As with any year, month, or day, 2007 was a beautiful fusion of trials and blessings. Looking back now on the melange of pain and exhilaration, victory and failure, it is easy to see God's faithful constancy through every situation. During the trials I did not easily see this truth however, and often failed not only to remember that God was in control but that He was using these trials to break myself of myself and trust in Him. If I learned anything at all from this year I pray that it is the ability to believe and remember that God is faithful and good through all things.
I have a few goals for this post. For those of you who are interested and have supported our ministry with your prayers, I hope this provides you with a brief overview of what's been going on in our lives and the life of our church. I also hope that this post provides an outlet for me to reflect on the past years and hopefully grow in the process. Above all I pray that this post glorifies God and points you to Him.
1. The Suicide of Jon Moore.
While this was a tragedy and trial much more for those closest to him, like his brother my pastor and Jon's children, Jon Moore was an integral part of our church family. He had been at our church since the seventies and had served as an elder for many years. More than that, he was one of the most outgoing and caring people I have ever met. While I do not know the details that led him to take his own life, I do know that he was on some pretty heavy medications and had not been himself for the months prior. While his suicide was a definite sin, and his vision of Christ and ability to persevere in His strength was obscured in his last months I believe that he did trust in Christ for his salvation and that I will see Jon again in heaven. I also know that the Gospel was powerfully proclaimed to over a thousand people at the various memorial services.
2. The Falling Away of Close Friends
This trial did not sting quite as sharp and suddenly, yet has proven to be more lingering and wearisome to my heart. 2007 saw the turning away of some close friends from Christ back to the bondage of the lusts of the world. Some denied Christ openly with their words, some denied Him with their lives. Few things are more painful than watching someone you love turn their backs on the One who truly loves them and chase (or slowly sink into) destruction. Yet as long as there is breath there is hope. In this I must also have faith that God will work His plan perfectly.
3. Sarah in Physician Assistant School
This is also a blessing but the fact that both Sarah and I were in full time school with me having a half hour both way commute and her having an hour both way commute each day definitely was stretching on our schedule and budget at times. God was gracious and we trust in Him to help us continue to manage our time and priorities.
1. Watching God work in the lives of the Youth.
God has worked in a way more visible than I have ever seen Him work in the Youth Group. This yearI saw kids who live in homes where their mom's boyfriend continuously abuses them show a Christ-like love to their mom's abuser. I have seen the children of a prostitue share Christ publicly with an entire neighborhood. I have seen unchurched youth express a burning desire to know the Word of God and share it with others, with one youth even specifically feeling a burden to share the Gospel with the neighborhood drug dealers...and then do it! God is working powerfully in the youth and it is my eternal joy to be along for the ride.
2. Unity in our Church
God has also been working to bring more unity in our church family. As you may know, we have two congregations in our church - Spanish and English. At times in the past some in the congregations have clashed over everything from philosophy of ministry and doctrine to who gets to use the bathroom. This past year however, both congregations have made intentional steps to function as one body of Christ. In addition God has put us in situations that have forced and fostered true Christian community.
3. Finishing Seminary
Seminary was one of the most challenging things I have ever faced. Through it all God was overwhelmingly faithful to give me what I needed to get through (and sometimes no more). It will only be worth it if I can live out all of the treasure that I was privileged to learn.
4. Growing deeper in my relationship with Sarah
My wife is a deep cavern of untold riches. I am still interpreting the treasure map. What a blessed adventure!
As you know I love to travel and 2007 afforded a few more opportunities. Highlights were a month long road trip to Minnesota and back with Sarah, traveling to Minneapolis with my father to attend the Desiring God conference, a two night stay in a luxurious cabin (belonging to a friend of the church) at Big Bear, and a two night backpacking trip into the Ventana Wilderness with my wife and father-in-law.
While I could write for much longer recalling the ups and downs of last year, and remembering the constancy of God through it all, I believe that the above represents the major high and low points and provides a general overview of what we've been up to. I pray that you were encouraged and that you will trust with an ever-increasing confidence in the the God who is not us or like us but is for us, if we are in Christ.
Happy New Year