care about me. We've learned that our relationship is something we each invest in as we live out our roles as husband and wife. Because we have differing roles, we also have differing responsibilities. Our faithful efforts in serving in those differing roles have made our family the joy and blessing it is today. We have worked through problems and challenges because we are committed to each other for a life-time. 
I want us as a church to enjoy a long honeymoon together. I want you to know I love you dearly and I am committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I’m committed to helping us carry out the mandate Jesus gave us to “make disciples” and teaching them to obey what God has commanded us. I know very well I am not perfect by any means so I’m going to make mistakes. When I make mistakes I say I’m sorry and I own my mistakes. I hope we’ll all do that and we’ll recognize the need to be patient and forgiving of one another. Cheryl and I have learned to do this and we've also learned how to talk about things in our marriage and work through challenges together. We've trusted the Lord as He’s directed our steps and have embraced the adventure we’re on together.

Just this past Sunday, we celebrated our 113 year history as a church with our Founder’s Day. I am so thankful for the long-tenured church membership we are blessed with here at MBC. Seeing the numbers of people who've been members of this church for over 20 years is astounding. Having a great number of members who've been a part of this church family for 30, 40 and even 50 years is mind-boggling. Having at least 3 members present this past Sunday who've been part of this church for 76, 83 and 90 years respectively is beyond incredible to me. It is a wonderful blessing to have this stability among our church family, but we can never allow our stability to become complacency because there is another generation of people we've been tasked with reaching for the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.

Cheryl and I have learned to be flexible in how we do what we do, but our commitment to one another and to the Lord Jesus never wavers. I hope we’ll all be flexible as we make changes in how we go about our disciple making business recognizing we need to change some things but remain committed to one another in love and to the Lord as His children. As we do this and work through whatever comes our way while keeping the Lord Jesus Christ the very center of our relationship, we’ll enjoy a long honeymoon together. I’m so happy we’re on this adventure together, from my little corner of the world to yours…

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