I’m always going to do the very best I can to listen for God’s voice. I’m going to answer his call, I’m going to follow his way. I’m going to try. Through prayer and study and conversations with others and careful reflection, I try to be open and receptive to our Father’s leading.
Over the past several months, it’s become clear to Carrie-Anne and me that we needed to be open to whatever other possibilities God might have in store for us. It has been made evident in some surprising ways recently and in some ways that have been building for quite some time. But, after many weeks and months of difficult discernment, we have made the very hard decision to leave our church family at Central.
At the same time, our faithful Father has opened a door for us in Midland. I have accepted the role of Senior Minister at the Golf Course Road Church of Christ and will begin my work there sometime next month. Carrie-Anne and I have been praying that God would send us to the church that needs us the most. Whatever gifts I might have, whatever I’ve got that I can humbly offer in service to the Lord and to his people, please send us where that is needed the most. That’s why we’re moving to Midland.
Of course, we leave Central with a great deal of sadness. My heart is very heavy today. Being the preacher at this church has been the great honor of my ministry. I feel so privileged by God to have served together with you here. I have been able to experience the Gospel and to participate in God’s salvation work in ways we just can’t at most other churches. We’re all very spoiled around here. When I think about what our God has done in us and through us together over the past ten years – within our congregation, in our city, and around the world – it’s just incredible. I feel very lucky and very blessed to have been in the middle of those things with you. I am grateful to our shepherds here for their trust and partnership, to the ministers here who are my closest co-laborers in Christ, and to all of you.
I thank God for you. You have nurtured me. You have supported me, encouraged me, and walked with me. You have prayed for me and with me. You’ve shown me great patience and understanding. You’ve helped me. Since the very first day we arrived in Amarillo, you have lovingly embraced my whole family. The way you love Whitney – I can’t begin to describe to you what an answer to prayer that has been for Carrie-Anne and me and how much that means to us. I am so grateful that Valerie and Carley grew up at Central. It has shaped each of them profoundly in beautiful Gospel ways. And Carrie-Anne and I have always felt that most of you loved us most of the time. And we love you, too. More than I know how to say right now.
As for Central, I know the timing seems odd – bad, even. It’s been a rough couple of months around here. But all the moves that have been made are the right moves for this church. I did not establish this church. Neither did you. This church was cruising along for over a hundred years before I got here and it’ll be just fine a hundred years from now. This is God’s church. God established this congregation and he put right here in downtown Amarillo for his specific purposes. He placed Central right here to be a light to this community. He placed it right here and he placed you here so people in Amarillo will experience his forgiveness and mercy, his love and grace. This is God’s church. And I know our shepherds here are committed to following him. And I know you are, too.
Our shepherds have graciously allowed me a last opportunity to preach here next Sunday. I need a final time to encourage you, to bless you, to affirm my deep love for you, and to remind you of God’s marvelous plans for you. That’ll be my last sermon here.
In my very first sermon at Central, ten years ago, I told you I would probably disappoint you somewhere along the way. I’m human. It’s bound to happen. At some point I was going to let you down. And I’m sure I have. I’m certain I’ve disappointed you somewhere. I’m sorry. But I said then at the beginning and I’ll say it again now at the end, I promise you I never messed anything up because I wasn’t giving enough effort or not trying with everything I have to both live and speak faithfully to you a Word from our God. On that first day, I read to you from 2 Corinthians 12, “I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.” I have done that here to the best of my abilities, by God’s amazing grace, to his eternal glory and praise.
Carrie-Anne and the girls and I love you deeply. We love you and we love this church forever. You and your families and the Central church are in our continuous prayers. Please keep us in yours.
May our God’s will be done and may his name be praised in and through Central just as it is in heaven. Amen.
Grace & Peace,